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New Zealand Hen’s Do Party Games Box

Have you ever seen an idea and thought, “Why didn’t I think of that?” or “I wish I knew about that before,” (in my case, when I was planning our wedding)! A few weeks ago I found Party Games Box Company which is a New Zealand based “games in a box” company that delivers directly to your door – little boxes of awesome that are filled with party games for hens parties, baby showers or kids birthday parties. Each box can be tailored to the number of guests, and contains a variety of ready-to-play games/activities, instructions cards and prizes for each game plus everything you will need to play them, to take with you wherever your party is. Currently they have four different hens party games boxes along with a whole selection of other themed party boxes. I received a box so I could join in on the fun too and see what it was all about!  Take a look below at the box I received! 

What I love about Party Games Box is that it literally includes everything you need. I got one to try out for myself (pictured throughout the blog) and was shocked at how perfectly it was not only assembled in terms of organisation but also how they thought about everything (prizes for winners, instructions, and, of course, everything you need for several games). For reference, I got the “Wild, But Styled” hens do game box. I was a little worried that everything in the box would be really “out there” or raunchy but was pleasantly surprised to see a great mix of activities and prizes!

The owner of Party Games Box, Juliet, also owns The Party Box Company Ltd – boxes of awesome. They create and deliver themed kids party boxes anywhere in New Zealand! They have been operating for three years and have over forty themed boxes on their website but they also custom make each party box to the theme and number of guests for any party! Juliet says, “We aren’t limited to kids parties either – we’ve done adult birthday parties, hens parties, baby showers too!”

When I asked Juliet what her favorite part about owning Party Games Box, she said, “I think the games in these boxes are awesome – a mixture of old school, some a little bit naughty (for those adventurous hens parties), and of course boxes that would be suitable for the mothers and mother-in-laws who may be attending hens parties too! I love that we have tailored the games to the type of party that brides and maid-of-honors are hosting. I also LOVE hearing from clients what the best part of their party games box was!”

Party Games Box, as we know, is the only New Zealand based company that offers a one stop shop for all your hens do needs. They take all the stress out of organising a hens party by providing the games (and everything you need to complete them) as well as all the decor that you need (provided by their sister company The Party Box Company). Decorations and entertainment all in one box! It really doesn’t get much easier than that!

In the future you can look forward to new kids games boxes – dinosaur and spy coming soon! They also will be doing a games / decoration box combo for hens party and baby showers. 

You can find Party Games Box online at https://partygamesbox.com/, like them on Facebook, and follow them on Instagram.

If this blog helped you to learn something new or get inspiration and you want to follow us for more wedding tips, tricks, and ideas, head to our Facebook page and don’t forget to join our wedding shopping group here. We can’t wait to see you there!

Signing off,

Mary Taylor <3

Mary and Robbie

Photoshoot With Local San Diego Wedding Photographers

Last month my husband, Robbie, and I took a trip to San Diego, California! This trip had many purposes but one thing I knew I wanted to do was get more images of us. Throughout wedding planning, we document so many beautiful moments. From engagement photos to wedding photos but after the wedding it’s as if the other moments don’t need to be documented. Have you ever thought about honeymoon photos? You’re probably visiting somewhere you have never been or at least somewhere that is beautiful! So why not get updated images? Not for cards or albums but just for you. To celebrate your marriage and “new” life together. Images to remember this special time – the first trip as husband and wife! More people should hire photographers while on trips – not just honeymoons!

The purpose behind this La Jolla photoshoot with our San Diego wedding photographers was to explore the idea of honeymoon photos. And I couldn’t be more excited about these gorgeous images! Thank you so much Brittany V Photography and Danny Lewis Photography! We will cherish these images for the rest of our lives! 

Leading up to the photoshoot day, Bethany from Events by BD, helped me plan everything. From deciding the overall look with me to providing us with props and flower arrangements. She was SO sweet and easy to work with! If you’re looking for a San Diego florist or event planner, you should definitely reach out to Bethany! She knew my vision better than I did!

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To kick off our photoshoot, Tracie from Makeup by Tracie came over to our house to do my makeup. I honestly didn’t even have to tell her what I wanted and she completely nailed it. She made me feel confident and beautiful. I liked that she didn’t do anything too extreme and kept my look natural. She picked the perfect lip color too! Robbie kept complimenting the color the entire day! Not only did she do a great job with my makeup, she was easy to talk to and fun to work with! If you’re looking for a San Diego makeup artist, drop Tracie a message!

