Tying the Knot in a Meaningful and Memorable Way (Without Losing Our Savings or Sanity)

Friday, April 24, 2009

Genie + Kelvin

Photos courtesy Delphine Photography

Imagine a wedding focused on community, commitment, connection, fun, and--a cave. I'm excited to let you immerse yourself in a little bit of magic off the New Zealand coast. Genie, please divulge all the details (and the big, important stuff, too)...


Our ceremony was held outside Kelvin's parents home at Rapaki Beach. We were always inspired when we visited Kelvin's parents at Rapaki so it wasn't hard to decide that we wanted to get married there too. Our reception was about 10 minutes away at The Cave, Redcliffs, Christchurch, New Zealand. The Cave is an underground cave that was used during the war to store munitions. Christchurch is on the other side of New Zealand from where we live in Auckland but we didn't let the distance stop us.

How your wedding was a memorable and meaningful celebration focused on community, commitment, connection and fun?

We wanted to personalise our wedding wherever possible.

Our aim was to have a fun, day filled with colour and fun activities. There were certain things that just screamed to be DIY - our decorations - I folded 1000 paper cranes for the wish of a happy marriage. These also set an oriental theme that ran through the day. Bouquets and button holes were DIY by me using fabric flowers, ribbons and feathers. While we love fresh flowers, they only last a few days and it seemed unreasonable for us to spend so much on flowers. So we shopped around for flowers and feathers. Ribbons were a bit harder but we managed to buy about 400 metres of coloured ribbon for $15NZ ($8US)! We were originally quoted $300NZ ($170US) for ribbon (in which case we wouldn't have bought ribbon) but $15NZ was totally possible.

Our families were really involved in the planning process and we wouldn't have it any other way. It's nice to be able use people's strengths to your advantage.

My mum sewed the sashes and boleros as well as shopped for lots of oriental decorations during her perfectly timed trip to China last year.

Kelvin's father made the lantern holders used to line the path to the beach and the aisle. Kelvin's parents planted flowers in our wedding colours months ahead for the guests to enjoy.

My sister bound our guest book.

Our caterers specialise in spit roast which was meaningful to us as our relationship has been strengthened over the last 7 years over roast dinners at home shared with friends.

Our locations were very much a celebration of the land. Beside Rapaki beach is an amazing natural pyramid which is mentioned during the ceremony. Rapaki Beach itself is a Maori settlement and is one of the bays in the area with very few houses.

I wanted both parents to walk me down the aisle as they both important to me. We factored in a lot of hugs into the ceremony to cement the idea of joining our 2 families. Kelvin and I hugged both sets of parents during the ceremony. Our parents walked out arm in arm with each other. eg. Kelvin's mum walked down the aisle with my dad.

We wrote our own vows and though they were long, we were told they were fabulous and there wasn't a dry eye in the house. We also passed our rings around to key guests for a ring blessing to involve our loved ones.

As our reception venue was very dark - lit entirely by candles and fairly lights, we set up a photo booth with our own digital camera and tripod with fun props so that people could have a place for flash photography. Our props we collected over the last few months and we also have lots of borrowed props like dress up gloves, a fox, a red cow boy hat. It was so much fun going through our camera the next day seeing the relatively tame first photo booth photos to the more risque photos as the night went on.

Music was important to us and we wanted the nights playlist to reflect our musical tastes as a couple, but also wanted some community input. We requested 2 song requests from our guests as part of the RSVP card. We got some great responses and the dance floor was busy all night.

We had helpers cleaning up the big stuff from the beach on the wedding day, but the next day, we cleaned up the beach more thoroughly. It was actually really nice walking along the path to the beach with a bag and taking down our decorations. Ok, so we may have left 2 paper cranes up for others to enjoy.

We think that having most of our guests travel out of town to our wedding made it more festive. It meant that everyone was on holiday mode for a few days rather than just driving down the road to our wedding and having only 1 day of wedding festivities.

What was your ultimate budget?

At first we decided that $10k would be a nice number but in the end we spent $13k ($7200US). We were happy with that. There is nothing we would change in terms of spending. We shopped around and really brought down the prices of things.

The things we splurged on were The Cave, the boys' suits and quality wine and beer. We do not regret these at all. I think having a reception in an underground cave is something that our friends and family will remember for years to come.

Get quotes from a range of vendors! There are people that that are genuinely talented at what they do without charging the earth. We paid a fraction of the price for some things because we got plenty of quotes and were able to make educated decisions. Our photographer had only just started to do wedding photography so we got her at amazing price. So lucky!

Some things we saved on:

Nibbles. Instead of paying $10 head for canapes ($600+ total), we put together our own cheese and fruit platters and bought trays of mini sandwiches and sushi from a bakery and a sushi place. The food was divine (and healthy). I think it's always better to buy sushi made by sushi chefs instead of by caterers. Cheaper too! (No offense to caterers).

My dress. We had it made to measure in China from a local seller. It cost about a third of what the stores were charging and took a quarter of the time to arrive. I'm not a lace and beads kind of girl so that really helped to bring the cost down. My dress cost less than the outfits of some of our guests!

BYO drinks and caterers. Kelvin's parents have a close friend that sells wine and was able to sell it to us at wholesale prices. So we managed to get fantastic wine at low prices. She also organised beer, glasses etc for us and organised for her and another staff to be bartenders during the night.

Any advice you have for other wedding planning folks?

No matter what you do, there will always be someone that thinks your wedding is not traditional enough and there will be someone that things your wedding is too "out there". Just do what feels right for you.

There were some little details that were forgotten on the day. But in hindsight, those details matter less and less.

Feed your vendors. They will appreciate it and for the $30 or so you spend on their dinner, they will go so much further for you in their appreciation.

Where can we bask in more lovely glimpses into your celebration?

Share |


Melissa Hall said...

Genie, your wedding is so beautiful and it looks like so much fun! Congratulations and kudos for planning such a unique and wonderful wedding.

Yivinns said...

Wow, your wedding looks like it was about having a good time! Very beautiful! Thanks for sharing. :]

Sarah said...

Feed your vendors is an excellent bit of advice. My fiance used to do wedding photography and he hated it when he didn't get fed, since his other option would be to brownbag it... at a wedding. Give your vendors 15, 30 minutes to eat and they'll be much better at what they do.

Wedding Planning said...

Love the beach wedding themes!

Related Posts with Thumbnails