Celebrations: Rotorua: Lakeside luxury

Set against a backdrop of the sparkling Lake Rotorua, Olivia Armstrong and Reuben Bailey married on Tuesday, January 12, 2013.

  • Story by Photos Kristen Marie Photography


Set against a backdrop of the sparkling Lake Rotorua, Olivia Armstrong and Reuben Bailey married on Tuesday, January 12, 2013.

Our love story

Reuben and I met while working at Starship Hospital. After becoming close friends, we later realised that our grandfathers went way back, having run a Christian camp together in Otago! Reuben asked me to marry him on a surprise weekend trip to Kawau Island. I woke to find a trail of rose petals and candles leading to Reuben who was kneeling down to propose. Of course I said yes!

 Family ties

My family comes from Rotorua, and it seemed like the perfect spot for a wedding – so many lakes to choose from, and so many gorgeous holiday homes for guests to stay in! My uncle is the senior pastor at St Johns Church, so getting married there infused our ceremony an added layer of sentimentality. As a special nod to family history, we bought recycled white-washed wooden frames and filled them with wedding photos of our parents, grandparents and great grandparents.

Setting the scene

Rotorua’s Third Place Café is run by volunteers, with all profits invested back into the community.  As well as spellbinding views over Lake Rotorua and Mokoia Island, its simplistic interior made it the perfect blank canvas. Embracing a colour palette of black, white, soft blue and earthy tones, we decorated in a French country theme. Heart garlands made from French dictionary paper hung above tables, and my brother wrote the seating plan on an old French door. We bought glass milk bottles, filled them with whimsical white and green blooms, and used them to decorate tables.

A sumptuous feast

Our buffet was a selection of favourite family dishes which made for a sumptuous feast. My stepdad contributed a trout he caught locally and smoked in his signature style, while my sister – who’s a chef by trade – made a potato salad she’s well known for. She also made 80 blue velvet cupcakes and our two-tiered wedding cake, which featured one layer of passionfruit syrup and one of lemon. In keeping with our subtle blue colour theme, she adorned the creations with blue and white sugar flowers and fresh hydrangeas.

For our guests

As a thank you to our guests, we made blue paper pouches, filled them with flower bulbs, and included a label saying ‘plant me’. We packaged the pouches in brown paper bags, sealing them with a doily and a wooden peg to match our rustic theming.

 My dream dress

My mum used to be a seamstress, so made my strapless silk chiffon gown by hand. It featured a sweetheart neckline, a loosely gathered waist and lace detailing at the edges. I accessorised with my mum’s necklace and grandmother’s bracelet, finishing my look with feather-detailed shoes from Rue de Seine.

 My advice for brides to be

Selecting the right music is a key to setting the atmosphere. Reuben teamed up with our good friend Jenna, a talented musician, to assemble the day’s playlist. We entered the reception to John Mayer’s ‘Something by Olivia’ which got a few laughs, while Katy Perry’s ‘Firework’ brought everyone on their feet later in the evening. 

The Details

Bride’s gown Bride’s mother, Toni Armstrong
HairLush Hair and Beauty, Rotorua
Makeup Masako Yamamoto
Groom’s attire Frank Casey Formal Suit Hire
Groomsmen’s attireFrank Casey Formal Suit Hire
Bridesmaid dressesKookai
Bride’s shoesSomething Bleu Shoes from Rue de Seine
Groom’s shoesEurostyle
Bridesmaid shoesForever New
Rings Auckland Ring Company
Flowers Bride’s aunties, Sharon Armstrong, Anette Long, Marilyn Deere
Cake Bride’s sister, Rachel Armstrong
Catering Third Place Café
Stationery Aaron Armstrong
Photography Kristen Marie Photography


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