Victoria & Daniel

At a picturesque beach full of treasured memories, Victoria and Daniel, along with their family and friends, created a beautiful wedding celebration full of personal details and special moments. Victoria shares their love story…

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Whangapoua is where I spent much of my childhood at my grandparents’ bach. It is a place that represents growing up, summer swims, Mr Whippy, hide and seek, jam sessions, doing the dishes and many, many hands of cards. When I think of Whangapoua, I picture starry nights, taste salt in the air, and remember all the times I have spent there over the years with family and friends. There is a sense of inner peace and the feeling of being grounded. Though it would require a lot of effort and everyone would need to travel, I knew that it was the perfect place for us to be married.

The wedding weekend was everything we hoped for - from Friday evening, when we met on the beach for sunset swims and nibbles to welcome everyone to our little piece of paradise, to Sunday, when we caught up to eat all of the leftover dessert for breakfast. One of the most special moments on Friday was when my mum, Aunty Lee and Aunty Maree presented us with a quilt that they had hand-stitched for us. There is fabric with pictures of rugby, cricket and netball, as well as a pile of books, a mermaid and school children - all sorts of images that symbolise our lives. It has fabric from my childhood peg apron and my mum's curtains when she was young. Lots of people had helped out with the process - my Nanna Shirl, cousins and family friends had all stitched small sections of it. We will treasure it always.

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Saturday dawned, beautifully sunny with a light breeze. From the moment I woke up, every single sense was heightened. I have never felt so excited, nervous and happy all at once. I think I was pretty quiet most of the morning because I was trying to keep myself calm and remind myself to enjoy the moment and take it all in. It was a fairly relaxed start to the day (the guys were on set-up so not as relaxed for them!). I enjoyed going for a swim by myself then reading the letter Dan wrote to me on the beach. We didn't hire anyone to do our hair and Dan's mum (who is a beautician) did my makeup, so there wasn't heaps to do in the morning. It was so nice just hanging out with my sisters, Kelly and my mum. I loved seeing the wildflowers when they turned up and watching my bridal party get into their dresses - all the colours were perfect and they looked so beautiful. My mum let me borrow her garter that she wore on her wedding day, and I will never forget her helping me into my dress. Shortly after showing my bridal party my dress for the first time, my Dad arrived and I got to show him too.

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The ceremony was held on the reserve by Pungapunga River, behind the family bach. Dan’s pounamu hung from the archway that Dan built himself, a surprise for me. The trees were lined with bunting, and handmade quilts from my mum and aunties dotted the grass. Guests wore an array of colourful sun hats that they selected at random from a wooden basket as they entered, which made me laugh when I saw them. My friend, Jamie, was helping us out for the day and he picked me and my Dad up to take us to the ceremony. I remember sitting in the car - my fingertips and toes were tingling so much because I was incredibly nervous. My heart was pounding and my mouth was super dry. I really wanted to be on time because I didn't want Dan to be waiting for me. Coming around the corner and seeing everyone standing for us was so precious, and I wanted to look at everyone to acknowledge them, but I really only had eyes for Dan. Once I saw him, I couldn't stop smiling. It was my cousin Claire’s beautiful singing of Here Comes the Sun and my Dad’s emotion that set everyone off!

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It’s hard to pick a favourite moment from the day. I loved walking across the road to the beach throughout the night for barefoot photos with Dan, where we could cherish a moment together on our own, before returning to the marquee for hilarious speeches, tequila, and a full dance floor underneath festoon lights!

We didn’t hire a venue or additional staff, and I feel that as a result, our wedding was the perfect reflection of our relationship, because every person involved had played a special role in raising us, shaping us and journeying with us. Our team of family and friends, especially my mum and dad, spent hours and hours creating the wedding of our dreams - rustic, wild, elegant... we can’t thank them enough for the best day of our lives. It meant the world to share our day with the ones we love.

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