Abigail + Nathan by Sirena Photography

As we drifted together and spent more and more time together it was a slow realisation that I would love Abigail for the rest of my life.

Tell us a little about yourselves, what you do, what you love…

NEP: Abigail is a second-year PhD student at the University of Canterbury studying how protein aggregation contributes to inflammatory diseases. I am a mechanical engineer, and I work for Pressure Equipment Integrity. Weather permitting, we love to be out tramping or going on family adventures. Otherwise, we quite happily settle for cooking together, playing board games, or going to the movies.

How/where/when did you meet – and what were your first impressions?

NEP: I was born in a small South African town called Eshowe. Abigail was born in an even smaller town in New Zealand called Pleasant Point. When our families became friends in 2010, Abigail thought I was a bit silly, while I thought she was one of the cool kids. I became good friends with Abigail’s childhood partner in crime, Adoniyah (her younger brother). Adoniyah had plans to make a team of three. And so it was that after hours of hut building at the river, exploring in Minecraft, and Abigail and Adoniyah chasing me with scissors, a serious comradery was formed.

AJS: Without much thought, this grew with time to feelings that were more significant. One late night while watching AC Milan, Nathan decided the mood was clearly right to ask me to be his girlfriend. Time flew, and after seven more years, while watching a rainy West Coast sunset, Nathan decided the mood was clearly right to ask me to be his wife.

When did you first realise that this was someone you’d like to spend the rest of your life with?

AJS: Since we started dating as teenagers, we tried not to put too much pressure on ourselves too soon. I was always excited to spend time with Nathan and I never really doubted the connection we had. It was always difficult to know if we would eventually grow in different directions, but luckily, it never happened.

NEP: As we drifted together and spent more and more time together it was a slow realisation that I would love Abigail for the rest of my life.

Was there a proposal? Tell us a little about it…

AJS: Although we had agreed that we would like to get married soon, I did not expect the proposal. It had been a difficult few months with Nathan working away, so I was just excited to see him for the weekend. Nathan arrived home and asked where I would like to go for the day. I suggested a few options and decided upon Castle Hill. Unbeknownst to me, his entire plan hinged on the likelihood of me suggesting that location. We packed lunch and off we went for a joyful day. We talked and talked, as I always love to do, and thus, we decided to continue to Devils Punchbowl. One walk in the drenching rain later, Nathan casually asked if I would like to have dinner in Hokitika. I agreed and on we went towards a very wet west coast evening. We stopped at the beach, and Nathan asked where I would like to eat. I found a Thai restaurant (which he had already planned on going to somehow), and while we were waiting for our reservation time, we started walking down the beach. We held hands and walked in the pouring rain – talking about everything and nothing at all. Nathan stopped as I threw a rock into the sea and started to tell me the reasons he loved me. All of a sudden, he was on one knee, and it finally clicked. As we walked back a small gap formed in the clouds and gave us a glimpse of the west coast sunset.

Tell us about the vision you had for the mood or style of your wedding…

AJS: The inspiration behind styling was a blend of modern timeless, old Hollywood glamour, and simple vineyard romance. I wanted to bring classic elements together with more modern trends. The venue was luscious, earthy, and warm, while the décor was kept simple with either white or gold details. The guests were asked to come in earthy tones while the bridal party wore formal black and white. Central to my vision for the day was that it felt joyful, authentic, and fun. To add colour, I chose the florals to be vibrant summer pinks, blues, yellows, and orange. To add an authentic and personal touch, Nathan and I hand-wrote letters to every guest and placed them inside envelopes that were used as place names. To entertain the guests during the afternoon, I created a custom paint by numbers of Nathan and I that they all took turns working on.

What was one element you were happy to splurge on?

AJS: I began our wedding planning by choosing our photographer since it was very important to me to have the memories preserved. I was ecstatic to have Sirena Kim capture the day since she not only had the skills to document it perfectly but made it feel like a celebration all day.

Did anything happen on your wedding day that you laugh about in hindsight (even if it was stressful at the time)?

AJS: Based on other friends’ experiences, I was expecting a lot more things to not go to plan, but the day went extremely smoothly. The one thing I found stressful was arriving early at the venue and having to hide out of sight. It makes me laugh since I told people I did not want to arrive late, but they insisted it was traditional. In the end, my planning to arrive late did not work out, so I got my wish of always being on time.

Tell us about your main outfits, what was unique, is there a story?

AJS: To fit in with the theme of classic simplicity, I wanted our outfits to be black tie. For Nathan and his groomsmen, this meant a classic tuxedo. To differentiate Nathan as the groom, we styled the tuxedo with black shirt buttons and added a vibrant pocket boutonniere. I was originally looking for a simple, elegant, form-fitting dress with a square neck but ended up falling in love with the much more romantic Kelly Lin dress (still containing a square neck). I am glad I changed my vision with this aspect since the romantic style tied my theme in with the slightly rustic venue. I decided to embroider my cathedral-length veil with the wedding date and our initials. This was a labour of love; I even embroidered a letter backwards by mistake at one point and had to redo it carefully. As a child, Nathan would always write his initials on things, so this detail was a sweet reminder of how far our relationship had come.

CEREMONY & RECEPTION Trent’s Estate Vineyard, @trentsvineyard PHOTOGRAPHER Sirena Photography, @sirenaphotography_ VIDEOGRAPHER Salome Schwartfeger, @salome.schwartfeger CELEBRANT Friend, @itsmemrsjessicac FLORA Hi Honey Flowers, @hi.honey_flowers CATERING Trent’s Estate Vineyard, @trentsvineyard CAKE Made by the Bride STATIONERY Hand painted by friend, Jennifer Naughton REGISTRY With Joy SIGNAGE Bride’s Dad, Donald Schwartfeger, @donaldschwartfeger BRIDAL DRESS Kelly Lin Couture, @kellylincouture BRIDAL SHOP & ALTERATIONS Brides of Merivale, @bridesofmerivale VEIL Brides of Merivale, @bridesofmerivale TUX Tarocash, @tarocash RINGS Michael Hill, @michaelhillj; Oore Jewelry, @oorejewelry SHOES Merchant1948, @merchant1948 SHOE DESIGNER Giancarlo Moretti; Isabella Anselmi BRACELETS Complete Studio, @complete_studio PEARL NECKLACE Atolea Jewelry, @atoleajewelry MAKEUP Stacey Banfield, @staceybanfieldmakeup BRIDE’S HAIR Sister of the Bride, Pelatia Schwartfeger, @pelatiaschwartfeger GROOM’S HAIR The Blind Barber, @theblindbarbernz FRAGRANCE Dior – Sauvage GROOMSMEN TUX Tarocash, @tarocash BRIDESMAID DRESS Thrifted; Glassons, @glassons