Brad + Ben by Valo Wedding Photo and Video

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

(Brad) – Professionally we’re opposites. I work in communications, Ben works in supply chain and logistics. As a couple, we both love the outdoors and are very active in summer… not so much in winter. Ben’s an amazing cook and I’m an amazing eater.

We love to celebrate ‘us’ at basically every opportunity we can think of, dating anniversary, engagement anniversary, one year since we left London, two months in a new job, one month of going to the gym. We’ve always been good at making reasons to take a moment and love what we have.

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

Brad: We met first online on Tinder where we chatted for a bit, before meeting up in person about a week later. Our first date was at Little Easy on Ponsonby Road, which was the cool new bar at the time. Ben seemed like a lot of fun, he smiled a lot and was really easy to talk to. Ben: Brad was very handsome, and it just felt very natural. We had an instant spark.

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

(Ben) – I knew pretty early on that Brad was something special and that he was someone I’d spend the rest of my life with. We did some extreme speed dating for a few weeks after we first met. I was heading away for a month and we were keen to spend as much time as possible together before I went. We spent basically every day together and everything was so natural and fun in those first few weeks and I knew as far back as then.

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

We both wanted the day to feel totally relaxed, really intimate and fun. As a gay couple that was quite easy because we felt unencumbered by tradition, which meant we were free to design a wedding that was a bit different. We also agreed on a very small wedding (we had 26 guests) and a very private native bush ceremony spot. On the structure of the day, rather than walking down the aisle, Ben and I were waiting in the glade for our guests to arrive, which we loved. We greeted them all one-by-one as they entered – so we completely flipped that part on its head and made the arrival really informal. We also didn’t have any groom party, so before the ceremony, we invited our mums and dads over to our place to have the ‘first look’ and took the chance to give them surprise bouquets and put buttonholes on our dads. It was a really special, private moment with our family that we’ll cherish forever. Our photographer, Laura, gave us some really good advice early on to try and create little moments like this one throughout the day that felt natural, but presented good photo opportunities – and this was definitely one of them.

 After the ceremony, we also went straight to the reception – only taking 10 minutes for photos together so that we could enjoy the day with our friends. Our ceremony spot was on slightly uneven, the leafy ground underneath a spectacular hidden glade of pohutukawa at Muriwai Beach. It was so naturally stunning that we decided not to touch it at all – no decorations, no chairs, no archway. We made nature the focal point and stood in front of a particularly knotted trunk (which we also featured on our invitations) and brought in only a short rug for us to stand on either side of. At the reception, on Ben’s parent’s property, we were surrounded by native New Zealand bush (Nikau, Kauri, Rimu etc.) so we wanted to be close to that and bring parts of that into our reception event. We had canapes and games on the bush fringe and encouraged our stylist to use cuttings in our table arrangements and florals. We also put a lot of thought into small touches like music, food and wine. Things that we love. We drank French rose and champagne, watched the sun go down to the sounds of Khruangbin and Maribou State, and had a BBQ dinner on an L-shaped table setting so everyone could see each other.

6. What was one element you were happy to splurge on?

Brad – The stylist was our biggest expense and we’d do it all over again. We were married in a really natural setting so the backdrop in most cases did a lot of the hard work, but our reception was in a barn made of plywood. There was no pretending it was anything else. So we worked with our stylist to create a really elegant and warm tablescape – she called it table swag and it really was. We incorporated bush from the property with a rust colour palette with pops of white florals. We had a tonne of candles, hanging lights and really sharp black tableware so despite the very woody backdrop, it felt really sexy.

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

Ben – Our reception was held at a barn on my parents property. The barn has one exposed side which means in the wrong weather all the elements could find their way inside. We spent hours and hours with both of our parents doing a home job of installing retractable windbreaks made of clear material to still allow lots of natural light into the barn while protecting our guests. On the morning of our wedding we woke up to torrential rain with the worst possible wind direction for the barn. Luckily this all cleared about an hour before our ceremony and we had no wind and sunshine for the rest of the day, almost unheard of in Muriwai. We didn’t use the wind breaks at all. 

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

Brad – We told our guests to wear what makes you feel good. For us that looked like classic, well-fitted suits with matching black paisley print bow ties and Italian shoes. The only funny thing was that Ben was working out a lot before the wedding, so much so that he had to get his jacket refitted due to his #gains.

Ceremony location Muriwai beach secret spot / Reception location Ben’s parent’s house / Photographer Valo Wedding photo & video / Celebrant Celebrate With Love / Styling & Flora Rock and Honey  / Catering + Beverages Free Range Chef  / Cake Bluebells Cakery / Ben’s Attire Ted Baker from Life For Men / Brad’s Attire Paul Smith from Fifth Avenue / Ring/s both rings from a shop on the Ponte Vecchio bridge in Florence / Shoes Brando & Florsheim from Fifth Avenue / Hair In The Cut Barbershop / Fragrance Mojave Ghost by Byredo