Francois and I met when two of our friends were dating – we shared a car ride home from Ponsonby and found instantly that we enjoyed each other’s company. Our relationship bloomed rapidly and organically. Francois told me on our very first date that he was dating me with the intention of marriage. He was not the type of chap I expected to end up with – a hairy and scruffy tradie! But it felt right from the very beginning. I just loved that Francois is such a genuine, lovely gentleman and old soul. All of our important values and ideals align and one of our key strengths is that we always communicate very openly and honestly.
One miserable drizzly day I was walking our dog at Maraetai Beach with my mum after work, looking super glamourous in my raincoat and gumboots! At the end of the pier was a fisherman wearing a traditional, bright yellow Mackintosh coat with the hood up. As my mum and I walked up the pier with the dogs, the fisherman stood up and turned around. I was very confused and surprised to find the fisherman to be Francois! He got down on one knee to propose with my dream ring! It was absolutely the biggest surprise.
I found Hedges Estate in Waiuku, Auckland online before Francois and I were even engaged! We fell in love with its beautiful gardens and animals (including a white peacock) and it seemed like the perfect combination of elegance and rustic country charm, reflecting us as a couple. The woodland where we chose to have our ceremony had a magical presence and we adored the ‘Orangerie with its glass ceiling and chandeliers overlooking rural Waiuku. Francois and I wanted a romantic countryside wedding that embraced natural garden beauty and had an air of sophistication. I grew up in rural England and always loved visiting stately homes with stunning gardens – Hedges Estate was reminiscent of those. We loved that we and our guests could explore and enjoy the grounds and aviary.
I saw a showstopper Jessica Bridal Couture ballgown in New Zealand Weddings & Honeymoons and thought it was the most amazing dress I had ever seen. For practical reasons I did not want a ball gown, but I was lucky enough to have Jessica herself caring for me when I was trying on dresses and mentioned how much I adored that gown. She said she had just the dress from her unreleased couture collection. I knew it was the one when I tried it on – I did not want to take it off. I felt like a woman, a wife to be. I had wanted something with a hint of colour, perhaps blush or gold so I adored the stunning lace in the gown with applique detailing of gold and nude throughout the ivory. I felt like a lace forest had grown up around me.
Our wedding aesthetic was timeless with a glamourous twist on natural and rustic. I think the main attraction was our miniature horses wearing floral browbands! They were so well-behaved and stole the show as my sister and another bridesmaid walked them up the aisle. Our theming was present right down to the smallest of details – frozen flowers in our ice cubes, guests’ names in white calligraphy on our menus, a resin welcome sign with leaves and flowers from our family farm. The lovely Annie Cody from Honeysuckle Flowers created bouquets blooming with texture and contrast using classic roses, dahlias and jasmine with seed pods and white orchids and a single white tulip. Our colour palette was blush and white with neutrals. Sadly, some of the flowers and greenery we had planned for were not available due to the impending pandemic, but we were stunned by what Annie created. It all made the woodland feel like a fairy tale forest which was so special and really created a presence. It was what we wanted – elegant, romantic and timeless.
Seeing Francois for the first time as I came down the aisle was so emotional and special. I would not trade that moment for anything. Our week was impacted so greatly by Covid that I could not believe we had made it until I was holding his hands in mine in front of nearly all of our nearest and dearest. We will always remember looking out at our amazing tribe of supportive friends and family in our stunning floral woodland creation as our ceremony ended. We could not believe that we managed to safely see our wedding come to fruition as everything was unravelling at top speed just days beforehand. It felt very sweet to have a celebration of love and family when we knew that a very challenging time was just around the corner. Our wedding day really was a timeless, soulful, dreamy fairy tale.
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