Ellie + Liam by Moira West Photography

Tell us a little about yourselves, what you do, what you love, what is unique about you and your relationship…

Liam and I are true high school sweethearts, meeting at the young age of 16 years old. Over the 10 years of being together, we have grown both individually and together as a couple into the very different people we are today. 

I’ve always believed that Liam and I are the epitome of the saying ‘opposites attract’, as we could not be less alike. Whereas Liam is all things sports, outdoors and social, I am the homebody who will always have her nose in some historical romance novel or cooped up in front of the computer studying. The fact that we are so different allows me to believe that we not only bring the best out in each other, but also encourage one another to step out of our “norm” every now and again. 

We both have a big passion for animals, dedicating the entire year prior to the wedding pet-sitting in other people’s homes. We were essentially homeless for the whole year, although were never more than a few days without a pets home to stay in. We met the most amazing animals (and owners) over that year, and were able to save a lot of money for the wedding! Our passion for animals has also lead Liam and I to take up a solely vegetarian diet for the last four years, and was something we felt strongly about including in our wedding catering. 

Other than animals, we also love camping and are planning on completing a full campervan trip of the South Island for our honeymoon. There is just something about native New Zealand that brings about the highest levels of serenity!

Tell us about your special day, was there a specific theme or style? Tell us a little about the setting, the styling and some of your favourite details…

Because Liam and I are big fans of camping and being amongst nature, we were always drawn to the idea of a forest wedding. We had looked at several venue options here in New Zealand, although it seemed that we had picked the busiest weekend of the entire year to get married, and everywhere was booked. The idea sprung to me one night that we should discuss the possibility of getting married on my Aunty and Uncles rural property. Their farm is bordered by native New Zealand forest and had an amazing rustic bridge leading to the entrance of the forest. It was perfect for what we had envisioned. 

After obtaining permission from New Zealand Forestry to use the land, it was full noise to sort every logistical obstacle that accompanied choosing such an isolated slice of paradise for our venue. There was a plethora of functions to consider, such as power, lighting, catering and transport. We were fortunate enough to have my Dad and Uncle put their brainbox minds together and come up with some great solutions.  

I really loved the idea of a vintage, rustic theme but didn’t really know how to achieve this without it clashing and just looking ridiculous. I had considered the help of a wedding stylist, although I was incredibly fortunate to have my Mum, Nana and Aunty bring all my dreams to life on their own. They were the creative and artistic trio that collected countless amounts of dried flowers, vintage books, ornaments, furniture and so many more items that can be seen captured in the photos. Not only did they source majority of the wedding collection, but they also set everything up in the days leading up to the wedding and ensured everything was absolutely perfect. 

Additionally, Liam’s Mum handmade each individual wedding invitation on beautiful recycled cotton rag paper from Feathers & Stone. She used her in-home studio to letterpress each individual character on to the paper. She has the patience of a saint and the talent of a genius!

I was in absolute awe how both sides of our families came together to make every aspect of our wedding a dream come true. It truly was a family extravaganza and our day would just not have been the same without them. 

Tell us about your main outfits:

Grace Loves Lace has been a long-time favourite of mine, so as soon as Liam and I were engaged I knew I would wear one of their beautiful gowns on the big day. About 6-8 months before the wedding, GLL released the Honey Rose gown and I fell in love instantly. I even had a few of my friends sending me links on Instagram commenting on how perfect the dress was for my style! I’ve always been a sucker for a cowl neck, and who doesn’t admire that amazing criss-cross low back?!

Unfortunately GLL don’t have a showroom here in New Zealand, and with us pet-sitting fulltime I struggled to find the time to fly over and visit the Australian showrooms. Alas, I wouldn’t let this stop me. I decided to take the risk and order the dress online without trying it on. Lucky for me, it fit me like a glove (the seamstress couldn’t believe it and said she’d only seen that a few times before in her career!). 

As for Liam, he wasn’t too fussy with what he wore although he knew he wanted something light coloured with a linen fabric. He was, however, very fussy about his shoes which after months of searching the internet high and low, he settled on the most epic Staple Superior lace-ups. He had purchased his shoes long before his suit, which was left until about 6-8 weeks before the wedding! It was from Hallenstines and was custom tailored by his very talented Mum. 

What were some of the most memorable/unique moments from the day?

One of my favourite moments from the day was when one of my bridesmaids asked me and the other three bridesmaids to gather together in the garden for a meditation. It was the perfect way to take a few minutes just for ourselves and remind us to slow down and take in every inch of the atmosphere. It completely eased all my nerves and encouraged me to slow down and take everything in throughout the day. I will forever cherish all those small moments of clarity. 

Liam and I always look back on the ceremony and have a good a laugh at when we were exchanging our vows, as I totally stuffed one of the sentences up and became a stuttering mess! I had to take a step back and just look at our celebrant and say “Ok wait, what?”. Everyone just laughed along with me and it made the whole thing feel so much more relaxed and casual. 

Finally, probably my most cherished moment of the day was just seeing how blessed we were to have such amazing family and friends who all did their part to make our day what it was. Our celebrant was a family friend who is super chilled out and charismatic. He set the perfect vibe during the ceremony. Our MC was another family friend who is so close to my entire family that she is seen as our sister, and has been there for as long as I can remember. We had friends working on the bar and family (Aunties, Uncles, Grandparents and cousins) all working hard on the day. In addition to all that, one of my Uncles handmade the beautiful wooden pen that we signed the register with, and my other two Uncles sung and played their guitars in the forest as the guests arrived. Each family members generosity and passion for our vision warms our hearts to this very day!

Any advice for other couples planning to spend the rest of their lives together?

I would 100% recommend to everyone not to get caught up in the planning process, it’s all part of the fun and as everyone always says: it will be over before you know it! It is so easy to become overwhelmed and stressed out with all the organising and financing, but try to give yourself a chance to enjoy working together to bring about the most amazing day to celebrate your love. 

And of course, as most brides and grooms will advise, make the very most of your day. 

Give yourselves 5-10 minutes alone with each other on the day to take in all your most cherished people who have come together to celebrate YOU. Only then will you likely realise how blessed you are as a couple! It will also give you time to slow down and just absorb everything in, before you blink and its over.  Oh! And if your budget allows, definitely hire a videographer! We were going to skip out on this to save some coin, although I am so glad we didn’t. Having a mini movie to relive all the smiles, laughter and happy tears is priceless. 

Ceremony and Reception Location: Private property | Videographer: Joshua Dey | Photographer: Moira West Photography | Celebrant: Ruben Mars | Entertainment: Whiskey Mama | Planning and Styling: The Bride | Hire Furniture: Two Foxes Rentals | Lighting: Vintage and Style | Linen and Table Numbers: The Pretty Prop Shop | Neon Light: Hire Neon | Macramé: McKenzie Macrame | Marquee: Harrisons Hire Master | Flora: Flower Room | Catering: The Crafted and Co | Grazing table: Your Perfect Platter | Cake: Caversham Kitchen | Wedding invitations: The VC Press | Bride’s Dress: Grace Loves Lace | Groom’s Attire: Hallensteins | Rings: Michael Hill | Bride’s Shoes: The Iconic | Groom’s Shoes: The Iconic | Bride’s Veil: Samantha Stokes | Makeup: Nika Steele | Hair: Sarah Higgins | Bride’s Fragrance: Yves Saint Laurent | Groom’s Fragrance: Dolce & Gabbana | Bridesmaid’s Dresses: Evolution Bridesmaids | Groomsmen’s Attire: Hallensteins