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

We both have very busy careers with Stephen working in Finance and Aaron lecturing in music. We love the outdoors and wanted to reflect this in our ceremony. The location for the ceremony at Thurlby Domain was perfect with green lawns and gardens in a rambling old farm setting. It actually felt quite English in its own way. The outdoor ceremony and following champagne reception was a wonderful way to commence the day. It was a morning wedding at 11am so there was a definite morning air and light quite different to that of a late afternoon ceremony. We would definitely choose the morning again without hesitation. Our photos were amazing!

Due to Aaron’s work we are always surrounded by theatre and live music and so we thought a solo oboe performed by one of our friends was just enough to reflect the music that we both enjoy in our lives. As a couple we never argue or fight and I think this was also represented in our vows on the day. There was so much emotion and literally everyone was in tears. The only one who didn’t cry was our friends baby boy, Jasper! We love to travel and experience new food and wine culture … Queenstown allowed for this opportunity to unfold with elegance and style … all while saying: I Do!

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 wanted our special day to be one that was simple but very elegant and shared with our parents, immediate families and a few close friends. We both have a love for great food and fine wine, so we were spoiled for choice in Queenstown.

We wanted to incorporate a vineyard-like feel into our ceremony location and so we used wine barrels as our altar on display in front of the the old farm house. This style choice incorporated the rustic-chic feel that we were after. From early on with our styling ideas we were drawn to the colours of black, cream and white. So these colours were emphasised in different aspects throughout the day especially with the flowers at the ceremony and reception and the flowers on our lapels.

The crumbling old farm house that became the backdrop for the wedding produced the perfect balance between our crisp black and cream contemporary suits and rustic old-world charm. The collision between old and contemporary worked very well. This same theme flowed onto the reception luncheon at Gantleys where the buildings are from the same era producing a similar old world feel. The choice of these two venues produced a seamless continuity that allowed the day to flow with visual ease. Although a 15 minute drive between the two venues, both locations felt linked and cohesive. We loved the idea of having champers flow immediately after the ceremony. It was a very nice way to relax everyone after such an emotional event and to set the tone for the day ahead. Emma even managed to find black and white straws for the champagne piccolos!

Cream and black styling was used on everyones menus, which also doubled as their place card. Our logo was also used on the thank you gift bag that we gave to every guest. (We gave everyone candy with our logo on it, candles with our logo in black and cream, chocolates and miniature bottles of gin). Even our wedding cake used the same three colours and included our wedding logo.

The day was organised down to the smallest of details and honestly, it is this absolute detail that produces the calm organisation needed for such a special day. It was honestly one of the most beautiful experiences. The best thing that we did (apart from working with Emma Newman) was organising an excellent photographer. I have recently told people that Carla is like a 2D psychologist! She has managed to capture the emotion of the day in a way that we thought not possible. We tried so hard on the actual day to capture the memories that were unfolding before us but it is difficult when you are caught up with people and the emotion of it all. Carla has managed, in her own way, to recreate the day for us. When the photos arrived we were immediately transported back to Thurlby Domain. It is a great skill to achieve what she did and we cannot recommend her enough to anyone considering a photographer in New Zealand. Also the hour spent after the ceremony by ourselves and Carla was a wonderful memory. It just allowed us to calm down and soak in everything that New Zealand had to offer. It was a wonderful interlude before the reception!

Tell us about your main outfits: 

We wanted something that looked modern with a cutting edge style that felt more summer-like. We had a particular look set in our minds with fitted black structured chino pants against a light / cream jacket and white shirt. Black, cream and white were our colours and we used them completely with our outfit choices.

However, it wasn’t until we started searching for these kind of suits that we realised how difficult our style ideas were. Cream suits can be rather linen-based and getting ones that have a more slim-fitted design that hold their shape without crumpling was almost impossible. In the end we bought three different suits from three different designers and then returned the ones that didn’t work! The pants were tailored perfectly and were beautiful. They are from Calibre and the sales staff at Calibre in Perth were excellent. The main issue for us was finding the correct ties. We were not going for striped ties at first and had other more black and white floral ideas, but in the end we chose an M. J. Bale tie. The stress of finding and ordering ties was by far the hardest part of our outfit. In fact, finding a beautiful black and white striped tie took a few months of shopping. We ordered different ones online and luckily we purchased the M. J. Bale ties because the other ones arrived when we returned to Australia a month after the wedding! Our shoes were purchased online from Italy. The patent leather loafers were the perfect way to make the entire outfit pop. They were bright and glossy and very contemporary especially when worn without socks as we did! The patent leather loafer changed the formality of our suits, providing an element of  contemporary cheekiness. They worked very well and is what we got the most compliments about on the day. Our button hole flowers were wrapped in black ribbon which finished the wedding suit off perfectly. The whole ensemble was drawn from various different designers and shops but when put all together we loved our final result!

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

We both cannot believe how seamless the whole day unfolded. After a year of planning and stressing about everything the day was before us and it just worked perfectly. It is crazy that it takes a special day to bring our family together from around the world, but that is exactly what happened. So for us the special memories of everyone together is something that cannot be recreated easily. We have some truly wonderful pictures of our family together. These are memories that wont be forgotten. We had three individual events over three days, but the wedding itself was the highlight. We sit back now and look at our pictures with nostalgia and pride. We were very pragmatic with our costings and feel that we managed to pull off one of the most elegant and sophisticated events with a fairly practical budget.

Before leaving Perth the same sex marriage laws were changed in Australia and people were asking why would we now want to go and do an overseas wedding. Our answer was simple … We had already well and truly planned our wedding in New Zealand, where laws and acceptance had been in place for years; we had no desire to be married in Australia and would do it all again exactly the same if we had the same choices.

Planning a destination wedding is almost impossible without having someone actually there on the ground, and for us Emma Newman was integral to the success of the day. She coordinated everything and took all the pressure and stress off us and our families. The food and wine pairing at the reception were outstanding and Brent from Gantleys did a sensational job. What was really amazing for us however, was the cake. I think it must be everyones favourite wedding cake and we still talk about Clare at Cakes of Wanaka today. We honeymooned around NZ after our wedding and had a slice every day. Incredible!

A final memory was on our way home after the reception. Our driver Ray pulled  the car over on the edge of a cliff overlooking the most spectacular view of Queenstown. We just took 10 mins to pull ourselves together and take it all in. It was a fabulous way to wind down before the evening festivities. Perth, where we are from, is also a beautiful city, but as for the most spectacular views in the world … Queenstown is definitely up there!

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

We never thought that a wedding would change our relationship, however, our destination wedding in NZ will have a lasting impact on our lives. We had always planned to spend our lives together, but now this ceremony has altered our experience in a more than positive way. As we said in our vows … Sometimes a bit of ritual is actually quite a good thing.

We brought our immediate friends and family together to surround us with love and support. And it has been really important for us to have loved ones around us in coherent support for this new stage in our lives. This is what was most important to us when deciding on our wedding list. This is the advice we offer; You don’t need to spend tens of thousands to have an incredible day. Keep it small, elegant and sophisticated and have people involved that are on the same page as you and want to be a part of creating new and lasting memories in your lives.

Photographer: Carla Mitchell Photography | Ceremony location: Thurlby Domain | Reception location & Food: Gantleys Restaurant | Wedding Planner: Emma Newman Weddings | Celebrant: Phillipa Cook | Entertainment: Ben Burgess playing Oboe | Design: Lala Design | Flora: The Flower Room | Cake: Cakes of Wanaka | Grooms’ attire: Dom Bagnato & Calibre | Rings: Michael Hill

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