We’re staring off the week with a beautifully intimate Hawkes Bay wedding by the lovely MEREDITH LORD. I love this couple’s story… when it’s right, it’s right – and by ‘it’ I mean love!! It totally wasn’t in bride Erin’s plan but it all just fell into place so easily it seems. Being that she is from Canada their wedding was a small affair at THE MANSE, a luxury Bed & Breakfast in this beautiful wine region. Once she and her Kiwi husband-to-be had found the venue and met the gracious and accommodating owners the rest of the day fell into place with ease. Knowing their family would be relaxed and have an abundance of good food, wine and hospitality on offer was all they needed for inspiration. Local florist LUSHKA created some stunning florals full of texture and autumn tones.
HOW DID YOU MEET? I am from Nova Scotia, Canada, and in 2008, in a period of frustration while trying to finish my PhD I looked for some motivation to push me through. Through a variety of serendipitous events the result was a job offer in New Zealand. New Zealand had always been the only country I had an ongoing love of and fascination with despite having never visited. Suddenly I had this fantastic opportunity, but it meant leaving all of my friends and family to move to a country where I knew no one and start a new life.
After months of work, writing papers, sorting visas etc., and building up to the big move it all began to happen. In a bit of a whirlwind over a two-week period I defended my PhD, packed up all my belongings, said goodbye to family and friends. I arrived in New Zealand on a Tuesday, started my job on a Friday and met my future husband on the Saturday. Let’s just say that Saturday was not in my plan. We met on a regular Saturday night in the Hawkes Bay at one of the bars in Ahuriri. A pretty low key night with few beers, some education on the difference between rugby union and league and an overall great time. The next day he invited me to his parents for dinner. The normal me would over-analyse the situation and probably not go. I was not looking to step right into a relationship having just arrived in the country. But maybe I was over-analysing. And yes according to Marc I was; he thought it would be nice for me to have a home cooked meal being so far away and not knowing many people. I went to dinner, met some wonderful people and so it began. Marc and I were basically inseparable from that day.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR PROPOSAL: We took a trip home to Nova Scotia, Canada for what would be my first winter/Christmas home in five years and his first winter Christmas experience. Because it’s such a long trip home and we knew the holidays would be busy with friends and family, we made a five-day stopover in Montreal to have some time to ourselves and hang out in one of my favourite Canadian cities. On our second last day in Montreal we decided to take a walk through Parc du Mont Royal. It was a snowy day and Marc kept trying to stop and have us ‘take in the view’, which I didn’t understand because you couldn’t see much of the city given the low cloud that day. On our way down a set of stairs overlooking the woods, Marc pulled me in for a hug and we paused to watch the snow falling and settling on the trees – a truly picturesque winter moment. It was then he fiddled a metal box out of his pocket and asked me to marry him. It was a surreal moment and after a quick check (really?), I said yes. We followed it up with some fantastic Quebec beer and a feed of poutine to celebrate.
TELL US ABOUT FINDING YOUR WEDDING DRESS: Dress shopping for me was a somewhat frustrating experience that involved random attempts over many months at trying on a variety of dresses but nothing that seemed me. Then one day I went with a friend of mine to a little shop here in Napier (Gowns on Gloucester) where she had got her dress. The second dress of the day was ‘the dress’. It was simple but elegant. Caroline showed me ways we could make it my own and add some additional detail to the waist and lace straps. To be sure I sent some photos home to my parents of a mix of dresses I had tried, wanting to see if they picked out the same one. They did and so the decision was made.
ANY BUDGET/DIY ELEMENTS? There wasn’t a whole lot we needed to do for the day since the venue had such great style and we kept any additions to a minimum. We didn’t want to spend lots on extras, which was why the venue was so important, but to throw in a bit of a personal touch we did choose unique napkins for each course, each had a particular meaning to us from the colours, the patterns and even the crab design. My Mom also sent over from Canada a mix of goodies that we used to make a box of favours for our guests. The favours included Canadian maple syrup, maple candy and saltwater taffy, all arranged on top of a Nova Scotian tartan. It was a nice nod to my homeland.
DESCRIBE YOUR WEDDING FLOWERS: I wanted our flowers to be atypical of a fall wedding and include a variety of heights, textures, and muted tones. Marc was insistent there be the occasional pop of colour (specifically billy buttons) which we found out was a bit of work to find for the day but Kim delivered. I also love succulents and the use of wooden rounds for the table settings. The end result was perfect. Kim also incorporated my late Grandmother’s rosary into my bouquet, which was really special and important to me.
