Alex and I met the old-fashioned way in 2013, through a mutual friend in a bar in Auckland. We were both 21. We weren’t looking for anything serious but when I went overseas in 2014, being apart made us realise that we were meant to be together.
Alex popped the question on our five-year anniversary. We were on a swing bridge overlooking Hokitika Gorge. It rained on the day, so he was down on one knee wearing a poncho! We were engaged for two and a half years. During that time, we started to build a beautiful life together, moving into our first home and having our first child. We chose an autumn wedding as we didn’t want to be too hot. We had 60 guests.
Originally, we planned our wedding in Fiji, but this wasn’t possible due to Covid, and we still wanted a destination wedding, away from Auckland. We chose Opoutere Farmhouse as we could have the whole day at one location, and customize the area, as well as bring in our own food and drink. We loved that we could combine the beach and forest areas. We had shade from the trees for our ceremony, but our toes were in the sand, and we could hear the waves. We set up an outdoor lounging area with bean bags, rugs and umbrellas where our guests could relax while they played lawn games. There was accommodation on site for us and our close family, plus a campsite next door.
Our theme was whimsical bohemian. It was relaxed and natural. We added some sustainable themes like foraging for wildflowers. Our friends and family transformed the barn into a beautiful reception space. My bridesmaid made the stationery and signage, and my parents made the salads, canapes and dessert, including our wedding cake! All these individual touches made the day feel uniquely ours.
We only chose the traditional aspects that suited us and ignored others. We didn’t have a maid of honour or a best man, and we didn’t have a sit-down dinner, seating plans or a head table. Our bridesmaids’ bouquets and arch were made from artificial flowers, and we went with a mix of artificial and fresh hydrangeas, roses, eucalyptus and gypsophila.
I wanted the style to be minimal, timeless and natural to reflect the beautiful landscape. Our colour palette was white and green. We arranged a buffet-style menu for a relaxed, party vibe as everyone could socialise freely.
We hired a pizza truck and had a candy buffet stocked with our favourite lollies! For dessert, my parents made brownies, lemon tart, ginger crunch and mini banoffees. Our cake was three-tiered: black forest, lemon and coconut and gluten-free baklava.
Our favourite memory of the photoshoot is just us being silly and laughing. We chose live music for the ceremony and made a playlist of classic singalongs for the reception.
We learned our first dance from YouTube! We also organized a photo booth guest book and that provided a lot of entertainment and memories.
We hired a minivan for transport so that we could all travel together.
For my dress, I chose an all-over lace gown with spaghetti straps and a low back. It was a sample dress that could be altered, which helped with the budget. I accessorized with a vine veil, and I wore a ring from each of my late grandmothers. The bridesmaids chose their own dresses in different colours.
I had four bridesmaids, one who surprised me by pretending to be a stripper at my hen party! I thought she couldn’t make it due to Covid, but she travelled from the UK, did two weeks in MIQ and managed to keep it a complete surprise. Her partner was also one of the groomsmen. We had two flower girls and our son was a pageboy.
We had a post-wedding brunch and then went on a minimoon to Pauanui when we happened to conceive our second child!
My advice is not to sweat the small stuff. Lots of things went wrong for us; our location and our date had to change due to Covid. On the day, we had a power cut: we had no music and no water for three hours! But the day was incredible and filled with love.
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