Tommo and I live on the North Shore in Auckland, we love escaping to Waiheke, getting into the sun whenever possible, doing work on our new house and spending time with our families. Tommo proposed at Man O’ War Bay one beautiful summer weekend when we’d bought over a bunch of my nearest and dearest Christchurch school friends. He had them all in on it – so while he whisked me away in private to drop the knee they were cracking into the champagne getting the after party started back at the house. It was just perfect.
We’re lucky enough to go to Waiheke regularly as Tommo’s family have a holiday home in Palm Beach they designed and built themselves – we love coming across year round, usually with our wonderful little travelling cat Knuckles. We really wanted to take the opportunity to show our 100 guests the Waiheke that we’ve fallen in love with – a place with a kind, creative community, incredible scenery and delicious fresh food – it’s so much more than the vineyards!
We spent a lot of time working on a detailed wedding website with our favourite local spots, from walks to wineries, shops and accommodation options which went down a treat with our guests and Waiheke turned on one amazing weekend of weather for our big day thankfully!
We were really specific with the kind of venue we wanted as we wanted to showcase the best of the island, have an incredible aerial view and have the ability to bring in a lot of our own vendors. After months of hunting we were thrilled when Tommo’s parents introduced us to their friends Sue and Gus who run The Nikau on Waiheke Road – it completely blew us away from our first visit.
We were the first wedding The Nikau had hosted so there was a lot of wedding planning involved. I loved every minute of it. I’m a Brand Manager in my normal life so love seeing a vision come together, it was so rewarding and all the long hours paid off. It was incredible to have Lauretta from XOX Waiheke along with us every step of the way – her knowledge of the island was invaluable and steered us perfectly throughout the year leading up to the big day.
Thankfully we had the best décor possible – sunny skies and incredible 180 degree views over the island and ocean. To complement this we went with a lot of white-on-white for simple elegance combined with dramatic and bold florals in deep reds, purples and blues, Vicki from Wildflower Waiheke did an incredible job. We avoided a specific ‘theme’ and stayed away from anything too ethereal, girly and pastel – that’s definitely not us! We also had special meaning throughout our décor – union jacks for my British family and menus on tracing paper as an ode to Tommo’s engineer Father plus our wedding arch was handmade by Tommo’s Dad and much of the other décor was by myself and my bridesmaids. We dotted our favourite scented candles throughout the marquee reception - I think scent is super important to creating atmosphere. My incredible friend Jenny also bought the wedding style to life in all our wedding stationary including funny notes in the toilets, quirky signs on the wedding transport and more – she nailed it!
Memorable moments of the day… We kept guest experience at the top of our list throughout planning so our big objective for the day was to create a happy and friendly vibe. To get people making new friends we set up a human bingo game after the ceremony which encouraged guests to approach each other with odd questions to complete their cards – watching this take place was hilarious, super rewarding and just the best feeling!
The ceremony was also one of the most memorable moments – there are no words to describe the intensity and all the love in that moment!
Both our Grandmas were with me as we walked down the aisle - I carried my Grandma's brooch which has been in the family since the 1800's along with Tommo's Grandmother's high school brooch - we went to the same Christchurch high school and really bonded over that.
Our speeches were for the books as well – there were some jaw-dropping one-liners from our folks. Finally our band Coachella were the most amazing fit, the party was the best of our lives.
Advice for other couples planning a Waiheke wedding… Relax and buckle up! Try and choose as many local vendors as possible: they work together so well, it’s important to give back to the island and it avoids you paying for numerous car ferries and accommodation.
The Boathouse and Charlies are perfect for relaxed pre and post wedding gatherings, and there is a retirement village in Ostend that will be thrilled with your leftover flowers. Some things will run on island time, allow yourself to relax and trust the experts. Face to face meetings with your island vendors go a long way so treat yourself to loads of site visits to the island - enjoy!
Do whatever you can to give your guests a great taste of the island outside of the big name wineries – how could they not love it!
Finally, look at each wedding tradition and discuss if it’s right for you two so you’re not simply going through the motions – we limited our formal family photos, paid our musicians to learn our special songs and put the money that would otherwise be spent on wedding favours into a donation to the Women’s Refuge on our guests behalf.
Venue: The Nikau www.thenikau.co.nz
Planner/Stylist: Lauretta from XOX Waiheke www.xoxwaiheke.com
Photographers: The Official Photographers http://www.theofficialphotographers.org
Videographer: Next Chapter Videos http://nextchaptervideos.co.nz
Wedding Dress: Made With Love https://www.madewithlovebridal.com
Bridesmaid's Dresses: Friend of Audrey https://www.friendofaudrey.com.au
Groom & Groomsmen Suits Hallensteins https://www.hallensteins.com
Celebrant: Anne Johnson http://www.waihekecelebrant.co.nz
Hairdresser: Darren Meredith
Makeup Artist: Grayson Coutts https://www.graysoncoutts.com
Florist: Wildflower Waiheke http://www.wildflowerwaiheke.com
Caterer: Sherri Hinch
Cake Maker: My Mum, Stepmum and Tommo's Mum
Guest Favours: Donation to Women's Refuge on behalf of our guests
Ceremony Music: Lily Jackson
Reception Music: Coachella http://www.coachella.nz
Transport: Fullers https://www.fullers.co.nz
Any stand out suppliers? Our standout wedding suppliers were Lauretta from XOX Waiheke, The Official Photographers and Made With Love - I am so in love with that lace!
To view Alex & Tommo’s wedding highlights video visit: