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Attending the Baby Expo | 5 Tips to Get the Most out of Show Day

I personally found attending the Baby Expo as an expectant first time Mum extremely valuable, and now, returning as an exhibitor, I can certainly see a few ways to plan for, and get the most out of the day. The Baby Expo is New Zealand’s biggest baby expo at 5 locations nationwide

The Baby Expo is New Zealand’s biggest baby expo at 5 locations nationwide, enabling pregnant and new parents to see thousands of different baby products, stores and suppliers in just a few hours. Rather than traipse between stores, finding carparks at each and transferring capsules back and forth, it’s easy to get a really good feel for some of the key products you need to invest in at a Baby Expo.

However, without making a plan, you may find end up feeling overwhelmed and out-of-depth, so here are my easy tips for getting the most out of your day.

1. Shortlist the Must-Have Baby Products to See

With hundreds of exhibitors and thousands of products, it would be impossible to spend even a few minutes looking at each individually. If this is your first time finding things for bubs, work out which baby products are the ones you really need to touch/feel/try in person, to get the most out of your attendance. A few examples of this might be:

  • When choosing a pram it is very valuable to be able to compare the look, feel, size and usability of a pram in person. Questions you may ask yourself are: is it one that you can fold and then carry with one hand, while holding a baby for instance; does it feel sturdy and good quality; does it have ample storage below for a baby bag; will it fit in your car boot alongside grocery shopping, for instance (my beloved double-pram doesn’t!). Baby on the Move are a nationwide company with prams from many different suppliers, and the team provide a wealth of knowledge you can learn from at the Baby Expos.
  • Baby bassinets and cots come in so many varied designs now, from a simple Moses basket to a co-sleeper and beyond. It’s great to see these in person, compare the size (especially you’re planning to have baby in your room for a while), and talk to suppliers about what’s going to suit you. Cariboo is a Canterbury-based New Zealand company exhibiting with some beautiful options at the upcoming Baby Expos.
  • A nappy bin is perhaps not your most exciting purchase, but you’re going to be using it rather often, so it’s great to see and try a few in person, compare the cost of refill bags (if necessary). We used Ubbi who are going to be at the Expo soon!
  • Our Baby Books are best seen in person – it’s hard to show all 120 page of prompts and illustrations online, and you can really see the quality when you hold them yourself.

2. Pack and Plan to Spend a Few Hours

Don’t be surprised if you end up spending almost half your day exploring the baby show. If you’re coming with a baby, of course that means packing a lot of supplies for them (there are Mother’s rooms and changing facilities, of course). There will be coffee and food to purchase for you, but you may wish to come with a full water bottle and snacks to keep you going as well.

As well as seeing baby products, you may find yourself talking to extremely knowledgeable vendors, from the Sleep Store team to guest speakers – there’s very little about pregnancy, birth and babies you won’t be able to learn. If you’re planning on breastfeeding, I suggest you talk to midwife and lactation expert Julia at More than Milk.

If you are bringing your baby to the Expo, I suggest having a pram available to you as well as baby wearing, it gives you some storage space for purchases, and you can also bring along some toys to entertain little ones if need be later.

3. Plan your visit strategically

With thousands of visitors over the weekend, it is expected that some products will sell out. However, those that don’t may be reduced to clear in the final hours. As a small business, there’s only so much stock I can take, and with 22 books and journals now, I can’t bring an unlimited supply of all – but I will try to restock overnight. If there’s something in particular you really want, I would advise to come in the morning if possible.

4. Dress comfortably

Not only will you be on your feet for a long time, you may even wish to try products on, such as baby-wearing options or even maternity wear. Layer up if possible so that you can remove a layer when it gets hot (there are a lot of people).

5. Save Time and Money – Prebook Free Tickets Online

Save queuing at the gate, and paying for entry, the Baby Expo allows families to come for free with online tickets prebooked.

Make sure to come and see our range at the Baby Expo in Bay of Plenty (Stand M6) and Auckland (Stand M4) I would absolutely love to meet you!

Attending the Baby Expo | Tips to Get the Most out of Baby Shows

Top Wedding Suit Trends for 2022 and How to Wear Them

There’s no denying that a bride’s dress takes centre stage when it comes to the wedding and it can sometimes take months of hunting to find “the one”. A men’s suit on the other hand is easy to pin down, right? Wrong! Stylist to the stars Lulu Wilcox talks us through the must-have suits for the upcoming wedding season!

There are so many suits on the market today, from the style and shape, to the colour and pattern. You’ll be amazed at all the choices in front of you and perhaps just as overwhelmed as you are finding the dress!

There’s also a lot of fun to be had with the groomsmen suits as well – you are no longer confined to the standard “blue wedding suit” of previous decades. Today I’m going to be tackling some of the biggest suit trends of 2021 and how you can incorporate them into your big day.

  1. Tweed

This classic fabric will continue to be popular for those rustic, outdoor weddings. It’s a timeless material that adds some real charm to a wedding and it comes in a huge variety of colours. If an entire tweed suit sounds like a little too much for you, keep things simple by introducing tweed in just the waistcoat or even the tie and perhaps the pocket square. Otherwise a statement plaid jacket can be such an amazing look if your groom is up for the challenge. (photo via Pinterest)

  1. Double breasted

The 80s favourite has been growing in popularity recently and it’s set to be a trend that sticks around for a while now. These boxy jackets feature two rows of buttons and generally have wider lapels. However, for a modern 2021 look, take the classic double-breasted style and update it with a tailored and tight fit, paired with skinny or straight leg suit pants. Similarly, we will also be seeing a lot of double breasted waistcoats this year, but I’d suggest pairing these with a single breast button suit. (photo via Pinterest)

  1. Tailored and fitted suits

This brings us nicely to trend number three! Suits for the past few seasons, and the year ahead, have had a tailored and fitted look. While I spotted Harry Styles rocking a pair of exaggerated flared pants to a wedding recently in the gossip mags, this is a trend yet to take off (well, in this era at least!).  Right now, nothing beats a fitted suit and skinny tie – it’s a great starting point and foundation for any fabric or colour of your choice. 

  1. Colourful fabrics

A black or navy suit is always a solid option, but have you thought about playing with colour? Blue is still by far the most popular colour for wedding suits, but now there are a lot more options on the market to choose between. Last year we saw a lot of green tones and burgundy creeping into wedding suits and in 2021 this is going to take off even bigger. The world is your oyster when it comes to what colour you’d like as a suit! (photo via Pinterest)

  1. Make it custom!

Bespoke and made-to-measure suits are becoming more and more popular right now. This takes us right back to the 20s when every man got their suits custom made. Why not indulge in the experience as a treat for your special day? It gives you the opportunity to customise everything from the colour and fabric to the design and fit. This also means you add some really special touches to the suit, like your future wife’s name embroidered on the lining, or perhaps a pouch for an antique family pocket watch. The options are endless!

And those are our top 5 trends for suits this season! Weddings are such a fabulous event and they deserve and equally fabulous outfit. I hope I’ve proven that it’s not only the bride who can have fun with her outfit on the big day. If you’re planning your wedding, use the best wedding planner book to stay on track.

Our advice to engaged couples

We all need advice when it comes to planning a wedding. There are so many things to think about and do….

We have pulled together pieces of advice from our couples we have interviewed in our real wedding blogs. Coming from lots of different couples from all walks of life, you will be sure to seek some advice from this compilation. The most popular advice “Do it for you and no one else. It is your day and you need to ensure you enjoy every moment of it.”

wedding-advice-engaged-couples-wedding

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!

A Creative Modern Chinese-Australian Wedding at Vieille Branche

Things will go wrong. Don’t panic, focus on solutions not problems.