FAVOURITE DETAIL OF THE DAY: This is such a hard choice as there are a few. One would be walking down the aisle to the song that my Dad composed and recorded for me, which couldn’t have been more perfect. Another was the food, Gary and Dietske delivered, with a few Dutch treats thrown in for Marc’s side of the family, everyone was blown away.
What advise would you give out to a couple planning their wedding? Decide what’s really important to you both and focus on that. That’s not to say it’s not hard. We started with ideas for a large wedding, then considered two weddings in two countries, and then were about to elope but finally found a perfect venue that suited our dream of a small wedding for immediate family and a few close friends. That process took a while, but once the dream was set we planned our wedding in six weeks. While sometimes it felt a bit crazy, the short amount of time also helped us to focus on what we wanted to be able to look back on and say that was amazing.
MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT: Our nieces giving Erin their flowers as she walked down the aisle. Erin had left her bouquet behind in the room with all the excitement of her dad walking her out the door. It wasn’t planned at all, which is why it was such a great moment.
Another was the joy on our parents’ faces throughout the whole day from watching us walking down the aisle together, to saying our vows, to Skyping my Mom after the ceremony. They had been so supportive to us during the whole process and it was nice to be able to include them all in some way.
I hope you’ve all had a lovely weekend!! We’ve finally had quite a sunny one… summer is literally just around the corner which is pretty exciting!! Especially as we just got some new outdoor furniture and awnings which means we can actually sit outside this summer… it’s usually too hot to do so without some sort of shade, so I’m pretty excited about being able to use the area more. In fact it may become my summer office! And there’s room for Charlie to sit on the couch next to me… most important factor!
I love that today’s featured couple – Aaron & Darby (umm LOVE that name!) – skipped the tradition of exchanging gifts on their wedding day and instead wrote letters to each other which they had their attendants deliver just before the ceremony. How special is that? As Darby said “getting a message from each other was better than any physical gift we could have purchased.” I couldn’t agree more. A big thank you to MELISSA GLYNN for sending this beautiful Texas summery wedding our way! Love the bridesmaids pretty coral dresses… and so fun that they all helped put together all the bouquets and flowers for the day. Be sure to read the sweet proposal story below too!
TELL US ABOUT YOUR PROPOSAL: Aaron’s proposal was the shock of my life! He was about to leave for a 4 month sailing trip, and a few of us were throwing him a send-off brunch. When I arrived at the send-off, he insisted that we jump on bikes to check out a “washed out part” of the Town Lake Trail before joining the brunch. Once on the trail, I saw a tandem bike covered in roses with a sign that said, “You’re my favorite one.” I immediately assumed the set up was for someone else, and I felt pretty perturbed that ‘they’ also had our special phrase–what were the chances?! Aaron said we should check it out, but I was thinking, “No, we can’t just walk into the middle of someone else’s set up…we might ruin whatever they have planned!” Despite my confusion, he did guide me over to the bike, and you can see the rest of what happened here. My parents and a few friends were there hiding and popped up cheering after I (reportedly) said yes – I couldn’t remember any of it afterwards! After a brief celebration of hugs and squeals (I could barely stand up or form intelligible words!), we took off on the tandem bike for a lap around the lake. We came to the spot of our engagement on 2 bikes and rode away together on one. The symbolism of it all didn’t occur to me for many months, but Aaron assures me that he planned it that way all along.
TELL US ABOUT FINDING YOUR WEDDING DRESS: I really enjoyed looking for a wedding dress – there are so many gorgeous gowns out there! Austin has several boutiques with incredible customer service, which made it easy for me to relax and soak up this once in a lifetime experience. I’d already tried on numerous gowns, and had several front-runners. I have helped friends find their wedding dresses in the past, and tears unfailingly filled my eyes when they tried on the dress. I didn’t know if I would experience the same thing for myself, but I couldn’t help hoping my tear-omometer would kick in at some point to make my decision a little easier! I almost didn’t try on my dress because it looked limp and lifeless on the hanger in comparison to the other voluminous and structured gowns. I went ahead and set it aside, and when the consultant asked which dress I wanted to try on first, I said, “I guess I’ll get this one out of the way because I know I won’t like it.” Ha! The moment I put it on, I gasped and tears filled my eyes. I felt like myself! The other dresses were so beautiful, but I felt like I was playing pretend in those dresses, as if they were wearing me instead of vice versa. I loved this dress’s unique but timeless look, so relaxed and romantic.
FAVOURITE DETAIL OF THE DAY:I loved the ceremony under the trees, perfect weather, setting sun, and being surrounded by friends and family. Aaron and I wrote our own vows and heard them for the first time as we read them to each other. It was incredible.
