Real Weddings

Lisa & Dan


Dan and I competed against each other in a firefighting competition for the Greymouth and Richmond fire brigades. The stars aligned when we met at a second firefighting event and I took up a secondment in Hokitika. That’s when we got to know each other.

Dan proposed on a weekend away to Maruia Springs with our new baby girl. We had planned to go for a walk to a remote waterfall but plans changed due to rain and during a picnic at the Marble Hills campsite, Dan popped the fateful question. We were engaged for 15 months.

We wanted an outdoor location in Hokitika, where we live. We love to visit the local lakes and Lake Mahinapua was the most practical choice: fewer sandflies and the best views!

Our colour theme focused on rose gold, silver, navy and dried flowers. We wrote our own vows and kept them secret. We invited 90 guests. The most memorable moments were being with our closest family and friends and becoming husband and wife. Also, sharing our personal vows.

Guests enjoyed a platter during the photoshoot and a food truck delivered a Texan BBQ for the main meal. The ribs and pork belly were a highlight. Our cake was a two-tiered buttercream frosted cake with banana and chocolate layers, decorated with dried flowers, macarons, figs, cherries and blueberries.

Our favourite photos were taken during an amazing sunset, beside a driftwood love heart. The Hokitika Driftwood Festival took place one week prior and we were lucky that this one remained. It was washed away after our wedding so it was a rare opportunity. We used the lakefront, jetty and bush walks at Mahinapua for photos and went to Sunset Point at the Hokitika river mouth for more beach and river photos. The ‘drown the gown’ images were my idea. They were taken the next morning. We couldn’t have been happier with the results.

We wanted the reception in town so guests wouldn’t have to travel far. St. Mary’s Primary School was perfect and with the help of the Hokitika Lions Club, who decorated the hall and helped with staff, the result was amazing. I created the centrepieces and the table design myself.

We went with Spotify playlists for our music and sourced two 1950s Ford Fairlane’s to take us both to the ceremony and reception venues.

I tried on lots of dresses that weren’t quite right and decided to have a gown custom-made. My dream dress was possible with fittings and alterations to suit my shape and style. We had four groomsmen, three bridesmaids and our daughter was a flower girl and ring bearer. Our faithful canine Willow was our ‘flower dog’!

Our bridesmaids wore infinity dresses in a rose gold colour that they could wrap whichever way they liked, with their own shoes. We all wore matching dressing gowns while we were getting ready, even my daughter! I gifted the bridesmaids and mothers of the bride and groom with gold pendants, made in Hokitika. The groomsmen dressed in Barkers chinos and shirts.

After the rehearsal dinner, we had a mingle and mixer at a local restaurant for all our family and out-of-town guests so they could get to know each other before the wedding. Dan and I gifted each other watches the morning of the wedding and though we bought them from different places, they both ended up having an identical strap and clockface, which was amazing!

My sister Kristen and her husband Alex couldn’t make it back from France due to Covid, so I secretly had life-sized cutouts made of them. They ‘attended’ the wedding, were in the photos and even shared first dances with us! We chose bubble guns instead of confetti so that our daughter could be involved. It was perfect as there was no rubbish afterwards.

Dan had one of the diamonds in my wedding ring swapped for one of our daughter’s birthstones. Dan is a CNC machinist and made his own wedding band from aircraft grade titanium. He self-monogrammed the ring with our initials.

Our honeymoon was a 10-day tour of the south island with our daughter, taking in Maruia Springs, Hamner Springs, Nelson and Blenheim.

Would we do anything differently? We might have sorted the wedding party sooner as this would have helped to cut freight and stock costs.

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