Surround yourself with people you love and trust that will not concern you with trivial admin questions on your wedding day. DELEGATE – Choosing the right bridal party, MCs and ushers will help you with this! If at the end of the day you and your fiancé are married and you have had fun it is a successful day! Remember that a wedding should be fun and planning it should be fun. Don’t take yourself too seriously and don’t worry too much about getting your dress grubby. I know we will get some great photos we will cherish forever as I was happy getting into the sand and grass and sticks (and cow poo) in my dress. Have a bridal party kit with you at all times during the day in case of headache, hair or dress malfunction, make up crisis, blister etc. It is a long day so some makeup wipes and deodorant may just be the difference.     Put about $2000 in your budget for incidentals – you would be surprised what you end up needing to buy!

Weddings are an emotional time for everyone – be aware of each other’s feelings. Try not to get too fixated on certain things you think you want or need for your wedding day, the more flexible you are the less stressed you will be!

A Waiorongomai Farm Heritage Wedding

Enjoy the day or in our case days it goes by so fast! We decided on a videographer at the last second and it was worth every penny! Oh and don’t worry about the weather! Two weddings, two days of torrential rain!

An Elegant Urban (Second) Wedding

Stick to the kind of wedding you feel completely comfortable with! After all it is your special day and you want to have an amazing one. P.S If you decide to throw your bouquet make sure you have lots of room for the girls! We had a bit of an unfortunate bouquet brawl (accident) that resulted in one of my bridesmaids having to have surgery on her wrist the week after the wedding, she did get the bouquet though so I suppose it was all worth it!

An Intimate Rustic Matamata Farm Wedding

Don’t sweat the small stuff, keeping numbers down makes it so much more enjoyable and having a wedding planners was the best decision EVER!!     

Bohemian Bali Beach Wedding

Do it for you and no one else. It is your day and you need to ensure you enjoy every moment of it. The idea of marriage is being a team, for us it is sharing food with the other human, sitting in the car for 10 minutes contemplating which café to go to, being the ultimate team at concerts together, seeing the world, putting on your old track pants and watching a Sunday film. It’s all about appreciating life’s little beauties as well as the big accomplishments as they all shape you as a couple.

Bohemian Rustic Whangateau Wedding

Enjoy every moment of being engaged as it fly’s by so quickly and is such a special and exciting time in your lives. Also try not to stress! This is a hard one and something I struggled to do while organising our Wedding from England but it is so important and allows you to enjoy the whole process. Everything always comes together on the day and all those little details you spent months stressing about are all forgotten. If it all seems too much take a moment and remind yourself that ultimately it is about you and the love of your life celebrating your commitment to each other with all your family and friends and nothing could be more beautiful or special than that.                  

Chic Autumn Markovina Vineyard Wedding

Have fun! You often hear that planning a wedding can sometimes be quite stressful and cause tension – if you let it. Remember your wedding day is one of the most important days of your lives, think about why and how you fell in love with each other and enjoy the experience together.

Elegant Rustic Kourawhero Estate Wedding

Decide early what your priorities and non-negotiables are, as well as the things you don’t mind skimping on. It will help with keeping to the budget later on. For example we didn’t care so much about rings and flowers and table settings, for us we wanted to spend our money on the things that would give our guests the best time possible – good food, good wine, good music.

Minimalist Cultural Fusion Wedding

Get your a into g and get things sorted quickly so you can relax the weeks before ! Especially the girls! Don’t fuss on all the small extra things you can get for a wedding – it all adds up .. fast!! Keep your wedding list to who you want and who makes you happy as a couple. Enjoy your day it’s true it goes so fast!

Minimalist Floral Inspired Waikato Wedding

Get the big things done early – caterer, photographer, venue etc and then you have time to enjoy being engaged before the few months before the wedding when things start to step up!

Don’t make it complicated – my dad always said it’s about the love between you and your partner not about what you’re wearing, or how you have dressed the tables. Enjoy the journey together – keep a wedding planning journal, write lists, prioritise don’t try and do everything in one day, use the people around you that want to help. One thing I am glad Tom and I did on our wedding day was, we stepped outside together just the two of us, just after the first dance and we reflected on the day that 5 minutes of us time was special as we caught our breath and just talked about how amazing it all is!

Queenstown Hilltop Wedding with a Festival Vibe

Involve each other in the decisions, draw from help from friends and family, it really does help lighten the stress load. Focus on things you and your guests will enjoy on the day, such as the food and drinks, the activities, the running of the day and program, things that are experienced. Once it’s all done those are the details which will be remembered, rather than fine detail decorations or wedding favors. On the morning of the day leave any stress behind and accept that all that you could have done has been done and the rest will be as it is to be. A glass of bubbles and laughs with your bridesmaids is also a good nerve cure and a good way to get you excited!  

Relaxed Floral Inspired Old Forest School Wedding

Weddings are expensive, so prioritize (no matter what your budget) what you are happy to spend money on and what areas you are able to make some savings in or what you don’t think are essentials. Communicate with your fiancé as much as possible and be willing to compromise on some aspects if need be.

Romantic & Seriously WOW in Waikato

Make sure you enjoy the engagement! It is such an amazing experience and time spent with your partner, friends and family so don’t rush to get it all over too soon! We were engaged for nearly 18 months before we got married and it also meant we could book the important stuff well in advance to secure dates, then enjoy ourselves before worrying about all the small stuff.

Romantic Lake Okareka Wedding

In wedding planning nothing ever 100% goes your way, vendors may cancel, the weather could be horrible but I am a firm believer in everything happens for a reason. Looking back on our wedding planning, when certain things happened that were out of our control we chose a different route and it all worked out even better than we had imagined. Also don’t be afraid to ask for help, delegate, delegate and delegate!

Rustic Chic at Birkenhead Yacht Club

We got engaged a year and a half before the wedding but due to family reasons and difficult time planning, it was put on hold until the end of 2016. In middle of November, we made a decision on the date, so it meant that we had 2 and a half months to organize. It didn’t sound that crazy or scary to us. But as soon as we were getting questions such as “Are you talking about 2018?” or comments like “Wow, that is soon” we realized that some people saw it as a short time to plan. So our advice would be: don’t stress too much, if you have a plan and have thought about every part of the day it will all fall into place. It’s such a special day, so with all the planning don’t forget to just to enjoy it.

Rustic Chic Katikati Orchard Wedding

You know, we love a good party and wanted it to be so special for our people but in the end it just came down to the fact that on the day with everyone there it was going to be epic no matter what, which it was! So I guess in short don’t get caught up in the minute details, it will all fall into place and you will all have the most amazing time!

A Coastal Chic Wedding

I Said Yes!

We have wrapped up proposals from some of our favourite real wedding blogs to give you all an “awwww” moment.

Source: Pinterest

Joseph and I were discussing purchasing rings together around 4 years into our relationship. We both knew we wanted matching bands with plenty of diamonds. We never truly discussed who would propose to whom, but I just knew he wanted to be proposed to. I started brainstorming ideas of how to propose. He mentioned multiple times how the Brooklyn Bridge was one of his favorite architectural bridges in the world. We also both moved around a lot throughout medical school and I wanted our proposal to have elements of our 5 years together. When we unexpectedly moved to Philadelphia in 2018, and I took advantage of our proximity to NYC to include the Brooklyn Bridge in the proposal. Our first joint apartment was in Miami and we lived in a building with a restaurant called Sugarcane. Joe recently
visited Brooklyn and told me that Sugarcane opened up a second location in Dumbo, overlooking the Brooklyn Bridge. With this new information, I was able to formulate a plan.

Yosemite National park wedding

 I (Shameel) proposed to Nick on his 30th birthday. I took him out all around Auckland doing lots of fun activities – a private tour of the Smith and Caughey’s building (Nick loves old buildings), a horse trek, massages, then we went to the place we had our first date and I gave him a card that he though was a voucher to buy some clothes but inside it said “Will you marry me”. Finally we had a surprise dinner with our family and close friends to celebrate our engagement before we headed off to Europe the next day for 8 weeks! A whirlwind to say the least!

