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

Belle: I work in advertising and freelance writing in Auckland, where we live with our two griffons Keith Richards and Mick Jagger, and our first (human) baby who is still cooking in my belly. I love living in the city, going out with my mates and hubby for a good drink, a delicious meal, awesome music and a bit of a boogie. On the other hand, I love yoga, writing, reading, and escaping the city to our bach at Moureeses Bay (where we were married).

Ben and I met in Wellington met at a friend’s BYO dinner and immediately had that spark, we didn’t stop talking the whole evening, we were like tweedle dum and tweedle dee. I just knew he was my person from day one. The next day we went out for breakfast, and I ordered a number of Bloody Mary’s and the biggest big breakfast and he paid! I don’t think he ate for a week being on the incomes we were on at the time, but I remember thinking how polite and charming this young man was! And now he has been paying for my extremely large breakfasts and alcoholic beverages ever since….

Literally every time I look at him, I fall a little more in love even to this day. Our relationship is special because we genuinely love each other’s company, and have so much fun together, we laugh constantly. I honestly do not know how I was a complete human before I met him, I owe so many of my good qualities to his influence on me. We are both fiercely passionate and loyal to each other, but we also allow and respect that we have our own hobbies and our own independence which keeps us really balanced. I love that he builds me up, lets me to have my own thoughts and opinions and respects them, and isn’t afraid to tell me when I am being a wee bit ridiculous. He is a rare gem, a true gentleman and a beautiful soul. I’m very lucky.

Ben: If Belle is the creative, I am very much the straight corporate having worked in client facing roles in a number of large firms across Auckland and Wellington. Outside of work, you’ll solemnly find me in a suit (never trust a man who wears a suit on the weekend) and will likely find me at home listening to Rock’n’Roll records, discovering new brunch/lunch/drinking spots across Auckland or (Belle’s favourite) watching the Warriors. Whilst Belle and I are both quite different in terms of what make us tick socially, we’ve managed to find middle ground over the years and really enjoy taking in each other’s passions.

Ever since Belle and I met, we always seemed like the perfect match in many ways. This became apparent quite quickly, meaning I fell in love with her REAL fast. It took me a while to say ‘those words’, out of fear of what would come back. But I learnt over the years that she felt the same all the way along, which has no doubt made us a tighter unit all these years later. We’ve always put fun first in our relationship, and try not to sweat the small stuff, which I think has been the key to our happiness over the last 6 or so 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…

Moureeses Bay is my second home. My grandparents built a bach there back in the 1970s and we have been going there ever since. Its rural and very unique – we have amazing friends that are like family that we have grew up with for generations. We were always barefoot and running free as kids – it is a hugely spiritual place for me.

It was a no brainer getting married there for us, Ben loves it and has fitted in so seamlessly to the lifestyle up there. We always wanted to do a destination wedding – a weekend for people to really enjoy themselves, a little like a festival! We rented all the baches and had 80 of our friends and family join us from all over the world which was truly humbling.

Our friends (they are more like family to us), Margo and Rick Southwell, kindly lent us their land for the reception. They have a beautiful large section surrounded by eucalyptus trees which was once a banana plantation. They take so much pride in their home and have planted stunning tropical plants which really set the scene. It was perfectly flat and seriously outstanding. We are really lucky that they gave us the most magnificent gift of their land.

We had a huge task of planning, we had to bring everything in – there wasn’t even power or toilets. It took a lot of organisation and stress if I am honest. I think the fact that both Ben and myself work in client service roles for work meant that we kind of had the organisation and planning within us. We are both natural born entertainers and love a good party. Plus we are stubborn, so we worked really hard to ensure it was exactly what we wanted.

Ben basically took the budgeting and I took the decorating side of things and we both kept each other in check. Having the Blink Boys design an overall theme and logo meant that it was really easy (and cheap) to roll this out ourselves in all the collateral and keep it cohesive. I built a squarespace site where people could RSVP, see assigned houses, check the directions etc. Because we were so rural and most people had never been there before it was important to cover every basis including what to bring, how to get there and what to do in an emergency. The site helped set the vibe for the day, too.

