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Planning a Destination Wedding? Here’s What You Need to Know

If you are considering planning a destination wedding (and I so hope you do!), there’s a lot of things to think about, a few more logistics to organise in advance, but so much more to enjoy too. Whether you’re within a few hours drive from where you usually reside, or you have guests coming from further afield (so that you are the destination, or if you’re planning the whole wedding overseas, there are many (often overlooked) advantages to planning a destination wedding.

Reasons to Consider a Destination Wedding – Pros and Cons

Destination Weddings can actually be Cheaper

There are a few great advantages to having a destination wedding, affecting even the most significant aspects of wedding planning, but there are a few downsides too. Depending on your destination of choice, it might have a positive impact on your wedding budget – a destination wedding in Bali, for instance, is going to be much cheaper to cater, than one in Auckland or Sydney. Of course, this will depend on one of our couples planned a very budget conscious wedding in Samoa, whereas others will have spent massive budgets on a destination wedding in Samoa. It will all come down to what you choose, and how many guests you have. Some of the wedding venues I visited in Rarotonga even offer essentially a ‘free’ wedding if you have around 30 guests staying at the hotel. See Planning a Destination Wedding in Rarotonga if you’re interested.

While you will of course have the flights, accommodation and travel insurance for most destination weddings, many couples consider it part of their honeymoon, so if you were planning on heading overseas, it may be a great way of doing both.

Destination Weddings often have Smaller Guest Lists

This can be a positive or a negative association with destination weddings – you can either take the opportunity to reduce your wedding guest list, or you may feel disappointed about those who can’t make it. There’s a variety of reasons why people may not be able to travel to make your destination wedding, including:

  • Budget constraints – even to nearby Rarotonga or Fiji, it all adds up for wedding guests.
  • Childcare – some couples won’t be able to travel with children, and others may not want to travel with young children.
  • Pregnancy – countries like Bali can present additional risks to pregnant women such as sanitation/food poisoning, or even Zika virus, and of course they won’t be able to travel internationally toward the end of pregnancy.
  • Old age or medical needs at home – some of your elderly relatives and friends may not be up for the trip, while others have medical needs and can’t travel.
  • Work or other travel commitments – many guests will have work, school, or even other travel commitments they can’t escape.

On the other hand, although usually I would advise that it’s not essential to invite all partners, if you are asking guests to attend a destination wedding, this may be a difficult consideration, and you may end up inviting a few more ‘plus ones’

Destination Weddings are a great option for those with family all over the world.

If you and your fiancé are not from the same country, or even the same city, you may be struggling to decide whose hometown is to play host to your nuptials. Where half the guests will be travelling already, a destination wedding can be a great solution. When we planned our wedding in 2015, we were inviting Blair’s family in Seattle, mine from the UK, and most guests from Christchurch, so we thought a destination wedding (rather than getting married in Auckland where we live) would be a real adventure for our guests. With so many visiting New Zealand from far and wide, so we really wanted to make it more than a one-day experience. With a (nearby) destination wedding our guests could soak up as much of their holidays with us as possible. It also enabled us to introduce our guests and extended families to each other over a few days, instead of just an afternoon in Auckland.

While remaining in New Zealand, we settled on a destination-wedding appropriate Coromandel venue (a couple of hours from Auckland). Guests were invited to arrive two days before the wedding and to stay another night after, during which time we had organised a pre-wedding winery trip, two evenings together including a classic Kiwi BBQ, and a boat trip (actually cancelled for weather – eek!)

Destination Weddings – from a Guest Point of View

In the few years prior to our wedding, we had attended a destination wedding (well, it was a destination for us) at Sheen Falls Lodge, in Ireland (our Kiwi friend marrying an Irish lady), and also a festival-feel wedding in the South of England (for our friends whose families and friends were from all over the US and UK). We had the best times both making our way to each of the weddings, combined with holidays in Europe and seeing family in Seattle on the way home both times (I think), and attending the weddings themselves. For the wedding in Ireland, we travelled in a group after organising to meet in France, so we had a great group of friends to enjoy the trip with, and for the one in England, although we didn’t know any other guests besides family, the couple had organised for all guests to stay with them in the village for a few days prior, so we made great friends.

