I won't lie, I was pretty pumped about saying goodbye to winter for a little while to bask in the warmth of far North Queensland. However it wasn't only the sunshine that kept things warm, but the hugs and the laughter of family that I hadn't seen in years. Last week was a good week. Really good.
I've known Cherie since before she was even born. She's my sister's oldest girl and I've watched her grow from a baby and become a fine and beautiful young woman and then life took us in separate directions and different countries entirely. So when Cherie asked if we would come to Port Douglas to photograph her marriage to Tyrone we totally jumped at the opportunity! It was time to stock up on some family time!
The wedding was to be held at the beautiful Bali Hai, an exclusive executive retreat in the middle of absolutely nowhere, surrounded by the most amazing Australian scenery.
Cherie and Tyrone were arranging our accommodation, and so as not to be too much of a fusspot I said all I wanted was a door to shut. Nothing too fancy. It turns out that no one quite realised how close to nature our room actually was. Here is a picture of our room when we turned up the first night. Gorgeous and comfy bed, but doors? No. No doors. No walls. Just net curtains as walls and then right out to the rain forest. Don't get me wrong, it was beautiful. But it seems that I've been entirely kiwified, and gone soft in my old age. New Zealand doesn't have a single creature that wants to kill you, but North Queensland? Everything is trying to get you.
I have a theory that if you name something it becomes far less frightening. So that big pointy-faced rodent that was making russelly noises out in the bushes was called Russell. He actually looked like a giant evil rat (ROUS or rodent of unusual size, anyone?) But the locals said he was probably a bandicoot. The locals also said not to worry about the snakes because they're hibernating. Turns out the locals were either lying or misinformed, because apparently snakes don't hibernate (including the one out on the road that got run over the day before the wedding.) Good thing I only found that out for sure when I got home.
Strangely enough, the hut without walls was probably one of my favourite aspects of our time away. Turns out me and 'glamping' are quite a hit. Next thing you know I'll be hosting some TV show about surviving in the wild....
The days leading up to the wedding were full of family and laughter. And kids. Lots and lots of kids!
Oh, remember my tiny nephew Oliver that has featured on the blog a few times already? Well this is him now. He's 3 and he will melt your heart in 3 seconds flat.
Bali Hai. Beautifulness.
Every spare moment saw the children in the pool. And I sure can't blame them, it was HOT.
Pretty well the entire wedding was created by family, so the morning of the wedding meant that the final little jobs had to be done. Cherie and Tyrone did very well getting about the place and not seeing each other before the ceremony!
Cherie has always had a larger-than-life personality and is great fun to be around. Her wedding day would be no exception, which means that I get great photos. Yes!
I don't know if it's because I'm her Great-Aunt and so I'm biased, or if this baby actually is the cutest thing ever. Just looking at her big eyes and squishy cheeks makes me want to grab her and squeeze her.
To be fair, most of these kids had NO idea who this crazy Aunty was. But I was OK with that.
Cherie and Tyrone's wedding was not at all about overly planned details, she didn't care about getting a 'hanging dress' shot, wasn't concerned about the glitz and glamour or having everything 'perfect'. No, the entire day was about getting married and spending the day with the people they loved. It's all about family, she told us several times. And so because I love to capture story more than anything else, I was in my happy place!
That's not to say that I didn't sneak a few detail shots in here and there...
There's that personality I was telling you about!
And the dropdead gorgeous face to go with it!
Once all of the jobs were done at Bali Hai, the boys headed into Port Douglas to get ready.
You know when you get stuck in someone's dreadlocks as a kid?
This trip was the first time we had met Tyrone, and I have to say, he seems pretty well perfect for Cherie! A reserved but friendly type of fellow with a welcoming smile.
Back at Bali Hai and it's time to get the dress on!
Seriously GORGEOUS Cherie!
Moments before they walk down the aisle, you can't go past a good father/daughter moment!
All of the nieces and nephews were part of the wedding party and looking pretty darn smashing!
The wedding was loosely a Gatsby Garden theme, which meant those of us who were keen got to add extra feathers and pearls. And for those who weren't into either of those, you can always draw on a moustache. Top points go to Robert on the far right of this image...
