Brooke + James by Meredith Lord

We’re both Kiwis; Brooke’s from the Hawkes Bay, and I’m from Levin. We both work in the Tech sector – Brooke’s in Human Resources, and I’m in Marketing.

Outside of work, we’re both very proud dog parents to our 3-year-old Golden Retriever, Frankie. Now that we’re back in the Bay from Sydney, our typical weekend usually consists of a coffee and a walk down the beach with Frankie, seeing friends and family, enjoying the Hawkes Bay wine scene and travelling as much as we can.

We’ve recently finished building our first home, so we are often potting around home, learning how to garden and enjoying our slice of paradise. Brooke loves to get out for a run most days and is always finding new bars and restaurants for us to try. I enjoy a round of golf and have recently taken up squash which keeps me busy!

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

James – We met 6 years ago on a dating app called “Happn”. Brooke sent the first message! At the time, Brooke was living in Sydney, and I was living in Auckland. We matched while Brooke was over in Auckland for a few months on a work secondment.

At the time, I was coincidentally flatting with a mutual friend of ours, Chris, who actually ended up singing us down the aisle at our wedding. Chris played the role of matchmaker and encouraged us both to go on a date (not that I needed much convincing…)

The first thing I noticed about her was natural confidence and fun-loving nature.

Brooke – On our first date, James pulled out all the stops and took me to a seafood cooking class in Wynyard Quarter. Unbeknownst to James, I can’t cook to save myself, and the date was a hilarious disaster from start to finish. I found out after the date that he’d even borrowed his flatmate’s car so that I wouldn’t have to ride in his dinged-up old car – the perfect gentleman. My first impression was that he was very relaxed, a total romantic, and a lot of fun to be around.

I was set to permanently return to Sydney about a month later. As I was leaving, James convinced me that he always loved Sydney and had been thinking for ages about making moving over himself. Two months later, James had quit his job and had made the move over the ditch – although turned out, he’d never even been to Sydney.

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

It was a very wet and windy Saturday, the weekend before Australia went into the first Covid lockdown. I came home from shopping with a friend to find a series of photos laid out on the kitchen bench. The photos were of significant milestones in our life together, each with a beautiful handwritten story on the back. The final photo in the series was of “our spot” – a cliff lookout overlooking the beach where we lived – with the instruction telling me to meet James there.

I thought he must have been crazy, the rain was pelting down and the wind was howling, but off I went. I walked up the trail to our spot to find James in a suit, standing in the pouring rain completely soaked, holding a ring box – told you he was a romantic!

Afterwards, I walked back into the house to see my best friend, Alice, who James had flown down to Sydney to surprise me. By the end of the afternoon, all of our friends had come over to join in the celebrations, and we danced in the living room late into the night.

I don’t think any couple hopes for rain on their wedding day, and after two previous wedding dates marked in the calendar, I was determined that we’d get the perfect sunny Hawkes Bay day for lucky number three. To say I was disappointed that the weather gods had other ideas would be an understatement, and although we got a relatively dry morning and afternoon, the rain turned up just as we went for our post-ceremony photos. I remember as we got out of the car at the location, our photographer Meredith told us if we ditched our umbrellas and embraced the rain, we wouldn’t regret it. Looking at the photos we got back, we certainly did not.

Word to the wise – get an experienced and well-regarded photographer and trust them to do their thing, even if that means walking through muddy grass in the pouring rain (you’d be amazed what the drycleaners can get out of your wedding dress, although be prepared to say goodbye to your shoes).

VENUE: Black Barn River Room, @blackbarnnz / PHOTOGRAPHER: Meredith Lord, @meridithlord / CELEBRANT: Megan Banks Celebrant, @meganbbanks / ENTERTAINMENT: Shaun Preston, @shaun_preston / STYLING & PLANNING: Bride / HIRE: Flock Events, @flockevents / BOUQUETS AND ALTAR ARRANGEMENT: Botanical Lane, @botanical.lane / DÉCOR FLOWERS AND VASES: Urban Eden, @urbanedenco / CATERING & BEVERAGES: Black Barn River Room, @blackbarnnz / CAKE: Bride’s mum / STATIONERY: Groom / ACCOMMODATION: Craggy Range / BRIDE’S DRESS: Kyha Studios, @kyhastudios / DRESS ALTERATIONS: Obriasco / GROOM: Rembrandt, @rembrandt1946 / SHOES: Harlo, @harloau / MAKEUP: Candice Dear, @candicedearmakeup / HAIR: Debbie Pearce Hair, @debbiepearcehair / FRAGRANCE: Elie Saab / WEDDING PLANNER BOOK: Together Journal

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