We started our photoshoot at La Valencia in La Jolla, California where one of our photographers Brittany from Brittany V Photography met us to take some candid, lifestyle images at the hotel. They were so nice to let us in for a few images! Brittany was creative, kind, and so much fun during the entire photoshoot. She prompted us, encouraged us, and complimented us!

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Mary and Robbie
Mary and Robbie

I mean look at these pictures?! If you’re looking for a bright and colorful San Diego wedding photographer who loves to take charge (in a good way), Brittany is a perfect fit! I could tell she was not only confident but she also knew what she was doing!

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Mary and Robbie

Some of the links below may be commissioned. 

After our city images, Danny from Danny Lewis Photography joined us at Windansea in La Jolla. We continued the photoshoot with outfit changes and added props. I love that we got to do two completely different looks. Both of my new outfits came from Amazon (if you don’t have prime, you can use that link for a free trial)! You can purchase the white floral dress here and the long green dress here. If you end up purchasing, we would love to see pictures of you in your new dresses! 

Danny was easy to work with and fun to be around. He brought two cameras and was definitely more of a candid photographer which was really cool to watch. It’s amazing to see the two different styles (in photography and in editing)! If you’re looking for a San Diego engagement photographer or wedding photographer who loves to capture candid moments, Danny is your guy!

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I love to work with wedding vendors from around the world because it gives me the opportunity to meet them and actually experience their work for myself. If you’re a wedding vendor or you know of someone you’d like me to get in touch with, please don’t hesitate to reach out. If this blog helped you to learn something new or get inspiration and you want to follow us for more wedding tips, tricks, and ideas, head to our Facebook page and don’t forget to join our wedding shopping group here. We can’t wait to see you there!

You can find these vendors online by clicking on their name(s) or going to our Mary Taylor Weddings Facebook Page where we have shared this blog. 

Signing off,

Mary Taylor <3

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Basic Invite: Custom Invitation Suites & Wedding Websites

If you’re already part of my Facebook wedding shopping group, you’ll know that I love learning about and sharing about wedding-related companies to help you plan your wedding day. Basic Invite is a high-end but affordable online wedding invites company that also specializes in custom wedding websites

Basic Invite allows you to order a printed sample of your invitations so you can see the card’s paper quality and how it will print before you have to place your final order. Honestly, this is super important! My husband, Robbie, and I didn’t choose a company that provided this service and after receiving our invites, I felt that they were a bit smaller than I had hoped. It’s hard to imagine what it will actually look and feel like until you have it in your hand. 

Basic Invite is one of the few websites that allows customers almost unlimited color options with instant previews online. You can choose from over 180 different color and foil options! You can even change the color of each element on a card that way the card can be exactly how you want it, down to the littlest detail. Basic Invite says, “This is what sets us apart from any other online stationery company and is our biggest draw.” When creating our own wedding invites, I found that the other invitation companies had extremely limiting options. You have to love everything about a specific design because there are no options to customize it. Or maybe you love a wedding invite design but can’t find anything to match! Each of Basic Invite’s wedding invitations are part of a set. They have all the wedding stationery you need, like save the dates, wedding invitations, enclosure cards, wedding menus, wedding programs, and even matching thank you cards! This really helps to pull your entire look together and is great for those dreamy flat lay detail images that your photographer will capture on your wedding day. The little details really do matter!

They have gone above and beyond with their extra services like their free address collection service, seal & send wedding invitations, over 40 different colors of envelopes, free printables, and free wedding websites. Their wedding websites are completely customizable too! They’re mobile friendly and super easy to use. You can instantly upload all of your wedding details, along with images, and a convenient map with directions for your guests. And just like their matching templates for your set of wedding invitations, they also have a design suite to match your wedding invitations.

