Leah-Anne and Nate’s wedding day was a beautifully relaxed and heartfelt occasion set in the rural village of Cust in North Canterbury. The sprawling lawns and gardens of Woodfields Paradise provided a rustic setting for the ceremony and reception, where guests could wander the landscape, play lawn games and take their own photos at the Selfie Station. Guests raved about the food, catered by Smoky T’s with nibbles coming out constantly throughout the day, and cute Smores kits to toast at the fire pit when the evening cooled.
Some of the best moments were unplanned and candid, captured by photographer Charlotte Sowman who recorded such stunning imagery of the couple to keep forever. The most gorgeous wild Peony field made for some true fairytale images! Read below for more on Leah-Anne and Nate’s love-story, a beautifully heartfelt tale of sentiment and love.
“Today I marry my best friend, my partner in crime both in life and love.”
How did you meet and how long have you been together?
We first laid eyes on each other at the Christchurch Beer Festival back in 2012, but never actually said hello! I had to leave early and Nathan apparently then asked around to try and find out who I was before finding me on Facebook. He messaged me and introduced himself as ‘Hi I’m Nate, I hope you remember me, the guy in the grey singlet from Beerfest?’ the rest is history!
How would you describe each other?
Leah-Anne: Nathan is one of the wittiest people I know, and deep down we all know he has a big heart.. oh and he absolutely loves his golf.
Nathan: Leah-Anne is a very driven, caring and loyal person.. and an awesome cook!
Tell us a little bit about the proposal and your engagement?
Nathans father passed away after battling motor neuron disease for over 10 years. (It’s a condition that effects nerve cells – controlling the muscle tissue that enable us to move, speak and breathe, to gradually weaken and waste away.) We were told by doctors that we would need to say our last goodbyes, so I went to his rest-home alone and asked for his permission to marry his son. He couldn’t talk or move his body but he managed to nod his head, then the tears flowed. When he passed, we travelled down to Otago to spread his ashes. The night before, Nathan took me to a small park he used to play at when he was younger, and how much it meant to him because of the good memories. It was then that I decided to let him know he should read the inside of his ring. (Engraved on the inside were the words ‘will you marry me’ but in Tagalog), so the whole time he was wearing his promise ring, he had no idea what the words meant, until that moment. My grandmother proposed to my grandfather and my mother proposed to my father, so I wanted to do the same when I was ready and I thought that was the perfect moment.
Tell us about your wedding style. What influenced your planning for the day?
Nate and I just wanted a really relaxed feel to our wedding, no ‘set schedule’. We had nibbles coming out throughout the day and into the evening with lawn games, an area where guests could take their own pictures in the selfie station, keep warm near the firepit, and toast smores when it got colder. Just a really relaxed, fun vibe in a rustic/outdoor setting.
Why did you choose your destination?
We fell in love with the venue and it’s layout (it could hold both the ceremony and reception). We thought it was perfect for friends and family to wander, explore and to feel ‘away from home’ yet still be only ½ and hour away from Christchurch.
What was your favourite detail from the day?
We had so many! But one of the details we both loved was releasing lit paper lanterns into the night sky. The lanterns represented loved ones that have passed away and who are no longer with us physically but in spirit. Ours was lit for Nate’s father John.
What was your favourite moment from the day?
For me, it was walking up the isle to Nathan’s smiling face, surrounded by friends and family. Nate just says ‘the whole day!’
Who were your stand out vendors?
Everyone was amazing and helped make our day as special as it was, but we would like to give a special shout out to Tristin from Smokey T’s: The food was amazing and we had so many people rave about how good the food was and also mention how they didn’t have hangovers because of the food coming out constantly throughout the day. And also Charlotte our photographer, such a cool and talented lady! Not only us, but our guests also felt so relaxed having her around. We fully trusted her with capturing our day and we had so much fun.. oh that peony field!!
Any advice for other couples planning a wedding?
Take a moment to soak it all up, it goes so fast! and also not get caught up in “perfection”. This event is an expression
of yourselves, but it’s not all you’ll ever be. It’s just the beginning! In fact, some of the best moments were ones we didn’t plan for at all—like a fabulous photograph of us laughing from being absolutely covered in confetti after the ceremony. Sure, it was messy, but it was also honest and a truly joyful moment. Embrace the unexpected, and each others’ opinions, and don’t let an unattainable ideal sour the big picture: You’re in this together, now and for the future.
What does marriage mean to you?
Marriage is a life-long commitment together. It’s vulnerability, knowing each others flaws, but accepting and loving each other anyway. It means always having someone to talk to, laugh with, confide in, and build a life together with.
Photographer: Charlotte Sowman
Videographer: AV Videography + Photography
Event Planner / Stylist: Leah-Anne and Jeamae
Florist: Flower Bazaar
Cake (and what kind): Cupcake Collection – Vanilla and Chocolate
Ceremony Venue: Woodfields Paradise, Cust
Reception Venue: Woodfields Paradise, Cust
Marquee / Teepee: Marquee Events
Photo Booth: Selfie Station
Stationery: Designed by bride
Signage: Peg Creative
Celebrant: Derek Tait
Rings: Petersens Jewellers Merivale
Transport: Bentley Transport
Caterer: Smokey T’s
Platters: Bespoke Platters
Bridal Gown: Dasha – Made With Love Bridal
Hair: Jade Comber
Makeup: Makeup by Mel
Veil/Headpiece: Borrowed from Minh
Bridesmaids: Pretty Things
Suit, tie, shoes all from YD