Marry Me.
We were on a month long road trip around the West Coast of the U.S after living there for a year. We were travelling in a van and the whole trip was centered around exploring as many national parks as we could cram into 30 days. We got up early one morning to hike up Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park, which is known as one of America’s deadliest hikes because of the sheer drop-offs either side of the walking track. The views are magnificent from the top and it was here that Alex asked me to marry him.
 It took me by complete surprise! He had told me to turn around to look out from a rock - we were making short videos of the trip, so I was focused on what he was asking me to do, while taking in the views.  Then all of a sudden I heard, “Jemzie!” and turned around to find Alex on one knee. He secretly organised friends to video and take photos which I couldn’t be more grateful for, it was one of the best moments ever.


The Day.
We got married on 17 March 2018 in a small farming community called Rangiwahia in northern Manawatu, on Alex’s family farm which was established more than 100 years ago. We had our ceremony in the Ian McKean Pinetum, a beautiful, unique and sentimental place that is a collection of more than 300 different types of conifer trees that were planted by his grandfather. We knew from the moment we were engaged that we would get married on the farm and it was so special to have our friends and family experience the pinetum. We held our reception in the cosy, vintage Rangiwahia Hall.


The Details.
I ended up sourcing different kinds of flowers from four different locations, including friends and families’ gardens. My mother-in-law had the most amazing collection of vases, antique candle holders and decorations that I just chose what I liked and with the help of very talented friends, and locally foraged greenery, we transformed the hall into a wildly colourful, natural space that felt very in tune with who Alex and I are. The tables were rustic slabs of timber from under the hall’s stage and the seats were old pews from a nearby town hall. I had a friend make hand-poured soy wax candles in mix-matched glass jars that I’d spent months searching for in different second hand shops. Festoon lights adorned the ceiling, casting a warm glow over the hall and when the candles were lit it felt like a magical, cosy and vintage dinner party. It all came together perfectly and looked even better than I could have ever imagined!
I was never keen on having a set theme as there were so many different decorations, colours and flowers I wanted to use. I made a decision to just include what ever I liked and wanted, hoping it would all tie in together as a rustic, eclectic mix.
Expectation and Reality.
I knew it was going to be one of the best days of our lives, having all of our family and friends come to Rangiwahia, a significant and important place for us both. It’s hard to put the day into words, it was so filled with love, laughter and positive vibes as the most important people in our lives came together and met one another as we celebrated our marriage. It felt so wholesome.
 I was surprised by the large flock of sheep we stumbled across as we were driving to have a sunset photo shoot, but Alex and I looked at each other, cracked up laughing and knew this serendipitous moment was not one to pass up. The photo of us with the sheep is one of my favourite photos because it is so unique and was not planned.
From One Bride to Another.
It’s easy to say in hindsight, but try to not to stress! We organised almost every element of the wedding, which had its ups and downs, but if you’re taking on a DIY wedding, try to enjoy every moment! Involve friends and family, but don’t let their opinions put you off if they don’t see what you’re envisioning - it’s your day after all and almost anything is possible (within reason, and budget, in most cases).
Best Bit.
That’s a tough one - I think I would pause time during the ceremony so I could soak in seeing everyone there before us, sitting on picnic blankets and hay bales in the pinetum. I remember walking down the aisle with dad saying hello to everyone as I hadn’t seen some of our guests in months if not years. There are so many moments like that during the day and evening that I would love to relive them all.