Tyrone and his family are from Papua New Guinea, and Cherie's Dad and his family are all from Thursday Island. I absolutely LOVED the Island feel to the day. I don't know how they manage it, but I'd love to be able to bottle the feeling of 'family' that they brought to this wedding. Such warmth. Such kinship.
I didn't have to beg to get a crazy photo out of them...
We escaped the masses for a little while and found some more pretty epic spots around Bali Hai.
This was a spectacular bridal party, with no shortage of people willing to play up for the camera.
And they looked gooooooood!
The groomsman on the top row there is doing his gecko pose. Everyone needs a solid gecko pose.
Back up to the reception where people were finding seats and getting ready for the bride and groom to come and join them.
No prizes for spotting the people I was related to...
And here they come! Oh, and check out the entrance that Tyrone made himself!
As the sun set over Bali Hai, it was time to get the party started!
Everyone was up having a pretty darn splendid time when suddenly BOOM! The sky exploded into a thousand twinkling colours and everyone was surprised by a fireworks display!
I think it's safe to say it went down a real treat!
And then back to the dance floor where there was no lack of energy!
The bouquet toss is always worth watching.
Pure bouquet catch joy, right there!
Just like almost everything else in the wedding, the music was also done by the family. The instruments were set up, and those who were musically inclined were free to come and jam. Seriously, these guys were GOOD!
Ok, now. I'm going to interrupt this post to show you this guy. He was fluttering about the lights and dive-bombing the odd guest. We thought he was a big bat or something, but turns out he is actually a moth. Anybody who would like to tell me more about him is most welcome to! We sure as heck don't get giant moths like this in New Zealand!
Even Tyrone and Cherie did a duet! Beautiful!
So there you have it. It's over a hundred pictures and still I feel like there was soooooo much more to this story! Nevertheless, this is only supposed to be a highlight reel afterall.
Thank you Cherie and Tyrone for inviting us to share in your stunningly beautiful day. Thank you for the laughs. Thank you for not realising there were no walls on our hut and helping me to harden up and make new wildlife friends! Thank you for sharing your day with so many friends and family and giving us such a great story to capture. Thank you also for giving me an excuse to wear a feather to a wedding. We love you lots xx
After meeting at a pub quiz some years ago, Melanie and Ryan soon hit it off, became great friends, fell in love, did some epic travelling and on Saturday they were married in Nelson on a day full of happy moments, beautiful smiles and warm hearts. We were tickled to be able to capture it for them!
Melanie and her family got ready at their family home. Not just any family home though, a home that her parents have owned for almost 40 years. That means that this special place holds countless childhood memories etched into the corners of the room, behind the curtains and inside the cupboards. It would be difficult to find somewhere more perfect to prepare for your wedding.
Dad was ever close with the video, capturing even more memories to cherish in years to come.
Melanie's parents, Raewyn and Warwick, were amazingly welcoming to both Emily and I. Upon arriving, we were soon offered cups of tea and lunch. It soon became pretty clear where Melanie got her warmth from!
History on the walls.
Meet Spech. Well, technically it's Spech's twin. Spech the Bunny belonged to Melanie from when she was a tiny girl, and almost never left her side. You see, I knew that given the house we were in and all of the memories and family history, there would be something like a 'Spech' to come out and join us. Sure enough, Melanie took me to a drawer and presented me with a tiny ziploc bag that contained something that looked like a fluff ball wrapped in bandages. That was the original Spech. Original Spech wasn't in any state to come out of his ziploc, so Standin Spech stepped up to the plate. Every parent on the planet understands why Standin Spech is nowhere near as worn out, there can only ever be ONE Special cuddly toy. I didn't bring this up with Standin Spech at the time.
Within six months of each other, both Gemma and Melanie have gone from engaged to being married. That's efficient work!
Stunning flowers by Sarah Hutt from Willow Floral Design.
How much does the camera love you Melanie! Gorgeous!
Oh, and before we move on to the shots from the boys getting ready - check out the view from the house! No wonder they haven't moved in 40 years!
