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Mother of 1 | Premature Baby Girl after early pregnancy loss

Your Family

Tell us a little about you/your family.

Our family is the 3 of us. Mitch and I got married two years ago, and have been together for about six years.

Mitch is a professional sportsman and F45 owner, I am an ex primary school teacher and then I moved onto working at F45 before having a baby. Kobe is our daughter who is nine months old.

Mitch is a Kiwi. I’m half South African and half Italian, but I’ve lived in New Zealand my whole life so I identify as Kiwi too.

Journey to conceiving and pregnancy

Our journey to conceive was not a perfect one, we got pregnant just as Mitchell went overseas to play cricket, and then at 11 weeks pregnant we lost the baby. It was really difficult to deal with especially while apart – I was at home and I had a lot of support around me from family but he was far away from us. We were pretty confident that we would get pregnant again as it had happened so quickly, and thankfully when he was back in the country we did.

How was your pregnancy?

Our pregnancy with Kobe was pretty smooth sailing, I had the typical morning sickness in the beginning, and for the rest of my pregnancy I felt a lot better.

Did you find out the gender of your baby?

Mitch was really hoping for a boy but every single person said we were going to have a girl (and they were right!), and so because of that we had a really small gender reveal because I knew his reaction would be really raw and shocked! He was haha but that turned to excitement.

We cut a cake that we got from Bluebells, it was pink inside which was so exciting!

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

I did a heap of research into hypnobirthing which I found out about through my sister. I really wanted to have a natural birth. I spent a lot of time doing readings, listening to affirmations, and just a huge amount of relaxation, stretching and yoga. Every day I tried to prepare my body to relax and feel at ease about birth and I think that really set me up for a good birth.

Birth story

I made a birth video on Youtube explaining our birth story to share from start to finish. I went into labor at 35 weeks + 2 days which was a bit of a shock. It didn’t really phase me too much, I knew that in the hospital we were in good hands and that she was just ready to come.

I laboured at home for a little bit but since this was my first baby I wanted to check if everything waas progressing okay, so we went to the hospital in the middle of the night and stayed since she was prem to be safe. They broke my waters and progressed from there and didn’t need any assistance when she was born.

We never actually found out why she came early.

Recovery was really good. Being a natural birth, as soon as she was born I had skin-to-skin, showered and then I was up changing and rocking her which was amazing. Had a couple of stitches, but nothing too gnarly so I wasn’t into much pain.

How was the first week?

The first week of Kobe’s life we actually spent that whole week in hospital because she was small, and needed to put on enough weight. She was around 2kg when we went home.

Due to Covid it was pretty tough in the fact that they were really strict rules with who was allowed in and out. We were really lucky that they allowed my Mum to come and stay the night with me, and Mitch to come during the day. Normally it would have been just one person, but my mum is a lactation consultant so it was beneficial for the midwives there to actually have her to help me since they were so busy on the ward.

Mum and Mitch took shifts to help me. We would wake Kobe every 3 hours to feed, and my sister who was also breastfeeding at the time pumped milk for us so she was having her Aunty’s milk for the first few weeks plus my colostrum, until my milk properly came in which was so helpful!

Your little one

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

Her name is something that is really special to us. I came across the name Kobe through a friend and It just stuck with me. I loved it straight away and then as soon as I mentioned it to Mitch he it loved as well.

Strangely enough we were sitting in hospital a couple of days after she was born and something came up on Mitch’s phone and he was like oh my goodness it was Kobe Bryant‘s birthday when Kobe was born. So that’s not at all why we named her, but she was also born on the day that we got engaged on that day too, so meant to be!

Tell us about the first few weeks with your baby

As it was the first weeks of lockdown, the only person that was allowed to be here was my mum so she popped around every day and gave us so much help preparing meals and tidying up. She would come and stay the night for a little bit and then eventually got to the point where we were ready to see other people, but our family still weren’t allowed. It was quite heart-breaking that they only got to meet her when she was a month old. It was really nice in a way as we really just got to know Kobe and kind of settle into a new role as parents and figure it out together.

How did you find the fourth trimester?

I have a lot of babies in my family already so I knew quite a lot about the fourth trimester and I had done a bit of reading about it too so I was as prepared as you can be. I just surrendered to it, I didn’t fight anything – just followed her lead. If she wanted to be on me, she was on me. I spent maybe like a good maybe two months with her just basically attached to me every single day and night. It was a really, really exhausting time but I knew that it wasn’t going to be forever.

