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Nicola & Stephen

New Zealand has such incredible beauty that it seems just the most perfect setting for a romantic garden wedding like that of Nicola and Stephen. Anthony Strong of Circular Ink captured the wedding day, which the couple set out to make a celebration of not only those that they love – their family and friends, but also a place that they both adore.

Nicola and Stephen explain. “We were on holiday in New Zealand, our home where we both grew up. We were on the coast relaxing with friends. The place is called Mount Maunganui, a beach side town on the east coast of the North Island. At the end on the head land there is a big hill called Mt Maunganui. Every morning the fit and healthy are walking up it, it’s a great view. The morning of our engagement, Stephen wanted to take me up there to see the sunrise, it was still dark, I didn’t want to go. He made up something about how cool it would be to see the sunrise, as we live in Melbourne and don’t get to do this very often. We did it. It was amazing and came back down engaged.. Our photographer recaptured it on our wedding day as you can see in one of the first photos!!”

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Although they reside in Melbourne, Nicola and Stephen chose Mt. Maunganui, New Zealand for their wedding day, telling, “The location of the wedding was important to us as it was in the same area that we were engaged and we both have separate childhood memories with our respective families at Mt. Maunganui. Anthony captured the view from the exact spot that the proposal happened and even captured the first light of the day. From this vantage point you can see the beaches and town that Nicola and I have so many fond memories. The photos from the top of Mt. Maunganui have pride of place on our wall and will be special to us for a very long time.”

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Nicola chose a wedding gown and accessories from Raffaele Ciuca.

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The wedding was at garden venue Ataahua. “The venue we used for our ceremony and reception was Ataahua Garden Venue in Tauranga, NZ. It was a great open, relaxed space with plenty of photo opportunities. Abbey from the team at Ataahua garden venue really made us feel welcome and nothing was ever a problem.”

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Nicola walked down the aisle to A Thousand Years (Instrumental) – The Piano Guys.

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Of their photographer, Nicola tells, “The photographer was one of our close friends, Anthony Strong. He lives in Melbourne but grew up in New Zealand and was familiar with the area. We wanted someone we knew. We found it great because he was able to be involved for the whole weekend. Prepping the venue and photographing us making our DIY decorations.”

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The travel of their loved ones was one of the most incredible parts of the wedding for Nicola and Stephen who remember, “It was  very special for us to have our family and friends travel so far. Our signpost represents all of the places our guests traveled from. Anthony was able to capture the essence of (immature at times) fun that you find in a gathering of family and friends. This atmosphere I think was heightened by the fact that it had been such a long time period since we had seen some of our guests and that some had traveled from all corners of the world.”

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The decorations were simple and beautiful – most made by the couple themselves. “We tried to make as much of the decorations as possible. We made table runners out of hessian, made rosemary table settings and a rustic wooden seating plan. We hand painted a visitor hometown road sign to let our guests know how far some people had come to be with us. As centre pieces we had a date night ideas tin and hard-boiled lollies. We also made our own photo booth and a raffia flower backdrop behind the main table. While we had a bit of organising, designing and making to do, it was great to be able to shape the look of our wedding to our taste and feel pride and ownership of it.”

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“Our favourite moments from our day was having our grandparents at our wedding. It was great to have them there, having fun, especially seeing them dressed up ready for photos in our photo booth. It captures such a special memory of good, honest fun with those who have shaped our families.”

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The bride changed to a short black dress for the well rehearsed first dance! She tells, “The first dance was a Jive to Mr. Zoot Suit by Ingrid Lucia and the flying Neutrinos. We had six lessons with a dance instructor that is also a friend. Up until this point our dancing together consisted of nights on the town or at social events (and not very well on the groom’s part). The lessons were pretty good fun and offered a release from the admin that comes with planning a wedding. When it came time for the dance on the night, there was a hiccup with the timing of the music – this lead to a small delay which allowed all of the guests to gather around the dance floor (pressure!). The practice paid off though and we kind of nailed it! There may have been a few wobbles but our smiles were wide and our timing was good. I can quite happily say it was a blast, and I think we surprised more than a few people, including ourselves.”

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