WHAT ADVISE WOULD YOU GIVE OUT TO A COUPLE PLANNING THEIR WEDDING? Make it personal! My brother flew in from South Korea to officiate, and rather than giving an impersonal, formal speech, he essentially told the story of my and Aaron’s relationship. Many people in the audience only knew one of us, so they enjoyed getting to hear what brought us to that moment rather than platitudes about love.
MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT? That’s a tough one. I loved watching guests arrive from an upstairs window of the ranch house, being prayed over by my mom and bridesmaids, and the sea of loving faces that greeted me as my dad walked me down the aisle. I especially loved seeing Aaron for our first glance before the ceremony–all things that I’ll never forget.
Aaron’s last name is Bell, so we were excited to discover an old plantation bell on the ranch property. When we were presented as Mr. and Mrs. Aaron Bell at the end of the ceremony, a friend ducked around the corner and rang the bell 7 times. Then, when our arrival to the reception was announced, the wedding party formed a “runway” and rang small glass bells that my mom and I had been collecting.
Photographer MELISSA GLYNN / Florist sourced from FIFTY FLOWERS, arranged by the bride and friends / Stationery HANDMADE BY THE BRIDE / Venue INSPIRING OAKS RANCH / Dress Designer SAISON BLANCE / Shoes LAUREN CONRAD / Hair RACHEL MULLIN / Grooms Attire MENS WAREHOUSE / Planner RACHEL POWER / Caterer TEXAS PIE COMPANY & TRADER JOES
Today’s wedding might just be one of the most special we’ve had the privilege of featuring, and it’s a testament to the strength of true love. Of course all love stories are special but sometimes you hear of one that really touches you and it makes you realise how lucky you are not only to have your health but to have the right person walk beside you in life should a situation like Angela’s arise. Angela is currently fighting a hard battle with cancer and whilst you wouldn’t know it save for the few images of her getting ready at the top of the post, she had only days before finished her latest round of chemotherapy and still had her PICC line in her arm (which she masked beautifully with a lace cuff… genius!). The transformation on her wedding day was incredible – for her photographers SWIFT & CLICK it was the first time they had seen her with hair. Right now Angela desperately needs to raise over a million dollars as she has been accepted for a transplant in Seattle, where there is a treatment specific for her disease not available in New Zealand. As you can imagine, raising this amount of money is a near impossible task so whilst I don’t usually ask anything of my readers, I would love you to reach into your pockets and GIVE a little… any and every little bit counts!
It’s in situations like this where the saying ‘in sickness and in health’ really comes into it’s own. I know little of Angela’s story, aside from what I’ve seen in the media recently so it makes sense to have her photographer Rachel from SWIFT & CLICK tell us a little more about the day below. What I do know is that she’s one heck of a strong lady, who looked like an absolute goddess on her special day. She has an amazing husband to share her life with and deserves to win this battle to do just that… have a future together.
“Like most couples we shoot, Angela and Raymond’s story is about love, about connection and about family. But for these two and their family and friends it’s a story that includes cancer. When Angela first approached us to photograph her wedding she wanted to meet face to face. Intelligent and beautiful we immediately knew she would be a stunning bride. She spoke about her wedding and her plans confidently, she also spoke very matter of factly about her cancer. She seemed more worried about how her condition might effect us than how it was effecting her. She was brave and strong, not like someone who was facing the very real possibility of a near death if doctors were to be believed.
The event itself was beautiful and emotional, hard at times but fully worthwhile. The thing that came through strongest was Raymond and Angela’s positivity and love. They were careful to emphasise that they were not getting married because of the cancer, that the cancer was a side note to their story, not the main point of it. Angela never once asked for special treatment- despite frequently feeling sick, despite barely being able to eat, despite the hours of standing up in a big wedding dress while being full or radioactivity. The wedding wasn’t full of sadness, just the opposite it was full of life- the guests and bridal party savouring their time together with a kind of importance that was palpable. Raymond’s support of Angela made every husband feel inspired, Angela’s courage speaking volumes to every woman. We all felt something and were exempt from feeling awkward at letting tears flow freely. We didn’t feel like outsiders taking photos, we felt like a part of it.
After the wedding we didn’t really let on that Angela had cancer on our Facebook or website. We felt a bittersweet aftertaste every time we edited the photos. If only there was some way we could help Angela, some way any of us could. Then we found out Angela had only one chance left, and that’s where we all come in.
Angela desperately needs to raise over a million dollars. She has been accepted for a transplant in Seattle, USA where there is a treatment specific for her disease, not available in NZ. She needs all the help she can get. You can read more about her story here, or donate here. You can help this little family keep inspiring us, and help Angela keep on fighting against this horrible disease.”