When I asked what their seal and send wedding invitations were, Basic Invite said, “Our seal and send wedding invitations are an all-in-one wedding invitation with a tear-off RSVP postcard included! The Seal & Send is our newest collection and brides are LOVING them. Currently, we offer them in over 30 designs including our ever-popular foil options, and, like our other products, they are customizable. What’s special about our Seal & Sends is that guest’s addresses are printed on the front of each invitation so no envelope is necessary! All you have to do is share a link, collect guest addresses, and upload them onto your design. Once you receive your order all you have to do is add postage, fold your invites, and secure them with a sticker! Simple and easy.”

I love that Basic Invite is keeping up with new trends, offering easier ways for brides and grooms to organize their invites, and allowing their customers to fully customize their products. This allows brides like you to get exactly what you want instead of settling for something else.

If you’d like to check them out online, you can find them on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter! You can also use code 15FF51 for 15% off everything in the month of February (2020).

If this blog helped you to learn something new or get inspiration and you want to follow us for more wedding tips, tricks, and ideas, head to our Facebook page and don’t forget to join our wedding shopping group here. If you have purchased from Basic Invite before or now plan to, please let us know! We would love to see what you ordered. We can’t wait to see you there!

Signing off,

Mary Taylor <3 

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The Grissom Wedding at Big Bend National Park

When I first saw pictures from Cody’s wedding, I had to know more! It looked unique, boho and totally Pinterest-worthy! I had no idea what I had gotten myself into (in a good way) when I first started talking to her! She was so easy to talk to and opened right up about her wedding. Cody and her husband got married at Big Bend National Park. Their entire wedding weekend sounds like something from a movie or a book. 

Some of the links included in this blog are commissioned links. This means I may earn a small commission when you use them. I cannot see who purchases what and it doesn’t cost you anything to click on them.

Click on this image to see where Cody got her flowers!
Click on this image to see where Cody got her flowers!

They started their wedding adventure by taking the Sunset Limited overnight train from Houston with their friends and family. They arrived in Alpine and drove to Terlingua, a Ghosttown just outside the park. They had dinner at a motorcycle bar, with dancing and music, then roasted marshmallows around a bonfire. Dreamy right?!

If you’d like to get 500 free points for Amtrak’s loyalty program and free train rides, please fill out this form (you will not be added to our email list by submitting your email) or head to our Facebook group here and leave your email there.

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When we got chatting about why they decided to tie the knot in Terlingua, Cody said, “I have always been in love, most particularly, with West Texas. I went out once in college and was dazzled by the red rocks and incredible vastness of the mountains. They go on forever! And we’d spent several anniversaries there. We were very familiar with the area and the park, so I already knew that my mom and sisters (and friends) would have a lot of fun in Terlingua. It’s a ghost town with shops, art, music, and great food. I really wanted a more relaxed vibe, and my goal for the wedding was to have NO stress. I’d learn of the train from one of my clients out in West Texas (the Marathon Motel) and a friend out there who I’d met during my trip in college. People out there live incredible lives! I love trains so we went out there in March to test the waters and see what it would be like. It was easy, beautiful, excellent… The beds were comfortable and the food was great. It was so fun to go to sleep on the train and wake up in West Texas. So many of my friends immediately wanted to do that too! And tickets started at $65, so they were very affordable!”

To keep things simple and relaxed, Cody decided to wear only a small amount of foundation, rock her red cowgirl boots, and carry a handmade bouquet that she made in the aisle at Michael’s.

On the wedding day, they went to the park and had a first look ceremony outside of the Chisos Lodge. Cody says Chisos Lodge is a “beautiful mid-century modern lodge in the basin of the Chisos Mountains.” She says, “We had a toast (both crying the entire time haha), then we were dropped off at a trail with our officiant, a close friend, and our photographer, who was also my best friend.” Now, this is when their story gets even more interesting! They hiked out to a beautiful remote peak and said their vows in private. How special is that?!

I asked Cody why they decided to hike somewhere private for their vows and she said, “[It] was actually my husband’s idea. We love to hike and be outdoors, and he is somewhat of a private person and the idea of standing up in front of a large crowd intimidated him. I liked the idea of bucking tradition and doing something more personal, since I stand up in front of crowds for a living (I am in/manage presentations/classes/events) and I know that when you are in front of a crowd, on some level, what you are doing is for them. I immediately agreed! I’d also seen some beautiful photos of what were called “Adventure Weddings” from a couple I followed online, “thehearnes.” My husband’s request was actually a secret dream of mine! I love red rocks, big mountains, and beautiful landscapes. And you can’t get a cheaper venue than $50! (The fee for using the park).” I love when people do what is best for themselves – especially when it comes to their own wedding.

