Erin & Stephan

Lush vines set a picturesque scene at these January nuptials. Erin Helliwell and Stephan van Gruting's impeccable taste did the rest.

  • Photography by Narrative of Love

Stephan and I were high school sweethearts. Both from Auckland, we started dating at 17, but decided to get married in Canterbury, which has been our home for the last six years. Cossars Wineshed in Tai Tapu, with its shady forest, airy dining hall and sprawling vines was, in our minds, the ultimate venue.

The wine connection felt particularly special as a close friend who was a winemaker, had passed away around the time we got engaged. 

Erin & Stephan

I had a really hard time finding a dress, going to 10 boutiques in three different cities before I found the right one! The full length ivory gown I chose was from Secret Lace Bridal and featured a French lace bodice with a small peplum and think silk and lace straps, while a scalloped hemline gave the floaty skirt a pretty finishing touch. 

Erin & Stephan
Erin & Stephan

I had aimed for my hair to be in soft romantic waves, but after our 'first look' photo session atop Christchurch's Port Hills it took on a more windswept-boho vibe! However, I knew that it was something I couldn't control or change, so didn't let it bother me. 

A relaxed, slightly rustic theme informed our styling, with pink accents creating consistency across the décor and bridal party attire. My bridesmaids wore floaty ballet pink dresses from Moochi, while Stephan and his groomsman chose navy suits and blush-hued shirts by Barkers. Stephan kept all this a secret from me – he decided that if he couldn't see my attire, then I couldn't see his either!

Erin & Stephan

We worked with our celebrant to make sure the ceremony reflected the equality we hope to have in our marriage. With this in mind, I walked up the aisle alone instead of being given away by my parents; having discussed it with them beforehand to be sure they didn't mind. 

Our menu was another highlight: after enjoying post-ceremony sangria and canapés, our 100 guests shared platters that were delivered to each long table. The Cake Eating Company made us three sumptuous cakes instead of one big one, as well as jars of caramel sauce, which acted as favours. 

Erin & Stephan

Our incredible four-piece band, Modadji, was a splurge, but worth it. Everybody danced the night away – we never wanted it to end! 

THE DETAILS: Bride's gown Secret Lace Bridal | Hair and makeup KM Makeup | Bridesmaid's dresses Moochi | Groom's and Groomsmen's attire Barkers | Flowers Aromaunga Flowers | Catering G&T Catering | Photography Narrative of Love | Celebrant Sarah Gnad | First dance song September by Earth, Wind and Fire | Processional song Do You Remember by Jack Johnson | Recessional song Your Love Gets Sweeter by Finley Quaye


What to click next
Trending stories