We just went for a chilled vibe – a little bit beachy and a little bit country and a lot of us. We didn’t really have too much of a plan going into the styling, but we knew we wanted to stay away from anything too cliché for the surroundings (some of the beach or country weddings on Pinterest were truly OTT)! We wanted to pay homage to the nature around us and also add a touch of brightness. The bridesmaids wore hot sauce red dresses from Miss Crabb. They were such a cool colour so that kind of set of a chain of events for my bright shoes and lippy, and the flowers. Overall, I think we just wanted it to look playful, chilled out and unique. It was our day, and it just reflected who we are.

We loved that we pulled everything together ourselves, we are really proud of ourselves for that, we didn’t try achieve something that we aren’t just because that’s what you see in magazines or on Pinterest. The vintage Land Rover wedding car that the Southwell’s lent us was epic. The wedding arch of native foraged wood was made by a friend for his daughter’s wedding on the same beach a couple weeks before ours, so that was a beautiful touch. The band was ridiculously good, they played all of our favourite songs and it was magnificent to see all the sweaty bodies screaming at the top of their lungs – that’s a true measure of success of the day for us. The setting was insane, and Jess our photographer was so talented in capturing it. The after party was also pretty ridiculous, I think Ben and I were some of the first people to leave at 4am…

Overall, I am still gobsmacked that my childhood dream of getting married at Moureeses bay came true. Of course there were hiccups; the weather wasn’t the best, I spent the day before walking around crying because I was so stressed and no one lit the candles on the tables but it was a bloody cool day and I wouldn’t change anything about it! Although we are very pleased that we never have to organise something so extreme ever again…

Tell us about your main outfits:

Belle: I wanted something that was unique, interesting, different and a wee bit traditional. When I first started looking, I was truly shocked at some of the quality of wedding dresses on the market and the price points which were so high – some of them are ridiculous. I nearly just brought an off the rack silk dress from Superette and called it a day, but my parents were really keen and supportive for me to look and feel my very best because you only really do it like this the one time,  so we ended up going all out on a frock.

I had always liked Rue De Seine’s dresses so it made sense to go there. They are great quality fabrics, made in NZ and unique. When I tried on my dress I just knew right away it was for me. The little studs were awesome and it hugged my curves nicely. The slip fit like a glove and the netting over dress provided the balance of tradition and edge I was looking for in a dress. The long sleeves ended up being a bit of a pain in the wind – but no pain no gain they say! I took off the over dress after dinner and just wore the slip and veil. I could wear the slip again for formal functions, the over dress looks super cool on its own with a black slip underneath and some boots, and the veil is being added into our babies mozzie net to go over her cot, so it will be with us forever. It was really important to me that I would wear / use the dress elements again so that it didn’t feel like such an indulgent one off!

The bridesmaids dresses were Miss Crabb Dream Rock Top dresses. They were exactly the same but the girls could tie them whatever way the liked. I wanted to avoid anything too cliché, so the incredibly bright hot sauce red almost orange was an awesome touch. They also look great on every size – I know what it is like to feel average in a dress not made for your body shape as I am quite curvy, so this kind of kept it consistent, the length also helped keep them from revealing too much in the wind. Their shoes were just from Glassons. They were only worn for photos so there wasn’t much point in spending heaps. We kept finding these rogue nude Glassons heels in bushes, under tables and on seats the day after, so I don’t know how popular they were, lucky they only cost the girls $30 each!

Ben: I was certain I didn’t want a look that had been ‘done to death’, but wanted to maintain some formality even though it was a beach wedding. Tuxedo was a no-no, so we decided on a jacket/chino combo from Barkers which proved very effective. The Jacket was a forest green which worked incredibly well with our setting and the vibrant red of the bridesmaids dress, the chino’s a light tan to match the sand. The traditional part was the crisp white business shirt, and the shoes we’re Tan RM Williams boots (we needed something expensive and sleek to keep up with the girls expenditure!)

