Tell us a little about yourselves, what you do, what you love, what is unique about you and your relationship…
Adnan and I met online while I was living in a buddhist centre in the Coromandel. We both come from polar opposite backgrounds and career choices, yet we share the same visions and values in life.
The first time we met, the nun from the centre drove me to the ferry terminal where I would cross the ocean to Auckland and meet the man who had already stolen my heart. I remember the conversation with the nun, we talked about the challenges and trials in life, how we can see these as opportunties to become more compassionate and understanding, they are a blessing, a gift to learn and grow. She made me feel calm as I embarked on this new journey full of hope, trust and open to the universe.
The moment I met Adnan I felt valued and beautiful, he had this amazing energy and passion that shone from within. I loved that he was so interested in my story there was never any judgment about my past just admiration and pure potential, he loved me for all my imperfections. Being born in the United Arab Emirates into a family of 11 children, he was denied citizenship of the country he was born; Adnan understood the challenges we all have in life and what I was going through. He wouldn’t let me accept my challenges as an excuse to hold me back or let my past actions define me as a person. Instead, he would encourage me to use my pain and 14 years experience with mental health as a way to grow, to open up and take ownership of my story, just like the conversation I had with the nun.
The journey to where we are today hasn’t been smooth; it’s taken hard work on all levels. I struggled fitting back into the “normal society” after so many years unwell. Adnan experienced every bit of it with me, I pulled him deep into my darkest most scary place, we experienced emotional rock bottom, but this only brought us closer.
The first 6 months took us through many trials, we are stronger together because of what we have faced. We have grown through the pain and come out the other side. Adnan taught me the art of imperfection and to love myself and life with passion and purpose. I am whole, I am well, and I owe a lot of that to Adnan. There will always be challenges we all make mistakes and marriages have to be re-worked all the time, but the underlying love, respect and kindness will always be there.
6 months into our relationship, Adnan and I found out we were expecting out first son, Arlo. We moved from Auckland to my hometown of New Plymouth. Adnan works helping businesses prepare for the future workspace, He loves Taranaki and the inclusion and welcoming that the community embraces here. I am in the creative industry, while we are both focused on being parents and available to Arlo first, We are at the beginning of embarking on our next journey, starting a business together. This will be a creative and innovation Hub in the heart of the city where we can work side by side in totally different fields; doing something together we can be proud of within this beautiful region and offering this space to like-minded individuals.
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…
Our wedding was very intimate affair with a few close family and friends who have been with us on our journey. We married in the beautiful historic White Hart hotel built in 1886, In my hometown of New Plymouth. The building has been restored to its former glory and holds a lot of meaning to our family. My Grandad owned it, and when he passed away, my father brought it and continued the vision my Grandad had of making it the heart of the city that brought people together. When I saw it for the first time after being restored, I hadn’t met Adnan, but I knew I would get married there one day. The grand spiral staircase with the Victorian style carpet, leading up to the private bar and enclosed balcony that over looks the renowned Len lye art gallery, as well as views straight up the main street made this stunning venue unique and meaningful.
I wanted to appreciate the beauty of the building and interior, so I kept to a classic old Hollywood feel that would complement the style. I collected vintage brass candlesticks, creating installations around the venue and designed and dressed the tablescape myself with vintage brass, crystal vases, goblets and decanters. The tables were set in one long line to enjoy an intimate Italian style feast all about sharing and coming together as family. Rugs, hides and taxidermy brought a luxe style to the venue and Sofie from petal and prickle brought the whole look together with deep rustic orange, golds and red flower installations; it was perfect.
We wed at 5:30 in the evening, which gave us the whole day to relax and enjoy the company of all our loved ones who had come to celebrate us. Getting ready with my girlfriends and sister was so heartfelt, I felt so relaxed and cared for the whole day.
