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

Danny is a sailor in the Royal Australian Navy, born and raised in Sydney. I work in Government public affairs and moved to Sydney from Canberra around seven years ago.

We met in the standard way – boy meets girl in a bar. We hit it off after Danny and his friends joined my friend and I at our table. Originally they just wanted a seat as we had a huge table to ourselves, but we soon started chatting and it wasn’t long before we were dancing the night away. The next day, we could not wait to see each other so we met for a coffee and sunset walk in Wastons Bay. After that, we put our relationship to the test early and went on a weekend trip to the Blue Mountains the following weekend. The rest, as they say, is history and we’ve been inseparable ever since.

Danny is away a lot for work and trips can come up or change with little to no warning, so communication is key. Not long after we met Danny was posted to Perth for a few months. We both knew to make things work, we needed to communicate often. We talked almost every day, even if it was only via email and I managed to fly over twice to visit. Perth still holds a very special place in both our hearts as it was there we decided to move in together once Danny returned to Sydney. This period also made us both realise that no matter how much time we had to have a part, it would be worth it, and we could work our way through it.

Danny and I often say “we are exactly the same” and I think that’s what makes our relationship so special. We share the same values and both have the same taste from food to music and we love a clean house – we are meticulous about cleaning! Whilst we do have our differences like every couple, we love spending time with each other and appreciate the little things in life such as a nice glass of wine and weekends with friends or at our local café.

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…

Having been to more than 20 weddings in the past few years I knew exactly the style of wedding I wanted. The venue was the most important – I wanted both the ceremony and the reception in the backyard of a house. After searching in Australia, I struggled to find a property that wasn’t a property on a farm or was within our budget. So when I stumbled across Horotane Lodge in Christchurch on the website we thought why not? We had been on a skiing trip to Queenstown the year before and fell in love with New Zealand so we decided to book it then and there.

Our goal was to create a relaxed and intimate atmosphere, whilst acknowledging the seriousness of the commitment we were making to each other. We wanted to make the most of the luscious New Zealand countryside so we kept the decorations minimal and opted for seasonal flowers sourced from local growers.

My favourite details were the long tables and the huge pink peonies we had placed on the bar and signing table for the ceremony. Our bridal party and family helped with the whole set-up and whilst the rest was a little painful at times, setting up the table garlands was actually quite a lot of fun and became a bonding experience between our close friends and two families as we fumbled our way through layering all the foliage and flowers the night before the big day. The peonies were a last-minute find when a local grower posted on Facebook that they had lots for sale. Peonies are my favourite flower and although I originally didn’t want pink – I jumped at the opportunity to be able to purchase as many peonies as I could. The flowers were so beautiful; they really popped on the day and added a nice touch of colour.

Danny loved the food. We could not have been happier with our caterer – not only was the food delicious and the service impeccable, they helped us find vendors and worked with our marquee hire company to ensure the set-up was perfect. The caterer also packed us a picnic basket to take away and enjoy with our bridal party whilst we were getting the photos. This was a really nice touch and gave us a chance to debrief over some champagne and cheese with our closest friends.

Tell us about your main outfits:

I had been following Berta for years – even before I was thinking about getting married and fell in love with my dress months before I purchased it. After trying on countless dresses, I finally was able to try on my dream dress in a store in Sydney. When I put it on I fell even more in love, and when I decided to purchase it my mum started crying and I knew I had made the right choice. I chose a second dress by Manning Cartell which was more fun and relaxed so that I could dance all night and not have to worry.

Danny chose a traditional black tuxedo-style suit. He says he “didn’t want to show up the bride”! He had his suit made by Oscar Hunt tailors and opted for classic peaked lapel jacket with dinner shirt and bow tie. The suit matched his traditional and sensible personality and I thought he looked really handsome!

We both found our shoes in Hawaii whilst on holiday a few months before the wedding. Danny wore a pair of Cole Haan plain black dress shoes and I favoured simple nude patent heel from Stuart Weitzman.

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

When we first met Danny introduced me to Jazz music and its something we both love listening and dancing to around the kitchen. We wanted to incorporate that into our wedding so we chose a jazz band to play and sing for our ceremony and whilst people enjoyed the grazing table and drinks pre-reception.

We surprised our guests with a choreographed first dance to “Cheek to Cheek” by Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald as we entered the marquee for the first time at our reception. I’m not a good dancer and dislike being the center of attention so having a choreographed dance (we had lessons for this) meant I was able to enjoy the moment and concentrate on dancing to a song we both loved. We also cut the cake straight after the first dance so that all the formalities aside from the speeches were done and dusted before we ate. After the speeches, we had a DJ so that we could have a mix of music to ensure everyone went onto the dancefloor, including the older generation.

Our favourite moments were when we snuck away with our photographer. The first was when we decided to take the time to do a 20-minute drive up the nearby mountain to take our couple photos. We stopped off at a lookout point and whilst Meredith was out of the car checking the out the location we looked at each other and said “we did it”. It was such a small moment, but it was our first moment alone and it was so special moment – we acknowledged what we had just done and took a minute to appreciate it.  We then kept driving up to the top of the mountain and whilst we were having our photos taken my veil was whipped off by the wind. I could not stop laughing as we watched it flying off into the distance. Luckily it got caught on a tree and Danny was a gentleman and ran down the mountain to fetch it.

Later on in the evening, whilst our guests ate and danced, we snuck away with Meredith to an abandoned shack on the block next door for a few more photos. Neither of us had noticed the shack and even though I had already changed into my second dress and we weren’t planning on taking any more photos we were really glad we did – these photos ended up being some of our favourite from the whole day.

On our way to New Zealand, I chose a new perfume and Danny chose a new cologne to wear on our wedding day. Now every time we wear the perfume or cologne it evokes fond memories of our day.

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

Always be yourself, if you’re meant to be together things will be easy and no matter what happens – good times and the bad – it will work out.

For those planning weddings, don’t sweat the small things. No one knows what you were meant to have or will care if things go wrong – I almost married no one as Danny signed the witness section instead of the groom section! But no-one cared and it was a funny story afterward for the rest of the guests who had no idea what was happening. It will be the best day of your lives so take a moment to stop, savour the moment, and acknowledge the commitment you’ve just made.

Venue: Horotane Lodge, Christchurch NZ | Photographer: Meredith Lord  | Celebrant: Local Vicar – Jacqui Stevenson | Entertainment: Jazz band –Vintage Blue and DJ – Mountain Beats | Hire: The Little Hire Company, Balencia Lane,  The Pretty Prop Shop,  Something Borrowed Something New  | Marquee, Tables and Chairs: Party Warehouse | Flora: Downies Flowers | Catering + Beverages: Moveable Feasts | Cake: Cakes by Anna | Coordinator: Sophie Chambers | Cookies: Rebecca Jane Sugar Art | Groom Suit: Oscar Hunt | Bride Dress: Muse by Berta from Brides by Francesca | Second dress: Manning Cartell | Ring/s: Family Friend Jeweller | Brides Shoes: Stuart Weitzman | Grooms Shoes: Cole Haan | Jewellery: Diamond Earrings from Bride’s Mum | Veil: Brides by Francesca  | Makeup: Simone Thurlow | Hair: Monique at Graceful Hair Art | Brides Fragrance: Issey Miyake Pure | Grooms Fragrance: Giorgio Armani Acqua di Gio Absolu | Bridesmaids Dresses: Bec and Bridge | Bridesmaid earrings: Brie Leon | Groomsmen: Their own suits, bow ties by Oscar Hunt

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