An Intimate Summer Harbour Wedding by The Woods Photography


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How did your love story begin? 

Mark and I started our relationship the way I think many great relationships start – as great friends.

I moved to the UK from NZ in June 2008 and met Mark at my first UK job. We initially had a mutual respect for each other at work and this respect soon blossomed into a great friendship. I remember Mark walked me home one night after work drinks and I knew he wanted to kiss me – and I really wanted him to, but he didn’t, knowing that would complicate things.

On one magical night a few months later, in September 2009, we shared our first kiss under the stars…
and things moved on pretty quickly from there!

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Did you manage to stick to your budget? 

We set a date while still on the UK and we moved back to NZ in Oct 2012. in May that year we welcomed our son George into the world, so now four of us were moving. In the next months we had to  buy a house, both get new jobs – basically start life again,it was an expensive year, so the wedding budget was always going to be tight.

We came in at $20K including a two week all-inclusive honeymoon, so I think we did really well. I’m a bargain hunter, so I managed to negotiate some pretty awesome deals.

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Why did you say ‘YES’? 

I knew I wanted to marry Mark – and have his babies – within weeks of us being together. I have always been attracted to guys that make me laugh, and Mark did (and still does), all the time. He also always struck me as the kind of guy that would make a great dad…

Fast forward to 2011 and Mark was down on one knee in The Marlborough Sounds. He and I were on holiday, playing with our 3 month old daughter in the pool and he pulled out a stunning ring out there and then.  It was just a lovely proposal, not rehearsed, not stuffy,  just relaxed and at a time when the three of us were simply enjoying being together as a family (though I wish my hair looked better!)

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What was your inspiration or theme for the day?

We had the wedding in Akaroa on a boat in the harbour, so the slightly nautical theme basically set itself.

Besides that, we both realised early on we had very similar views  that we wanted something intimate and personal to us. We wanted to make the most of the local scenery; We wanted our children to feel important. We agreed that we wouldn’t have a bridal party as such and instead our daughter, Elia, would be my bridesmaid and our son, George, Mark’s best ‘man’.

My Polish heritage played a part – weddings in Poland are steeped in tradition. We both felt it really important we included some of these traditions in our day. 1) Everyone is seated at one big (sometimes VERY big) table; 2) The food. Food is a huge part of a Polish wedding – there are no plated meals for each person – a smorgasbord of dishes is placed in the centre of the wedding table and everyone has a bit of what’s on offer. We decided on keeping the guest list down to a number that could fit at one table, and talked to the Trading Rooms about serving a mix of starters in the centre of the table instead of giving everyone a single dish. They loved it and agreed it would really get the conversation going (who doesn’t love to talk about food?!)

When it came to what we would wear, we wanted to ensure we were both outwardly represented in our attire. I didn’t give Mark a colour or theme to work with. We both agreed we didn’t mind if we ended up being ‘mismatched’, we wanted to be comfortable and confident in what we were wearing.

I guess our theme was simply ‘Us’.

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What were your Save & Splurge items?

We saved on the invitations. I’d always known Mark had worked in print, but he never told me he used to be a graphic designer. He designed the invitations himself, in one evening and I loved them so much i didn’t change a thing.

We probably splurged the most on the food and drinks. Our menu was amazing and created especially for us by the head chef of The Trading Rooms. We had an afternoon of wine and food tasting at the restaurant before the wedding (possibly the most enjoyable part of the wedding planning ), it was a lot, but it was totally worth it.

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What music did you play for those special moments?

With our slightly unorthodox ceremony location, there was no ‘isle’ to walk up, but Mark put together a playlist for the 2 hours we spent on the boat.

We had fabulous gypsy guitar duo La Petite Manouche play acoustic guitar for everyone when we arrived at the reception venue.

Paul Weller’s ‘You do something to me’ was our first dance.

We also personally chose every single song that was played at the evening reception. One of my friends actually asked the day after the wedding if we had chosen them all, as she said the songs felt like ‘us’. It gave me warm feelings knowing people recognised us in the music.

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In hindsight, is there anything that you would have done differently? 

I would have asked for help from my groom and from friends earlier!  I took on the responsibility of organising every detail myself up to around one week before the wedding. When I finally couldn’t do it any more people were glad to help and my to-do list got sorted in one day!

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What advice would you give to future brides to be?

Stress before if you have to, but don’t stress on the day. Things went wrong for us and they always will, but remember why you are there… and smile. You’ll want to look back and remember you were happy, not stressed about  food/in-laws/dj/hairetc.

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What do you love most about being a MRS?

It sounds corny, but I LOVE that we all have the same name.

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Photographer The Woods Photography //  Flowers  Ilam Florist
Cake Canterbury Cheese-mongers // Hair Enriched Hair by Bridget
Make up Melissa Page Make-up Artistry // Invitations Groom
Grooms Suits & Accessories Barkers // Venue The Trading Rooms Akaroa

behind the lens

Welcome! We are Brad and Claudia Wood, a married photographic team based in Nelson specialising in wedding, event and landscape photography. We love witnessing special moments, meeting new people and Kombi vans.

Claudia and I met one summer when we were both working in her uncles photography gallery over on the West Coast. I instantly fell for her. Needless to say Claudia couldn’t resist my smooth moves for long and the summer romance began. It was quickly evident that she was the one for me and I sped off to have an engagement ring made using my mum’s rings and soon after asked to place it on her finger. A year and a half after we met we were married on the West Coast on a beautiful Autumn day.

Our shared passion for photography soon resulted in The Woods Photography. We love working together and learning from each other as we capture beautiful, fleeting moments forever.

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