Whilst dressing a group of five lads seemed an easy job in theory, it proved very time consuming given half my groomsmen lived overseas, we did a bit of guessing in terms of sizes but it turned out pretty nice.

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

Belle: I had a bit of stage fright when I said my vowels. Once I finished speaking, no one said anything, so I chucked in a ‘amen’ – I think I was trying to sign the vowels off (that’s the Catholic schoolgirl coming out in me!) which had everyone in stitches. Ben then ended his by saying ‘kind regards, Ben Lynch’. He felt a little awkward and overly formal, too so this gave it a funny side. It was an awesome moment because we both pissed ourselves laughing and it felt like he really had my back, which was cool.

One of our mates found Ben’s vows at the after party on the floor and got them mounted and framed which is such a cool gift, a very special reminder of our day – and they do actually say Kind Regards! Which is outrageous and very typical.

Walking down the aisle and seeing Ben’s face is a moment I will never forget, he was crying and smiling and he just looked so stoked, it was such a relief to see him – he is who I rely on in every emotional, exciting and tough moment so it just like such a relief to be there with him again. That was the happiest moment of my life so far, I was so ready and so goddamn excited to get married to my best mate. One of my favourite photos is where we are holding hands in front of the celebrant and my face is all squished up like a kids – I just couldn’t handle how exciting it all was!!

Ben: Once all the preparation for the wedding itself was finished (2 hours before the ceremony no less!), the real emotion of getting married hit me like a ton of bricks. Everything was quite fuzzy, but I remember feeling overwhelmed with love and gratitude for my Family and Friends who had made the effort to celebrate in our union. The thought I was going to be a married man in such a short time was unbearably exciting, which resulted in a number of tears before the ceremony. Couple of beers sorted those out (albeit temporarily).

Seeing Belle walk down the aisle was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I had never seen her look so beautiful and so happy in my life. That was enough to get the waterworks going again, which in turn set off even some of my ‘toughest’ mates in the aisles. Once she was with me, it all became very easy and we just couldn’t stop smiling and laughing for the rest of the night.

Dancing away the night to Rolling Stones covers was an amazing way to finish the night after what had been such an amazing day. There was a lot of love on our Wedding day, and that’s exactly what we wanted. It was a huge success.

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

Do what suits you, meet in the middle and try not to fight about anything. Brides, let your husband have a say in it too –it’s about both of you coming together in the best way possible – work on meeting in the middle and giving him a couple of wins, too. In short, don’t be a “bridezilla” – it’s not worth tarnishing a truly magical experience.

You don’t need to do anything you don’t want to do, so don’t get caught up in what other people want or what they had at their wedding. In saying that though, pick your battles. If you’re a mother / in law insists on a family heirloom being added into the day, be polite and find a place for it, it will make them happy, and you will end up loving having that special touch, even if it didn’t quite match your aesthetic. 

Overall, be unique, stick to your guns and have a good time – this is your day and it feels so amazing to enjoy it in the end. You can’t expect everyone to be as invested in the day as you are so don’t get hung up on those people. No wedding is complete without someone who peaks too early, a family member who you’ll worry about (or didn’t really want to invite…) or a bit of a speed bump in the road. Embrace it, enjoy it and you will laugh about it later. This is the best relationship advice, too I think!

Also, make things easy on yourself. I wish we outsourced more responsibility because the days leading up to the wedding were tough.

Photography- Jessica Sim Bridesmaids and Groomsmen outfits- Barkers/R.M.Williams, Miss Crabb,  Grooms outfit- Barkers,  Flora- The Botanist, Designer- The Blink Boys,  Rings and earrings- Engagement Ring: Zoe and Morgan, Weddings Bands: IV Jewellery,   Brides Shoes- Sol Sana , Venue- Moureeses Bay, Whananaki North, Northland,  Brides Hair- Jane Etheridge (friend) , Make-Up Artist- Taita and Rosie from MAC,  Cake- Cheese Tower from Puhio Cheeses.

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