Emily + Jordan by Bayly & Moore

We began a two-year, long-distance romance, travelling back and forth to see each other for a couple of days
every three or four weeks. There were a lot of teary airport goodbyes and months packed into weekends.

I’m a photographer and Jordan is an industrial designer. We met on a friend’s fire escape in Dunedin. Jordan had moved there for work and I was two weeks away from moving to Auckland. I threw a leaving party in my studio. Jordan showed up and caught my attention immediately by taking over my music. He walked me home in the rain and I remember thinking I never wanted the moment to end.

We decided to move to New York on a whim, with no visas and no job prospects, trying to figure out if we could stand each other in person for longer than a week, while living in a one-room Airbnb. Emily then had major back surgery, which was a long year of recuperation and stress, learning to walk again. These hurdles are part of what makes us more resilient. We never take each other for granted. I had planned to propose to Emily in Montreal on Thanksgiving weekend, with a few close friends flying in to join us. I had Dani, our fabulous oracle celebrant, fabricate a lie about heading south to spend the weekend at the beach. Emily worked late the night before, which put her in the worst state to be woken up at 3am for a flight she didn’t see coming. It also happened to be a freakishly cold weekend, so instead of heading to the beach, I had to sell the idea of going to Montreal in -20 weather for no particular reason. In the end, the plan came together. I proposed in the park and our friends surprised her from the bushes.

We wanted our wedding to feel more like a party than a wedding. We took the approach that we were organising a DIY destination festival somewhere familiar. Lake Rotoiti holds special significance for us, as it’s close to home and family, and has so many great things for overseas guests to do. The forest ‘chapel’ is part of a favourite walk. To build suspense, we led guests on a 10-minute walk through native bush and pine trees to Kelsey Lu’s ‘Dreams’, and gathered them in an intimate circle.

After the ceremony, we had a shared dinner outside under eucalyptus trees covered in lights. To minimize waste, we foraged and dyed grasses and florals ourselves, hand-painted secondhand plates and signage, and used mismatching silverware that Jordan’s parents collected. Emily’s stepmum collected vintage glass bottles for the tables and was our chief florist. We designed and made a tinsel curtain centered around a giant disco ball that Emily’s mum made. The bar was also handmade, finished an hour before kick-off. For dessert, Emily’ sisters styled an epic dessert table of S’mores for people to roast over the firepit.

We didn’t want there to be an end-point, so it all ended up a three-day celebration. Most people were staying in houses all along the lake, so you could walk, swim or kayak to see each other, to just hang out in the sun. We had a week of amazing weather and light, and a few days grace before we flew back to New York, straight into the centre of a pandemic. So life has continued to be wild! We feel so privileged that it worked out
the way it did.

Photography Bayly & Moore / Bride’s top & skirt Newhite / Bride’s belt & shoes Zara / Earrings Lindi Kingi / Groom’s suit Boglioli / Groom’s shirt Dries van Noten / Groom’s tie The Naked Man Vintage / Groom’s shoes RM Williams / Celebrant Dani Forword / Coordinator Aimee Law from Only One / Flora Sarah Green / Bride’s engagement ring Catbird / Bride’s wedding band Everett Fine Jewelry / bride’s hair Lauren Armstrong / Marquee Stretch Tents / Catering Hereford Kitchen herefordkitchen.co.nz / Groom’s fragrance Costume National Homme / Bride’s fragrance Thé Noir 29 by Le Labo / Entertainment DJ T Rice / Kombucha Roa Kombucha