Real Weddings

Shelby & Nathan


Nathan and I began talking on Instagram at the start of 2018 after he commented that I had a nice voice on a post of me singing and playing the guitar. We discovered we have a lot in common, both loving guitar, travel, working out and Jesus! After a couple of months, we both knew our feelings for one another were getting serious, so we were very keen to meet each other. Nathan is an Auckland-based South African, while I’m originally from Wellington, Florida in the US. He soon came to visit, spending a week with me in LA, before we flew to Florida to spend a week with my parents. I guess you could say that the trip went well because one week after he went back to New Zealand, I was on a plane to join him there! I had no idea when I arrived for a working holiday and to see where things would go with this amazing guy that I would actually be moving to New Zealand and taking the first steps of building our future together. In June 2019, Nate took me on a Saturday outing to the fernery at the Auckland Domain Wintergardens, knowing it was a place I loved. On our arrival, he got down on one knee and proposed! We went for dinner at Botswana Butchery down in the viaduct before coming back to his parent’s house for a huge surprise engagement party they had set up so that we could celebrate with all of our friends!

We got married at my parents’ home in Wellington, Florida where they live on a few acres. My parents and I always thought it would be awesome to have my wedding on their property as it is so sentimental and very special to my family as we spent a lot of time there growing up. It is quite challenging to have a home wedding as it was not set up like a venue and we had to do a lot of prep work to get it where we wanted. However it made it more special as my mom and dad, and our family and friends, worked so hard to pull this wedding off for us. The effort they put in is so touching. I was in New Zealand for most of the planning process, which was tough, but my parents truly stepped up for me and did what I could not from afar. My mom and dad even went as far as to relevel our yard, landscape, redo our entire fence, paint the entire inside and outside of the house, and so much more. My dad even made a few arches for the wedding, a cornhole set with our monogram for cocktail hour garden games, and the dancefloor!

We chose to get married in the US springtime as it was the time that worked best for our international travel needs so I could be home over the Christmas holidays to spend time with my family and plan the wedding with my mom. I loved getting married in February because the weather in Florida is really nice, but it is spring so not too hot, humid or rainy as it can be at other times. As we had to pick some time in February, we figured it would be fun to pick Valentine’s day! It made it easy to pick a theme – very romantic and whimsical. It was also a great date night for all of our guests!

The ceremony took place under a royal poinciana tree that is known affectionately by our family as ‘the Papa Tree’ and was planted by my great grandfather when I was four or five. Our ceremony was the most memorable part of the day. Nathan’s dad, a pastor, officiated our ceremony. He did an incredible job and it was so meaningful. Nate and I wrote our own vows, as well as saying the traditional ones. There were definitely a few tears in the crowd! The sanctity and love is something neither us nor our guests will ever forget – we have had so many people talk about how beautiful the ceremony was!

We have so many favourite moments from the day. It was great to feel so much love and support from the people that surrounded us that day – we had a blast celebrating with them. It was so special to have our family and friends finally meet for the first time and hit it off in the week prior to the wedding. Two countries, cultures and worlds coming together in such a harmonious, beautiful and fun way is something we will never forget. We feel so blessed. Our wedding day was perfect, and we had the time of our lives. We had fun, we felt loved, and we got to share it with a roomful of our favourite people.

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