A very kiwi wedding

Hi All.  So…  I got married last week.  And instead of overwhelming you with a million blog posts on every little detail, I’m just going to do this ridiculously huge long wall-of-text post about the planning and wedding because I do want to share with you some of my thought processes of the whole event!  It was quite possibly the most un-weddingist wedding ever, which I’ll admit was kind of the idea.  So without further ado, I present to you my no frills kiwi wedding.


It was 6 months before the wedding and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a WAIT a minute what the heck?!

Hey all, so it’s June.  And even though you won’t read this until December, I’m still writing to you, from way back in June.  I’ve got some news to share.

D and I have decided to get married.  And we’ve decided to keep it a secret.  And, do you have any idea how hard that is?

So in order to slake my desire to blog and pin and tell everyone, I’m keeping a sort of “blogjournal” to be posted at a later time.

I’ve already missed a fair bit.  Like, we actually decided to get married ages ago.  I don’t remember exactly when.  It happened rather organically (probably when we realized we would end up in the USA someday and would have to get married).  And as our plans for moving to the USA came ever closer, suddenly it became most sensible to try and get married when D graduates later this year (December) and some of his family comes to town.

Sadly, this means that none of my family or my USA friends will be attending.  In fact, most of them don’t even know this is in the works (sorry, guys!).  But we have to do what is best for us.  And considering we knew we’d need to get married in the next year, we decided to do it sooner rather than later, and do it our way.

Now what was our way?  Our way was originally going to be just going to the courthouse or whatever here in Dunedin and signing the papers.  I’d already made up my mind that I didn’t have the time to plan a big traditional wedding, we can’t afford it, and I have never really loved weddings.  And these days, I feel traditional weddings are a little bit out of control – that’s not really me.

But then of course, I started having ideas.  If you’ve met me, you know that I get these ideas and that is just that.  So I had the idea of having an outdoor tramping wedding.  I know, I know, I’m obsessed.  So is D.  This is why we’re so perfect.  I started thinking of places where we could get married more or less in a remote alpine location, but that our few guests wouldn’t have to walk hours or days to get to.  But I just couldn’t think of a site near to Dunedin that would work.

Then in June, D and I did a tramp in the Livingstone Ranges.  It wasn’t the perfect tramp (I was freezing for some of it, we discovered we hate bush bashing, etc. etc.).  But it did make me think that the perfect location to get married was Key Summit.  It’s totally accessible (1 hour’s walk from The Divide) and has a very remote alpine feel.  You’re surrounded by tall peaks and huge fiordland lakes, and it really ticked all the boxes.

But I had to convince D.  I spent a week or so working on him, and we finally agreed that Key Summit would be the place.

Then we had to decide: Just us?  Just a few people?  Or tell everyone?

We elected to just invite/tell a few people.  D’s family, and a few of our NZ & AUS-based friends.  Yes, my family and friends are going to be gutted (we eventually told my immediate family and about 3 MN friends), but no one wants to (pay to) fly all the way to NZ for a wedding.  We decided there would be some sort of MN party in 2016.

A few things had to come together for this hairbrained idea to even get off the ground (let’s not even start about the weather because obviously that has yet to be seen).  I had to convince D that we could still do it on the cheap.  Like, we’re talking super cheap here folks.  So we came up with an acceptable budget.

Then I found a photographer I absolutely loved, who absolutely blew the budget out of the water.  So I had to ask Mom and Dad if they’d help pitch in.  And let’s not forget the celebrant.  Here in NZ, you can only be married a registered celebrant.  It’s apparently quite a difficult process.  How many celebrants would be willing to tramp up a mountain?

Well, I shouldn’t have been that surprised, but there was the perfect person to be our celebrant in the town nearest to our location.  She used to be the head guide for the Milford track and works for DOC.  Once I had her confirmed, the rest is history.

So thus far, I’ve booked our photographer and celebrant and accommodation for the wedding.  I’ve made a number of consolations to our budget:

  • I’ll be doing my own hair and make-up
  • I’ll be wearing shoes I already own (but have never worn!)
  • We’re not having a videographer (we’ll put my camera on a tripod, or we’ll ask a friend)
  • We’re not even going out to dinner afterwards, instead we’ll host a meal at our rented house
  • I’ll probably make our cake
  • Our Dunedin celebration will be a BBQ

There are a number of other things that will help keep our cost down as well which aren’t even a thing.  I’ve always planned to make my own dress.  We’re not going to have any attendants, flower girls, etc. etc.  We are literally going to walk up a hill, have the ceremony, have a BYO picnic, take some photos, walk back down and then have dinner at our house and call it a day.  No picking out favours, table runners, themes, colours, attendants.  No decorations.  I really only have 4 things to worry about:

  1. Weather.  Will it s**t itself on our set day?  Please, Weather God, send us a decent day.
  2. Dress.  Try not to stuff it up.
  3. The Secret.  Will our secret wedding manage to stay a secret?
  4. MN friends and family.  Will they ever speak to me again when they find out I secretly got married?  I sure hope so!  We’ll still have a party, guys!  Only without that boring ceremony bit.  😀

So there you go.  We’re only 5 and a half months out, and really all I need to do is invite people, make my dress, sort the flowers and the rings.  (Pretty much just the fun stuff!  Wheeeee!).



