There's nothing like that moment that you meet your baby for the first time, is there? It's authentic, raw and utterly life changing. I wish I had these moments recorded for my six babies, but I guess it just wasn't a 'thing' back then. Or if it was done it always seemed to be kind of hippylike. Don't get me wrong, It's not that I have anything against hippies, it's just that it always seemed to be that everyone had to be in a state of undress, with large beards (the Dads I mean, not necessarily the mum or baby...), I dunno, birth photos always felt odd and uncomfortable back then.
These days photographing birth has become far more mainstream, and those without excessive facial hair are also enjoying having those first moments captured. Families like Lisa and Matthew's. I've been photographing for them for years now, and I do a little happy jig every time Lisa calls me to take photos. But this, my friends, this beats all.
I have never attended a calmer birth than this one. While I tended to cry and apologise during my births, Lisa was just an absolute rock. Quiet, solid, she just got it done.
And this was the moment Lisa and Matthew realised that after two beautiful little boys, they have themselves a DAUGHTER! I have to admit at this stage there were a few tears scattered in the eyes of those present, and one of the nurses and I had to have a quick hug. Just because we were THAT happy for them. I guess that's one way to make friends!
World, meet Claudia.
Then it was time to call the grandparents in so that the big brothers could meet their new sister.
And don't these faces just say it all!
Lisa and Matthew, what a fantastic experience. Putting the words 'thank' and 'you' together hardly sounds like enough, but thank you nonetheless!
If anyone else is keen to talk to me about birth photography here in Blenheim, give me a call, or drop me an email. If you have a beard, that's ok too.
(Come back soon and you'll see Claudia's newborn studio portraits!)
When Chris asked Mandy's Dad for his blessing to marry Mandy, he knew he had to plan proposing very soon after, or the excitement could reach critical levels. After the blessing was wholeheartedly given, David only had to hold the secret in for a few short minutes as he lit the candles for a joint family dinner. At dinner Chris asked Mandy to become his wife, and while some couples get engaged to the sound of the ocean or calming birdsong, Mandy and Chris heard only the excited screaming of all of the family present. While not being able to hear her answer through the cacophony of excitement, Chris just went ahead and assumed it was a 'yes'. On Saturday his suspicions were confirmed as Mandy put on a pretty white dress and walked down the aisle as his bride.
Mandy and the girls got ready at Locks and Lashes, which, as always, proved to be the perfect little retreat to be pampered.
Mandy's Mum, Kerry, had a huge part in helping with the wedding plans. Kerry said that Mandy looked like perfection in every single dress that she tried on. And while I understand how mothers can be biased about these sorts of things, I actually believe her 100%. Mandy could have turned up in an old hessian bag, look amazing and start a hessian bag trend. But instead of abusing the power of the pretty and making the rest of us wish that we too could look that good in a bag, she chose a gorgeous Maggie Sottero gown.
Before Nina's flowers were even out of the box they looked amazing!
Oh Mandy, words fail me. You are just THAT gorgeous.
To be honest, it was quite an unrealistically pretty bridal party!
Paul arrived to the boys and found Chris rehearsing his speech out in the open air with only the vines to hear. It's always a good idea to practise something like a speech out loud, it helps clear the nerves and prepare you for how it's going to sound. The vines, however, were not nearly as responsive as the guests would be about 5 hours later!
Chris, you rocked this whole modelling thing!
The boys got ready not far from MVH and so made the most of the beautiful day and the stunning autumn colours and walked to the ceremony.
Back at Locks and Lashes, Dad has turned up to escort his daughter to her wedding.
I love father-daughter moments!
It's been a pretty dry summer, in fact so dry we've had a drought here in Marlborough. But it had to end sometime, and so the rains came. Well, it was more of a threat really. With an outdoor ceremony planned, some smart thinking saw a marquee set up so that if and when the rain did come, no one would get soggy. The night before the ceremony, it poured with rain. The kind of rain you lie awake and listen to and feel happy that there is a solid rainy day plan for the ceremony. The rain came and went and left us with a beautiful sunny Autumn day to enjoy, bonus!
Chris was happy to marry Mandy. Like really, REALLY happy to marry Mandy. I love that about Chris.
As the bridal party left the marquee there was great joy. So much joy, in fact, that each couple boogied and jigged and twirled and finger gunned all the way out the door. These are the occasions that I wish I was a videographer!
Ok, so now comes the spiel about how much I love Autumn. I will continue to sing it's praises year after year, so bare with me here. Autumn is by far the most beautiful season to get married in. There. I said it. The colours are amazing. The light has a quality that no other season has. The sun is low, so not nearly as harsh as it is in Summer. The sunset is early, so we can make the most of the golden hour. It's much fresher than summer, so you're less likely to sweat off your makeup or have your groomsmen faint in their suits. It's dark in the evenings, so receptions are cosy and sparkle with candlelight. It's almost like Autumn was invented for the sole purpose of making the wedding photographer happy. You're not guaranteed a sunny day, of course, but you aren't in summer either. Maybe I'm being 'seasonist', but if you're still on the fence about whether Autumn is a good time to get married, hop off that fence and come over to the pretty side.
And if you're just a little bit on the chilly side, don't worry, I'll get you dancing!
Back in the day Chris was a superstar rugby player, and knowing that makes this image make a whole lot more sense, right?
I love it when groomsmen will do what they're told without hesitation.
So Autumn presented us with this patch of light, and when you add someone that looks as gorgeous as this, well, that's when the magic happens!
Oh Nina from Pink Poppie, how countless are the ways I love thy floral creations....
Hello heavenly light! Honestly, I think Heaven might look like Autumn.
Thank you so much to Old St Mary's Convent for allowing us to roam your pretty, pretty grounds!
And then we rejoin the guests at MVH, and surrounded by pretty sparkly lights and candles, the happy faces and laughs, fuelled by the clever and heartfelt speeches, finish the day off marvellously!
There's nothing like a surprise Haka! Nick had the entire room at a standstill as he delivered one of the most heartfelt and enthusiastic Hakas I've ever seen!
It's the little touches at a wedding that can mean so much. Like this knife that has been passed down the generations, from wedding to wedding, and engraved each time. So beautiful!
Mandy and Chris, what an amazing wedding! Thank you both so much for inviting us to capture it for you. You are both an absolute delight to be around, beautiful both inside and out.
Celebrant: Dawn Allen (Christchurch)
Flowers: Nina, Pink Poppie Designer Florist
Hair & Makeup: Deirdre, Locks & Lashes
Stationery: Lucy Magill
Dress: Maggie Sottero
Suit: Platinum Menswear (Perth)
Cake: The Sweet Kitchen (Christchurch)
Cars: Shorland Holden (Rotorua)
Sound System: Marlborough Light and Sound
Music: Puree (Christchurch)
Reception Details: Sarah, Got it Covered
Video: Velvet Cinema (Christchurch)
There had been a little bit of plotting, some match making and a lot of hoping that Hamish and Trina would hit it off. Tracey, Hamish's sister, had thought that her friend Trina might make a good match for her brother. It took about a year for a plan to be hatched and for the two to cross paths. Hamish was sold pretty early on and agreed that he should take Trina out on a date, but it would need to be a double date. But no fuss and no expectations. As the date drew closer 'no fuss' turned into a hired limousine and a home cooked meal. I don't know what Hamish cooked, but whatever it was must have been pretty spectacular because Trina came back the next day, and then the day after that. She was smitten. You can't let a man who cooks out of your grasp, so on Saturday Trina married him. And that, my friends, is a match-making success story!
Emily and I arrived at the house where Trina was getting ready and heard the sound of the sea of little girls, inside giggling and getting ready and outside twirling and dancing around in their pretty dresses. You see, Trina loves kids and simply adores her nieces. So why just choose one or two? Why not have all of the nieces, on both her and Hamish's sides, to be her flower girls? So they did. All 12 of them.
And it was utterly delightful!
Check out this shot on the left where they've all been herded onto the stairs by parents, I love their grouchy little faces!
Trina was easy going, relaxed and utterly happy.
I'm loving the audience!
Trina, you are so so pretty!
One of the things I love about kids is their honesty. I love looking through this series of images and seeing all of the different personalities, some thought the funny lady with the camera was ok, and others took a little longer to warm up....
Hamish got ready at the Old Barn, which was also where the ceremony and reception were held.
