Stuff's wedding of the week

Last updated 05:00 08/08/2014

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Introducing Sarah and Alasdair
Photography by Rich Bayley Photography.

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When we came across this submission, we knew we were in for something special.

35-year-old bride Sarah makes her living from planning the weddings of others, so it comes as no surprise that her moment in the sun is a thing of beauty.

From the breathtaking backdrop to the moonlit first dance, this wedding is one of a kind.

We'll let Sarah fill you in on the details...

How did you meet? Al and I both moved to Queenstown, New Zealand about seven years ago, me from California and him from England. It wasn't until three years later that we actually crossed paths in this small town (although Al swears we were once at the same house party). Al's friend Nathan, our best man on the day, introduced us one evening when we were both out for another friend's going away party. The rest is history.

Tell us about the proposal: Last year I planned a Sunday birthday brunch to celebrate Al's birthday at Nathan's house (the same friend that introduced us). At the end of the brunch we brought out a cake for his birthday. After he blew out the candles, Nathan shouted that Al should make a 'Speech!'... he then proceeded to pull out a ring and propose to me in front of twenty of our closest friends.

Everyone was surprised, including me, and a friend even had to ask if I actually said yes... as I think I was in shock! Thanks to a clever friend who picked up on it before the rest of us it is all on video for eternity, including his half-way down to one knee proposal and our Argentinian friend screaming in the background.

Location of wedding: Our ceremony was held at the remote Moke Lake just outside of Queenstown. The reception was held at Jack's Point Clubhouse. It was really important to us to choose locations that showcased the beauty of New Zealand, since this is where we have made our home.

All our guests were amazed by the stunning backdrop at our ceremony which many described as 'nature's cathedral'.  One of the best parts of the scenery had to be the 'wedding crasher' horse that escaped from the nearby stable and created an even more natural setting.

Describe your wedding day: We wanted to inject our personalities and backgrounds into the wedding day as much as possible. We put tradition aside and decided to do a 'first look' on the morning of the wedding and then took photos together before the ceremony. This made the day so much more relaxed and allowed us to spend lots of time mingling and enjoying the day with our guests, many of who travelled from overseas to be with us.

Al loves gardening, hunting, and building; so there was plenty of venison salami, homegrown treats and homemade biltong at the post-ceremony picnic. They were all displayed on a restored wooden plank that he handcrafted for weeks before the wedding.

The reception at Jack's Point was a perfect mix of casual and formal with cocktail-style entrees, family-style mains (the only time guests were formally seated), and then a massive dessert display to finish off the evening.

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The dress: I travelled back to the States to find my wedding dress which was actually a sample from a designer consignment shop in Atlanta (my hometown).

It was important to me that the dress really suited my style and I felt most comfortable trying on dresses with my mum and closest friends from back home. We found it at the first shop we went to - it was exactly what I wanted and envisioned, but I did insist we go to at least two other stores and try on more dresses before we came back and bought it... just to be sure!

The flowers: Our stunning flowers came from The Flower Room here in Queenstown. We wanted a natural, organic type look with lots of white, greens and a few hints of blue to pull in the colour of the bridesmaid dress and best man's tie. The flowers were all gorgeous!

I think my favorite part of the day had to be the asymmetrical floral feature on our wooden arch at the ceremony, it was exactly what I wanted and I had never done anything like that for any of my clients, so it was unique to me.

Highlight of the wedding: We handed out small booklets that we had created with Pop Creative to guests as they boarded the buses: they were filled with  fun facts about us, our wedding party, the day's events and New Zealand in general!My favorite page had to be our tally of how far guests had travelled for our wedding - it was an amazing 381,651 kms!

After the ceremony we surprised our guests with a Mr Whippy ice cream van which certainly put smiles on everyone's faces.

Another favorite moment was at the end of the evening when we decided to do our 'first dance' on the lakeside pontoon. It was drizzling with rain but we had candles setup everywhere, so we did our dance as the guests looked on under the moonlight.

Was there any drama? We were pretty certain we had everything covered for our wedding day, since we do this for a living and all, but turns out, you can never be too prepared!

The truck that had all of our ceremony set-up items inside (the chairs, arch, wine barrels, food, drinks, bar, lounge furniture, etc) ran off the gravel road on the way out to Moke Lake on the morning of the wedding. They had to call a tow truck to get it pulled back onto the road. We had allocated around four hours for the set-up of the ceremony and post-ceremony picnic area, and they ended up only having about an hour. We had some incredible friends and suppliers that jumped in and really saved the day!

The honeymoon: We delayed our honeymoon until May so that we could finish out the busy wedding season here in Queenstown. I am so happy we did that, as it gave us something to look forward to after all the excitement of the wedding finished.

We headed to South Africa for our honeymoon and went to Cape Town, the Winelands, drove the Garden Route and had the most incredible time on safari where we saw all the Big 5. We finished off the month away with a week on the beach in Mauritius, which was the perfect way to finish off a very busy summer!

Your photographer and favourite photo?  We were very spoilt on the photography front and decided to have two of our favorite local photographers capture our day.

Rich Bayley Photography captured all the traditional wedding photos and the amazing mountaintop shots, while Jim Pollard Goes Click covered the prep shots, 'first look' and focused on capturing all the emotion and candid moments of the day.

I think we have about 200 favorite photos, but the one of us hugging after Al finished his speech has to be one of my personal favorites, as I think it really captures our love.

Check out Sarah and Alasdair's beautiful wedding movie...

Sarah + Al / Feature Film / A Simply Perfect Queenstown Wedding from Sunshine Wedding Films on Vimeo.

- Stuff

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