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Jolene & Joseph

A relaxed wedding is always a popular choice and there is a certain beauty in the moments of Jolene and Joseph’s relaxed New Zealand Riverside wedding captured by Meredith Lord. From the groom’s surprise that was a year in the making to the beautiful traditional dancing, the heartfelt ceremony – every part of the day, into which the couple had poured their heart and soul, shone in the brightest way.

Jolene and Joseph tell their story. “The first time we met was at a mutual friend’s farewell dinner. We were sitting down the same end of the table. No real story there except that it was the beginning of our story! Six months or so later we bumped into each other at Estab – an iconic pub on Courtenay Place in Wellington. It was on Boxing Day (also Joe’s birthday) and we recognised each other from the farewell dinner. We chatted, danced and swapped numbers. We exchanged a few texts over about 7 months after that night (slow going…) and then went on our very first date in July 2010. Joseph organised a night out starting at the NZRU (his work place) for pre-match drinks, then tickets to an All Blacks v South Africa game at Westpac stadium, and then the official after party. It was an awesome night. Every last detail was organised to a tee. Sparks flew! That was the real beginning.

We got engaged in June 2013 during Queen’s Birthday weekend. Joseph organised a long weekend get-away to Sydney, and proposed under the lights of the Sydney Opera House. All a big surprise! He’d asked for my dad’s blessing, chosen the ring (which is a gorgeous vintage diamond with two pink diamonds either side) and organised the whole thing without me knowing. The first moment I thought something was up was just before he dropped down on one knee, we were hugging and I could feel his heart beating hard and fast against mine. The nerves! It was totally unexpected and a fairy tale proposal.”

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Jolene chose a Monique Lhuillier wedding gown from Paperswan Bride, remembering, “The dress was a very classic bridal style. Quite the opposite of what I thought I wanted. I started my search in the US while on business trips to San Francisco. I had a very vivid picture in my head for what I wanted. I took along a close friend from NZ who lives in San Francisco. We took photos and videos where it was permitted and got pretty close to purchasing. The logistics of getting it altered, fitted and shipped from San Francisco were going to be tricky – so I decided to try Paperswan Bride in Wellington – to seal the decision on the San Francisco dress more than anything.

I took along my mum, two of my bridesmaids, and a bottle of bubbles. Jen (the owner) made the entire experience dreamy. We sipped on bubbles, were allowed to take as many photos and videos as we wanted, ooh-ed and aah-ed over the dresses, and found the vintage style I had in mind. Then mum asked Jen to throw in a ‘wild card’ so she got me into her favourite dress in the store. The ‘Poppy’ by Monique Lhuillier – a tulle and chantilly lace dress with sweetheart neckline and full A-line skirt, in blush. Quite the opposite of what I had in mind. The sample dress fit like a glove, and suddenly I felt like a bride. There were tears as mum and the girls gushed and I pranced around the store like a princess. The wild card was that special dress and I couldn’t imagine my wedding without it. The experience at Paperswan Bride made it all the more special.”

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For her walk down the aisle, Joseph had a very special surprise. “I had been planning singing Jolene down the aisle for almost a year. It took a while trying to find the perfect song and in the end I decided on “You are so beautiful” by Joe Cocker – but with a few words changed around.

Every time Jolene would leave the house, I’d practice it. It’s quite a simple song which I thought would be best to help manage my nerves on the day. Throughout our wedding planning and at our rehearsal the day before our wedding, Jolene thought that she’d be walking into the song “On this day” by the Sami Sisters (a NZ trio who are relatives of Jolene’s sister-in-law). I had only told one of my mates (Damian – who was controlling our music for the ceremony) on the morning of the wedding about the song I was going to sing.

When I got to the ceremony venue, I told our photographer and videographer so that they could capture the moment. The videographer quickly mic’d me up and did a few mic tests while our guests were all mingling around waiting for the bride to arrive. The bridesmaids walked into the song “Come With Me” (acapella version by Shai) and then Jolene heard the start of the song “On This Day”.

After a few seconds of that song starting, I caught a glimpse of Jolene walking through the trees. Everyone at this time was facing towards Jolene. At this moment I knew that if I wasn’t feeling it and was too nervous I could just let this song play out and go with the original plan. But I knew that this moment would never come again and knew what I had to do. I signaled to Damian who then quickly changed the song on his iPad to the instrumental backing track of “You are so beautiful”. Everyone heard the awkward change of song but Jolene kept walking. The bridesmaids all turned to Damian wondering what was going on.

