If I could make any recommendation to you, for the soundtrack you need for the wedding of Holly and Phil. Might I suggest their processional song? Turn up the sounds of Whitney Houston & Jygo’s “Higher Love” because I can assure you, the upbeat tunes is just the ticket for this incredible wedding.

Captured by Kellie Francis, this one is all we need for The Red Issue. because Holly’d red ballgown is a breathtaking beauty! And speaking of breathtaking, wait until you see the mountaintop wedding portraits these two shared, they’re what magic mountain moments are made of. Fitting really, because this was a day full of magic, full of moments and unforgettable.

It was not love at first sight for these two, but it was pretty close, explains Holly “We initially met in November 2013 at a mutual friends birthday at the Races – however, we didn’t speak a word to each other. It wasn’t until 4 months later when we met again at a dinner party and started talking when we realised how much we had in common, along with a very similar sense of humour. From there we virtually never left each other’s side.”

Four years later, Phil asked Holly to marry her “Phil proposed on our 4th anniversary. I love surprises, so he told me that he had planned a special day with lunch at 1 PM somewhere nice, so was necessary that I bought a new dress for the occasion. We started the day at the Shangri-La Hotel in Sydney to get ready and was told that lunch was somewhere close and we could walk.

We made our way down to Sydney Harbour Bridge, and as we stood just under the bridge, Phil dropped down on one knee to pop the question – I, of course, burst into happy tears and said a big YES! He had also planned a secret photographer to capture the moment – which was absolutely perfect. It didn’t end there. We then hopped in an Uber and made our way to one of my favourite restaurants in Sydney, Otto at Woolloomoolloo.

As we were walking up the waterfront I noticed some familiar faces at the restaurant – Phil has organised, my family and his family to be there, including his Mum who flew over from Auckland! It really was one of the most special days of my life.”

“Phil wore a fitting navy suit, with brown shoes and belt to match and a red bow tie to link in with my dress.” notes the bride ” He also never feels dressed without a watch, so wore his most loved TAG watch – looking as suave as ever.”

The beautiful red wedding gown? It was love at first sight for Holly, who found ti at Miss Saryta. She explains ” I had seen the dress on an Instagram page of a custom bridal and formal dress store in Sydney, and instantly fell in love with it, but also slightly apprehensive about wearing red. The day I went bridal dress shopping, I took my Mum and we were to a bridal store and tried on about 8 traditional white wedding dresses and none of them felt right.

We then went to the store that had “the” dress and was hoping that it wasn’t too good to be true. As soon as I put it on – I knew it was the one. My Mum and I looked at each other, smiling from ear to ear knowing that this was the dress I would wear – it was perfect! As it was red, and such a statement dress, I really only told a few people about it – so the reaction when I walked down the aisle was amazing!”

SaysHolly “We had our nieces and nephews as part of our wedding party. The two girls chose their own white flowing dresses which were slightly different, each with tiered tulle skirts and a touch of lace. Then the four boys wore short-sleeved shirts with navy shorts, suspenders and bow tie, with white converse shoes. Definitely the cutest little wedding party I’ve ever see”

Of her walk down the aisle, Holly remembers “We chose “Higher Love” Kygo, Whitney Houston. We wanted something a bit different and fun to walk down the aisle – a song that was still loving but also got everyone into the fun vibes of what we wanted our wedding to be. My amazing and beautiful mother walked me down the aisle – it was beyond special!”

Holly and Phil worked with Charlotte Winkel – Your Big Day for their light-hearted ceremony, They remember  “If you couldn’t tell from the red dress and the pop aisle song – we aren’t traditionalists, so we wanted a ceremony which was like us – fun! When we found Charlotte, she encapsulated everything we wanted in a celebrant and more! She designed such a fun ceremony for us, and it’s not often a word that you hear when you think ‘wedding ceremony.’ Our ceremony was short but captured everything we wanted – including fireball shots with our witnesses; my brother Chris and Phil’s sister, Lauren after we signed the registry.

We danced our way up the aisle to Lizzo “Good as Hell”, to be handed a fresh, cold glass of sparkling at the end!”

Holly and Phil held their wedding at Winehouse. “We wanted a venue which had everything all in the one place, and had an event planner to help us organise everything as we were planning a Queenstown wedding from Sydney – and we found the most stunning, and perfect place for us, being The Winehouse. We were able to have our ceremony on the beautiful croquet lawn, with the backdrop of stunning mountains and a waterfall, followed by drinks and tacos. Then into the stunning reception area, which again opened up onto the amazing mountains of Queenstown, and inside to the dancefloor.”

Non-negotiables for your wedding day can be as big as a photographer choice, or in Phil’s case, tacos! Holly explains “There were a few things that we really wanted as part of our day. FIrstly – Phil really wanted to have tacos at the wedding as a bit of a non-negotiable. Thankfully for us – we were presented with a full taco menu to choose from, so after the ceremony, out came boards of tacos for canapes. Another little detail was we wanted people to have drinks on arrival at the ceremony, so there was no waiting around to get the party started, so we had berry cocktails on arrival. Then anyone who knows Phil and I, know that a night is never complete without Espresso Martini’s – so as soon as the dancefloor started, so did the Espressos!”

“We loved escaping in a helicopter to get some time for ourselves after the ceremony to take in the moment before the reception, along with getting the most bananas photos at the top of the mountain!”

The flowers on the day were styled by Bespoke Wedding & Events. Holly shares “I put my trust into Sam at the Winehouse in liaising with the amazing Bespoke Weddings & Events to create their version of what I had pictured. I wanted lots of leafy, flowing greenery with pops of red and white to tie in with my dress and the beautiful surroundings. Bespoke created the most amazing bouquet I have ever seen, which matched the stunning arrangements at the end of the aisle at the ceremony. They also arranged beautiful mini floral arrangements on each table in the reception of red, white and green and hung festoon lighting with flowing greenery from the ceiling – it really was magical.”

“Our photographer Kellie was just incredible. ” says Hollie “She made us feel so comfortable and we just had a blast with her. She took the most beautiful photos, and whilst we are probably bias – they are by far the best wedding shots we have ever seen. She knew exactly what angles to get, and how to get the best out of each photo – and captured all the love and fun that we had across the day.”

“The day is about you” advises Holly “so create it the way that you want it to be, not just the way that you might be told or shown it should be. It really will be the best day of your life, so design it to be exactly that way!”

“Our favourite part was having all-out favourite people in our lives together in one place, and that one place being one of the most beautiful places in the world! We had Phil’s best friends and close family friends fly over from the US, we had my brother and sister-in-law fly over from Switzerland, then most of the rest of our family and friends flying from all over Australia and New Zealand.

The fact that everyone made it over to Queenstown which so incredibly special – and what we didn’t realise was that it would be the last time we would see a lot of our guests in a very long time. We knew that our wedding date was special, we just didn’t realise how special with only weeks after being in lockdown.”

The first dance? A last-minute decision shares the bride “Our first dance was a tricky one to pick, and we ended up landing on the final decision only 24 hours beforehand (apologies to our DJ – Mountbeats). We chose “American Boy'” by Estelle & Kanye West. This is a song that we have always deemed “our song” when it comes on, and is super fun to dance to! We didn’t organise a dance at all – we just did our own little boogie, and then dragged everyone onto the dancefloor pretty quickly to dance with us!”

The couple chose Woven Images to capture this beautiful film for their day,

A big, gorgeous congratulations to the newlyweds.  Thank you, Holly & Phil, for sharing your beautiful day with us!

Thank you also goes to Kellie Francis for sharing today’s photographs with us!