Jessica & Michael

With a rustic romance theme in mind, Jess and Mike transformed a school campsite into a beautiful venue for their three-day wedding celebration, complete with special touches from Mike’s home country. See all the gorgeous details below…

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Mike and I wanted to celebrate our wedding somewhere local and at a venue that we could transform to be completely our own. I had visited Hunua Falls Camp as a 10-year old on a school camp and loved the idea that we could create a three-day ‘Wedstival’ with enough accommodation to have our guests stay onsite in the cabins. Still living in the same town we grew up in, I returned to that school to borrow their old school benches to seat guests during our ceremony.

With only six months from our engagement to the wedding, we spent weekends collecting old timber, copper, crates and pallets from worksites to build tables, signage and drink holders to match our ‘Rustic Romance’ wooden and cooper theme. We designed our own logo, which became a constant concept throughout our furnishings. We borrowed items from friends, and stripped our house bare of our own décor to add a touch of home to our day. I spent hours piecing together foliage to form our own table and ceiling garlands, and our bouquets and arch florals were crafted in my parents’ garage with the help of my sister-in-law.

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Expecting it to be a sunny January, we asked our guests to wear smart-casual attire and provided a shed-full of field games, a waterslide and piñata for the kids, while furnishing the lawn with Giant Jenga for guest entertainment. Mike and I took one dancing lesson prior to the wedding and then spent weeknights practicing on our back lawn to woo our guests by twirling around the floor to Natalie Cole’s Everlasting Love.

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Mike is of Swiss heritage so it was important to us both to incorporate Swiss wedding traditions into our day. The music to our recessional walk was played by Mike’s father on the Handorgel (hand accordion) before we walked through a guard of honour waving Swiss flags and sounding the traditional cow bells before approaching to see his uncle blowing the Alp Horn

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 We bought miniature Toblerone chocolates as favours for our guests, and we were amazed by the ‘Kinder Surprise’ tradition that Mike’s aunty had arranged for us during our reception. It was a moving experience and we are so glad to have incorporated Swiss festivities into our wedding.

Prior to our big day we had been talking about moving to Switzerland to experience their culture and way of life. As it happened, we decided on our honeymoon to start the application process and book our flights to relocate in June 2019!

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Our guests described our wedding as a fairytale setting, and it truly was. The weather was stunning and the Hunua forest was lush and green, providing a beautiful backdrop for photos. I walked down the aisle to Wildflowers by The Wailin’ Jennys, which suited the entire setting we’d created. Our day was full of so much emotion and love.

Just as they say it does, our wedding went by so fast; but we were lucky to share an incredible day with our favourite people. We are so proud of our hard work in making our day the absolute best and we are so grateful for those in our life who helped us in one way or another to bring our dream to life.

Photographer: Wild Souls

Videographer: Jetmo Videography

Venue: Hunua Falls Camp

Bride’s gown: Jessica Bridal

Groom & groomsmen’s attire: Hallensteins

Bridesmaid dresses: Evolution Clothing

Makeup: Moana Richardson & Nicky Davis

Hair: Brendon Aldridge

Cake: Hey Babycakes

Stationery: Shutterfly

Celebrant: Father Robert Steele

Hire: Arkade, Pulse Party Hire

Love the feel of Jess and Mike’s big day? If you’d like to create something similar for your wedding, check out our competition to win venue hire at Kokako Lodge in the Hunua Ranges!