BEN: Elyse and I are a Tinder success story. After a horrendous pickup line, three weeks of messaging, some deep conversations, plenty of Facebook stalking and bad jokes about catfishing, we took the plunge and met at Nippon Sake bar in Auckland.
Our second date was three weeks later. I went to an outdoor movie park and set up beanbags and blankets before meeting Elyse for dinner. She was pretty taken by this romance and I knew then that this was the beginning of a love story!
I’d been saving for Elyse’s ring and started planning the proposal when we decided to go to Fiji. After finding the perfect resort in the Mamanuca Islands, I began a long correspondence with staff about my surprise. I decided on a private sunset dinner, on a cliff, overlooking the water. The big day arrived and staff notified us that we had been “randomly selected” for a private sunset dinner (all planned of course). Elyse was so stoked! I recited a poem that I’d written and got down on one knee: she was in shock and started crying. I captured it all on my GoPro. We also happened to make a baby that night and Marley was our beautiful 18-month-old flower girl.
ELYSE: We were engaged for two years. We fell in love with a garden venue and chose spring for the wedding. Our garden theme was loads of greenery with hints of blush floral accents: white roses, white chrysanthemums, manuka and silk flowers.
Ben made our arch and we also made our own signs, menus, a seating plan, photo board, favours and name tags. We had 100 guests.
Dinner was a buffet and dessert was our wedding cake, complemented by fresh fruit and ice cream, which was a hit! Our cake was three tiers: chocolate mud cake, lemon cake and vegan chocolate cake. We treated everyone to Pizza Hut at 10pm.
Our favourite memory of the photoshoot was getting caught in the rain: such fun. Also, our daughter singing ‘The Wheels on the Bus’ and everyone joining in.
A live band performed for the reception after our reggae and country playlist for canapé hour and acoustic music before the ceremony. Ben’s family surprised us with a traditional Samoan Siva dance and the kids sang a song.
My mermaid-style dress had a sweetheart neck with straps and lace from top to bottom with beading down the back. I loved the elegance of it. I wore a veil and accessorised with strappy heels, a gold bangle and pearls.
I had four bridesmaids. They wore blush convertible dresses with their own nude shoes. Our daughter Marley wore a white dress with flower details and a chiffon skirt. Ben donned a sand linen suit as did our pageboy, his three-year-old godson.
I gifted Ben a bottle of whiskey and a decanter set the night before our wedding and Ben gave me a USB with a special video message along with silk pyjamas and a massage.
Our daughter Marley ran down the aisle when she saw her Dad, who started crying! We wrote our own vows: romantic poems we had written for each other.
Friends who couldn’t make it due to Covid sent video messages. The whole day was exactly what we had hoped for: filled with fun, love and laughter.
We honeymooned in Kerikeri for four nights but we dream of travelling back to our happy place, Hawaii, when it’s possible.
My advice is to go all in! Follow your dreams and make them happen. Ben’s advice is not to sweat the small things; what’s important is the commitment you’re making.
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