Must haves for a newborn baby

  • Snacks and water! I used to prep my snacks before going to bed, so that I would had them ready for each feed.
  • Netflix on my phone – those newborn baby feeds take a while, so I would always put Netflix on while I was feeding.
  • Also lots of spare clean sheets ready to go! I got all our sheets clean and organised (both for her and for us) so that everything was ready to go when we needed it – there’s nothing better than to just jump into bed and not worry about laundry.
  • I recommend having comfy pyjamas – especially button down. Peter Alexander do amazing ones!
  • Facetime, since we were n lockdown this is how I stayed sane catching up with everyone.
  • A co-sleeper bassinet next to the bed ended up being a very useful storage place for us in the end as she slept on me, so we hardly used it at all (for around a month when she was older) but she really liked the baby nest in the bed. When I was pregnant I thought it was dangerous to bed share, but it worked for us.


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

It flips everything upside down! Our lives completely changed and our style of communicating with each other and dating had to completely change. It took us a while to adjust, and navigate tiredness/lack of sleep is really difficult.

We have both had to learn to take a step back, breathe and communicate. Mitch and I set aside time for ourselves too which is very important to us so we are able to do something like going to the gym or going to the shops or even just switching off for a moment. Taking turns is key, and also having time together.

Now that Kobe is a bit bigger, we book time in with the grandma’s hehe! That way we can go out for lunch or dinner, it’s so nice! I remember the first time we went out together by ourselves again (we missed Kobe) but it was also like a breath of relaxation and we also got to talk to each other properly.


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

  • Don’t force any routine, surrender to the season that you’re in. Every baby is different and things will just find their place.
  • Try not to stress if your hair is a mess or the house needs to be tidied. Live in the moment.
  • Remind yourself to reach out for help when you need it. Having a village is so important!
  • I set aside all her and my clothes the night before, and having everything ready to go for us really helps me, as well as trying to get organised with planning out my diary.
  • For Mums, stop following instagram accounts that don’t make you feel good. Avoid comparing your journey to others. Have a social media account which is good for your mental health and body image!

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?

Staying outdoors and active is important to us – enjoying being outdoors and active as we are so surrounded by technology. When we were pregnant we talked about getting her used to being around people – getting her used to people (hard during Covid!) and now she’s the most sociable little thing.

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.

Mother of One | Emergency C Section HELLP Syndrome

Jahna has recently joined our Forget Me Not Journals team and we took the time to ask her some questions about her family and journey to delivering her gorgeous little boy, Benji. Her story may be of particular interest to those with HELLP syndrome, which affects less than 1% of pregnant women.

Tell me a little bit about you I am a mother of one, I live in Auckland with my fiancé Chad, and our little boy Benji who is 2 years and 4 months old (I hate the terms 28 months… it confuses me)! I am European, my father was adopted so I am not sure on his side, and Chad is Maori.


Chad and I met when he owned a beer company and needed a promoter for the Auckland taste festival. His sister in law at the time was an old friend of mine and reached out to see if I was available for the weekend which I was. Chad and I had a really great connection when we met but stayed friends for about 6 months before dating.

We spoke about children very early into dating before we made our relationship official as Chad is a bit older and that was one of his biggest concerns. I, myself am quite an old soul and have always been very independent so I always knew I wanted to have children in my 20’s.


I found out I was pregnant with Benji very early on. I just knew my body felt different. I actually went to the dr’s for a visit to check when Benji would have only been concieved a few weeks prior and the test came back negative where the nurse actually laughed and said there was NO WAY I was pregnant. A few weeks after this, I took an at home test again one morning where almost straight away appeared two bright pink lines. By this time I was only 4 weeks along. Crazy how you just know, right?

I had such a mix of emotions when I saw the test. I was excited, nervous, a little bit scared….. but also sooooo impatient to tell Chad the news.

He was over the moon. I actually recorded the moment I announced it to him that afternoon after I found out. My phone was propped up on the window, I had a basket of baby things including a giant toy, romper and socks that said (I love dad) and the positive test. When he saw it there were instant tears for us both.

Who was the first person you told apart from your partner when you found out you were expecting? I think I text my best friend Chrystal. But we told Chad’s parents that night together after dinner. We went out and purchased little t-shirts that said grandma and grandad. They took a while to catch on but finally realized and there were screams of excitement since this was their first grandchild.

