Wow! Where do I even begin? I have been anticipating writing this blog for so long. September 14th, 2019 was one of the best days of my life. I had dreamt of it since I was a little girl but had no idea how perfect it could truly be. Being from California but living in New Zealand made it that much more exciting. For those that don’t know, Robbie (my husband) is from New Zealand and I am from the States. We have been living in New Zealand and I planned our wedding from overseas. With family all over the world, it truly was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for all of us. We had friends and family traveling from New Zealand, Australia, the UK, Spain, Minnesota, Arizona, Idaho, and more.
I’m going to save all my advice and all the things I learned for a different blog post but I’ll walk you through a little bit about our day. If you want to see where we got all of the beautiful items to help pull together our wedding day, click here. All the images in this blog were taken by Susannah Lynn Photography and edited by me (Mary Taylor Photography). Click on the images to view them larger.
Some of the links below are commissioned links. This means I may earn a small commission when you use these links. It doesn’t cost you anything and I cannot see who purchases what.
We started our mornings in separate locations (the guys got ready at an airbnb and the girls got ready at my mom and step-dad’s house). The first vendor to arrive were our videographers from Hart Marketing! They had already been to see the guys! They were so flexible about going back and forth to capture exactly what they needed. Hair and makeup by Peretti Hill Glam Squad showed up a bit early just to make sure I would be done on time! I started to feel like everything was coming together. My artist, Saundra, was completely on top of it! She even allowed my mom to add on hair last minute! I couldn’t believe it! Our last vendor to arrive was the amazing Susannah from Susannah Lynn Photography just in time for getting ready images! Susannah and her team captured myself and the girls getting ready as well as the guys getting ready. I loved the moment they captured above of our officiant (one of Robbie’s best friends) trying to puncture a hole in his formal shirt in order to fit the cufflinks! I’m kind of glad I wasn’t there to witness that!
We also got images of all of the little details throughout the day. As a bride, I put in so much time and effort into picking out everything to make our day special – even the small things. It was so nice to have someone like Susannah noticing those details and photographing them! We absolutely loved the custom ring box we got from AliExpress as well as my beautiful earrings to match my ring. The wood watches were engraved on the back and gifted to the groomsmen to wear on the wedding day!
She also captured this beautiful bracelet that Robbie’s mom gifted to me and the blue handkerchief that my aunt surprised me with at my bridal shower. It happened to my grandmother’s before she passed away and although I wasn’t going to participate in “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue,” I ended up bringing this handkerchief with me as my something blue on our wedding day!
I love getting to see the behind the scenes including gift givings, my dad seeing Robbie for the first time, the girls and I drinking champagne, and me seeing my dad for the first time. Doing a first look with your dad is super special!
It’s easy to forget these moments when you look back but to have images of everything means the world to us. I truly feel like I can relive the day just by looking at these images. Especially the images of us getting ready since we weren’t there together in the moment! Like this moment of Robbie giving our dads the custom wallets he bought them!
They also captured me giving my mom Pounamu (New Zealand Greenstone) earrings. This gift was SUPER special to me and not many know the story behind them. I had been searching for months for the perfect thing to gift my mom. I knew I wanted it to represent New Zealand as we would both now be a part of New Zealand forever.
In order to make sure we had time to spend with friends and family during our wedding, we did a first look! Honestly, in terms of the timeline, it the best decision we made! Although the boys were a bit late that meant I had time for some portraits of myself! My photographer and coordinators kept saying that I had planned our timeline perfectly and even had extra time for more images and the slight slip up of the guys being late. If you want to see our timeline check out my previous blog about timelines here.
Once Robbie arrived we got him into position with his back facing me. Unlike most first looks, Susannah wanted me positioned further away from Robbie so he could really absorb the full look! Seeing his face light up as he turned around was absolutely incredible. It was so nice to have just a moment to ourselves before the craziness of 80 guests!
After our first look, we got to see our entire wedding party and our families! One of my favorite prompts from our wedding party images was “walk as if you’re drunk!” We all laughed but the images actually turned out really good! I had a super hard time finding dresses that I wanted for my bridesmaids but when I found Azazie, I knew they were the one! They had every size (even custom sizing), shape, color, and style of dress and tie! They even had matching bow ties for Robbie and his nephews! I was so happy with the price, colors, and quality! If you’re a current bride or just looking for a dress or matching tie, I highly recommend Azazie!
