As this was not just a celebration for Eli and I, we added other special touches with wearing my Grandfather’s war medals on my dress, or finding photos of every guest with Eli and I to take home as a thanks, to wanting the bridesmaids to find dresses that was their personality style and different to each other. We wanted everyone there to know how important they are to our lives and our relationship journey so we hoped everyone felt represented by our wedding vision.
Tell us a little about yourselves, what you do, what you love…
OT: Born in Mexico, with Samoan, Chinese and Australian heritage who grew up in Argentina and now living in South Auckland serving as a Social Worker. Aside from that, I’m also proud to be running a Netball Club/Community (with incredible women) which I founded over 5 years ago. On the days Eli has heard enough of social justice issues, I take a break and go horse riding, drink margaritas with the girls and eat with my family.
ES: My name is Emmanuela Salmons but known to friends as Eli. Born and raised in South Auckland, New
Zealand and carry NZ European and Cook Island lineage. If I’m not at work providing Government assistance programmes to First Home Buyers across the country, I am either fishing with friends, playing/watching sport or working in the garden.
How/where/when did you meet – and what were your first impressions?
OT: It’s cliché to say, but we have to shout out Tinder for Eli and I meeting. Most people assume we met through Netball, but we never crossed paths on our different sides of Auckland. However, sharing so many similar passions has definitely inspired our bond. I knew Eli was a keeper when he picked me up for our first date from my flat at the time. I was desperately trying to get my Mum and Aunty out the door before he turned up but they were enjoying their wine and jumped at the chance to do some pre-date grilling – not to mention about ten of my friends were also there. Eli handled it like the champ he is, and he got early access to the most important people in my life and didn’t run away. I knew instantly he was a confident man who could have fun, a perfect fit for me!
Was there a proposal? Tell us a little about it…
OT: The proposal was very much like Eli and I’s relationship – low key but full of emotion. I had found out 6 months before the proposal my Aunty had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. Life, priorities, hopes and dreams were re-evaluated after her diagnosis and although marriage had never been top of my list I didn’t want to envision the day without her there. From there, Eli and I decided to get married as a way to celebrate our love but also to thank and celebrate our families – I can’t think of a better reason to have a party! Eli was quick to action and brought me a beautiful ring from my favourite jeweller all the way from Tel Aviv, Israel. On weekends he brings me an iced coffee in bed and this particular morning my straw had a ring around it. He did all the right things by asking my parents and getting down on one knee and later in the day sent me and a bottle of champagne to lunch with my Mum and Aunty to share the good news – it was perfect. We celebrated all week and I had the honour of sharing the news with my Papa (Grandfather) two days before he passed away, it will forever give me comfort he approved and is proud of us.
Tell us about the vision you had for the mood or style of your wedding…
OT: It was important we blended Eli and I’s culture and upbringing and we loved that this gave us a point of difference to the weddings we had seen. Due to my Aunt’s diagnosis we planned the wedding in under 6 months and had a winter wedding, this allowed us to go moody and magical with lots of greens, pinks and silver. We wanted the wedding to feel special and classy but everyone’s comfortability was top of mind so we didn’t want it to have too formal of a feeling. Having cultural aspects such as my Papa’s (Grandfather) Samoan song to walk down the aisle, or a Cook Island dance group at the reception helped everyone feel intimate and included. As this was not just a celebration for Eli and I, we added other special touches with wearing my Grandfather’s war medals on my dress, or finding photos of every guest with Eli and I to take home as a thanks, to wanting the bridesmaids to find dresses that was their personality style and different to each other. We wanted everyone there to know how important they are to our lives and our relationship journey so we hoped everyone felt represented by our wedding vision.
What was one element you were happy to splurge on?
