I often ask people what they think makes a great wedding and sometimes I am really surprised by their answers. Common responses are the venue or location, a decent budget or great food. While some people may argue these points to be true, I believe a really memorable wedding is about the PEOPLE. Not just the bride and groom but the families, the friends, and the wedding vendors who all play their own part in the occasion.
I have worked in food and beverage, events and weddings my whole career – in hotels, restaurants, venues and now as an event manager, marketer and wedding planner in my own business. I have been part of planning over 100 weddings throughout this time and I still get warm fuzzies when I see the coming together of families and friends to help make the wedding of the couple they love perfect. These people are often part of the setup, the pack down, the planning, the transport, the catering, the tears and the laughter. You see, without the people we lose the heart, the emotion and the essence of the occasion.
The wedding of Robyn & Gary in Pataua South, Whangarei Heads on Sunday 26 April 2015 was all about the people. Robyn and Gary love people and funnily enough people love them. So in January, after 3 years of engagement, when the decision was finally made to set a wedding date – in just 3 months’ time – the people started calling “how can we help with your planning?”. Robyn & Gary always knew they wanted to plan their own wedding and that their friends and family would play a big role. They loved the idea of a DIY wedding and had the perfect location in mind – their beach-side Bach.
With a modest budget of under $15,000 they set to planning a small affair of their “nearest and dearest” thinking this would be under 40 people. Then I got the call, Robyn and Gary had realised their nearest and dearest list was at 80 but the budget limit was firm. My DIY planning advice on this occasion comprised of phone calls, emails, texts and photos of ideas, recommended suppliers, budget advice and general bride nerve calming! The lack of face to face contact was due to distance and the short timeframe of the wedding.
With a little bit of advice and direction from Weddings by Collective Concepts and a whole lot of great people they knew or had stumbled across, Robyn and Gary put together a wedding that was so true to them it brought grown men to tears as Robyn approached her groom – by surprise – on horseback down the beach before being walked down the waiting aisle of friends and family by her very proud father.
By using the power of people Robyn and Gary had: furniture custom built out of pellets by crafty family and friends, catering planned and executed by an amazing local chef and friend Owen Sinclair, crayfish caught locally by friends, a delicious fruit cake and table flowers courtesy of Robyn’s very clever mother Shennett, beautiful big arrangements at the entrance to the marquee put together by Kirsty – Robyn’s sister – using vintage milk canisters from Robyn’s parents farm (their shed is a rustic wedding stylists dream!) and videography (Isaac Bell Films) and photography (Photolove) from a few talented locals who are professionals in their fields although all new to the wedding industry (not that you would know by seeing this awesome work!).
Then there was the people to make sure it ticked over on the day: MC Tania Coutts – a good friend of Robyn and Gary’s – whose husband Scott was part of the furniture building team – kept the show on the road; Michele, Owen’s partner in crime kept an eye on food service and my main role throughout the wedding was to make sure that the beverage service was flowing. What I haven’t mentioned until now was that everyone who helped Robyn and Gary bring everything together on the day were also guests – including me!
The power of the people didn’t stop there though. Robyn’s brother Hugh and his children helped with the grand entrance via horseback, Gary’s two sons showed off the wedding rings at the start of the ceremony to the guests, Robyn’s nephew carried her off the horse and over the sand dunes to her father waiting at the end of the aisle, her niece played a song on guitar at the ceremony while the register was signed, an old school friend, Dann Pinkney – a professional entertainer, provided the live music and Ally brought the pre and post live entertainment tracks with her talent as a DJ.
To top this all off, I laughed the next morning when we went to say goodbye and Robyn’s friend Mel was outside making everyone takeaway coffee in her Coffee Girl car! It’s fair to say we were well fed and watered with a menu that boasted: crayfish, lamb cutlets, homemade truffles and wedding cake, a well serviced bar and espresso to kick us all into gear the next morning!
In case you hadn’t realised by now Robyn and Gary are great friends of mine so not only was I able to celebrate this occasion as a guest but Robyn also trusted me – as many brides do – to offer her sound advice, ideas and recommendations on how to create their perfect wedding. Being in this trusted position means that sometimes I steer couples back on track when ideas exceed budget, play devil’s advocate to make sure the budget is spent on the items that matter to the couple rather than what they think the guests want to see, but most importantly I offer an impartial, welcoming and friendly sounding board.
The thing is, it doesn’t matter how long I am in this industry, if I have known the couple for years or if we are newly acquainted, I am still humbled by the privilege and opportunity I am given to be part of the team of people that help to create each unique wedding.
As I sat on the big bird to fly home to Christchurch I was filled to the brim with love and happiness not just from this wedding but the ones that have come before and the ones that are yet to be planned. I reflected on the idea that a wedding isn’t just about the location, the budget or the food. In fact these tangible elements are just the mere vehicle to allow people the opportunity to feel the true love of a wedding.
Wishing you a lifetime of love and happiness with your wonderful friends and family, Robyn & Gary.