Tell us a little about yourselves, what you do, what you love, what is unique about you and your relationship:
We met in high school ten years ago, in simpler times with many house parties and few dating apps.
After a tentative courtship over a few months of 18th birthday parties, Michael finally asked Madeleine out, and a romantic first date followed – at McDonald’s. In the intervening decade, there has been a move to Queenstown from Wellington and back again, a proposal in Melbourne, a two year OE in Canada, and a wedding on the cusp of a global pandemic. Needless to say, we love travelling and exploring together, and have our best memories together on a hike, in a foreign country, or on any kind of adventure.
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:
We spent a long time agonising about whether to even have a wedding. Just about to embark on an overseas move, sinking a lot of money into one day didn’t seem like a great choice, but thinking of our mother’s faces after telling them we had eloped quickly put that plan to rest.
We wanted our day to reflect us as a couple, and be all about our families and friends, connecting with the people we love after being away. We decided to bookend our move back from Canada with our wedding date, with a two-week buffer for last-minute prep. The weeks leading up to the wedding were very touch-and-go as we watched the COVID situation unfold. We flew back from our pre-honeymoon in Mexico in masks and gloves, terrified of contracting the virus before our wedding. As the pandemic continued to spread, the viability of our wedding was definitely up in the air. A day before, Jacinda announced a cap of 100 on all outdoor events – luckily our guest list was only 40, and with some high-risk guests and others stuck overseas or in quarantine, our final count clocked in at just 30. A beautiful, intimate group, but sadly missing a few VIPs.
The only aspect we locked in prior to leaving was the venue in Martinborough, in close proximity to our hometown Wellington, but far enough away to escape the winds. We only looked at the one venue and booked it on the spot. Lismore House ticked every box – we could spend the entire weekend there with both of our families, and the large grounds meant we could have both the ceremony and reception in the one place. It also meant Madeleine could flex her organisational skills and plan the entire day from the ground up.
We didn’t have a set style for the day, but landed on something vaguely boho and minimal – and quite pink. The ceremony was in front of the magical willow tree by the pond, then cocktails, games and platters prior to a family-style dinner under the shelter of the marquee – the only time the forecasted rain arrived. Drinks and hand sanitizer were then flowing all night from the amazing Macson caravan bar, and the dancing went slightly past curfew, a requirement of the curated playlist with so many certified bangers. It was such a perfect day, and reflecting on it in lockdown just days after made it even more special, having spent such an amazing weekend with people we then couldn’t see for months.
Tell us about your main outfits:
I knew I didn’t want a traditional wedding dress, but being in a small mountain town in Canada meant the options for unique, fancy dresses were limited. After ordering about ten dresses online, I finally found ‘the one’ from UK brand Needle & Thread, which I had always said I wanted my dress from anyway! It was so special and everyone said it was ‘very me’, with sparkly embroidery and layers of gentle tulle. I was also absolutely thrilled with my flowers, which I had a specific vision for (everything had “the vision!”), and had bought the components wholesale and put together myself the day before.
Michael was very relaxed about what he wanted but knew a mandarin collar was non-negotiable, to keep the laid back vibes and forgo a tie. We bought his jacket a few days before the wedding from Barkers and bought the groomsmen matching pants from Lululemon (comfort!) and shirts from Hallensteins.
What were some of the most memorable/unique moments from the day:
Having a global pandemic slowly encroaching made the day pretty memorable, particularly when a four week lockdown was announced just two days afterward! We felt so lucky to be able to celebrate with our loved ones, and see all the people we hadn’t seen since moving overseas, and didn’t know when we would be able to see them again.
We had a relatively drama-free day if you can count a pandemic as ‘drama free’, with the only stress being the impending weather forecast – and having to completely re-do the seating chart hours before. One of the highlights was seeing our niece and nephew step up to their highly anticipated roles – ring bearer and flower girl – and both absolutely stealing the show. The weather completely turned for the ceremony, gloriously sunny and absolutely scorching hot – there are many photos of the bridal party fanning me after sweating my way through the vows! It was also super special seeing our months of planning from the other side of the world come to fruition (the vision!), all our skype meetings and online orders to Mum coming together, with help from our incredible bridal party and family.
The evening was completely picturesque with fairy lights and dancing under the stars, and a few rogue flames after the mother of the bride set a napkin alight with the multiple candles on the tables. After putting out literal fires, the dance competitions and karaoke sessions were the perfect endings to our perfect day.
Any advice for other couples planning to spend the rest of their lives together?
Learn to roll with the punches. The pandemic was obviously a huge curveball for our big day, and despite meaning the father of the bride couldn’t be there, it taught us big lessons about letting go of control and cherishing time with family and friends and one another, lessons we have taken into our marriage. After a decade together we don’t have much left to learn about each other, but communication has been the absolute key to our successful ten years – saying thank you, saying sorry, saying how you feel and saying what you think. Just say it all, and everything will work itself out.
Ceremony + Reception location: Lismore NZ | Videographer: Alex Brocks | Photographer: Sarah McEvoy Photography | Celebrant: Married by Millie | Hire: Made Lovely Hire & Styling + The Vintage Party NZ + Festival Hire Wairarapa + Miss Frou Frou | Marquee: Stretch Tents | Flora: He Putiputi | Catering: Blue Carrot | Beverages: Macson Dispensary | Invitations: Laura Cahill Prints | Bride’s gown: Needle & Thread | Groom’s suit: Barkers Clothing + Hallenstein Brothers + Lulu Lemon | Rings: Meadowlark + Walker & Hall | Shoes: Mischief Shoes | Makeup: Kate Keogh | Bridesmaids: Designer Wardrobe + Designer Rentals NZ