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Real Wedding | Caitlin + Dean

Tell us a little about yourselves!

We got engaged in March of 2022 on the beach in our favourite place – Mount Maunganui - on a sunset beach walk with our dog, Archie. We met almost 10 years ago but didn’t start dating until 2018, and it was all on from then! We love to have a good time and usually spend our Friday nights at our home in Auckland on the couch drinking wine and listening to live music. We spend a lot of time with our friends and family, and seem to always have something on – never a dull moment! We’re a pretty relaxed duo, with Caitlin typically doing all of the planning and Dean bringing the life to the party – we balance each other out well. We love good food, good times and making the most of any situation.

Why did you decide to get married where you did?

We always knew we wanted to get married near Mount Maunganui, a beautiful beach town three hours away from Auckland. Caitlin spent her childhood holidays here and it’s where her parents retired, so we spend a lot of time down there by the beach with family. It’s also where we got engaged on a sunset beach walk with our dog Archie, so it felt like there wasn't even a choice! Black Walnut was the perfect venue for us – modern but still romantic and we completely fell in love with the glasshouse and could immediately imagine all of our friends and family sitting down for dinner on the night of our wedding the first time we visited. Having the whole day at one location with so many different spaces was perfect – we got our outside ceremony (in the rain, but still beautiful), our dream glasshouse dinner and our party in the barn all at one location. The dream!

How many guests did you have?

We had 103 guests on the day – it was so much fun to have so many of our friends and family together, but so hard to spend enough time with everyone! So many hugs and dances to have which was just the best feeling, but we wished there was more time for everyone.

What was your budget?

We had an initial budget of $50k. However, we went over that in the end! It all added up very quickly and we had to have a very serious conversation about what we wanted. In the end we decided that throwing an incredible party for our friends and family and creating lifetime memories was worth the extra cash.

Tell us about your outfits.

We wanted the whole wedding to feel modern and romantic, so we definitely had that in mind when we were thinking about what to wear. Caitlin was dead-set on black tuxedos for the boys - sometimes the classics are just the best. Dean wore a bowtie and his groomsmen wore skinny black ties. Caitlin’s dress was a custom-made Brooke Tyson, which was designed by Brooke based on elements of other dresses Caitlin tried on and loved. She always knew she wanted sleeves, and fell in love with the sheer overlay look with a simple dress base. She wanted to feel classic but with a modern twist, and Brooke completely nailed the vision. The pearl buttons down the plunging back of the dress was the best bit, and matching pearl button details on the inside seam of the sleeves to match were just perfection.

You won’t often see Caitlin in a glamorous dress, so the second outfit had to be something different and edgy. A friend mentioned NZ designer  Olivia Cashmore, and after meeting her in her workspace one evening to try on her suit-style garments it was all but sorted. Caitlin’s second outfit was an ivory tuxedo vest suit with custom pants, and custom silk cummerbund. She felt like the coolest version of herself in it dancing the night away! It was so her and the perfect second outfit choice, beautifully made by Olivia.

What was the most important aspect for you, in terms of planning your wedding?

We just wanted everyone to have fun – within the first five minutes of talking about our wedding plans we knew we wanted Hamish & Rangi to DJ and play the sax for us and they absolutely killed the wedding party with the dance floor packed all night. We also wanted the food to be insanely delicious and modern – not your classic chicken or fish plated meal and our family-style modern NZ catering done by Blank Canvas was just beautiful. The most important thing for us was just actually getting married in front of our friends and family and giving everyone a night to remember!

Were there any elements that were important for you to incorporate?

We wanted all of our family to be involved in the ceremony, so Caitlin’s sister, Taylor, was her Maid of Honour, Dean’s brother, Scott, was a groomsman, Caitlin’s Dad Nigel walked her down the aisle, and Dean’s sister, Aimee, was the ring bearer. Caitlin & Dean’s mums Jacqui & Angie signed the marriage certificates, and their dads Nigel & Chris both gave incredible speeches at the reception. Caitlin wore her mum's original engagement rings on her right-hand as her ‘something borrowed’, and her mum wore a blue dress to be her ‘something blue’. We were so happy we could keep some traditions in a non-traditional wedding, and make it feel like everyone was involved in such a special day.

Any tips for couples getting married?

Carve out specific time for your wedding planning if you’re doing it yourselves – it’s so fun but there is a lot to do! It can take over your lives, so setting aside specific times to work through things together is super helpful. Also remember that at the end of the day it’s actually about getting married, and if the details don’t come through on the day it’s not the end of the world. You still get to marry the love of your life and celebrate with your loved ones! Prioritise what’s most important for you, and don’t let the rest weigh you down.

Are there any vendors that you would like to tell us a little more about?

A special shout-out to our incredible photographer Keryn Sweeney– they captured us just as we were. We wanted our day captured in small moments rather than setting up scenes and photos, and we are so happy with how it all came out. Keryn was so helpful from super early days of wedding planning and helped us with what works well and making sure we got exactly what we wanted.

Also, a special mention to Rae Makeup who made Caitlin feel the most beautiful she’s ever felt whilst still looking like herself – absolutely nailed the brief and couldn’t have been happier.

Photographer: Keryn Sweeney @kerynsweeneyphotographer | Flora: SweetPea & Jasmine @sweetpeaandjasmine | Videographer: James Watt @jameswatt | Ceremony + Reception Location: Black Walnut Venue @blackwalnutvenue | Celebrant: Jennifer Jones @jenniferjones_celebrant | Rentals + Ceremony Space: Twelve Tables @twelve_tables | MUA: Rae Makeup @rae_makeup | Hair: Inspired Hair | Catering: Blank Canvas @blankcanvascatering | Cake: Spongedrop @spongedrop | Stationery: Paper Darling @paperdarlingnz | Entertainment: Hamish & Rangi DJ and live saxophone duo | Ceremony Dress: Brooke Tyson Ritual @brooketysonritual | Caitlin’s Reception Tuxedo: Olivia Cashmore @olivia.cashmore | Dean's Suit: Barkers Clothing @barkersclothing  | Engagement & Wedding Rings: Naveya & Sloane Jewellery @naveyaandsloanejewellery | Shoes: Charles & Keith @charleskeithofficial | Earrings: Saint Valentine @saint_valentine_jewellery | Veil: Gown & Altar @gownandaltar | Wedding Party Attire: Bec & Bridge Dresses @becandbridge & Barkers Clothing Suits @barkersclothing


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