Television personality Petra Bagust married cameraman Hamish Wilson in 2000. Here she shares what she learnt when putting together her extraordinary wedding
Hamish and I met in 1996 when we were about to work together on a television travel series in Queenstown. I got sick and he looked after me. This kindness, along with his strength, caring nature and sense of humour, made me fall in love with him. He proposed on one knee in the freezing surf of Taylor’s Mistake beach in Christchurch and we married four months later, in April 2000.
Our wedding theme was ‘stitched together’, because our two lives (and two families) were being brought together and made one. The visual metaphor extended from the beading on the bridesmaid dresses, to the bouquets, the words printed on the tablecloths, the cake, the order of service, the marquee decorations, even our wedding rings! The floral theme was calla lilies – white for me and lilac for my two bridesmaids.
I wore a modern, white silk sheath gown with shoestring straps, designed by Helen Cherry. The dress was embroidered with double lines of crystals and bugle beads (in a pattern inspired by an outfit Madonna wore). I had a long train that dropped from between my shoulders, and a white faux-fur wrap. For the ceremony, I wore a floor-length veil and silvery-white beaded neck and wrist cuffs. Helen also designed the bridesmaid gowns, while Workshop designed the men's suits.
There were countless special moments, such as seeing Hamish get all misty as he watched me walk towards him. And I got so caught up in the emotion of getting married that I forgot to say ‘I do’ after the first part of the vows. There was a long pause before I snapped out of my reverie and said ‘I do’. The next time I had an ‘I do’,
I said it promptly, and with gusto. That got a laugh. I’m so glad we held the ceremony and reception at Matakauri Lodge in Queenstown so our 110 guests didn’t have to drive around finding locations.
I was lucky to have two photographers, Johannes van Kan and Frances Oliver. One did close-ups and character portraits, the other took documentary frames with a long lens. We took photographs across the lake on a mountainside at Walter Peak, which we got to by helicopter – a white one by chance.
I wish I’d done a few minor things differently, such as delegating more, worrying about the little things less and getting a photo on my own next to Mum. In lieu of giving a traditional favour, I would give a donation to World Vision, and note it in the ceremony programme. It’s a meaningful gift that would last a bit longer.
After hearing lots of honeymoon disaster stories, Hamish was determined that ours would be wonderful. He succeeded. It was in Italy and went swimmingly.
It’s important for brides to be ‘in the moment’ as much as possible during every second of their day. Keep the aim of it all in perspective – to get married, celebrate and have a great time with people you love.