Hey, so it’s been months now since I did my first “post”.  We’ve been back from our grand USA trip where we ended up telling my family and a couple of friends our big news.  This has resulted in both my Mom and sister booking tickets back to NZ for the wedding – which is pretty exciting.  I had consoled myself with the fact that my family wouldn’t be represented on our day – but now they will be so it will be all that much more special!  So adding to the wedding planning is helping my Mom and sister plan their NZ holiday!

The first week back I was very busy doing wedding stuff.  I found a ring I liked that was within our budget (seriously, a miracle) on trademe and snatched it up once I confirmed with a local jeweler that it could be re-sized (it will have to sit on my middle finger since much like the rest of my freak-sized body, I have freakishly small fingers.  But this is fine since I’m sure I can pick up a wedding band for my ring finger, and the ring actually wouldn’t suit a band we could afford – so they’ll be fine on separate fingers.  Also, nothing about this wedding is going to be traditional, so why would the engagement ring be?  Am I right?).

I also went ahead and ordered my dress fabric.  Some is coming from the USA, but the lace is actually by NZ company Charles Parsons.

And we put down a deposit on the house we’re renting for D & my family for the wedding weekend.  That was a bit of a mission as because it’s graduation weekend, a lot of the better, cheaper houses were already gone.  But we’ve got one that will be OK.  It’s actually been super stressful.  Seriously, I can’t even imagine the stress involved in planning a large, proper wedding.  I’m already over this wedding planning business and this is like the smallest most frugal DIY wedding ever.

But most of the big things are done.  What’s left, you ask?

  1. Finish my test dress and make the real dress.
  2. Meet with the florist – Put down a deposit and order the flowers.

    Flower Inspiration. I absolutely adore this bouquet!!

  3. Find the wedding rings.
  4. Get the engagement ring re-sized.
  5. Buy D some new eyeglasses.
  6. Finish writing our ceremony, meet with the celebrant.
  7. Practice my wedding day hair and make-up! (Yes, I’m going to do my own.  Yes, it’s a scary thought).
  8. Pray to the weather gods and do a rain dance in order to get some decent weather for our actual wedding and then the rest of the weekend as we want to have an outdoor bbq wedding celebration on the Sunday afterwards.
  9. Not spend any money so we can pay for all of this foolishness.




So we are officially less than 3 weeks away from the big day.  It’s 18 days away actually.  I haven’t written much lately because I’ve been trying to manage the other big thing in my life – finding my next job.  So with me being over in the USA for 2 weeks at the end of October, it hasn’t left much room for wedding planning (or dressmaking!  I hadn’t actually even started it before I left for the USA.  Which, considering I arrived back to NZ on Nov 8, left me just over a month to make my wedding dress).  But my body has conveniently decided to have this whole DVT thing which means I’ve suddenly found I have a lot more time (I can’t really walk to work, go to the gym or go tramping).  The upside is that I’ve been making mad progress on my dress.

So here’s what I’ve done lately:

  1. Paid the photographer in full (our biggest wedding expense).
  2. Met with and paid a deposit on the florist.
  3. Purchased my wedding ring (ebay!).
  4. Had a make-up trial at Sephora (I didn’t love it but it was still interesting).
  5. Worked on my dress.
  6. Been in communication with the photographer and celebrant about rain back-up plans.
  7. Made shopping lists for the week of the wedding (I plan to do most of the catering.  I know this is a terrible idea but it’s still the plan).
  8. Buy a lot of booze.  We bought a shopping cart of bubbly, wine, beer and cider yesterday which will hopefully last most of our two receptions.   18 bottles of wine and 7 boxes of beer/cider seems like plenty, doesn’t it?
  9. Mailed Mom some of the fabric for the bunting she’s making (our 1 and only decoration!).

All I really need to do now is:

  1. Finish my dress.
  2. Practice my hair and makeup (yep probably should have done this by now).
  3. Cook and bake like crazy the week of the wedding.

I’m also on the famous last 4 weeks before the wedding ‘diet’ (how I hate that word).  Since I’m not able to be very active at present, I’ve really modified my diet and cut back the sugar big time (my self control is only human though, so I’m allowed a few squares of dark chocolate each day).  It will probably not make any difference in the long run as I’m really only 3 weeks out from the wedding now, but at least I won’t feel like a huge whale.

