Real Weddings

Leilani & Stipe


Stipe and I met for the first time in a nightclub in 2009 on my first night going out. We caught each other’s eye on the dancefloor and danced for a bit. I was really shy, but my best friend took the initiative and asked Stipe for his number when he was about to leave with his friends. We started texting, which was fun and innocent, but both of us were at different stages in life so things fizzled out naturally over the course of a few weeks. A year later, my mum shamelessly mentioned that I had a crush on a ‘Stipe Nola’ to a patient with the same surname. It was Stipe’s sister-in-law who messaged Stipe who then got in touch with me. We started properly dating shortly after and have been together ever since. The 10 years we have been together have been the best 10 years of our lives.

On a trip to Greece in 2018, I was still feeling unwell after a choppy ferry ride from Mykonos to Santorini the night before. Stipe encouraged me to give our planned sunrise hike up Skaros Rock a go, even preparing everything and helping me get ready. It was dark as we began, but the lights from the buildings looked so beautiful. We had not actually seen the full beauty of Santorini by day yet, and as the sun began to light up the sky, the scene before us was breathtaking with the gorgeous blue sea looking like glass. While I was taking it all in, Stipe caught me completely off guard by dropping to one knee and proposing. We spent two hours atop Skaros Rock just the two of us before others started to make the ascent. 

Mudbrick is one of our favourite vineyards to visit on Waiheke due to its beautiful, dreamy grounds and delicious food and wine – not to mention the staff are always so lovely and kind. Stipe and I have always loved the idea of having a small intimate wedding at Mudbrick. It reminds us a lot of Europe, particularly old villages on the Mediterranean coast. We have always had a lot of great memories at Mudbrick, so why not add more?! Stipe and I chose to have our wedding in the summer because we wanted to be able to enjoy the outdoors. Mudbrick is stunning in the warmer months with all of the colours of the flowers in bloom, the vineyard, the olive trees, and the sea view; it has an exquisite vibe. We wanted an easy wedding that felt like us, so we asked our guests to dress to a ‘resort formal’ dress code to fit our ‘summer on the Mediterranean coast’ vibe.

Makeup and hair started early for the girls, so the boys got us a variety of savouries and sweets to graze on from The Island Grocer and dropped off our coffee orders before they headed off to enjoy the day. After we had hung out drinking delicious wine and getting prepped, we met up with boys again at Mudbrick at midday. There we got dressed and, as we had chosen to walk down the aisle together, Stipe came to see me when I was ready. He helped me with the final touches, like putting on my heels and earrings. It was really sweet and quite emotional. The moments before we walked down the aisle together were so special. We were joined by our nieces who were the flower girls, and it was a lot of fun giving them a pep talk. The girls nailed it and walking down after them with Stipe by my side on our way to get married was my favourite moment of the day. My second was when the dance music stopped because of a technical glitch – I was unphased and then my beautiful friends started singing the song out loud where it left off and we carried on dancing! It was the best!

I am glad I stuck to my plan and just enjoyed the process of getting married. We removed or simplified everything that was too stressful. I reminded myself that what I really wanted at the end of it all was to marry my best friend and to celebrate the only way we know-how – with lots of food, wine, music, dancing, and laughter. Stipe and I did not want to fuss about anything, and it made our day so special because we got to really look forward to our wedding, rather than worrying about it. On the day I woke up in the best mood and I kept being told I was so relaxed! Our wedding was overflowing with love and good vibes. We had the time of our lives.

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