Shaun + Sasha by Wildfolk Photography

After months on end living through Melbourne’s lockdown, not being able to leave our suburb or see anyone else but each other, this could kill a relationship, but we had so much fun and found we could be easily entertained just the two of us.

Tell us a little about yourselves, what you do, what you love…

I am the National Marketing & PR manager for QT Hotels New Zealand, and Shaun is in logistics for DB Breweries. We are quite opposite in what we like and do – I like to get dressed up, heels on and go to events and dinners, Shaun is happier in a pair of sandals and getting a Parma at the pub or watching the footy, but we share many common interests too and the same sense of humour – we don’t take anything too seriously, and we enjoy each other’s company. We both love nothing more than a home-cooked dinner we’ve made together, a good bottle of wine or whiskey and watching a movie or series. We aren’t big travellers but love to do weekends away and explore new places…closer to home or in Australia. Sasha is a lover of all things fashion (I used to work at the Melbourne Fashion Festival) and a big foodie, and Shaun is a lover of all things AFL, NFL, and Cricket… which Sasha is happy to let him do solo. I have a crib down in Dunedin on the harbour so we often travel down south to spend time there with my family, it’s our peaceful happy place, and Shaun can get out and go fishing and play golf with my brother who is nice when he is away from his friends and family.

How/where/when did you meet – and what were your first impressions?

A Tinder success story: we met nearly 8 years ago in Melbourne; Shaun was a Melbourne boy, and I am from Dunedin, but I lived in Melbourne for 8 years. We met on Tinder early 2016, we talked for a while & decided to meet up. I nearly cancelled, being a little hungover from the night before, but I was actually really enjoying his chat, so I pursued. We went for a walk around St Kilda and watched the penguins on the pier. It was a quick first date, but we got on well, and there were many more dates to follow. On our third date, Shaun took me on a drive down to Lorne Waterfalls – a two-hour drive from Melbourne, I thought it was a pretty big commitment to be in the car for 4 hours with someone I barely knew – but he sang Spice Girls word-for-word the whole way down, and I thought, this guy is different!  Shaun would always meet me on my break at work for what we would call ‘S & S coffee dates’. I was hesitant to get into a relationship… but he was persistent, and a year later, we moved in together and got our little cat, Toby. Shaun has a very calm nature, is easygoing, got on really well with all of my friends and family, and easily slid into my life, as I did his. 

After 8 months of lockdown in Melbourne, I decided I wanted to move back to NZ to be closer to my family, and Shaun was willing to make the move with me. We got engaged a year after we got back and bought a house together not long after that.

When did you first realise that this was someone you’d like to spend the rest of your life with?

Doing nearly a whole year of strict lock-down together, we realised how good we were together. After months on end living through Melbourne’s lockdown, not being able to leave our suburb or see anyone else but each other, this could kill a relationship, but we had so much fun and found we could be easily entertained just the two of us. We created a Friday ritual of margs and corn chips, trying to master the margarita. Sunday’s were whisky sours and chess. We even painted ourselves gold, put Coachella on the TV, and pretended we were at a festival one night. Wild times. But realising we can be great together even in the toughest of times was a good sign.

Was there a proposal? Tell us a little about it…

The proposal didn’t quite go to plan… It was just before Christmas 2021, and Shaun had planned to propose a romantic picnic on the beach, but I ruined his plans. Instead, we spent the day doing last-minute Christmas shopping. I had a bit of a migraine, and no matter how much Shaun pushed me to go and have a picnic, I just wanted to go home. When we got home, I was told I had to go and wait in my room for 20 mins…. I thought it was a joke because I’d made him do this the week before while I set up a BBQ I’d got him for Christmas, but no, he was serious, so I sat in my room until I was told I could come out… Shaun had set up flowers in the living room with two of my favourite bottles of wine. He proposed then and there on the living room floor…. It was my fault for ruining his plans, but it was very sweet nonetheless. We spent the night drinking wine, dancing together in the kitchen…and watching The Grinch. Not the most picturesque proposal, but it didn’t matter.

Tell us about the vision you had for the mood or style of your wedding.

I didn’t want the wedding to be super traditional. I wanted it to be fun but still classy. I also had a very slim budget so I did it all myself. The first time I visited Mudbrick I through it would be the perfect wedding venue but that I’d never be able to afford it. However, doing a Thursday wedding just outside of summer fits my budget perfectly. My only hesitation was that mudbrick is quite a traditional space, but we made it our own, with bright flowers, a red and pink theme…and disco balls. Mudbrick is a well-oiled machine when it comes to weddings, and everything was very smooth and organised, the food was amazing, and there were delicious wines. Could not fault it.