By the time that they got back, their friends and family had gathered at the lodge for the reception. Trevor Reichman played acoustic guitar as they danced the night away. I love that they had their officiant sign the marriage license in front of everyone so they still got to feel included in the process. Cody said that she was torn because she wanted her girlfriends to all feel special and a part of it while still having a private ceremony. Much to her surprise, they all wore the matching necklaces that Cody had given them at her bachelorette party as a thank you. In true wedding fashion, they had toasts and first dances! Cody says, “It was really an absolutely perfect day! The stars and mountains were out, and it felt magical. Our family and friends had a great time, and I was so incredibly relaxed and happy for everyone.”

They closed off the night at the Boquillas Hot Springs. What an amazing way to end an eventful day! Thank you so much Cody for sharing your wedding story with us! We cannot thank you enough! Your wedding day looked absolutely beautiful and we are so glad everything turned out perfectly. If you’d like to see some of the vendors that helped make Cody’s wedding day extra special, please check out the list of vendors below!

Photography: Stills By Garcia (www.stillsbygarcia.com)

Invites: Half-Moon Media (www.halfmoon-media.com)

Music: Trevor Reichman (trevorreichman.bandcamp.com)

Dress: Vivienne Atelier (vivienneatelier.com)

Location: Chisos Mountain Lodge (chisosmountainslodge.com) at the Big Bend National Park (visitbigbend.com)

We love hearing from real brides like Cody! If you’re interested in being featured too, fill out our bridal collaboration from here. We’d love to hear your wedding, bridal shower, bachelorette, or even engagement story!

If this blog helped you to find inspiration, we’d love to have you join our free wedding group on Facebook here. And don’t forget to like us here so you can stay up to date with new blogs!

Signing off,

Mary Taylor <3

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Top Honeymoon Destinations For 2020

Choosing a honeymoon destination is difficult! There are so many amazing options around the world. Whether you’re looking to relax on a tropical island, backpack through a foreign country, or stay close to home, we want to help! I ran a poll in a wedding group about the top honeymoon locations and here’s what the consensus was! You can look out for separate blog posts about each of these places (I will edit this blog later to add the links)! No matter where you’re going, I highly recommending looking into Get Your Guide! If you haven’t heard about them already, check out our honeymoon blog where I explain how we used them to help us find activities! 

  1. Hawaii (you can check out our personal experience honeymooning in Hawaii here) – A perfect destination for those that don’t want to or can’t leave the US but still want a tropical honeymoon! 
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2. New Zealand – This is actually really cool that this is such a popular destination for honeymooners because I actually live in New Zealand! If you’re willing to travel the distance, it’s 100% worth it. If you like nature, natural hot springs, and wine, New Zealand is the honeymoon destination for you!

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3. Paris – Definitely a classic! A romantic, must-see city in Europe which is perfect for those that love French culture!

4. Las Vegas – If you’ve never, it’s somewhere you have to see in your lifetime. If you like live shows, all you can eat buffets, and dancing the night away, Vegas is the place for you!

5. Bahamas – Beautiful blue waters, all-inclusive resorts, and island life! If relaxation and beach life sounds like how you want to spend your honeymoon, the Bahamas are a great place! I can’t wait to go more into what they have to offer and what you can expect.

6. Key West – If you’re a US resident and don’t want to or can’t leave the US for your honeymoon but you still want that tropical island feel, Key West is a great choice for your honeymoon! Situated off of Florida, it’s the perfect US destination for those looking for a shorter stay or closer destination!

7. Ireland – I can’t wait to write about Ireland! I went to Ireland just before I met my husband and it’s still one of my favorite places in the world! If you’re looking for adventure, greenery, and culture in a place where you don’t need to learn another language and you’ll meet some of the most genuine people in the world, Ireland is the place for you!

Numbers 8+ were all tied! Some other popular honeymoon destinations included Thailand, Aruba, Mexico, Montego Bay (Jamaica), Greece, and Hong Kong!

Some of the links below are commissioned or referral links. It doesn’t cost you anything to use them (you can actually save by using them)!