Did you experience morning sickness? I have no idea why it’s called morning sickness, because I was sick all of the time. I remember throwing up at work during the day, having a bucket next to me at dinner time… it was not fun!

What cravings did you have? My cravings changed often. I remember a whole week, I wanted cheese on everything. I mean everything, and A LOT of it haha! Then one day Chad made me dinner (pilled with cheese of course) and I looked at him in disgust saying “I don’t like cheese anymore”. He was so mad! I also loved Shweppes lemonade and juicies toward the last trimester as it was right in the heat of summer.

Did you have a birthing plan? No, I didn’t want to make a plan and then possibly be let down if I wanted anything to go a specific way. I stayed very open to all options.

What city/country was your child/ren born in? Auckland, NZ.

What did you pack in your hospital bag?

3 top items

  1. Breast pump
  2. Nightie/floaty clothing
  3. Adult nappies (highly recommend these, they also sit nice and high over c-section scars)

3 items that were a waste of time/unecessary

  1. Hair care (I just kept my hair up, you honestly don’t care after being so exhausted)
  2. Toys
  3. Dressy clothes, don’t do it. Comfort is key

How did you deliver?

I had an emergency C-section. We went to a clinic for a checkup to see if we should have a induction. They checked my blood pressure and then re checked and rushed us to hospital, I had no idea what was going on and we weren’t aloud to go home first to get our bags. They monitored me and found I had something called HELLP Syndrome. Something I had never heard of before. HELLP syndrome is a rare disorder, affecting less than 1 percent of all pregnancies. However, it is a major health concern and can be life-threatening to both the mother and the unborn baby. They told me later on after I got rushed for a c-section and once Benji was delivered that if I didn’t go into the clinic that day, I wouldn’t have been so lucky and it would have been fatal for me and my baby. This was scary and has been something I have wanted to bring awareness to for a while in the case where I could help another parent avoid this.

What feelings did you have with a c-section? It was hard not being able to do the first nappy changes, walking around to soothe my newborn and just doing everything Chad could do while I was bed ridden. Also, for a while after having Benji I became conscious of my scar, but in no time it heeled and it’s so low that you can’t see it over my underwear. There are days were I am more conscious than others with this, as well as my stretch marks which is normal, but I am just grateful my boy was delivered safely.

What was your recovery like? The first few days were really difficult and I was in a lot of pain. But I am a fighter and pushed through as mother’s do. I think it is important to rest when you can, easier said than done in my experience. I had a lot of family around helping, my mum delivered lots of food and snacks and stayed overnight with me in the maternity ward since men aren’t allowed in the ward overnight in the hospital where I birthed Benji. Chad was a great cheerleader and encouraged me to become stronger to walk again. I loved the positivity.

Baby’s Arrival

I had benji just before the big lockdown so I had about a month of visitors before we went into level 4. I had mixed emotions with this but I think lockdown was a blessing in disguise in some aspects as it allowed us a breather to all get to know eachother.

I honestly think next time we have another baby, I will say no to visitors for a few weeks because it get’s very overwhelming having every single friend and family member wanting to visit and I was already so tired and navigating having a new baby. I love having close family visiting but it’s a good idea to give a clear boundary to everyone else. Don’t feel guilty for this, they’ll understand.

Did you feel pressured by anybody to see the baby? I felt extremely pressured and honestly exhausted. I felt like I had to keep up appearances for guests and to be very open, I was not 100% present. It’s lovely having your friends and family over to meet your newborn, but as exciting as it is for everyone else you need to put yourself first.

Advice to new parents

My main advice is, everyone will jump at you to give you all the tips and tricks, advice. But every baby and parent is different. Take bits from people and what works, works. What doesn’t, doesn’t. Also don’t be afraid to stand your ground. I was bad at this and had strangers picking Benji up and kissing his head…. I had no idea what to do or say but it made me feel extremely uncomfortable. Looking back now, that is your baby and you have every right to pull someone up about something. Be the mumma bear you are!

One last thing, enjoy the little things. Time really does fly!

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.

Three under three | The best thing that’s happened to me

Becoming a mother has been the best thing that has happened to me.

“I mean it has it’s good and bad days. I struggle daily, my house isn’t always spotless, but my children are always fed, bathed, clothed and warm. Remember, we aren’t always going to be perfect parents, there is no such thing as a perfect parent but as long as we are doing our best for our children that’s all the counts. Make time for yourself and your partner.”

