Real Weddings

Sharni + Michael \\ Captured by David Le Photography

When a florist gets together with all of her amazing floral friends you know the Wedding is going to be magic! Sharni and Michael’s Hawkes Bay was exactly that. An intimate industrial setting with the most incredible floral installation, all beautifully captured by David Le Photography.

It all started with a story of love, flowers and friendship …

When Sharni was sixteen-years-old she volunteered at a local floral boutique where she met, and became fast friends, with Toni. It was through this friendship that she was introduced to Toni’s brother Michael. First impressions; this man was handsome and quiet – which made him a little mysterious.

Fast forward some years – in a gondola gliding through the Venetian canals – Michael popped the question. When the couple planned their wedding at The Old Mill in Napier, flowers were always going to be a major, symbolic part of their ceremony. Lush, oversized bespoke floral pieces were the only decor for the wedding. An army of florists, including Sharni, came together to bring the vision to life.

Enjoy all of the details from Sharni and Michael’s Wedding below and also featured in our 2019 Wild Hearts Magazine – an annual journal for the wild & creative soul – full of inspiration and beauty. You can get your copy here.

How did you meet and how long have you been together? 

Our story is one of love, flowers and friendship and it’s starts way back when I was 16.

After losing my Pop I had an epiphany to be a florist. He had the most wonderful roses, a garden full of gorgeous blooms and to my surprise the scent of a florist shop would transport me back there. Having also grown up with an amazing garden that my parents nurtured, as a little girl I was often found picking flowers and making my own creations, so it was really quite a fitting career choice for me.

I soon had volunteer work at a little shop and that soon turned into a full-time position. This is where I met Toni and we soon became great friends. Sadly, for me she was leaving to move overseas, but not before I got to meet her family, this is when I got my first glimpse of her brother Michael.

My first impression was he’s handsome but quiet, which made him a little mysterious and I soon found out he was a handyman. I woke to some bad news, During the night my car got broken into, but Toni told me not to worry Michael was already on the repair job. I added knight in shining armor to my list. What a legend!

Unfortunately, the timing in our lives wasn’t right and I didn’t see Michael again for some time. Toni was away for 5 and a half years but we remained good friends, so upon her return home she coerced me into a few trips to visit her and with some not so discreet match making concocted a plan with her Mother.  Michael and I were soon on our first date. We dated long distance for a year before moving in together, then planned our own world travels. Fast forward 9 years later, we’ve had our wonderful years travelling together and have settled back in Napier.

Tell us a little bit about the proposal and your engagement?

On a trip to Venice while being serenaded on a gondola, in the dead of the night, Michael popped the question. During the day, the canal’s are a hype of activity but at night the city is still and beautifully peaceful.

Even though we had already purchased a gorgeous 1940’s ring together from a cute antique shop in Brighton some months before, the proposal was still a surprise. He’s not a hopeless romantic so it was nice he put some thought into it, his “so do you want to be my wife” got a big yes. As we were still travelling and living in the U.K there was no rush to start planning, so we just kicked back and relaxed until we came home.

Tell us about your wedding style. What influenced your planning for the day?

Working in the wedding industry I see the most amazing setups, venues, dresses, etc. every weekend, so planning was rather easy as I knew what I liked and what I didn’t. We wanted a look and feel that reflected us. As we were in the market for our first home, our wedding budget wasn’t huge and while it was easy to get caught up in the excitement of planning and as much as I thought I wanted all the bells and whistles, I soon realised what was important. We decided to pick a few key things and do them well. First, to be surrounded by our closest friends and family, to have an intimate number as we knew the day would fly by, so it was important to be able to be present and enjoy everyone without feeling overwhelmed and also so we could spend as much of the day together as possible. The second was to have live music. A passion for us both, live music transports us back to many great nights out during our time together, it creates ambience and is always memorable.  And of course, the florals! Our love story starts with flowers, I’m a flower addict and Michael has grown up with them, so it was important they were a key feature.

Spending the most time together on the day was also key. So choosing a venue in the city to eliminate travel, waking up together in our own home the morning of, as a pose to apart  and doing a first look with plenty of time together for photo’s before our ceremony.

I’m quite the little social butterfly, the life and soul of the party whereas Michael is more of a sit back, relax and take it all in kind of guy. I wanted him to feel like he was the only person that had my attention, so we decided not to have a bridal party, but to make each other the most important person on the day: it was just us and it was perfect.

So our style ended up being a mixture of these elements put together. Our take on a modern Victorian botanical theme, which was first set with the invites using vintage Redoute images, so we knew when we first viewed the venue that it was perfect.

Why did you choose your destination?

Hawkes Bay is known for its stunning landscapes and wineries, but as we live here wanted to capture the more relaxed urban vibe here. I also knew we needed something that wouldn’t restrict what we could envision with our florals and it needed to be accessible the day before. Both art lovers and having amassed a substantial collection on our world travels the Napier “seawalls” murals were the perfect backdrops for our photos, as were some of the alleyways through the city. Our venue provided some great spots for some cool shots too which also showcased my love a fair with my job.

