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Relaxed Floral Inspired Old Forest School Wedding

“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.”

Who Bianca + Liam Gavin
Where Old Forest School Vintage Venue
Guests 118 nearest and dearest friends and famil

Our love story began…

We met through mutual friends while I was in University, we were good friends for months before circumstances changed and we started dating. We were both smitten and knew it was something special early on. After a year and a half of long distance I made the move to Whangarei, and since then we have both settled into new careers, bought a house, renovated a caravan together, adopted 2 fur children, and now marriage. We have achieved more together in a short amount of time than we could have dreamed of and can’t wait to see what the next few years have in store for us.

I said yes

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.

Our wedding style was…

We wanted our wedding to be a fun, relaxed day for ourselves and all of our guests. I was also set on being married in an outdoor natural setting, and our venue provided the perfect backdrop. For the theme, I wanted to draw from earthy natural colours with aspects of gold. I wanted the colours to reflect the romantic mood of the day but to remain relaxed and not overdone. Due to the large number of bridesmaids I chose to have different colours of the same style of dress, but within the same earthy tonal range. Picking these colours was one of the hardest decisions leading up to the day but I couldn’t be happier with how they turned out. I wanted the flowers to be the main show so we kept other decorations simple and minimal so they didn’t overpower how beautiful the floral arrangements around the venue were.

We saved on…

The signage was made the night before the wedding by myself and my sister Sophie. We also sourced 130 mismatched crystal wine glasses for the bar second hand. Agee jars from the tables came from a local country store down the road from Liam’s parents house. The wood rounds for the serving platters were made and oiled by Liam’s dad. Canapes served on the wood rounds were prepared and served throughout the day by some amazing family friends. Wedding cars were Liams parents BMW SUV and my granddads Mercedes SUV, we were lucky enough to be driven by my granddad and Liam’s sisters partner.

We splurged on…

The venue, our photographer, guest experiences and my dress. They were three things that were important to me. The venue really set the scene for the day, with it’s casual setting and beautiful surroundings, it fit how we wanted our day to be – relaxed and a fun experience for all involved. Our photographer Rambo Estrada is the person we picked our date around, he was the only person we wanted to photograph our day. My sister is lucky enough to work with him so there was already a connection there, and his work speaks for itself- we couldn’t be happier with how his photos showcase our day and all the fun and emotion it entailed. We wanted the day to be as much of an amazing experience for our guests as it was for us, so we splurged on things like the bar, the food trucks, and the buses to transport guests, there were games on site to keep the guests entertained and a polaroid camera for guests to be able to capture and take home their own images of the day. My dress was something I always knew I’d splurge on, and after hours spent trawling online I had a few designers in mind. It was by coincidence that while on a 2 day stop over in Melbourne, I found my dress in Karen Willis Holmes boutique, it was the last of my size in the style I fell in love with in the country so I knew it was meant to be.

Our advice to engaged couples…

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!


Photographer Rambo Estrada

Florist Elise from Honeybee Wild Flowers runs a local business in the small town of Opotiki where I grew up. All of the flowers she used for our day were sourced locally within Opotiki which added to their beauty and it added some specialness to the arrangments.

VenueOld Forest School Vintage Venue

Music Asch Rose Music – Shortly after getting engaged we went to Russell in the Bay of Islands for a day together, we were sitting at the Duke of Marlborough enjoying lunch and a wine listening to a girl sing. I immediately knew I wanted her to be our singer at our wedding, so later messaged her and asked her if she would play for us on the day which she excitedly took the offer up of. She sung our aisle song (Dave Dobbyn – Beside You) which is a song that has been a fundamental part of my childhood and had our family and friends in tears.

Menu We chose to have a laid back eating style, so that our guests could enjoy mingling and dancing rather than being sat at tables for the majority of their day so we chose to have Tag Burger for our day. Guests could go up and order whatever they liked off the Tag Burger menu whenever they were hungry. Desert was then the Mr Whippy Ice Cream truck.

Stationery Kiyomi Kitagawan – She is a family friend of ours. She is a Doctor, who does graphic design as a hobby and for friends and family. I provided minimal guidance with what I wanted our invites to be and she provided the most beautiful wedding stationery printed on linen paper.

Hair Simone Anderson travelled with Briar and did our hair. She managed to do 6 bridesmaid hair ups, my hair, hair and makeup for my Mum, mother-in-law and Nanny all before 12pm. Having spent time with Simone before the day in social settings made it comfortable and exciting to have her there as part of our morning.

Makeup For the last few years I haven’t trusted anyone but Briar Howard to do my makeup for any occasions I’ve had, so I booked her as soon as I’d booked the venue. She made the trip from Auckland to Papamoa with Simone to be able to do our hair and makeup for the day. Having Briar there for the morning was like having a close friend there, this made the whole morning more special as it meant that the only people that were a part of our morning were people who I was relaxed and comfortable around.

Cake My talented friend Briar also baked our Cakes. She arrived at the house I’d rented for myself and the bridesmaids at 11pm the night before the wedding, and put the cakes together at 5am the following morning before starting on our makeup at 6am. Briar runs Our Little Kitchen Co., The main cake was bottom tier-Vanilla and doris plum cake, Top tier-Caramel mud cake with butter cream icing and gold foil, meringues and fresh flowers. The mini cake was a gluten free cake as Liam is coeliac, it was a Chocolate and Caramel mud cake with butter cream icing.

Celebrant Tim Shipton, we wanted our celebrant to reflect the relaxed vibe of our day, Liam says he was a key part in keeping him relaxed before my arrival and we loved his style of hosting the ceremony.

Brides Dress Karen Willis Holmes ‘Tulip’

Brides Accessories + Shoes I wore my Nanny’s Austrian Crystal drop earrings, I’m extremely close to my nanny so wanted to have a part of her with me on the day, and the Stolen Girlfriends Club silver bracelet Liam gifted to me on the morning of the wedding. My veil was the Grave Loves Lace Gabriela Veil, and my shoes were Windsor Smith. I also had my Great Grandmothers hand embroidered handkerchief in my bra for catching the days tears. I wanted to keep my accessories minimal so that the dress would be the main focus.

Bridesmaid Dresses I had a style of dress I wanted but it was too hard to source in New Zealand in the colours I wanted. Liam’s mum was heading to Hoi An in Vietnam for a holiday, knowing how good the tailors were here I purchased a dress in the style was after, and sourced swatches of colours I was hoping to have the dresses made in. They were all made by Yaly Couture in Hoi An using 100% silk.

Grooms Suit + AccessoriesThe shirts were a thick textured linen, purchased from Farmers. The pants came from Hallensteins. The leather suspenders were purchased on an etsy store, the bowties came from The Iconic, and the boys all chose their own shoes from various places. They all wore Ray Ban wayfarers on the day.

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