Well this might be my last entry before the big day.  Next weekend we’re meeting with the celebrant and doing some wedding site Recon in Te Anau.  Then on Dec 2 my Mom and Sister arrive from the USA.  They go on a mad road trip and then we meet up with them again on Dec 6 to go tramping.  I really hope my leg is up for it by then!  Then the wedding is on the 10th, D graduates on the 12th and we have our Dunedin BBQ reception on the 13th!  So it’s all going to be pretty crazy.  Fortunately there was a coupon recently for a massage/spa/facial deal, so I totally bought one for myself and am having that on the 3rd.  I know you’re not really supposed to get facials that close to the wedding but that was the earliest they could get me in.  I don’t think it will be an aggressive facial so I’m not too worried.  Actually, it’s not like I don’t care, but in all honesty, a wedding is just one day.  Yes I want it to be special, for the weather to be good, for our guests to have a good time and for us to look nice but I think I’m more stressed about finding my next job than I am about the wedding at present.  A wedding is just a day.  My next job could impact my entire future.


Monday, Nov 30

It’s like, 10 days until the wedding.  D and I went and met with our celebrant in Te Anau on Sunday, then scoped out wedding spots.  Our plan A is to get married at Key Summit – a popular spot 1 hour in (so an easy day walk) on the routeburn track.  On Sunday, it was pouring with rain and FREEZING.  It was a good day to scout because the weather was so atrocious.  We decided that if there was much rain, especially combined with wind, we would definitely get married in a “back-up” spot.

We should totally get married in weather like this, right?

We should totally get married in weather like this, right?

We also scouted some additional photo spots up the Milford Road.  By the time we got to Homer tunnel, it was actually snowing.  There was snow everywhere on the mountains, and really low.  It looked amazing.  We were encouraged that if the weather is decent enough for us to get married on Key Summit, there will be snowy mountains around us which will be epic.

We decided our backup plan would be to get married just on the shore of Te Anau or in our accommodation (worst case scenario) because dragging our guests out in inclement weather is a bit mean.

On Sunday I put the zipper into my dress and did the back seam (now I need to sew in the lining, finish the lining seam and sew on a hook and eye).  She’s getting close!

Today we went and got our wedding license.  In NZ, you need to apply at least 3 days before your wedding.  The license costs $122NZD.

We’ve also done some cleaning (as my Mom & Sister arrive in 2 days!), selected and notified our witnesses (got to make it legal!), and asked a couple of people to give speeches at our reception.

It seems as though it’s all coming together reasonably well.  Now, we watch the weather forecast and wait.



Hey!  I’ve been married a whole week now.  I suppose I should share how the actual week/day of went.  D and I are obsessed with tramping, as you know.  So as part of the wedding/D’s graduation madness, we decided to take our family tramping.  Our first problem was picking D’s family up from the airport in Queenstown.  My tiny car does not fit 5 people, packs and luggage.  We didn’t want to pay to rent a vehicle (like, $100/day here in NZ to rent a car, I’m not even joking).  Luckily, our good friend’s parents have 9 vehicles, including a ute.  We were lucky enough to borrow said ute.  Little did we know when we picked it up that it only had 220km on it!!  I mean, we knew it was a new car, but 220km!  When we returned it only Sunday, it had done nearly 1000km.  So on Sunday Dec 6 we picked D’s family up from Queenstown and met my family at the Fantail Falls carpark to do one of our favourite trips – Brewster Hut.  D and I outfitted most of the crew with packs, sleeping bags, some clothing and we carried all the food and did the cooking as well.

The fam at Brewster Hut!

The fam at Brewster Hut!

We came down on Monday, Dec 7 and drove back home to Dunedin and that evening I baked wedding cake #1: Gluten free lemon cheesecake.  On Tuesday Dec 8, I went to work, had my lash extensions done over my lunch hour and D and his dad did the shopping and ended up starting to cook our meat (for DIY burritos at our “reception”).  Actually… our flatmate ended up cooking all of the meat (slow cooked shredded pork).  Then on Tuesday night I cooked wedding cake #2: Carrot cake while one of D’s best friends from Aussie who was staying baked wedding cake #2: Banana cake with blueberries.

Wednesday Dec 9 in the morning, I went to work.  I then took D’s dad out to lunch while D had to attend a work meeting.  We then raced home (I was supposed to meet the florist at 2:30 – but we missed her.  At this point my earrings (ordered from etsy) had not arrived, nor had D’s new eyeglasses.  Ironically, the eyeglasses arrived on Friday (in time for D’s graduation) and my earrings arrived on Monday (after everything was over, seriously 5 weeks USPS?  I’m surprised it took that long.).  Luckily our friends were at home to meet the florist and we then loaded up our friend’s car with gear.  D and his dad then had to DIY a cooler for the flowers (we don’t have a large enough cooler) using a Tui beer box (classy!), a freezer pack, bubble wrap and tape – I really wish I had taken a photo.  So kiwi.  We left for Te Anau at 3:15.

