Tell us a little about yourselves, what you do, what you love, what is unique about you and your relationship… Luke surprised me with a proposal on a still night atop Brooklyn Hill in Wellington overlooking the city lights and full moon, after convincing me that his crappy old ute needed a jump start.

We are a bit like Ross and Rachel from Friends to be honest (break included). I’m more sassy glamour, while Luke is a minimal, Southland born and bred architecture grad kind of guy. We’re quite unique in the fact that we sound like polar opposites, but as it turns out, we have many similarities. Our relationship is intriguing and incredibly loving, no day is the same. We never quite know what the other person is going to come out with, but there is always a guarantee we’ll both laugh hysterically.

We could honestly say after our decision to get married and our journey in being married, our lives are more colourful and vibrant. The anticipation of starting everyday with someone who enriches you, and makes life fun and interesting – we wouldn’t exchange it for anything.

What do you love most about each other? Shaney: It is hard to articulate all of Luke’s qualities and the warmth he holds as a person. That was what I was initially drawn to when I met him – his warmth and the incredible light that he emulates. He takes care of me so well and nothing is ever a worry. He makes me feel cherished as much as he makes me feel loved, in fact, he will never let me live a day where he does not tell me that he loves me, I know that without a shadow of a doubt.

Luke: Shaney brings electricity to my life. When she walks into a room, she sets the mood with her vibrancy. She’s passionate and she’s loving. She dreams with me, she brings out the best in me and challenges the worst in me. She supports me, empowers me and loves me unconditionally.

Tell us about your special day… We woke up a 27 degree, beautiful Queenstown day. The Thurlby Domain ruins stood in all of their true glory scattered in surrounding tree shadows, standing picturesque against our guests and the patient groom.

Our ceremony was short; the afternoon tea afterwards was long. We’d planned everything in the day down to the minute on spreadsheets – that all went out the window. Our ‘deadlines’ for the day flowed into each other and our guests moved the chairs around and made Thurlby their own for the afternoon. We’d left a few hours on the ‘agenda’ before the reception for them to go explore the surrounding area (Arrowtown, Lake Hayes etc.); they all chose to stay around and enjoy each other’s company under the cover of the trees.

We explored the ruins and other surrounding buildings with our photographer, videographer and bridal party for the early afternoon. We then drove up Coronet Peak and out to Skippers Canyon. We walked down a narrow path (Shaney barefoot) to oblige our photographer with a deeply sublime backdrop. It was one of the more special moments in the day as it was the first time we were alone as husband and wife.

We laughed, cried and conversed into the night at our Gantleys reception. We shared locally sourced cuisine and some of the best wine in the Otago region while enjoying our emotionally raw and funny speeches. It was truly our guests that made our wedding so wonderful for us. We were in awe that although none of our guests lived in Queenstown, our closest friends and family had travelled from all over the country to be with us.

Everything came together seamlessly and we only had to sit back, enjoy and love every moment of it.

What went to plan and what didn’t? I (Shaney) was late to the altar, but funnily enough that was because I had two hungry babies in my bridal party…

We hate to be ‘that couple’ but aside from that, everything went to plan, and if it didn’t we were either too tired or caught up in the day to notice.

How did you choose the location? Luke grew up holidaying in Queenstown; it is a place that he introduced me to. Through our dating life, it became a second home and it still is today. Central Otago to us is a place of joy, rest and relaxation, good memories and beauty – all of the things we wanted our wedding to be, and all of the things we wanted to share with our friends and family.

Was there a specific theme or style? Tell us a little about the setting, the styling and some of your favourite details… We didn’t have an intended ‘theme’ that drove all our decisions from the get go, but in retrospect; our decisions were minimalistic, simple and honest. We chose the venues based on the richness and honesty of their settings and the deep connection we feel to Queenstown, adding only what we felt was necessary.

We stumbled upon Thurlby Domain on a drive through Dalefield near Queenstown – it’s a ruin of a homestead, originally built in the 19th century, set in large grassy grounds amongst trees of a similar age. For the ceremony, we only set up Bentwood chairs, a sound system and a table for signing the register.

We put on an afternoon tea at Thurlby after the ceremony. This was a beautiful collection of home-made food, ice cold craft beer and local wine, cold brew coffee and iced tea, backed by a curated playlist.

Gantley’s is a pub-come-restaurant from a similar era to Thurlby. Our only aesthetic addition were pillar candles and vases – the low, natural light made for an intimate, dark and warm setting.

Tell us about your main outfits, what was unique, is there a story? Because of the natural strength of our venues, we needed to think carefully about what we both wore and how it would aesthetically compliment the various settings throughout the day. I wanted something unexpected and classic for my wedding dress and managed to incorporate my sequin quota, while maintaining that timeless feel that was important to me.

We wanted to keep Luke as simple as possible with neutral but strong hues. We initially had paired a navy waistcoat and tie over the textured white shirt and grey peppered pants he wore. It didn’t feel quite right, so at the last minute we cut the waistcoat and tie. The shirt’s concealed placket and dress shoes were a nod to the formality of the occasion, but the rest of the ensemble was smart-casual; chosen in faith for a hot summer’s day.

We came to trust our intuition in every detail and if something didn’t feel like it fit with what we were trying to achieve, we simply removed it.

What were some of the most memorable/unique moments from the day? My (Shaney) grandmother walked me down the aisle in homage to my father who passed away when I was a child and to represent my Croatian heritage.

Our niece and nephew were our flower girl and page boy, which made for some cherished moments. Our two-year-old nephew kept the guests entertained with singing into the microphone while the flower girl kept me filled up on pre-wedding cuddles.

It was the first time all of our immediate and extended families, as well as our friends (who we also consider family) were together in one place to celebrate the journey we had been through to get to this point. The stories they told at our reception and the joy on their faces when I walked down the aisle are some of our most precious memories.

Any advice for other couples planning to spend the rest of their lives together? Let the other be imperfect and meet each other with grace and forgiveness, often – you’ve made a commitment and you’re in it for the long haul. There will be messiness, mistakes and times where you will need to grit your teeth, dig your toes in and choose to love hard. Remember how you felt when you read your vows; choose your other in the best of times and in the worst of times. Keep the faith and watch your marriage grow into something that reflects something bigger than yourselves.

What does being married or being in a union mean to you? And what is married life like so far? So far, fun! So many people consider marriage as a time where you settle down and get a bit boring but we disagree wholeheartedly. The fun has really only begun for us and there are so many adventures, schemes and dreams to be had.

Marriage means that you consistently have someone who has your back, loves you beyond measure and cheers you on. You have the opportunity to have your own family – whether that is just the two of you – or if you decide to extend it with children. It means creating a new way of doing things, establishing traditions and celebrating life in a way that is specific to your family. Marriage is creative!

Photographer: Acorn Photography & Cinema | Flora: Twigs ‘n Twine | Ceremony location: Thurlby Domain, Queenstown | Reception location: Gantleys Restaurant | Catering: Family friends | Cake: Aunt of the Bride | Celebrant: Ken Smith (Salvation Army) | Registry: Country Road | Hair: Sarah Bergin, Pure Hair Studio | Makeup: Victoria Nunns | Wedding dress: Watters | Bridal boutique: Paperswan Bride | Bride’s shoes: Novo | Engagement Ring: The Rolling Mill | Bride’s wedding band: Tinakori Antiques | Groom’s wedding band: Ash Hilton | Earrings: Zoe & Morgan | Groom’s attire: Topman | Groom’s shoes: Julius Marlow | Bridesmaids’ dresses: Shona Joy | Groomsmen’s attire: Topman

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