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An Elegant, Romantic Tauranga Wedding

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

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


Who Jess and BJ Watling
Where Ataahua Garden Venue
Guests 120

How did you meet?

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

In three words describe your wedding style…

Rustic, elegant, romantic.


What music did you play for those special moments?

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

Did you DIY? Not really!


What were the save and splurge items for your wedding?

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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



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

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