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Elopements Real Weddings

Tawnee & Herbert \\ Piha Oceanscape Elopement

An intimate family celebration full of heart and soul. Tawnee & Herbert eloped barefoot on the coast of Piha, only a day before New Zealand went into Lockdown earlier this year.

Dancing under waterfalls, walking barefoot along the sand to say their vows, spending the day adventuring with their two children and ending with a decadent graze shared as the sun set over the wild oceanscape. 

After planning to wed in the U.S, the serendipitous idea of an elopement only a few weeks earlier, may have been the most perfect decision for this beautiful little family. 

Modern styling details in luxe minimal whites, artfully contrasted the wild coastal textures and vast black sand. On the deck a stunning tablescape, adorned with candles, golden cutlery, white florals and organic linens, looked out to the ocean below. Windows framing the serene views of the painterly landscape from this modern architectural property on the coast of Piha. 

An elopement perfectly curated by Francie from Darling I Do, with each beautiful intimate moment captured by Pia Photo & Film. 

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

We met as teenagers at our first job at a local supermarket. We were friends for a while before  we made it “offical” a couple years later, and have been together since! 13 years together this year.  

How would you describe each other? 

Tawnee: I would describe Herb as gentle, loving, very driven, honest, I can always depend on  him! He has my back and is my biggest supporter.  Herbert: Tawnee is outgoing, very loving and caring, she encourages me and brings out the best  in me.

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

Herbert: For me the timing was right. We had been together for over 12 years and the last year  or so of being together our relationship grew so much. It felt right, we never discussed getting  married anytime soon, it just happened! I don’t know how to explain it but it was just right. I  couldn’t wait to ask Tawnee. We were going on a little family trip and I wanted to ask her then,  while it’s just us, my little family. I did my best to keep it undercover, took my time picking out a  ring that I thought she would like, hid it so she wouldn’t find it, even changed some things  around so she wouldn’t see it purchased on our bank statements. I’m glad it worked out and she  had no idea. I was so nervous, the hype around proposing is real! But so glad it was just us and  our children, a special moment we will all remember. 

Tawnee: I was absolutely SHOCKED! I had zero idea that Herb was going to propose. NONE!!! I  wasn’t expecting him to ask me anytime soon so it was so surreal, like I was in a dream. We were on a family road trip to Rotorua and made a stop at the Hamilton Gardens to have a look around and stretch our legs. As we were exploring we came to the Italian Renaissance garden,  looked around and found a secluded area overlooking beautiful scenery. It was so pretty! Herb  took my hand and softly shared with me such kind and loving words, our children were running  around us playing with each other, pointing out the birds they saw over the lookout. I still had no  idea he was going to pop the question, I thought we were just having a moment of appreciation and love towards one another until he reached into his pocket and said “ I want to ask māmā a  question” the kids ran over to see and my heart dropped “Will you marry me?” He asked, I think I said Oh my gosh about fifty times before saying YES!!!  

Our engagement was initially going to be just over a year. February is a special month for us Herb’s birthday is on the 7th, then Valentines Day on the 14th, followed by my birthday on the  21st all exactly a week apart. Early on in our relationship we decided when the time came the  28th of February would be the day we get married to round off a month of celebrating US.  

My mum booked us a beautiful hotel overlooking the Viaduct for our 30th birthdays, and in a  love drunk state we decided we didn’t want to wait a whole year to become Husband and Wife  and decided we were going to ELOPE! We were instead going to get married in just a few short weeks!  

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

So grateful to have Francie from Darling I Do as our Elopement Planner. She did all the styling  for us, we just showed her a few pictures of elements from other weddings we loved Monochrome colour pallet, white flowers, arrow chairs and a picture of my dream bouquet.  

What was your favourite moment from the day? 

The whole day was very special to us! But we think getting ready all together as a family for the day was very unique and special, there were lots of laughs and excitement leading up to our ceremony. All four of us “walked down the aisle” together, and what was so so special was seeing the sun set and the beautiful surroundings we were in, just all gitty that we are now husband and wife.

What does marriage mean to you? 

To us, our marriage was a celebration of our love, all the growing we had done and the next  step in our relationship. We had already been together well over a decade and been through so  much together before this day! But the timing of getting married was so perfect for us, any  sooner would of felt fraudulent. Marriage for us was a new beginning to our relationship, we had been through all the trial and error that would usually break up a marriage beforehand, we communicate better, our understanding of each other is so much better and we are living the easy married life- all the hard work that we put in all those year prior has let us bask in the beautiful newlywed glory.

Why did you choose your destination?  

We definitely wanted to have our day be at one of the amazing West Coast beaches. We are  both Westies and have been to the black sand beauties many times, and after seeing photos of a stunning set up Francie from Darling I Do did at Piha earlier in the year we were in love and had to have it there too.

Advice for other couples planning a wedding? 

Consider Eloping! Hahaha! We truly didn’t ever think we would go down this route but we are so  incredibly happy we did.  

We would definitely recommend investing in a Wedding/Elopement Planner. For us, the stress of planning our beautiful day was over taking our excitement. But once that stress was alleviated with the help of someone who knows exactly what they are doing, the stress was gone and only excitement was left!  

Photographer: Pia Photography | Event Planner & Stylist: Darling I Do | Flora: Branch & Bloom | Hire: Pretty Prop Shop, Two Foxes, Darby & Grey | Ceremony Venue: Piha Beach | Reception/Accommodation Venue: FivePendrell, Piha | Bridal Gown: Layplan | Hair & Makeup: Lipstick & Co | Grazing Catering: On Board Kitchen | Cake: Bluebells Cakery

For more dreamy styled elopements around New zealand, you can find Darling I Do featured on our exclusive Wild Hearts Vendor Collection. Check out more of Francie’s gorgeous work on our beautifully curated Directory here and follow Darling I Do on Instagram here.

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