Weddings of the week
Siobhan Gulliver, 28, wed boyfriend of nine years Joe Marshall, 29, at his family homstead in the village of Ranana up the Whanganui River at Labour weekend.
How did you meet? "I had transferred to Wanganui for my seventh form year in 2002 and during the later part of the year I saw Joe at a local watering hole, the Slippery Saddle," Siobhan says. "I thought he was the most gorgeous man I'd ever seen! I was sober driver and my friends wanted to leave, but I wouldn't budge because I wanted to keep looking at this hot guy. It was just like a school disco - my friend Felicia went over to him, and asked if he would have a dance with me. He introduced himself, we had a dance and it turned out he was related to all a lot of my friends from the Whanganui River. He managed to track me down, and came and visited me at the Girls College Hostel. And as they say....the rest is history."
Tell us about the proposal: "After nearly nine years together, Joe decided to pop the question to me while on a group Holiday in Niue (my Dad was born there)," she says. "Joe took me down to the Liku Village Sea Track, where there are natural caves at the entrance to the sea where you can sit in to watch the sun rise. Joe proposed just as the sun was about to pop over the horizon. Of course I said yes, and he had a bottle of wine and some glasses waiting in the bag he'd brought along (in the event I'd said yes!). It was memorable not only because he proposed to me at an ancestral place, my dad was born in Liku, but also because there were 11 others in our group that we could share the news with straight away, my sisters included."
Location of wedding: The wedding was held at Joe's family homestead in Ranana on the Whanganui River Road. "Ranana is one of seven remote villages situated along the banks of the Whanganui River, about an hour out of Whanganui. It is surrounded by nature, farms, native bush and beautiful, spectacular scenery. Outside the family homestead is also a whanau urupa (family cemetery). Joe's mum, dad and brother had passed away, and we wanted to get married in front of them. Joe's mum unexpectedly passed away in July last year, so we wanted to have the unveiling of her headstone incorporated into our wedding. She was really looking forward to the wedding, so this way she could be part of our special day too. The wedding was at the family homestead and the reception was held at the Ruaka Hall (the Ranana Community Hall)."
Describe your wedding day: "Four words could sum it up: spiritual, beautiful, peaceful and happy. Our hair and makeup was done Whanganui. The makeup was done by Sarah J from Blushes (absolutely flawless!) and hair by Jarrod and Jenny at Head High. The transition from the unveiling to the wedding ceremony was smooth, as if it was "meant to be". As a wedding gift my uncles provided French Champagne for after the ceremony - which was beautiful. The whole wedding flowed so well and would not have happened had it not been for some key members of my family - my mum, who catered for 400, my aunty who did the afternoon tea, cousin Donna was on the hall and marquee set up and my good friend Hine, coordinator of it all. Then there all the helpers in between. The reception was the most fun we've had in a long time! The day could not have gone any better."
The dress: "Kellie at Churchwood Bridal in New Plymouth sorted me out for my dress. Honest and real advice from someone who knows what she's talking about is priceless when hunting for that perfect dress! I told her my budget, and she came out with a dress I would not have been able to dream of. It was an off-the-rack Ella Gown."
The flowers: "Done by my good friend Amanda. She not only did our wedding flowers - but the table arrangements for the reception too. Orchids are my favourite flowers and they were everywhere. She did an amazing job."
Highlight of the wedding: "The main highlight for us was that everyone had such a great time. The reception was a hive of cultural activity with Maori waiata and haka, Niuean songs and dance and the traditional money-giving ceremony, where the bride and groom hold a long lavalava with friends and family putting money in towards their future together. There were some Irish songs and even a rendition of "heads, shoulders, knees and toes" performed (thanks bridesmaids!). There is no one highlight - the whole day from start to finish was a highlight in itself."
Was there any drama? "Because hair and make up was getting done in town, the bridal party travelled back on Friday night. We were heading back at about 10pm and due to the crazy weather a tree had fallen on the road blocking access in and out. In true river fashion, the groom travelled down with his chainsaw and some of the groomsmen in tow to clear the road for the girls (and the other waiting traffic)," Siobhan says. "The reception was in two areas - the main hall and a marquee. Persistent rain and hail the day before meant the marquee was flooding. Joe and his trustee groomsmen dug drainage holes outside the marquee to assist with drainage. Prayers were prayed and deals with the master made - and it worked! The weather on the day of the wedding was calm, sunny and warm. There were definitely people watching over us, because the next day it turned again."
The honeymoon: "Will happen next year in July. An overseas trip is planned for the UK and Europe."
Your photographer and favourite photo? The photos were by Kirsty Helen. "She was absolutely amazing - you try to control a crowd of 400 for a group shot! Some of the pictures Kirsty took of us I didn't even know she was taking. She managed to capture so many of the perfect moments from the day. Within a matter of days I already had a sneak peek of some of the pictures. She was just absolutely awesome."