Nowadays, it’s a bit more difficult as we have a 1 year old and a 2 year old, and even travelling to a wedding in New Plymouth recently was hard work, but if most of your friends are before babies, and have the funds to travel, it really is an amazing experience as a guest – so long as you’ve organised it well.

Destination Weddings can feel more Unique than well-known local venues

If you’ve reached the age and stage where it feels like there’s a wedding every weekend for a while, you may also have associations with lots of local wedding venues – if they’ve been used by friends recently. While it’s perfectly natural to find wedding venues through actually attending a wedding there, you may not feel that it’s as unique as you’d like. By travelling further afield, you widen the pool of available wedding vendors and venues, and make it far less likely your guests have already been there too.

Destination Weddings are more susceptible to postponement

As the past couple of years has taught us, nothing is certain anymore. None of us would ever have guessed that (in New Zealand) we’d have been unable to travel and return home for two years, let alone have international guests come and visit us, and it’s hard to plan a destination wedding at the moment without at least considering that. We talked to a couple who have had to postpone their destination wedding: and while many having weddings close to home also postponed theirs, there’s certainly another level of logistics involved with travel.

If you’re Planning a Destination Wedding, you need to be Organised

It takes good organisational skills to plan any wedding, but if the one you are organising is overseas, you may even be dealing with language barriers and timezones. Generally speaking, it’s advisable to engage a wedding planner to help with an overseas wedding, and many are included with wedding venues, but you’re also going to have to stay on track yourself.

Decisions like the guest list will need to be organised well in advance, and to be able to find and book wedding vendors you love, you’re going to need to set aside a good chunk of time for wedding planning, possibly including zoom calls. Once you’ve found your wedding venue, ask for as many galleries of previous weddings they’ve hosted as possible, as you will be able to identify vendor styles you like, as well as things like floor plans, food and decoration.

Hiring a planner or coordinator isn’t foolproof, they have lots of weddings, and you do still need to make most decisions yourself. You’ll need an excellent wedding planner book (the little white book is ideal with its countdown diary, checklists and timelines), and an eye for detail. Don’t worry, it’ll keep you on track, and together with our email series following purchase, we’ll have you planned to perfection in no time.

5 Bridesmaid’s Dress Wedding Trends, THEN & NOW!

After revisiting my parents’ wedding album recently, and my mama’s crazy floral bridesmaids dresses (she even rocked them in orange and brown!), it got me thinking about wedding trends from the past that are still popular in the present, and how different or similar they look today. Here are 5 of my faves, then and now…

1. Pastel Palette Bridal Party

5 Bridesmaid Wedding Trends, THEN & NOW!

Hats have been replaced by floral crowns, and gloves with basket flowers made way for larger loose floral bouquets, but when it comes to pastel palettes of the past and present nothing much has changed (and if you imagine the dresses above without sleeves they are pretty damn similar to the ones below!). See these pastel bridesmaids dresses for a similar style (they are convertible, so can be made into a variety of styles to suit different figures).

5 Bridesmaid Wedding Trends, THEN & NOW!
 Image via Green Wedding Shoes by Khristian Snyder

2. Floral Prints

5 Bridesmaid Wedding Trends, THEN & NOW!

Back in the day floral bridesmaid dresses had so much fabric, you looked like you had been eaten alive by curtains. Now, a better balance of fabric and skin means a floral print is still super popular, and I reckon it looks even better with a mix of fabrics in a similar print size or colour.

5 Bridesmaid Wedding Trends, THEN & NOW!

3. Pink Taffeta

5 Bridesmaid Wedding Trends, THEN & NOW!

I wore my first pink taffeta dress to my Aunties wedding. It had puffy sleeves and a tapered skirt and I wore as much hairspray in my mullet as humanly possible. At the time I thought it rocked (and secretly I still do) haha. Today, pink taffeta still makes an appearance, and although the movie ‘Bridesmaids’ clearly made it frightening, there are some gorgeous looks out there (like below) that are a little more classy. Again, mix and match styles and colours for a less ‘bridesmaidy’ look.

