Emma + Dave by Luisa Apanui

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

Dave worked as a graphic designer for a signage company for many years before he decided he could do things better himself. So alongside his business partner, they did just that and built their own signage company (Darklab – they make some pretty epic signs, including all the signs for our wedding!).

Emma has spent far too long at University; she has a PhD in Medicinal Chemistry and does research for the University of Auckland synthesising and developing new drug-like molecules.

We have a shared love of the outdoors and the mountains in particular, which is why we couldn’t think of a better place to get married than Wanaka. We both love snowboarding and hiking. We also love to travel and have visited a lot of different countries together! We spent just under a year living in Vancouver together during my PhD which further cemented our love of the outdoors. Japan is a favourite spot we both keep returning too – the powder there is unrivalled, the food is exceptional, the people are beyond lovely and the onsens can’t be beaten after a big day on the slopes! That also happens to be where we got engaged. We went to Japan at the end of 2019 for a snowboarding trip (and returned right before the pandemic started to get serious), and on our second day there we were driving through the mountains to get to the ski resort. We saw a sign for a waterfall along the way, so stopped and trudged through the knee-deep snow for about a kilometre to get to the waterfall. There was absolutely no one else around, and the snow was falling gently while the sun streamed in through the trees, it was so beautiful!

We met when I was only 15 years old at my first job at Hell Pizza Kohimarama… Dave had just started as a manager (aged 19) and over our 4 years working together we became good friends. It wasn’t until after I returned from my European OE (aged 19) that things got romantic though! Promise! We have been together 10 years now, and figured it was about time we have a party and make things official!

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:

The first decision we made when sitting down over brunch one day to start planning some wedding details was no cake. We had been to so many weddings where the cake just sits there looking lovely but remaining uneaten by the vast majority of guests, and as neither of us are big cake fans (nor were we very interested in most of the traditional wedding aspects), we decided to do something different for dessert. After a bit of research, we found we could hire a gelato truck for not much more than a tiered wedding cake would have cost! And as Dave could easily eat his entire body weight in ice cream (if allowed!), it felt like a no brainer. With gelato truck decided upon, the plans started to unfold from there!

We wanted the day to feel more relaxed and fun than a traditional sit-down wedding usually offers, so we researched food trucks, but decided eventually on walk and fork styled catering as this would require less planning and stress for us! We are glad we did that, the team from DoubleThyme did an exceptional job, produced some mouth-watering bites, and organised everything for us – the day ran so smoothly!

We discussed an overseas destination wedding (this was pre-pandemic obviously) since we both love travelling so much, however we realised that this would have prevented a few of our closest family members from attending due to health reasons (and in hindsight with the pandemic unfolding, we were hugely grateful we didn’t go down that avenue!). Neither of us love Auckland that much and feel much more at home every time we visit the mountains of Central Otago. Wanaka was a clear choice; the gorgeous lake and mountain setting and the quieter more relaxed vibe than the tourist hub that Queenstown has come to be felt like the ideal locale for our fun relaxed wedding. We researched a lot of venues in and around Wanaka, but in the end the container bar, man-made lake and the relaxed vibes that Corbridge Woolshed offered sold us. Not to mention the venue came with heaps of amazing furniture and d cor items as well as Shannon – the most wonderful venue manager who went above and beyond making sure everything ran smoothly on the day so that we could enjoy ourselves.

Owing to Dave’s business, a lot of the decor aspects were signage-related and were jazzed up with some amazing florals from Studio24 (seriously, Jen went above and beyond – I gave her some loose guidelines regarding colours and a special request of peonies, and she delivered the most stunning bouquets and floral arrangements – I even dried my bridal bouquet because I couldn’t bear to throw it away afterwards! It’s now sitting in a vase on our kitchen table). I also bought some dried flowers and collected a bunch of old chemical bottles from work to make some cute little arrangements for the bar leaners and tables.

We also decided that the colour scheme should complement the landscape, so went with a lot of neutral colours, deep greens for the bridesmaid dresses, tan/white for the groomsmen, and the florals tied everything together beautifully. We had an unplugged ceremony which for us was a no-brainer. It was important to us that the guests put their phones away, be present, and trust in our fantastic photographer to record the beautiful moments for us!