Melanie is the ultimate DIY creator. Check out these amazing cufflinks!
Ryan's entire family were equally welcoming to Paul and so excited to be celebrating the day. Ryan's parents, Noeline and Keith, didn't stop smiling all day.
Way cuteness right here. Way!
The house that the boys got ready in had this waving cat in it. No one knew exactly who he was waving to or why, and somehow he was just a little bit annoying. Waving there. For no reason. So Paul decided to create this little animation, so it could be shared with the whole world, and be remembered forever.
Ryan is a pretty cool guy. Being a microbiologist proves he's smart, and cycling what sounded to me like the entire European continent makes him just a bit more epic. He'd probably not make a big deal about it himself though, as was mentioned several times during the speeches - why say 10 words when 1 or 2 will do? Ryan doesn't feel the need to fill silences with his voice.
Meet Ryan's nephews, Jamie and Daniel. Two talented young men who were asked to create something special to hold the rings in as they walked down the aisle. It was to be a surprise for Ryan and Melanie. Little did they know that not only would their clever creations be a surprise for the room, the photographer would find a way to shake things up as well. Gulp. I'll tell you soon.
The beautiful bride arrives!
While outside the day was dreary, inside was drenched in Melanie's clever design work, she envisioned and created just about every part the day. She is one clever cookie indeed!
So here they are. Proud as punch of their marvellous creations.
So, do you want to hear the story? Of course you do.
Ok, so here's the thing. I wrestled with the idea of even sharing this story because I'm still somewhat messed up about it, but I've decided you might as well all hear about it, and perhaps commiserate with me.
After the presenting of the rings to Ryan and Melanie, the boys stepped back in their place. I didn't realise that one of the creations had been put on a little bench seat just where I was standing and as I took a step to the right I heard an almighty crash, I looked down to see a million pieces of Lego, like tiny pieces of the little boy's broken heart, strewn all around my feet. The entire ceremony stopped, and looked at me, and while they were laughing I was both dying on the inside and trying not to cry. There were just too many pieces lying on the floor, I couldn't fix it. Not now. Praying for the floor boards to swallow me alive I noticed the ceremony just carried on. No one came at me with pitch forks.
Somehow, as if the whole day wasn't actually about the stupid photographer and her absentminded step to the right, everyone directed their attention back to Melanie and Ryan, who were pronounced to be HUSBAND and WIFE!
And everyone was happy!
Oh, and just in case I didn't make myself sound pathetic enough in the story about the Lego. It gets worse.
I HAD NO VOICE! Well, I had about 10% of my voice. It was not good. You see, I rely on my voice quite a lot. I spend more time on a wedding day speaking than taking photos, which became painfully obvious when trying to do what I normally do at this wedding! Thankfully I had Paul take over the role of team mascot, and he managed to pull off all of the talky things I would normally do, for which I am hugely thankful!
This also left me with another problem. If there was every another wedding in which I publically broke something (don't worry, in almost 200 weddings, this is it!) I would be able to easily apologise and try to somehow smooth this whole thing over by saying sorry to anyone who would listen. But noooooo.... not this time. You need a decent voice for that.
So in lieu of my public apology about the Lego on the day, here it is, loud and clear. I'm sorry about the Lego! Like, REALLY sorry about the Lego. I'm also very thankful that it was able to be put back together again after the ceremony.
After the ceremony and family photos, we snuck the bridal party around the corner to Melrose House. I love every opportunity to photograph in a new place, and this was no exception!
Once we'd had our play we re-joined the rest of the wedding guests and watched the reception unfold!
And inside are more cleverly made creations by Melanie!
Because Ryan and Melanie met at a Pub Quiz, they thought it might be fun to kick the evening off with a wedding quiz for the guests.
Anybody who thinks to do a selfie of themselves with their wedding cake figurines, goes on my 'cool couple' list.
Just as the last speech wrapped up it was time for the first dance... but this wasn't just any first dance. This was a conga, and it included everyone! So, surprise everyone! Don this feather boa, these crazy hats or bunny ears and follow us onto the dance floor!
Nobody was to be left behind!
Ryan and Melanie, thank you so much for having us capture your wedding day for you! We wish you guys every single happiness for many many decades to come!
Venue: Fairfield House
Celebrant: Rachel Scheppers
Hair: Elise Hair Design
Makeup: Jessica Walsh
Flowers: Willow Floral Design
Catering: Blinc Catering
Cake: Flour Cake Studio
Music: Kramit Acoustic Duo
Sam does all he can to make Hayley's life a musical. From the moment she agreed to go for a walk under the stars after a friend's wedding, he knew that she was the one for him. Hayley was also pretty well smitten from the start, maybe it was Sam's epic skills on the BBQ the first time they were introduced, or the way that he leapt to her aid after she tripped on a step late that night, whatever it was Sam and Hayley both knew they had found their soul mate right from the start.
On Saturday they promised the rest of their days to each other in a ceremony that made pretty well every person present to reach for a tissue.
When Emily and I were presented with Hayley's shoes at the start of the day I was about as happy as a clam (I think that clams are generally pretty happy beings?) Red sparkly shoes with white bows. It doesn't get much cooler than that in my books!
Excuse me, winter wedding, I love you.
The house that Hayley and the girls got ready at before the wedding came with some sheep. Some sheep who very much like mandarins. You can't let an opportunity for a photo with sheep to go by the wayside, can you?
Meanwhile, Paul is with the boys as they get ready.
I love that the groomsmen gave the Sam a present at the start of the day. Well done boys!
Back in the girl's camp, Hayley's Dad puts the final touches to his speech.
Flowers by the wonderful Nina from Pink Poppie. There are a lot of things I love about winter weddings, one of which is having completely different flowers to what you'd see in summer. I'm no floral expert (like, seriously, most flowers are just called 'flower' to me!) but I'm pretty sure that producing something that looks like this in the middle of winter is a pretty epic effort!
Hayley, you are all sorts of gorgeous!
Possibly one of my favourite shots of the day, even though Paul took it. Don't tell him I said so.
The wedding ceremony was held at Spy Valley Wines in the Waihopai Valley.
I'm not sure I've ever been to a wedding where the entire place erupts into applause when the bride walks around the corner. And yet somehow I couldn't imagine it any other way for this one.
I think if you're getting married, and your bride looks at you like this, you've won.
"I promise to always laugh with you, to snap out of a bad mood when you sing to make my life a musical, and to take pleasure in the things that you enjoy. I promise to always be on your team, and to make your family my own." Hayley
"Today, in front of our family and friends I get to shout from the rooftops just how much I love you and promise to be the best husband and thunder buddy that I can be." Sam
I knew that Sam and Hayley's friends and family would be up for a 'silly' shot. It's pretty fun to spend some time on this shot spotting those who really did their thing!
"I promise that if I ever get accepted into Hogwarts, I won't go unless you get the letter too." Hayley
Hayley had her sisters as bridesmaids, which made the day just that little bit more special.
I can't exactly tell you why all the boys were being birds in the background. But I'm sure there's a very good reason out there somewhere!
Oh look! In keeping with the bird theme, Jessica and Shelley are nestling under Hayley's robe.
Just in case you didn't catch my enthusiasm for winter weddings, I'll just say it again I LOVE WINTER WEDDINGS! Just make sure you have something warm and snuggly!
We snuck away from the guests as the sun was setting, and popped up on the roof. As you do. And once again, I turn around only to see Paul having climbed on a different part of the roof in order to get the better shot.
And look at the shot. It's not bad at all!
Thanks Emily for getting an action shot of us!
Hayley, as Shelley so aptly put it, you are more perfect than Michelle Dugger - and you've found your Jim-Bob.
We've had a cold snap. Like, really cold. The kind of cold that the ice doesn't melt for some time, even when the sun is shining. But, to be honest, I don't think Sam and Hayley even noticed.
Ok, so this is a silhouette shot, I tell them. Do anything you want.
Just in case you were wondering, this is once again Paul's doing. Totally rocking a double exposure.