Your family

My name is Chrystal, I am 30 years old. I am European and I was born in Auckland, New Zealand. I am married to my husband, Liam. We have three beautiful children together. Harley is our first born he is three, he turns four in June. Then there is River he has just turned two. Lucky last we have Millie who is almost 6 weeks old.

We also have two cats, a girl named Bandon and a boy named Clay.

Journey to conceiving and pregnancy

From a young age I always wanted to have children. Liam and I both wanted to get married first before we had children, so after our wedding in February 2017 we decided to come off birth control and actively try to have a baby. Six months later we found out we were pregnant with Harley. Just before Harley’s first birthday we found out we were pregnant again!

This came as a surprise as we were not trying to have a baby, however I wasn’t on any birth control at the time and I was exclusively breastfeeding. I was told by many people you can’t fall pregnant while breastfeeding which I now know is not true at all. Sadly our pregnancy ended in a miscarriage, I miscarried on the day of Harleys 1st birthday which was a really hard thing for me as I had friends and family around who didn’t know I was pregnant yet (as I wanted to wait till I was 12 weeks to tell everyone).

Even though that pregnancy was a surprise, Liam and I were devastated, so we actively started trying to fall pregnant again, 2 months later we found out we were pregnant with River. Fast forward to 2021. I am still not on any birth control but we take precaution while we have sex. I didn’t get my period in between Harley and River, but I did after River. I had a couple of months where they became frequent. One month I didn’t get my period and I thought nothing of it as I knew my period was irregular, however I just felt like something was off…

I decided to do a pregnancy test and much to my surprise it was positive! I thought how was this possible? The month before we did have a slip up so off to the chemist I went to get the morning after pill. Well that didn’t work, I was shocked! I told Liam and he was shocked too. We both talked about our opinions, we decided this baby was a miracle and bought to us for a reason so we decided we were going to go ahead with this pregnancy. So in 2022 Millie came along – and was the best surprise.

How were your pregnancies?

While pregnant with Harley I was working in a salon as I am a hair stylist, my pregnancy with Harley had its ups and downs. I got morning sickness for a few weeks but it was manageable. However with River and Millie I was very sick from the beginning till about 18 weeks, I got very sick and ended up in hospital a few times to get IV fluids. I loved all my pregnancies however there were definitely a few challenging times. Especially when you cant leave the bathroom as you are being sick every 5 minutes and having to also look after your other children.

Did you find out the gender of your children?

With both Harley and River we decided to find out the gender, with Millie we decided to keep her gender a surprise till birth, we figured since that is the last time we will be getting pregnant why not wait till birth? It was the best, and hardest thing we have ever done. I am so grateful we did it. We knew either way whether the baby was a boy or a girl we were going to be happy. But when we had her and saw she was a girl we were shocked, I really didn’t believe I was going to get the chance to be a girl mum! Yet here I am with a beautiful little girl and I couldn’t be happier.

Did you practice hypnobirthing, read books, use apps or use a pregnancy journal? I didn’t read any books during all my pregnancies, I did however watch about 1000 episodes of One born every minute, I watched YouTube videos every chance I could get. I also followed a group on Instagram called Empoweredbirthproject, they were great as they were very raw with everything they posted. However, they aren’t very active anymore. But while pregnant with Harley and River they were great and very empowering.

Birth story

With Harley I went into labour on his due date and ended up having him early hours of the next morning. River was 5 days over due, I ended up getting induced for reduced fetal movements with him. I went in that morning and had him later that night.

Millie kept us all waiting for 6 days, I went into labour with her spontaneously though. Harley I had him all naturally, I did tear which was stitched up and healed in a few weeks. With River I tried to go natural again however with being induced my labour was very hard and fast. I tried as much as I could to not have any pain relief, but I ended up getting an Epidural with him, I always thought people looked at you as a cop out if you took pain relief or got the epidural.

I now know that isn’t the case, whether you chose to have your baby “naturally”, get the epidural, have gas or c section you still gave birth and should be proud of yourself. With Millie I went to the hospital to only be told I was only 3 cms and to go home and birth at home a little longer then come back. I remember telling my husband when it was time to go back to the hospital if I were only 5/6cm when I arrived I will look at getting the epidural again. However when I arrived I was told I was 9 1/2 – 10cms and ready to push so I was too far along to get the epidural.

