Real Weddings

Elese & Callum


Callum and I both joined the Royal New Zealand Air Force in January of 2016 and met on the same recruit course – definitely NOT looking our best during a ‘beasting’ by Air Force physical training instructors! The recruit course is an intense 15 weeks where everyone gets pretty close. Callum and I would polish boots together with hot chocolates at the end of a day’s work and spent a lot of time just getting to know each other. We had so much in common and our close friendship soon turned into a relationship. There was no ‘asking out’, it just kind of happened!

In October 2018 we went to the Coromandel for a hiking trip up the Pinnacles mountain range – we love the outdoors. Callum was intending to propose at sunrise at the top lookout, but when we got there we were surrounded by a low fog and he had to quickly think of a contingency plan. He stopped me halfway down the track and ended up getting his knee dirty at a high point with an outstanding view just below the fog.

We chose to marry in Hawke’s Bay because Callum has a lot of family there. It was a tough decision between his hometown and mine, Whangarei, as both places are beautiful. We found our wedding venue through our celebrant who is a family friend. She showed us Te Awa Winery where she had married many people, and we just loved it. We were both undergoing training with the New Zealand Army and Callum’s course was very intense with limited leave, so we spent a year apart during 2019 which made planning really difficult! He couldn’t be released from his course until the end of the year, so we chose to have our wedding in January 2020 as it was the soonest we could do it! The weather was perfect which really made the day.

For my gown I went to Vinka Design, and basically let Anita choose what she thought would look good on me! I didn’t really know what I wanted and loved every single one she chose. I loved the fit of my final choice and knew it was ‘the one’ as soon as I put it on. It also wouldn’t be too hot on a summer day in Hawke’s Bay. It was a V line dress with a fitted bodice in a nude base fabric with delicate 3D beaded flowers, a hand beaded trim and a skirt of dreamy tulle.

Callum wore a white tux with a black lapel and a black bowtie from Hallensteins. We chose it to match my dress and really stand out as a couple. We loved the clean, slick look of white and that we hadn’t seen or heard of too many people who had worn one. It was cool that it seemed to be rare. Silver fern cufflinks and burger socks were a couple of the final touches. My five bridesmaids all wore dresses from Forever New in a blush pink colour. I loved that there were so many different styles in the same shade which meant that each girl was able to choose a dress that suited them best.

We wrote our own vows which we heard for the first time at the altar. It was cool and pretty special! We also did a first look, seeing each other for the first time up Te Mata Peak with our bridal party and parents. Our photographer was amazing. He pulled guests and their partners or families aside to take stunning portraits throughout the night which were great mementos to send to guests.

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At our reception, we served a sit-down four-course meal of classic New Zealand food. The main options were roasted beef tenderloin with spinach and garlic puree, or cumin roasted lamb rump with smoked labneh, supplemented by garden plates for the table. Our dessert canapes were served on a big table so that people could help themselves – to encourage people to get up and dance instead of sitting around. There were options of chocolate berry delice or mini passionfruit white chocolate cheesecakes, alongside our two-tiered half-naked chocolate wedding cake made by Callum’s cousin. The guests were so happy with all of the meals and we had great comments about every dish!

We reserved a seat at the wedding for my late father Dave with flowers and a picture of him, and the first speech was made by his best friend. It was emotional and incredible, concluding with song lyrics my dad wrote for me. The whole venue teared up. We really felt like my dad was part of our day.

Julia & Jim

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