Sanne — Michael was raised in Nelson, and I’m Dutch but grew up all over the world and have now lived most of my life in Tauranga….
When we met through mutual friends, he made it so obvious he was keen that I felt embarrassed for him! I wasn’t too sure, but decided to give it a shot.
It only took me a few weeks to fall for his refreshingly honest and quirky ways. A year later, we were engaged. From the very beginning, we’ve never let what other people think of us affect our relationship. We both love authenticity, appreciate the raw moments in life, and don’t necessarily do things the way everyone else does.
We love how free we are to feel and communicate and just be plain weird together. When it came to the proposal, I was completely oblivious. Michael hadn’t mentioned marriage once, so I’d pushed it out of my mind and was content with where we were at.
The weekend before I left for Europe to see family for a month, Michael said he wanted us to do something special. He asked me to keep my eyes closed as he led me to a little patch of grass bordering a bay, towards a wooden raft and two oars. We paddled across in the moody weather wearing our puffer jackets and boots, and after having a picnic, he pulled out a ring and asked me to be his woman in Dutch. I was so overwhelmed I couldn’t talk – for a good five minutes, all I did was laugh and cry and kiss his face! We wanted our wedding to feel rustic and wild. I even went barefoot.
Our ceremony was officiated by our friend under two giant trees on a friend’s property, where we stood on our raft and exchanged rings. Our reception was held in a magical-looking French country house. The day was filled with so much fun and love, and only one thing didn’t go to plan. The day before, my brother’s girlfriend had drawn on my feet with henna, but on the morning of the wedding, it was too faint to see, so she came over and redid it with permanent pen. To seal the artwork, one of my bridesmaids thought it would be a good idea to spray my feet with hairspray – but she ended up spraying it off!
I think I probably laughed the hardest, and luckily we took a photo before it disappeared. Michael and I lost our house in a fire a few months into our marriage, which was such a terrible shock. The experience brought out our least attractive qualities, but it also strengthened our bond and we’ve come out better for it. Marriage is a commitment to honour your greatest friend; push them forward and lift them up; choose love above reputation, wealth and occupation; stand with each other through hardship; and live in vulnerability with one another.
Photography: Chasewild | Bride’s gown: White Silk Bridal Couture | Groom’s suit and shoes: Vintage | Celebrant: A friend | Ceremony venue: A friend’s garden | Reception venue: The French Country House | Bridesmaids’ dresses: Pagani | Makeup: Chrissie Callard | Flora: Rosie’s Wildflower Co | Groomsmens’ suits: Hallensteins | Rings: Minter & Richter | Catering & beverages: Hereford Kitchen | Special song: ‘Nuvole Bianche’ by Ludovico Einaudi