How was the first week?

As I did with Harley I tore with River and Millie also. It healed in a few weeks, my birth recoveries have all been well. I didn’t get baby blues with Harley and River. I have experienced baby blues with Millie, it was for the first few weeks but I am feeling a lot better. I believe part of the baby blues was mum guilt. Mum guilt is real! It’s something I struggle with every day.

Your little ones

How did you choose your children’s names and do they have a meaning to you? Liam and I both loved the name Harley, his middle name is Jim which is Liam’s grandad’s name. Liam and I both saw River’s name on a list of names and fell in love with it instantly, his middle name is Sean which is Both Liam and his fathers middle name. With Millie it was really hard choosing a name 1. We didn’t know the gender and 2. We couldn’t decide on a boys name as we had used the ones we liked already.

Girls’ names were also hard to choose as I found Liam and I had a different taste in girl names, we did have Lilly as our first choice right up until around 8 months we both liked Millie. With Millie’s middle name I said to Liam since he got to choose the boys middle names it was only fair I choose her middle name. Liam and I both loved Rose and since the very first day of talking about children with Liam I always said I would call our daughter (if we had one) middle name Michelle as that is his mother’s name and also my mother’s middle name. So we named her Millie Rose Michelle.

Tell us about the first few weeks with your babies

When we had Harley covid wasn’t such a thing, we had visitors from day 1 at the maternity ward. River we had during lockdown level 3. I believe we had visitors come to our home a few days later. We weren’t allowed visitors at the hospital though and could only have one support person, it was the same with Millie too. We have tried to be a little more strict on who and when people could visit this time round, since covid is a lot worse now in NZ than it was when I had River.

However with three children, two of which are going to daycare we can’t hide away from the world. When we had Harley we didn’t like to ask for help nor did many people offer either. With River we had a few close friends and family offer to watch Harley and have him for the night to give us a break or for some one on one time with River. I’ve found now we have had Millie we have had a lot more support but we have also learnt to ask for help when we need it. We are not ones to usually ask for help but after having Millie we have realized the importance of getting some help and saying ‘yes’ when help is offered.

How did you find the fourth trimester?

I used to think Harley was a hard baby, however now we have have two other children I realize Harley was a breeze. I struggled getting into a routine when I had River. Adjusting to having two children to look after was difficult at times. I have heard going from 2-3 children is easy compared to 1-2 however I feel it isn’t. I feel with 2-3 you are out numbered also it has been hard having young children as River doesn’t understand fully about being gentle and being careful around his baby sister. I can’t leave them alone with Millie. So even having a shower in the morning can be a struggle.

Harley has always been a good sleeper, River was terrible when he was a baby, as he’s gotten older it’s getting better finally It’s been a hard few years trying to get him to sleep through the night. Which has only been in the last few weeks. He is an early riser which can be very tiring. Millie is a great sleeper at night she has gotten into a routine of sleeping 5-7 hours for her first stretch of sleep. Waking a couple times a night. She sleeps in her own bassinet. I found it hard with River, since he woke so often I was finding myself feeling so tired I would just bed share with him. I found bed sharing worked for me with him or else he would wake so often that by the time I fell back to sleep he would wake again.

What were your must-have items, and what others were a waste of time/overrated?

Hmm… this is a good question. Must haves in my house would a baby monitor and baby gates! I found that my waste of time items are a changing table, I find myself changing my children on my bed most of the time or on the lounge floor on a changing mat as I’m keeping an eye on my other two children. Also don’t buy a lot of newborn clothes or nappies as they grow out of them so quickly. To be honest there are a lot of things we got that weren’t necessary but as first time parents you don’t realize.

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

If you had of ask me this a couple of years ago I would have said I was the parent I thought I would be. Now I have three children I feel like I could work on bettering my parenting and myself. I would love to be more patient, worry less, stress less. I never thought I would be one to let my children have screen time, own a tablet and watch tv. But we have to do what gets us through the day. Parenting is hard! I don’t want to sugar coat anything, I really don’t know how I do it some days. I just know I have to try be the best I can be for my children. I want them to always know mummy tried her best, I want my children having a better up bringing than I did.

