Wanaka Weddings: Eliza & Catlin

When plans change - make the new ones even better

Here's how Eliza and Catlin made it one of the best days possible.

Why Wanaka?

We both grew up in places with big, beautiful mountains (Catlin is from Timaru and Eliza hails from Denver, Colorado).

We wanted to get married somewhere that reminded us both of home, but also somewhere that belonged to neither of us that we could experience together. Years ago, Catlin drew six landscape pieces to hang in the flat. Two landscapes were of Colorado (for Eliza), two were of special places we had been together, and two were of Aotearoa (for Catlin). One of the New Zealand landscapes was the lookout on Roy’s Peak. Of the six drawings it was the only place neither of us had been. It was a full circle moment getting to land on Roy’s Peak and have our wedding photos taken in the exact place that Cat drew years ago!

A couple on their wedding day at Roy's Peak in Wanaka, New Zealand

What was the favourite part of your Wanaka wedding and why?

It’s hard to pick just one! The entire day was so beautiful and truly magical. Our favourite part of our Wanaka wedding was how care-free it was! Thanks to the incredible team at Boutique Weddings NZ, we didn’t have to worry about a thing. We had our hair and make-up done together at our Bed & Breakfast with our boutonnieres delivered right as we were getting ready to suit up! We arrived at the ceremony location and were greeted by our amazing photographer, Nat, who instantly felt like an old friend. Our celebrant, Siobhan, crafted the most beautiful, personal, and intimate ceremony for us, full of laughter and tears. The whole day we didn’t have to think or worry about a single detail. Sera, our coordinator, ensured that everything was taken care of, all we had to do was show up and enjoy it.

A wedding ceremony on Lake Wanaka in Wanaka, New Zealand

My (Eliza’s) bonus favourite part of the day was getting to fulfil my long-time aspiration of holding a baby lamb! Half joking, half very seriously, I had been nagging Catlin ever since we moved back to New Zealand that I wanted to cuddle a lamb. I thought surely, she could make this happen in the land of the sheep. Two years later, as we were waiting for the helicopter ride, we were joking about how now that Cat and I were married, she really had to make that happen for me. The lovely family that own and operate the helicopter business spontaneously offered for us to go across the road to their farm and house because they had two orphaned baby lambs! So after returning from Roy’s Peak, our whole wedding crew strolled across the road to meet, feed, and cuddle lambs! We joked at dinner that the best part of my day was finally getting to hold a lamb and of course, getting to marry my best friend (in that order).

Two brides hold a lamb at a wedding in Wanaka, New Zealand

Did you change your original wedding plans? Tell us about this.

We originally planned to have a 50-person wedding in Wellington (where we live) in February 2021. However, COVID made it impossible for any of Eliza’s friends and families to join us from the US. Rather than waiting indefinitely to see if borders would open, we opted for a small celebration with just two mutual friends as witnesses in October 2020. It was a really difficult decision since we are both very close to our friends and families and always imagined getting married with them around us.

In the end, we couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day. Some of our closest whānau sent our celebrant messages, poems, and passages to incorporate into the ceremony. We felt all their aroha and mana around us even though many of them were far, far away. The best part about having a small celebration was that we were able to fully focus on the each other and relish each moment with zero distractions or stress.

We are still planning to have a party at a later date (borders and COVID conditions permitting!) so we can celebrate with our nearest and dearest!

A wedding party walks towards a helicopter in Wanaka, New Zealand

What would be your number one piece of advice for another bride?

The most important part of the day is the experience you have with your partner. Nothing else ultimately matters. Do what will make you both happy!

A lakeside wedding ceremony in Wanaka, New Zealand

What is your “must do” when getting married in Wanaka?

Splurge on a helicopter ride if your budget allows. We will never regret the extra money we spent to go to Roy’s Peak for our wedding photos. It was such a special experience getting to stand in front of so much beauty right after getting to marry your best friend. It was also perfect for our small wedding because we got to bring our two witnesses and photographer for no extra cost. The experience and the photos are well worth it especially if you have saved money by having a small wedding!

A Wanaka wedding on the summit of Roy's Peak in New Zealand

Other Information:

Celebrant: Siobhain Hooper (Siobhain the Celebrant)
Hair: Absolutely Fabulous Hair
Make-up: Janine Joseph
Flowers: The Green Room Flower Company
Helicopter: Aspiring Helicopters
Planner: Boutique Weddings NZ
Photographer: Alpine Image Company