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Castaways Resort Auckland, Waiuku
Aydan and Desiree’s story began at the Rugby World Cup in 2011. After a surprise proposal at Desiree’s 30th birthday party, the couple began planning their gorgeous beach-themed wedding. The ceremony was held on the West Coast clifftops overlooking the ocean and the reception was a night of dancing, partying and photobooth fun!
It all started in the lead up to the largest event that New Zealand had ever seen, the Rugby World Cup! Aydan was the newbie and it was his job to prepare the transport for the Opening Ceremony. I (Desiree) was already well-established in the office as part of the Casting Team and sat only a desk away from Aydan. I walked into the room in a new purple dress and sassy new wedges and introduced myself to Aydan; he instantly decided that he had to get to know me. One night after work he managed to persuade me to come down and join him for a drink. In passing he asked me to come with him and a few of the other operations team on a road trip. Being polite, I agreed, but with no intentions of actually going. In the end, I did go and during the road trip, Aydan and I became almost inseparable. Three weeks later, Aydan left to move back to the Middle East. We were both so sad to say goodbye, but thank goodness for Skype! We Skyped any chance we could, but it became so ridiculous that Aydan finally asked me to move to the Middle East. I knew I didn't want to be with anyone else but it seemed a bit crazy to move to the other side of the world to be with someone I had only known for three months! But I decided to go two weeks late. I arrived in Abu Dhabi safely and over the next few months, we had a wonderful and exciting time getting to know each other properly. Aydan proposed during my long-awaited and well-planned 30th party. All of my family and most of my close friends had come from around the country to celebrate with me. As the speeches were progressing, Aydan was feeling quite nervous. This was the moment he had planning for the last few months and somehow managed very successfully to keep it from his nosey girlfriend. Finally, after all the speeches, it was Aydan’s turn. The room was silent and I stood off to one side, champagne in hand, waiting to hear all the lovely things my boyfriend was about to say. Aydan was almost lost for words but he recovered quickly and turned to my brother-in-law who was frantically trying to get something out of his pocket. He threw it to Aydan, and Aydan dropped to one knew and asked me, “Will you marry me?” Tears started flowing down my face as I said YES! Needless to say there was not a dry eye in the room!
Aydan and I both love the beach, so we decided on a clifftop wedding overlooking a West Coast beach that would include a magical sunset to set the mood for the evening celebrations. Together we picked the venue well in advance because we were moving to the Middle East and wouldn’t be back until the wedding. Castaways ticked all the boxes, providing accommodation for our overseas guests and showcasing New Zealand’s finest landscapes. Because we both work in the event industry, we were in our element. So we began planning our chic, beach-themed wedding.
Most brides-to-be have some idea of what kind of dress they want to have and I was no exception. I had come back to NZ briefly to visit family and thought this would be the perfect time to do the mother/daughter dress fitting. After trying on all the styles I had in mind, my Mum convinced me to try on a princess-style dress. Back in the Middle East, my close girlfriend and I went dress shopping, taking photos of each one to send to my mum and sister. Strangely enough, we all ended up picking the same one, Greece – a beautiful, beaded, one-strap, princess gown. It perfectly fit my style! My makeup was done by one of my very close friends who knew just what I was after – a glamorous look that wasn’t over the top. My hair was braided to the side – a unique hairstyle that complimented my makeup and dress perfectly.
The ceremony took place on the clifftop under a beautiful archway laced with greenery and pink lilies and the ocean as a backdrop. Upon guest arrival, we had mini polaroids taken of each guest and these were paired with a name card at the reception as a surprise for the guests. Everyone was guided to their seats for the ceremony by a custom-built sign (made by the groom himself), which said “Today two families come together, so pick a seat, not a side”. My brother and grandfather walked me down the aisle to a very special song which is a beautiful rendition of “The Power of Love” by Gabrielle Aplin. The song has significant meaning as the original was played at my sister’s funeral. The new rendition seemed fitting as it subtly tied my sister’s memory into the wedding. The ceremony was rather modern and Aydan and I wrote own vows which were both sweet and funny. Because Aydan is so tall, I required a step to be able to seal the deal with a kiss; this definitely got the guests laughing! Butterflies were also released as part of the ceremony to signify new beginnings. The bridesmaids wore blush pink dresses to match the flowers and the groomsmen wore black suits and black ties with a blush pink rose.
Aydan and I decided to cut the cake during the cocktail hour. Instead of a traditional cake, we cut a small cake and served cake pops to the guests in boutique mini sand buckets; all were housed in a grand, three-tiered cake stand. The reception carried on our beach theme with each table named after beaches around NZ that were significant to me and Aydan. The guests were directed to the tables via an area that displayed the beach name and the guest’s name. The latter sat in mini beach chairs nestled in sand. The tables were dressed in white cloths and aqua table runners. Our centrepieces were glass cylinders filled with water, sand, seashells and floating candles. Placed on each chair was a brown paper bag gift-tied with aqua blue ribbon containing a candle and a jandal bottle opener. During the reception, a highlights show-reel of the lead up to our vows was shown. This was so beautifully produced and put together in a same-day edit by Perspectives. After that, we ducked out to get some amazing sunset shots. Our first dance was a slow melody track called “Echo” by Incubus. The rest of the evening, everyone partied to the music made by our amazing DJ and were kept entertained by taking crazy photos in the photo booth.
Take the time to plan ahead so you can enjoy the day with your loved ones. Make lists and prioritize them in their order of importance but also delegate where you can to take off some of the pressure. Remember that the day is all about you and your soon-to-be husband and that's all that matters.