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Elopements Real Weddings

SOPHIE + ROBBIE // Love, Adventure & A Mount Cook Elopement

Against the wild whispering landscapes of the Southern Alps, Sophie & Robbie read their vows to each other in an intimate setting beneath the snow-capped mountains. 

Aoraki / Mount Cook, New Zealand’s highest mountain, was the perfect wanderlust elopement destination for these adventure seeking lovers. 

However, this was only one of two intimate dreamscape celebrations, starting in their current hometown of Queenstown. Sophie & Robbie wanted to incorporate their love of adventure and laid-back nature into their day. With family all back in the U.K, eloping in New Zealand, just them, a witness, celebrant, two photographer friends, and the serene landscapes surrounding. 

“We wanted the day to be about us two and no other distractions, we both wanted to soak up every second and not let the day disappear in a blur”

Wearing blush velvet boots from Chaos & Harmony and a winged bridal pantsuit by Queenstown bridal designer & close friend Trudy Munro from Nemo Bridal, who after a change in weather, also officiated the ceremony at a private art gallery in Lake Hayes. 

Before the couple headed to the mountains for the second ceremony and weekend away at the High Country Cabin in Mt Cook, Trudy left them with words that captured their adventurous love story and will forever be in their hearts…

“When times get hard, and love gets tough, remember to always look for each other because you will forever be each other’s true north.”

Both days beautifully captured by Kate Craig-Brown Photography.

Tell us a little bit about yourselves? How did you meet and how long have you been together?  

Our love story will always be my favourite to tell. Let me take you back six years, to a little place called Freshwater beach where this wild ride first began. I packed my bags, jumped on a plane with my best friend Elysia and to meet our other best friend Rose down under. We travelled New Zealand together and then hopped over to Sydney for a two week holiday. Our first weekend in the city is when I met Robbie. We made the trip over to Manly & Freshwater beach to meet some gals I went to Uni with, Robbie, his brother Adam & a friend also happened to be there. I remember sitting on the beach and watching him walk out of the ocean towards us. I also remember tapping Rose and saying “who the hell is that” to which she didn’t know and continued tucking into her family share bag of crisps. Fast forward 5 hours and we boarded a boat in Sydney harbour for some birthday celebrations. Low and behold, Robbie got on the boat too. We spent the evening sailing around Sydney harbour, then at a club, stuck together like glue. We didn’t stop talking, ever. 

The next day we surfed, walked on the beach and ate fish and chips all the while getting to know each other. I honestly felt like I was in a movie. One last group dinner in Sydney and Adam (My now brother in law) sat right in between us at the table. We spent the night talking around him and soaking up what we thought might be our last night together. For the next three weeks we messaged every single day. I would set my alarm to wake up and catch Robbie before he went to work or before he went to bed, making sure I could sneak in those last few messages for the day. It took me a total of two weeks in the UK to decide that I didn’t belong here, and my heart was firmly sat with a man I barely knew in Australia. I booked it. I sat on Elysia’s kitchen side and I booked a one-way flight to Australia. I distinctly remember her saying, “Well you will never know, unless you go” Working holiday visa accepted and bags packed, I jumped on a plane to meet a guy I hadn’t even spoke to on the phone. Was I mad? Yep, did it work out? Evidently so. 

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

Simple, calm, easy, no fuss. That is exactly what we wanted. It was that stress free that when the ceremony location changed one hour before the ceremony, I just poured another glass of champagne and carried on getting ready. No drama, no stress, no fuss. We intended to have our ceremony outside on a mountain in Queenstown, but it started to rain so my wonderful friend packed up the wedding arch and set it up at the Thomas Brown Art gallery instead. Also – we forgot the Arch flowers, but my friend whipped round to a few shops and managed to create the most beautiful floral and candle arrangement in less than an hour’s time. It was an awesome surprise when I walked in!

Lead us through the story of your dreamy Elopement… 

From the moment I met Robbie I knew I wanted to marry him. I could just feel it and I don’t know if you believe in love at first sight but before this guy even opened his mouth I knew he was the one for me, it’s weird, I cant explain it. I just knew. We are both from the UK. I am from Sheffield, Robbie from Stratford Upon Avon and but we knew we would want to marry in New Zealand. It only felt right. This is where our love story evolved, it is where we live, got engaged and I dreamt of being surrounded by the mountains when we said I Do. We eloped for many reasons but the main reason for us was us. We have always lived a life of adventure and we wanted to incorporate this into the happiest day of our lives. We wanted the day to be about us two and no other distractions, we both wanted to soak up every second and not let the day disappear in a blur. We booked our elopement after a trip to the high country cabin post lockdown, it gave us twelve weeks to plan. In that time we found a venue, made a dress, ordered a custom made suit and brought in our nearest and dearest in Queenstown to help us build our dream day. 

What was your favourite part of having an intimate elopement, instead of a big wedding? 

Eloping was just the best decision we ever made. Our wedding day(s) were the happiest, most wonderful days of my life. I remember walking in and seeing Robbie’s face and just wanting to hug him. I remember staring into his eyes and not letting go of his hands for the whole day. I remember every single second of our wedding day and it will be a memory that stays with me forever. One of the most heartfelt ‘things’ that happened on our day was Trudy Munro. When we first arrived in New Zealand 7 years ago we stayed at her house through Air BnB, since then she became one of our closest friends, we have lived together, worked together and been around each other for all those years. When we got engaged she selflessly applied for her celebrants certificate to marry us and it was incredible. Her words, I will never forget and I am truly grateful for her presence on our day. She also designed and help make my dress at Nemo Bridal and Couture!

Why did you choose your destinations?  

