Tom & Ali by Holly Burgess

Tell us a little about yourselves, what you do, what you love, what is unique about you and your relationship … Tom and I couldn’t be more opposite if we tried – I’m a true introvert, fond of yoga, a night in with wine and a book, spending the day seeing where it takes us and a true advocate for the classic “it’ll work out”. Tom is your true extrovert, literally he throws parties for a living, working for Britomart Hospitality as well as owning his own electronic music touring company with a friend, and having his own House DJ project called Blanc on the side.

Tom is the planner, full speed ahead but always running on time and fond of the saying “let’s do this”. We couldn’t be more opposite if we tried, however somehow we are the perfect balance for one another and that is our favourite part about us – we can appreciate, admire and love all our differences.

To be honest thinking back now at the very first time we met is highly underwhelming, it was nothing more than a “hi, nice to meet you” and an add on Facebook.

However, a couple of years later our paths continued to cross more and more through mutual friends, flat parties and the forever shrinking North Shore. Knowing he was a bit of a ladies man (being a DJ and always out) I refused for a year to fall for his charm and impressive dance moves, until he wore me down with laughter and endless love. 5 years later, after a whole lot of fun, Tom dropped a knee in front of a gigantic ‘MARRY ME’ sign to an acoustic mix of our two favourite songs, performed by the beautiful Helen Cory on my parents back lawn.

Being a professional party thrower and always full of confidence, Tom had pre organised our engagement party. So half an hour later our closest friends and family started arriving and we spent the rest of the night drinking champagne and dancing barefoot on the lawn in a big circle, taking turns in the middle performing the worm.

Fast forward just over a year later, and in the exact same spot I was starting our special day with yoga under our wedding arch and drinking lots of camomile tea in order to keep me zen for what lay ahead 11 hours later.

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 differences are what created the foundations for our special day, Tom enjoys tradition and I was for something more relaxed, so straight away all our decisions for the day were made on finding that perfect balance.

Picking the beautiful elements out of tradition we danced around different ideas to make the day unique to us. Throughout the year, my mum and dad purchased us multiple “words to inspire” books to help us with our speeches, something I came across early on, mentioned “people won’t remember what you said, but how you make them feel” – we took this lesson on board, not just for our speeches but when playing around with different ideas to help find our balance and ensure we were creating a day filled with lots of love and emotion.

So it was a traditional ceremony setting with a few quirks along the way. For the ceremony itself, our celebrant – Kerry Aitken, a long time family friend and mum to my maid of honour asked us early on to think of three words that we would like the ceremony to encompass. For the life of us, we can only remember 2 out of the 3, ‘relaxed’ and ‘interactive’. I asked Tom what he thought the 3rd one could be reflecting back now and his response was “fun”.

We set the ceremony time for later in the day, our “happy hour” so that we could be married at our favourite time- just when the sun starts to fall. The sun being the first and most impressive accessory to the ceremony seemed to set the theme and complemented our natural, warm choices. We had 80 beautiful bamboo chairs looking out over the point of the backyard to the Upper Harbour, this created a natural aisle which led up to our bamboo arch which was dressed by the talented florist Renee at Jardinbell with dried palms, toi toi, fresh roses and falling orchards at the feet of each post (uneven of course – Perfectly imperfect). For shade and a good back up plan, we had a linen coloured Shuepepe stretch tent attached off my parents house, each of the posts of the marquee mirroring the arch style. To soften it all and keep the natural theme flowing, we had large lush plants sprinkled throughout the marquee and lawn along with boho cushions, poofs, and a few cane peacock chairs by the talented husband and wife team at Retro Events, paired with tall wooden learners and stools and a couple of the minimalist lounge space collections from the experts at Two Foxes. Each item picked as if it was for our dream home. When it all arrived at once, Tom started to panic wondering how on earth we could fit it all into such an intimate space, but the vision was clear for me and with the help of the wedding party we had styled it and ready in a few hours, exceeding all our expectations.

For me, the bamboo chairs by Two Foxes were my favourite, they looked so beautiful altogether and being new to the Two Foxes collection, I hadn’t seen them in action before then. Our round corner Macrocarpa bar by McGrath and co was Toms favourite along with our Chinese umbrellas and woven fans for guests to use under the February sun. These all made for good dancing accessories later in the night.

Instead of a sit down meal we opted for a food truck by Bite Me, a pizza oven and a large Spanish paella pan to acknowledge Toms Spanish side. For dessert we transformed mum and dads butlers pantry into a Sweet shop as well as a coffee and tea spot for the oldies. A more relaxed approach for the food worked in so much better for us and our late start, allowing the night to continue flowing and for different groups of people to connect, it felt like a mini Carnaval. The dumplings by Bite Me seemed to be the crowd favourite of the night.

All in all, we both agreed traditional elements were important to hold onto, after all that’s what has worked for hundreds of years, but we also knew this was our special day and we wanted to make sure we were able to look back and see our happy day as being ours and only ours, unique and different.

Tell us about your main outfits: Both Tom and I love to shop, so finding our outfits was super exciting for us to set out and do, however both of us happened to find what we wanted within the first trip – quickly ticking the best job off the long list.