5 Bridesmaid Wedding Trends, THEN & NOW!
 Image via Vintage Wedding Fair

4. Tulle Layering

5 Bridesmaid Wedding Trends, THEN & NOW!

While Tulle has always been a major player in the bridesmaid world, layering tulle in soft colours has made a big come back! The tulle halterneck dresses above totally rock my world, and without the extra layering around the neck, the dresses from the past and present are almost identical (check out that sweetheart neckline!). Consider a tulle skirt to achieve a similar look

5 Bridesmaid Wedding Trends, THEN & NOW!
 Image via Green Wedding Shoes by Jessie Holloway

5. Lace Love

5 Bridesmaid Wedding Trends, THEN & NOW!

Lace bridesmaid dresses have never really gone out of fashion, they have simply changed in style over the years as lace became affordable and more designs became available on ‘the high street’. Lace is still one of the most popular choices, with some bridesmaids even rocking white!

5 Bridesmaid Wedding Trends, THEN & NOW!
 Image via Weddingomania

A Creative Modern Chinese-Australian Wedding at Vieille Branche

Today’s wedding at Vieille Branche had me head over heels the moment I got laid eyes on it! I knew it was perfect for brides looking for modern alternative inspiration, and clearly this chic creative Brisbane wedding has it by the bucket load! From the super cool venues to the couple’s elegant but edgy style, it’s not hard to see why I just couldn’t resist getting this one up on the blog!

A huge thank you to cool cats Emily & Joseph + photography guru Leanne Dixon for sharing this unique wedding with us! We love it a lot. xox

Who Emily & Joseph Thiang
Where Brisbane, Australia
Guests 60 guests at dinner and reception. 100 at the after party

We saved by…

I tried to DIY most of the wedding from wedding invitations, making the arbour and filling it with greenery, sewed up napkins and table runners. The only thing I didn’t DIY was the bridal bouquet and I am sure glad i got a professional to do it otherwise those roses would have wilted in an instant in the Aussie heat.

The venues were already very beautiful so there were minimal decorations. Forest green and calico fabrics were used as table runners, napkins. Natural greenery in deep green colours was used to decorate the arbour and table settings. I made my own candles.

My dress experience was.

When I first started looking for my wedding dress I didn’t want any lace. This made the search quite difficult so I ended up finding an image of a dress I liked and asked a local dress maker to sew it for me. I bought a lovely mid weight cotton fabric that had a tiny bit of sheen to it that worked really well with the structured design. It took a couple of months for the dress to get made and I went in for fittings to make sure the dress would fit perfectly.

An unexpected moment was…

When Joseph and his friend brewed the beer for our wedding. A month before the wedding we tried the first ale and it tasted amazing! Unfortunately the week before our day, Brisbane was hit with some crazy hot and humid weather and the beer turned foul. Like disgusting. Fortunately we had two backup kegs that were fine and everyone was happy with the alcoholic Ginger Beer! During the reception, Joseph’s Dad looked for every moment to cheers everyone. But in Chinese culture, they say “YUMMM SIIIING!” instead of cheers. But the tradition is to see how long you can hold the “YUUUUUUUUM”. By the end of the night, all of our friends were shouting out for “Yum Sings”. (Which means “Drink to Victory”)

At the very end when we said goodbye to everyone and jumped in a vintage Porsche. The day was extremely humid and by that time of night it started to pour with rain. The car was quite old and had trouble starting, changing gears and the windows didn’t wind completely up. It felt like a very unglamorous exit but we loved every second.

What does marriage mean to you?…

Committing to someone for life and loving their perfections and imperfections.

Our advice to engaged couples…

If you don’t have a wedding planner get a reliable friend to be the go to person on the day. Give their contact details to all the vendors involved on the day. And of course – don’t take it too seriously. Enjoy the day even if things go wrong!

We saved by…

I tried to DIY most of the wedding from wedding invitations, making the arbour and filling it with greenery, sewed up napkins and table runners. The only thing I didn’t DIY was the bridal bouquet and I am sure glad i got a professional to do it otherwise those roses would have wilted in an instant in the Aussie heat.

The venues were already very beautiful so there were minimal decorations. Forest green and calico fabrics were used as table runners, napkins. Natural greenery in deep green colours was used to decorate the arbour and table settings. I made my own candles.