Queenstown is where we live so it felt right to have our ceremony and legal part here. It also gave us a chance to have the select few people (only 7) back to the Hilton together after the photos to raise a glass of champagne and celebrate together. Mount Cook National Park is our favorite place in New Zealand, it’s where we got engaged and it’s where I feel most at ‘home’ here in New Zealand, so it felt right to go there, elope, say our personal vows to each other and get the nod of approval from Aoraki.

Tell us about your outfits? 

Robbie had a custom-made suit from Hockerty. He was very adamant about having a tweed suit and something a little different. I have never seen my man in a pair of pants let alone a suit so having something custom made for him was very special. Paired with a white shirt and forest green tie he looked divine. 

I never thought I would be the kind of girl that would get excited about designing and creating a beautiful bespoke wedding outfit, but guess what, I was, and getting an outfit custom made was possibly one of the best decisions I made throughout our whole wedding journey. There was no question where I would get my outfit made. Nemo Bridal has a firm place in my heart for many reasons. Not only did I used to work there but the owner, Trudy Munro, is a close friend and also happened to marry us on our wedding day, we really knew how to keep it in the family. During the lockdown I had dreamt up my dream wedding outfit and it wasn’t a dress. I wanted pants, in fact I wanted a winged pantsuit that fit me perfectly, had class, was made of a beautiful material and had that little bit of drama that I knew would complement our wedding locations. 

My first visit to Nemo was easy. I had a few images saved to my phone and 100’s of ideas in my head. I booked an appointment, sat down with Trudy & Kristen and explained what I wanted my outfit to look like. Trudy whipped up a sketch and it was there. The winged bridal pantsuit was born.Why a pantsuit? I knew I wanted something different, unique and that would stand out. After trying on dresses and knowing this was a firm no, I explored full sequins dresses, bridal suits, not wearing a dress at all and then I settled on pants. High waisted pants have been a staple in my wardrobe for years so to be able to combine this into a bridal look with the femininity of the top and wings made the whole look perfect for me. Nemo truly brought my outfit dreams to life and I can’t thank them enough for their talents. The whole made to measure process was faultless, easy and an absolute breeze. Looking back at all our photographs from Kate Craig-Brown I just can’t believe that it’s me. 

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

Yes, yes yes. Trudy wrote our ceremony and vows; I didn’t want to hear them until the day and I am so happy that it was a surprise. Our parents in the UK had all sent in their best piece of advice that was read right before we said I Do (it was VERY emotional) and then Trudy said… “When times get hard, and love gets tough, remember to always look for each other because you will forever be each other’s true north.”

What does it mean to be somebody’s true north? If you consider someone as your true North, you think of them as something stable that will never let you down. You trust them completely and love them dearly – that is us in a nutshell. 

What does marriage mean to you? 

Marriage is a wonderful thing. It’s a commitment as we all know but it’s also a chance to grow on a brand-new journey together. Marriage is bliss. It’s everything I dreamed of. We were already a team but the day we got married we solidified that unit. Someone asked me if marriage is easy and the simple answer is yes. It’s a collaborative space that we navigate together. We talk, we laugh, we cry, we have our core values, we negotiate and we love harder than we ever did before. It’s a beautiful moment when you meet your human, you know, your lobster, and decide that this is it. Me, you and a road to adventure. 

What was your absolute favourite moment from the day? 

The Queenstown day; 

We decided to get ready separate, so Robbie stayed with Trudy and travelled to the venue with her and I got ready at the Hilton which is where we stayed the night. My best friend from England was still here on her working visa (thanks for the extension covid) So I got to spend my morning with a little slice of home, she also did my make-up which was lovely. I think my absolute favouirte moment was walking into the gallery and seeing Robbie’s face. He was so happy / relieved that the day was starting. I think his nerves kicked in moments before. I also remember him saying WOW, I didn’t even think about what you would be wearing… so him loving my outfit was super special too. 

Mount Cook; 

We decided to keep our personal vows private. We jumped in a helicopter at Mount Cook and landed at the Jollie Hut. Here we walked alone next to the river, and we said our personal vows to each other. We had emailed them separately to my designer friend too who had them printed on the most divine personliased vow book / paper. It feels nice to have those to keep forever.  

Advice for other couples planning a wedding or elopement in todays climate? 

Don’t sweat the small stuff. Plan a day that is flexible to avoid any stress, last minute changes or cancellations. Your wedding should be about you, your love and the bond you are about to enter… no one is looking at what’s on the tables or what flowers you are holding. Focus on your love and everything will be divine.

Looking back, was there anything you would have changed from your day? 

Not a single thing. I even enjoyed not cutting the cake that was gifted to us… after our three day elopement / break in Mount Cook it was amazing to come home and be able to eat that with another bottle of champagne with our friends. OOO… book 2 /3 days after your wedding as like a mini-moon kind of thing to soak up all the love. No one should go back to work two days after they get married!

Photography + Videography: Kate Craig Brown Photography  | Florist: Rosie Flowers |  Ceremony Venue: Thomas Brown Art Gallery – Arrowtown. Mount Cook – Jollie River / Hut | Bridal Gown: Nemo Bridal and Couture | Bride’s Hat: Will & Bear Calloway Cream Hat | Bride’s Boots: Chaos and Harmony  | Rings: Robbie’s – Vu Jewellers Queenstown \ Sophie’s – Debra Fallowfield | Hair Stylist: Arrowtown Hair | Makeup Artist: Bride’s Friend Elysia – Products from MAC | Groom’s Suit: Hockerty | Stationery: The Temple of Intrique | Celebrant: Trudy Munro | Transport: Helicopter Line – Mount Cook | Mount Cook Accommodation: High Country Cabin 

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