Alice + Stephen by Roy Byrne

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

Stephen grew up on the Isle of Wight in the United Kingdom. He worked in international development before moving to Aotearoa New Zealand. We run a business that makes finding small-medium size charities easier.

Alice grew up in Dunedin and is studying her Masters at Parsons The New School of Design remotely. We have recently moved to New York so she can complete it in person. We’ve been lucky enough to spend the Covid period living in Wānaka, working, studying, spending time with Alice’s family, and adventuring with our best friends around Te Waipounamu.

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

We first met in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Stephen was working at The Social Enterprise World Forum, and Alice was attending. Stephen was curious about Alice, who was then quiet and enjoyed a laugh but clearly cared about the world. Alice was drawn to Stephen and thought he was hilarious, clever and spirited. Having lived in Ethiopia prior, Stephen was well-aware of the dangers so would accompany Alice and her friend back to their apartment (way out of the way of his hotel) each night to make sure we were safe. This spoke volumes! We remained friends and thought we might never see each other again. It wasn’t until Alice moved to London that our relationship began.

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

We had a special day at the Lighthouse at Trinity Buoy Wharf in London early in our relationship. It is the home to Longplayer, a one thousand year long musical composition. It began playing at midnight on the 31st of December 1999, and will continue to play without repetition until the last moment of 2999, at which point it will complete its cycle and begin again. We were both captivated by it. It was here we both realised (although it wasn’t spoken at the time) that we could spend the rest of our lives together.

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

We were unconventional on the proposal front. While we know it is incredibly important to many people, we agreed that a traditional proposal wasn’t reflective of our relationship, nor was it the way we wanted to make a major life decision! Getting married came about as a discussion, it felt inevitable and completely right to commit to each other given our connection. What felt more like a ‘proposal’ was telling our parents! We’d only been together just over a year when we decided to get married, but everyone was incredibly supportive.

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

We got married in a hallway in Wānaka at 9 am on a Tuesday, with Alice’s parents as the witnesses and our immediate families on Zoom. We’re fairly private people, with deep connections to our family and friends, so we wanted a small, intimate and simple ceremony, with celebrations in the months to follow. We tried to move away from grandiose or performative (although we learned this is all part of it and did surrender to it). We prioritised our commitment to each other and making enough space to truly be present with each other, and with our loved ones. Stephen’s family and friends were in the United Kingdom so couldn’t come because of Covid. We were committed to them having the best possible experience. Wānaka Wedding Films created a near-cinematic Zoom experience and filmed a five-minute highlights clip. Our dear friend and photographer Roy did such a great job of capturing the wedding so we have images to share with our loved ones. We have since had incredibly special celebrations in Dunedin, London and on the Isle of Wight.

What was one element you were happy to splurge on? 

Invites were our happiest expense. Our best friend Biddi Rowley is a talented designer and maker. She designed, hand-made, hand-wrote and hand-stitched every single invite for the Dunedin celebration. The attention to detail, focus on sustainability, love and support was felt in the invites and we will treasure them forever.

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

Trying to get from covid-free Aotearoa New Zealand to the covid-rife United Kingdom for two celebrations was reasonably stress-inducing. We’ll look back on that mission one day as a bonkers move, but we were committed to celebrating with all of our loved ones. Many days we thought it wouldn’t happen, and some guests couldn’t make it due to having Covid, but miraculously we managed to have a beautiful alfresco dinner with friends in London during a heatwave, and a pub-style party at Stephen’s old rowing club near the beach on the Isle of Wight.

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

Stephen’s was a one-hit-wonder. He ordered online, from Holland. When it arrived, he put it on and the fit was perfect; we were both surprised! So very little effort. Alice’s outfit, on the other hand, was more complicated. She bought a Lola Varma blouse from a second-hand wedding website. Three days before the wedding she had nothing to wear on the bottom, Alice and her Mum went to Wānaka town and the first shop they went in to had a perfectly colour-matched silk skirt.

Ceremony location Private Property in Wānaka / Reception location Precinct Food / Videographer Wanaka Wedding Films / Photographer Roy Byrne / Celebrant Married By Soph / Flora The Green Room Flower Co and Estelle Flowers Catering + Beverages + Cake Precinct Food and Wine Freedom / Registry Easy Registry / Stationery Biddi Rowley / Bride’s Dress Lola Varma from Still White / Skirt Silk Laundry from Deval Boutique / Groom’s Attire Arket / Shoes Dr Martens / Ring/s Good Gold / Shoes ASOS / Earrings Jasmin Sparrow / Hair + Makeup Shannon Kay /