Shannon and I met in early 2017 when I moved to Townsville, Australia. We were drawn together from day one, always wanting to spend time together. The more we did, the more our feelings grew. Our fantastic first date began with coffee and hours of talking and laughing. It turned into dinner, then meeting for breakfast the next day, then organising our next date… We’ve been doing everything together ever since. I knew it was for real when I realised I was happy to share my crème brûlée! 20 months after Shannon proposed on top of Mount Iron in Wanaka we married in Oamaru, my hometown. We had our ceremony in the Oamaru Public Gardens which we had visited on a trip back to New Zealand not long after we got engaged.
The Wonderland Garden was beautiful and green, and its summer flowering meant it didn’t need decorating. Our reception was at The Loan and Merc – Shannon loved their social media photos of previous events and it didn’t need much in the way of décor either as the beauty of the venue spoke for itself. We chose spaces that were intrinsically beautiful. Shannon and I took the school holidays into consideration when choosing a date as 15 of our 97 guests were children.
The Bloomed Society made my bouquet and Shannon’s flower crown. We went for pink roses, baby’s breath and greenery; tones that tied into our colour palette of blush, navy and sage. The style was relaxed and beautiful. Shannon liked the boho feel of a flower crown. We didn’t intentionally choose a theme but ended up with an understated rustic boho casual look. The day was personalised with games and activities for the kids, blankets and pillows at the ceremony to give a relaxed vibe and DIY flowers and greenery for the table settings.
In terms of gowns, I went in with an open mind and tried on a lot of dresses – everything they offered. I ultimately chose a dress that was completely different to what was expected. I knew it was the dress when I thought about how disappointed I’d be if I left and missed out on it. It was in a blush pink jersey fabric with a lace bodice. The gown was embroidered with beading detail and a train. I accessorised with my sister’s hairpin and a necklace Shannon gave me as a wedding day gift.
SHANNON: I went for a casual boho look, very specifically looking for a flowy skirt with pockets, a wide neckline and long lace sleeves. I ended up buying the first dress I tried on. I knew very clearly what dress style I would be comfortable and confident wearing. It was ivory with a long-sleeved lace bodice and a flowy chiffon skirt with pockets – just as I’d wanted. I don’t usually wear heels, so deciding to wear sandals for the wedding day was liberating.
We had four bridesmaids; Morgan’s sister and three friends. Going with our eclectic style, we didn’t want them all to be matching and just asked them to dress how they were comfortable. Our two daughters were our flower girls and our son was a ring bearer. We let our eldest daughter choose her own dress to wear within the colour theme, while our younger daughter wore a special hand-me-down flower girl dress.
For the ceremony we chose songs from playlists we had made for each other over time. We had dance lessons and created a personalised choreographed routine for our first dance with lifts and spins – it took so much practice! During the band break all of the Australians got up and did the Nutbush – a line dance that somehow all Aussies know. It was very entertaining for the Kiwi guests. During the speeches Morgan’s father reflected on the fact that not long ago our marriage couldn’t have been, and how proud he is of us.
We had a huge grazing table and canapes at the reception. We wanted the food to be generous, filling, tasty, and look beautiful. There were special Kiwi treats like white bait fritters for the Aussie visitors and we ended the night with hot ham buns. The guests loved the fritters and all of the amazing cheese. They also raved about the lemon meringue which we served for dessert alongside brownies and our wedding cake. The cake was made by Morgan’s Aunty Roz and looked quite plain all covered in white chocolate ganache… but when we cut into the two-tiered vanilla cake, the bright pride rainbow interior was revealed!
Seeing each other when Morgan walked in was the most memorable moment of the day for us as a couple. We had kept the dresses a secret (with difficulty) so it was a big, beautiful surprise. The reception was a great party – good food, good people and a great band. We’re so glad we made some of the decisions we did; a celebrant we knew, surprising our guests with our awesome choreographed first dance, having a videographer, and keeping things simple. Our wedding was a fun whirlwind of a day.