You never want to have a tummy bug, not even on a work day. You don't want a tummy bug on your holiday. You absolutely don't want a tummy bug on your wedding day! But Hamish did have a tummy bug, and on his wedding day, but you'd never know it! This guy was so besotted with his beautiful bride that not even a tummy bug could stop the smiles!
Like a boss, Hamish. You totally owned it.
All of the guests gathered under the oak tree behind the Old Barn and waited for the beautiful bride to arrive.
So this was the image that I loved. I blew it up huge on my screen and rejoiced at my success, then Paul walked in and I boasted at my image taking prowess. Paul said I didn't take it at all. After some stern insisting on my part that I DID in fact take this, it was proven to be Paul's image taking greatness that captured this after all. Then I was sad.
And while we're at it, this was Paul's image too.
Sometimes it can be a little bit overwhelming walking down towards a sea of people looking at you.
And then there was great gladness for the newly married Hamish and Trina!
With all of the rejoicing below, there was air show acrobatics going on up in the sky. As much as we'd like to think it was in honour of Hamish and Trina, it was actually the Classic Fighters air show.
Nina from Pink Poppie made us all go "ohhhh" and "ahhhhh" about the gorgeous flowers!
A little trip around the corner to the Malthouse and the bridal party were told to 'own' a piece of wall, which they did very well indeed!
And while I'd love to also claim this image, it was, in fact, Emily's.
Hamish is a friendly and no fuss kind of a guy, who is not in anyway camera hungry. So when he sat in this dusty old building and absolutely blew us away with his modelling skills, everyone erupted. Hamish, you are seriously good at this!
Back at the Old Barn and the guests enjoy the cocktail hour and await the return of Hamish and Trina.
I loved the fact that they had provided pizza for the kids and teenagers. That would be a win. A really big win.
Did you know that the inside of the Old Barn can look like this? Aha, it's rather spiffy wouldn't you say?
We all know how I feel about cute kids at weddings. Somehow they draw me in with their cuteness powers.
Girls dancing at sunset. You just can't loose.
After a change of outfit Trina and Hamish arrive back to their guests.
As the sun set I dashed inside to see if Trina and Hamish were feeling up to a quick play outside. I'm so glad they said yes!
Check out the pretty dress!
Hamish and Trina, thank you for having us as part of your amazing day! I loved the kids and the atmosphere and all of the love and laughter. We wish you guys every happiness for many decades to come!
If you were to ask me what my FAVOURITE thing to photograph is, I'd probably tell you all about how I love to photograph what love looks like. To me it's not at all about things, very little to do with achievement, and even less about being stylie, pompous or cool. I just love connection between people. Because at the end of the day, at the end of our lives, it's actually what matters. So it is with GREAT joy I can show you this series of Nicola and Ray, from their maternity, birth and new born images.
So gorgeous, Nicola!
Being invited into a birthing room is somewhat sacred. These are some of the most amazing of life's moments, true, raw and completely unscripted. Without a doubt the most rewarding thing I have found to photograph.
Ray was such a rock for Nicola, being there every minute. Even when you're not sure what to do, just being present is huge.
And he absolutely was!
Welcome baby Taylor!
This moment, right here, was worth missing the rugby for!
Less than a week later I headed out to Nicola and Ray's house to get some lovely natural at home images. This is one SERIOUSLY cute baby!
Nicola and Ray, thank you for allowing me to capture one of life's amazing adventures. Welcome to the world of parenting, you guys are going to do just great!
Set amongst cherry blossoms while on a holiday in Japan, Chris asked Vanessa to become his wife. Having been together for 8 years already, it wasn?t a surprise that Chris wanted to marry her, but the proposal came absolutely out of the blue for Vanessa. This shows world class planning on Chris? behalf, as getting something like that past a girl is not the easiest thing to do! Obviously the answer was a resounding YES and within days Vanessa started planning her dream wedding.
Ok, so here's the thing. These shoes are going to feature several times, because I think they are some of the most photogenic shoes in history.
I was on the floor grabbing this shot of Vanessa getting her shoes put on 'Cinderella Style', while Emily was photographing the rest of the room.
I thought it completed the picture rather nicely!
Floral epicness from Nina at Pink Poppie.
I don't know what it is about this image, but I find myself really drawn to the tranquillity of it.
Vanessa, you are stunningness. Completely and utterly stunningness.
Meanwhile, Paul of course is with the boys as they try and work out this whole tie business.
