Before I start the long-winded story of how I wound up married twice in one year, I want to first thank everyone that made our New Zealand wedding possible. To my incredible and enduring parents, Mark and Michaela Phillips, you've both put up with party after party at your home as I made my way through my teens and early twenties and you handled this, the biggest celebration yet, with such grace and love. I will forever be grateful for and inspired by what amazing people you are. To my entire extended family who pitched in one way or another, helping pitch tents, mow paddocks, decorate, cook, prepare strong drinks (*cough* Sharni and elise *cough*), and pack the entire event down afterward. Cole and Sarah for letting us take over your home for almost the entire summer and for setting up the whole venue well into the late hours of the night. To all those that flew from far and wide to be there with us, including my US family, sister-from-another-mister Karen, Veronique and Missy to keep my mother sane, party-starter Amy, and Bec who beyond impressed my father with her skills on the rake. And to all the others that traveled and I forgot about. To Chelsea for outdoing herself for a second time with four cakes! Jo Bisset for officiating our ceremony even though I'm the worst bride and gave her almost nothing to work with. To my nephew Nikau for opening the ceremony with a beautiful prayer. To all of my girlfriends for slogging through the rain with me for two days getting the venue ready. To Karla for walking down the aisle in front of me and for organizing all of the finer details including a stellar bachelorette party. To everyone that lent us gear and decorations. To Jarad for playing as I walked down the aisle and Jake for playing music well into the night. To my other mother Michelle for all of her incredible platters and to everyone else who helped with food, including Trent who had the hardest job of all getting all of the meat done. And oh my gosh this list could go on. That's the thing with New Zealand weddings, absolutely everyone pitched in to help. So for all those that I have forgotten, you know that I am eternally grateful and when it comes time for you to throw a big event, please feel free to put me on the shittest of jobs as pay-back, I deserve it! But in all seriousness, without all of the amazing people in our lives, none of this would have been possible, so THANK YOU!!
And now, let the story begin...
Not many people are fortunate enough to marry the love of their life once, let alone twice in one year. And if not for the help of so many wonderful people in our live's, it wouldn't have been possible for us either. But we did it. From the coast of California to the muddy fields of New Zealand, we made vows to each other and partied our way into the night. If it weren't for a bus getting stuck in the paddock, the day would've been perfect. But secretly, I think it was made more perfect by way of its imperfections. A magical day in the rain.
I had always wanted to have a wedding on my family farm in New Zealand, in a field of long grass surrounded by wild flowers. I returned home in late December to find the fields in full bloom and so I was dead set on the plan and we set to work making it a reality.
Well, that's not entirely true I guess. I actually just went straight into denial mode and tried to pretend the wedding wasn't even happening because it was too stressful to think about it. I tried to do that with the first wedding too but Dillon's mum kindly took the reigns on that one.
We definitely had help with this wedding too, but momma bear wasn't having it with the denial state I was in. So, two weeks out from the wedding and I had accumulated three wedding dresses (about the only thing I seemed capable of doing) and Mum forced me to start making some decisions. The rest was a bit of a blur.
A few days out from the wedding and it was fairly evident that it was going to be raining on the big day. Typical New Zealand summer. I was convinced we would get lucky because the rest of the summer had been pretty average but the weather gods were not on our side. So there was a last minute scramble to organize a marquee and I jumped on the ride-on lawnmower to rid the fields of my beloved long grass so that people wouldn't have to walk through a sea of wetness just to get to the ceremony.
We had spent the week shopping for booze and food and had delegated cooking responsibilities to half of my hometown. My best girlfriends took days off work and ventured into the rain to help me with the setup. Only the day before the wedding, sloshing through the rain and mud to help us empty out the big shed and throwing hay bails over their shoulders to set up the 'rave cave' where the DJ would be playing. It was starting to look like a true hillbilly wedding. But my girls wouldn't stop at that and they worked late into the night, raiding my grandmother's flower garden and stealing all of her beautifully hand-crafted pots so that they could have my makeshift venue looking beautiful despite the weather.
We drove back to Raglan late that night. We had rented two gorgeous homes out there and would have a bus shuttling people back and forward the next day. Dillon's family had flown out for the the occasion and unfortunately I didn't get to spend much time with them because of how extensive the setup process was. But I wasn't on my own so I've at least got some hilarious memories from that time.
