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Sami + Chris \\ Captured By Ash Muir Photography

Inspired by the non-traditional Sami and Chris tied the knot with a DIY Wedding on her families rural property in Ta Kauwhata overlooking the rolling hills and moody skies. 

Everything about the day was a reflection of the couple, it was a fun, relaxed atmosphere surrounded by the ones they loved the most. There was nothing but love, laughter and even a choreographed flash mob! Not to mention beautiful details, Sami’s custom made dress by her talented Aunty, Bridesmaids in Fig & Florence dresses, wild florals in deep burgundy tones and the Groom & Groomsmen looked dapper in suits by Bakers all captured perfectly by Ash Muir Photography

“She was one of the rare ones, so effortlessly herself, and the world loved her for it.” -Atticus

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

Chris and I have been together for 11 years. We met at work when we were only 22 years, so we’ve travelled the world together, graduated university, started our careers and we had our daughter Florence in 2017 so when Chris proposed in 2018 we couldn’t wait to start planning our day! I absolutely love weddings, so I knew we wanted something that hadn’t been done before so that’s why we went with a DIY wedding at my mum’s place in Te Kauwhata.

How would you describe each other?

Chris is the calm to my storm. He’s smart, responsible, loving and an introvert at heart who can appreciate his own company. He’s an amazing dad to our beautiful girl. Sami is driven, loves an adventure, creative and is the extroverted one in the relationship. She had a vision for our wedding, so I let her run with it – keeping to the budget was not her specialty (Chris laughing)

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

Because we had been together so long and we talked about getting married, I always said to Chris that I would know when he was going to propose so his mission was to ensure it was a surprise and it certainly was. It was a completely random Tuesday morning. Chris had gotten up early with our daughter to make her breakfast and get her ready for day-care. I finally got out of bed at around 7.30am (which is a sleep in with our 1-year-old at the time) and when I walked into the lounge Florence had her back to me and she was wearing a tutu and I said “she’s very dressed up for a Tuesday morning” and when she turned around she was wearing a top I had never seen before and I said “what top does she have on” and as I got closer to her I could see writing on it. I had to double-take because it said, “Will you marry my daddy?” and when I turned to Chris in shock, he said “gotcha”. Florence was also holding my Nan’s engagement ring, but she wouldn’t let me have it which we laughed about. It was certainly a surprise, so he was very happy with himself. I got to design my own ring from the Goldsmith in Hamilton so that was a lot of fun.

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

I’ve always loved the idea of a winter wedding and having candles, lights, faux furs, a long sleeve wedding dress, dark bridesmaid dresses, red tones in our florals, sangria and the moody weather. I’ve also always wanted to get married at my mum’s place so, when we actually started planning our day the reality of having a winter wedding in a marquee didn’t seem ideal so we decided to have it at the end of April so it was a bit cooler and hopefully it wasn’t too sunny – I’ve always loved the thought of moody clouds in the background of our wedding photos so this was a big part in deciding the theme of our wedding. FUN was also a big factor in our day. That’s why we did things like dance down the aisle to a fun song and for my hens my besties organised for us all to learn a flash mob to perform at the wedding – my bridesmaids know me very well – this was so much fun! Halfway through our first dance, the music changed to Beyoncé crazy in love and all my friends joined us on the dancefloor for a surprise performance – this was one of the many things in our day that made it so unique to our personalities.

Why did you choose your destination?

We got married at my mum’s place in Ta Kauwhata. I grew up in the Bay of Plenty, but my mum moved to Te Kauwhata for work. The house I grew up in wouldn’t have been suitable for a wedding and I always joked with my mum that she would have to upgrade houses so I can get married in her back yard. My mum moved to Te Kauwhata when Chris and I lived in London so when we got home in 2017 and she had this incredible lifestyle block, Chris and I said there and then that we would get married here one day.

What was your favourite detail from the day?

This is a hard one! We cannot thank our wedding photographer Ash Muir enough. The photos she took were incredible! I also loved our favours. We made them ourselves and it was the fun of making them that week with my brothers and sister-in-law’s that made them so special. Also, our wedding arch. We wanted something different, so we used the Balinese backdrop from Lovers Eclectic Hire (I keep calling it an archway but it isn’t really) and that with the florals from Chloe from le Fleur flowers was amazing

What does marriage mean to you?

We had done a lot of things before we got married and for me it was solidifying our family unit. I had a different last name to my daughter, so I wanted to become a Ridder for many reasons. Chris was also happy to become a Donaldson and didn’t mind if I kept my own name, which is one of the many things I love about him.

Who were your stand out vendors?

Our photographer Ash Muir, our florals by Chloe from le Fleur and Lovers Eclectic Hire who set our entire wedding up (tables, chairs, place mats, archway, glass wear, umbrellas, picnic blankets etc.) 

Advice for other couples planning a wedding?

Don’t sweat the small stuff. Weddings are about love, family and friends. Enjoy every minute.

What was your favourite moment from the day?

The speeches! They were all amazing. My husband isn’t fond of public speaking and he did the most incredible speech – after 11 years I didn’t think I could possibly love him anymore, but I’ve never felt so proud and honoured to be his wife in that moment. Also, my mum walking me down the aisle holding Florence. I am so close with my mum and this was such a special thing we did together. We also danced down the aisle to MKTO Classic – it was so much fun watching my bridesmaids dance down the aisle before me! Also, our surprise flash mob during our first dance. I also changed into my second wedding dress which was a gold version of my white one. Chris has a very talented Aunty Pam who made me two dresses for our day. The gold version was the mock-up but was so amazing I knew I would incorporate in our day somehow.


Photographer: Ash Muir Photography | Florist: Chloe Le Fleur | Cake: Conrad’s Cakes | Marquee Hire: Carlton Party Hire | Furniture Hire: Lovers Eclectic Hire | Catering: Wild Tribe | Bridal Gown: Made by Aunty Pam | Brides Earrings: Zoe & Morgan | Hair: Jadey Drury and Jayde Coffey | Makeup: Gemma Robertson and Michelle Williams | Bridesmaids: Fig & Florence | Groom: Barkers | Groomsmen: Barkers | Celebrant: Sarah Brown | Rings: Goldsmith Gallery

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