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Gracehill Vineyard Estate, Kumeu
This gorgeous couple met after Cat moved to Auckland from the freezing South. In their own words, it was their love of humour, junk television, and junk food, which drew them together! And on a beautifully sunny day on the 25th January 2015, Olivia and Catherine tied the knot at Gracehill Vineyard Estate.
After 18 months together, we planned a holiday to a tropical island. I (Liv) thought, "If this goes well, after we get home I'll start looking for a ring..." but I didn’t know that Cat actually had one in her pocket the whole time! After a planned romantic proposal went wrong (the restaurant closed, clouds obscured the sunset, a false accusation of not paying for dinner, etc…), Cat eventually managed to pop the question during a moonlit walk on the beach. I (Liv) had no idea - I thought I’d be the proposer, not the proposed-to!
Although untraditional by its very nature, we wanted to keep some aspects of our day as traditional as possible. We chose to get ready at the Langham hotel as this meant we could have hair & makeup specialists flitting between rooms, while we stayed apart. We were also able to use the luxurious Club Rooms for our "first look" moment which gave us the opportunity to take plenty of photos without being rushed. From there, we chose to go to a stunning West Coast beach (on the hottest day of summer!) and then on to a derelict house for something a little more whimsical. We went for a simple country style, collecting old glass bottles from second hand stores for months in advance. Gypsophila and lambs-ear were in our bouquets and on the tables. Hessian and lace (also recycled) were added to make the venue feel homely and comfortable - but still celebratory. We wrote all our own vows, and asked close friends to select their own readings for the ceremony.
We had two dresses, of course! We wanted to keep them secret from each other, but still needed to make sure they wouldn’t clash, or worse, match! To avoid these problems we enlisted the help of an impartial third party in the form of a close friend with amazing taste. Liv had chosen her design by spotting Alma's work in a bridal magazine, and then spent some hours in her studio and showroom trying on dress after dress, and then having something made which felt just right. The fact it was made of Chantilly lace, the same as her Mum's, made it all the more special. Cat had met Sarah from Little White Dress at the Wedding Show, and knew from the outset who she wanted to make her gown. They spent many sessions together, discussing, designing, changing minds...over and over again...until it was perfect! Our hair and makeup was designed to complement our individual complexions, while also looking like we belonged together - we trusted the team at Bridal Beauty totally. They were amazing, especially in dealing with a very complicated schedule at the hotel, including stealthy movements between rooms so the brides didn't see one another in the hallways.
Our ceremony and reception was held at Gracehill Vineyard Estate. We chose Gracehill both for its beautiful location, and also because we wanted the ceremony to flow naturally into the reception. For this reason, we had our photos before the ceremony - we didn't want to miss half the party! We had a secular ceremony (and a brief one), but we also emphasised the reason we were there – to say these vows to each other. It was a celebration that we were ABLE to be married! When we got engaged, that wasn't the case. We wrote our own vows, and made them as personal and as kooky as we are. And we both cried, a LOT.
Our reception was really all about the speeches. We didn't know it, but we've got some very skilled orators, and a couple of them brought the house down! Especially Cat, who had promised to "keep it brief," retold, in hilarious detail, her ill-fated but ultimately successful proposal story. We were also fortunate to have a speech in the words of Cat's late father read by Mike, our MC and DJ. Our first dance was to Ellie Goulding "Your Song" - and we were so thankful to have our wedding party step promptly onto the floor to save us! We also sparklers on hand to play with, and the guys from Perspectives were on hand to capture the magic. Right in the middle of the speeches, Isaac from Perspectives Photo + Cinema made the perfectly timed suggestion to slip away for some photos in a nearby field as the sun went down. This was perhaps the most personal time of the day for us, after the hubbub of the ceremony and reception, we had time together to reflect and enjoy ourselves, alone.
Dont be afraid to accept the advice of the professionals who do this thing 20 times every season. He makeup people know about makeup, trust them. The dresses folks know about dresses. The photographers know about photos, and the venue people can make it all happen if you tell them what you want! We were so grateful for every single one of our amazing vendors - pick based on who you like. Don't scrimp on photography. When you are making your schedule for the day, add in designated "alone" time, to absorb everything together. Have your bridesmaid and best man remind you periodically to take time for a deep breath and to look around. Do the family portrait photos. Your gram will want them.