It’s a nice spot to get married, isn’t it? That’s what our friends Emma and Ian thought 6 months ago, when they decided to have their wedding bash here at Okuti Ecostay near Little River, Banks Peninsula, NZ. Yes, that white round thing is a yurt. A risky venture, an outdoor wedding (we should know!), but it worked out splendidly.
This is where the bride and groom stayed on their wedding night. I remember the high villages near Xico, Mexico, with the calla lilies in the stream beds and the grazed grass around. It’s a fond memory, though the villages were poor and the people’s lives were hard….I learned a lot on that trip.
Stately callas, in the dappled shade.
“We thought we’d keep it really low key and informal,” Ian said, as he described their plans. “Mostly family, some close friends, no wedding gifts, just everybody bring themselves and some food. Molly, you can do the flowers.”
I don’t do last minute very well, and fresh flowers are nothing if not last minute. I spent the next couple months pondering how I could make flowers well ahead of time, and happened upon the idea of tin cans. I know, it sounds horrible doesn’t it? But “ecostay” and “upcycling” match, and Emma is rather crunchy…. You can judge for yourself. The important thing was that the bride was happy.
Table settings were surprisingly formal for the informal venue. I take no credit for these decorations–all I contributed here were the potted polyanthus from work. They’ll go in Emma’s garden when she returns from the honeymoon.
It had a nice vibe, this family wedding. The generations mingled seamlessly. I didn’t know where my own kids were half the time–they were off running with the pack, there were plenty of other parental eyes on the look-out. Here Aunt Mary over from Australia is admiring Milo’s hat.
The pre-wedding punch team members were Emma’s mom Rosie and young friend Kieran.
There’s my beautiful baby! The punch was spiked with pims (a very British style alcohol) so kids had some sort of neon yellow bubbly soda. Naomi didn’t seem to like the bubbles, but she certainly liked pretending to sip her special drink from a definitively grown-up glass.
Milo spent the weekend charging around with William, Emma and Ian’s youngest son. They brandished their willow knives, roaring savagely at all the guests, then fell exhausted into their beds that night.
Here’s the bride and groom, with the celebrant who conducted the ceremony. His name was Sean and he fit the style perfectly; casual, teasing, irreverent. Not sure how many they had to interview to find him, but he was a blast.
Their four kids walked Emma down the “aisle,” (through the throng of party-goers on the grass). Instead of a bouquet, William is carrying his willow knife. Fitting.
We were all out at Okuti Valley for the day, as well as the night. After the ceremony we relaxed picnic style (I’m here reading my book and enjoying a beer in the shade) before an early dinner. But as night fell, the scene changed.
Wedding day was October 31st, and Emma loves Halloween. We were all under strict instructions to dress up–not for the wedding, jeans would do for that, but for the Halloween party afterwards. Naomi was a flower, Milo an Indian (native american, first people….what’s the correct term these days?).
Here they are, seriously ready for the after-party.
I was a fish, but you might need to squint to see it. We danced to the excellent one-man band (guitar, harmonica, drums played by the same guy), Naomi bouncing up and down for hours, Milo stabbing his willow knife at costumed aliens and creepy operating room nurses. Darkness fell and we got out the glow sticks and the balloons illuminated inside by tiny LED lights, and danced some more. At 9:30 Naomi started laying her exhausted head down on my shoulder, and I brought the kids up to the tents to roll into their sleeping bags. 10:00 p.m. they broke out the port and pies. It was a fun wedding.