Winter wedding at Kumeu Valley Estate

Tuaine and I went shopping for rings 4 months before he proposed so I knew it was coming but had no idea when. He proposed when our daughter was 6 weeks old so it was an emotional day (crazy baby hormones!) He had planned a whole day of my favorites, we went for a walk around the Dunedin Botanic Gardens. We went to my favorite Florist, Estelle Flowers where he had a massive bunch of flowers waiting for me. Then we went to lunch at my favorite cafe, he had organised for me to get my makeup done so I felt all pretty, then he ordered our favorite dinner and got it to bring home and set the lounge up like a restaurant, so sweet considering we could have not/ would not have wanted to leave our daughter at that age. Then as I was putting our daughter to bed he set up our garden with candles in jars and tea light candles, he came to get me saying he needed help with something and when I got to the back door I saw the candles and burst into tears, I had been waiting so long and it was so beautiful, and also by this point I was tired, had got my PJ’s on and thought he wasn’t going to end up proposing that night! Haha He led me outside where he got down on one knee. It was just perfect.

Dunedin Botanic Garden Wedding Under $5000!

On an unassuming Thursday evening three days before my birthday after returning from work. Chris was already home which was odd. Our dog Ruby came out to meet me as I arrived and had a note around her neck saying “Will you marry Chris”. I started to cry and say yes before I even saw him kneeling in our living room with a ring he had fashioned out of a twisty tie and a white pebble from our garden. I crossed over the threshold coved in rose petals and he asked the question again, I said yes (again) before he slipped on the homemade ring. We went shopping the following day for the ring, which we both love.

Waiorongomai Farm Heritage Wedding

Kat whisked my away to Waiheke Island for my 30th. She had
hired out an amazing air b n b and it was so us! We had a romantic bath in the outdoor area and
then Kat had told me to wait there while she organised some food. Kat had lugged platter food and
my fav wine all the way from Napier – she arranged it all inside for me and told me to get changed
and come in. I didn’t really suspect anything as this is the type of thing that we always do. Kat then
got my birthday card out and started reading it to me. The end of the card finished with there is
one thing I want and that is you.. Sophie will you marry me? Well I started screaming and hugging
her and then finally said yes! We then spent the afternoon drinking wine, calling our family and
friends and went out for dinner! Was such a beautiful time for us.

Beautiful Havelock North Love Story

On Santa Monica Pier, Los Angeles California, on the 30th October 2015. We walked down the end of the pier and I couldn’t figure out why he was so quiet. I thought he was joking, I knew what we had was serious but to hear those words and that kind of commitment was life changing. You couldn’t wipe the smile of my face for the rest of our trip.

Elegant, Modern Waiheke Wedding Cable Bay

On my birthday, making it hard to forget. Adam took me away to Whangamata for the weekend where his family have a holiday home. He suggested we go for a picnic lunch at the beach. In a tongue and cheek manner I slightly teased him for this romantic gesture as it wasn’t his usual way. Needless to say, this probably made him even more nervous. After being at the beach for a while he rolled over on the picnic blanket, box in hand and simply said “I have another birthday surprise for you, will you marry me?”. It was perfect, relaxed, low key, in our favourite spot with no one around.

Bohemian Rustic Whangateau Wedding (with a $100 reception venue!)

On the 30th of December 2015. LJ called a ‘family meeting’. We were sitting on our deck with Harry (his son) and our two pooches. He said he had all the things he loved sitting around him, and produced a stunning ring he had designed with Jaime Lucinda, followed by “What do you reckon?”

 – Chic Meets Rustic – Wedding in 115 year old family woolshed

James proposed in Paris beneath the Eiffel tower on Christmas Eve, 2015. We had spent a few days before in Germany exploring the beautiful Christmas markets. James hid the ring box in one of his spare shoes the whole time so I wouldn’t find it! While we were walking under the Eiffel tower he asked if we could sit down but I was too busy trying to get a good selfie and said no! I finally gave in and when we sat down he got down on one knee and proposed. I of course said yes and after a few tears we went for a beautiful cruise down the River Seine and drank Champagne in the city of love.

Chic Autumn Markovina Vineyard Wedding

Rupak proposed to me on my birthday. It was not romantic at all but it was the perfect proposal for us. Rupak gave me my birthday present early in the morning, it was a Meadowlark box. I got excited thinking it was a proposal as the ring I wanted for an engagement ring was a Meadowlark one. Sadly it was not. But then we took the dog for a walk on the beach, and Rupak sat me down and said he had a second gift. “It comes with a condition though – you have to marry me”, to which I said “okay … “, because the usual “yes” didn’t quite work seeing has he hadn’t actually asked. I took the box off him and put the ring on my finger myself, we had a quick kiss, a car honked at us, and the dog started getting restless from sitting for so long. So we walked home and that was that.

Minimalist Cultural Fusion Wedding

I proposed in Paris in a nice secluded alleyway in MontMarte. I was carrying the ring with me and I was going to do it in front of the Arc De Triomphe, but didn’t because there were waaaay to many people around. Nisha is a huge french art fan and the province is home to a few of her favourite artists. We were travelling with our two good friends Tim and Nicole, who of course Nisha photographs constantly.

She was busy posing and photographing them and I suggested that we also get a picture and she handed the picture to Tim who of course captured the whole moment. Seeing as Nish is a photographer I thought it would be fitting to have photos of the exact moment we got engaged.

– Nisha&Todd’s Engagement

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, which he managed to keep until the day we arrived in Queenstown, where he mistakenly used the word engagement instead of anniversary. We didn’t acknowledge this slip and three days later 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. I also loved the fact it gave us something to laugh about, the fact we’d both tried to plan romantic suprises and had both let it slip, it made the whole thing very ‘us’. I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Relaxed Floral Inspired Old Forest School Wedding

Ethan sent me a simple text on a Friday afternoon saying ‘keep from 3pm free and wear your active wear’. I didn’t think much of it at the time due to the active wear request. We hopped in the car and he refused to tell me where we were going and what we were doing. 40 minutes later we pulled up to Raglan beach where there were horses waiting for us. We rode horses on the beach front and finished off the evening with a picnic of my favorite meal at a look out spot. Ethan said a little speech and got down on one knee with the most beautiful custom made ring I have ever seen. It was a huge surprise and man did he do well!

Romantic & Seriously WOW in Waikato

Although quiet and shy, Andy has a real knack for making the simplest things incredibly romantic. Our proposal was much the same. As I’m a nurse I often work shift work and the weekends, whereas Andy works Mon-Fri and plays football in the weekends. After about 4 weeks of not having a single day off coinciding we eventually had a Saturday off together. Andy had a whole day of activities planned which basically involved re-creating our first few dates together. First he took me out to the Otago Peninsula to watch the seals frolicking, we grabbed an ice-cream and some lunch and then went for a stroll in the Dunedin Botanic Gardens. After an hour or so of wandering around the gardens I mentioned maybe we should head back home as it was looking like it was going to rain. Andy seemed really hesitant to head back home and kept insisting that we try “one more path”. So, reluctantly, I agreed and we walked down this derelict path which opened out to a large lawn and bench overlooking North Dunedin. Once I saw the bench I realized that this was where we had our second date and we had spent hours sitting and chatting at this bench. When I sat down Andy got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. I had been given the diamond for my ring 8 or so years ago from my Grandpa in South Africa and my parents had kept it safe for me until we decided to get engaged. Unbeknownst to me, Andy had spoken to my father and got the diamond made into a beautiful ring for me.

