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

Hope: Blake and I met when we were 16 through our local church, true high school sweethearts! I clearly remember the moment Blake caught my eye, during a play-fight he picked me up and carried me clean across a hallway. I was pretty smitten after that.

We became inseparable, and have grown up together over the last 7 years. Our faith in God is what has bound us so closely over the years, and has been the cornerstone of our relationship.

We are classic “opposites attract”. I’m a graphic designer – a totally creative, the sky’s the limit, extroverted person. Blake is an Auto Electrician, obsessed with anything that has a motor, down to earth and an introvert. We balance each other out and complement each other’s weaknesses and strengths. Blake is also an absolute goofball and brings so much joy and laughter into my life! We love a good adventure, especially if it involves motorbikes, watersports and friends.

Our favourite thing to do is head to lake Rotoiti with a bunch of mates, crank out the quad bikes or wakeboards and just have fun. I think the thing that makes our relationship so strong is that we have experienced so many defining life moments together. We had high school balls, uni degrees, moving cities and 3 years of long-distance, graduations, first jobs, grandparents passing away, and just one month ago the sudden passing of Blakes father. Experiencing so much joy, pain and change together has created love and friendship that is incredibly deep.

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:

For us both we wanted our wedding to first and foremost honour god and reflect our faith. We have been so blessed to be able to marry each other and to have such a beautiful wedding, so we wanted to use the opportunity to honour God and each other. This is why we decided to create an outdoor chapel for our ceremony, a perfect combination of our faith and love of the outdoors.

For me, the visual aspects of the wedding were my chance to go crazy and let the creativity flow! As a graphic designer, I loved being able to pick out a colour palette, create my wedding invitations and design all of the signage for the event. I guess the theme ended up being an amalgamation of different styles I love, I wanted it to be elegant but also bright and fun. I was definitely inspired by summer European style vineyard weddings, so it was so important to me to have the day be warm, relaxed and outdoors with beautiful food, drink and music flowing. I absolutely loved our reception venue, and getting to dance the night away outside under stars and grapevines was what dreams are made of. I also loved how the styling of my outfit and the bridesmaids looked on the day, I felt incredible and knew all my bridesmaids felt killer as well!

Tell us about your main outfits:

My dress was Hera Couture and it was 100% my dream dress. I was totally one of those girls who dreamed about their wedding since high school and I have always wanted the full, thick satin skirt and structured bodice. The thigh split and pockets spiced up the look and I thought it was the perfect mix of modern and timeless. I also had some straps added and clips in the armband so that when I wanted to let loose and have a boogie I could clip the bands back and not worry about any potential slips! I would HIGHLY recommend this for brides that are going for strapless/off the shoulder dresses but still want to have freedom on the dance floor. It also gave me a cute second look!

I had a pair of classic pointed heels for the ceremony, and then a pair of knotted peep toe shoes for the reception. I knew the only accessory I wanted was a pair of statement earrings and I found the dreamiest pair of pearl earrings from A.B.Ellie. This went perfectly with a vintage pearl ring I was gifted by my nana, that she received on her 25th wedding anniversary. Blake went for a classic navy suit and white shirt from Rembrandt and had it tailored to fit him perfectly, I thought he looked prettttttty good!

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

To get to our ceremony area, we had to walk through a dense forest area and I clearly remember being in the dense forest, all of my favourite ladies around me and standing with my dad and just being so excited to walk out of the forest and marry the love of my life. Blake and I kept our vows completely secret from each other, so when he made his vows to me that was such a memorable moment. They were so beautiful and I felt so honoured by his love for me. I was also very impressed with how romantic they were, he totally showed me up! Another really cool moment was when we took a little break during the day between our bridal party photos and the start of the reception just to hang out with our groomsmen and bridesmaids. We drove five minutes down the road from our venue, parked up next to some farm and tucked into some cocktails and a picnic. This was such an awesome moment just hanging out with our best friends, enjoying a drink and celebrating the fact we just got married! We had a duck island ice cream truck and casual style dinner at our reception, which created such an enjoyable, relaxed ambience. I also remember our first dance was such a memorable moment, surrounded by all the people we love most and just feeling so much joy. And Blake is totally not a dancer but he threw a couple of dips and twirls in for me which made my day!

But the highlight for me would be our reception exit. We were heralded out of the venue with sparklers and lots of noise, and I remember turning to blow everyone a kiss, then looking at Blake and knowing that the rest of our lives as husband and wife had just started. What a feeling. The whole day was just so blissful and the best celebration we could have asked for.

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

Man! Have fun! And as much fun as possible on the wedding day! Our wedding day was incredible, but it was just one day out of a lifetime of marriage. The real joy and celebration is a life of getting to support and encourage each other as husband and wife through everything you are going to have thrown at you. Blakes father passed away in a sudden accident just months after our wedding, and having the depth of relationship and tools to be able to support each other through that as a married couple was invaluable.

Investing in some counselling, literature or mentoring before you get married is something I would highly recommend because it has been so, so good for us. Hard times will come, and ours came much sooner than expected but knowing how to love and care for each other better as husband and wife was a real lifeline. To have found someone and love them enough to get married is something pretty incredible. I am so grateful to have met Blake and it is something I never want to take for granted, and that would be my last advice. Cherish the one you love and they will cherish you.

Ceremony location: Personal Property | Reception location: Beau & Arrow | Videographer: Luke Cawte | Photographer: Haley Guildford | Celebrant: Personal Pastor, Craig Vernall | Entertainment: Hatchton Band NZ | Styling: Hope McConnell Creative | Planner: Planned by Bride | Flora: Pretty Wild Floral | Catering + Beverages: Beacall Hospitality Solutions | Cake: Jhai Kai | Graphic Designer (Invites, Signage, Menu Cards, Table Seating Chart): Hope McConnell Creative | Bride’s Gown: Hera Couture | Bridal Alterations: White Silk Bridal Couture | Grooms Suit: Rembrandt | Rings: The Engagement Specialists | Shoes: Asos + Rebecca Minkoff | Other jewellery/accessories: Abellie | Makeup: Sophie Garth | Hair: Hair by Juanita

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