Tell us about your main outfits:

I had a really hard time finding the perfect dress. I have never felt comfortable in lacy/frilly/foofy garments, so knew I wanted something of fit-and-flare shape, with straight lines and a lustrous fabric. Something simple and elegant. However, I also wanted it to be a little bit interesting – it is a wedding dress after all! I tried on dress after dress, but nothing was quite right. After scouring the internet for inspiration, I fell in love with the Chosen by One Day collection (now Chosen by Khya), and I instantly loved the Aubrey dress. The elegant bold off-the-shoulder neckline was stunning, and the soft tulle tie at the back added that point of interest I really wanted! The fur stole I wore belonged to my late grandma. I was so glad Mum brought it for me to wear, not only because it was really special to wear something of Grandmas, but also because that strong wind that made the photos so amazing was so cold later in the evening! The earrings I wore were a DIY hybrid of two different pairs I found as I couldn’t find any one pair that I liked!

We decided very easily on a colour scheme for the boy’s suits, and Dave knew he wanted waistcoats to be involved. We originally thought he would wear the waistcoat, however when we found the suits, they only had one remaining suit jacket in that colour/style so we settled on the boys wearing black waistcoats and Dave got the last jacket which thankfully fit him perfectly! Dave bought both black and tan pants and as we couldn’t decide which combination looked best beforehand, his groomsmen helped him make the decision on the day.

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

Three of my bridesmaids were stuck overseas so Dave made carboard cut-outs of the girls in their bridesmaid dresses so that they could be included in the photos etc. The girls were a huge hit during the reception at the photobooth and especially on the dancefloor later on! I also had a Zoom call with them all while we were getting ready which was really lovely. A lot of other guests were also overseas, including one of my brothers, and so as my dear Aunty Karen works in TV she live-streamed a lot of the day so they could all tune in and feel part of it. We invited about 100 guests, but owing the border restrictions, less than 70 guests attended in the end. Leading up to the wedding we were really upset that so many loved ones weren’t going to be able to make it, but in the end it was actually a really lovely sized wedding, and we enjoyed being able to talk to every single one of our guests.

Amazingly, Dave’s brother Doug managed to penetrate the borders though, and came all the way from the US to be there for the wedding which was really special. We loved having him play guitar during the ceremony too – he’s a talented guy!

While Dave and I were getting photos taken in the evening in the barley fields to the side of the woolshed, the wind picked up quite a bit. This did wonderful things for the photos, however it was pulling quite a lot on my veil which managed to work itself free! The veil went flying off along the top of the barley. Being in heels, I could only stand and laugh as Dave pranced and leapt his way through the field trying to catch it! Luisa didn’t miss a beat and got some fantastic photos of this! We chose Luisa to be our photographer since our mutual friend recommended her to us, and we were so happy to have her! She put us at ease from the first conversation we had, and by the time the wedding day arrived, she felt like a good friend! We were absolutely blown away by how she captured so many wonderful moments of the day too, I cried a little looking at the photos the first time!

The dancefloor later on was unrivalled. I am so so grateful I brought some flats to wear, I couldn’t even bring myself to leave the dancefloor to grab a drink since I was having so much fun! Joe from Mountain Beats was point on with every single track, and the Conan on the Sax brought the coolest element of live music to go with the DJ (we had trouble deciding between a band a DJ). They even trusted my judgement enough to bring on some heavier tracks later on which went down an absolute treat – it wouldn’t have felt like ‘Our Wedding’ without a mosh pit and some Rage Against the Machine!

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

Don’t sweat the small stuff! Trust in your wonderful vendors to handle any issues that may arise so that you can make the most of all the planning and work you’ve put in. On the day, just let go, relax and have fun. Grab a drink, talk to your guests, kick your heels off and DANCE! It is your wedding day after all, enjoy it!

Photographer: @luisaapanui | Ceremony and Reception location: @corbridgewoolshed | Celebrant: @weddingcelebrantnz | Bride’s gown: @kyhastudios | Groom’s attire: @politixmenswear | Bride’s ring: @khimjewelry | Groom’s ring: Averie | Bride’s shoes: @chaosandharmonyshoes | Groom’s shoes: @merchant1948 | Makeup: @gemmamakeupwanaka | Hair: @bridalhairwanaka | Bridesmaid’s attire: @blakthelabel | Groomsmen’s attire: @politixmenswear | Entertainment: @mountainbeatsdjco | Hire: @wanakaweddinghire | Flora: @studio24botanicals | Catering and Beverages: @doublethymecatering | Gelato Truck: @blackpeak_gelato | Registry: @myregistry and @thegoodregistry