Monday, May 20

From Roommates to Friends to ‘Turbo Twins’

It was Verity Jean Louise Elks who first asked to make things official.

Her relationship with Benjamin Oliver Brian Riches had moved quickly. Within weeks of moving to Los Angeles in the spring of 2019, Ms. Elks was fully integrated into her fellow Australian’s social circle. In July, the pair were having drinks at a friend’s house in Oceanside — a surfer’s paradise south of Orange County — when she decided to pitch Mr. Riches on becoming her boyfriend. Initially, he accepted.

“‘Guys, me and Benny are in a relationship,’” Ms. Elks recalled telling everyone. “Then on the car ride home, Benny was like, ‘No, no, no. I take it back. I can’t do it.’”

It was complicated. Ms. Elks wasn’t just dating Mr. Riches at the time — she was also living with him. Laid off from her public relations job in New York City six months before, Ms. Elks had decided she could not face the East Coast both cold and unemployed. Instead, she returned to Australia, where it was summer, to surf and plot her move to Los Angeles. By the time Ms. Elks returned stateside in April 2019, she had a job secured and a room with a friend of a friend in Venice. That person was Mr. Riches.

Mr. Riches, 32, was impressed by her sense of style. “I still remember the first minute I met her,” he said. “I just remember thinking that she was so cool.”

Ms. Elks, 31, had a different first impression. She thought he was the biggest jerk “in the world,” she said, using a more colorful word.

As it happened, Ms. Elks had moved in with not one but two strangers: Mr. Riches and his then live-in girlfriend.

When the couple broke up and the girlfriend moved out, Ms. Elks and Mr. Riches formed a fast friendship, bonding over their mutual love of surfing and fashion. Ms. Elks, who grew up in Brisbane, graduated from Queensland University of Technology with a bachelor’s degree in business and became the first employee of Business & Pleasure, an Australian-owned beach accessories brand where she is now the North America sales and operations manager.

Mr. Riches grew up in Sydney and holds a bachelor’s degree in film production from SAE Institute Sydney, and is currently the North American general manager for Australian surf-and-skate wear designer, THRILLS. Coincidentally, Mr. Riches was also close friends with Ms. Els’s boss, Ollie Edwards, a founder of Business & Pleasure.

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“My boss cornered me at work one day and said, ‘So what’s going on with you and Benny?’” Ms. Elks said. “He’s like,I heard he really likes you. He’s a really good guy, you should make that work.’”

While their relationship blossomed, friends nicknamed the two the “turbo twins” — for their similar hair color and determination to keep the party going. Still, both remained “in denial” of their romance. Ms. Elks had planned on staying single while she explored a new city, and Mr. Riches was still processing his last relationship. Finally, he told himself, “What am I doing? This is literally the woman of my dreams right here.”

After several months, the two roommates were forced to confront the reality that they were effectively dating — without ever having been on an actual date. So, they decided to “do it right,” Mr. Riches said. He booked a table at the Los Feliz restaurant Little Dom’s one July evening. The pair dressed in their respective rooms before meeting in the common area.

What came next was an incredibly awkward, 45-minute journey across town. “It was really nerve-racking,” Mr. Riches said. “We had become so entwined within our friendship that falling in love was just crazy.”

As time went on, they began to recognize they were each other’s perfect opposite. Mr. Riches was emotional, and Ms. Elks, reserved; while Mr. Riches was prone to stress, Ms. Elks remained clearheaded in a crisis. Mr. Riches had decided to ask Ms. Elks to be his girlfriend on the beach, post-surfing session. When Ms. Elks beat him to the punch, he panicked.

“I’m bloody lucky she stuck around,” he said. In the months that followed, they adopted a black goldendoodle puppy, Cosmo, and moved east to Silver Lake. They traveled to Italy in December 2021 and strolled past glass windows housing rows of engagement rings. “Let’s do it here,” Ms. Elks said. But Mr. Riches once again, had a plan.

