The sun is shining and my heart is singing at this glorious outdoor ceremony in front of the beach at Ohawini Bay, New Zealand. Apologies in advance for all the wanderlusting that will undoubtably occur. Just wait until you see all the wedding party portraits by Miss Gen too. They are uncontrived, beautifully natural and everybody looks absolutely fabulous in their wedding attire. None more so than bride Emma in her 'Estelle' Sally Eagle gown.

Our Story

Emma the Bride: We first met at a good friend (and eventual groomsmen) Rich's 21st birthday party at his family's bach in Port Levy, Christchurch. The theme was glam rock, rob was dressed as Slash from Guns N' Roses and I was a confused colour/make-up experiment gone wrong! We met and talked briefly that night, Rob had just come out of a long term relationship and I was with someone else at the time, so suffice to say nothing more happened, but I thought he was very nice! My friend and I got a lift with Rob and some others back to Christchurch city where we parted ways- me back to Dunedin (a current uni student) and Rob a training air traffic controller in Christchurch at the time. Fast forward 3 years later (now both single) and our friends, Rich and my good friend (and bridesmaid) Rose, took it upon themselves to set us up! Both telling us that the other liked them – & it worked! The rest is somewhat history, though it was 2 and a half years of long distance while I studied for my Master's in speech-language therapy in Auckland while Rob remained working hard in Christchurch. This was hard at times but I do believe it really strengthened our relationship and set a really steady foundation for us. After I had graduated, I moved down south to join Rob. One night later that year we took our dinner and a bottle of wine up the Christchurch Port Hills to a wee spot called Sign of the Bellbird, which looks over the city and towards the Southern Alps, a special place to us that we used to go to when I was visiting, have some fish and chips, beers and watch a spectacular sunset. I noticed Rob was fumbling for something in his pocket and acting strange, then he was down on one knee! I said the only thing that I could say… "Yes!!!" We were engaged for 2 years before our wedding.


I'm not the most organised person, so I had to really try mitigate this weakness of mine! A folder and checklist helped! But I'd probably say the team work between Rob and I was the most important, we were both there to help each other and had the same vision in mind; a laid-back, natural, kiwi wedding that really was the best party we'd throw, with all of our close loved ones present to celebrate with us.


Rob's suit was Barkers along with the groomsmens, the colour combination was what I had envisioned in my head, natural and smart tones that blended into the landscape, nothing to bright, harsh or contrasted. Rob liked it too and was happy to choose his bow ties and have the groomsmen have different types. I really liked this touch as they all had a slight uniqueness about them.


I really loved my dress, I had previously tried on a lot of different types of dresses and none were really popping out, until a fitting I had at Mille Feuille in Christchurch, who were hosting Sally Eagles range – Sally was there too and so kind. I actually like two of her dresses but settled on the Estelle dress. The cut was not something I'd usually put myself in but it felt right. I loved the lace detail over the soft blush undertone which brought out the ivory lace. The floral head piece was lovely to (by Mint Floral) I loved the simplicity of it and the combination of juniper berries with babies breath. I had a small brooch in my hair too, given to me to wear by Rob's mum – whose daughters had also worn it on their wedding days which was really special.

Bridesmaid Dresses

I was so pleased with! I had two other plans that fell through (which caused some stress!) but Evolution Clothing were fantastic and able to get me the four dresses I needed. The apaloose grey worked really well with the colours of the day, again quite understated and natural looking with the coastal enviroment. Their hair pieces were smaller versions of mine which looked so good and Hazel Newman (Hairdressor) did such a wonderful job with the hair. The bridesmaids choose a style in conjunction with Hazel, and they all had a different version of a plait which I thought looked awesome on all of them.


And finally the bracelet I wore was gifted to me and my twin sister Sarah (maid of honor), past down from our great-great grandma. The different types of stones in the hearts spell the word 'dearest' e.g. diamond, emerald, amethyst, ruby etc. It's very special to me, especially as our grandma (who we called Gangan) gave it to us and she sadly passed away in December.


I had a general idea of what I wanted in terms of flowers. One that would fit with our general theme, quite earthy, nothing too structured and Mint Floral did the absolute best job on this, I can't thank them enough. They were stunning – my bouquet, the bridesmaids bouquets and the groomsmen's buttonholes. Mint floral were the obvious choice in terms of florists! I saw their social media and website and loved their style and felt they would compliment our style. For the centerpieces and general decorative arrangements, I wasn't too fussed on having flowers for theses. I was happy having loose, native cuttings naturally arranged. We used small tree cuttings on the tables and large structured kawakawa hanging along the centre line of the marque, which created a beautiful chandelier-like form.


