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Aleece & Chris Photographed by Rambo Estrada

Aleece and Chris’ wedding day was a wonderfully relaxed and intimate occasion, overflowing with beautifully sleek details and memories created by having their favourite people join them to celebrate their love. With their relationship flourishing over ten years and THE most incredibly romantic Southern France proposal, the couple returned from Melbourne to Aleece’s hometown of Hawkes Bay to marry at the gorgeous boutique Black Barn Winery. The vineyard slopes against the magnificent Te Mata Peak backdrop provided a beautiful natural setting, with a romantic and moody candle-lit ceremony in the rustic underground cellar. Minimal and oh-so-considered styling set the scene, with fresh green foliage and cathedral candles by Toni from Magdalen Hill Florals and beautiful bentwood chairs and table details by Lucy Chase Weddings.

Photographer Rambo Estrada captured the day in stunning detail, including some incredible portraits overlooking the breathtaking Hawkes Bay scenery.

“You are my thoughts as the sun rises, and my dreams after it has set.”- M.K.


How did you meet and how long have you been together?

A sneaky set-up by a mutual friend about 10 years ago.

How would you describe each other?

I love his charisma and positive energy, the way he can easily capture an entire room- he’s an entertainer. I love the way he starts the day like it’s going to be the best day of his life. Chris is the most motivated driven person I’ve ever met and I love the fact that after all this time I still find him completely fascinating. He is heartbreakingly kind, caring, thoughtful and endlessly patient, and I really do feel like the luckiest girl in the world.

She sees the good in everyone and everything in a way I’ve never seen before. She teaches me compassion and kindness in the way she sees the world and puts everyone in her life before herself. I love this about her. She is strong, driven and passionate about what she believes in and I still can’t work out how she does this.


Tell us a little bit about the proposal and your engagement?

Chris can at times be a little extravagant (an understatement) although when it comes to planning he tends to leave at part up to me. So during a planned vacation to France and Italy after eight years of dating it came as a little surprise one morning in Nice when we woke up and Chris announced he had sorted our day’s activities. He had planned the whole day from picking up a gorgeous old vintage car in the morning, navigating the winding roads with jaw-dropping views over the French Riviera to a mountaintop lunch with the locals. We ended the day in the beautiful Chateau Saint Martin for the night with a degustation dinner looking over the Mediterranean. I must admit by this stage the penny had dropped that it wasn’t a usual day (our daily lives are DEFINITELY not as extravagant as this sounds) When it came time to propose, for the first time ever Chris couldn’t utter a single word! He simply snuck the ring out of his pocket and put it on the table – I even put it on my own finger! To this day he’s never asked me to marry him, but if you know him that’s kind of what made it so special.

Tell us about your wedding style. What influenced your planning for the day?

The most important thing for us was that we wanted everyone to have fun and even though we wanted everything to look nice, we also wanted it to feel relaxed. For the ceremony, we wanted a really moody vibe and were so happy with the look Toni created with lots and lots of candles and greenery and the acoustic music just topped it all off. Toni was a star at putting it all together for us, creating beautiful bouquets, table settings and a humungous greenery installation from the ceiling in the bistro. We wanted to keep our outfits simple and sleek with no fuss so we would be comfortable. With the overall styling, we wanted to fit in with and not distract from the stunning surrounds.


Why did you choose your destination?

We’d been living in Melbourne for a long time and loved the idea of returning home and bringing our friends over to show them where Aleece grew up. The style of Black Barn suited the look and feel that we were going or, close to the Redwoods and Te Mata peak where we wanted to have our photos- it was an easy decision.

What was your favourite detail from the day?

There were so many special little details throughout the day that it’s really hard to pick a stand out. To be honest I think it was the culmination of all the little details and knowing all the work that had gone into them that made the day.


What was your favourite moment from the day?

Our favourite moment was actually the moment we were dreading the most, the ceremony. Walking into the underground cellar, it was just how I had imagined it could look. It had such an intimate/moody vibe with plenty of candles, greenery, beautiful acoustic music and we were surrounded by all our favourite people in one little place. Viv lead the ceremony brilliantly, sharing our stories and favourite readings, we shared our own vows filled with emotion, it was overwhelmingly special.


What does marriage mean to you?

To us, marriage is the ultimate display of love, respect and admiration. We had grown together over the years to compliment each other and depend on each other for guidance and support. I think a line in Chris’ vows sums up how we both feel after so many years together.

“In the most simplest of ways she’s become my life, so a decision to say we should spend the rest of it together is really not a decision at all.”


Who were your stand-out vendors?

We were so lucky; we had such great experiences with all of our vendors. Everyone was so easy to deal with, it honesty felt like we could ask them to do anything. The two standouts for me were Toni (Magdalen Hill) and Aleisha (Lucy Chase) they really went above and beyond.

Any advice for couples planning a wedding?

Everyone says it’s the best day of their lives, and it genuinely was- so enjoy it! We had a lot of friends attend from lots of different places and from different periods in our lives. So we hired a few of the Black Barn Retreats so we could all stay in the same place and had a night for everyone to celebrate a few days before the wedding so everyone could get to know each other. It was great to extend the celebrations and it made it even more enjoyable with everyone up on the dance floor together!


Do you have a favourite quote or piece of your vows you would like to share?

A snippet from Chris’ Vows:

“You’re strong-willed. You’re both passionate and compassionate. You’re smart, driven, incredibly kind and at times a little nuts – but there’s something about you that makes everyone in your life light up. I love every one of these things about you and so much more. Our journey isn’t perfect, but it’s ours. I can’t promise it will be happily ever after, in fact, I know it won’t be, but I can promise that after it all, at the very end, I’ll still be here, right beside you, still trying to figure out how I got so damn lucky.”


Did you know we’re headed to Hawkes Bay this year? The beautiful Black Barn boutique winery is the venue for Wild Hearts Hawkes Bay!  Are you an amazing business and want to run wild with us in Hawkes Bay on October 21st? We curate the most inspiring vendors for each Wild Hearts event, vendor applications have officially opened this week so head over to our website for more details. We are so excited for this location and would love to have you join us in the beautiful bay for a day of beautiful inspiration.


Photography: Rambo Estrada @estradaweddings

Florist: Magdalen Hill Florals  @magdalen.hill.florals

Cake: Tiered Cheese Wheel from Kapiti Cheese  

Ceremony venue: Underground Cellar at Black Barn Vineyards @blackbarnnz

Reception Venue: Black Barn Bistro @blackbarnbistro

Furniture Hire: Bentwood Chairs, linen napkins, tea light holders- from Lucy Chase Weddings @lucychaseweddings
Cathedral candles and bohemian rugs for the ceremony from Magdalen Hill Florals @magdalen.hill.florals

Signage: Rebecca Norman from Panoply Studio and Gallery 

Celebrant: Viv Pearce

Rings: Australian Diamond Company  @adcdiamonds

Transport: Nimon Luxury Passenger Transport 

Brides Credits:

Bridal Gown: Sarah Seven from the Bridal Atelier Melbourne

Hair: Abby Schofield Hair @abbyschofieldhair

Makeup: Suzanne Hardy from Miss Frou Frou @missfroufrounz

Bridesmaids: Shona Joy  @shonajoy

Grooms Credits:

Suit, Bow Ties, Shoes: Working Style 

Groomsmen: Working Style @workingstylenz

Music: Isla and Finley Brentwood from The Brentwood Duo @brentwoodduo

Caterers: Orton Tailored Cuisine  @ortontailoredcuisine

Accommodation: Black Barn Retreats  @blackbarnnz

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