Like everyone else in 2020, Julia and Seb’s plan for a wedding, thanks to COVID-19, was completely derailed. Instead, they scrambled and planned an intimate mountaintop elopement in stunning Wanaka in just two weeks, surprising their guests in the process! The happy newlyweds sharing “Our wedding was homemade improvised, minimalist and low budget. Most importantly low budget, and extremely last minute!”

The pair, who also had a six-week-old baby Elias to consider, pulled it off beautifully, as evidenced by every stunning photograph snapped by Emily Adamson. Cosy winter wedding appeal to you? Soak in every detail of this one!

“We met like many couples, at a party of a mutual friend” remembers Seb. “We were from opposite sides of the country both in the city for university. Her studying nursing and me studying Health Sciences. The first time we met was at a housewarming of our mutual friend. Unfortunately, she was in a relationship, luckily she wasn’t my type. I went over to talk to her not because I was besotted, rather because she looked lonely standing in the kitchen cradling a beverage. We exchanged pleasantries until her boyfriend came to pick her up.

Our second meeting was a year later. Same house, same friends, different circumstances, most notably a change to her relationship status. As though we were living in our own deja vu, she found herself yet again in the kitchen by the fridge cradling a drink. Watching the antics from a safe distance. Remembering her from our last encounter I made a point of engaging in some light banter with a touch of flirtation. Unbeknownst to me, she in fact took interest in my particularly dry and deadpan comedically styled approach. From there the party became blurry.

After the festivities, it took a few weeks and some super cute dates but eventually she managed to woo me. Luckily for me, she put the effort in, because if she hadn’t I would have never known how high I could fly.”

And as is also often the case, the proposal was not a complete surprise, says Seb “Julia had been expecting it for a while, never failing to mention it during nice events and trips abroad. Me always scheming and wanting it to be a complete surprise popped the question on the morning of our anniversary. I hid the ring in a croissant from her breakfast in bed. Unfortunately, she was rushing out the door to her nursing shift at a new job. Alas, when she returned we had an hour together before I left on a work trip to the United States.”

This was a day that truly was handcrafted by Julia and Seb. “We did the flowers ourselves. The invitations were hand-drawn two nights before. The alter stands (beer crates) and the grazing table all put together last minute” says Seb, Julia adding “I love arranging flowers, I have always got an array of honey-scented dried proteas on hand for wreaths and arrangements. It is one of my hobbies. So naturally, I brought some of them down with me. As well as an array of foliage to complete it.

To liven the flowers up a little we went to a local flower store (The Green Room Flower Co) and ordered some fresh individual flowers. The night before I spent in our room at the family house arranging and then hiding my creations in the warehouse vases tucked away in the cupboard.”

“Well, my walk down the aisle was more a hike across mountain tundra and brush. Luckily I was wearing boots” laughs Julia. “I had to remind my dad 10 minutes before the wedding that it was him who would walk me down the aisle. The walk ended up being quite long. The song was “Promise” by Ben Howard.”

The couple spent most of their time before the big day scouting for just the right spot. “The days before the wedding were spent scouting the areas surrounding the lake. We wanted a mountain backdrop, good vantage point, accessible to our heavily pregnant friend, rain sheltered, away from prying eyes, not too far from the house. Most importantly we had no time to book and no money to book with. So as luck would have it we found the perfect spot that filled all criteria and best of all came with a little adventure hike included for free. (we are avid hikers). The location of the ceremony. ” Says Seb “I was so proud when I found it and I instantly knew that it was the spot. I even have my excitement on video.”

With everything so last minute, even finding a wedding gown became a mission, explains the bride. “Planning a wedding in 2 weeks does not bode well for finding the perfect dress. Luckily we are happy go lucky people and believe everything happens for a reason. I ordered a dress from Australia addressing it to Wanaka hoping it would arrive within the 10 working days stated. However, we got cold feet when the dress hadn’t shown up yet two days before the wedding.
We darted off to the neighbouring village of Queenstown finding a suitable option. Yet not satisfied we continued looking, finding a great alternative in the metropolis of Hawea. It only needed one minor alteration which we commissioned hastily. As luck would have it, the Australian dress arrived on the morning of the wedding. However, believing everything happens for a reason I opted for my Hawea find.” The finishing touch was her great grandmother’s (also named Julia) bracelet.

The couple were married by Philippa Thomas. Shares Julia  “We wanted it to feel minimalist and like it blended into the environment. We are always inspired by nature and its subtle beauty. The point was to be together in the shadow of towering mountains humbled. Our ceremony was simple, not just because everyone was freezing their tits off. But also we had our 6-week old son Elias to think about. Sebastian’s sister who was unable to make it from Scotland due to COVID wrote a poem to be read by his youngest sister. A verse from his dad and a few cellphone technical glitches later and we were wed.”

Seb’s suit? Found at Barkers. “Julia picked the colour, style and fit, she told me where to go to try it on, I followed her orders like a good boy” laughs Seb. “The only issue was finding a reason to go to the city to pick it up that would not alert her family to our devious plot.”

If there is anything you shouldn’t take from today’s wedding, take Seb’s advice, as not just a groom, but a wedding photographer himself. “Stop sweating the small stuff. As a wedding photographer my couples get so wrapped up in non-sense decisions. Just keep it simple, make a decision and move on. Have fun planning and STOP worrying, no one will remember the details anyway.”

And after cake, the surprisers, became the surprised, Seb’s father announcing that in the German tradition, he was stealing the newlyweds, their mothers and baby Elias off for a ride in a helicopter, thanks to Wanaka Helicopters waiting secretly.

Seb and Julia’s favourite part of wedding planning “How easy it is when you don’t overthink little details that you’ll never remember. Who cares what shade of blue your napkins are! What’s important is who you invite and who’s standing at the altar with you, and where you’re standing.”

It seems the couple’s choice to hire Emily Adamson to capture their day was a long time coming! Seb explaining “I had seen Emily’s work in the national photography awards many years ago, and being a wedding photographer myself I had an immense appreciation for her work. She did not disappoint. Emily even schemed with my dad to surprise us with a helicopter ride after the wedding. We were so happy she was available at nine days notice.”

The newlyweds celebrated with their fifteen guests over a five-course meal at a favourite local restaurant. “I have so many favourite memories,” says Julia “Getting to enjoy each and every one of our 15 guests and having the opportunity to talk to them. Also, my childhood best friend made the trip last minute from Dunedin. Or Seb’s surprisingly nice vows.”

Congratulations to you both Julia and Seb! What an epic mission you accomplished. Thank you for sharing your story with us and to Emily Adamson for sharing today’s celebration!