Introducing Justeen and Gavin

Last updated 05:00 21/12/2012

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Justeen Palalagi, 27, and Gavin Tusini, 28, are from Auckland. She works for the Bank of New Zealand and he is a personal trainer who has been playing rugby in England since September.

They married on November 11, 2011 after Justeen's original date of October 18 was vetoed due to it being the day of the Rugby World Cup bronze final.

How did you meet? 

"We meet at Remuera Intermediate, however it wasn't until we were 16 or 17 that we met up again through a mutual friend, and he's been my high school sweetheart since then" says Justeen.

Tell us about the proposal:

"Gavin had always said that he would never propose to me in New Zealand so it wasn't until we went to Europe in 2009 that I had feeling that he would do it. We booked a trip to Venice for our last couple of weeks in London and on a whim decided to go on a gondola tour. I noticed he was getting quite fidgety which isn't ideal in a gondola, and I kept asking what was wrong and he kept answering with things like 'Oh I can't find my phone'. The gondolier then announced that it was good luck to kiss under the Bridge of Sighs, which we happily did, then my husband said 'Well if it's good luck...'.

"To be honest, I remember him getting down on one knee (in the gondola still), but I cannot remember what he actually said apart from him asking me to marry him. In a blubbering mess I managed to spurt out 'Yes!' We then followed this up with a lovely toast in St Mark's Square."

Location of wedding:

"We had the ceremony at St Mary's Church in Parnell and the reception at The Wharf in Northcote Point in Auckland."

Describe your wedding day:

"We definitely took the traditional route. We both come from Pacific Island backgrounds, my husband is full Niuean and I am half Niuean and half Scottish. I am also the first grandchild in my family to get married, so having a small intimate wedding just wasn't on the cards for us. We had 170 guests in total and 12 in our bridal party. We had a traditional ceremony presided over by Reverend Uea Tulea from Gavin's family church in Otara. My younger sister also did a reading from Captain Corelli's Mandolin and our my husband's niece did a reading from the Book of Solomon.

"Our reception was amazing. Luckily we had incredible weather, which meant the views from The Wharf and our bridal party pics at Little Shoal Bay were stunning. We had a buffet meal that also included a couple of traditional Niuean dishes, we provided our own pig cooked traditionally by my husband's father in an umu. To tie in our culture at the reception we had traditional dances including the Niuean haka. We also partook in the 'wishing well', which is where the bride and groom are covered with blankets and family and friends throw money and make a wish for us (usually it's something around having a lot of children)."

The dress:

"To ensure I tied in traditions from both my cultures I had my gown made by Simply Exquisite and together with my dress designer we created a three frangipani shaped flowers, two in ivory with Swarovski crystals in the centre and one made from tartan from our Scottish clan, Davidson, with a red Swarovski crystal in the centre. The top was a corset style with a sweetheart neckline, and a zip-up back with diamante trailing from the back right to the bottom of the train. The dress was covered with a gorgeous piece of lace and tucked up at the front to show the layers underneath. I tried on a number of gowns both in Auckland and Sydney and struggled to find the perfect one. It is very true what they say that once you find the gown you know it!"

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The flowers:

"Emily Sweden from Blossom Wedding Flowers is amazing! My bridal bouquet and the bridesmaids' were mainly peonies in coral, ivory and pale pink. My junior bridesmaid had exactly the same but a much smaller bouquet, while the two flower girls had flower wands with a rose.

"Emily also did the reception table arrangements for us, which were just three peonies in a vase with a navy ribbon tied around, and the church arrangements, which were peonies with ivory sashes for the pews and gorgeous arrangements for the plinths at the church. I cannot recommend Emily enough!"

Highlight of the wedding:

"Honestly, seeing my husband's face as I walked up the aisle and him getting choked up at the ceremony. I was only able to squeak out 'I love you' after about five minutes of waiting for him to say the vows he wrote.

"Also the amazing speeches from my parents, my parents in law and our bridal party. Without the support of our family and friends we could never have had the day that I had dreamt about!"

Was there any drama?

"There definitely was, which I think actually added to the day. You need some things that don't quite work out - it adds to the stories. The reverend started the ceremony by saying 'Welcome to wedding of Jacqui (my mother) and Gavin'. This was hilarious and we all just cracked up laughing!

"Also my wedding dress and the bridesmaids' gowns did not arrive until the day of the wedding. Plus the DJ was stuck in traffic and we had to wait for him outside the reception to set up."

The honeymoon:

"We had a mini moon to Melbourne. For both of us it was our first time there and we had an awesome time. It was just what we needed to relax, shop, eat, and just hang out with each other."

Your photographer and favourite photo? 

"Our photographer was Oliver from DreamLife and he was awesome. I have so many favourites, but the family shots - particularly the one with my sisters - are definitely up there, as is the photo of my husband and I holding hands walking down the pier - one of the few moments we were alone on the day."

- Stuff


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