If you’ve had more than one child, how has each subsequent arrival changed your family, how did the other child/children adjust, and how did you find the transition? Surprisingly both boys have adjusted amazing to becoming big brothers. Harley was amazing the first time around with River’s arrival and now with Millie. Since he is older, he is super helpful. He’s always wanting to help. I wasn’t sure how River would be once Millie was born, River is a big mummy’s boy and I honestly thought he would become jealous however he has surprised me in many ways. He’s beautiful with his baby sister, he has his moments though.

How does your typical day look? Are you a stay at home parent/juggling work/kindy? I am lucky enough to be a stay at home mum. I went on maternity leave with Harley and haven’t gone back to work yet. I look forward to the day I decide to go back to work. Both boys go to daycare, Harley goes full time and River goes three days a week. Juggling appts, food shopping, house cleaning can be a struggle at times especially on the days that River is home. I really feel for my family and friends who are working mums.


How has having children affected your relationship, what challenges has it brought? My marriage after having children has had it’s ups and down’s and I believe a lot of it is from being tired. We don’t have a lot of “alone” time as by the time the children are in bed we want to go to bed ourselves, or we have the house work to do before bed.

Have you loved seeing your partner become a parent, has anything surprised you about their parenting style? I have loved watching my husband become a father, each time he surprises me more and more. Liam is a hands on dad so he’s very good with the older boys. He’s not a nappy kind of guy haha. But you ask him to go play with the kids outside with the ball or bike and he’s out there.

Tips & advice

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

  • Make time for yourself
  • Take each day as it comes
  • Don’t compare your life/yourself with others
  • Do what works for you Be kind to yourself

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?

Don’t compare yourself to other people is a huge one for me. I always feel myself looking at other people’s lives and thinking how do they have it so “all together.” But behind closed doors they are probably in the same boat as me. A few people have said to me “The days are long, but the years are short” and they couldn’t be more accurate.

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.

Allely Estate Wedding

Today we are sharing the newly wed couple Ryan & Alexandria’s wedding, after being postponed three times due to Covid like many of you who are engaged and are wedding planning may have experienced too.

“Our florist was incredible, she came up with heaps of ideas to keep the costs low. Like using our arch flowers on our head table when we were seated for dinner. It was the little things like these that made all the difference!”

Who  Ryan & Alexandria Sample

Where Allely Estate, Kumeu

Guests 73 adults, and my bridesmaid’s new born baby

Budget We didn’t want to go over 25k. At the same time of planning a wedding we were also building our first home. So budgeting, sticking to a ballpark figure, cutting costs where we could was very important to us. We actually managed to not only stick to the budget, but we were well under the 25k mark, so we were pretty thrilled with that!

How did you meet? We originally met one another through our parents who would attend the same gym. Within no time, our families became inseparable – even our dogs are great friends! After building a solid friendship, we soon realized there was potential to be more, once we decided that then there was no going back.

How did your partner propose? Before Ryan proposed, he knew that I liked a bit of tradition; meaning that it was important for him to get my father’s permission to marry me. Even though we had been going out for over 11 years, it was something that was a huge deal to me and I found pretty special. When he proposed, it was a Saturday afternoon at sunset, just sitting on the deck having a drink he got down on one knee and popped the question! Very cliche’ I know! 

What was important to you when you started planning your wedding? We wanted to make sure that it was very intimate, that we got to chat to most of our guests. Having beautiful photos to look back on and cherish the memories we made that day!

In three words describe your wedding style Romantic, Intimate, and Relaxed.

Was there anything that you did that was a little different to the ‘norm’ for your wedding? Not really! My dad spent the day with us girls getting ready. We made sure that we captured the moment, and took heaps of photos of when he saw me in my dress for the first time. So emotional, and I will cherish that moment forever!

How did you personalise your wedding day? The little details on the table settings, the wedding cake which was a donut tower with a cake on the top. Also removing of my garter- so much fun and so many laughs!

What were your save and splurge items for your wedding?

Splurge hair and makeup for myself, my maid of honor and bridesmaid. Best decission.

Save on florals. Our florist was incredible, she came up with heaps of ideas to keep the costs low. Like using our arch flowers on our head table when we were seated for dinner. It was the little things like these that made all the difference!

What was the most difficult part of planning your wedding? And the most fun? Covid, we had to reschedule it three times before finally been able to go through with it. Choosing the donuts, the florals and adding our personal touch.

What did you use to plan your wedding When we booked the venue, in the package we choose it came with a wedding planner. She was wonderful. Along with that, I did a heck of a lot of googling. I got a wedding planning book and spoke to friends who had gotten married.

