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Doing it yourself is part of the national DNA, so it’s not surprising that injecting a dash of DIY into a wedding has become a growing trend. Going the DIY route for a wedding is a bit like making a patchwork quilt. Yes, it’s easier to buy ready-made, but it can be so satisfying to put together something that’s uniquely yours. Not only can you do it your way but you can save money – the price tag for an average Kiwi wedding is now around $30,000. With a bit of imagination, you can trim back some of the costs or perhaps spend more on those things you think are important.

But a wedding – especially a big wedding – can be one complicated creation generating a massive to-do list at a time when the couple at its heart could be feeling a tad stressed. DIY weddings need  plenty of helpers – family and friends – and also a keen eye on what to leave to the professionals. It’s a balancing act which the following three weddings got right.

Natural Wedding

When Stefanie and Andrew married in December last year, the couple aimed to have a wedding that had a natural, organic feel, totally in line with their work as organic farmers.

“We held the ceremony down at Onoke Spit – it was perfect as it was so we didn’t do any decorations. I didn’t have bridesmaids because I wanted everyone to feel included. Instead, I walked down the path with our two dogs, Kate and Meg,” says Stefanie. 

The reception for 50 was at the local gun club. “It was perfect because it was a simple, open space. We borrowed wine barrels from a vineyard, and decorated the hall with antlers, twigs and foraged wildflowers. I’d collected glass jars and knick-knacks for months, and had chosen things that I knew I would use again. Instead of expensive tablecloths, we used flat white sheets from Spotlight.”

When it came to the menu, the couple made the most of the fresh, organic vegetables grown on the farm. The keen hunters and divers among friends and family provided venison, paua and hare. It was a remarkable feast.

Savings in some areas meant being able to splurge on others. “We may have provided the raw ingredients but Ant North from Featherston did the catering. I bought my wedding dress from a bridal shop in Palmerston North, and Qing Fan of Qingster Photography took the photos. We even had a pre-wedding shoot the day before so I could wear my wedding dress on horseback. It all worked out really well.”

Beach Wedding

Katie and Alex Renner also married at the beach – Akitio, in north Wairarapa – where Katie’s farming family have a bach. Katie’s guests stayed in the baches at the small settlement, and the reception was held in the local community  centre.

“I wanted to get married at Akitio because I’d been going there since I was five years old. I’d had so many great times there, it’s a special place,” says Katie.

When it came to turning the beach into a wedding venue, Katie says they found plenty of inspiration around them. 

“On the morning of the wedding, the groomsmen went out and built a wedding archway made of driftwood in the sand. They might have felt a bit time-pressured but it was so solidly built, it stood there for weeks. The guests sat on hay bales and toe toe plumes marked the aisle. I arrived with my bridesmaids on the back of one of the farm tractors.”

“We decorated the community centre to tie in with the ceremony, using driftwood, shells, bunny tail grass and tea lights on the tables.”

An Akitio local provided a feast of crayfish and though cooking was done by professional caterers, Katie’s parents were able to provide lamb and venison from the family farm.

“It was a very relaxed day and as everyone was staying at the beach it never felt hurried,” she says.

As it happened, the weather gods smiled and the wedding was on a dazzling summer’s day, but Katie had a Plan B for the ceremony (on the deck of the local boat club) just in case the weather turned. 

Photography was by Avodah Photography and Design.

Garden Wedding

Hearing an old school friend was coming over on holiday from the UK prompted Amy Black to tie the knot with Grant Plumbley, her partner of more than ten years, so her friend could attend the ceremony. 

“It was something we had always intended to do, and it seemed like the right time,” says Amy.

This meant the wedding had to be pulled together in a matter of weeks – made possible by keeping things simple, and with plenty of help from talented friends and family. 

“Our four children were a big part of the preparations. We have a large garden, and the children picked roses and dried the petals to make confetti. They also helped to make many, many paper pom pom decorations. On the day, they went out and picked garden flowers to go in the jars on the tables.

“We had about 70 guests – and about half of them were children – so we had hired three or four bouncy castles.”

Food was kept simple with platters of cold salmon, cold meat and salad assembled by Amy’s Dad on the day.

“It was a really hot day so that was exactly what everybody felt like eating,” says Amy.

Amy was also able to draw on the talents of two very good friends – baker and author, Alice Arndell, who made a ‘naked’ wedding cake, decorated with fresh flowers. And the vibrant decorations that helped create a party atmosphere were designed and made by Steph McGruer,

“She now sells decorations and handcrafts at markets or online from her Chirpy Handmades facebook page,” says Amy.

Amy’s simple ivory dress came from Voon in Wellington, and was given a glam touch with a long string of pearls from Scarlet in Martinborough. The very evocative photographs were taken by local photographer Sharisse Eberlein.