I rather enjoyed the fact that the groomsmen who didn't already have beards grew them especially to match Chris.
Vanessa and Chris were keen to see each other before the wedding, to have that special time together before the ceremony and get many of the portraits done and dusted. This meant they had more time to spend with family and friends later on AND they got to see more of each other during the day! Win win!
Paul and the boys headed to Brayshaw Park, and all of us girls followed not long after. Regardless of where a bride and groom get their first look on a wedding day, this moment is always special.
I can?t exactly be sure what significance the gift of Mr Potato Head is, but of all of the gifts I have seen a bride receive, this one had the most splendid reaction. Just another little proof of how well these two are suited to each other!
We headed over to Rarangi Vineyard to the very place that Powderfinger produced a music video. True Powderfinger fans may know all about that already, turns out I had to be told. See, you learn something new every day!
Vanessa loves her cat Missy. Like REALLY loves her cat. Missy even gains a surname out of the whole wedding deal. While non cat people might raise their eyebrows at a cat with a surname, I totally get it. You see, my cat?s name is Her Royal Highness Cinderella Anastasia Tinkerbella Princess of Brookfield Jones. Or C.A.T Jones for short. Or just Cindy. I think true cat lovers can relate to a cat with a surname.
Enthusiastic celebrations may cause groomsmen a sore face. Well that's how it looks anyway!
Chris has a way of making you feel comfortable, just by smiling. His easy going, friendly nature is evident just by a simple facial expression. I?m not exactly sure how to articulate it, but it seems like saying ?he has a handsome smile? rather cheapens something that is obviously so much more. The fact remains, though, that Vanessa is fully besotted with that smile! And he, in turn, adores her right back.
Then it was time for things to get a bit more serious, so we headed to Wither Hills and watched the guests arriving and all of that pre-wedding buzz.
Tulips = a giant YES from me!
Hidden away in Wither Hills? cool, dark barrel room and surrounded by their nearest and dearest, Vanessa and Chris promised to be there for each other for the rest of their lives. To love and to cherish one another as husband and wife in one of life?s most powerful relationships, marriage.
?In your arms I am happier than anyone has the right to be?, Vanessa whispers to Chris. ?I will spend all of my days loving you.?
If you happen to be currently planning your wedding, you may want to put in an order for some soft cloud.
We had a little time up our sleeves, so we took a wander down to the vineyard next to Wither Hills. Here's another wee example of how Paul and I see a scene so differently.
Inside the reception saw so many lovely speeches, happy memories and gorgeous smiles.
If ever you get a chance to eat at Wither Hills, do it. While I?m not suggesting you become a wedding crasher, perhaps, if you know someone getting married there you could become REALLY good friends with them in the hope that you may be invited to the wedding. On the other hand, you could just go have lunch there one day. That might actually be easier.
I could not decide which ring shot I liked best, so I'm putting them both in....
Vanessa and Chris, we wish you both every happiness for the next season in your life. Thank you both for having us as part of your magical day. Have fun on your honeymoon!
Take one friendly, decent Kiwi bloke, add one stunning lady from Japan and you have a recipe to produce two of the most gorgeous girls you've ever seen. Meet Emilie and Julie the two little ladies that stole the show at a recent family photoshoot out at Rarangi.
The weather was lovely and still, the light at Monkey Bay as usual was splendid. The water even seemed not *quite* as cold as usual. So we played. And Played.
And we played some more.
And some of us got really quite soggy.
I'm all for unconventional family portraits. I love how they feel, even more than how they look.
Aya and Cory, I'm ever so grateful for the time we spent together and the fun we all had. Your girls are a real credit to you and a delight to photograph!
She liked him right away, this young man. Jono was her Dad's apprentice and he was under pretty specific instructions not to get too close to his daughter. Much like a good Taylor Swift song this forbidden romance started slowly and for the longest time they were legitimately 'just friends'. After some time Emily's sister, Bec, brought up the subject of this guy that seemed to be hanging out at their house more and more often. "We're just friends!" Emily would insist, and then added... "friends who kiss."
But Jono is a good guy, and a conversation with Emily's Dad resulted in them admitting to themselves, and those around them, that they were finally more than 'just friends'.
