*Hi. I know, I’m not finished telling you about the dress. I have something else to share - the photos are here! Also, I just wanted to say thank you to every single one of you. Through your suggestions and encouragement and by virtue of your presence, I did this thing. WE did this thing. It takes a village to make a wedding dress, and I am so thankful for every last one of you. I’ve tried to recreate it to the best of my ability, because although there were only 30 people on the day, you - my online family - are my people too.
When I woke up in the morning, it was raining. I was staying with my parents at the bach they’d rented across the bay from the venue (a bach - which is pronounced like cookies baked together and not like Johann Sebastian, is the New Zealand equivalent of a holiday house. This is not relevant to the story, but as my first post about this place was full of kiwi ‘differences’ it seemed important nonetheless.) We had breakfast and coffee at the singular local cafe, and then descended upon the venue like a first-time homeowner descends on IKEA - with a to-do list as long as each arm.
We made the flower arrangements ourselves - and by we, I mostly mean Lillian. I held the handle of the floral foam bouquet holder while she stuck flowers into it, and we used the rest for the arch. Our moms made their own corsages, and Valerie made the boutonnieres.
I’d be lying if I told you I wasn’t working on last minute projects. It wouldn’t be a DIY Wedding otherwise.
The last of my little beaded flowers was completed as Nikki put the finishing touches on my hair.
Jon arrived (with his own to-do list) and managed to effectively evade our photographer, Wojciech, because he didn’t like the idea of ‘getting ready photos’. There are a few, though. Wojciech was clever.
Lillian painted my nails the night before, and we applied nail crystals which were a gift from an Instagram sewing friend, Margaret, in Australia. Margaret also gave us all the tips for applying the crystals, and gave me suggestions when initial tests were not so pretty
We didn’t realize until after my hair and makeup was nearly finished that I was still wearing my ponamu necklace. This was the first time I’d taken it off since Jon gave it to me, so after removal (it had to come up over my hair - Nikki was positively alarmed) it was quickly reassigned to my wrist.
Mom lent me her grandmother’s pearls - my ‘something old’. New was the dress, borrowed was the time of my wonderful sewist friends who lent their time to help me hem my dress, and blue was beads worked in to my crown. I didn’t have the silver sixpence, but I think we’ll survive.
There’s another tradition that the mother buttons the bride into her dress. My dress zips up with five hooks and a snap at the top, so there was still sort of something to button. My sisters wanted in on the action, of course.
Weddings are weird. Jon and I spent months - close to a year - planning this thing, and we had everything worked out. On the day, I’d say something like “I need to go do…” and someone would interrupt with, “No, I need to go do that, you need to do nothing” which was very confusing for me. I spent the day mostly reciting things off my to-do list so other people could go do them. While I was getting into my dress, there was a small hiccup with the boutonnieres not staying pinned, but mom saved the day and all was well.
We chose a small corner of the venue - hidden away in the trees but close enough to the beach that you could hear the lapping waves - for the ceremony. It was lovely, but filled with mosquitoes and therefore also filled with the smell of bug spray. I didn’t mind.
Ricky, Jon’s Dad, was our officiant.
Jon’s friend Georgi’s Dad, Fidan, made our rings. (If you look closely in the photo below - right at the point where the dress’s strap meets the bodice - you can see the tissue I’ve got stowed away just in case…)
After the ceremony, we had a quick paperwork-signing pit stop, grabbed some food, and went off to take photos with our bridesmaids and groomsmen.
Whatipu is on the west coast of New Zealand - about 20 minutes by perilous gravel road from our venue in Huia. The black sand sparkles, it’s wild and natural and full of adventures.
We had some fun with the wind and all my skirts.
It was fun to run off in the middle of the festivities to have our photoshoot, but we didn’t have a chance to say hello to anyone before we left so we were a bit anxious to get back after an hour of photos.
Not all traditions are worth keeping around: we had our cake before dinner!
My bouquet became flowers for our table, and Lill and Val’s bouquets decorated the cake table. Dad and Lill both made speeches - Lill’s was sewing themed!
The funny thing was, I didn’t even know this moment had happened until we started going through the photos:
Our father daughter dance was fun, and full of twirls with no slow dancing. It wore us both out!
Jon and I agreed not to have a first dance. He didn’t want to be in the spotlight - everyone looking at him - and I wasn’t particularly attached to it as a tradition, so we decided to have the father daughter dance, and then just get on with the party. That said, I still wanted to dance with my husband… just a little bit, at some point. By the time this song came on, my shoes were gone (you can see toes in the second photo - my shoes were comfortable, but full of sand.) and we’d been dancing for a while.
I found Jon at the sidelines, watching us dance, and I made up an elaborate (and very dramatic) dance/summoning thing to get him to come down and participate. The song was 'Downtown’ by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, popular to some as ‘the moped song’, so feel free to wander over to your friendly neighbourhood music player for a soundtrack for these photos. Never mind that everyone ended up looking at him anyways…
The important thing is that it worked. Jon came and danced for a whole entire minute and a half, and Wojciech got photos to prove it.
The following morning after we finished packing up, we put our wedding clothes back on for some more sneaky photography. I wanted the forest in addition to the beach, and we took advantage of a nearby field that’s part of the regional park to get some more photos. Lillian was even able to mostly recreate my hair!
After the wedding, we spent two days at a retreat, regrouping and relaxing together, and then two weekends with my parents - one in Auckland, and a long weekend in the Coromandel, showing them all the things that Jon showed me when I first arrived here. It was a blast! Everyone’s back home now, so of course we’re all sorting though our photos :)
There you have it! I was so happy with the way everything turned out - it was very much our style, and I loved that. I’m also happy the planning is over now, and I’m back to some semblance of reality! I have a lot of dress-specific feelings and things to tell you about (and more photos of the dress, of course!) but those thoughts are long enough for posts of their own. Thank you, again, for coming along for this ride with me, and I’ll see you next week! As always, please let me know if you have questions in the comments <3