Bianca and Liam look effortlessly happy in every photo. The beaming couple were initially friends and developed feelings for each other months later. After being together for four years, Liam popped the question on a weekend away in Queenstown. Bianca, who loves sharing special, quiet moments with her man was blown away when he knelt down on one knee in the middle of the mountains, with only the nearby cows as their witness. They married at Old Forest School in Pongkawa, New Zealand in a romantic garden ceremony amongst their friends and family. Bianca wore the 'Tulip' gown, which is a strapless beaded fishtail gown that flows to the ground in a simple georgette. Stunning blooms by Elise at Honey Bee Wild Flowers finished off the look perfectly- with all of the flowers being locally sourced within Opotiki. Rambo Estrada shot the magic of the day, being a photographer her sister had worked with meant everyone was so comfortable and at ease the whole time, they could relax and watch the stunning day unfold.
How did you meet your partner? We met through mutual friends, we were friends for months before we started dating.
How long have you been together? We have been together for four and a half years.
Do you have a proposal story? It was our 3rd anniversary and I planned to surprise Liam with a trip to Queenstown, this failed when I accidentally let it slip only days before we were due to go. Turns out Liam had a surprise of his own, and during a picnic on the side of a gravel road in a rural spot between the snowy mountains called Paradise, Liam got down on one knee and asked the question. It was perfect, I'm not a fan of attention so I loved that it was in such a private, picturesque setting, with nearby cows as the only witnesses.
What was your wedding date? 13.01.2017
Ceremony and the Reception
Location? Old Forest School- Pongakawa-New Zealand
What made you choose there? We wanted our day to be as much fun and magic for the guests as it was going to be for us. We wanted our day to be mostly unstructured and for people to just be able to enjoy their time there. The only time guests sat was for the speeches, the rest of the time they mingled and danced, and helped themselves to the onsite bar and the gourmet burgers and ice creams when they felt like it. The venue itself had everything we wanted our day to be, beautiful remote scenery, a barn, activities and fun for the guests, and the ability to choose our own caterers and provide our own alcohol. It also made the wedding a weekend event, as ourselves and all of our guests had traveled from near and far for the day which meant we all spent several days over the weekend celebrating together.
How did you find it? The venue featured in a few of our chosen photographers blogs, my sister Sophie is one of his second shooters and had second shot with him there several times, I fell in love with it from their photos.
How was the weather on the day? I woke up to skies of black clouds and rain, the clouds broke 2 hours before the ceremony was due to start, and it was blue sky and sunshine for the rest of our day.
The Wedding Details
Theme (if any colours, features, etc.)? For the theme, I wanted to draw from earthy natural colours with aspects of gold. I wanted the colours to reflect the romantic mood of the day but to remain relaxed and not overdone.
Where did you draw your inspiration/ideas from? Instagram, Pinterest and Photographers wedding blogs
Were any aspects of your wedding D.I.Y? If so What? The signage was made the night before the wedding by myself and my sister Sophie. We also sourced 130 mismatched crystal wine glasses for the bar second hand. Agee jars from the tables came from a local store down the road from Liam's parents house. The wood rounds for the serving platters were made and oiled by Liams dad.
Bridesmaids – who/relationship?
Sophie Lewis- Maid of Honour-Sister
Olivia Lewis- Sister
Caitlin Gavin- Liam’s Sister
Trinh Pham- We have been best friends since high school, she was with me when I chose the dress as she now lives in Melbourne
Shawnee Hoskins- We have been best friends since high school
Jessica Hodson- University friend
Groomsmen – who/relationship?
Alex Morland-Best Man- Liam’s best friend
Nick Gavin- Liam’s brother
Brendon Thompson- He is like a second brother to Liam and has been a part of their family business for 17 years
Aaron Ramsey- A good friend of Liam’s
Haig Mehrtens- Liam and Haig grew up together, their parents are best friends
Marc Cooper- Another close family friend and good friend of Liam’s
Wedding Gown (the most important part!)
Bianca looked stunning in the 'Tulip' gown from the KWH by Karen Willis Holmes collection
What made you decide to come into Karen Willis Holmes? The girl who took our engagement photos got married in a Karen Willis Holmes design, after looking at the website I fell in love with the designs as they were completely different from the popular all lace designs other designers I looked at had. So I made Melbourne and the KWH store a planned stopover on my way to London to see my bridesmaid Jess (Her generous wedding present to me).
How many gowns did you try? I tried a total of 7 dresses before trying on and falling in love with the Tulip
Where did you purchase your gown from (which store or stockist)? Karen Willis Holmes- Armadale, Melbourne
What did you especially like about your gown? I loved the way it was fitted through the body with it’s lace and sequin detailing, yet flowy and romantic at the bottom. I hadn’t come across any dresses like it and loved that it was different. It was easy to move in and I wore it the whole night comfortably.
Who is your bridesmaid dress supplier? I had a style of dress I wanted but it was too hard to source in New Zealand in the colours I wanted. Liam’s mum was heading to Hoi An in Vietnam for a holiday, knowing how good the tailors were here I purchased a dress in the style was after, and sourced swatches of colours I was hoping to have the dresses made in. They were all made by Yaly Tailors in Hoi An using 100% silk.
Where did you get the groom and groomsmen’s suits? The shirts were a thick textured linen, purchased from Farmers. The pants came from Hallensteins. The leather suspenders were purchased on an Etsy store, the bowties came from The Iconic, and the boys all chose their own shoes from various places. They all wore Ray Ban wayfarers on the day.