Did you DIY anything, or have family and friends help? Both my mum and mother in law had the most beautiful vases/jars. My mum went out and got heaps of candles for the tables. We also had a pillar candle which was lit for those in memory who were there with us in spirit.

Did lockdowns have any effect on your plans, did you have to postpone, change any of your plans or reduce your guest list? Hugly, it got postponed three times! 

What advice would you share with others planning their Big Day? Do you research, take your time, ask the questions. Enjoy the process and the wedding day, because it goes by so quickly!

Do you have any regrets, what would you change, if anything? None whatsoever. 

Where did you go for your honeymoon? Due to covid, the borders aren’t fully open to the whole world. We have decided to wait till we can go to Bali, so hopefully soon! But we did move into our new home on the same night of the wedding, so that was like a honeymoon all within itself.



Venue Catering & Event Planning  Allely Estate, Kumeu

Makeup & Hair Jade Beauty

Bride’s Dress  Bridal and Ball

Groom’s Suit & Accessories Barkers, Farmers

Wedding Party Attire Forever New, Chaos and Harmony, Mi Piaci Shoes

Rings Walker and Hall, Pascoes

Flowers Print&Petal

Wedding Cake Whipped Cakery

Music Mix it Dj

Wedding Celebrant Valeria Antipenko

Invitations & dress alterations Debbie Williams at Imprezzions Boutique

Winter wedding at Kumeu Valley Estate

Today we feature the handsome couple Nick and Shameel, whose wedding was celebrated only 5 days after New Zealand went into level 1 after lockdown.

“We were offered to move the date if we wanted to but we stayed positive. Thankfully my stubbornness paid off because we had the best wedding and all our guests did too as it was right after a long lockdown!”

Who Nick and Shameel Kennedy-Hall
Where  Kumeu Valley Estate
Guests 100

Budget $30k – stayed relatively within the budget.

How did you meet? We met the good old fashioned way, through Tinder.

How did your partner propose? 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!

What was important to you when you started planning your wedding? We just wanted a really nice venue that fit the rustic vibe we were looking for.

In three words describe your wedding style Homely, Rustic and Earthy

Was there anything that you did that was a little different to the ‘norm’ for your wedding? Being a same sex but also a mixed race couple we had a traditional Indian Mehndi night the night before the wedding where we had our henna done, we both walked down the aisle at the ceremony together.

How did you personalise your wedding day? We had hand written place cards for all our guests and had custom dried flower lapels or hair clips for our Groom-al party (that’s what we called our bridal party).

What were your save and splurge items for your wedding?

  • Splurge – Our DJ – a bit more pricey but he was there the whole day and created the perfect
    vibe throughout the day and well into the evening!
  • Save – we had our suits custom made in Thailand on our way back from Europe which saved a
    few hundred dollars. We also didn’t have to buy any floral arrangements as our venue, the week
    before the wedding, did an open day and had a lot of leftovers which they were more than happy
    for us to use!

What was the most difficult part of planning your wedding? And the most fun? The guest list was difficult, we wanted to make sure we had everyone we wanted there but also had to make tough calls on who didn’t need to be there. The best part was deciding what food we wanted to serve and the cake tasting which was contactless due to the lockdowns!

What did you use to plan your wedding? We did everything on a google doc – we did all of it ourselves but the lovely Annette at Kumeu Valley took over the organisation in the set up and running of the night. Best thing ever!

Did you DIY anything, or have family and friends help? We designed our own menus and cut branches from my parent’s bay leaf tree and our magnolia tree to do our centre pieces for our table.

Did lockdowns have any effect on your plans, did you have to postpone, change any of your plans
or reduce your guest list?
We were so lucky in that our wedding was the first weekend at Level 1 – it was very touch and go and we were offered to move the date if we wanted to but we stayed positive. Thankfully my stubbornness paid off because we had the best wedding and all our guests did too as it was right after a long lockdown!

What advice would you share with others planning their Big Day? Invest in a person or venue that will run your wedding day and set up for you – this was the best thing for us as we were able to relax the day before knowing it was all being done for us as well as getting to enjoy the day and evening too. Let someone else be stressed on your day – just enjoy it! If possible get your photos taken before the wedding so you can spend time in the ceremony, with your friends and family and just enjoy the moment.

Do you have any regrets, what would you change, if anything? We had no regrets with our wedding – we had the best time and enjoyed every minute of it!

