Kate & Byron by Deon and Reni

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

Byron and I met ten years ago when he was playing a penguin and I was an Antarctic scientist in a new New Zealand play. In the show, Byron was completely naked and body painted while I was overheating in full Antarctic gear.

During rehearsal we were hanging out lots, and one night we shared a kiss goodbye. The very next day, the director wanted to do a body paint test for Byron/the penguin, so things went from chaste-kiss-on-the-doorstep to full nude within 24 hours. An excellent meet cute. Byron still works as an actor as well as a landscape photographer and I do a bunch of stuff, from working in film and TV to writing and managing an arts and culture website. We’re dedicated to the arts in Aotearoa, we love travel and we laugh a lot. 

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 idea of a wedding always freaked me out. I love to attend them, but could never imagine being at the centre of all the palaver. Byron wasn’t into a huge gathering either. We realised that for us, a wedding was just about our two immediate families coming together and being able to enjoy it for more than one day. We simply wanted those who we love to have the best time. We’d been planning to visit my sister’s family in London in 2019 anyway, so we decided to have a family holiday with 14 of us in France, with the wedding just being one slightly elevated day as part of a great week.

Ironically, considering the French wedding factor, we’re not hugely Romantic with a capital R, but being a Libra and a Virgo we love a good setting. After an intensive Airbnb search, we found an incredible renovated old clos in the Dordogne and booked it for the week. From there, it was so much fun finding everything else for the day. One of my favourite details was something we brought over from Aotearoa for the dinner table – beautiful bud vases from skilled ceramic artist Fiona Mackay, which we gave to everyone afterwards. A celebration in France is of course built on food and wine, and a chef from a neighbouring village came over and cooked for us and it was delicious. We had a table of old family photos next to us at dinner, which began as a way to make sure my Dad, who died ten years ago, was there, but it turned into this beautiful collection of our parents’ and grandparents’ wedding photos. It felt so comforting to have our recent ancestors all there in their wedding finery too, and it was our absolute favourite thing. One of our happiest discoveries was our photographers Deon and Reni who couldn’t have been more perfect for us. They’re true documentary artists working in the medium of film, and because they’re unfazed about the latest wedding trends and guided by living moments, their work feels truthful and timeless. (And lucky for Antipodeans, they’ve recently moved to Adelaide). 

Tell us about your main outfits:

I knew I didn’t want to wear white, but beyond that, it was an interesting mystery. One day on Instagram I happened upon this beautiful image of a woman in the most jaw-droppingly beautiful colourful embroidered dress. The woman was Puyan Saheb Djavaher, a dress designer who had made the dress for her own wedding. I got in touch, and as soon as I heard she also designed costumes for theatre and opera, it felt like a good omen. While we found the fabric colour together and I suggested to Puyan the tones of her embroidery that I loved (which I also used as a guide to find our nieces linen dresses), I hadn’t seen the dress before picking it up from her studio in Berlin a few days before the wedding, so that made it all the more fun. Byron was keen on an olive green suit which was surprisingly hard to find. He eventually went with a fabric that was a wee bit darker than he first intended but we both loved it in the end. He wore a hat that he bought several years ago at a tourist stall in Sicily for $20 and has never found a better one! To top it off, Puyan created a sweet boudonière for him from the embroidery of the dress. 

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

Byron and I had an aversion to any kind of aisle walking, and had vaguely planned that we’d all walk over from the house to the ceremony space in the garden as a group. Then on the morning of the wedding, Byron found a giant old sousaphone in the house and started playing it. Our nieces were cracking up and started joining in on some old trumpets. We decided straight away that whatever sound they were making had to be our procession music. So with Byron’s brother on the sousaphone and our nieces on the trumpets we were led over to the ceremony. It sounded absolutely terrible, we couldn’t stop laughing the whole way across the garden, and it was totally perfect.

My dad had always listened to French jazz legends, Django Reinhardt and Stéphane Grapelli, so as a secret surprise we organised an amazing French manouche jazz trio to play after the ceremony, which meant Dad was definitely there having a wine and celebrating with everyone. Overall we will remember how wonderfully relaxed and easeful the day was – we all had breakfast in the morning, set everything up together, then in the afternoon we all went for a swim before getting ready. Because it was just close whānau creating one special day together amongst a few, we were able to soak it all in. The whole day felt bound in a kind of magic. 

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

Change is possible. Look at me! Wasn’t even keen on weddings! Now I’m writing about ours on a wedding journal! 

Photography: Deon and Reni | Ceremony and Reception location: Clos Des Charmes | Celebrant: Blanca Bertely | Entertainment: Les Pères Peinards | Bride’s gown: Puyan Saheb Djavaher | Groom’s suit: Barkers (made-to-measure) | Bride’s shoes: Loeffler Randall | Groom’s shoes: Barkers | Groom’s bouttonière: Puyan Saheb Djavaher | Makeup and Hair: Bride | Bride’s Fragrance: Eau De Sens from Diptyque | Groom’s Fragrance: Another 13 from Le Labo | Hire: Oui Mon Coeur and Le Petit Pichet | Flora: Agnes Laye Fleurs | Catering and Beverages: Vincent Lucas | Cake: Invitation au Délice | Stationery: Minted | Lighting: Oui Mon Coeur