Our first date was the date that almost wasn’t. We met on Tinder and after a week’s worth of flirty messaging, we both decided that it might be worth meeting up for a drink. Blake was working huge hours at the time and had to push the date back to 10pm on a Friday night, ultimately making me decide that his intentions might be dishonourable! I questioned even turning up for a drink but after some coaxing into it from my best friend, I took the plunge and we clicked immediately. Five hours and one kiss on a doorstep later we were head over heels.
Blake had no idea how to propose – all he knew is that he thought a big gesture would be cool and that having my close friends and family there to celebrate would mean a lot to me. He worked with my parents and my best friend to organise a gathering at home under the guise of a family Christmas photoshoot as it was the end of December. Blake led me to the backyard where giant ‘Marry Me’ balloons had been set up in the garden. He dropped down on one knee to ask the question and I said YES! All of our close friends and family popped out from inside the house and behind the trees which was a huge surprise and we had a mini-engagement party right then and there.
Blake and I fell in love with Old Forest School in Pongakawa after seeing a friend’s Instagram photos from their wedding there. We booked it and paid the deposit before even seeing it in person! The location meant a lot to us as we both love the outdoors – Blake prefers the beach and I love the forest, so we booked accommodation by the water and got married under the trees. I had always imagined walking down the aisle on a bright sunny day and am so stoked that the weather turned up for us! All of our planning was based on it being hot and beautiful. I didn’t even really plan a backup ceremony spot as I was so in love with getting married under the Sycamore Tree.
I wanted a wedding theme and colour scheme that wasn’t “on trend” – something I would always look back at and love. It was very modern – monochromatic black and white and simple. Our elegant flowers were simple arrangements tied with white ribbon to keep to the modern, classic theme. My Mum has a huge passion for flowers and loves orchids, so I created a cascading white orchid bouquet for myself that was both classic and elegant. I had always dreamed of a strapless dress, perhaps princess style, but Blake loves me in more figure-hugging designs, so I kept this in mind and opted for a mermaid silhouette. My custom Trish Peng gown was crafted in a beautiful lace fabric with a tulle skirt and sheer lace back. I changed my mind about the strapless design a few weeks before the wedding, adding delicate detailed spaghetti straps.
The ceremony was for sure the most memorable part of the day for us, and for our guests. Reading our vows was hugely special as we had both spent a lot of time crafting them and were really happy with how they turned out. We received so many comments on our amazing ceremony thanks to our celebrant and MC, Will Johnston. My other most memorable part was singing with my dad. Instead of the traditional father/daughter dance, Dad and I opted to sing a song together. We sang the song that my dad wrote for my mum when he was 16 years old and falling in love with her – it was a super emotional and unique moment for me and Dad.
Our reception meal was family style with big platters of food in the middle of our long tables so that our guests were sharing, chatting and interacting with the people around them. We served lamb with pinot jus and blackened Cajun chicken with plenty of salads, as well as Italian breads and herbed butter. Our guests were stoked with all of the food, especially the quantity! Our gorgeous wedding cake from Amy’s Secret Kitchen was dessert – two tiers of banana and lemon cake with cream cheese frosting, styled with cascading white orchids.
We loved sneaking away for photos at golden hour. We walked all over the venue chatting about our day and spent some time with the donkeys who live on site. The photographer and videographer are friends of ours so lots of laughs were had. One of my favourite parts of our wedding was that we had organised for 100 McDonalds cheeseburgers to be delivered to the dancefloor at 10.30pm which was a huge surprise for everyone as we were in the middle of nowhere! Everyone loved it and it was the perfect touch for us as a couple! Though everyone told me to prepare for some small detail to go wrong, I can’t think of anything that didn’t go exactly as I had imagined it. It was the best day of our lives.
BRIDE’S GOWN Custom Trish Peng. BRIDE’S SHOES Mi Piaci. BRIDE’S ACCESSORIES Chosen by One Day. HAIR Hair by Yvana. MAKEUP Natalie from NKD Makeup Artist. RINGS Naveya & Sloane, Graham Shirley. GROOM’S ATTIRE Raja Fashions, Hong Kong, Barkers Menswear. BRIDESMAIDS’ ATTIRE Flo & Frankie, ASOS. GROOMSMEN’S ATTIRE Hallenstein Brothers, Merchant 1948. FLOWERS Blue Meadow Florals. CAKE Amy’s Secret Kitchen. VENUE Old Forest School, Bay of Plenty. CATERING Posh Nosh Catering. SIGNAGE Two Foxes. FAVOURS The Cookie Collective. CELEBRANT Will Johnston. MUSIC Dan Stickland, Graysound NZ. VIDEOGRAPHY The Wedding Guys