We wanted to stand strong in our values on our wedding day while also paying respect to our families by celebrating Tongan tradition, as well as Tyler’s heritage. Our future children will be half Tongan, so it was important for us to choose which traditions we wish to bring forward and which we wish to leave behind
We had different upbringings, which made wedding planning fun but challenging. Sione is a Tongan-born Kiwi who grew up in Ōtara in the heart of South Auckland. He plays rugby professionally for the All Blacks Sevens team and is studying mathematics at university. Tyler was born in Oamaru and grew up in Christchurch. She works in marketing and is slowly transitioning into the wedding industry.
We live in absolute paradise: Pāpāmoa Beach in the Bay of Plenty. We met at the start of 2017 and went for our first date at the beach. After tucking into a butter chicken curry, we spent hours chatting, looking out at the ocean. When we checked the time, it was already 1am. Even though we come from different backgrounds, we found our faith in God a few months into dating, which led us on our biggest and greatest journey yet.
We wanted to stand strong in our values on our wedding day while also paying respect to our families by celebrating Tongan tradition, as well as Tyler’s heritage. Our future children will be half Tongan, so it was important for us to choose which traditions we wish to bring forward and which we wish to leave behind. We kept our theme simple with natural island tones so that we could incorporate Tongan culture. For instance, we stood beneath a traditional Tongan tapa (decorated barkcloth) during the ceremony instead of an arch. We had beautiful family touches throughout, as Tyler’s brothers made the wooden table pieces and gift box.
For the ceremony, Sione wore a traditional black tupenu (lavalava) and a ta’ovala (dress mat), which was handwoven from strips of pandanus leaves by his cousin in Tonga. She also created a kahoa (necklace) and kafa (sennit) from braided coconut husk fibres and shells to finish the ensemble. Tyler chose a bespoke Hayes Bridal gown and veil for the ceremony, with a top that could be taken off and worn again. For the reception, Sione changed into a tailored suit, bow tie and white shirt from Barkers menswear. It was cool that we could get changed into a second outfit at the same time, as it gave us an opportunity to enjoy a special moment — just the two of us.
We were blessed with incredible speeches and haka from friends and Sione’s rugby team. Our wonderful friend Georgia sang Tyler down the aisle to ‘Can’t Help Falling in Love’ and our band sang a worship song while we signed the papers. Sione: One of my favourite memories from the day was watching my beautiful wife perform a Tongan dance for me. It left a massive grin on my face! One of the only things that didn’t go to plan was having two uninvited guests turn up on the day, though we were lucky, as up to 50 people can arrive without an invitation at Tongan weddings!
Tyler: It’s been challenging trying to figure out what we want our future to look like. On our wedding day, we wanted to blend what we value from both of our upbringings in order to incorporate this into our own family unit in the future. We feel like we’re creating a new generation. The most special thing about our relationship is that we were drawn together by our faith despite being from two different worlds. We’re both really excited to create new traditions and adventures for our future family.
photographer & videographer Stephan and Nakita / venue Black Walnut Venue / bride’s outfit & veil Hayes Bridal / groom’s outfit Traditional handmade Tongan outfit for ceremony suit for second ensemble Barkers / planner & styling Bride / bridesmaids’ attire BLAK Bridesmaids / groomsmen attire Barkers / bride’s fragrance Si by Giorgio Armani / groom’s fragrance Jean Paul Gaultier / celebrant Friend and mentor, Timo Tagaloa / bride’s shoes Chaos & Harmony / groom’s shoes Birkenstocks for ceremony (with traditional wear) / bride’s jewellery Ceremony pearls by Charlotte Penman / reception earrings from Zoe & Morgan / groom’s jewellery Handmade Tongan necklaces (kahoa) made by groom’s aunt wooden gift box & table stands Bride’s brothers / entertainment Brotherhood Musiq and Georgia Lines / flora On My Hand / catering & beverages No Biggie / cake Spongedrop / tables/menus/invitations/seating chart Bride / welcome sign MOXI Designs / bride’s ring Diamonds on Richmond / groom’s ring Quantum Design Jewellers / makeup Mary Estelle