Adnan and I both come from different cultural backgrounds, so the traditional wedding wasn’t big for us. We wanted a close family friend to marry us on the day, who aligned with our values and future aspirations. He wasn’t a celebrant, so Adnan and I wed a few months earlier in a registry office with my mum and dad as the witnesses. The whole experience felt surreal, and I loved the intimate moment where Adnan and I could celebrate our journey with just my parents, acknowledging the support and love they have shown us on our journey. This meant that on the day we could bring a true essence to our vowels in an untraditional way, It was important for us to not only express the love we had for each other but for our family and for the wider community and world. We walked up the aisle together to the Buddhist chant Om Mani Padme hum where we exchanged the Buddhist vowels we had written together. It was such a magical moment and truly resonated with everything that was important to us, I feel so blessed to have had the opportunity to share our love with those around us that we care for, as this wasn’t a day just for us coming together, but about our whole tribe and wider community.
Tell us about your main outfits:
I had always wanted something quite minimalistic, I love the 1920s – 1930s era with the classic fingerwave hair and slip style dress which is where my inspriration came from. My wedding dress was actually a slip I had previously tried on while interning at a bridal company a few years back. Pure silk, it clung and fell in all the right places, and with the slight train at the back gave it a more bridal feel. Because the dress was so simple I decided to style it up with statement earings and a 3 meter veil that I knew would look stunning walking up the grand staircase. Adnan’s inspiration for his outfit came from the time we visited the girls up at the Virtue where they were selling Cuban hats from their time abroad, he purchased one for his wedding outfit and the rest flowed on from this with his cuban linen shirt and pants.
What were some of the most memorable/unique moments from the day?
I remember waking up on the day and feeling so relaxed, spending the morning hanging out with Adnan and our son, doing the ordinary things like washing and tyding the house. I loved that we wernt rushed to be anywhere and we could enjoy the time just the 3 of us.
It was important for us to have the day flow in a organic way, I put a lot of thought into the people I wanted around me while getting ready who would have the right intentions and great energy. I couldn’t have chosen a better bridal party, as well as make-up, hair and photography, the energy was magic, and I could feel the love and care from everyone, there was so much laughter and tears all day. We decided to take our photos an hour before the ceremony so it didn’t disrupt the flow of the evening. Seeing Adnan for the first time and the look on his face with our closet family and friends around us was definitly a highlight. Taking photos for an hour before was a special moment we could enjoy before the rush of all the quests, I highly recommend thinking about doing it this way, it ment that straight after the ceremony we could relax and enjoy our quests without the worry of leaving to go off and take photos.
Walking up the Aisle together is the moment I will always remember as the highlight, when the buddhist chant started the quests withdrew their breath before falling silent, it was very emotional with a spiritual and loving meaning to us. After the exchanging of vowels my sister had organised a surprise where each individual lined up to shower us with confetti and share their congratulations, I loved the fact we could personally thank and welcome each person for being there it was a special and unique moment.
Any advice for other couples planning to spend the rest of their lives together?
Enjoy the journey, it won’t be perfect, but you can learn to see the perfect in the imperfections. Not everything will go to plan, but often it works out to be better when you let it go, keep coming back to why you are getting married, it’s a day to celebrate your coming together, and it should reflect your personality and relationship, it shouldn’t be about what you should do, or what others think you should do, this goes for planning your wedding, but also in everyday life. The growth that comes from challenges in relationships and life is exponential, try to remember this when you are facing difficulties, and remember to be kind and care for each other.
Photographer: Katie O’Neill | Ceremony & Reception Location: Whitehart Hotel, New Plymouth | Styling: Elle Belushi (Bride) | Flora: Petal & Prickle | Catering: Public Catering | Bride’s Dress: Rue de Seine | Bride’s Shoes: Pons Quintana | Groom’s Attire: Cubavera | Groom’s Shoes: Orto Doux | Ring: Roula Dfouni | Earrings: Lovisa | Groom’s Hat: The Virtue | Makeup: Janet Sweet Makeup | Hair: Hair by Kate