In this series, we talk to some of our past brides to discuss tips and tricks for planning a wedding, their style and all the details leading up to their big day.
"We always knew we wanted to give our friends and families an experience that they wouldn’t forget. Between the two of us, we have Māori, Samoan and European ancestry and we wanted the wedding to showcase both our cultures and personalities."
We met at my flat in Wellington. Nine years ago. In the wee hours of the morning. Opening the door to who I thought was one of my besties turned out to be my future husband. I won’t bore you with the juicy details, but our VERY chance meeting turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to the both of us.
When Te Miri and I met, he was about to move to Rotorua for work and I was about to start my last year of university. Even after knowing each other only a few months, I had an inkling he was worth the pursuit. So I decided to pack in my Wellington life and follow him to Rotorua. It turned out to be the best decision I ever made.
A few years later Te Miri surprised me on my last day of work with the first of a series of handwritten notes that began a two-week scavenger hunt over Christmas and New Year’s. He disguised it as a ‘trial run’ for our upcoming OE and had me blogging the whole thing. From walking the Tongariro Crossing with our families, to hitch hiking from Picton to Nelson, we somehow ended up in the Abel Tasman celebrating New Year’s Eve. After airdropping me his final note, I followed his instructions and wandered around the Awaroa campsite (multiple times might I add), and finally found him. On the water’s edge, there he was. Dressed in a shirt surrounded by candles – both were smuggled into his tramping pack without me knowing.
It was everything I had hoped for. Just the two of us, in the middle of nowhere under the stars.
THE INITIAL STAGES
After the proposal? I was planning this wedding fifteen years before I met Te Miri!! Hah!
As we were six months out from heading overseas, we knew the wedding wouldn’t happen for a few years yet. While travelling, we figured we would need about a year to save and plan, so we picked a date and sent out save the date videos.
I consider both of us highly organised, however the endless options for wedding details made decision making really hard for us, me in particular. I knew that there were some critical decisions and bookings that needed to be made at least a year out, so we did this before we left/during our trip, i.e. photographer and venue. Once we were home, we systematically worked through all other details.
We always knew we wanted to give our friends and families an experience that they wouldn’t forget. Between the two of us, we have Māori, Samoan and European ancestry and we wanted the wedding to showcase both our cultures and personalities.
Early on, we agreed we wanted to take people away from the city and have a big party in the middle of nowhere ideally under a full moon and stars (sound familiar?) so we chose a remote location between Rotorua and Whakatane. Having a bush setting for the ceremony, an open space for the reception, a lake five minutes away created the perfect blank canvas for us. When I say blank canvas, I do mean it literally, as apart from a kid’s campground, there was very little going on.
Inspiration came mainly from the venue surrounds and our cultures. And the odd few hours on Pinterest... There was so much green beauty in the space already, we didn’t need to add too much. Our florals were predominantly green and white, with the odd splash of pink and red. We mixed that in with wooden accents and natural white fabrics to create what I occasionally referred to as ‘culturally infused bush black tie’.
I would have liked to have said we decided on vendors based on firstly style/vision, cultural importance, location and then budget but in reality our vendors were typically based on budget, cultural importance, style and then location. There were the odd exceptions, such as our photographers who we booked for their sheer awesomeness, but on the whole, price and style were critical.
We lucked out with some incredibly talented (and cool) vendors which made it that much easier. Wedding planning is stressful so surround yourself with people, vendors included that can take your stress away, not add to it.
We had a rough budget to start with but that increased as I realised what we couldn’t live without but also, as we learnt what the actual prices of wedding paraphernalia costs!!
We always referred back to the budget, but did often say “we are only doing this once”!
Do you boo!! While most of us spend hours, if not days, trawling the internet for inspiration and ideas based on other weddings, find a way to make it your own. And don’t be afraid if it doesn’t conform – the more unique the better!
Make time for down time. Schedule time in the day to do nothing. Things often run overtime, shit happens and you might find yourself like us, trying to cram everything in. That extra time might end up being a helpful buffer, or if you are lucky, some down time with your lover.
Feels good over looks good. I think it is easy to focus your energy on how everything looks and whilst that is/can be important, you and your guests will probably have a more memorable experience if you focus on how something makes you feel. Our guests often remind us about the overwhelming feelings they experienced during the cultural items, such as the haka, whānau waiata (songs), siva (Samoan dance) and exchanging of gifts between the families.
Stay together. Rather than thinking you can divide and conquer seeing all of the guests at the reception, talk to everyone together. Otherwise you might find yourself spending half the night away from each other. I think the guests find it really special to see the both of you together too.
Don’t overspend. No one wants to start their married life in debt so stick to what you can afford. Boring yes, but actually way cooler.
Start early. Unfortunately we all want the cool vendors so they tend to book out fast. Get in early so you aren’t disappointed. I read somewhere that a bride has already booked her marquee for 2020. Just saying…