“Wake up, we’re going for a surf,” Mr. Riches said on a Sunday morning in May 2022. He had booked Surfrider Malibu hotel for the night, secured the keys to a private beach and informed Business & Pleasure Ms. Elks would not be in the following day. The plan was in progress, and Ms. Elks was the only one not cooperating.

“I was so hung over,” she said. “We set up our towels, and a flock of children just started running around. Benny was losing it.”

When the crowd subsided, Mr. Riches got down on one knee. Later, they shared a champagne toast at Surfrider hotel — though not before Mr. Riches stopped to buy his new fiancée a new, bridal white outfit (he had inadvisably packed her a green leather suit).

On Feb. 10, the pair were married at the Little White Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas by Minister David Weisbart. It was particularly special to Ms. Elks that she be wed at the same venue as her idol, Britney Spears, though she did confront its employees for spelling Ms. Spears’s first name with an extra “t” on their website (at press time, it had yet to be updated).

Fashion played a major role in the couple’s Mexico City celebration on Oct. 12. The 115 guests were asked to dress in formal black attire, as were all eight bridesmaids — distinguished from other attendees by a hair bow that matched Ms. Elks’s, designed by a close friend, Alice Waterhouse.

The ceremony and reception were both held in a 19th-century, two-story manor called Colima 30 in the historic district of Roma Norte. Disco balls were strung from the rafters of a sky-lighted ceiling at the couple’s behest, while white lilies, roses and ferns lined the entranceways.

Mr. Riches and Ms. Elks met each other ahead of the ceremony for photos. The first look made for a “beautiful, intimate” moment together, Mr. Riches said. “Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever felt anything like that in my entire life.”

Walking down the aisle to “Everytime,” by Ms. Spears, the bride was greeted at the altar by a friend and former colleague, Dominique Bacote, who served as celebrant. They exchanged vows in a way that showcased their distinct personalities: Mr. Riches expressed his devotion through tears, while Ms. Elks had guests in hysterics. “When I met you, my turbo twin, it occurred to me the formula was simple: Find someone who looks identical to you!” she said.

Descending a grand staircase to Kylie Minogue’s “Love at First Sight,” Mr. Riches and Ms. Elks made their debut as a married couple. The reception continued well into the night, complete with local cuisine and flowing margaritas. Courtni Asbury, a music publicist who represents Justin Timberlake and Ice Spice, delighted onlookers by catching Ms. Elks’s bouquet in one hand, standing atop one of the bridal tables. The couple sent everyone home at 2 a.m. — but not before dancing on the bar themselves. You can’t keep the turbo twins down.

“It was such a natural reflection of who we are,” Mr. Riches said. “It was beautiful.”


When Oct. 12, 2023

Where Colima 30, Mexico City

The Finer Details Ms. Elks wore a Vivienne Westwood corset sateen dress — the first she tried on — with strings of pearls and Jimmy Choo shoes. Later, she changed into a strapless pleated minidress by the London-based Poster Girl. Mr. Riches wore black Saint Laurent. While Ms. Elks said yes to the first dress she tried, the groom took months to choose between a single or double-breasted suit. “There was a one button difference,” Ms. Elks said with a laugh.

Dancing For Dessert By the time a dessert of green lemon meringue with yogurt ice cream and warm chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream was served, the dancing was already in full swing. “No one ate a thing,” Ms. Elks said, adding the lemon and raspberry-flavored wedding cake also went untouched, except, perhaps, by the catering staff, with whom they sent the leftovers home. “I think we fed the whole city for months.”

Pop Divas Took Priority Music was very carefully considered by the couple, who opted for nontraditional song choices. In addition to Britney Spears and Kylie Minogue, the bride and groom hit the floor for their first dance to Shania Twain’s “You’re Still the One.” The photographer Alana O’Herlihy posted a snap from the wedding accompanied by the hashtag “#SheWalkedDownTheAisleToBritney.”