The venue was a cool unexpected spot, it’s like no other venue I’ve been too before. Right in the heart of Napier, although it didn’t feel like that as it is surrounded by tall rustling trees, “The Old Mill” is a historic wool mill nestled into the side of the Napier Hill. We chose the industrial building with exposed brick, wooden beams with church pews for seating and pea gravel flooring over the usual garden spot for its juxtaposition with the florals. Although we were indoors the roof did not meet the walls and rays of light filled the space. Our reception, held in a quirky downstairs bar, had the same vibe. It made us feel like we were in this cool underground pub in Europe. A low ceiling twinkling with fairy lights made for a cosy wee spot to party into the night. We kept the character of the venue with only floral’s enhancing the space.

What was your favourite detail from the day?

It’s really hard to just pick one, my dress was really special because using my mother’s and my late auntie’s wedding dresses I created my own look with a pleated high waisted skirt. The high/low hem line of my skirt ensured that the floral shoes I paired with it would pop. But also my beautiful bespoke bouquet that Toni made me. Because i work in the industry i have seen the faces of so many bride’s before me on their day seeing their flowers for the first time and I wanted that feeling too, so I gave her creative licence to make something completely personal and surprise me on the day. All I asked was that she included a few special blooms I had picked from significant gardens including one from the house my Pop used to own, my mum’s, mine and a bloom from hers, it was finished with my Gran’s silk scarf.

For Michael it was the atmosphere we created with the choice of venue, having acoustic  live music during our ceremony and late into the night at our reception.

Did you have a stand out vendor from your Wedding?

The ceremony/reception florals were a collaboration and a massive team effort. My wonderful florist friends who came together the day before to help create our vision of lush oversized bespoke pieces. As they were the only décor for the whole wedding, it was go big or go home. Toni from Magdalen Hill, Kaye from beauKayes florist, Fiona from Evoke Floral Stylist, Christina from the U.K who works for McQueen’s and Kristin Pitt, a fellow freelance florist joined me to create this vision. I have worked with each of these ladies at different times throughout my career and they have helped shape me into not only the florist I am today but the women I have become. Great friends and industry colleagues, these wonderful ladies gave their time and creative souls to make it happen.  I had some inspiration imagines but wanted everyone to create freely in keeping with my modern Victorian botanical theme. We wanted them to say “boom this is where the action takes place “with a secret garden vibe and it was epic! Downstairs for the reception an over the top urn arrangement crept up a pillar to meet a floral ceiling that meandered the length of the dining tables. I selected flowers at the local market and got peonies and delphinium from a local grower. Scent lilac, guelder rose, foxgloves and other foraged blooms from my mum’s garden nestled in among the commercial blooms gave a softer more organic feel.

What was your favourite moment from the day?

For both of us, definitely our ceremony and most important our vows. Our guests entered a huge barn like structure in the middle of the city which had once been a horse arena to the sound of Alex Richardson, a local musician playing acoustic music. We had picked a few Adele songs which reminded us of our crazy festival weekend at Glastonbury, along with lyrics that suited our relationship with the sound of her voice and the floral feast the tone was set. We wrote personalised vows which was a great opportunity to share our deepest thoughts and feelings. We aren’t a lovey-dovey couple and often don’t say exactly how we feel about the other person, so we were quite emotional hearing the impact we had had on each other over all the years together. Our ceremony was full of laughing, crying and cheering. I had seen Nichola do a family ceremony and knew she was the right person for the job. As a family friend and an industry colleague she wrote the most amazing personalised ceremony, it was beyond perfect. Laura, a lovely friend read a personalised view of marriage and our nephew was our impromptu ring bearer and petal-fetti distributor, a job he took seriously, only allowing people one handful of petals and no more. It was only the day before at the rehearsal we decided confetti was a good idea. We had leftover guelder rose which my sister and I used to play weddings with when I was a little girl, so it only seemed fitting. With instructions from Nichola, the photographer got the money shot and it was cool to walk back down the aisle being showered with petals.

What does marriage mean to you?

For us it’s the ultimate commitment to the other person, that no matter what life throws your way, through good times and bad you do it together. It’s choosing that person to be no-one other than themselves, loving what you already know & accepting who they are yet to become and remembering how you felt at that moment when you made your vows and promises to each other.

Its really an amazing feeling knowing that someone wants to spent the rest of their life with you, that they choose you, it still gives me warm fuzzes when I think about it. It’s trying to always be the best version of yourself for that person, but when you aren’t it’s ok because they are your biggest fan.

Advice for other couples planning a wedding?

Just do you, keep it personalised and intimate .. That it’s ok to be untraditional or unconventional if it’s what you want.

That it’s your day, its all about you so spend it how you want!

|| CREDITS ||

Photographer: David Le Design and Photography | Bride & Groom Florals: Magdalen Hill | Ceremony & Reception Florals: Magdalen Hill, Foxy FloraBeaukayes Florist, Evoke Floral Stylist, Christina Antoniou & Kristin Pitt | Cake: Ginger kiss cake with white chocolate truffle icing by The Pretty Little Details Co. | Venue & Catering:  The Old Mill | Stationery: For Love and Paper | Celebrant: Nichola Nicholson | Rings: Monique Therese Designer Jeweller | Transport: Black Mustang | Bridal Gown: Sewing Seams | Hair: Loco Hair | Makeup: Josie Brenstrum | Shoes: Overland | Groom’s Pants: Jeffrey’s for Men | Groom’s Shirt, Pocket Square & Belt: Alexander’s on Tennyson | Gold watch: Family Heirloom | Groom’s Shoes: Hannahs | Ceremony Entertainment: Alex Richardson | Reception Entertainment: Ian Munro

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