Romantic Floral Dunedin Garden Wedding

On my 28th birthday Jarrod surprised me by arranging the day off work, preparing at gourmet picnic and taking me to Long Bay beach. As it was my birthday (and he always spoils me on my birthday) I had no idea what was about to happen. After a glass or two of Champagne, Jarrod asked me to stand up while he was down on one knee and presented the most beautiful ring I had ever seen. I was so surprised, it was the perfect proposal so of course I said yes! Later that day I then found out the night before Jarrod had even seen my Dad to ask for his blessing. Everything about the proposal was perfect, it was so well planned and I can’t stop smiling every time I tell the proposal story.

Rustic Chic at Birkenhead Yacht Club

Best books and tools to teach both you and your Pēpi Te Reo Māori

Help your tamariki to korero Māori.

Like many of us, we would love to teach our little ones how to speak our beautiful native language of New Zealand. We have put together some books, flash cards and other tools to help your Whanau learn the Māori language.

Kuwi & Friends Māori Picture Dictionary

The Kuwi and Friends Māori Picture Dictionary (He Papakupu Whakaahua) is a fun, easy-to-use resource for those wanting to discover, learn and use everyday words in te reo Māori (native language of New Zealand).

The illustrations are designed to help with comprehension, particularly for younger learners. Visual cues can assist with retention of language, to recall spoken and written words.

My First Words in Māori

My First Words in Māori equips your whanau with the first words you need to speak te reo at home together. With lively pictures labelled in Māori and English, each page introduces the concepts and words children use as they first begin to talk, get to know people and explore the world around them.

Kuwi Magnetic Māori Feelings And States

These handy magnets can be stuck straight onto whiteboards as well as the fridge making them perfect for a useful daily resource.

Each pack shows the name of the emotion and the corresponding facial image – both with the the Māori and English translation written alongside.

My First Te Reo Māori Picture Dictionary

100 everyday Māori words all kiwi kids should know. Learn to speak Māori with simplistic eye catching imagery your baby will love.

For every book sold, a portion of the profits will be donated to a local Māori organisation or kōhanga reo.

Reo Pēpi Box Set – Series 3 Toru

 These baby books introduce essential concepts for everyday use of Te Reo Māori and English.

Mahi (Actions) / Kupu Tauaro (Opposites) / Kare a-roto (Feelings)

baby-books-to-teach-your-baby-pepi-te-reo-maori

Moana Rd NZ Wildlife Memory Game

There is lots to learn with this memory game featuring both English and Te Reo Māori wording. Each tile has an iconic Kiwi critter on it.

Your Pēpi will also learn matching and sorting while they play.

Beautiful Māori Wedding | Black Barn Lake Tarawera

What an incredible wedding to feature. Filled with gorgeous Māori traditions, Haka, Pounamu (greenstone) and bringing beautiful whānau together for Briar and Tapara’s big day.

Who Briar and Tapara Hawkins
Where The Black Barn, Lake Tarawera
Guests 80

beautiful-maori-wedding-black-barn-lake-tarawera-haka-greenstone-newzealand

Budget 

Our budget was around 30K 

How did you meet? 

We met clubbing in town when we were 19/20  #drunkinlove

How did your partner propose?

This is a bit of a story and it’s hilarious.

Myself, Tapara and our besties Jay & Mel were on Holiday in Bali (5 years ago). The year before we had done a girls trip to Bali so we knew if you told them it was your birthday, they would bring out a cake and sing you happy birthday. Mel and I decided to set up Tarps and not tell him. So Mel snuck up to the bar at the restaurant to tell them it was his birthday. It was getting towards the end of dinner. And I know it’s about to go down (the birthday prank) as the lights dim. I turn to look at him, as he’s getting down on one knee completely oblivious there is 5 balinese clapping hands and singing him happy birthday with a cake. I had no idea what he said as I was cry laughing… But obviously I said yes and I wouldn’t have it any other way. A story we can laugh about forever. 

beautiful-maori-wedding-black-barn-lake-tarawera-haka-greenstone-newzealand

What was important to you when you started planning your wedding? 

Being a photographer myself, having someone amazing take the images was definitely the most important thing. We booked Justin before we booked anything else.

Next was the venue; the black barn made the perfect backdrop for the day. It was also important that we didn’t miss any time with our guests so we did all of our photos before the wedding. 

In three words describe your wedding style 

Relaxed, Family, Love.

Was there anything that you did that was a little different to the norm for your wedding?

Doing photos first.. but I think that’s becoming more norm now.

What were your save and splurge items for your wedding?

  • Splurge – Live music, photographer and accommodation and venue
  • Save – Table flowers 
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What was the most difficult part of planning your wedding? And the most fun? 

The most stressful part was making sure we had ordered everything for the catering and dinner. Also getting everything back to the hire places on time.

Did you DIY anything, or have family and friends help? 

Tapara’s family did all of the food which was amazing, his uncle helped put together a menu. We also had his amazing cousins run the bar and organise serving the night of wedding.

Did lockdowns have any effect on your plans, did you have to postpone, change any of your plans or reduce your guest list?

No we got married back in 2019, but we did have our first baby in the very first lock March the 30th 2020. 

What advice would you share with others planning their Big Day?

Do not go cheap on a photographer. You will look back on your photos for a lifetime.

BOOK SOMEONE YOU LOVE. I have heard many times of brides being disappointed about their photos. Book someone you love and connect with. Enjoy your day, it goes so fast!

Do you have any regrets, what would you change, if anything? The one thing I would change is to have live music longer and not have the dj take over at 8.30pm. Everyone loved Adam McLean Music. He played throughout the afternoon and over dinner 

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Where did you go for your honeymoon?

Moorea, Tahiti

If you enjoyed this blog, we would love to see yours too, just submit your details through this form. We love to feature all weddings including same sex weddings, elopements and civil unions, and would love to hear what makes yours unique!

CREDITS
Photographer Justin Aitken Photographer
Venue The Black Barn, Lake Tarawera

Catering & Event Planning My inlaws and family did all the food and it was amazing. 
Makeup Rhi Kaipo Makeup
Hair Hann Stech Hair
Attire Made with love (I added lace sleeves to the dress.)

Wedding Party Attire Hallensteins and Evolution

Music Adam McLean Music
Rings Stewart Dawsons
Flowers Le fleur 
Wedding Cake My sister made it

What is Included in a Wedding Planner book?

Wedding planning can be both super exciting and stressful at the same time. You may have already considered hiring a professional wedding planner to help you out, but before you do, consider what is included in a wedding planner book, and how it can save you time, money, and stress.

Unless you’re an event planner already, planning a wedding is an entirely new experience. Not only is it a huge event, logistically and financially, but it’s an intrinsically personal one – which often means it’s one that people hold strong views about. It’s easy to be influenced by others, including from your own parents and family, and often your future Mother in law, and family.

To avoid becoming completely overwhelmed by everything, and with all the pressures on you, you may find that after a while you are not getting any enjoyment out of the process. A wedding planner book, like our best-selling little white book can really help to make wedding planning easier, stress-free, and a lot more fun. It’s a resource for all your vendors, guests, expenses, notes, ideas and more – in one place, and also a 12 month journal with regular checklists throughout. It breaks wedding planning into bite-sized, manageable tasks to complete within your entire engagement.

What is Included in a Wedding Planner book?

Our wedding planner book, the little white book is unique, in that it is not only a planner, but a 12 month diary, so that you can use just one book, and integrate wedding planner within your everyday life. Named the best wedding planner book in Australia by Bridal Musings and Modern Wedding Magazine, we say it’s what couples not only want, but actually need to plan a wedding.

Below we outline what you’ll also find included in our wedding planner book, and why we consider them necessities. You can also download a sample of our wedding planner, so that you know exactly what’s included.

