Perhaps, it’s a change of plans, but Wānaka may just be the opportunity you didn’t know you wanted… Discover why Sascha and Kieran chose to elope in Wānaka.
I (Sascha) grew up in Southland, so central Otago was always the go-to beautiful spot to visit growing up. Wānaka was a bit quieter and felt less transient than Queenstown. When Kieran moved over here from the UK after we met in England, I knew he would love Wānaka too – and he totally did.
We’ve done a fair bit of moving around the country since Kieran moved here – from Dunedin, to Auckland and then to Tauranga, but none of these places ever felt like “our home.” For some reason, Wānaka does. It has this magic that captures both of us every time we’re here. It’s in the friendly and open nature of the locals and the breathtaking beauty of the natural backdrop (we’re both suckers for lakes and mountains). There are not many places where I’d put up with the freezing cold, but I’d put up with it for Wānaka.
I don’t even know how to answer this question – there were too many moments to choose from for me to have a singular favourite. I think the whole wedding being completely different to what we had expected and dreamt of. We did a 180° on our original 120-guest, late-spring wedding and turned it into an intimate wedding/elopement hybrid in the middle of winter (which my poor shoulders were not fond of, let me tell you). I want to say that marrying my husband was my very favourite part, (it’s definitely top five), but my favourite part was probably watching him bawl his eyes out while I walked down the aisle. I just thought,
“Yep, I picked the right dress.”
We changed our plans because of the very reason everyone has changed any plan this year – COVID-bloody-19. We had the dream wedding booked, big guest list, heaps of people coming from overseas and most for the first time, in central Otago with all the bells and whistles. We were so excited for it. I was particularly looking forward to the night before, with all of my girls, chatting in nervous excitement about what the big day would be like and how I might feel. Kieran was keen to see his friends, family and all of those he hadn’t seen in years. We were both excited to have everyone we love in the same room at once – it would have been so beautiful. I still can’t look at photos of big weddings or watch videos of them because I just want to cry.
We were still in Level 4 lockdown when I received a call from our photographer and friend, Charlotte of Charlotte Kiri Photography. She had called to tell me that almost all of the weddings she’d had booked this year had postponed until next year. My stomach tightened, I thought I still had time. So Kieran and I discussed our options and at first, thought about eloping the traditional way – just the two of us. The only thing I couldn’t get past mentally and emotionally, was the thought of my dad not walking me down the aisle. So, we decided we would have my close family there; my parents, brother and grandparents. Kieran’s family obviously couldn’t make it (being from the UK), but my family did an incredible job of making sure that he didn’t feel alone.
It was a really hard decision having to kiss goodbye the plans we made and have to sacrifice the time we could have spent with so many of the people we love. But honestly, I think it’s what got me through lockdown. We both had this sense of hope in finding a new opportunity to make something out of the plans we might have lost.
On the day, we had our ceremony, then we moved over to a styled picnic setup by our beautiful stylist and florist Gypsy West of The Vase Queenstown. The styling was stunning and when you added Kieran and I to the background, it looked a little bit Gatsby – which I’m into. The best part about the table was the time it allowed for us to spend with my family, just to stop and breathe for a minute before we went off for our photos. I honestly couldn’t recommend it more. There was no awkward, dead time. After this moment, our family stumbled back down to the homestead at Glendhu Station, took off their ties and shoes, lit the fire and got comfortable.
Meanwhile, Kieran and I went up to the top of one of the many hills looking out over the lake at Glendhu. John, the owner, took us there in one of his beautiful land rovers, which actually broke down. Fortunately, Kieran managed to swipe his bottle of whiskey and Gypsy had given us a platter of food and two giant faux fur blankets, so we didn’t freeze to death. It was really cool, just being stuck up on a hill with my husband, looking suave and having our photos taken by our new friends, Charlotte and Bruno.
Trust your vendors!! They do what they do all year round and are literally there to support and help you. Don’t be too swayed by other people’s opinions or get caught up in worry about what others want – it’s your day babe! Get a videographer!! Film the day so that you can keep glimpses of it forever.
Take it all in – you’re in front of the world’s most beautiful backdrop. So take a moment to look around and appreciate it! Also get your cake from White Rabbit Cakes – you won’t regret it.