Mirize & Alistair's Black Barn Bistro wedding in Hawke's Bay


The pressure of planning what we’re all told will be the best day of our lives can all seem a bit much right at the start of the process, so I thought the way Mirize and Alistair elected three aspects that mattered most to them and focused their ideas and energy around them was a brilliant way to create a wedding with wow that was unique to them. The top billing thing for them was location. They wanted a place that was central for guests coming from across New Zealand and Australia and somewhere that was an awesome destination in its own right, not just for a wedding.

“Alistair’s parents live in Havelock North and we’d spent a lot of time visiting Hawke’s Bay for holidays,” explains Mirize. “We have so many fond memories cycling along the ocean, going for walks up Te Mata Peak, drinking wine and eating amazing food. After moving to Australia we really missed that part of the world and wanted to share this special location with all of our friends and family.”

To make the most of the epic location they’d chosen in a way that didn’t take away from time spent enjoying the other two priorities for their day (having fun and enjoying great food and wine), Mirize and Alistair had a ‘First Look’ - something we always plan to be intimate, emotional, beautiful and shot discretely from a distance with two cameras.

Hawke’s Bay is world-famous for it’s sunshine, food and wine, but from a visual perspective it’s the monolithic Te Mata Peak that often steals the headlines. We were definitely heading up there for some truly epic Hawke’s Bay wedding photography, but I was stoked that Mirize got ready at an amazing property in the Tukituki valley which had views back to the Peak which you don’t normally see.

Black Barn Winery just outside Havelock North was key to ticking off item number two on Mirize and Alistair’s short list of wedding priorities: good food and wine. One of New Zealand’s most awarded winery restaurants, ‘good’ really doesn’t do the Black Barn Bistro justice. With a food philosophy based around seasonality and local artisan suppliers, it’s definitely a treaty place to take your nearest and dearest to celebrate a wedding. But although we love dinner time at Black Barn, it’s the immediate landscape the Bistro sits in that is most yummy to us. Rustic in a completely natural and unpretentious way, the space is really amazing for wedding photography and often we don’t even leave the property during a wedding based there. For Mirize and Alistair’s wedding we just popped into one space beside the Olive Shed. As always, having way too many amazing locations at our fingertips is a frustratingly fabulous problem to have!

We spent about an hour and a half shooting the creative session with the bridal party. Over the course of 600-odd weddings I’ve found that’s about the right length of time to create some really gorgeous photography that’s shot at a pace where we can have a laugh but not feel worn out by the process. When photos are shot before the ceremony there’s a little more flexibility with the timeline, and we took advantage of this and created a special ‘first look’ for Dad as well, so that Mirize could present him with a beautiful artwork that celebrated the family name she would soon be giving up. It was such an emotional moment even I had a few tears in my eyes.

Finally, after what had already felt like the most amazing, fun, glorious day, we got to the bit we’d all been waiting for; the ceremony. I often think it’s a little strange that a wedding is such a massive day but that the actual marriage is over so quickly. For that reason, I think it’s really important there are two of us getting totally different images and angles of huge moments that are over in seconds.

Last but not least in the list of wedding day must-haves for Mirize and Al was a little wee word that pretty much dominates our entire approach to wedding photography: fun. While technical and creative skills are important to what we do, having fun with you so that we get candid, joyful, natural images that will remind you how your wedding day felt is our primary objective. Our secondary objective is actually to capture what often seems the opposite of fun; loads of crying. Tears of joy were a big feature of Mirize and Alistair’s reception so I was really glad Andrew was there all night to capture those emotional moments.

It is FULL ON being a bride and groom, so we are HUGE fans of helping our couples create a timeline that lets them get away from the crazy, awesome chaos for a little while and enjoy some ‘alone time’, preferably at sunset, with a long lens. It gives you a chance to reconnect quietly and talk about the day so far, before launching back into the reception.

When I asked Mirize what the highlight of her day was, she told me there were just too many to choose from, but that if she were to use one word to describe the experience of marrying Alistair at Black Barn, it would be ‘perfect’.

We are so lucky to be part of that sort of vibe, and also lucky that so many of our couples let us share their personal love stories and the images that go with them. I asked Mirize to describe the experience of having us with her for the day, because I think the idea can seem a bit intimidating at first…

“We knew right from the start that we wanted Eva Bradley as our photographer. Every time we googled wedding venues in Hawke’s Bay it was Eva's photos that would come up. Without her beautiful online albums it would've been impossible to choose a venue since we live so far away and couldn't visit the venues. I felt so relaxed on my wedding day because I knew how organised Eva and Andrew were.  I never once had to check my watch or phone because Eva was keeping track of the whole day and coordinating with the boys as we did photos before the ceremony. She even managed to keep my bridal party of opinionated and strong-headed lawyers and teachers in line, which is an incredible achievement! Eva and Andrew were fun, professional and incredibly talented. We were so impressed with the quality of our photos and with how quickly we received them. I would highly recommend them to anyone looking for a great photographer.”


PHOTOGRAPHERS: Eva Bradley & Andrew Caldwell

VENUE: Black Barn Bistro, Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand

DRESS: Sugar & Spice Bridal / HAIR: Volume Hair / MU: Vania Bailey // FLORALS: Botanical Lane // CELEBRANT: Fiona Cleary // CAKE: Pretty Little Details FLORALS: Botanical Lane