Then it was on to Wither Hills Winery where we were greeted by fairy lights and super cool giant letters.
"I promise to always pose in daggy Christmas cards with you. And with our children, and our children's children until we're completely avoided for our craziness at Christmas time." Hayley
Before the reception kicked off we stole the bridal party down to the cellar where more hilarity ensued.
This one is all about the cufflinks.
"You are the love of my life, and I've never had any doubt. You are the missing piece of a puzzle that I didn't even know was unfinished. You make everything better and brighter, and I still can't believe with all the billions of people in the world, that I found you. I will never stop loving you." Hayley
Sam and Hayley both fall under the category of 'you can't not like them'. Seriously, they're both as cute and funny as each other. If I lived in Sydney, I'd be inviting myself over to their house for dinner.
The moment that everyone is asked to stand and toast the bride.
Epic food by Essence Events.
When you marry someone, in many ways it's not just the two people that are joined, but also the two families. By the look of these two Dads, I think they're ok with that!
"I promise to fill our life with cheeky grins, witty responses and plenty of fun and laughter." Sam
Ok, so here's the thing. Sam and Hayley had choreographed a dance to Queen's 'Don't Stop Me Now' and uploaded it to their wedding website so that all of the guests could learn it in time for the wedding.
They absolutely nailed it.
Hayley and Sam, I can't even begin to tell you how much we enjoyed your wedding. Everything from your vows to the choreographed guest dance and everything in between. We are so grateful you chose us to capture it. Thank you!
This Saturday Sam and Hayley are getting married. It's been a wedding I've been looking forward to for a while now. You see, Sam and Hayley are totally our kind of people. I knew pretty well right away. Yes I know they're nice looking, they're warm and friendly and easy to talk to. But you know what really sold me on them? They embrace the crazy and awkward in life. I don't know for sure, but maybe that's why they chose us to photograph them?
See, this is another reason I'm excited about the wedding. So pretty, Hayley!
If you're wondering why this engagement session looks particularly summery, when currently things here are downright wintery, it's because this WAS done in Summer. Lovely, warm, summer! (It's so easy to long for Summer when it's cold, isn't it!)
Before heading home we stopped in at the Blenheim car park. While this is not necessarily the most picturesque part of Marlborough, we managed to turn it into something really quite fun!
So there you have it, a little slice of summer to warm, at least, your imagination and a get you to join in with my excitement about their upcoming wedding this weekend! Watch this space!
Do you know what happens when some of us ladies get together over coffee? Well, coffee and cake happen, and talking. Lots and lots of talking. Laughing. A cascading flow of ideas and inspiration and somehow the hours fly past before we even realise it.
You see, when you're a creative, sometimes the ideas just won't STAY ideas. They are ideas worthy of expressing, for no other reason than just to create. Sure, it's nice to have other people look and them and "ohhhhh" and "ahhhh", but that's not really what drives us. We create, simply to create.
So here, I present to you the collaborative work of myself, Leanne, Nina and Deirdre. With the help of Paula from Vintage Events Design and Hire, Paperswan Bride and the Pretty Prop Shop. And of course, the ever stunning Anneke lending us her beautiful self to dress up like a dolly. Seriously, this was one fun little project!
So the theme was rustic, vineyard goodness. Nina and Leanne were in charge of all things pretty. In case you're new in these parts, Nina, AKA Pink Poppie, is a wedding and event florist. But to say only that would be selling her short (and I just know I'm going to get into trouble with her if I gush too much about her!) but Nina is so much more than just a florist, she's so good that she's been snapped up by the World Skills team as an international judge who regularly trips all over the planet judging floristry competitions. Together her and Leanne from Vanilla Hayes, purveyor of paper goods and bespoke design, and one of the cleverest designers you're going to find, worked with a palette of raspberry reds, dazzling pinks and a good dose of gilded sparkle. And gold cutlery. That part made me particularly happy!
Did you know that the original family of Auntsfield lived in this little house with their children over 100 years ago? That's more than a little bit cool!