My dress experience was

When I first started looking for a dress I didn’t want any lace. This made the search quite difficult so I ended up finding an image of a dress I liked and asked a local dress maker to sew it for me. I bought a lovely mid weight cotton fabric that had a tiny bit of sheen to it that worked really well with the structured design. It took a couple of months for the dress to get made and I went in for fittings to make sure the dress would fit perfectly.

An unexpected moment was…

When Joseph and his friend brewed the beer for our wedding. A month before the wedding we tried the first ale and it tasted amazing! Unfortunately the week before our day, Brisbane was hit with some crazy hot and humid weather and the beer turned foul. Like disgusting. Fortunately we had two backup kegs that were fine and everyone was happy with the alcoholic Ginger Beer! During the reception, Joseph’s Dad looked for every moment to cheers everyone. But in Chinese culture, they say “YUMMM SIIIING!” instead of cheers. But the tradition is to see how long you can hold the “YUUUUUUUUM”. By the end of the night, all of our friends were shouting out for “Yum Sings”. (Which means “Drink to Victory”)

One of our favourite moments was…

At the very end when we said goodbye to everyone and jumped in a vintage Porsche. The day was extremely humid and by that time of night it started to pour with rain. The car was quite old and had trouble starting, changing gears and the windows didn’t wind completely up. It felt like a very unglamorous exit but we loved every second.

What does marriage mean to you?…

Committing to someone for life and loving their perfections and imperfections.

Our advice to engaged couples…

If you don’t have a wedding planner get a reliable friend to be the go to person on the day. Give their contact details to all the vendors involved on the day. And of course – don’t take it too seriously. Enjoy the day even if things go wrong!

CREDITS

Photographer Leanne Dixon of Leanne Jade Photography
Flowers Best Florist Espresso Bar
Ceremony venue The Old Museum (We met at The Old Museum so we decided this would be perfect for the wedding ceremony)
Reception venue Vieille Branche
Catering + Cakes Gramercy Coffee  (cakes were Carrot cake, Chocolate cake + Lemon)
Drinks Brewed by the Groom + friend
Stationery + Signage Created by Emily Thiang, printed at MOO
Hair + Makeup Erin Gallienne
Barber Steve Purcell from Barebone Barbers
Celebrant James Turner
Brides dress Made by Gwenda from Sew n Design
Brides shoes Vintage
Brides accessories Grandmothers vintage brooch (given to the bride as a child)
Bridesmaid dress Vivetta
Bridesmaid shoes Valentino
Grooms suit, suspenders, tie + cufflinks T.M.Lewin
Grooms socks Happy Socks
Grooms watch Gold Citizen with Vintage Green Leather Strap (Joseph had a much loved watch that he wore so much the band had fell apart, I hunted down a dark green watch band to match Joseph’s tie and attached the band to the watch face and gave it to him on the wedding morning.)
Groomsmen suits T.M.Lewin
Brides rings MJS Jewellery
Grooms wedding band Cort Jewellery
Transport Friends vintage Mercedes
Music Aisle song was Case of You by James Blake. First dance was Embrace Me by Ella Fitzgerald. These were performed live on the day by a band. We had a live band for the whole reception. They were all of our friends and brought such an authentic vibe to the night.

An Elegant, Romantic Tauranga Wedding

When today’s rustic yet perfectly elegant wedding turned up on my virtual door step, I knew that you would all love it! Cricket lovers may recognise the groom as South African born Kiwi cricketer BJ Watling, and while it seems like the perfect opportunity to make a pun/joke about ‘batting out of his league’ it’s obvious this stunning couple are perfect for each other, celebrating their big day 10 years after a fateful meeting in a bar when bride Jess was only 18.

Beyond the insanely beautiful styling and that breathtaking dress, what I love the most about this wedding is the smiles Jess & BJ are rocking the entire day! Enjoy xox

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Who Jess and BJ Watling
Where Ataahua Garden Venue
Guests 120

How did you meet?

We met in the romantic way most 18 year old girls meet their future husbands – in a bar! We were introduced through mutual friends and here we are nine years later. BJ must have done something right on the dance floor that night! Our first wedding anniversary will also be our 10th year together and we are pretty proud of what we’ve achieved in that time, building a house and a little family with our very spoilt pets – Boston the cat and Harper the dog.