We wanted our wedding ceremony to be really relaxed, relatively simple and true to us. We chose two readings from the book 'Heart songs' by Pinly Agnew. These were read by my mum and one of Rob's sisters, Aimee. They were 'The Most Wonderful of All Things' by Sir Hugh Walpole and a reading from Captain Corelli's Mandolin by Louis De Bernieres. Our vows were written by ourselves and our celebrant, Melanie Vezey, wrote these beautiful love letters from us to each other from questions she'd asked us earlier. It was a really special touch.


I had been looking at local photographers, and really liked Nisha Ravji, whose work I admire but she happened to be booked out on that day. She wrote me a lovely reply and mentioned her friend Miss Gen was over this side of the world in the summer and may be available. I had a look at Gen's blog and loved her photos instantly! The photojournalist style was exactly what I was after. I truly cannot fault the photography. The moments were captured so perfectly throughout the day & every time I browse through them I'm transported back, with all of the feelings, sights and smells. It really was my favourite day ever; one I could re-live over and over, so the photos are precious memories. I'm always very proud to show them off! Miss Gen's style fitted our day perfectly, relaxed and natural. None of the photos felt posed or fake, Gen was very unobtrusive which allowed us to be present while she captured the moments, it was an absolute pleasure working with Miss Gen and I'd recommend her in a heartbeat!

Fav Photos

I find it hard pick clear favourites as they're all so good… ones that I really do love looking at are the photographs captured of Rob & I at dusk on the rocks, they're beautiful. It was nice to get that time together too. I do love the candid ones throughout the day of our guests and the venue, they capture the feelings of love and togetherness felt throughout the day.

First Dance

Answer – by Connie Constance. We really liked it was a bit more upbeat and lyrically as well, we felt it fit. Another special song was Hoppipolla by Sigur Ros, that the band (In2Strings) learnt for the walk down with aisle. It's a beautiful song and their instrumental rendition of it was faultless.


Lawn games like Kubb were been thrown about, we had a cricket set too (but may have forgotten to get it out!) and the band played for the ceremony and after drinks & nibbles which completed the atmosphere. It was a relaxing, Kiwiana Saturday afternoon by the beach.


We really aimed for a relaxed vibe, nothing too formal or structured – other than what needed to be. In terms of colours or theme, we tried not to have one. When picking dresses or flowers etc we thought – what would blend with the environment? So I guess in terms of that 'natural' and 'seaside-rustic' come to mind; but I'm not sure that it was quite that either. We wanted it to be a classic, Kiwi bach, backyard wedding, in the beautiful setting of Tai Tokerau (Northland), laid-back and organic as it could be. I think we achieved that.

Memorable Moments

Hard to pick… I really loved the ceremony and speeches – they brought me to tears (moving and laughter); they were so well said. The dancing late into the night with all of our friends and family was so much fun too! Oh and the weather – the Northland region can be notoriously variable and inconsistent (rain versus humidity vs streaming hot sunshine) – take the fact they had had a drought and it had barely rained for nearly two months prior – then as it does, it rains heavily the week before – even the day before the wedding. We put the marquee up in the pouring rain. I had to get my head around the idea that it was very likely going to be raining and had to think what would be our plan b in terms of the ceremony. Then, at lunch time the day before the weather started to clear. It became hot and balmy and stayed like that for the weekend! It couldn't believe it! The only time it rained was around midnight – when we were dancing and by this time it was so refreshing and welcomed!


With planning – share the workload. I'm sure this seems logical but sometimes it might be one person has more time to organise and plan – but really it's too big for one person. Splitting the major tasks helped a lot, then closer to the time delegating things to friends and family who are always more than willing to help. It's really a team effort. And you've probable heard it before but try to be as present as you can be – the day goes so quickly & it's hard not be thinking 'right, what's next' – let someone else – like the MC – do this and you just enjoy the magical ride :)
Lorna Shaw

Written by Lorna Shaw

Dress Designer: Sally Eagle - Estelle | Bridal Boutique: Mille Feuille | Bridal Shoes: Andrea Biani | Groomsmen Suits: Barkers | Grooms Shoes: Florsheim from Sergios | Bridesmaid Dresses: Evolution Clothing | Makeup: Dixie Smit | Hair: Hazel Newman Hair | Venue: Family friends bach | Florist: Mint Floral | Caterer: Flavours Catering | Stationery : Michelle Whimp | Band: In2strings | Celebrant: Melanie Vezey | Videographer: Jordie Gibbons

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