1. Space to Record your Proposal

We think your love story so far is incredibly important to take into account when you’re wedding planning. It will help with working out your wedding priorities (what’s important to you), your wedding speeches and vows, and coming back to your initial notes and reflections during your wedding planning journey will help to keep you grounded, and remember what’s important.

We suggest you start the wedding planner book with the ‘our love story’ pages (taken directly from the our love story couple’s journal). Get inspired to plan a Big Day that is meaningful to you by taking a moment to reflect and make note of the proposal.

All memories fade, even the ones we want to hold onto the most, and such a special moment deserves a special place in your keepsake.

If you haven’t already got the little white book, or your wedding planner book doesn’t have this section included, feel free to use ours:

Take a moment to reflect. Write about the day you got engaged, how you shared your news, and what you’re most excited about. Do you already have some ideas about your Big Day?

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2. Record your Wedding Party & How/Why you asked each of them

Your Wedding Party is special, and asking your closest family or friends to be a part of your Big Day is a very special privilege. Our wedding planner book encourages you to record not just who you are including in your Wedding Party, but why you chose each of them, how you asked, and what you’re planning on asking for help with.

Ours is a completely gender neutral wedding planner designed for same-sex couples to use as well as so we call it a Wedding Party rather than a Bridal Party, and we have a space to make your own, rather than specifying that you record your maid of honour, bridesmaids, best man, groomsmen etc. For many couples, these terms aren’t appropriate, so instead we let you fill it in the way that suits you best.

Our wording is:

Your wedding party may have important roles in helping you plan the wedding, and to support you on the Big Day. Record who you’ve asked to be part of your wedding party, how you asked them, and what you’re planning on asking for help with.

This will also hopefully get you thinking even more about the tasks you can delegate and take off your plate.

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Credit: Amanda Gillian Photography

3. Your Wedding Guest List: Names, Addresses, RSVPs, and Guest Notes

This is a big one, and in our wedding planner we provide up to 10 pages of guest names, and a further double spread for notes too.

Your wedding guest list will really help you determine your venue, so it is something you will want to organise early – it’s also crucial to establishing your wedding budget. We have included space for names, addresses, the number of people who have RSVP’d (if you invite a couple, but only one can attend, for instance, it’s easy to note this) followed by a space to note the gift received, and to tick off that you’ve sent a thank you note after the wedding.

At the end of the list, we encourage you to record the number of invited guests, RSVPs, any cancellations, and a final number, followed by two pages of notes for dietary requirements, number of children attending, and any other special requests or notes for your seating plan.

For more help with this, have a look at How to Start Your Wedding Guest List.

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Credit: This Glam Wedding at Academy of Music in Philadelphia.

4. Comprehensive Budget Pages

These pages are ones you will return to most frequently as you secure each booking and your budget allocations change. Each line has space for a Budget Estimate, followed by Actual Cost, Deposit Paid, Balance Payable, and Due Date – so that you can stay on top of it throughout.

The little white book wedding planner has separate pages for your Engagement Party Budget and Honeymoon Budget. You will easily be able to track deposits paid, and due amounts with dates.

You can see our Wedding Budget Pages in The Actual Cost of a Wedding, and see also Organising Your Wedding Budget.

5. Wedding Venue Pages

Once you have a guest list drafted and have estimated your total wedding budget, the venue is the first booking to secure. Take a few days to have a look at the venues you love the look of. Make it fun. Take a road trip if you’re planning a destination and have a romantic weekend away at the same time.

Jot down what you loved about each venue or what you didn’t as much. Talk to the coordinator about how much they can assist with, anything you will need to hire, and what the total costs will be. This will help you make your final decision.

Our wedding planner has space for each venue’s name, contact details, appointment times, availability, cost and notes, as well as a journal prompt to record what made you fall in love with the wedding venue you chose. There’s also a blank page, for notes or photos.

Credit: Nicole George Events

6. Notes on Photographers and Videographers

Choosing your Photographer, and also a Videographer if you wish to have a wedding video, is such an exciting decision – many couples will have had their eye on one in particular, and will want to book as soon as possible. For others, it will require a lot of research. Choose wisely, these photos will capture your memories to last for a lifetime.

Take note of photographers you like and make the final decision together once you have been through their websites, researched recommendations and even book an engagement photoshoot with them to see how much you love working with them. They are the wedding vendor you will spend the most time with on the wedding day, so it’s important that you feel comfortable and have a good rapport with them, as well as loving their style of photography.

Use the wedding planner book to record all the notes you have on each business, such as what’s included, what packages they offer, and get recommendations from friends if you’re getting stuck.

7. Wedding Attire – Choosing Your Wedding Outfits

It’s important that your wedding planner book has space to plan your wedding attire (you may even want to use it for sketching options).Start booking appointments with your favourite designers, you may already envision a style from your Pinterest board or Instagram folders. Nothing compares with trying these on in real life, but it’s a good idea to start with inspiration.

Use your wedding planner book to take note of any styles you like, stick in picture from magazines, and make note of anything you see online too.

Credit: June Bug Weddings

Source: Green Wedding Shoes

8. All the Other Vendors: Flowers, Décor, Catering, Cake, Jewellery, Celebrant, Stylist (and Style inspo pages)

Your wedding planner book also needs to have individual pages for each of your wedding vendors – as there are so many options. For instance, you can buy, hire or make your décor – or your wedding venue may already look exactly as you want it to. Take your wedding planner book with you everywhere, as you meet with your florist or caterer, choosing to take note of certain styles and colour themes you like.

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9. Writing Your Vows and Wedding Speeches

The part a lot of couples struggle with. Perfecting the vows. When you get to this stage, take a look back through your wedding planner over the past 12 months and reflect while you write your vows to your partner. This will help as you read through your moments together and your planning. Return to the original ‘our love story’ pages, reflect on the proposal, and write vows and wedding speeches from the heart. Nothing beats beautiful, personal memories that you can share as part of these.

10. Our wedding planner has a 12 month countdown and checklists

Once you’ve booked your wedding venue and first few vendors, the countdown really begins.

We have included a 12 month undated diary, with checklists throughout, for you to use as your daily diary, while also creating a keepsake of your engagement. Your feelings, what you have achieved for the month past. We have even included little prompts such as “What do you hope to accomplish this month?” and “What are you grateful for?

If you aren’t a regular journal writer, this will help guide you into what to fill you pages with and also remind you of things you need to do, and having those checklists throughout will ensure you don’t miss a thing.

11. Key Contacts & Wedding Day Timeline

It’s vital that you make an on the day plan, as well as having a list of key contacts (for somebody else to call – you will be far too busy). Set the timeline. How much time do you want to allocate for Photography, Speeches, etc.

Both of these lists are within the little white book, so you can make copies and delegate/hand out to to others to to deal with any hiccups on the day – so you can spend the entire day enjoying yourself.

12. Your Honeymoon… & The Adventure Continues

Did someone say holiday?! The next party begins. Your honeymoon. YAY!

Where do you want to go? What do you want to do? and… are you ready to relax?

I think so! Use your wedding planner to think about the future too. Ours even includes a few pages after the honeymoon, ‘the adventure continues’ so that you can relive all the fun of your Big Day and think about your future together.

Source: Pinterest

Mother of One | Teaching your  Pēpi Te Reo Māori, dealing with Preeclampsia and Post-Partum Depression.

Beautiful mama Aaliyah sat down with us to open up about her struggles with postpartum depression, preeclampsia and how to incorporate Te Reo Maori into your pepi’s life.

Your family

I live in Kirikiriroa (Hamilton) with my husband, Ben and our adventurous one year old, Leo.

I am Māori, Chinese-Samoan, Tongan, European and French. Ben is Māori and European. And
Leo is a yummy fruit salad of all those ethnicities put together.

