The Big Day

From left: B's dress, S's dress, flowergirl's dress

Our wedding day is now long gone, but in the calm of a quiet Sunday afternoon, I’ve found the time – and mental space – to put it all down into words. Or at least to try – how do you capture such a day?

To backtrack a little, the week leading up to the Big Day was a beautiful, busy whirlwind. Family descended on us from all over the country, and everyone pitched in with the preparations.

We had a combined family dinner on the Tuesday night, at one of our favourite restaurants, Cafe Istanbul, and made lists of all the remaining jobs over dessert. On Wednesday, we sent the menfolk off to visit Southwards Car Museum while we had a girls’ day, shopping for decorations, lunching at the fantastic Maranui Cafe and visiting Te Papa. On our arrival home, we discovered the guys had built us a tiered vege garden!

Thursday was something of a mixed bag – our Amazing Race didn’t go quite to plan, but we made up for the stress caused by it with an epic dinner at our place in the evening. Most of the extended family arrived in time to join us, so our wee house was quite full. It gave us all the energy we needed for the epic work of Friday, in which we decorated the venue (my brother hung metres and metres of fairy lights), arranged flowers, rearranged furniture and laid tables. Phew!

A talented family friend arranged all the flowers, including our bouquets

The Big Day

First Stop: Aro Hair Studio

B.’s mum drove us into town with a bag full of treats to keep us going through the morning. Our hairdresser was great, and we’d prepped him well too – he managed to create almost exactly what we had described to him, and made it suit us too! Despite Wellington’s gusty wind, our hair stayed looking good all day.

Second Stop: Beaute Ultime

B. had researched make up artists well in advance, as we both use natural products and felt that it was important to look like ourselves on the day. Carolyn Kirby was just the woman for the job! She has a beautiful salon, and uses Dr. Haushka, Jane Iredale and other similar ranges. She made us feel so comfortable and look like the best versions of ourselves.

Third Stop: The Venue!

We are very lucky to have a friend who is a celebrant, and whose home is often used as a venue for weddings and workshops, and we knew right from the start that we wouldn’t be having our wedding anywhere else! We arrived looking glamorous but wearing jeans, and after a quick lunch, we were hustled downstairs to change into the dresses. The Photographer arrived to get some lovely shots of us with our mums getting ready…

Our earrings, B's of pouanumu, S's by Tanya Bentley

The back detail of B.'s dress, loving made by the hands seen here

We had our photo shoot before the ceremony (just as B.’s parents had done 35 years earlier) on the same property, among the kanuka and pine trees. B.’s uncle came along as driver, bag carrier and light disc positioner.

In the back of the Rav, heading off to take photos

Parasols from Wah Lee's in Auckland

By the time we returned to the house (only slightly windswept), almost all our guests had arrived. We stole a few quiet moments in the meditation room where our rings had been waiting their big moment…

Our wedding bands - yellow and white gold - engraved 'Hand in Hand'

… before they were collected by our friend, the celebrant, and handed over to S.’s brother, who is much too old to be a ringbearer in the traditional sense (despite having some practice at it…). Then again, we didn’t do much in a traditional way – one of the most liberating realisations we had at the very start of all the planning was that we didn’t have to stick to ‘the rules’, because there aren’t any for lesbian weddings! It was very important to us to have our families involved, so as well as S.’s brother, her sister was her witness, and B.’s witness was the closest thing she has to a sister, and our flowergirl was B.’s little cousin.

We also involved some of our friends in the ceremony itself. In particular, M. brought an aspect of New Zealand spirituality that we value very highly. Instead of music as we entered, she performed a karanga to call us in. The sound of her voice ringing out across the garden was spinetingling and instantly grounding; it set the tone for what was to come. B. and the celebrant had written most of the ceremony, drawing on different sources and traditions to make a ritual that uniquely suited and complemented us. Many of our guests commented on it, and S.’s sister has declared she will ‘steal some of our words’ when her time comes in a few years. One of the things we chose to include was a candle-lighting ceremony that involved each set of parents lighting a candle and passing it on to their daughter, and we lit a third candle together from those two. The wind played havoc with this moment, but it made for a great photo (and quite symbolic too):

We had this photo blockmounted and it now hangs above our piano (a wedding gift from S.'s parents)

The ceremony ended with blessings of the four quarters read by four dear friends, and then we were married!

The group photos and reception all flowed smoothly, and the meal was something we’d done differently also. On our handmade invitations, we had requested that our guests bring a plate of food to share instead of a present, and so we had a potluck wedding dinner, full of tasty dishes. S.’s lovely colleague made a beautiful lemon wedding cake, and she even included some purple (S.’s notoriously favourite colour).

It tasted even better than it looked - and disappeared fast!

We had a chance to recreate the candle-lighting ceremony after speeches. We both spoke, then our parents (with a hilariously over-scripted double-act toast from the fathers), S.’s siblings and B.’s ‘sister’. It was the only entertainment we needed all night!

The 'head table' with candles from the ceremony, handfasting cord and bouquets.

When people started drifting homeward at the end of the evening, they took with them the beeswax candles we had placed on the tables, as a gift and a reminder of their promise to support us in our new adventure together. They also took the winecharms we had made over the Christmas holidays for everyone.

Our flowergirl picked out 60 different beads for us

Quite a few guests also left us gifts to enjoy opening the next morning, despite our instructions not to! But we were and are so lucky to have shared this wonderful day with so many people who love and support us.

And now it’s been shared here too 🙂


(And this has been S.’s first foray into writing on this blog. Such an epic post!)


4 thoughts on “The Big Day

  1. Anne-Marie says:

    Congratulations, beautiful ladies! Your photos are divine; I particularly love the red and white dresses. The description of the ceremony was very moving, it nearly brought tears to my eyes. May you have many happy years together.

  2. Pombagira says:

    just lovely, thank you for sharing your memories of your wonderful day. the two of you are so beautiful today!!

    **blessings and loves***

  3. Aimee says:

    You couldn’t have described the day better! It was truly magical and so, so personal to you as a couple. You were both breathtaking brides. Much love,

    Aimee XO

  4. Sandy says:

    Loved reading about your special day. Beautifully written and a great memory of a precious event.

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