In three words describe your wedding style…

Rustic, elegant, romantic.

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What music did you play for those special moments?

I walked down the aisle to Firestone by Kygo, which is originally quite a techno sounding song, however BJ and I heard it performed acoustically and absolutely loved it. We chose Jason Mraz’s I won’t give up to be played while we signed the register and American Authors’ Best day of my life to walk back down the aisle to. Our first dance was to Al Green’s Let’s stay together. All of them were performed live by Simon Hirst.

Did you DIY? Not really!

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What were the save and splurge items for your wedding?

Unfortunately there weren’t many save items, but we had a reasonably long engagement of 18 months so were able to spread out all of the payments over that time.

Our splurge items were definitely the photographer, flowers and my dress – but all worth every cent!

I knew I wanted Danelle the minute I saw her work and was so pleased she was available for our day. Her style is so natural and the result is really authentic, beautiful moments. The photos she captured are so stunning and we will definitely treasure them forever.

The same goes for Shaye – I saw her work on Instagram and just knew right away that she would be a great fit. I believe flowers really pull the day together so I wanted a lot! She created some really stunning floral features for us including a gorgeous overflowing urn for the ceremony and a beautiful bridal table backdrop of rose-lined drapes.

I got my dress from a bridal boutique while on holiday in London. It’s by a South African designer, Kobus Dippenaar, which I quite liked as BJ is originally from South Africa. It was exactly the type of dress I always thought I would wear. I felt beautiful and comfortable in it and very much still like myself. Coincidentally my mum was also on holiday in England at the time so was able to be there when I found the dress which was really special.

Oh and my shoes weren’t exactly a bargain either – but no regrets!

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What was the most difficult part of planning your wedding? And the most fun?

One of the trickiest parts was working around BJ’s schedule. He plays cricket for a living so is away a lot and it was tough being able to lock in a date that would not only work for him, but also for some of his team mates – one in particular who was to be a groomsmen. We got there in the end though!

The most fun was adding all of the special touches to our day – choosing our songs and writing our vows – that really brought home what the day was all about and gave us time to reflect on why we were getting married in the first place. I plan a lot of events as part of my job and I tackled our wedding in a similar way to how I would handle a project at work, so it was nice to have a reminder that this event was much more special and to really bring it back to a personal level.

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Do you have any money saving tips or advice for engaged couples?

There were probably some areas I could have cut costs in if I’d made the time to shop around and get more quotes, but I generally fell in love with something and just went for it. So if you can, it’s probably worth trying a few different suppliers and comparing quotes before locking someone in.

My main piece of advice to other brides and grooms would be that when it comes to the wedding day I strong believe the bride and groom set the tone for the whole occasion. You can spend a year planning every aspect of the day to ensure its perfect, however the couple is the most important part of the day. If the couple are happy and enjoying their day then I believe the guests will too! It’s so important to be present and try and enjoy every moment – your guests will really notice and appreciate that.

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CREDITS

Photographer Danelle Bohane
Planner/Stylist Myself with help from Shaye from On My Hand Props, Styling & Flora
Flowers Shaye from On My Hand Props, Styling & Flora
Venue/Catering Ataahua Garden Venue & Devour Catering
Hire Company On My Hand Props, Styling & Flora & Blakes Hire Company
Stationery & Signage Minted
Hair & Makeup Fiona Clare Hair & Makeup
Cake Spongedrop
Celebrant Aaron Bloomfield
Brides Dress Morgan Davies Bridal in London for my veil and dress, which was by Kobus Dippenaar
Shoes & Accessories Givenchy shoes from Saks Fifth Avenue, Marni earrings from Matches Fashion & Kendra Scott cuff from Nordstrom
Bridesmaids Dresses & Accessories Joanna August from Weddington Way and Roman & French Earrings
Grooms Suit & Accessories Suits from Hallensteins, Shoes from The Iconic, Ties from The Best Boys Ties on Etsy, and belts and tie bar from Barkers
Rings Engagement ring from Dubai, Jess’s wedding band by Naveya & Sloane, and BJ’s wedding band from Neil Thomas Showcase Jewellers in Hamilton
Transport Prestige Rolls Royce
Music Simon Hirst & band
Videographer Shaun Paul Creative

10 of the Best and Most Beautiful Kumeu Wedding Venues

If you’ve just started wedding planning and you want to get married near Auckland, one of Kumeu’s beautiful wedding venues may be just the place. Home to some of my favourite vineyards and garden venues, Kumeu also has ample accommodation options and boasts cheaper out-of-Auckland prices which will please both you and your guests.

