Real Weddings

Melissa & Zachary


We met in November 2013 through a mutual friend. Both new to Melbourne, Zac from New Zealand and me from Canada, our relationship quickly blossomed. From our first encounter it was evident we had a lot of the same passions in arts and music. We both felt a connection early on and it grew naturally, continuing to flourish with each encounter. Travel is one of our shared passions and through it we encountered many unique experiences and situations which brought us closer together. The proposal was a complete surprise! We were travelling around Sri Lanka and as it is famous for its gems I kept dropping hints that we should maybe get one for James to create something with. Unbeknownst to me, he had the ring in his bag the whole time and was looking for the perfect spot to pop the question! Towards the end of the trip we reached Trincomalee, a small beach town on the north east coast. We headed to the beach early one morning and after a few moments just taking in the sunrise, he pulled out the ring and asked me to marry him. After an explosion of tears and emotions I finally said YES.

We have a strong connection to New Zealand and wanted our wedding to be in Northland in particular. The Whangarei Heads have a special meaning to Zac. It’s where he made many memories growing up and the Parua Bay wharf is where the ashes of his late father Grant were spread by him and his brothers. The wharf was one of our photo locations and being able to share our special day with Grant held a lot of significance. The wedding venue was very important to us as we wanted the landscape to encapsulate the beauty and uniqueness of the area. After a lot of research, we found just what we wanted. Once we saw the view we knew we had found the perfect place. Fortunately, the weather was perfect for an outdoor celebration and allowed us to fulfil our dream of a barefoot wedding with no restrictions. It was one of our requirements for our wedding day – being grounded through a physical connection to the land was important to us.

It was a very intimate celebration with only seven guests, plus our celebrant and photographer. We relied on the natural backdrop to inspire our colour palette, with the addition of navy blue. Every item had huge significance and told its own story, while still encapsulating the overall theme of the wedding. Our signing table was a gifted piece of ancient native rata timber and each chair had its own unique family history. Zac’s stepfather, a local orchid grower in Whangarei, provided the orchids that lined the aisle and decorated the food table.

Following the ceremony, we served a buffet style meal with our favourite foods for everyone to help themselves to. Our moms made everything! The platters of food were simple and delicious, with the most popular dishes being our moms’ specialties; raw fish salad and seven-layer dip respectively. We served our favourite desserts afterwards – lemon tarts for Zac and passionfruit Kapiti ice cream pops for me. Instead of a cake we bought a bunch of cheese and piled it up to create a ‘cheesecake’ garnished with fruits and orchids. It was amazing.

When we got engaged it was difficult deciding where we should get married as we came from different sides of the world. We decided to do what was best for us. Narrowing the guest list down to just immediate family was a difficult decision to make, but in the end it wasn’t just about our wedding, it was also about two families becoming one. We’re so happy we stuck with what we wanted – a small intimate gathering to celebrate our love and commitment.


BRIDE’S GOWN Hello Molly, C’est Toi Bridal Atelier, Texas, USA. BRIDE’S SHOES ASOS. HAIR Teresa Colthurst. MAKEUP Renee Leigh Morgan. RINGS Anson Jewellers (groom’s stepbrother & stepsister-in-law) GROOM’S ATTIRE ASOS. VENUE The Cliff House, Taiharuru, Whangarei. CELEBRANT Kathryn Molloy. FLORIST Mint Floral. OTHER Starward Whisky, Eminence Wines


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