Tom headed to Hallensteins and found his and his groomsmen’s ensemble at the Queen Street store. They all went for matching suits – a smart midnight navy colour paired with a white shirt and black leather shoes. Tom picked out different Liberty floral patterned ties for each of them, shotgunning the fruitiest one for himself. To reflect his other love – music, my mum got him a black round pin from the World store which said “I believe in disco” on it. Tom couldn’t help himself and sent me a photo of his entire get up, I was impressed and at that stage we had purchased the bridesmaids dresses, a very relaxed and simple deep rose slip, with a v neck plunge and tie up back, the length brushing their shins. When the photo came through, I sent the girls a message and simply said “girls I think we might have to up our game”. A couple of weeks later we had purchased stunning rose coloured silk cowl neck slips by Shona Joy, the length just brushing their ankles – the girls looked incredible. I must have a type as like Tom each of my bridesmaids are olive and brunette – their colouring allowing them to beautifully pull off the blush. We went simple with the hair, low relaxed buns – each a little different depending on what they liked, their own choice of nude heels and then beautiful gold or silver Zoe and Morgan earrings.

For me I fell in love while scrolling through Instagram with Hayes Bridal, it had me at the websites first page opening statement “for the relaxed bride. Let’s keep it simple so you can feel like yourself on your wedding day”.

Going through the entire process with Alice the designer was nothing short of amazing. Everything was so relaxed and fun, I feel like I miss going along to my fittings with her already and seeing her velvet baby pink couch. On my first visit and all the others I took my mum along, she was my classic conscience- ensuring I didn’t go all boho bride and forget what I really wanted. I didn’t need to worry though, as Alice was nothing short of amazing and understanding, she was able to create something that I am so incredibly sad to never be able to wear again. A custom “dawn gown” from her collection- long bell sleeves, v neck plunge front, low cowl neck back with a classic drop, paired with my favourite- a special veil which was sprinkled with gold stars, perfectly imperfectly placed. A religious dance floor attendee I shocked myself and embraced my inner Kardashian by opting for a second dress to allow for all the dance moves- reluctant to be that bride I only made the decision a month before the wedding, Alice however handled it as if we had months. To keep on the simple train I went for a white bias silk slip with a low back and plunge v neck paired with bare feet, Zoe and Morgan earrings and a boho gold disc headband to distract my mum from my bare feet.

What were some of the most memorable/unique moments from the day? Before we shared our own personal surprise vows, we had 10 other surprise vows to hear and consider first. Tom and I asked 10 of our closest friends and family to create and share a vow for one or both of us to promise to each other (if we agreed with it haha), each of them simply stood where they were sitting during the ceremony and Kerry came around with the mic. It broke the ceremony up so nicely but also had this incredible effect of connecting our guests in the ceremony. Each vow was so beautifully written, my brothers however made one up about Tom having to promise to mow the lawns and stop paying someone else, I don’t remember him saying “I promise” after that one. This was so insanely special to hear, a bit of risk but we felt so lucky and grateful to have them all apart of the moment.

For the opening of our ceremony, our mums had gotten together and written us some “words of wisdom” from their experience of marriage as well as being the two people who know us the best – not only were their words wise and insightful and something for us to hold onto throughout our marriage, but it was so incredibly special to hear and see them do it together.

Our first dance, by this point Tom had had quite a bit to drink and decided to let me know it was our first dance over the microphone, luckily I had only just changed into my second dress and was coming down the stairs when he started shouting out “where is my wife?”. We had chosen an electronic song “Something about you” the Odesza Remix, which has a beautiful slow piano intro at the beginning and gives us all the happy feels and goosebumps. Leading into that moment I realised Tom and I had forgotten something off our long list –to have a quick first dance trial. I was grateful for the feeling that washed over me when we started to dance together, pure calm happiness. A lot of our guests knew the words, so to hear them singing along and to see Tom grinning from ear to ear at me was one of the best, best moments. The drop of the song comes in at about a minute and half, at which point all our guests came jumping and boogying into the middle of the circle, some not leaving that spot till the early morning.

One thing that we struggle to put into words to explain, but stands out to us both the most, was the vibe of the day. Every step of the day we were blown away by our guests ability to be present, their ability to connect and be apart of each moment, it was magic. One word of advise we got was to take a moment to step away from the celebration together and look at what had been created, I found myself doing it a lot throughout the night – just stepping back and watching everyone laughing, dancing, catching up, as well as meeting for the first time and the joy I felt in those moments again with Tom, was nothing short of magic and moments we will remember with a smile forever.

Any advice for other couples planning to spend the rest of their lives together? Have fun, admire and learn from your differences and keep each other smiling and laughing.

Photographer: Holly Burgess  Videographer: Jordan Ranson Venue: Family home in Greenhithe Groom & Groomsmen Suits:  Hallensteins Bride’s Dress:  Hayes Bridal Bride’s Ring: Aurum Groom’s Ring:  Gucci Shoes: Alias Mae  Bridesmaids Dresses: Shona Joy Bride and Bridesmaids earrings: Zoe and Morgan “I believe in disco” PIN: World  Makeup: Sinead Howard   Hair: Moana Meekings Fragrance: Flower Bomb by Viktor & Rolf  Hire: Rent For Events & Two Foxes Marquee: Schupepe Tents Flora: Jardin Bell Catering + Beverages: Bite Me & Fired Pizza Company & Paella Auckland Cake: Dawn Chen   Celebrant: Kerry Aitken Entertainment: DJ – Phillip Haeder