Grab your wedding planner book and visit some of these Kumeu wedding venues – take note about everything you love, and have a look at the Kumeu weddings we’ve featured.

1. Gracehill Vineyard Estate

One of our favourites, Gracehill Vineyard Estate  it’s in equal parts unbelievable for its stunning situ and its remarkable affordability. Panoramic lake views and lush green manicured gardens, with a price-point that leaves nothing to be desired.

2. Markovina

One of Kumeu’s premium wedding and event spaces, family owned Markovina Vineyard Estate has over 55 years of experience planning weddings and events. Situated on 10 acres of beautiful gardens & water features, the venue has been specifically designed for weddings offering an indoor-outdoor flow in a truly tranquil setting with your dining experience seated indoors under a canopy of vines. Offering five unique ceremony locations and full wet-weather options, a Mt Fuji Cherry Blossom tree (blooming in October), you’ll be spoiled for choice at Markovina.

3. Allely

Allely Estate is the a romantic garden wedding venue with stunning indoor and outdoor settings. From intimate weddings to large garden marquee weddings, Allely offers a truly flexible service.

4. Kumeu Valley

Situated in an idyllic, tranquil valley Kumeu Valley Estate has charm, style and elegance, while also providing modern facilities and impeccable service. As you enter the grounds the first thing you notice are the buildings’ unique style and incredible bell tower, embracing the charm of the classic estate. The high vaulted timber ceilings in warm Macrocarpa present an immediate WOW factor, and moving into the dance hall, the grand wood fire place makes for stunning wet weather option for your ceremony and particularly cosy for a winter wedding.

5. Soljans

Soljans Estate Winery is just 20 minutes out of Auckland City but feels like another world. The architecturally designed winery in charming Mediterranean style reflects the Dalmatian heritage of the owners, with Hinuera stone mirroring the traditions of their homeland. They designed the winery specifically with weddings in mind, extensive use of bi-folding cedar doors in the café and function rooms provides the ultimate in indoor/outdoor flow and facilities.

6. The Hunting Lodge

An incredible 80 acre estate, The Hunting Lodge Winery and Restaurant has everything to ensure a beautiful, comfortable and smooth sailing day for up to 250 people. The outdoor courtyard is fitted with a retractable roof and impressive open fireplace, set overlooking the vines Westward to catch the sunset and toast the day’s end – the perfect backdrop for your Big Day.

7. Boathouse at The Riverhead

Plan your Big Day in true kiwi style at The Riverhead. Set amongst our centenarian oak trees, and picturesque gardens we have the quintessential New Zealand view; looking over the water to the rural landscape. The Riverhead promises to make romance bloom by bringing together our tradition of fine food and beverage in a delightful atmosphere.

8. Bridgewater Country Estate

A premier Kumeu wedding venue, Bridgewater Country Estate is nestled amoungst 16 acres of rolling lawns, mature shade trees, native bush and landscaped gardens.  With gorgeous pathways, lilly pond, tennis court, pool, dedicated bridal suite and chalet accomodation – a fantastic all-in-one wedding venue option.

9. Flaxmere House

Flaxmere House is a Kumeu wedding venue with luxury accommodation and can comfortably sleep up to 20 people. With competitive wedding packages, Flaxmere House can cover everything you need so you can keep costs down and also enjoy a stress free day

10. Settlers Country Manner

With over 100 years of history, seven acres of breath-taking view and charming vintage interiors, Settlers Country Manor provides a magnificent setting for weddings, events and dining, all year round.

If you’re still searching for the right area to get married, also consider Matakana Wedding Venues and see How to Choose your Auckland Wedding Venue.

We’ve featured two Markovina Vineyard Weddings:

Zoe & Gene

Markovina Vineyard Wedding Kumeu

Jess + James

Markovina Kumeu Wedding
Chic Autumn Markovina Vineyard Wedding | Kumeu