We enjoy simply, just being together. We love teaching Leo Te Reo Māori as both Ben and I never grew up learning the language, so I guess you could say we are learning it together.

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How does your typical day look? Are you a stay at home parent/juggling work/kindy?

A typical day…. hmmm… Usually Ben gets up first, does his morning routine and then will
grab Leo when he wakes up and bring him to me for Leo’s morning boobie. We then have
breakfast, have a little kanikani (dance) together before Ben runs off to work. And then Leo
and I party all day…. KIDDING! I wish.

I am a content creator, photographer, social media manager and more… so I juggle all that while spending time with Leo. He is an amazing sleeper so he naps from 12:30-3:30pm and that’s the time I am able to get a lot of work done. I try to be as present as I can be with him, while he’s awake. Once he’s awake, we have play time and start getting dinner ready. We have dinner, then straight into the shower
because Leo loves to share his food with the floor, his face and everywhere else. And then
bottle time for Leo, story time and then bed time. Ben and I will clean together and slowly make our way to bed. And that’s a typical day for us.

Journey to conceiving and pregnancy

So for two years, we tried for Leo. It was a lot. Doctors suspected I had endometriosis and
kept putting me on different drugs and I was emotionally and physically exhausted. It was so
disheartening because the world made it out to be such an easy task (to get pregnant) but
yet we were two years in and nothing. We then hit a huge bump in our marriage and
separated, for a lot of different reasons… and infertility was definitely a contributor towards
that. Once we worked on ourselves and got back together we decided to try again for a
baby… this time we were so conscious of our prayers and our thoughts and intentions, but
we also didn’t hold any pressure within ourselves. And by divine timing or whatever you will
call it, we were blessed with conceiving naturally. I guess you could say that it was a surprise,
especially after trying for two years but it also just felt ‘right’.

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How was your pregnancy?

Let’s just say, I would rather do labour all over again but not the pregnancy. Most of my
pregnancy was a mission. At times I felt beautiful, but most of the time I felt like a whale.
People were telling me “You look like you’re ready to pop” around the halfway mark and it
was really upsetting me. I loved my bump though. Rubbing my puku, and connecting with my
son via my womb was something unexplainable.

Did you find out the gender of your child?

We found out the gender at the scan, just Ben and I. I thought we were having a girl and I was prepared for that, but when they said he was a boy, we were so over the moon. Ben ran up and down the hallway screaming “I’m going to have a mini ALL BLACK!!” We rang our family chats and let them know via video call. We were in and out of lockdowns during my pregnancy so we didn’t want to waste money on
doing anything elaborate.

Did you practice hypnobirthing, read books, use apps or use a pregnancy journal? 

I journal a lot. I have always been like that since I was little so I have several journals but I did have a journal for my son throughout my pregnancy. I did a lot of research on hypnobirthing, breathing techniques and anything natural. My midwives were advocates for natural births, so that was super helpful too. I had my dream midwife down here in Kirikiriroa for half of my pregnancy and then she had a family emergency and had to let me go. So we decided to live in Auckland with my parents, as we were waiting for our home to be built. Luckily I found yet another dream midwife up in Auckland and I can’t see myself birthing without her now. My midwife picked up on my blood pressure and we found out I had preeclampsia towards the end of my pregnancy. I was monitored closely and was at the hospital frequently. It wasn’t fun but I knew I was safe and in the right place.

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Birth story

Since I was being monitored for my preeclampsia, I was in and out of hospital. They
realised at 37 weeks that the baby wasn’t growing too well and my body was starting to freak
out. So I went in for a check up on a Tuesday, they told me the news and said I was booked in
for an induction on the Thursday. As I was getting ready to leave, the doctor came in and said
“Your bloods didn’t read too well. We are going to induce you now.”

Now that I was so used to these check ups, I even told Ben not to come and didn’t bring anything with me. I started to freak out. I felt like I wasn’t even asked if I was okay with that choice… it all happened so
fast and before I knew it I was induced via balloon method. I was alone. I tried calling Ben but I was already freaking out. Ben was frantically trying to get the baby bag, and hospital bag together. He managed to come in, but nothing was really happening. I was contracting on and off but it wasn’t consistent. The next day they monitored me, and still it was on and off.

Thursday morning came and they decided to break my waters manually. The process continued to move
slowly, but I started to focus on my breathing as contractions started coming along. They decided to let me in the pool to labour as the contractions were getting stronger. I loved being in the pool, and at one point my mum said “you’re doing really well” and I thought to myself “maybe I will be able to birth in the pool” but as soon as I thought that the nurse came running in telling me to get out of the pool safely, as my bloods came back dangerously low and that I needed some help to get the labour going faster. They ended up giving me an epidural and oxytocin to get things going.

The doctor came in to see me and she said “you can opt for a C-section now or you can risk you and your baby’s health” I instantly requested for the C-section but my midwife and my amazing husband advocated for me, knowing that I really didn’t want to go down the avenue of having a C-section. My incredible midwife requested that they give me an hour to see how things go and I agreed. It’s really important to have your support teams advocate for you when you are in labour. Because I was given an “easy” option in a time of stress, but my support team knew my birth plan and wanted to respect my wishes. Leading up to that point I wasn’t really dilating and contractions were strong. The epidural took some of the edge of the contractions but I could still feel pressure. My midwife requested that everyone leave the room to give me some rest, and all the lights to be turned off.

I remember being so scared, but needing to sleep. For 45 minutes I slept on and off while
feeling the pressure. Ben was continuously by my side and was praying like crazy that both
the baby and I would be safe. 45 minutes were up and my midwife warned me “If you
haven’t dilated we need to prepare you for a C-section” so I was feeling nervous about what
was about to happen. She checked me, looked up at me and said “You are 9 and a half
centimeters” And I remember crying happy tears and ben asking “wait what does that mean”
And I said “IT MEANS I CAN PUSH”

We got ready and I pushed for 15 minutes and Ben caught Leo. He popped him on my chest with the guidance of our amazing midwife.

Birth recovery was brutal. I was traumatised by certain things and some things you just can’t
prepare for. My baby blues came in hard and eventually spiralled into Postpartum Depression. I’m still working through it. I wouldn’t have made it through that first week if it wasn’t for my best friend, my mama, my biological mama and my hubby.

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Were there any things relating to your culture that you did during your pregnancy and birth that
you’d like to share?

From the beginning, I knew I wanted to use a muka tie which is a natural alternative
instead of using the plastic umbilical cord clamp. It’s made out of harakeke (flax) and has
natural healing properties to help with the healing of pēpi’s pito (bellybutton) which we
found to be true. Leo’s pito healed beautifully and it came off quickly. If we had time to
prepare I would have loved to have had Ben cut Leo’s umbilical cord with a pounamu. I also
really wanted to take Leo’s whenua (placenta) to his Dad’s land up north and bury it up there
but unfortunately the hospital misplaced and accidentally disposed of the placenta. But we
would love to consider that for the next pepi.

How did you choose your child’s name and does it have a meaning to you?

Leo comes from the name Leopold from my french ancestry. His middle names are his great
grandfather’s names too. The middle names are super special as when Ben and I got married
we found out that our grandfathers were actually really good friends and they died the same
year, same month and 10 days apart. And we feel like us coming together was divine
intervention from our grandfathers. We also felt their presence at the birth, so that’s why we
chose their names for Leo’s middle names.

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Te Reo Māori 

Growing up, did your parents speak te reo or teach you? Did this influence your decision to
incorporate te reo as a parent?

My parents never taught me Te Reo, and I think their parents didn’t teach them so it wasn’t a
normal thing in my whanau. Growing up though, I was always told I was “plastic” and it hurt.
So I knew I wanted to teach my children their language/languages. It’s my children’s right to
know where they come from, including the language. So I will do anything I can to try and
help Leo learn Te Reo.