My gorgeous flowers

My gorgeous flowers from Eden Flowers in Dunedin

We arrived into Te Anau at about 7 pm, dropped our stuff off and realized our rental house was totally not going to suit as a reception location after our wedding.  We panicked a little bit, dropped D’s Dad off with Dylan’s family and realized their rental house was perfect, went and had dinner with my sister and mum, D’s mum called their house owner to see if it was OK for us to have our reception there.  Then we raced to the supermarket before it closed at 9 (this is NZ, remember) and back out to our rental house where we had a relaxing spa and went to bed.

Thursday Dec 10 – the big day!  It’s sunny with a gale force wind (somewhat ominous).  I got up at 6 am to do my hair and makeup [later, I wonder why I bothered with my hair at all as the wind totally killed it].  Neither turned out nearly as well as when I had practised, but unfortunately I didn’t really have time to fix them.  D cooked me breakfast, loaded up the car (we had to drop all the reception stuff off at his Mum’s rental house) and we met our guests at 9 am to drive in convoy to the wedding location.

We arrive at the Divide at about 10:15 and the weather is s****ing itself.  Totally cloudy and raining.  The weather had been getting progressively worse the closer we got to the Divide.  So we had a powwow with our celebrant and photographer, and headed 10 min back down the road to get married in the sunny valley instead of on top of the mountain like we planned.  Such is life!

One of my fave photos of the day, taken by a friend

One of my fave photos of the day, taken by a friend

After we got changed, had our ceremony and some bubbles (totally forgot about our picnic – it was really windy and a bit chilly), D and I went off with our photographer for about 2 hours.  We finally arrived back in town at 3 pm and went to our “reception.”  We had some BYO drinks and nibbles, DIY burritos, speeches, pyramids and cake!  It was pretty relaxed and D and I left about 9 pm.  Though I now know why people have wedding receptions with dances.  Because if not, your guests come up with their own form of entertainment, and mine decided it would be awesome to build human pyramids…  And guess who always had to be on top?

Tiered wedding cakes are so passe. Also, glad to have had the forethought to wear bike shorts under my dress.

Tiered wedding cakes are so passe. Also, glad to have had the forethought to wear bike shorts under my dress.

And yes, that orange cardigan I’ve paired with the dress?  You’ve seen that before many times.  Yes, I purchased it secondhand on trademe some many years ago.  Yes, it was an afterthought to wear with the dress but actually I think it works seeing as orange seems to be my wedding colour.

DIY cakes!

DIY cakes!

Overall, I think the actual day was pretty awesome and relaxed – the best part was having friends and family from all over New Zealand and the world (yes, Minnesota and Australia) in attendance – some of who hadn’t seen each other in years.  We had a ton of help and support from our friends and family with food, wedding video/photos, drinks, etc.  It was a group effort.  Sure, the actual ceremony was a bit windy, but this is NZ.  The weather cannot be trusted.

Then on Saturday, Dec 12 D graduated with his doctorate, then that night had his stag do [this was literally the only time it could fit in, after the wedding.  I know, convention be damned!], then on Sunday Dec 13 we had another BBQ reception here in Dunedin which also included more friends, more home-made cakes and a DIY photo booth (which I was so disorganized I had to get my flatmates to bring blue tack to hang up the background).  Poor D lived in his suit nearly all weekend.  And lucky boy is wearing it again today at his Grandma’s funeral.

So we had a pretty ridiculous 7 days, all up.  At the time, it seemed like a good idea.  But by Sunday afternoon on Dec 13, both D and I were pretty shattered.  I guess that’s typical for a wedding though.

Dr & Dr

Dr & Dr

DIY photo booth

DIY photo booth – yeah the backdrop is just a random piece of fabric tacked onto the wall, I’ve put my camera on a tripod (and I have a remote control) and the costumes are the scant leftovers from about 8 years of costume parties.  The only investment was in blue-tack to hang the fabric.

And finally, I shall conclude with this disgustingly cute photo of the actual wedding ceremony.  I intend not to do another wedding post until we get our official photos back which will be super exciting for me and I will absolutely have to share with you!






3 thoughts on “A very kiwi wedding

  1. This was so interesting- a bit like going on the journey with you all in one post. I’m so glad at least some of your family got to come! I like how you made it low-key and low-stress. A wedding shouldn’t need to be a big, stressful production, but something to enjoy. And if that it a wedding the mountain with a picnic, then that is what it should be!

    Congratulations and best wishes on your marriage!

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