3 April 2023

Nightmare wedding for Junee's Queen of the Dolls and her Pumpkin King

| Chris Roe
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Silvia Heszterenyiova and husband Brian Sullivan as Jack and Sally

Silvia Heszterenyiova and husband Brian Sullivan as Jack and Sally from The Nightmare Before Christmas. Photo: Alese Watson Photography.

The bride wore corpse-white with a bruise purple-accented corset that perfectly complemented her scarred skin and blueish complexion, while the skeletal groom was resplendent in pinstripes, a bat bowtie and a mournful smile.

It was certainly not your typical nuptials, but would you expect anything less from the curator of Junee’s Haunted Doll Museum, Silvia Heszterenyiova?

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The Slovakian artist and her partner Brian Sullivan tied the knot at Ballarat’s Kryal Castle on the weekend with a tribute to Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas.

The bride and groom in costume

The bride and groom arrive in a veiled carriage. Photo: Alese Watson Photography.

Silvia says it was Brian who set the stage for the spooky theme with a Halloween proposal.

“It was just before midnight on Halloween when he asked me to marry him just like Jack Skellington, you know?” she laughs, referring to the movie’s iconic Pumpkin King.

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“I felt straight away, wow, this is like a fairytale, no one ever treated me like that.

“He was somebody who just loves me and wants to make me happy, and I want to make him happy, and we just didn’t want to waste any time because we were simply meant to be.”

A gothic wedding reception

Kryal Castle in Ballarat made for the perfect wedding venue. Photo: Supplied.

Silvia’s life imitates her art and in addition to running the doll museum, she lives in an old church building with a mock graveyard and is often seen driving her hearse around Junee’s streets.

She says it was their shared love of the paranormal that brought them closer together.

“We are like two children, he’s exactly the same, we both like skulls, dragons and weird and odd things,” she says.

“He knew I always loved Nightmare Before Christmas and have many dolls and statues at the museum, and he said, ‘What about if we get married like that and we dress up like Jack and Sally?'”

A gothic wedding

Wedding guests embraced the gothic theme. Photo: Alese Watson Photography.

Despite her penchant for the theatrical, Silvia was surprised that an Aussie bloke like Brian would go that far.

“I said, ‘That would be amazing, but what about the makeup? We would look like people that are dead, would you do that and paint your face? Not many men would do that here and then there’s the wedding photos, will we be 90 and look back at those wedding photos?'” she says with another laugh.

“And he says, ‘Why not? It’s our wedding, we can do anything we want!’

“So we are married like Jack and Sally, they are dead, but the idea was we are alive and we will be in love until death.”

A couple in costume

A second ‘Sally’ dress for Silvia. Photo: Alese Watson Photography.

The bride says they had a ball planning the dark-themed event complete with a horse and carriage, a candlelit reception in a medieval hall and a surprising choice of ring bearer.

“In the museum I have a mechanical ‘Thing’ from Addams Family,” Silvia says, explaining that at the appropriate moment, the disembodied hand scurried forward with the rings.

“People thought it was hilarious!”

Goblets on a table

‘Thing’ carried the rings. Photo: Alese Watson Photography.

After a honeymoon that included a visit to the haunted Aradale Mental Hospital in Ararat, (of course!) the couple is back in the Riverina and Silvia is planning to build on the growing interest in her museum with her doll-making classes and more art and diversional therapy programs.

“I will be doing workshops for children on Tuesdays and Thursdays during this coming school holidays, teaching them how to make their very own Voodoo doll,” she says.

“I will also be conducting ‘reborn doll’ classes after the holidays,” she adds, indicating the lifelike baby dolls that she makes.

Paranormal tours are also on the agenda, taking “bunches of weirdos to do some investigations” through some of Junee’s creepier old buildings.

The best way to keep up with Silvia’s art and her creepy adventures is through her Facebook page.

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