Auntsfield is the oldest vineyard in Marlborough, with its original wine cellar from the 1800s, it was the perfect place to host this styled shoot. Owned by the Cowley family, the property also boasts the Locks and Lashes Powder Room where Deirdre Cowley pampers her brides. And if you don't know who Deirdre is, you clearly haven't spent enough time on this blog! Deirdre doesn't just work her magic on weddings, she's also been known to lend her talents to the television and film industry. She could throw some pretty big names into a conversation, but unless you asked her about it, she may not ever even mention them.
I wonder what stories this old cellar could tell, if it were a talking cellar?
Gold cutlery. Need I say more?
Do you want to see even more of this shoot? Head on over to Truly and Madly if you like!
So there you have it, you've seen a bit of what we get up to in our spare time. How lucky am I to have such talented wedding vendors and friends wanting to play with us? Thank you girls for lending your creativity, your passion and your spare time. We had a ball!
Venue: Auntsfield Estate
Floral Design and Prettiness: Nina, Pink Poppie Designer Florist
Stationery, Design and General Awesomeness: Leanne, Vanilla Hayes
Imagine Pollard Park in the Autumn full piles and piles of leaves; add to this mix one set of proud-as-punch parents and two of the most adorable girls you've ever seen, and, well, you can understand I'm right there in my happy place.
The last time we did photos for Rebecca and Alan, Laura was just a toddler. Now a couple of years later, I'm introduced to her cute-as-a-button little sister Kate.
I suppose I could be called a 'seasonist', in that I do love one season over all of the others. But of all the 'ists' one can be, I think that one is just fine.
You're never, ever, to big for Mummy cuddles. True story.
Kate knows nothing about pretend smiles. I'm glad about that, because check this out!
Excuse me while I just add some leaf jumping shots. It just has to be done.
Rebecca and Alan, thank you for coming out to play in the leaves. I can absolutely see why you are so besotted with those two little girls, they are all kinds of lovely! Well done you guys!
She was the little girl with the cheeky face, lashings of long beautiful hair and the funniest sense of humour. You see, we knew Holly since before she was born. Her Mum and I were good friends from donkey's years ago and our two little girls spent their first few years as each other's best buddies. Kimberly and Holly would see one another at least once a week when they'd play and do their 'schoolwork' together. For Kimberly it was known as 'Holly Rose Day' and Holly knew it only as 'Kimberly Day'. The two were a perfect match. Kimberly was quiet and reserved and utterly sensible, and Holly was full of games, imaginary friends and was never ever lost for words. Then Holly and her family moved up north and the unavoidable passage of time created two young ladies (and a couple of older mothers!) The girls did keep in touch, however, with occasional visits and letters. Then, over a year ago, Kimberly received a letter from Holly telling her all about this boy she'd met at church. "Tell your mum she can photograph our wedding! No! Jokes! Don't!"
Ben is a pretty epic match for our Holly. He is sweet and quiet and sensible and pretty much exactly what every mother wishes for her daughter. He's musical and he laughs at Holly's jokes. It didn't take too long for the two of them to fall in love and realise they fit like a glove and so they got engaged. And just like she had planned in her secret notes to Kimberly, they are having us photograph their big day later this year!
Holly and Ben came and stayed with us; a good old fashioned sleepover. And while they were here we decided we would do their engagement session. I asked where they'd like to go, and the first thing they both wanted, apparently, was THE TREE. Who can blame them? So the plan was to end at THE TREE right on sunset. She was also after something rugged. Perfect. Rarangi it is then!
Oh Holly, you are so so pretty, both inside and out!
As the sun was setting we made a mad dash to THE TREE. As usual he was playing along just nicely.
But WAIT! Check out this little dude just down the hill from him a little. I think THE TREE has some competition!
This was my view:
And this was Paul's view:
One last stop before we headed home for tea. Why not add a little urban grunge to the shoot? Turns out they can rock that too.
Ben and Holly, thank you for coming. Thank you for playing along and most of all THANK YOU for having us be chief photographers (and cheerleaders!) in the next amazing and exciting chapter of your lives. I'm proud of you guys. Super proud.