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Happily Ever After for former army rifleman-turned-quadriplegic as he weds at Sea Life Melbourne Aquarium

November 3, 2018 Attraction No Comments Email Email

It was a fairy-tale day when former army rifleman turned quadriplegic, Joel Sardi, married his long-term partner Elisa Mascitti at Sea Life Melbourne Aquarium, after winning the wedding of their dreams in a once-in-a-lifetime competition held by the iconic attraction.

The couple, who have been together since 2008, have faced more than their fair share of adversity and challenges in their time together. Four years ago when Joel Sardi returned from an eight month deployment to Afghanistan with the Australian Army, he suffered an unfortunate accident which resulted in a serious spinal cord injury and he was left a quadriplegic.

After experiencing the unwavering support of his partner through the most difficult time of his life, Joel organised a special dinner one night whilst in California undertaking a nine month spinal rehabilitation program in 2017. Unbeknownst to Elisa, Joel and his trainers had been practising a special new exercise, and that night Joel got himself on one knee and asked Elisa to marry him.

In early 2018, the couple responded to a competition set by the iconic Melbourne attraction to win an all-expenses-paid-for wedding within their stunning aquatic space amongst some of the most beautiful aquatic creatures. Sharing details of the hardship, heartbreak and physical challenges they had faced on their journey, Joel and Elisa were named the deserving couple.

“We would LOVE our wedding at Sea Life Melbourne as we love being around happy people and what makes people happier than being around animals?!” read Elisa’s entry submission. “We have recently been trying to arrange our wedding day and think Sea Life Melbourne would fit our personalities perfectly!”

Over the course of six months, Joel and Elisa worked with the events team at Sea Life Melbourne to bring their dream wedding to life, and on Saturday 20thOctober, finally celebrated their marriage in the Coral Atoll room at the aquarium, surrounded by 185 guests, as well as some new fishy friends.

“It has been an absolute pleasure working with Joel and Elisa to bring their fin-tastic wedding vision to life within a beautiful space at Sea Life Melbourne!” says Grace Cullinan of Sea Life Melbourne Events. “Thousands of couples entered Sea Life Melbourne’s ‘Win a Wedding’ competition, but Joel and Elisa’s story really stood out as a deserving couple who have been through so much together.

“Amongst all the usual wedding stress, we’re so happy Sea Life Melbourne could help ease the financial burden and event planning, and the couple could focus on what was most important on their big day.”

The event adopted an elegant white and gold theme, and guests enjoyed canapes and drinks upon arrival, followed by a delectable three-course-meal prepared by Sea Life Melbourne Aquarium Event Chef, Stuart Wiley. Permanent ramps, lifts and full-carpet flooring provided an easy and accessible venue for Joel, who personalised his wheels with a fitting ‘Just Wed’ number plate for the special occasion!

After hearing about the ‘Win a Wedding’ competition hosted by Sea Life Melbourne, Victorian photographer Madison Mortimer also donated her services to the event and was even more motivated after later hearing the winning couple’s story.

Sea Life Melbourne offers one of the most unique and captivating function and events venues in Melbourne. With five spectacular spaces to choose from, guests can party amongst sub-Antarctic penguins, sharks, stingrays, vibrant fish or opt for iconic Yarra views. Accommodating for parties of 50-1,500 people, clients can tailor their space with special features that ensure their guests will have an unforgettable experience.

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