How did you start incorporating Māori language into your child’s interactions? Why is it important to
you to speak te reo with your pepi?

We have started off with simple Te Reo around the house, objects, commands etc. We have
basic baby books in Te Reo as well. Another thing we try to do, is when there is a funeral, or
occasion at the marae we try to take him with us so he learns to love the marae and not be
afraid of his culture. I was so scared growing up and even now, because I feel like I wasn’t
exposed to it enough. But I hope to make that change for my son.

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For those trying to incorporate Māori languages into their everyday life, what would be the first 3-5
phrases that are easy to learn and use in day to day life?

  • I think the most obvious to start with would be “kia ora” and learning how to pronounce it
    correctly. Make sure you find a Māori friend you trust that can help you with your
    pronunciation. I say trust, because it can be scary being corrected, so finding the right person
    to guide you through it would be important.
  • The next phrase would be “Mōrena” which is good morning.
  • Lastly “Pōmārie” which is goodnight. Once you have that perfected and ingrained in your mind then you could go onto more phrases etc.

What are some practices that make it easier to learn the Māori language, are there any books or wall
charts that you use or could recommend?

Kids books are the best place to start in my opinion. They are super simple and easy to follow. Kids books also help the adults reading them learn at the same time.

Are there any other ways you are teaching your son about your family’s culture?

Mainly marae visits, time with whanau and having conversations with him about his whanau
and continuing to encourage him to be proud of who he is. We also love to watch kapa haka
and sing waiata (songs) with Leo.

Parenting

Is your parenting different to how you thought it would be? Is there anything you thought you’d
‘never do’ and after having children, have completely changed your mind on?

I definitely thought I would do things a little differently. My Postpartum Anxiety and
Depression has played a role in the way I parent. And I am trying to work through that, with
therapy and trying to create healthy habits both mentally and physically. I never wanted TV
to be such a big thing, but for the first year the TV was there to occupy Leo. I hate to admit it,
but it was a time and a season I am not proud of but it’s how I got by. But now I have less TV
time for Leo and we are getting there. Also making baby food/kids food can be super time
consuming but I’m still learning tricks here and there. Motherhood is such a rollercoaster!

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What would your top 3-5 parenting tips be for a new parent?

  • Be easy on yourself – there’s no manual for parenting.
  • Try not to compare your situation to anyone else’s.
  • Make sure you have time for yourself to recharge. Being a parent can be overwhelming, so
    remember to fill your cup when you need to.

Hacks

  • Changing nappies… pop the clean nappy underneath before you change the dirty nappy out.. So if there are any last minute explosions or water fountains, you can quickly cover it up so it’s not in your face or on the ground. SO far, I have never had any accidents on me since we’ve had Leo.

What is the most helpful advice you can offer to other parents and what advice has someone passed
down to you that you’ll always remember?

  • As long as you are trying, you are winning.
  • And sleep when the baby sleeps, the dishes can wait!

Relationship

How has having children affected your relationship, what challenges has it brought? 

Relationships in all aspects are affected in my opinion. I look at everything differently now.
We have also recently bought our first home, so that stress as well as being first time parents
has been a lot to process. We are just trying to find our feet as parents so there are a lot of
ups and downs including disagreements.

Have you loved seeing your partner become a parent, has anything surprised you about their parenting style?

Seeing my husband become a father has been something I can’t explain. Especially those first couple of weeks, I fell in love all over again. There’s something special about creating a little human, half of yourself and half of the human you love. Ben is definitely the less strict parent, and I am the authoritative one. But we have fun together. We love watching Leo grow and discover new things.

If this has helped you, would you consider sharing your story to help others too? Please submit your details through this form. Whether your story is about trying to conceive, pregnancy, surrogacy, loss or parenthood, we would love to hear from you.

Our much awaited pregnancy | IVF & Egg Donor

“We took the all-important home test and for the first time in my reproductive life, we got a very strong positive! We couldn’t believe and after the blood test to confirm later that day, we shared the wonderful news with family and friends.”

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Your family

Our family is myself (44), my partner Rowan (39), Remi (3 months) and our cat Stevie.

Journey to conceiving and pregnancy

We started trying to conceive about 8 years ago. But after 2 years of trying, realized we needed some help. We spent a year on Clomiphene (Clomiphene is in a class of medications called ovulatory stimulants. It works similarly to estrogen, a female hormone that causes eggs to develop in the ovaries and be released)

Then moved to IVF early 2017. Two rounds only resulting in 2 embryos and 2 failed transfers.

We later moved onto an egg donor who was a friend of ours. Again, we did 2 rounds resulting in 3 embryos and again 3 failed transfers. The next step was to travel to a clinic in San Diego and use an egg donor there. We started this process in 2019 and then a few weeks out from booking our tickets, Covid hit so our plans were cancelled. Our private clinic shut their doors and so we were left with one other option in Christchurch. We got in to see a specialist and again got the ball rolling with a clinic egg donor and got on the waitlist.

During lockdown, I did as much research as possible and came across a test for repeated failed embryo transfers, called an ERA. This is where a biopsy of the uterine lining is taken during a dummy run of a normal embryo transfer to ensure the embryo is being transferred at the optimum time. I had this procedure carried out late 2020 and we decided while we wait for egg donor, to do another attempt at IVF using my eggs. We knew this was a risk due to my age (42) so we went ahead and unfortunately, none of the 3 embryos made it to day 6 and we were devastated.

Again, we picked ourselves up and waited for the call that a donor had selected us and finally in February 2021, we got that call! Things started to happen fairly quickly from here and we met our amazing donor. We had counselling and more tests were done, then we waited some more for her day 1 of IVF round 6 for us. Egg collection happened on Monday of Queens birthday weekend and we got 10 eggs which ended in 4 embryos the most we had ever had.

The next step was sorting a transfer date which we planned for in July and this time, we only told a select few people. 10 days later, we took the all-important home test and for the first time in my reproductive life, we got a very strong positive! We couldn’t believe and after the blood test to confirm later that day, we shared the wonderful news with family and friends.

We knew were not out of the woods yet, but due to the young age of our donor, the main risk of miscarriage lessened. We had a scan at 7 weeks (we were still in lockdown so I had to attend alone which was rough) and there was a heartbeat. It still didn’t seem real!

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How was your pregnancy?

My pregnancy was textbook according to my OB!

The all-day sickness kicked in the day before we went into another lockdown at 5 weeks so I was lucky that I could work from home and take it easy. I felt better around 11/12 weeks and I started to feel like it was finally real.

We officially announced baby Bunting and the weeks started to fly by. Around the 30-week mark, I started to feel very uncomfortable and sore, suffering from restless legs and insomnia but other than that, I was fine.

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Did you practice hypnobirthing, read books, use apps or use a pregnancy journal?

I used a few apps, and read the great Dorothy Waide book ‘You simply can’t spoil a Newborn’ 

Birth story

We had already decided to have an elective c section due to a few factors so I was already under the care of a private OB and also a midwife.

The night of my 34 week date, my membranes started to leak so was admitted for a few nights as I wasn’t contracting and my cervix was closed so was sent home on the Monday with a plan to be monitored via outpatient’s and my OB.

Baby was fine and decent size plus he was very active! Come Wednesday morning, I went to the loo to discover I was bleeding, not much but enough to call my midwife who told me to sit tight. I had some breakfast; Rowan went to work and then my midwife called back after she had spoken to my OB who wanted me to go into her rooms to get checked just in case. So, we got there mid-morning and while we waited, I became really uncomfortable! Once in seeing our OB, she checked me and said I was having contractions so let’s go have a baby! I was in shock but she assured us it was the best idea, he was early and would be fine needing some special care but not to panic – I burst into tears of course!

