Production manager Fiona Farrell, 49, noticed chief executive Philip Pigou, 54, when he walked in to an Auckland wine bar. A year later he proposed in the city of love, Paris.
How did you meet? "We met at Molten wine bar in Mt Eden Village," says Fiona. "I was catching up with a girlfriend and he caught my eye as he walked in. When he smiled I saw into his beautiful, kind soul and he triggered my curiosity. He eventually came over and introduced himself. We started a conversation and we haven't stopped talking (and laughing) since! Philip lived and worked in Wellington and was due to fly back the next day but we had such a great connection that he changed his flight so he could take me out to dinner the next night. He is a total romantic and over the next few months he sent me flowers, and little gifts and weekends away... and began spending more time in Auckland. The rest is history!"
Tell us about the proposal: "A year after we first met, Philip organised a trip to Paris so that we could be there to celebrate the anniversary of the day we met. He booked us into a beautiful historic restaurant called Benoit. After our entrée Philip began to reflect on our first year together. He talked about his commitment to us despite the fact that we lived in different cities and how much he loved me and my family. Then just before the main meal he got down on one knee and pulled the ring from his pocket and proposed. I was quite speechless at first and just couldn't hold back the tears! He had to ask "Is that a yes and can I get up now?" before I composed myself and said YES! Celebrations and champagne with the surrounding guests followed along with fun txts back home and around the world to family and friends. Apparently he asked my kids and my Mum's permission before we left NZ and my daughter replied with a grin... "Yes as long as you get down on one knee."
Location of wedding: The beautiful Mantels in Mt Eden. "It was so enchanting and romantic and after the proposal in Paris it felt so perfect to continue with the French Vintage feel," says Fiona. "Annette Mantel, the owner, was also the owner of the acclaimed French Cafe for 16 years so it was fine dining at it best - and we were able to provide our own wine. Everything ran smoothly and their attention to detail was flawless - so we could totally relax and not worry about a thing."
Describe your wedding day: "Loads of fun, full of laughter and joy. We were both so happy to be celebrating this day with each other as partners in love and life!" says Fiona. "The wedding was at 5pm so the bridal party girls had all day to relax at home. My mum and another dear friend Susanna from Santa Monica spent the day with us too and we all got ready together with the hair and make up artists. It was lovely having all my favourite women friends and family together sharing stories and memories. Such a lovely treat to make us all feel pampered and relaxed for the big event!"
The dress: "I found my dress at Astra Bridal in Queens St. I had looked at a few and being an older bride I was feeling anxious about finding the right one but when I tried it on it fitted perfectly and the excitement I felt completely dissolved my fears. The Alecion lace trim and finely detailed beading was perfect for the French Vintage theme. It was strapless so I decided to have a lace bolero made and on the sleeves I used some gorgeous pearl buttons taken from a blouse of my maternal great grandmother. I also wore a gold and seeded pearl necklace that my mother wore for her wedding, passed down to her from my grandmother. It gave a lot of meaning to our wedding to have that connection to the three previous generations of women from my family. The bridesmaids dresses came from a little boutique in Queenstown, my dear friend and maid of honour Melanie spotted them while on holiday. I bought them from a photo she pxted to me. They were the most gorgeous dusky pink colour, full length with cascading layers of lace," says Fiona. "Our hairstylist was the lovely Amelia Motuliki and make up was done by Grayson Coutts, who is an absolutely fantastic young guy, extremely profressional and dedicated."
The flowers: "Roses Florist Mt Eden created the bouquets. The girls had simple 'garden picked' bouquets of cream open roses with sprigs of lavender and rosemary and the stems were bound in vintage lace. The guys had buttonholes of lavender and sage bound in black & white ribbon."
Highlight of the wedding: "Walking down the aisle to Philip," says Fiona. "I was so nervous because I hate being in the limelight but as soon as I saw his face I completely relaxed and could not wipe the smile and feelings of love and joy off my face. Having Philip's son Raki and my two children in the wedding party was a definite highlight. When my son Luke (23yrs) walked me down the aisle and my beautiful daughter Phoebe (19yrs) sang Love Song by The Cure I was bursting with pride. Their Dad died suddenly 12 years ago and both Philip and I felt truly blessed to have their acceptance of Philip who had only recently entered their lives. Luke opened the speeches with some very funny stories and set the tone for a very happy day. And also sharing the day with our beautiful family and friends, many who had travelled to be there."Was there any drama? "None that we can think of! Well except for a funny little hiccup during the ceremony when I jumped in too early and said "I do" before the celebrant had finished her part, much to Philip's amusement! And all the embarrassing (but funny) stories about me that my kids pulled out of the hat at speech time!"
The honeymoon: "We decided to stay in NZ to enjoy the summer weather. We spent a week on Waiheke Island, and stayed in a gorgeous cottage right on a private little beach at Circular Bay (The Owners Retreat - Mudbrick Winery). It was the perfect way to rest and unwind in complete privacy, we shut the world out for a week, only venturing out when we felt like it. It truly was a little paradise. Then we flew to Queenstown for a week where we stayed in the luxurious new Hilton Hotel overlooking Lake Wakatipu and the mountains. Tres magnifique!"
Your photographer and favourite photo? "Our photographers were my very talented friends Caren and Johnny Davis of The Treehouse Creative. They did such a great job at capturing the mood of day. We loved being able to stay in the one place for the whole event and couldn't bear the thought of leaving our venue and missing out on all the fun! So many great photos, it's hard to choose a favourite! One that I do love is taken when we entered the dining room and we were holding hands, Philip had to step back so he didn't stand on my dress and it looks like I am dragging my husband reluctantly into the room. A very candid moment! Also my son walking me 'down the aisle'.
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