What accessories did you choose to finish your gown and also for those in your bridal party? I wore my Nanny’s Austrian Crystal drop earrings, I’m extremely close to my nanny so wanted to have a part of her with me on the day, and the Stolen Girlfriends Club silver bracelet Liam gifted to me on the morning of the wedding. I also had my Great Grandmothers hand embroidered handkerchief in my bra for catching the day's tears. I wanted to keep my accessories minimal so that the dress would be the main focus.
Where did you get your shoes from? Windsor Smith
Did you wear a veil/headpiece? Where did you get this from? My veil was a Grace Loves Lace Gabriela Veil made out of silk chiffon, it matched my dress perfectly.
What advice would you give brides organizing their wedding? Pay attention to the guests experience of the day, it’s too easy to stress about tiny things that won’t be a make or break point of your day, Instead focus on things that will make people's experience unforgettable. Also it’s cliché, but the day really does fly by, so take time to take it all in and just bask in the magic of the love of the day.
What advice would you give brides searching for their wedding gown? Stick true to what you feel comfortable in, let your dress reflect your personal style.
Photographer – Rambo Estrada
My Sister and Maid of Honor Sophie has been lucky enough to second shoot with Rambo for the last two summers. I loved his relaxed and beautiful style of photography and wouldn’t have had anyone else. He was great to have around for the day and we felt totally relaxed in front of him, it made having photos taken easy. His second shooter for the day.
Coralee was also amazing, she spent the morning with us girls and put all of our nerves completely at ease.
Florist - Honey Bee Wild Flowers
Elise from Honeybee Wild Flowers runs a local business in the small town of Opotiki where I grew up. All of the flowers she used for our day were sourced locally within Opotiki which added to their beauty. She did more than I could have pictured with the florals on the day, the aisle, the bouquets, the table settings, it was so amazing turning up on the day and seeing all the beautiful flowers.
Music – Shortly after getting engaged we went to Russell in the Bay of Islands for a day together, we were sitting at the Duke of Marlborough enjoying lunch and a wine listening to a girl sing. I immediately knew I wanted her to be our singer at our wedding, so later messaged her and asked her if she would play for us on the day which she excitedly took the offer up of. She sang our aisle song (Dave Dobbyn-Beside You) which is a song that has been a fundamental part of my childhood and had our family and friends in tears. We walked out to Chet Faker-talk is cheap, She then sang until Dinner time. Once she left we then played a spotify playlist of all our favourite songs
Singer - Asch-Rose
First Dance – Kings of Leon-Pick up Truck
MC – My best friend from University-Simon Walker, it was so special to have someone who knew us to guide us through the day. He and Sophie surprised us with the shoe game that you see in some of the photos.
Celebrant –Tim Shipton
We wanted our celebrant to reflect the relaxed vibe of our day, Liam says he was a key part in keeping him relaxed before my arrival and we loved his style of hosting the ceremony.
Stationery – Kiyomi Kitagawa
She is a family friend of ours. She is a Doctor, who does graphic design as a hobby and for friends and family. I provided minimal guidance with what I wanted our invites to be and she provided the most beautiful wedding stationary printed on linen paper.
Menu – We chose to have a laid back eating style so that our guests could enjoy mingling and dancing rather than being sat at tables for the majority of their day. Tag Burger is a gourmet burger truck, they offered fries, 3 beef, one chicken, one vegetarian and gluten and dairy free burger options for guests. The guests could go up and order whatever they liked off the Tag Burger menu whenever they were hungry. Most guests got barely 1/3 of the way through their burgers due to their size, we had many positive comments on the relaxed dining style. Desert was then the Mr Whippy Ice Cream truck, driven from the road to the venue by Liam and his groomsmen. Again guests could order whatever they liked off the menu when they felt like dessert.
Hair – Simone Anderson @simone_anderson
Simone traveled with Briar and did our hair. She started at 6 am and totally blew any doubt I had about timing out of the water. She managed to do 6 bridesmaid hair ups, my hair, hair and makeup for my Mum, mother-in-law and Nanny all before 12 pm. Having spent time with Simone before the day in social settings made it comfortable and exciting to have her there as part of our morning.
Make-Up – Briar Howard
For the last few years I haven't trusted anyone but Briar to do my makeup for any occasions I’ve had, so I booked her as soon as I’d booked the venue. She made the trip from Auckland to Papamoa with Simone to be able to do our hair and makeup for the day. Having Briar there for the morning was like having a close friend there, this made the whole morning more special as it meant that the only people that were a part of our morning were people who I was relaxed and comfortable around. Briar knowing how I like my makeup meant it was easy and I didn’t have to provide any guidance with what I wanted, I couldn’t have hoped for any more than how she made us all look. She truly made myself and the girls feel amazing.
Cake – Briar Howard runs Our Little Kitchen co
My talented friend Briar also baked our Cakes. She arrived at the house I’d rented for myself and the bridesmaids at 11 pm the night before the wedding, and put the cakes together at 5am the following morning before doing all of our makeup from 6 am. The main cake was bottom tier-Vanilla and Doris plum cake. The top tier was Caramel mud cake with buttercream icing and gold foil, meringues and fresh flowers. The mini cake was a gluten free cake as Liam is coeliac, it was a Chocolate and Caramel mud cake with buttercream icing.
Wedding Bands – Michael Hill Jewelers