When you're in the business of being front and centre at dozens of big white weddings every year, how do you decide to exchange your own vows? For Taupo celebrant Samantha Johnston, the answer was simple; very differently. With only eight guests (plus me tagging along in lucky 9th place), Sam and Brad eloped to exclusive New Zealand hunting lodge, Poronui, tucked away in the crisply beautiful Taharua Valley.
One of the most wonderful things about being a wedding photographer is seeing how an event with so many common elements can be interpreted so differently by individuals who bring their own story and aesthetic to their day. Michael and Saasha were a fantastic couple to work with because with their wedding, as with their love for each other, they knew right from the start what they wanted.
Ashlin and Elyse got hitched in Hawke's Bay at a lovely, laid-back little winery called Crab Farm, just on the edge of the coastal settlement of Bay View, near Napier. The wedding they wanted was 'chic boho' with a chilled and relaxed vibe. "That's why we chose Crab Farm, because it ticked all those boxes'.
Hawke's Bay weddings pose a bit of a conundrum: coast or country? There is so much of both that it can often be hard to decide, so Nikky and Sam found a little off-the-beaten-track place where they could combine both. Clifton Cafe is authentically Kiwi. From the red corrugated iron through to the simple number-8 fencing wire separating the paddock from the wide expanse of the South Pacific Ocean. Under a home-made floral arch in front of their friends and family, this is Nikky and Sam's love story. We hope you enjoy it!
A picture is said to tell a thousand words, and in so many ways I find this to be true when photographing people in love. But I still believe in the power of words to put love in context, generate emotion and record history in the same ways we do with our cameras. Douglas' speech after he married his childhood sweetheart, Sophia, was so honestly written that I asked if he would let me share it with you. This is their love story, told by our images...and his words...
James and Jo's great love began 14 years ago and it was amazing to see how the emotional energy created by a wedding day was able to take them both back there to the feelings we all remember from the start of a relationship.
There are a couple of things key things that, as a photographer, contribute to making a wedding really memorable and special for me. First, it's good, old-fashioned chemistry. A couple who are IN LOVE, all capitals. It's nothing to do with how they look, it's all about how they are together. Secondly, it's a location that isn't just beautiful, but historical. A place that has generations of family memories layered on it, and I'm a big part of making some more very special ones.
Occasionally people ask if I ever get bored shooting weddings (I've shot about 600, so it's a fair question!). I can confidently say 'no' because, for me, it's not the wedding that excites and interests me, it's the people. And even though it's bound to happen someday, I've yet to shoot the same bride twice. And I've never shot a bride like Kelly. She is a free spirit, a courageous, strong woman with the softest heart. When I found out she was getting married on my 40th birthday at Waipatiki Beach, I knew I had my party plans sorted.
We are mostly Hawke's Bay wedding photographers, but for that reason, we love the chance for a good old-fashioned roadie to discover new creative spaces for wedding photography and to tell different stories. It's especially cool (literally and figuratively!) when the roadie is to Waihi Beach right bang smack in the middle of winter.
London locals, Katy and Andrew really wanted a proper Kiwi home-coming for their wedding, and so the lovely little locations of Eskdale and Bay View (where Katy grew up) set the scene for a gloriously simple and beautiful Hawke's Bay country wedding.
After a long love affair, Michali and Bree made things official at Millar Road, high on the Hawke's Bay hills looking back to the coastline of Napier and in the heart of the beautiful Tukituki valley. "We picked the venue because it was somewhere different that most people hadn't herd of.
It was a treat for us to take our creative show on the road to Oreti Village in the tiny lakeside settlement of Pukawa, on the western shores of Lake Taupo. A wilderness of native New Zealand bush and early Maori and Colonial history, the area promised us some exciting opportunities to play in a very different landscape from our normal haunts as Hawke's Bay wedding photographers.
Ben and Ruth are a chilled out Kiwi couple who believe in keeping it real. They wanted a wedding that reflected that, with a focus on friends, family and the things that matter rather than the complicated trimmings. A country wedding at the chocolate-box-cute church down the road from Ruth's parents' home was followed by a reception at the local hall of small Hawke's Bay settlement, Maraekakaho.
There's a wish-list most couples have when it comes to the perfect wedding. But dreams are sometimes hard to transform to reality, so I was absolutely stoked with the way Sam and Gareth's Black Barn Market wedding finally came together.
Anyone planning a wedding knows they can be complicated. That's why we adore engagement sessions. They are, quite simply, about two people in love. There's no dress to fuss over, no bridal party looking on, no timelines to stick to beyond those set by Mother Nature and there aren't 100 people waiting for us to hurry up and be creative so the party can get started.
Rochelle and Mark imagined a wedding that was 'a bit traditional but with pops of fun and colour and a spash of glam'. The Mission provided the perfect backdrop for that when we all came together for their spring wedding day.
Every time I've had an email from a bride asking me to shoot their wedding at Oruawharo in Central Hawke's Bay, I've rushed to my diary in a fever of excitement and always been gutted to discover I'm already booked. When Kate got in touch almost 18 months ago, I was like a kid in a candy story to discover I was free as a bird on her date. When we met at the grand old homestead for High Tea and a planning session, my excitement levels blew out entirely...
I met Rachel at a wedding at the start of the season.When she told me she was planning her own big day I immediately started a subliminal 'pick me, pick me' chant, which turned into what I call 'The Photographer's Dance of Joy' when she booked me a little while later. What a fox. Add to this a 110-watt smile brought on in the presence of new hubby Dan, and you have a recipe for incredible wedding photography.
We all know weddings are about love, commitment and happy every after. But one thing that became pretty clear as Emma and Pete's day went on is that it was also about having the most fun day of their lives, bar none. Happiness is one of the most intoxicating drugs, and by the time these two were spinning on the dance floor at Craggy Range Winery, my entire face was hurting from smiling so much.
The very first shot I took at Innes and Carrie's Hawke's Bay wedding pretty much set the tone for the rest of the day: Carrie was sitting cross-legged on the floor getting a massage from her Aunty. Being relaxed on your wedding day is something all brides aspire to but few can pull it off.
Ashlee & Nick had their 'first look' beside the Maimai on the property they recently bought and will one day live on. I like to think that every time Nick now goes duck shooting there with the lads, he'll also remember the very first moment he saw his future wife.
For Ashhurst dairy farmers Wendy & Richie, June 20th, 2015 was a day on the farm unlike any other. For a start, the milking shed was swapped for an in-home salon, where six already foxy besties rapidly turned into six smoking hot bridesmaids, and the girl everyone knows and loves in gumboots and jeans had her Cinderella moment and was transformed.
A white dress with lashings of black lace, a Harley Davidson thundering down the drive and two people in love while the sun sets. Sounds like a wedding worth looking at. Cole & Ellyce were married at The Old Church, Napier, in March.
While boys dream of growing up and driving diggers, little girls dream of finding Mr. Right and having the perfect white wedding. Some of those dreams were doubtless had while Margot was a student sitting quietly in the beautiful chapel of her school, Woodford House
The Farm at Cape Kidnappers is one of the most beautiful destination wedding venues in New Zealand. 6,000 acres of jaw-dropping land and seascapes wrap around the rim of the Pacific Ocean along the rugged coastline of Hawke's Bay.Rustic luxury dominates the architecture, which takes its cue from the original woolshed still operating at this exclusive New Zealand wedding venue