Tell us a little about yourselves, what you do, what you love, what is unique about you and your relationship … Finley: I’m American – born and raised in Charlottesville, Virginia. I came to New Zealand in January 2014 to be an Au Pair.

I was looking after the children of the Au Pair that looked after my sister and I in America 20 odd years ago. Ben and I met about 5 weeks after I arrived – at the Darfield pub of all places. The week before I declined him on Tinder which something I don’t think I’ll ever live down. My friend was desperately trying to set me up with another rugby player in Ben’s team but I ended up sitting next to Ben to have a beer after training on a Thursday and 5 and half years later here we are. Ben is a builder and grew up in Sheffield on a farm. He since started working on the farm full time and its something he is so passionate about. Being able to carry on what his family helped build is really special. We come from very different places but share so many of the same interests. We are in the forever search of finding a villa for us to make our home (much to Ben’s dismay) and most likely a lifetime of arguing over home décor (more specifically how many pillows should be on one’s bed).

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…

There wasn’t really a specific theme or style. I always pictured winter for fear of it being too hot during summer. I wanted everyone to be cosy and it to feel warm. We had mulled wine at the reception and the fire going in the Great Hall. My friend Sophie styled the Great Hall for us, she is a wedding consultant and has such an eye for detail. She put all of the finishing touches together and we couldn’t have been happier with how everything looked at the reception. The Great Hall is a really amazing building by itself so dressing it to its full potential is a bit of a challenge, but Sophie nailed it.

I love bridal bouquets. I never have taken much notice of other florals at weddings but am always interested to see the brides. I knew I wanted colour and roses something to pop against my dress. Kath from Mrs Bottomley’s did such an amazing job and brought my ideas to life. My bouquet was definitely a favourite for me.

The jewellery I wore on the day was also something that was really special to me. I wore my grandmas diamond tennis bracelet and some of her pearl earrings. It meant a lot to me that she could be there from the USA so it was extra special to be able to wear something that is special to her. I also wore a gold bangle, Ben’s sisters (Katy and Ella) have matching ones that they wore as well. Before Ben’s dad passed away earlier in the year he gave them to Ben and his sisters and Ben asked that I wear his on the day. I was honoured to wear it and to share that with my new sisters was really special.

Tell us about your main outfits:

I sold wedding dresses and worked with brides for a short period of time so I already had a pretty good idea of what I would want. Before Ben and I set a date I was doing some online shopping and came across an ivory long-sleeved number on Rebecca Vallance’s website. I ordered it a few days later and it fit like a glove. It was that easy for me. I did make a few alterations to make it my own so we added buttons on the sleeves and did a little hemming.

Aly from Sacs (now moved to Wanaka) did my alterations and made my veil. The first day I went into Sacs her fabric supplier happened to be there and some Italian silk tulle with a nude tinge caught my eye. I always pictured having a long lush veil and since my dress didn’t have much of a train we went all in. I picked an ivory tulle to go with the nude colour and they were just magic together. I’ve said a few times I wish it was socially acceptable to wear a veil all the time because I would wear that thing every day.

I always pictured Ben in a tux. Side note Ben’s go-to quote throughout the planning was “Hadn’t really thought about it.” So when I asked what he pictured himself in I received the same response. The only thing he was sure of was the boots. Ben wore black RM Williams boots and it was pretty much the only thing we weren’t willing to negotiate on. So we went with a tux, boots and a bowtie.

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

Ben: The most memorable moment for me was Fin being on time. Time isn’t one of Fin’s strong points so something I’ll remember in 30 years is her being on time. I also did threaten to leave if she was late so I think that might have helped.

We also really enjoyed being at the Britten Stables in between the ceremony and reception. We invited our immediate family back to the Stables to get some photos and have a few nibbles before heading to the reception. It gave us some time to spend with our family without the added pressure of chatting with other guests. I’ve been pretty much obsessed with John Britten since I was 8 so that was a cool part of the day for me and getting to stay there with most of our bridal party on the night was epic.

Fin: My favourite part of the day was just after the ceremony. We went to the Great Hall to get a sneak peek of the reception set up before anyone arrived and got some photos around the venue. It was just us. We got to soak up what we just did and just be together. It was also really great to see the reception set up and made the entrance into the reception later on a little less daunting.

My dad also helped heaps in the morning which is something I will always remember. He collected our flowers in the morning and delivered my second outfit to the reception and just was willing to do whatever he could to help. Bless him – he was still learning to drive on the left side of the road. He just made everything work which was epic. Big love for that man. 

There’s something magical about pouring your heart out to your best friend and telling them that you will be there through it all in front of your friends and family. Ben and I have been through so much together over the past 5 and half years and our day was reflective of that. I don’t think I’ve publicly cried so much in my life. Sophie (our photographer) encouraged us to write our own vows which was something I wanted to do but wasn’t convinced I could get through it. As soon as Ben opened his mouth I started crying and I didn’t stop until I finished mine. For us it was something we took really seriously. It was really emotional but a really heartfelt moment for us and I wouldn’t change it.

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

Fin: Love each other without question or consequence. Love like it’s your last day to do it. I said in my vows “Life is short and tomorrow isn’t always promised…” and that’s so true. Don’t waste your energy on holding anger for each other. Everyday, forgive each other for all the little things that bug you because we are all human. Share with your significant other how much you love them and serve each other. Learn how to love your partner well. I feel so loved when Ben buys me my favourite chocolate or makes me breakfast in the morning. It’s the little things.

Ben: If you know, you know. Don’t be afraid to compromise on the number of bed pillows.

Ceremony location: Cashmere Presbyterian Church | Reception location: The Great Hall at The Arts Centre | Girls getting ready and photo location: The Britten Stables | Videographer: Grey Area Productions | Photographer: Sophie Isabella | Celebrant: Rev Sage Harris | Entertainment: The WolfPack | Styling: Sophie Chambers | Planner: The Bride | Hire: Party Warehouse & Silk Estate | Flora: Mrs Bottomley’s | Catering + Beverages: Moveable Feasts & Vino Fino | Cake: Simple Food Co | Bride’s Dress: Rebecca Vallance | Groom’s Suit: Joe Black | Rings: Partridge Jewellers | Bride’s Shoes: Mi Piaci | Groom’s Shoes: RM Williams | Hair: Tuscany Hamel | Bridesmaid’s Makeup: Leisha Maree Makeup | Fragrance: Diptyque – Eau Duelle Eau de Toilette | Groomsmen Suits: Sergios | Bridesmaid Dress: Their own dresses

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