 A personal note: When I traveled Europe, before I met my husband, I used Booking.com to find pretty much every place I ever stayed at! This was before Airbnb. I loved that I could earn free nights, see reviews, etc. There are so many options for places to stay so depending on what you’re going for and where you’re staying, both Airbnb and Booking are great options! You can even use the links provided to receive money off your first stay!

Are you honeymooning somewhere else and want to know what to do, what to see, and where to stay? Where should I blog about next? Let me know in the comments/form below or on my Facebook page! If you’ve already planned your honeymoon, we’d love to hear about it! You could even be featured on our blog! Just fill out this form with information, tips, tricks, do’s, and don’ts! 

If this blog helped you get some honeymoon inspiration and you want to follow us for more wedding inspiration, head to our Facebook page and don’t forget to join our wedding shopping group here. We can’t wait to see you there!

Signing off,

Mary Taylor <3 

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Our New Zealand Wedding Reception

Why have one wedding when you can have two? Having families in several different countries makes it difficult to celebrate with everyone. So once we decided that we were having our formal ceremony and reception in California, we decided it would be best to also have another reception in New Zealand (where we live) to celebrate with friends and family here. It was over eight months of planning but it all paid off!  I could not have done it without all of our incredible vendors, my sweet husband, and our helpful family members! Scroll to the bottom to see a list of all of our vendors!

Our New Zealand reception took place on December 14, 2019 (exactly three months from our US wedding)! We tried to incorporate as many aspects from our United States wedding (which you can read about here) into our New Zealand wedding so that guests would feel as included as possible. Although we included many of the same aspects and decor, this reception had a completely different look and feel (which we loved)! Instead of a formal sit down dinner, a ceremony, speeches, first dances, and a full bridal party, we had a buffet lunch (cooked and prepared by us), lawn games, a photo booth, grazing platters, and a projector with our wedding video! This time I changed my hair style, Robbie didn’t wear a suit jacket (it was way too hot) and changed his bow tie. I also got to wear the necklace that my aunt gifted to me (from my grandma) at my bridal shower. If you haven’t read about my bridal shower and want to, you can check it out here.

We had the whole day captured and documented by the incredible Rebecca Bradley Photography (based in Auckland – she traveled all the way to Tauranga to be a part of our wedding day)! Rebecca was so much fun to work with! She’s extremely friendly, professional, and understanding! Our day was running a bit behind schedule and she was happy to just go with the flow – even when that meant less time for couple photos! Thank goodness she is good at what she does and we still ended up with tons of images despite our timing! She captured so many incredible moments of us with our guests and moments we missed since we couldn’t be everywhere at once. We almost didn’t have a photographer but now I cannot imagine not having one! I am beyond thankful for these beautiful images! I will be cherishing these for the rest of my life! 

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You’ll see throughout the images lots of gorgeous decor! Zippy Laser Designs was a huge part of our day! I had seen them at a wedding show and a few other markets around the area and always loved their work! Seeing our own custom pieces was a whole other story though! I wanted to cry happy tears! They made these beautiful wood boards (one cheese board and one chopping board) for us to use for our grazing platters! If you know me, you know I love decor that can be reused. This was perfect for that! We also got beautiful mandalas and feathers to have around the venue. It really pulled everything together!! The detail on their engravings are incredible. I really can’t say enough about them! Leonie from Zippy Laser Designs was really easy to work with which made the process that much more fun!

Ramus, a home decor company who specializes in dream catchers, made us a beautiful dream Catcher which we hung in the trees! The quality was absolutely amazing and they were so quick to deliver! I can’t wait to use the dream catcher in our new house! I’m always recommending them for gifts and children’s rooms! Jo creates stunning custom pieces to fit any space!

Our floral candle/hanging incense was by Jatelier NZ! Wow, are their candles amazing! They were so easy to work with and their designs are so unique! I love how they imprinted our names and wedding date on our candle! I had no idea that was even possible. I wish I lived in Auckland to attend their classes! They even make candles that look edible!

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I started the day with makeup by Chrissy Mason. I have to admit, I know nothing about hair or makeup so I always leave it up to the professionals. I gave her the slightest idea of what I wanted (me trying to speak in makeup terms = “gold on my eyelids and natural looking face makeup that covers my dark circles under my eyes and my pimples”). Needless to say, without much instruction she still killed it!! I am in love with how my makeup turned out! She was also a blast to talk to during the whole process which makes it that much more fun! Nothing worse than not having a connection with someone who you have to sit still with for an hour! 