We made our way to the hospital and while Rowan got a park, I called my sister and boss to let them know we were having a baby in the next few hours… because I had eaten, we had to wait a bit for the C section to go ahead. We got into a birthing room to get prepped and before we knew it, I was walking into theatre. Rowan waited outside while I had my spinal sorted then in came our OB and we got started.

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My midwife had my phone to take photos and I really don’t remember too much since I was in the zone, my midwife had said they had started and then we heard that first cry. Next, the drape was dropped and our OB was holding Remi up for us to meet him. He was perfect! He was taken over to be checked and Rowan was able to go and cut his cord. We also managed to do delayed cord clamping and then my midwife brought Remi to me for some skin to skin which was amazing. Our boy was finally here!

How was the first week?

Rowan went with him up to NICU while I went to recovery, where I got stuck for several hours! My midwife suggested we try to get some colostrum which rowan was then able to take to Remi (we had previously signed consent for him to receive donor milk). Rowan headed home for a bit to sort things and came back with McDonalds for me and then we headed to see Remi in NICU where he would spend the next 18 days.

Your little one

How did you choose your children’s names and do they have a meaning to you? 

We struggled to agree on a boy’s name!

We created a list while driving to Queenstown one weekend and Remi was a name, we both actually liked! Dakota, his second name, plays homage to his paternal grandmother’s home town of North Dakota.

Tell us about the first few weeks with your baby

Because we were in NICU for the first few weeks, we were unable to have visitors at the hospital. Once we got home, and with Omicron rampant, we decided close family only and on our terms so only staying for an hour etc.

How did you find the fourth trimester?

Because Remi came early, I felt a bit cheated that I didn’t get that time to prepare a bit more after I finished work (I still had 2 weeks of work left when he arrived!)

Being in NICU, meant I could recover really well from c section as I basically spent every day sitting and cuddling Remi. Not having to get up to a newborn every few hours was also good. It was really hard leaving the hospital each night, but he was in the best hands. Medically there were no issues, it was just a case of getting the feeding sorted and him off the monitoring and feeding tube.

So despite not having the normal start, I felt it had silver lining in terms of him coming home and me being fully recovered and able bodied.

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I found being home at first quite good, but I also struggled with not being able to do the things I normally would and your days just disappearing before your eyes! Remi slept in his own bed and we didn’t really follow a routine, just went with the flow. Definitely a challenge finding your new way as a parent and mother.

What were your must-have items?

Silverettes! And lots of comfy clothes, cloth nappies from Kmart and a freeze full of meals.

Parenting

Is your parenting different to how you thought it would be?

Not as yet – once Remi is older I am sure this will change.

How does your typical day look? Are you a stay at home parent/juggling work/kindy?

We don’t have a typical day yet but I am home for 12 months so we spend our days with a walk if its nice, we do a baby sensory class and usually a coffee date with friends in there too. We are still finding our feet with day sleeps, but evenings we aim for a bath then bottle and bed around 8.30 and we are getting a decent block of sleep (for now!)

Relationship

How has having children affected your relationship, what challenges has it brought? 

Because this is been such a long road for us, we have a very strong relationship already having had so many heartbreaks and failures, it made us tighter and closer. It can be hard watching your partner go off to work each day knowing you are on your own with your baby for such a long time. We make it work with night feeds being bottles and sleep ins on days off.

Tips & advice

What would your top 3/5 parenting tips be for a new parent?

  • Be open about your expectations of your partner
  • Make freezer meals when you are pregnant and have the energy
  • Say no if it’s not a good day to see / have visitors
  • Get out of the house with baby as soon as possible to ensure you don’t leave it too long and lose confidence even if it’s a just a quick trip to the supermarket or to get a coffee.

If this has helped you, would you consider sharing your story to help others too? Please submit your details through this form. Whether your story is about trying to conceive, pregnancy, surrogacy, loss or parenthood, we would love to hear from you.

Why start using a wedding planner as soon as you’re engaged?

Getting engaged is one of the most exciting times of your life, and you will be feeling all sorts of wonderful emotions. You will be so loved up, full of excitement and may also feel bit panicked with everyone now asking the question… “So when is the wedding..!?”

Take your time before you start wedding planning

Most likely, you are just trying to soak up the engagement bliss and haven’t made any ‘set in stone’ plans. That’s a good thing – take your time before you start wedding planning, you have to make some pretty big decisions for your ‘Big Day’, and you’ll be able to do so in a better frame of mind once you’ve had some time to mull things over.

However, while I do recommend you wait before actually planning your wedding, here are a few reasons why you should buy a wedding planner book right away.

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Why you need a Wedding Planner before you start Planning…

1. Record the proposal, and your story so far, to look back on one day.

Relive the butterflies. The time can seem to go so quickly when you’re planning, and then counting down to your wedding, so rather than rush into it all, write it all down.

Take a moment to reflect and record about the day you got engaged, how you shared your news, and what you’re most excited about. Include pictures of the moment, how your family and friends reacted, and all the special memories you have of the day.

Were there screams of excitement? Did you get sent anything special in the mail from loved ones? Was a dinner planned? Any surprises arranged with loved ones waiting for you to celebrate after the proposal? In the little white book, there’s plenty of room for reflections and photos – because we think these moments are just as important as all the others to come.

2. Brainstorm ideas with your partner about what your dream day might look like

Before you really start planning your wedding, it’s time for the fun (okay, and sometimes serious) stuff…

Brainstorming! What wedding venues have you always loved the look of? Is there a style of music, or a band you both immediately agree on? Pinterest is great for brainstorming and finding ideas…. if you haven’t already started, I know I had 😉 Then incorporate these into your wedding planner book, print photographs and make a scrapbook of ideas if you’re more of a visual person. Or if you like anything in a bridal magazine you can stick those in too.

3. Write about your love story – it will help with your wedding vows later

Before we get onto wedding planning, the little white book has a section all about your journey so far. It’s called ‘our love story’, and by filling them in now, you can return to them later and reflect on your journey together to remind yourself what is important to you both, what you are celebrating and help you write your vows.

This section includes journal prompts are thoughtfully curated from our couples journal (also called ‘our love story‘). Including prompts such as ‘what do you think has made your relationship strong, and kept you together?‘ and ‘why is it important to you to get married?’

4. Use your wedding planner to write down the advice everyone is passing on

Don’t forget a thing. Wedding advice is great! Not that you have to follow all of it, but it’s great to hear others’ experiences of wedding planning, and write down anything that resonates.

Friends who have been recently married may be able to give you tips on wedding vendors, or even assist with budgeting (i.e. how much they spent on catering). Take what advice best suits you and names of business contacts recommended for later when you starts making bookings/appointments.

5. A wedding planner is a space to bring all your wedding ideas and inspiration together

Now that you’re engaged, you may just start finding inspiration everywhere. Try to keep a note of everything you and see and like, and then you can start finding a common thread of ‘style’ and ‘theme’ to draw on later.

Having all of your notes and memories in one space not only makes wedding planning easier, but also creates the most special keepsake of planning, moments that you can cherish and things to look back on together in the future to bond together while you flick through your gorgeous wedding album.

6. Starting a wedding planner makes it feel real!

Starting to write in your wedding planner really makes it feel real. You’re engaged, you get to marry the absolute love of your life, so start by recording all the feelings and memories you felt when it all started. Use your wedding planner to record feelings and memories to look back on.You’ve got one special place to make and record all of the plans for your special day.

Our wedding planner is the little white book, a chic, understated A5 hard-cover journal, which has a 12 month diary throughout – so that it can easily be incorporated into your everyday life. It’s the wedding planning tool that you’ll keep close to you, and really use throughout your engagement. Every checklist, every vendor, everything you need is found within the pages. Download a sample here.

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