Introducing Ashley and Evan
Ashley Anderson, 26, and 24-year-old Evan Winton met in Australia three years ago and wed this year in their new Kiwi home, Queenstown.
How did you meet? "Evan and I met in Cairns, Australia, on the same evening we arrived in town separately. Evan was moving for work and I was there for a holiday after attending my Uncle's wedding in Newcastle," Ashley says. "We were both drawn to one another immediately and were inseparable for the duration of my two-week holiday, visiting Port Douglas, Kuranda, the Great Barrier Reef, Hartley's Croc Farm, among other adventures we crammed in! We devotedly continued dating long distance for eight months while I was home in Alaska. After I returned to Australia the next year to see him and meet his family, we began travelling together and have now found ourselves living in Queenstown, New Zealand."
Tell us about the proposal: "Evan proposed the day before his birthday on 13 June 2012. I had just returned from a six-week trip home to the states and was exhausted and deliriously happy to see him again after flying for over twenty-four hours. After situating ourselves in our van and starting the drive home, he told me there was a surprise for me in the glove box. My jaw dropped when I realised it was a ring-sized box and inside was the beautiful gold band of my dreams. If he hadn't been driving I would have jumped on him in joy, although for safety's sake I said "yes," with happy tears in my eyes."
Location of wedding: "We were married at the Queenstown Courthouse on 12 September 2012, the anniversary of the day we met three years ago. It was a wedding for two and was carried out in secret. We will be announcing our marriage to family and friends with gifts of photo books filled with the stunning pictures captured on our special day."
Describe your wedding day: "Our wedding day was peaceful and joyous largely because the time period between our engagement and the wedding was spent focused on the marriage we were entering and the lifelong commitment we were making, not on the huge undertaking of event planning that weddings have become - even larger when the joining families live on different continents! We enjoyed a blissful day of bike riding the pump track behind Outside Sports, riding the luge up at Skyline Queenstown, taking photos up at the Remarks road scenic vistas, and toasting with a beer at Atlas while we watched the Earnslaw dock - we even jumped on for some cheeky shots on the Lady of the Lake's bow, thanks to our friend and photographer's negotiating. After the sunset, we enjoyed a delicious meal at Bella Cucina with our amazing organic dark chocolate with cream cheese frosting wedding cake created by the lovely ladies of Cup & Cake!"
The dress: "My dress was from the American company Free People's New Romantics line; it is called Pennies From Heaven and was a heavenly, ethereal gown that I knew was the one I wanted to marry Evan in. It was important to me to be able to wear my wedding dress again and again, for that aspect it is beyond perfect and I look forward to a Queenstown summer to show it off! My jewellery during the ceremony consisted of a Mexican silver and turquoise necklace from my precious Momma with a pair of family heirloom coral and gold earrings and I changed into a stunning red coral necklace, a gift from my Daddy, for the rest of the day. I wore two different pairs of shoes - Sam Edelman's "Lisle" boots in red leather with rose gold zips up the back, and Sorel's "Cate the Great" boots for tromping around in the snow. Both were chosen as loving tributes to my American and Alaskan roots."
The flowers: "I carried a simple bouquet of toi toi that was gathered this last autumn at the Gorge Road dirt jumps where my husband and I like to hang out in summer (he to jump, me to watch and take photos). I bound the three branches together with vintage velvet ribbon and will keep them in our home, as the lovely color and sway of the toi toi is iconic to me of this place that we love."
Highlight of the wedding: "Committing to each other in such peaceful bliss was of course, the highlight. We must say too that our vendors really made the day special for us: from our new friend and gifted photographer, Patrick Fallon, to my lovely hair artist, Kelly Melvin, and my talented makeup artist, Kimberlee d'Andre, we were well taken care of. At Bella Cucina, we were greeted with champagne and well wishes from the manager, Chris. We were treated to stunning food served kindly by Teo. Our meal by Chef Ian was a risotto with chicken, porcini mushroom, silverbeet, parma ham and gorgonzola served alongside a fantastic salami, caper, anchovy, chili and roast capsicum pizza-all were delicious beyond our ability to describe with words. Our water taxi captain, who also drives jet boats, was skillful and allowed us to silently enjoy our first boat ride as husband and wife. Summarily, I would say that apart from obviously marrying the man of my dreams, the highlight of our day was getting married in this amazing place we call home."
Was there any drama? "I wouldn't categorise it as "drama," though to some it may have induced anxiety to see the rain and snow predicted for the entire week on either side of our clear-skied wedding day. Queenstown was blanketed in snow for only the second time this year on precisely the day before we were getting married. This turned out to be a magical event for an Alaskan bride that loves snow, and the mountains were left stunningly dressed for our photos the next day (which was mostly sunny). There was really no possibility for drama because we decided it would be an amazing day and therefore it was! The only snafu would have been when my bracelet slipped off my wrist during our photos up at Remarks. After we gave it the good old search and rescue mission, I decided to call at a sacrifice of the day. No "thing" will take precedence over our joy and appreciation of the gifts we have in this life; the small loss was a powerful reminder of that message at a very poignant time in our lives."
The honeymoon: "After our reception for two at Bella Cucina, I was bursting with excitement to surprise my new husband with a walk to the waterfront where we jumped onto a water taxi which whisked us away to Kawarau Village in the starlight for a secret honeymoon evening. We enjoyed the indulgent hospitality of the Hilton Queenstown with champagne for the night (and more delicious cake, as we brought our decadent Cup & Cake leftovers with us) and breakfast in bed the next morning followed by some pool and spa time. It was a welcome retreat, although we were also happy to be returning home as we've always felt that our life together is a holiday!"
Your photographer and favourite photo? "Patrick Fallon is a bike aficionado and this fact, in addition to his being a talented sports action photographer, led us to him. In fact, we have discovered that he is equally a sensitive, insightful and fabulously gifted wedding photographer. He took the time to get to know us before our wedding and we enjoyed every moment he was around which meant that our photos reflect everything they should-a joyful and happy couple on one of the greatest days of their lives! No single photo can be easily chosen as a favourite when the entire collection together tells such a significant story for us amid such a stunning backdrop."