I first saw Koro handsomely dressed in a korowai (feather cloak) and a top hat at a marae in Taranaki, October 2019. Four days before we collided in real life we had matched on Bumble. ‘Summer loving’ came to pass as we went on lots of great dates explored eateries and introduced each other to places that were important to us. Very quickly we each thought, “This could be my forever person.” Thankfully it was a mutual feeling in both of our hearts. No mucking around, no games, we were both more than ready (even overready!).
Fast forward to January 2020, when we spent an amazing day in Mount Aspiring National Park. After a walk in the majestic Matukituki valley and a romantic picnic came a bent knee, the best question ever and a gorgeous ring! The day concluded with champagne and a decadent dinner in Wānaka. We kept our engagement secret for a few days to just enjoy the magic before we told our whanau face to face. For lockdown, we moved in together which was a good test. What a relief that we both wanted to get married more than ever afterwards!
We chose to hold our reception at Bethlehem Marae in Tauranga. As Koro’s marae, it is a place deeply connected to whānau. Koro and I will always return there, and it represents our history and our future. We did not want to go anywhere commercial but rather wanted to be in a place that had deep significance and invited our guests into our story. St Joseph’s, the beautiful old church where we held our ceremony represented our faith.
A springtime wedding suited our lives best – the longer days and budding blossoms were lovely hints at a new season and new life. The amazing Shaye from On My Hand was our florist and made us feel like we were in a real garden with a mix of natives and roses. Koro and I did not want our wedding to be just a one-day event, so we began having meals at the marae together with friends and family for a couple of days in the lead-up. It gave us a chance to spend more time together – and for people to help set up It took a supportive whānau and community to create our wedding day!
I had my gown custom made. I just described what I was thinking of – a gown to suit my body shape and the setting of the wedding. Nicky from White Silk Bridal Couture was amazing and drew it up before we moved on to look at material samples. I wanted to wear something I wouldn’t get to wear on any other occasion. It was an A-line dress embellished with gorgeous hand-sewn lace. Over top was a princess skirt with multiple layers of tulle which was taken off before the first dance to give a fun surprise and so I could really enjoy the dance party. My shoes were from Chaos & Harmony who have a gorgeous bridal range. 10 minutes after entering their store I found a pair of heels I loved and could dance in, and dance we did!
At our reception we served a buffet – it was a feast! The meat was raised on our farm and we sourced everything else from small suppliers. The kai moana (seafood) was of the utmost importance and there was everything… oysters, salmon, fish, paua, raw fish salad, kina… Our guests loved it and were amazed we did not have any professional caterers – again a whānau effort! For our wedding cake, we had a three-tiered ‘cheesecake’ (actual cheese) with incredible edible decorations, gold dipped chocolate leaves, figs and more.
There are so many really special moments from the day to look back on. It was a day beyond expectations! Saying our vows, our hearts bursting and hearing the dedication of love and commitment, surrounded by our supportive friends and whanau in a stunning old wooden church was so memorable. We choose to exchange pounamu necklaces rather than wedding rings. The haka at the end of the ceremony as we walked out of the church was a significant moment, as was the pōhiri – a formal traditional Māori welcome at the marae. These moments are etched in our hearts forever!
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