Gabby + Sam by Stephan and Nakita

Living in New Zealand, Sam and I were very lucky that the Covid-19 pandemic didn’t impact our wedding plans too much, though we were devastated that some of our guests from Australia and the UK couldn’t make the ceremony.

We got married at Waihi Beach in the Bay of Plenty on my parents’ property. Getting married there meant a lot to us, as Sam and I have spent countless weekends at my family home over the four and a half years we’ve been together. Our lawn perfectly fitted a Twelve Tables marquee and the ceremony took place up on the bank where we all love to sit and watch the surf.

Sam’s family is Māori so it was really important for us to incorporate their traditions into our service. Our celebrant, Miriama Smith, spoke te reo (Māori) in the ceremony and I even surprised Sam by weaving te reo into my vows. Our welcome sign read ‘Aroha Mai, Aroha Atu’ which means the love you give is the love you receive. This was our way of welcoming loved ones to our special day. Sam’s mum performed a Māori karakia (prayer) before we ate and his family sang waiata after each guest spoke to show their support.

The speeches were all incredibly moving. I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house. Sam’s brother Matiu later led a powerful haka with friends and family to honour the occasion. These beautiful memories are something we’ll cherish for years to come. The style of our wedding was inspired by Byron Bay, with dried flowers draped across the walls and bar. After the ceremony, we kept the floral arrangement from the head table and hung it over our bed. We’re so grateful to have something to remember the day by.

After getting engaged in 2019, the very first wedding dress I took a screenshot of had extravagant feathers on its train. I took hundreds of pictures of dresses that year, but I kept going back to that first one. When I met with Anita from Vinka Design, she pulled out a small piece of fabric which was an exact match for the one I’d been searching for. I couldn’t have been happier with my bespoke gown. When I walked down the aisle, I accidentally caught my veil on a nearby guest — it’s safe to say this broke the ice and everyone had a good laugh. Sam kept things traditional in a classic dinner suit from Working Style. He wears a suit to work every day so wanted to dress up a little by recreating the timeless James Bond look, complete with a bow tie.

I surprised Sam with a 1969 Mustang for the week of our wedding. We used it on our wedding day and got some incredible photographs in it. All going to plan, I’ll buy him one for his 60th birthday!

photographer & videographer Stephan and Nakita / bride’s dress Vinka Design / groom’s outfit Working Style / venue Bride’s family property at Waihi Beach / planner & styling One Fine Day / bride’s fragrance Coeur Battant by Louis Vuitton / groom’s fragrance Creed / marquee & Hire Twelve Tables / makeup Claudia Louis-Marie / hair Amelia Mowat / celebrant Miriama Smith / attire Shona Joy / groomsmen’s attire Working Style / bride’s rings / groom’s rings Naveya & Sloane / flora On My Hand / bride’s jewellery Meadowlark earrings borrowed from mother / ‘Something Blue’ Naveya & Sloane / ‘Something Old’ Grandmother’s gold bangle / ‘Something New’ Gucci earrings gifted by groom / bride’s shoes Chaos & Harmony / entertainment Brotherhood Musiq and Izzy & Moe / catering & beverages No Biggie Catering / cake The Flour Cakery / outdoor furniture Flock / table setting Royal Laboratorie / lighting & drapery La Lumiere / stationery Paper Darling / linen Drape. Linen / groom’s watch Clogau / groom’s cufflinks Hugo Boss