The venue, the venue, the venue. It deserves to be said multiple times because it was so beautiful and represented Eli and I so well. It was a hefty chunk of our budget but as soon as we saw it we both knew it was the right spot. The venue is a Spanish homestead which tied in with our Spanish styling touches such as our cake which was Day of the Dead (Mexican Celebration) themed and our table numbers which were Spanish Crosses. It also saved us on decorating as the venue alone was enough. The grounds of the venue are lush and tropical which fit our Cook Island and Samoan heritage, but also the venue was located in South Auckland which now Eli and I call home. I loved that you had to drive through a bustling suburb (which made you feel that you were definitely lost) until you see these grand gates and drive up this beautiful tree framed driveway into a secret, secluded paradise.
I also want to acknowledge Sacred Heart Parish for our ceremony, as the church is where my parents were married and where we last said goodbye to my Nana and Papa. The church is full of love, family, and history and Eli and I had the privilege to add to that – this was priceless to us.
Did anything happen on your wedding day that you laugh about in hindsight (even if it was stressful at the time)?
OT: Hmm there’s a few moments which make me laugh, one is where Eli made a speech and asked everyone to stand up, put their hand on their chest, take a step to the right and then told them to sit back down. He had everyone thinking he had had one too many whiskeys and I was rolling my eyes that this was another one of his exercises. However, he fooled us all and tied this in to his speech. He said “If I can make a room of 100 people rise to their feet, put their hand over their heart, and take a step in the right direction I pray I do this in our relationship and marriage moving forward” – smooth guy haha.
Tell us about your main outfits, what was unique, is there a story?
OT: For my dress, I searched far and wide for a dress that was different but kept coming across similar styles. I eventually found a shop in Clevedon on the outskirts of Auckland and went for my first appointment with my bridesmaids. There I met the owner Valeria, and I told her all my bridesmaids were either Social Workers or Nurses and we made the connection that she had been involved in creating the role I was currently in with the NZ Police. It was then I knew the world had aligned and I was in the right place with the right person and I would find my dress. Which was very much the case when I tried on the dress I chose, it was formal, fun, shapely (but not too sexy for the church) and had a detachable skirt for the drama, which I thought was a great deal to have a semi change of outfit for the reception. Her team worked really hard to make adjustments to the dress such as changing the front and sleeves and adding a part that would accommodate my Grandfather’s medals. I later found out it was the last dress of that type that would be made so I knew again how special it was. My Mum and Aunty were with me at every fitting and these moments I will cherish forever.
For Eli’s suit, we also knew we wanted something a little different and decided to go with a custom dark green suit. Green is his colour and having the jacket double breasted gave him a formality and classiness we both loved. It’s always scary to go custom when you’re not an expert or designer. We were worried he would look military or like an American Pastor but he pulled it off, and it looked great against the Groomsmen’s black suits and with the backdrop of our venues and colour theme.
Ceremony location: Ponsonby Herne Bay Parish / Reception location: Puketutu Island Estate, @puketutuislandestate / Photographer: David James, @davidjames.picturetaker / Videographer: Valo, @valophotocinema / Celebrant: Fr Rory Morrissey of Sacred Heart Parish / Entertainment: Tama’aru Dance Group, @tamaaru.dance; DJ – @kidku / Hire: Darby & Grey, @darbyandgrey / Flora: Floralessence, @floralessence_nz / Catering + Beverages: Urban Gourmet, @urbangourmetcatering / Cake: Sweet Bites, @sweetbitesnz / Stylist + Stationery: Kate’s Vintage Signs, @katesvintagesignsnz / Gifting: We asked for a koha towards our honeymoon / Transport: Classic Limousine / Lighting: Crown Events / Bride’s Attire: Rara Avis – Ange Etoiles from Dell’Amore, @dellamorebridal / Groom: Savile Row – Custom Suit from Summer Star / Ring/s: Michael Hill, @michaelhillj / Shoes Bride: Novo Shoes, @novoshoes / Shoes Groom: 3 Wise Men, @_3wisemen / Engagement Ring: ARTEMËR, @artemer / Other Accessories: Jewellery from Bride’s Mother and war medals from Bride’s Grandfather / Makeup: Mia Makeup Artistry and Eyelash Extensions, @mia_artistrynz / Hair: Amanda Preston Hair, @_amandaprestonhair