Stuff's wedding of the week

Last updated 05:00 24/01/2014

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Weddings of the week

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After meeting online in 2010, Hayley and Jaarna tied the knot on the 26th of January, 2013.

In a heartbreaking turn for the worst, Jaarna passed away from a rare form of cancer about five months later.

With their first anniversary coming up this weekend, Hayley thought featuring their special day would be a fitting tribute to her late wife.

We'll let Hayley fill you in on all the details from their truly magical day...

How did you meet? We initially met online in December 2010, and then came face to face in Rotorua on 21 January 2011. It was definitely love at first sight.

Tell us about the proposal: My Grandmother had just passed away and it was a pretty rough time for my family. Jaarna took me up to Waikanae Beach on the Kapiti Coast for some time out. It was a beautiful Saturday in September and she told me she was going to set up a surprise picnic so I could come down to the beach when she texted me. I had been in a grumpy mood all morning so when I eventually walked down onto the beach where she had flowers and a little sun-shade set up, I was instantly smiling. She directed me to a little bottle with a message inside which I read to myself - not really taking any of it in - the last line read "so?" I looked at her and said "so what?" and then she asked me to be her wife. Lots of tears followed, and then many glasses of Verve Cliquot, cupcakes and my favourite Kapiti cheeses. We hung out in the sun for the afternoon before heading back to Wellington to share the news with my family (Jaarna's family in the Bay of Plenty were all in on it.)

Location of wedding: Following Jaarna's diagnosis of a rare form of cancer in May 2012, we had to change all of our original wedding plans. We were to be married on Papamoa Beach with the reception at the Bluebiyou, but Jaarna's grandmother owns a beautiful home in Opotiki where Jaarna grew up, so we took her up on her offer to have our wedding there. We held the ceremony in her front garden and our reception in the "house orchard". Jaarna and I planned the majority of  this "new" wedding in Wellington Hospital where she was undergoing intensive chemotherapy and staying for associated infections. Any spare day we had together outside of the hospital was spent trawling through second-hand stores and Trade Me to find bargains to fit with this "rustic" wedding we had 6 months to plan. We had a huge amount of help from our families, and the finished product on the day was perfect.

Describe your wedding day: In one word, precious. The most important parts of the day for both Jaarna and I were our vows and ceremony - we put a lot of work into the ceremony with the help of our amazing celebrant Wendy Barton (who offered us both so much support). At that point our relationship had been tested in a way not many are, so telling each other how we felt and what we promised to give each other in our future was the best moment of my life. Jaarna looked incredibly beautiful and it was so amazing to walk towards her smiling face and be able to forget about the 9 months we had just lived through. So many of our good friends and family came to support us and made the day very special for both of us. Because we did everything ourselves, our friends and family played a huge role in our day helping us out with everything from installing fence posts to laying down a hangi - we couldn't thank them all enough.

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The dress: My dress was a Christina Rossi from Astra Bridal in Wellington, my consultant Coco was amazing throughout the whole process. I was dreading dress shopping but she made it much easier. I walked in not wanting anything with "sparkles" and walked out with something quite opposite, so it reminded me to remain open-minded!

We initially bought Jaarna a suit from Ann Taylor in the States, but because of her weight loss from the chemo she ended up in beautifully colourful CUE pants, a sheer mint green blouse that matched our bridesmaids perfectly and gold accessories. I personally think she was much happier with the second outfit!

The flowers: All the flowers were sourced from Jaarna's grandmother's gardens. I wanted to keep it simple so we just used white and purple hydrangeas - I made up simple bouquets the morning of the wedding.

Highlight of the wedding: Finally getting there - because of Jaarna's illness we never knew if we were actually going to make it to the day so being there with her is a moment I will hold onto forever.

The honeymoon: Because Jaarna was due to start radiation therapy in early-February and we had booked to attend my best friend's wedding in Rarotonga in July - we decided to take a mini-moon. I took Jaarna up to Hahei Beach, where my family had camped for years in my teenage days. We had about 5 days of exploring the Coromandel and relaxing. Unfortunately it was quite windy so we bailed on camping for the comfort of 'The Church' accommodation just down the road. A highlight was definitely the day we spent at the Lost Springs in Whitianga, it was incredible.

Your photographer and favourite photo?  Our Photographer was Claire Mossong and her Husband Alex. We fell in love with Claire's work when we found her online so booked her right away. We are so glad we went with her, Claire has an amazing ability to tell a story just through her photos, and she captured everything that was important to us on the day. We only met Claire a few days before the wedding, but I had absolute faith and trust in her and we were so happy when we saw what she had put together. My favourite photo is definitely one of Jaarna and I sitting by an old wool shed, Jaarna's smile lit up that set of photos. Because the photos are all I have now, I was so, so happy that chose Claire because she has given me the most beautiful photos that take me back to all the feelings we felt on that day.

- Stuff

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