The next morning I woke early to joint the girls back on the farm. The weather had started to clear and we were all hopefully. Once we got to the farm I was blown away by the amount of people there helping. My parents truly have some of the most amazing friends and family and everyone was there pitching in, getting the portaloo's ready, putting up extra tests, putting the lamb on the spit, decorating tables, and stringing lights. I worked with them for as long as I could but eventually I had to make my way to Brenna's parents house down the road where we were getting ready. So I left the rest of the setup in the hands of my incredibly cool, calm, collected parents.
Once I finally had a shower to scrub the dirt from my hands and feet and (probably)ears too, Morgan Manson, by talented hair and makeup artist, had arrived. I went to school with Morgan and knew she was a bit of a genius so left all of those decisions up to her and she did not disappoint. Eventually I calmed down and began writing my vows just as Isaac and Amy of Perspectives Photo and Cinema turned up. I worked with Isaac for eight years as an assistant. He took me under his wings at the tender age of 16 and has since been such a huge influence and inspiration in my life. So once he arrived, everything felt in place.
Wedding number one was shot by the other half of Perspective's, so I feel as though I'm the luckiest girl alive at this point. I didn't need to tell him what to do and thankfully it was just like hanging out with an old friend. Eventually I got into my dress (dress number four, somehow managed to purchase another dress last minute) that was designed by Miss Crabb, a talented New Zealand designer.
Brenna's parents live in an incredible home on a beautiful, green gully just down the road from my family home so it was the perfect setting to spend a few hours with my girlfriends before the ceremony. By this point it had started to pour down again and, true to predictions, it started bucketing down at 4pm on the dot, just in time for me to walk down the aisle. So there was a last minute scramble as a couple of the girls rushed off to the farm to move the ceremony indoors.
Thankfully I had had a few champagne's by this point so I wasn't too bummed that the ceremony would now be under the marquee. And thankfully I didn't stress out because the girls ended up doing me so proud and making it absolutely intimate and beautiful. Somehow all that was left at Brenna's was Karla, Shari and I, so we piled in to the Sharari (Shari's badass Sedan) and sped off to the farm. Waiting in my childhood room I watched as everyone made there way from umbrella to umbrella to get under the marquee and I didn't see a sad or panicked face in sight. Everyone was having a blast and I was reassured that Kiwi's can handle anything.
Dad finally found me to tell me it was time to go and it occurred to me at that moment that I hadn't arranged a song for the aisle so I told them to let Jake (resident DJ) know to play something soft. From outside the tent I could hear Nikau, my adopted nephew, reading a Karakea (Maori prayer) and then the music started and Karla began walking down the aisle. I followed next and was so pleased to see the aisle was lined with vines, flowers, candles and my grandmother's pots and, most importantly, all the people that I love most dearly in this world. It wasn't until I got to the front of the aisle as my dad was giving me away that I realized it had been my cousin Jarad playing on the guitar for me as I walked in.
The ceremony was officiated by my good friend Joanne who, thankfully, didn't need any license because we were already legally married in California. There were reading's by Dillon's mum and my bridesmaid Karla (who unfortunately had to shout over the rain) and it was all over before I knew it. I noticed Dillon had written his vows on the back of his hand and mine were scripted in the hours before the ceremony but they were both beautiful and both very unique to us.
We rushed off before anyone could grab us, trying to beat the rain and the fading light, and spent a couple minutes taking photos on the farm, just the two of us. I wasn't quite prepared for how beautiful those would turn out because I honestly felt like a drowned rat by that point. Next were the group and family photos. I couldn't believe my grandparents were even braving the rain. And before I knew it, it was party time. Dinner came not long after (a little behind schedule) despite many of the cookers not working, and it was followed by an incredible desert of FOUR CAKES!! My oldest friend Chelsea, founder of Dash of Ivory, who also made the cake for our wedding in the states, is a complete whiz in this department.
Before I knew it, there were speeches, Isaac and Amy had left so thankfully there was no one to capture the final moments of the evening because it eventually turned into complete carnage.
The magical day in the rain turned into a crazy night in the mud. The bus driver had parked the bus in a field that had progressively gotten more and more soggy as the nigh wore on. When he woke to take all of the guests home, it's no surprise that the bus got stuck in the mud. One thing led to another and next thing you know guests were in their Saturday best's on hands and knees trying to dig out the tires. Arguments broke out. Taxi's were finally called. And finally the Friday turned into Saturday and I woke to a beautiful morning in Raglan. Married once. Wedding'd twice.