Stuff's wedding of the week

Last updated 05:00 01/02/2013

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Weddings of the week

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Sarah Chapman, 26, a high school teacher from Invercargill and Riki Donnelly, 27, a lawyer from Gisborne, had a homespun barn wedding with loads of heart. 

How did you meet? On the dance floor at the Captain Cook Tavern in our second year of University in Otago, classy as! We had gone to Unicol together the previous year and never really crossed paths, but in second year all of that changed: Scarfie legends in the making.

Tell us about the proposal: It was on Boxing Day in 2011, and we were spending Christmas with Riki's whanau in Gisborne. We hit up Wainui beach in the morning, and Riki was eager for me to join him for ice cream at the dairy shortly after arriving, but I wasn't ready having just had breakfast. His sister, knowing what he was trying to do, managed to convince me to go with him. When we reached the top of the dunes he proposed under a Pohutakawa. And, of course, I said yes.

Location of wedding: Remarkables Park Barn in Frankton, Queenstown. It's where they normally hold the weekly farmers' market. We chose it for its simplicity and breathtaking views.

Describe your wedding day: Absolute perfection. To any outsider, the rain might have seemed an issue, but once under way, nothing could go wrong. It was simple, rustic and filled with love, as most of it was DIY. I have to say a huge thanks to great friends and family who all chipped in. We started with an empty shell of a barn with a stunning view, so needed some special touches inside. Our gifts to our guests were little jars of family-made honey, and the flowers were mostly from a variety of friends' and families' gardens placed in old jars. Riki's mother made all the groomsmens' bowties and myself and my bridemaids did our own hair. Kirsty Lohmann was fantastic in doing all our make-up, also. Riki and I knew it was going to be a big wedding with our large families and many friends, so we wanted to ensure it didn't become flamboyant. That isn't our style anyway, so the end product was exactly what we imagined. 

The dress: Renee from Renee Bridal in Auckland was simply the best. From the moment we walked into her boutique, she connected with me and my dream dress immediately. The top half was made from the lace left over from my mother's wedding dress, which made it really special.

The flowers: Along with the selection from our friends' and families' gardens, we also got some through a family supermarket in Invercargill. My bridesmaids made their bouquets out of babies breath and we made the buttonholes from wild flowers the night before.

Highlight of the wedding: The moment my best friend Steve, and Riki's cousin and groomsman Jesse, began singing Give Me Love by Ed Sheeran while I walked down the aisle. Riki chose this song and I had no idea what it was going to be. Another was when we opened the back doors behind our bridal table once the clouds cleared to reveal the most amazing backdrop of the Remarkables and valley. Best kept secret!

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Was there any drama? Perhaps the weather in the beginning, but once we were underway, it didn't matter in the slightest. It did hinder the outside games of croquet/bowls we had organised, but people had just as much fun indoors. We still managed to have our ceremony outside, and it did fine up by evening.

The honeymoon: One week's escape in Melbourne! To get away so soon after was such a great idea. 

Your photographer and favourite photo?: Jill McConachie from Xquisite Photography, Invercargill. She was a trooper hanging in until the first dance! My favourite photo is the black and white of Riki and I in the hills.


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