Stuff's wedding of the week
Natalie, 25, a farm worker and equestrian coach, met Richard, also 25 and an officer in the NZ Army, through a mutual friend and were meant to be right from the get go.
A gorgeous Border Collie ring-bearer and two horse chauffeurs may have stolen the show for a minute on the day, but everything about this wedding, from the stunning dress to the picturesque photos, was a winner.
We'll let Natalie fill you in on the details...
How did you meet? We met seven years ago in our first week at Massey University through a mutual friend Lisa who I went to college with. She joined the Army and ended up on the Kippenberger scheme ( which sends young officers to university while continuing Army training) with Richard. She introduced us, and seeing as we were both studying science, and both had a love of being outside and of horses (the horse I rode in on for the wedding went to university with me), we were pretty much inseparable from the start.
Tell us about the proposal: Unbeknown to me, Richard had put a lot of thought into designing the perfect ring - the clasps that hold the diamonds are shaped like horseshoes. As soon as it came from the manufacturers he had planned on proposing, but the Rena ship sunk in Tauranga, and he had to go away with his soldiers to help clean up. When he got back, he proposed on a Saturday evening at sunset. We had been out competing with the horses during the day, and that evening, although I assured him I had already sorted the horses, he was adamant we had to go check them again. We went to the paddock which is on top of a hill overlooking Palmerston North, and as I admired what a beautiful evening it was (horses, sunset, great view, lovely man and strangely enough for Palmy, no wind) I turned to give him a hug, at which point to my surprise he whipped out the ring from what looked like under my horse's cover (he was actually holding it the whole time), dropped to one knee and proposed! And of course I said yes.
Location of wedding: We moved to Richard's family farm in Dannevirke not long after we were engaged, and had the wedding at our home on the verandah overlooking the lawn and garden. We had photos at the farm and in the wool shed. Both of our families and lots of our friends put in a huge effort to get the gardens and the house looking fabulous. We had the reception at Richard's parents' house a few kilometers down the road. At both locations we had big tents set up with lots of balloons, and horse shoes hung with ribbon on the fences for decoration. We had sound systems at both venues so none of the guests had to strain to hear the important bits.
Describe your wedding day: Perfect! We had a lady who was my neighbour as I was growing up as the celebrant, and we hired a chef to cook food we provided at the reception. This included wild venison from Richard's hunting trips and plenty of vegetables from the farm vegetable garden. Our border collie Mitzi was the ring bearer, and she had gorgeous wee border collie pups that delighted the guests as they played and ran around. Both Richard and I rode in on our best horses. He chose to ride in in comical style, with a farm dog at his side and the country calendar theme song playing. I rode across the paddock with my dad next to me, then walked up the aisle to classical music. The bridal party was made up of family members that also count as special friends. We had roses in lovely big terra-cotta pots on the lawn as the aisle, and the garden was in full flower. Richard's aunt and uncle are professional singers, and they both sung amazingly throughout the day, enough to bring tears to people's eyes. We had a high tea style afternoon tea at the farm with old china teacups that our grandmothers had collected. It was also lovely that Richard's grandfather was able to make it, as he had been suffering from ill health and passed away not long after.
The dress: I found my perfect dress, but took one look at the price tag and kept looking. Later that night I described the dress to my dad (which I'm sure he was thrilled about - not!). A short while after that he went overseas on a business trip, and ended up getting the dress - even in the correct size! What a fantastic present. I still giggle at the thought of the lady's face in some overseas wedding shop, with dad and another man walking in in suits declaring he was going to buy 'that dress'. It is by designer Maggie Sottero and called Embrace. It has many layers underneath, then a layer of a champagne/light gold colour satin, then a layer of exquisite lace, drawn in around the waist to a flower embellished with crystals. It was surprisingly heavy. I wore Richard's mother's veil which she wore at her wedding and my mother's pearls.
The flowers: The flowers were a very special, personal touch. I bought roses and got lilies out of my garden along with other flowers and vegetation out of Richard's mother's garden. His aunt and a close family friend, who are both very clever, arranged them for us.
Highlight of the wedding: Walking down the aisle towards my wonderful man. The cake was pretty special too, three different layers made by three different family groups and decorated by my maid of honour/cousin Alex using my dad's collection of crystal and gold horses. The entire day was a highlight. I wouldn't change a thing.
Was there any drama? Not any real drama. A few guests turned up after Richard had ridden in and as I was about to ride in, but I waited while they hurried to the back of the crowd. There was supposed to be music playing as we walked down the steps to the guests after the ceremony, but for some reason it never played. We waited a few moments, then just walked with no music. I don't think anyone even noticed.
The honeymoon: We didn't go away anywhere straight after the wedding, but had two weeks off together on the farm, and during the day we did activities in the local area. It's a bit hard to go away when you have over a thousand animals to look after!
Your photographer and favourite photo? My brother Michael (of Michael Thomson Photography) was our photographer. He was a bit hesitant at first, having not done a wedding before, but I said to him "if you can get amazing pictures of horses jumping, then you can get good pictures of people standing still". He agreed and the results were better than I could have hoped for. I have multiple favourite photos, but up there would have to be the picture of us on the highest hill of the farm at sunset. A silhouetted kiss with the veil blowing in the wind (it actually blew off and went down the hill a few times!). Michael also has a camera on a remote control helicopter that he built, so got some awesome footage of the wedding that a standard hand-held camera would never be able to get. Thanks Mike!