Next, Roxanne from Roxanne Jasmine Bridal came to do my hair! And much like makeup, I don’t really know what I’m talking about when it comes to hair. I had showed her a picture when we were in the planning stages of the wedding and that’s what we went with. The picture was beautiful and all but what Roxanne did was 100 times better! She was so easy to work with, professional, and fun! I loved that she put her own spin on the hair design and made it suit me best.

After hair and makeup, I got into my wedding dress. What a special moment getting to put on my dress again! I honestly want to wear it on a weekly basis! Do any other brides feel that way?! An unexpected but beautiful moment that Rebecca happened to capture was Robbie helping me button up my dress. As Roxanne mentioned, “Not many people can say their husband has done up their wedding dress!” That is just one reasons I cherish these images! The calm before the “storm” (the beautiful and exciting storm of our reception)! 

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Yolande and her husband (from Summer House Weddings & Events and A Splendid Afternoon) had already been busy setting up for a few days and I had gone the day before our reception to help with last minute additions so there wasn’t much to do that morning (yay for an incredible team and prepping ahead of time)! It was so nice to just enjoy getting my hair and makeup done knowing that Yolande and her husband had everything else handled. I absolutely adore them both and can honestly say that through this process they have become friends. I love how real, generous, hardworking, and creative they are! I honestly can’t say enough about their venue, their decor, and themselves! The pictures of their venue speak for themselves. This place is absolutely stunning and guests commented on the venue the entire day! They made the process so easy for us!

While hair and makeup was finishing up, Jess from Let’s Take a Selfie came to set up the photo booth! Everyone loved that the photo booth was easy to use and didn’t waste paper (which we also loved as we were trying to have a waste free wedding)! Photos could be emailed directly to someone and were saved to a gallery for Robbie and I. They even made a custom “frame” for the images so each set of images had “Burke Wedding 2019 Adventure Awaits!” The incredible background was provided by our venue which worked out perfectly!

For lunch, we had a pasta and salad bar with different toppings so everyone could have exactly what they liked (even those that were vegan, vegetarian, or gluten free). Rebecca and I joked that I should do another blog of the behind-the-scenes of what a DIY wedding really looks like. People kept saying, “I have never seen a bride setting up the food before!” and “Let us help you! You shouldn’t be doing that!” We ended up having way more help than we would have liked (aka our guests were too amazing and helpful and we wish they didn’t have to help in any way)! Some things don’t always go perfectly (like the pasta not being transferred to the nice bowls we bought or half the pesto being put out with grazing platters instead of at the pasta bar – which ended up all being fine and working out) but all we cared about was that there was PLENTY of food for everyone! We got so many compliments on it! People couldn’t believe that I made the sauce from scratch! 

After lunch, we cut the cake which was by Decadence in Papamoa! Wow! I’ve never seen a cake eaten that quickly! It was a two tiered, 7” and 5” chocolate cake filled with a cookies and cream centre and covered in a gorgeous fluffy vanilla buttercream. It was decorated with 24 karat edible gold leaf, some buttercream stencilling of New Zealand ferns and topped with beautiful pink peonies and cream roses. The ENTIRE cake was eaten! We also had Decadence custom cookies! These were a huge hit – especially among the kids who could easily reach up to grab one – or a few! Everyone was blown away by the cake and the cookies!

After we enjoyed lunch and dessert, we headed up to the Summer House, a beautiful covered outdoor space that looked out over the venue! This is where we watched our wedding video (which we released at the same time live on YouTube so our friends and family around the world could watch it at the same time). You can watch it here! It was so incredible to see everyone’s reactions – there were tears, laughter, and lots of smiles!

The rest of the afternoon was spent socializing, dancing, eating, and playing games! All of the amazing lawn games were provided by the lovely Yolande at A Splendid Afternoon! A Splendid Afternoon has so many options in terms of decor, signage, and games. We really didn’t have to worry about providing much ourselves which was really handy! We got to incorporate what we wanted of our own decor (like the things we brought back from the States) but didn’t need to worry about having enough decor for the entire venue!