Monita & Aaron Queenstown Wedding Photography by Danelle Bohane

Monita: Ninety-five percent of the time, Aaron and I are on the same page and very much in support of each other. Our relationship is truly teamwork….

We’d been following each other on Instagram for a while before I decided to add him as a friend on Facebook and message him. Prior to that, I’d told a few of my friends I’d love to date him, based on his photos of his adventures….

We sent each other essay-long messages for five months before finally meeting in person when I came home from Sydney for the summer. Aaron works in IT by day and pursues his passion for photography in the evenings and weekends….

I work in sales in the FMCG industry and in my free time plan our lives out and regularly become the subject of Aaron’s photos. We both love new challenges and adventures, and often spend our time entertaining far-fetched ideas – such as bringing our friends and family together at Moke Lake near Queenstown for our civil ceremony. Coming from two big Indian families, our biggest challenge during our wedding planning was the guest list.

Most Indian families have big communities and because a traditional Hindu wedding is about the parents giving their daughter away, they like to have their whole community there to support the occasion. We managed to keep the guest list for our Hindu wedding in Auckland to 400 people – which, believe it or not, is small. We then ensured our civil ceremony in Queenstown was an intimate occasion with just 80 guests. We planned both weddings simultaneously and booked most of the big things 18 months ahead while we were living in London and France.

Then we moved back to New Zealand, and with starting new jobs and settling back into life in Auckland, wedding planning fell off the radar for a bit. Because we were organising multiple days of Hindu ceremonies and a civil ceremony, there was still quite a bit to do six months out, but although it was a little stressful at the time, in the end everything came together perfectly.

Most Hindu weddings are very much about sticking to customs and traditions. This meant that Aaron and I were separated in the days leading up to the Hindu ceremonies while we stayed with family. I also wanted to wear something quite traditional, which for me meant red. Being able to wear Sabyasachi was an absolute dream come true – their quality and workmanship is like no other Indian outfit I’ve seen.

Aaron and I took a bit of a risk, ordering our custom-made outfits from India and doing our measurements via FaceTime. We put up an amazing Raj tent on my parents’ farm in Pukekohe and it all kicked off on the Wednesday evening with a puja [prayer] to bless the festivities. On the Thursday morning, we had the first haldi [turmeric] ceremony to mark the beginning of the wedding rituals, where close family and friends took part in the ritual of rubbing turmeric paste on my arms, legs and face. Thursday night was the mehndi [henna] ceremony, at which my female friends, family and I all had our mehndi done.

Friday morning kicked off with another round of haldi, then in the evening I changed into about eight beautiful sarees that my aunties had bought me and performed rituals around the mandap [a covered wooden structure that serves as the altar]. The evening concluded with song, dance and lots of Indian food.

Aaron’s immediate family is Christian, so they kept things pretty simple at his end, with just a mehndi and music on the Friday evening with close family and friends. On the Saturday, we had a traditional South Indian wedding ceremony, which in short consisted of an exchanging of garlands, my parents giving me away, us circling around a fire and finally Aaron tying a thali necklace around my neck to symbolise the marriage. With our hearts set on Moke Lake for our civil ceremony [the following week], this celebration really centred around that as our backdrop.

The only significant styling element was a colourful semi-circular floral arrangement – one of my favourite details of the day. We held our reception in a woolshed styled with floral arrangements, suspended foliage, brass and festoon lights. For the civil ceremony, I wanted to wear something a bit different, but had no idea what that was. I tried on six different dresses with my bridesmaids, but didn’t love anything and found it all quite overwhelming. Then one day I was by myself and thought I’d just pop into Rue De Seine – and absolutely fell in love with the Moonlight Valentina gown. Since it was so different, I wanted to run it past Aaron. He came into Rue De Seine and loved it so much that he wanted to get married right away!

The most memorable moment during our Hindu ceremony was walking down the aisle with my parents and seeing Aaron sitting in the mandap. I hadn’t seen him for three days and it felt like forever! After our civil wedding ceremony, a helicopter took us up into the mountains. Apart from our photographer and videographer, it was just the two of us for that half hour, and I love the photos we got up there. 

Photography, Danelle Bohane | Videography, Bottlebrush Films |  Bride’s gown Rue De Seine | Groom’s suit Crane Brothers| Wedding Planning, Bride and Groom | Bride’s shoes, La Tribe| Groom’s shoes, Florsheim| Jewellery, Sokora Jewels| Hair & makeup, Nikki Arora | Marquee, Raj Tent Club NZ | Styling & flora, DJ Dave Decorations & Party Hire | Location – Private land at Moke Lake | Reception venue & wine, Peregrine Wines | Bride’s jewellery, Zoe & Morgan | Celebrant, Laura Giddey | Styling & flora, One Fine Day | Welcome sign & seating plan, BelleBoard Design | Stationery, The groom | Neon sign, Radikal Neon | Groomsmen’s atttire, Barkers | Bridesmaids’ dresses, Shona Joy | Cutlery hire, Little Hire Company | Catering, In2Food | Cake, Cherry Blossom Cakes| Lawn games hire, Queenstown Wedding Hire | Entertainment, Mountain Beats DJ Co| Helicopter, Heliworks | Special song, ‘Truly Madly Deeply’ by Savage Garden, ‘Slice of Heaven’ by Dave Dobbyn and ‘Time After Time’ by Cyndi Laupe