Sam and I met five years ago at a pub in Christchurch called, The Bog. For our first date we went to Starbucks, then Timezone games arcade where Sam won me a teddy bear (yes, I still have it!), then on to a drink at Robbie’s Bar. It was a memorable date and, just days before our wedding, Sam replicated the day for us which was a pretty special experience.
Sam is quite the prankster, and he had pretended to propose a couple of times to put me off the scent. We had been celebrating New Year in Whangamata when he suggested a visit to Tauranga to walk up Mount Maunganui. We got to the summit and found a spot for a photo. I turned around and he was down on one knee holding a ring! We looked at each other and doubled over laughing. He managed to say, “Do You Wanna?…”. I knew what he meant and I said “yes!”
We set a date for our November wedding in Invercargill, which was to be 18 months after our engagement. We discovered Argyle Cottage online and had heard from family friends that it was a great venue. Upon visiting, we were welcomed by Annie, who we instantly liked. Nothing was a problem and she made everything so easy, so we booked in our ceremony. Having attended many musical theatres over the years as well as performing on stage in a brass band myself, we had an idea to hold our reception on the stage of Invercargill’s Civic Theatre. To our delight, they agreed.
We made a short video for our save-the-dates – in the theme of a blockbuster preview you’d see at the cinema. The invitations, which we created with Vista Print, was a ticket to the theatre. I also made a website which was linked to an app for wedding details and guest RSVPs.
For my wedding gown, I had in mind something elegant for the theatre but also relaxed for an outdoor ceremony. After meeting Natasha at Beau Couture in Dunedin, I knew that I wanted her to design and make my dress. But she insisted I try on other dresses elsewhere to see what I like and don’t like. I sent her pictures of design elements that I liked, and she designed a dress that combined all the features I wanted. Natasha made my dress versatile – I wore a high-neck dress with lace detail for the ceremony and formal part of the reception, and then I did a quick ‘costume change’ and removed the lace layer to reveal an ivory-hued thin-strapped satin dress underneath.
I chose sage green faux-wrap dresses (much safer than a real wrap dress, particularly in a windy environment) for my four bridesmaids, made from reversed satin fabric. My original thought was that they could decide which style they wanted, however, they all wanted the same style, so we went for matching dresses. The flower girls’ dresses and page boy suit were bought from John Lewis. The flower girls were accessorised for warmth with navy blue cardigans. Sam chose navy blue suits for him and his groomsmen, and he arranged special cufflinks for the lads to be gifted on the day.
Sam’s very clever at creating things; he made gifts for our bridal party and extended families, as well as our photo booth, rebuilt a ladder to use as a memorial, and light-bulb frames for decoration. I would often come home with ideas, and he would figure out how to make it for the wedding. Our florist for bouquets and flower girl’s accessories was Philippa from Tudor House of Flowers. She was fantastic at working to our budget and giving us various options, which I loved. Annie at Argyle Cottage arranged flowers for the ceremony, from her garden. On the morning of our wedding we both enjoyed the morning getting ready with our respective bridal parties. We had arranged a gift or each other: I gave Sam a leather wallet and he gave me a necklace, which I put on to wear for our wedding. Mum, Dad, and I travelled to the ceremony in a red Combi can, which dad arranged through a friend.
Seeing each other for the first time as I walked down the aisle to the song, ‘Nothing Else Matters’, was an amazing moment. I had moved my engagement ring to my right hand for the ceremony, but Sam used my engagement ring as a reference to which finger to place the wedding ring, so he kept trying to put the wedding ring on the wrong hand. He thought I was trying to prank him! We signed the official documents while family members sang, ‘Everywhere’ by Fleetwood Mac – a really significant song for Sam’s family.
After the ceremony, we had photographs in the venue grounds and it was a chance to stop and reflect and connect with each other. A fantastic moment was during our bridal party photos; our nieces and nephews photo-bombed the pictures. This was exactly what we hoped would happen and was a great reflection of how cheeky and fun our family is. We had photographs around the Civic Theatre, and upon entering we were greeted by a brass band fanfare, which really blew us away and was an acknowledgement of my years playing in a brass band. Inside, round tables were adorned with black tablecloths, and we used clapper boards from Kmart for our table names. We had borrowed a range of old silver teapots for the flower arrangements, and laser-cut name tags showed guests where to sit, as well as being a gift they could take home too. Our 130 guests enjoyed a buffet-style dinner, including options of Mediterranean-style braised lamb, char sui pork belly, mustard-crusted chicken, monkfish, roasted root vegetables and beetroot salad, to name a few. The dessert buffet included gingerbread pudding, fruit salad, chocolate tart, as well as our lemon, carrot and chocolate three-tiered wedding cake.
Speeches were heartfelt, funny, and engaging, and lasted just the right amount of time so we could keep the night flowing. Music is a huge part of our life. We had a combination of family singers, a brass quintet, and Jetset band who all helped create the soundtrack for our special day. Late into the evening, tunes by Michael Murphy, the Eagles and Fleetwood Mac kept us entertained. The song ‘500 Miles’ resulted in an epic congo line which weaved throughout the theatre stalls. My sister had arranged bags of sweets and popcorn to be offered to guests by the bridesmaids, carrying old-school style trays.
Our unique wedding was our best day ever, but it was all over so quickly! Luckily we had our honeymoon to look forward to – we booked the honeymoon villa at Sea Breeze Resort in Samoa, which was absolutely beautiful. Upon return to New Zealand, we had a few days in Northland, where we timed our visit to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds with that of the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall. We were able to meet them both which was an amazing way to top off our honeymoon.