I can’t imagine if we had to have done all pictures after the ceremony! Getting family pictures was so important to us because of everyone living so far away. I’m honestly so in love with how these images turned out! I tried to come up with every variation of image possible and I think it worked!
Our ceremony was absolutely perfect! I know I might be biased but it was a great combination of funny, serious, sentimental and unique! Some things that made our wedding different included our bridesmaids walking down the aisle with lanterns instead of bouquets, I walked down the aisle with both my parents (and again, no bouquet), we performed a hand ceremony during the wedding ceremony, and didn’t have our wedding party stand at the “alter” with us. As I walked down the aisle, my Godfather, Art, and his wife, Marilyn, sang “Can’t Help Falling in Love” by Elvis Presley! It meant so much to hear their beautiful voices as I walked down the aisle. Fun fact: they also sang at my mom’s wedding when she married my step-dad!!
Our officiant, Robbie‘s best friend Quentin, did an amazing job!! I can’t wait to share the video which has some snippets of our ceremony and wedding in real time! Look out for an update to this blog for our wedding video. You can also watch it “live” with us at our second reception here in New Zealand on December 14th (if you’re in the US it will be December 13th). We will be having a viewing “party” on our Facebook page – just give us a like so you don’t miss it!
One thing we made sure to do was look out at everyone. It’s hard to remember to take a second to breathe and see all your loved ones who are there to celebrate you! It was such an amazing feeling!
We wanted to incorporate something within our ceremony that we could remember for the rest of our lives. Something physical we could take home and keep forever. We thought about doing a sand ceremony but when I was researching officiant speeches and other things to do, I read a hand ceremony that I fell in love with. The night before our wedding, during our rehearsal, we made a sculpture of our hands which we then displayed at the ceremony and reception. Our bridesmaid, Michelle, and our groomsmen, Adam, performed our hand ceremony for us! Here’s what they said:
Michelle: Today, as you face each other and hold hands, I want to remind you of the gift these hands are. These are the hands of your best friend, young, strong, and full of love for you. These are the hands that are holding yours on your wedding day as you promise to love each other today, tomorrow and forever. These are the hands that will work alongside yours as together you build your future. These are the hands that will passionately love you and cherish you through the years, and with the slightest touch will comfort you like no other. These are the hands that will hold you when fear or grief temporarily comes your way. These are the hands that will countless times wipe the tears from your eyes, tears of sorrow and tears of joy.
Adam: These are the hands that will give you support and encouragement to chase down your dreams. These are the hands that will hold you tight as you struggle through difficult times. These are the hands that will give you strength when you need it. These are the hands that will lift your chin and brush your cheek as they raise your face to look into eyes that are filled with overwhelming love for you. And lastly, these are the hands that even when wrinkled and aged will still be reaching for yours, still giving you the same unspoken tenderness with just a touch.
And after our ceremony we took a few last-minute group photos including photos with our friends! I definitely recommend doing this! It was so much fun and such a good memory of who was there to celebrate with us!
Now, for the party! We did a grand entrance with our wedding party and went straight into our first dance. Our first dance was to the song “This Is It” by Scotty McCreery. After our first dance, so many people told us that it looked like we had practiced a lot and choreographed our dance. Truth be told, we had never actually practiced!
And it was also our first time seeing our reception venue set up! It looked better than I ever imagined! The team at Shadowridge Golf Club used my drawing diagrams, explanations, and all our decor to make my dreams come true! I 100% trusted that they would make it look beautiful and they did just that!!
I LOVED how our centerpieces and cake table turned out! Wedding Apparel NZ did an incredible job with our custom wine labels which we used as table identifiers. Each place was somewhere in the world that meant a lot to us. We even included a little snippet on why it was important! We also had custom luggage tags for each guest to take home. They were a HUGE hit!
After our first dance and some food, it was time for speeches! Everyone did such an incredible job – even if some of the speeches were slightly embarrassing (but that’s what makes it fun right?!). They had the whole room laughing!!
Then, it was finally time to dance! We did three special dances – mother/son, mother/daughter, and father/daughter! It was absolutely perfect!
And last, but certainly not least, the dance floor opened up to guests! What a day!
A quick but big thank you again to our amazing vendors (especially our coordinators Anna and Codie from Shadowridge Golf Club), our family and friends who made time to celebrate with us, and to our wedding party for all their help and love! We couldn’t have done it without all of you there!