Fast forward five years into the story and we arrive at their wedding day. Saturday saw Jono and Emily finally become husband and wife and once and for all put that 'just friends' rumour far behind them. With one of the most gorgeous wedding dresses ever to grace this blog, and surrounded by seriously cool and loving families, the day at Old St Mary's Convent was every bit as stunning as we had expected it to be.
Emily was an organised bride. Like, really organised. Spreadsheets. Timelines. Lists. She held her wedding organising close at hand and remained in control of every aspect of her planning. Until the morning of her wedding where she took a deep breath and let everything go. Everything except for the excitement. Her planning and delegation skills were so good that the day just ran like clockwork and all she had to do was enjoy.
She enjoyed watching her loved ones open their gifts.
I think she might have even enjoyed the fact that she made her Mum cry.
She enjoyed the traditions passed down the generations. Like this hanky that was left by Nan for the first grandchild to use on their wedding day.
She thought of everything. Everything and then a little bit more. Like these amazing cufflinks for her dad which read "I'll always be your little girl".
However, if you think that this day is going to be all about Jono and Emily, well I've got news for you. This is Grace. Their little showstopper. She can do a fishy face.
Seriously, if you want somewhere amazing to get ready for your wedding, look no further than Old St Mary's Convent.
Emily, you are stunning. Like, f'real stunning.
Gorgeous makeup by Sonja Bulfin and hair by Rochelle Todd.
Meanwhile, Paul is hanging out with the guys and capturing the happenings there.
One of my favourite things about a wedding is the heritage and family history that you just can't help seeing and ultimately being a part of. It's kind of surreal knowing that we're part of such a monumental day, and capturing history for the next generation. It's pretty cool!
It's pretty neat when a groom decides to wear a kilt in honour of his family history. I also like spiffy letter openers like this. Methinks that back in the day they were sharper and not so much for letter opening...
Ok, cuteness overload right there.
I told you Emily thought of everything!
And just like that all of the planning and excited butterflies culminates in this moment.
And Jono is well pleased.
And so is Emily.
'To dry your happy tears'. Awesome.
Nina from Pink Poppie somehow makes her flowers seem effortless. I can promise you when I try to put together flowers they look a very different type of 'effortless'.
And just like that, they're married!
Such a pretty family portrait!
This is how much she liked Paul. Somehow he won her over in epic proportions.
This is their 'just won the lotto' pose. I dunno, ey. Jono, I think you should be way happier. Way.
Cracking out their best dance move ever.
This is why I love Nina.
Bring on a little bit of 'old school' reflection. Sure Paul nearly fell into the water to get this shot, but so far he's not ended up too soggy in his attempts to outshoot me. Not to worry, one day if he does get a little closer than he intended I'll be sure to shoot it. (Anyone remember the Llama story?)
Jono is such a sweet, good natured Kiwi bloke. He's fun, yet understated, kind and totally adores his new wife!
It was quite fitting that the new Mr and Mrs Wilson had their reception at 'Wilson Hall'.
I love me a good generational photo!
Essence Catering provided the yummiest buffet ever!
Emily's Mum made and decorated this amazing cake. Four separate tiers. Two were gluten free. Then Emily's Grandad turned the handle for the knife.
Emily's Dad has been working for the lines company for decades, Jono has been there for a good few years as well, so what better place to sneak them out to than out the back where there are all sorts of cool things, like these giant cotton reels.
And transformers and things!
After the light was well and truly gone we headed back inside to finish off the evening with a good dose of dancing.
The most memorable of the dances would have to be the 'birdie dance'. You just can't help but want to join in with the birdie dance, or at least hum along really loud (the tune is in your head now, isn't it?) I can actually spend a lot of time looking at this particular image. So much going on!
How Emily managed to do country line dancing in a dress that I'm sure weighs more than she does, I have no idea! She absolutely rocked it!
Emily, Jono and Grace; you guys are a fantastic family and it was our absolute pleasure to capture all of these special memories for you. Thank you for inviting us in!
Flowers: Nina, Pink Poppie Designer Florist
Venue: Old St Mary's Convent
Minister: Lester Terrill
Hair: Rochelle Todd
Makeup: Sonja Bulfin
Cake: Emily's mum - Heather
Piper: Allister Cassidy
DJ: Roger, Audio Entertainment (Nelson)
Stationery: Wedding Paper Divas