We chose Luke Bird as a celebrant as he has so much personality, and honestly, he stole the show. Our guests LOVED him and still talk about him. He brought character and humour to our ceremony, we were all in fits of laughter, and it was just what I wanted. Not serious. I don’t do all the lovey-dovey stuff. For a laugh we even wrote our own vowels for each other… not knowing what we were going to read out until we read them in front of our guests and to each other.

My theme for guests was ‘a touch of sparkle’. My bridesmaids had sparkly bags instead of flowers, even our celebrant wore a head-to-toe black sequin World suit, my dress was pink and had layers of glitter tulle, and we hung disco balls in the reception venue. My flowers for the ceremony were a beautiful, whimsical arrangement, and for the reception, I had pink and red flowers, all fake flowers, and I made the arrangements myself pre-wedding. We had a bunch of fun sunglasses and everyone had to take a photo in them with the photographer on entry.

Our friend also made us a neon sign for the dancefloor that read ‘The Shaggers’. Shaun’s nickname is Shagger after his footy jumper has always read S.Hagger …. My name starts with S… our family and friends now call us The Shaggers… I can’t say I love it, but I guess it’s better to embrace it and make a joke of it!

We didn’t have a photographer for the reception, but we got our guests to share their photos with a QR code, and we got about 60 polaroids from the reception, which was so much fun to go through the morning after.

My dad passed away nearly 10 years ago, and Shaun’s best friend passed away not long before our wedding, so we made sure there were some nice moments to bring them into our special day, and we had a table with framed photos of our family who had passed.

What was one element you were happy to splurge on?

Entertainment – I have always wanted to Saxophone player at my wedding. I saw Lewis McCallum play at Symphony, and when I saw him DJ plus play the Sax, I knew I wanted him as our entertainment, no matter the cost. He was AMAZING and everyone was raving about how fun he was.

Did anything happen on your wedding day that you laugh about in hindsight (even if it was stressful at the time)?

The bus to take our guests home at the end of the night left half the guests at the venue… I thought the bus arrived at 12.30 to take everyone home, but he arrived at 12.15 to leave at 12.30. My maid of honour did a good job at rounding up a fair few and got them on the bus, but everyone else was taking their time & still having a drink and a dance…and the bus driver just drove off and left them despite the protest from guests on the bus. At this hour, there aren’t many options for transport on Waiheke, but one taxi stayed on late and helped to do a few trips around the island. We did have some guests walk home, which took them 1.5 hours… but no one really complained much about it, and we laugh about it now.

Tell us about your main outfits, what was unique, is there a story?

Cue the peach glitter wedding dress. When shopping for a dress I realised I just wasn’t keen to wear white. I found designer Mila Nova, whose gowns were so stunning but way out of my price range, and then I came across her prom range, which was much more affordable.  I fell in love with my dress, but when I went to go buy it, I noticed all of their dresses had been taken offline. I messaged them to see if they would make one more, and their response was that they had stopped making dresses and were making garments for the military. They were a Ukrainian company, and this was during the peak of the war in 2022. I started looking elsewhere but they did eventually put the dresses back up and I got the one I wanted, it came out of Kiev, which was pretty special and I was proud to support a Ukrainian designer. The dress was peach tulle, with layers of glitter tulle in between and a beautiful sequin bodice. It had a HUGE train and so much tulle, but it was pretty stunning (and only $800!!). It also fit perfectly; I didn’t need to do any altering.

The only challenge was matching my veil to the dress… I practised dying tulle for months to try and match the colour… and when I eventually got the right mix of dyes, I (nervously) dyed the veil… it was perfect…. BUT then I tried to dry it with the hairdryer and melted a big hole in the middle!!! I tried a second time on another veil, but it was too pink. Sooo I just cut the veil shorter above the hole and wore that one… ultra DIY but you couldn’t even tell.

My second dress was just a silk gown from Shona Joy and was much easier to dance in.

CEREMONY & RECEPTION Mudbrick, @mudbrick_nz FLORIST Madame Florist, @madameflorist.waiheke PHOTOGRAPHER Wildfolk Photography, @wildfolkphotography OFFICIANT Luke Bird, @lukebird0 HAIR & MAKEUP Glammed by Sylvia, @glammedbysylvia BRIDAL DRESS Milla, @milla; Shona Joy, @shonajoy SUIT Politix, @politixmenswear VEIL Second hand GARTER Hand laced by family friend JEWELLERY OBJKTS Jewelry, @objktsjewelry; Trish Peng, @trishpeng ENGAGEMENT RING The Diamond Shop, @thediamondshop WEDDING RING Scarlett Jewellery Label, @scarlettjewellerylabel SHOES Steve Madden, @stevemaddenau CAKE From Sugar, @from_sugar BRIDAL & GROOM – GETTING READY HQ Mudbrick, @mudbrick_nz