Tell us a little about yourselves, what you do, what you love, what is unique about you and your relationship…

Steven’s a Football (soccer football) guru specialising in coach development, I’m a Graphic Designer by trade but have been managing a café franchise network for the past few years, freelancing here and there to keep creative.

Currently, we’ve taken a welcome leave of absence from the ‘real world’ and are on a 5 month extended honeymoon travelling throughout Europe, Central & North America. Travel has always been a cornerstone and a catalyst in our relationship. We met at a Camp America Summer Camp in the beautiful Berkshires of Massachusetts, Steve attending from England, myself venturing the journey from NZ. Fast forward through 3 interspersed years of long distance, a lengthy immigration and citizenship process and a whole lot of ‘who would have thought’ moments and here we are, 11 years later, married and on the adventure of a lifetime.

What do we love aside from travel? Um can food be a hobby? Brunch is pretty up there with our fave activities, although saving for a wedding and 5 months travel has seen a fair few less of them lately. There’s nothing better than relaxing together watching the world go by, sipping on a coffee and planning what we’re going to do next in life. We both enjoy the outdoors and are fond of a good walk whether it’s just around our local neighbourhood, or amongst the beautiful scenery which is never really far from home in New Zealand. People are also really important to us, and as we’ve learnt, nothing highlights the real champions in your life more than a wedding.

For us, our big day was just as much about celebrating the love we have for our community as it was about our love for each other. We can’t wait to grow old together, not just together, but with those we’re fortunate enough to call friends and family too. Steven loves football – he says he loves me more but I have my doubts! In short, we’ve grown up together and while we’re both still fiercely independent people, we wouldn’t be who we are today if it wasn’t for what we’ve experienced together over the years.

Tell us about your special day, was there a specific theme or style? Tell us a little about the setting, the styling and some of your favourite details…

Our ceremony was held at Titirangi Beach Reserve. There’s a small clearing within the trees that created a semi-secluded area and pretty sweet backdrop for our ‘I Do’s’. Our reception was held at the French Bay Yacht Club, at the next bay over.

I grew up in Titirangi. As kids, my sisters and I would spend hours at both of these beaches turning over rocks to find crabs and mucking about as kids do. When I was reminded of the French Bay Yacht Club as a potential wedding venue, everything just clicked into place. It was exactly the vibe we were looking for and it was nice to have a deeper connection to the area too. Titirangi is conveniently close to central Auckland, but also feels worlds apart at the same time so from a practical perspective it was fantastic. It has the feeling of being out of town, but the accessibility that you need when DIY’ing a lot of the event like we did.

We tried to keep costs as low as possible so we basically spent our 2 year engagement opshopping for furniture and items we could use to style the venue. I love nothing more than an op-shop bargain, my friends and family will attest to this, so this was probably one of my favourite parts about the planning process. Although logistically it’s a lot more work than it’s worth, we still wouldn’t have done it any other way.

In the end, we collected a garage worth of cane furniture, my maid of honour’s mum made tablecloths, we collected numerous rugs, vases, cushions, plants (lots of plants) – basically the works! And then we sold it all at our ‘Honeymoon Garage Sale’ to help pay for our trip. Like I said, it’s a lot of work and packing in and out is tough… but we loved it! It was a fun thing to do together on weekends and meant that it feel like something we truly created that reflected who we are.

While yes there are certain styling themes that ran throughout the day, to be honest the only thing that I really kept as a constant in mind and that we wanted the day to truly exude was joy.

Tell us about your main outfits:

I was very anti-bridal from the beginning. Reluctant to try on wedding dresses, it took me a while to come around to the idea of going to any boutiques. I was adamant I didn’t want to spent a lot on a dress and I’ve always been pretty body conscious so this was generally just something I wasn’t excited about. It’s amazing how many people tell you it’s the first dress they try on right? And you roll your eyes and go mmmhmm. Well, it was the first dress I tried on. Ok maybe the second, but the first wasn’t worth blinking at. I still went to 5 bridal boutiques though! Because how can you say yes to the dress when you’ve only tried one?? Kellylin Couture were great and customised the dress to suit my taste and frame. I also worked with Meg’s Tailoring to create the shoulder veil and a few final sizing tweaks. Both created a really positive environment which was very reassuring and made the whole process easy and enjoyable.

It was really important for me that my bridesmaids felt like themselves on the day. I wanted them to be comfortable and feel like a million bucks so that was the brief – find something you feel great in! I never wanted them to be in the same colour or style so finding a starting point was a little tricky but it all gradually wove itself together. The palette and theme emerged organically out of the process as opposed to us setting the parameters from the start.