Where did you go for your honeymoon? We had originally planned to go to Japan but Covid stopped that in it’s tracks. Instead we did a Minimoon to the Coromandel followed by a longer honeymoon in the central north island going around different places.

Photographer Katrina Cooke Photography
Venue, Catering & Event Planning Kumeu Valley Estate
Hair Morgan Bolger at Hava and Co High Street
Rings Michael Hill
Wedding Cake Holly Steiner
DJ MixitDJ

10 things all newlyweds argue about (and how to deal with them)


Creating a shared account can be scary; firstly, you need to share your current situation, your spending habits, budget and expectations with your partner and they need to share theirs with you. There will be things that you can justify to spend your money on and things you don’t justify spending money on. There may be arguments about what to spend and what to save, but the main thing is that communication is happening and you talk about your expectations beforehand so no spending habits come as a shock to either of you.


There will be times when you want it, don’t want it or are too tired to even think about it. There will be arguments over who is doing most of the work, to wanting it more or wanting it less. There are going to be things you like and things you dislike but dealing with these is as simple as talking and coming up with solutions. If you are too tired at night when you get home, make some time in the morning for a sunrise special. If you feel as though you are doing all the work, tell them what you want and make it into a game or if you are too damn tired, make them a sexy voucher for the weekend.

Quality time

Even though you’re with your partner because they are your best friend and it’s all new and exciting so you want to spend all the time together, that can also end up being a big source of arguments. Typically, one person wants to spend more time with the other, making sure you make quality time together and with friends and family keeps a balance in the relationship and allows you both to appreciate the time you have together without it leading to more arguments.

Staying Fit

It is said that getting too comfortable or familiar breeds contempt. After getting in shape and being healthy all the time leading up to your wedding you may want to take some time off, you may miss a couple trips to the gym and before you know it you aren’t even someone you recognise. Health is essential not just physically but mentally too, make sure you are eating the right foods for your body and find a workout you enjoy. You could even make the workouts fun together; like hiking or dance classes. Or go with friends for some Zumba and a catch-up, whatever it is, make sure you are having fun and it’s something you can stick to because health is important.


Rushing into things is another cause of arguments: whether or not to have them, when to have them, cost of them, logistics of them and the constant talking about them. Make sure you take a moment to reflect on the time you have with your partner, because once a kid comes it’s going to be all about them – so enjoy the now and enjoy being together. Remember you chose them for a reason, so make sure they know how much you love them and don’t just want them for their offspring.


After all the buzz of the wedding has worn off there are real world things like washing, cleaning, taking the trash out, leaving the toilet seat down all the little things that make you snap. Although one of you may be feeling like you are doing more than the other, it’s important that you come up with a sort of schedule or even create chore days or afternoons where you both work together. Clean the cars, clean the oven and make it fun by listening to music, dancing around the house and helping each-other out.


Even though the honeymoon period wears off and you’ve settled back into your routine, some couples still want the romance that they have gotten used to. If you always planned romantic surprise dates, or got your girl flowers on your way home from work then keep doing these little things. The little things matter, and can always brighten up someone’s day so keep doing whatever it is that got you to where you are: obviously something worked.


Sometimes there is no rational reason for why people get jealous, suddenly you feel that familiar bubble in your tummy, that uneasy feeling or maybe your partner is still really close with his ex or something doesn’t sit right and out it comes. Talking this through with your partner or friends can really help, don’t let it bottle up inside or after a couple of wines it’s sure to come out in the worst possible way. But also remember to consider their feelings – don’t act up or act like your single, treat your partner the way you want to be treated.


With two sets of in-laws and family commitments to factor in there is always a potential for an argument to blossom in the yearly holiday chats. To avoid these awkward moments make sure you evenly spread time between the two families and yourselves, it’s important that you two get relaxing alone time as well as seeing your family and friends. Rotating Christmas yearly or rotating holidays sometimes work, but make sure you are both happy and on the same page.



Suddenly your married, you have another person to think about, to care about and after a couple months of happy marriage, you realise that you have no space. You can’t just go to your room eat ice cream and watch movies, tell your partner that, the main thing is communication. I’m sure they’ll be happy to head to a friends house if you want to have a night in. Make sure you also understand their signs when they need space. Let them hang with their friends or go out on their own. Having independence is a good thing so that you remember who you are and what makes you happy.

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