Jo + Dave by Tiago Kerber

We were posing for a picture on this perfect heart-shaped sand mound, and out of the blue, he dropped down on one knee. I can’t remember what was said, but I cried a lot. It was perfect.

Tell us a little about yourselves, what you do, what you love…

We’re probably total opposites on paper. I’m a graphic designer – I love being creative and am prone to overthinking and wearing my heart on my sleeve. On the flip side, there’s Dave, the pragmatic plumber – cool, calm, and a self-proclaimed ‘happy, simple guy.’ Somehow, we just click. We share a love for adventure, travelling, hanging out with our friends and family, and, more than anything, our adorable dog Lola and our little mischief-maker Max. It’s like yin and yang but with a touch of chaos and a lot of love.

Photography by Ellen Mary Taylor

How/where/when did you meet – and what were your first impressions?

We met on a night out 10 years ago. Dave was backpacking from the UK, and was staying in the hostel next door to the bar I was in. My memory of our first meet-up was a bit fuzzy! But my friends played detective with some pictures and helped fill in the blanks the next day. After swapping numbers and a bit of text banter, we decided to catch up at a friend’s flat party. We clicked instantly and have spent almost every day together since. First impressions were – he was very tall, with a cheeky smile and great sense of humour, and a quiet confidence which I really liked.

When did you first realise that this was someone you’d like to spend the rest of your life with?

From the early moments, I knew he was special. The way he proudly spoke about me as his girlfriend, his unwavering protectiveness for those close to him, and the genuine affection he showed for his family and friends back in the UK – it all set him apart. I met Dave during one of the toughest chapters of my life. I’d lost my sister after a brief battle with cancer, and my heart was in pieces. He helped me love life again and made me feel so beautiful – like I was the most special person in the world.

Was there a proposal? Tell us a little about it…

It was a complete surprise! Dave’s not good at keeping secrets so I thought I’d have an idea if he started planning something. We were away for New Year in the South Island and doing a hike with friends in one of our favourite places – the Abel Tasman. We were posing for a picture on this perfect heart-shaped sand mound, and out of the blue, he dropped down on one knee. I can’t remember what was said, but I cried a lot. It was perfect.

Tell us about the vision you had for the mood or style of your wedding…

We wanted a relaxed, summery vibe, so we decided on an ‘all white’ dress code for everyone. Everything else fell into place after this. We’re pretty minimalist with our tastes. We didn’t want anything overly fussy or excessive – just simple, beautiful white flowers and candles. We went with an elegant black and white colour scheme for décor which suited the venue really well.

In the spirit of keeping it casual, we tossed out as many formalities and old-school traditions as we could. We saw each other before the ceremony and drove to the venue together, which was actually really nice. You don’t get a lot of alone time on the day so it was special to have the drive together and get excited about what was to come. It helped ease the nerves a little.

What was one element you were happy to splurge on?

The location was really important to us – it set the tone for the whole wedding. We’d been to Man O’ War a few times on various trips to Waiheke, and it’s one of our favourite places. It had everything we wanted – a casual, relaxed atmosphere, a beautiful setting, and good wine and food. It just felt very us. I’d always dreamed of getting married on the beach but didn’t want the logistics of travel between locations and finding wet weather backups. So, for us, it was the perfect place – a beautiful winery right on the beach.

Did anything happen on your wedding day that you laugh about in hindsight (even if it was stressful at the time)?

Freaking out about the weather. We got married in the wettest January on record. I checked the weather forecast every day – there were two cyclones in the lead up to the wedding. The day before, when we went and checked out the venue, the rain had eased off a bit to a drizzle. We pulled up, and the truck was covered in mud – I got dirty getting out of the car, and our shoes were sinking into the wet ground. It looked like it could be a disaster. But it was still so beautiful there – you felt calm like you were in another world. I knew even in bad weather, it was going to be special. And on the day the sun came out. We managed to have the outdoor ceremony we had always planned – we were very lucky.

Tell us about your main outfits, what was unique, is there a story?

The main thing we wanted was to look and feel like ourselves. We wanted everyone to feel good in what they wore. All the bridesmaids and groomsmen choose their own outfits that suit their individual styles and personalities. Dave never wears suits and feels really stiff in them, so we knew he didn’t want anything overly formal.

For my dress, I wanted to keep it simple, modern and classic – something I hope I’ll still love in 50 years! I didn’t want to feel to ‘bridey’ so went with a less traditional veil, and a sleek, simple dress in a neutral french crepe fabric. I added personal touches with jewellery – a bracelet I got when our son Max was born, a ring inherited from grandparents that I got on my 21st birthday, and stud earrings that were my sisters. My mum said the buttons on my dress were similar to what my nana had, which was very special too.

CEREMONY & RECEPTION Man O’ War, @manowarwine PHOTOGRAPHER Ellen Mary Taylor, @ellenmaryphoto VIDEOGRAPHER Tiago Kerber, @tiagosfilms CELEBRANT Emma May, @emmacelebrantnz ENTERTAINMENT Bryce Campbell, @theonternet STYLING & PLANNER By the bride HIRE The Island Collection, @theislandcollection FLORA Blush, @blush_flowers CATERING Man O’ War, @manowarwine STATIONERY By the bride BRIDAL DRESS Made With Love Bridal, @madewithlovebridal SUIT Politix, @politixmenswear RINGS Michael Hill, @michaelhillj SHOES Tony Bianco, @tonybianco EARRINGS A.B. ELLIE, @a.b.ellie MAKEUP Grayson Coutts, @graysoncoutts HAIR Amanda Preston Hair, @_amandaprestonhair FRAGRANCE DKNY, @dkny