Pip and Stephens’ love story began with a casual introduction at work in Auckland and a chance encounter at the races. Fast-forward five years and their story is a beautiful one full of global adventures and love. For this ambitious couple, a relationship that began in Auckland blossomed in London and then Dubai, with a wildly romantic proposal at the water’s edge in Sri Lanka.
Returning home to wed, Pip and Stephen chose the gorgeous Ataahua Garden Venue in Tauranga, a timeless and elegant garden setting amongst stunning native forests. Wanting an elegantly styled wedding, the venue totally exceeded the couple expectations with its beautiful landscaped gardens and stylish features, with photographer Rambo Estrada captured the day in stunning detail.
Pip’s exquisite gown was by Ersa Atelier, perfectly paired with classically pretty blooms by Shay from On My Hand, with her beautiful bridesmaids in bespoke silk dresses by Auckland designer Shona Parore.
How did you meet and how long have you been together?
We met while working for Fletcher Building in Auckland in 2013, Pip had just returned from temporarily living in Siberia for and had decided to contract in NZ before moving to London.
Here is an extract from our marriage celebrant to give you more detail about our meeting:
‘Pip and Stephen met at work, on Pip’s tour of the office as the ‘newbie’ at Fletcher Building HQ, in January 2013. Pip was consulting temporarily before her planned move to London, some 4 months later.
Stephen had been at Fletchers for a year, and – he says – had all intentions to move to London that year too. While the office meeting was nothing but a formal handshake, it was in the weeks following that Stephen and Pip, unbeknown to each other, both made their way to the Ellerslie races. Pip was there with her friend Ashley and cousin Bridget, who are both here today, and Stephen was there with my son, Thomas.
While Pip proudly recounts a madly-lovestruck Stephen later chasing her to London, it was Pip who re-introduced herself to Stephen first at the races that day. Cool, calm and confident, she walked up to this man next to me and said ‘Rick, Hi!’ Stephen, having had a few drinks, gazed back perplexed.
Realizing her error, Pip embarrassingly backtracked… “Sorry, I meant to say Philip”. Clearly having a merrier day than Stephen, he reminded her of his real name and that Rick and Philip were, in fact, his work colleagues.
After a great day at the races, Stephen then asked Pip on a lunch date, to dinner and the rest is history. Four months together in New Zealand then the rest exploring the world together and now here to celebrate their marriage.’
How would you describe each other?
Stephen about Pip:
• Ambitious in her personal and professional life
• Her eagerness to explore far-off places
• Her love for family, both her own and mine
Pip about Stephen:
• How he constantly makes Pip laugh
• He is so thoughtful and caring about others
• Super smart, driven and successful in his career
• The ultimate dreamboat – those cheekbones, swoon!!!!
Tell us a little bit about the proposal and your engagement?
Stephen told me to pack a bag and surprised me by flying me to Sri Lanka for my 30th birthday. I literally had no idea where we were going until we turned up at the check in counter at the airport. He planned the whole holiday and on the night before my birthday took me on a walk along the beach at sunset and proposed as we were walking in the water – it was so romantic!
Tell us about your wedding style. What influenced your planning for the day?
I wanted an elegant wedding – Vogue has a great wedding site, I used it a lot for inspiration
Why did you choose your destination?
Funnily enough, I didn’t visit Ataahua until two days before my wedding. My mother in law had visited the venue before and fell in love with the place, so when Stephen and I got engaged I had a dear friend arrange a viewing for me. My friend has the most elegant style and I trust her implicitly, when she told me she would get married at Ataahua, we booked it straight away. When I visited Ataahua two days before my wedding, it blew me away, it totally exceeded my expectations – Abby who runs Ataahua was incredible and made the process of planning a wedding from afar so easy.
What was your favourite detail from the day?
My bridesmaid’s dresses, all of them were made bespoke from burnt red silk sourced in the Middle East – designed by Auckland designer Shona Parore. Shona is incredibly talented and my bridesmaids all looked INSANE and felt so beautiful and confident in their dresses!
What was your favourite moment from the day?
This is a really tough one, there were so many, laughing and dancing with my girlfriends before the ceremony, the time spent with just my dad in the car on our way to the venue, seeing so many dear friends and family who I haven’t seen in a long time because we live in Dubai, but it would have to be the moment Stephen and I kissed after being announced husband and wife – an indescribable moment.
What does marriage mean to you?
I think it means different things to different people, I love this reading my Nan read to us during our ceremony:
My marriage prayer for you is this:
That you will always remember the qualities that attracted you to each other when you first met and how you felt as your feelings of attraction turned into respect, admiration and finally love. That you will work hard to turn your feelings of love into acts of love so that nothing and no one can divide you. That you will always have kind and loving hearts that are quick to ask for forgiveness when you are wrong as well as to forgive when your partner is wrong. That your love might grow to hear all things, believe all things, and hope for all things, endures all things, and that your love increases and overflows, beyond anything you can yet imagine.
I am so excited to be on this journey with Stephen.
Who were your stand out vendors?
– Rambo Estrada (Tauranga Based) our photographer, I can’t sing his praises enough, talented, hardworking and a really nice guy.
– Our truly amazing Auckland based celebrant and family friend Una Ryan.
– Stephens’s cousin Jordy Davison (from Brisbane) who was our genius makeup artist!
Any advice for other couples planning a wedding?
– Be chilled
– Be organised in advance so you can spend the time in the lead up enjoying yourself instead of running around
– Do your research about vendors
Do you have a favourite quote or piece of your vows you would like to share?
“My heart will always be your shelter and my arms will always be your home.” – the end of Stephen’s vows.
“In you, I have found my truest and closest friend.” – a line from Pip’s vows.
Photographer: Rambo Estrada
Videographer: In the Frame – Thomas Falconer
Event Planner / Stylist: Abby from Ataahua Garden Venue
Florist: Shaye at On My Hand
Ceremony Venue: Ataahua Garden Venue
Prop /Photo Booth: Our friend Blair Hartley made us a huge wooden frame – a big hit!!
Stationery: Paperless Post – easy and saves the trees!
Signage: Delilah Southon
Celebrant: Una Ryan
Catering: Devour Catering
Rings: Cara – Middle East
Transport: Elite Limousines
Bridal Gown: Ersa Atelier
Makeup: Jordy Davison
Veil/Headpiece: Mums veil
Bridesmaids: Shona Parore
Suit: Bond & Co Tauranga
Bow Tie: Mrs Bow Tie
Groomsmen: Bond & Co, Tauranga