Lani and Alex – Photography by Laura Johns

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

Alexandre is from Natal, Brazil, and came to NZ in 2005 on what was supposed to be an 8-week holiday but turned into a permanent move. Lani is from a small country town down south, Waimate.

We have an absolutely gorgeous 5-year-old son, Luka. We met while we were both living in Nelson in 2009 and Alexandre was a customer at the store Lani worked at. She cheekily looked up his customer details to contact him after he offered her a ticket to a Concord Dawn concert.

Alex is an Officer in the NZ Army and Lani is an architectural graduate with Herriot Melhuish O’Neill Architects. We recently moved to Christchurch from Wellington after Alex was posted to the Burnham Military Camp.

We both love the outdoors and fitness – the gym, yoga, swimming, mountain biking, surfing, SUP –the beach is our happy place…. and movies. We are currently building our first house together so that has become an interior and landscape design project in itself!

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…

Alex proposed in 2016 after three months of no contact except for handwritten letters while he was away at NZDF Officer Training. He was then away for more than a year before we moved to Christchurch. We have been lucky to have had the last 18 months together as a family.

We had discussed the wedding but it hadn’t been a top priority until we heard in Nov 2018 that Alex was likely to be away for another 7 months and we really wanted to be married before he left. I had always loved Laura’s work and knew her through my best friend so I emailed her in the hopes of a miracle that she might be available and it turned out she had a weekend in February 2019 free. This set the whole wedding – we planned it all in 10 weeks and tried to keep it as intimate and simple as possible.

We decided to hold the wedding in Camp at the small chapel they have here and hold the reception for our family and friends, we did keep it small. We had 54 guests plus kids which was perfect for the intimate nature of the small chapel and styling of the reception on the lawn. I really wanted an outdoor reception with classic table styling and festoon lights and it turned out beautifully – Lots of greenery, soft lighting, casual seating and the gorgeous kids running around to make it fun.

In terms of details – I loved our table styling – gorgeous linen table runners and vintage festoon lights from The Little Hire Company, NZDF silver candelabras, classic white napkins tied with string and finished with a rosemary detail, and gorgeous greenery from Moffatt’s & Bourbon Rose. I also managed to get our gorgeous rose petal confetti from Moffatt’s the day before the wedding – they were actually spare rose heads following Valentine’s Day and the girls pulled all of the petals off for us. I loved the colour against the recently restored chapel and our outfits as we exited the chapel!

Tell us about your main outfits:

I knew that I might struggle finding a stock dress with only 10 weeks but the amazing Izy from Paperswan Bride made all my dreams come true. The Fresia skirt has pockets!! I couldn’t stop thinking about it after I first tried it on. I was originally going to go for a delicate lace top but fell in love with the relaxed feel of the gorgeous Flora top which was much more my style. And on the plus side, the top has made its way into my wardrobe rotation.

Alex knew he wanted a tuxedo and having lived in Wellington, knew of Crane Brothers. Fraser from Crane Brothers in Christchurch was brilliant and came through with a gorgeous tailor-made dinner suit that came from Italy just in time for the wedding! We got Luka’s outfit all from H&M. He looked adorable!

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

My father passed away in 2011 and Luka was supposed to walk me down the aisle but got so excited and ran ahead into the church without me!

So glad we included all the kids – Luka and our friends’ children – it made the day not just about Alex and I, but a party for Luka as well. And we have the most beautiful photos of them all. The kids discovered the microphone later in the night and we had a hilarious karaoke moment with them all.

Something I love about Alex is the fact that he always makes me laugh, and the whole day was filled with laughter.

Facetiming some of our friends who couldn’t make it on the way to our location shots – such a lovely happy moment to share with them by ourselves in the glow just after the ceremony.

Having our gorgeous family together after only recently losing our grandfather at the end of 2018.

My best friend of 28 years, having just devastatingly lost her baby daughter 10 days earlier, making the decision to be there with me. Her selfless ness was something I will never ever forget.

Having our gorgeous Brazilian friends attend. Alex’s family wasn’t able to attend so it was great to have that connection at the wedding. You can’t beat the atmosphere a group of Brazilians’ bring to the party.

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

I guess we were lucky with the short time period – we didn’t have too much time to dwell and overthink decisions and we were so blessed to have a number of things magically fall into place – photographer, dress, venue etc. Keep in mind the feel you both want for the day – we knew we wanted to keep it fairly intimate and relaxed and we ensured the styling, the ceremony and reception reflected that. We didn’t have a lot of the formalities – a bridal party or first dance for example. We wanted it to feel like a big family dinner and it was perfect. The day goes by so quickly so you want to enjoy every minute – the only thing I would have changed is having a first look photo session to have more time with all of our guests. In all the excitement, I wanted to spend so much more time with everyone!

Photography: Laura Johns Photography | Ceremony Location: All Saint’s Garrison Church, Burnham Camp | Reception: Officers Mess, Burnham Camp | Celebrant: Padre David Julian, NZDF | Bride’s outfit: Daisy Brides Flora Top and Fresia Skirt, from Paperswan Bride Christchurch | Groom’s outfit: Crane Brothers tuxedo | Rings: The Village Goldsmith |Shoes: Head over Heels | Makeup: Jessica Reeves Makeup | Hair: Liz Blunden Hairstylist | Fragrance: Valentino UOMO by Valentino, Spicebomb by Victor & Rolf | Bridesmaid and Groomsmen: Luka wore H&M