Kitting out the boys was easy. Steven and I walked into Barkers one afternoon and out with his entire outfit an hour later. It’s almost annoying how ridiculously easy it was but hey, he looked and felt great, as did our Groomsmen who were also in head to toe Barkers.

What were some of the most memorable/unique moments from the day?

To kick things off with a bang, our MC started the reception with a boat race. That’s one way to warm up a crowd, and that it did! As part of my hen’s do, all the girls made flower crowns. I took them all home the next day and dried them. As a personal touch I hung them in the ladies bathroom at the reception dancefloor by the end of the night. Speeches were incredible, every single person knocked it out of the park!

The groomsmen in particular, who had the whole room in stitches with their clever take on a popular football review show; Match Catch of the Day. We did a ‘First Shot’ instead of a First Dance. Tequila of course! Mexico has been a running theme throughout our relationship – we travelled there with friends after we first met at Summer Camp and it’s also where we got engaged. The shot glasses were our favours and straight after the toast, the band cracked straight into ‘Mr. Brightside’ to kick-off the dancefloor. Having a band was amazing. Live music was something we had our hearts set on from the outset and we’re so glad we stuck to our guns. The White Tree brought the house down and seriously delivered the goods!

I also surprised my Dad with a Father – Daughter dance to ‘Hit the Road Jack’ which was a song we used to rock out to when I was little. He was still crying the next day thinking about it. My good friend Kate Castle sang at our ceremony, accompanied by acoustic guitar. Having her sing me down the aisle was so special and made the moment even more intimate and personal. We chose 4 songs for our ceremony which felt like a really important aspect to us, it’s a subtle but poignant part and really sets the tone for the rest of the day. Kate learned all of these and created acoustic versions with her guitarist. They were all stunning! The songs we chose were; One – Shapeshifter (while guests gathered), Beyond – Leon Bridges (aisle song), XO – John Mayer (signing of register), One More Time – Daft Punk (walk out).

Many of our vendors were people we had a personal connection with. My close friend Emma made our wedding cake and our caterer, Alisha of Trio Events is a friend of Steven’s. She went above and beyond for us on the day! Our florist Ruth is a friend and old flatmate of ours. I created her branding in contra for our flora. Even down to hair make-up – I have been seeing brow-wizard and make-up guru Tyler Drader for years now. Tyler and her mum Tania, who’s also my hairdresser, were such joys to have there on the day. Surrounding yourself with good, genuine people makes all the difference.

Any advice for other couples planning to spend the rest of their lives together?

• Perfection doesn’t exist. Things will go wrong. Both on the day and in life. Have each other’s backs and laugh together. It’s the best medicine.

• Be present and take stock of the pure joy in the room. That’s all for and created by YOU.

• It WILL fly by and you WILL spend more than you ever thought you would. Breathe.

• EMBRACE THE LOVE. Everyones. It was such a truly humbling experience to fathom and reflect on all of the love in our lives, both in the lead up to the event, on the day and in the aftermath. We had so many people travel to NZ or regionally and to understand that people were willing to spend the money getting there, as well as their precious annual leave to celebrate with us was mind blowing. Keeping numbers low helps save penny’s, but it also means that the people who are there are truly the ones who care and who mean something to you. Choose good people and surround yourself with only the very best.

• Recognise that regardless of scale, the dollar signs and the frills or, lack there of –it is a total and utter privilege to be in a position to have a day like this. There will always be people with bigger budgets and far more people with far less. Comparison is the root of all evil so don’t let yourself get overwhelmed and focus on what truly matters. If you’re getting stressed about napkins, take a minute to check yourself and re-centre. I see you rolling your eyes… trust me, napkins are more stressful than they appear!

Photography: Samantha Donaldson | Second shooter, Michaela Jodie of Harper & Willow | Ceremony location: Titirangi Beach Reserve | Reception location: French Bay Yacht Club | Celebrant: Debbi Leahy / Rosie Brown | Bride’s gown: Kellylin Couture | Shoulder Veil: Meg’s Tailoring | Groom: Barkers | Rings: Diamonds on Richmond | Shoes: Mi Piaci and Barkers | Bride’s earrings: Portmans | Makeup: Tyler Drader | Hair: Hair Out West | Fragrance: Tommy Girl | Bridesmaid’s outfits: Ingrid Starnes, Pia Boutique and Blak Bridesmaids | Groomsmen’s outfits: Barkers | Entertainment: Ceremony & Canapes- Kate Castle & Christ Dent / Reception- The White Tree | Lighting: Vintage & Style | Bench Seating: The Vitrine | Plates, Cutlery and Napkins: Insphire | Outdoor umbrellas: Party & Fun Hire | Flora: Ruth Fiona Floral Stylist | Catering and Beverages: Trio Events | Cake: Emma Northcott