I then grabbed the mic stand that was in front of the celebrant (even he was wondering what was going on), put it in front of me and faced straight towards Jolene and her Dad were walking. I then began to sing “You are so beautiful, Jolene”. I’m glad that I kept it to quite a simple song to sing because it turned out to be quite hard doing it on the day. So many nerves up to that moment especially with no sleep at all the night before and I hadn’t practiced it at the rehearsal so I didn’t know how the mic and speakers would sound. I just kept it raw, real and in one take. Just how I wanted it to occur and I didn’t want anyone to know. I had a plan and it all worked out. I love how she was genuinely surprised. Everyone was surprised including my groomsmen, the bridesmaids, the celebrant and all my immediate family who were at the rehearsal. I’ll never forget the look on her face. Her head tilted to her left and her loving smile ear to ear.”

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Joseph and Jolene chose Black Barn Offsite for their wedding, remembering, “The magical site is owned and managed by Black Barn – a renowned brand in the Hawke’s Bay. The first time we saw the site it was overgrown and quite difficult to imagine. Merely a vision of what could be. We put total faith in Black Barn and we weren’t disappointed. They developed the site over the next 10 months or so and by the time our wedding rolled around the vision had come to life. Every detail was perfect – from the tall perfectly placed trees, the forest lighting, an amazing sound system (especially considering we were outdoors), to luxury portaloos, and more. The scene was set!”

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Debbie Nott styled the flowers for the day, the bride remembering, “The flowers were another favourite element. They were just so gorgeous – and considering the briefing process was so short and sweet – our florist (Debbie Nott) absolutely nailed it. Our main colour was grey with accent colour being yellow. She sourced the perfect flowers to achieve the modern/rustic look I was after. She also let us pick olive branches from her property to use as part of our table decorations. Nothing was too much trouble. Highly recommend! We kept the bouquets for days after the wedding and even brought them back to Wellington with us to enjoy.”

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Pastor Andre Afamasaga performed the ceremony, the newlyweds remarking, “We had met with Pastor Andre (who lives in Wellington) for a couple of months leading up to the wedding for marriage guidance in preparation for our union. This was definitely another one of the highlights of the entire experience – as really reminded us of what marriage is all about, and that this day was more than a single event. It was the beginning of a life long journey and it was important not to lose sight of that. Easy to do when the ‘event’ is such a huge focus and takes so much energy.

Pastor Andre set the tone with humour, beautiful biblical references and real focus on what the day was about. Our mum’s each did a reading. And we exchanged vows. It was very simple.”

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Of their photographers, the newlyweds note, “Meredith Lord (and her sidekick Shar) were another major highlight for us. They operated like clockwork – keeping us on schedule the entire day. They managed to achieve a perfect balance between being super professional and diligent with timings – while also having a calm casual attitude towards things that really relaxed everyone else. I felt like I’d known Meredith for years – she was just so lovely. And the final products blew us away. We can’t thank her enough for the part she played on our day.”

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“We had six bridesmaids and six groomsmen which at the beginning felt a little over the top (for Jolene to wrap her head around)… but as it turned out was perfect. We were able to involve all our nearest and dearest – including our nieces and nephews who were dressed on theme as flower girls and page boys.”

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Favors were jars of homemade lemon curd.

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Much of the styling and decorating was done by the couple, who remember, “We put a tonne of energy into the creative side of the event – with a huge amount of help from our good friend Bonny Iris (who happens to be a fab photographer and wedding stylist  and Jolene’s mum.) We had monthly meetings from about 12 months out from the wedding and a gigantic spreadsheet to project plan the whole gig. The creative elements included decorations for the ceremony spot (island fans, tin cans with gypsophila lining the chairs, homemade photo booth, hand painted seating plan and rustic wooden signs dotted around the forest venue), lots of decorations for the tables inside the marquee and wedding favours (homemade lemon curd in mini mason jars, made from lemons from my Dad’s garden).”

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“Music and the sound system were one of the most important elements. We’ve been to so many outdoor weddings where you can’t hear what is being said (from the vows to instructions from the MC), or music has been missing. We wanted the sound to be clear for everyone, and for music to be a special backing track for the entire day. Joseph prepared special playlists for every section of the day. Pre-ceremony mood music, the perfect song to sign the register, special ‘entrance’ songs for each couple from the wedding party as they entered the marquee, and a party playlist – to name a few! ”

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Joseph tells of the first dance. “We chose Lifetime by Maxwell. A favourite song of mine for many years that soon became a favourite of Jolene’s.”

Grant Mayer captured a beautiful film of the day, Joseph and Jolene telling, “We were also thrilled with the wedding video from Grant Mayer. He went above and beyond to capture every last detail and tell the story over video in a very special way. That included wading across the Tuki Tuki river at the beginning and end of the day (with help from Meredith) to place a go-pro camera on a rock, to capture a timelapse of the site throughout the day. Collecting it at the end of the day in pitch blackness was a total mission. Amazing!”

Congratulations on your marriage Jolene and Joseph! Thank you for sharing your day with us! Thank you also to Meredith Lord for sharing today’s wedding!