Trash the Dress Comp Winner: The Hunter Rocks Her Frock

Remember the Trash the Dress photoshoot competition we ran a month or so back?

[For anyone who missed it, brides were invited to submit their ideas for a Trash the Dress Photoshoot , with the prize being to win that photoshoot, with Sandra Johnson Boutique Photography]

The winning entry came from a bride who had the idea of photos wearing her gown, doing something that she really loves: Hunting. Yes, that’s right, she wanted to wear her wedding gown while hiking into the bush, shooting an animal and carrying it out of the bush, even gutting and dressing the meat. Yes, all that, wearing her wedding gown.

She was sure that we would never pick her entry, because, on the surface, it’s kinda gross. What Sandra and I loved about it, though, was that it’s genuinely something that’s part of her life, a passion that she shares with her husband, and, while it will, indeed trash her dress in the truest sense of the words, it’s not simply wrecking it for the sake of it.

We were hoping to even convince the groom to climb back into his suit jacket [and old boots and shorts] for a totally new take on the formal bridal portrait series. Then we discovered that her groom is willing, but [redacted for privacy] unavailable until later in the year, so those photos will have to wait, for now.

In the meanwhile, Sandra and Renelle headed out into the local countryside for a bit of a test run – and having seen these images, I cannot wait for the ‘real’ photoshoot.

Take a peek:

>More here<

Congratulations, Renelle, you really do rock that beautiful frock!



Would you like Anika Moa to sing at your wedding?

I love my job – I get all kinds of interesting queries. So far this year, I’ve had to find out whether it’s possible to have a naked wedding without breaking the law [Answer: yes, at specific locations and times of the year], whether it’s possible to close off an entire street for a neighbourhood ‘block party’ style wedding, [Answer: possible, but not terribly practical, let’s try plan B] I’m still trying to locate a candyfloss machine [new or used – if you know, please tell me!]  and I got about 90% of the way through the maze of booking Dave Dobbyn for a wedding before the couple decided they’d rather have the local pub band…

..but it’s never been this easy to arrange to have Anika Moa sing at your wedding.

In association with TradeMe, and in support of Women’s Refuge, Anika Moa is offering to come and sing at your wedding. And they’re throwing in a free wedding dress:

Imagine having Anika Moa singing at your wedding. ‘Awesome’ doesn’t come close. Well this is the prize that awaits one lucky bidder. Not only will Anika come* and sing two of her hit songs at your big day, but the prize also includes a fabulous wedding dress courtesy of Sera Lilly, one of the hottest ready-to-wear labels in New Zealand ( Together, it’s guaranteed to put the BIG in your day.

There are a heap of fantastic opportunities on offer as part of the Women’s Refuge Charity Auction – coaching with Ruben Wiki, or Paul Henare [or Suzanne Paul], tours, lunches, art, music and more.

* FINE PRINT The winning bidder will need to arrange and pay for her travel to the wedding, including airfares and accommodation if outside Auckland. Please note she won’t perform covers! The dress will be made in an off-the-rack size and length (8-16) – any further alterations or changes will be charged separately. You have 3 months in which to collect the dress. Anika is a Brand Ambassador for Women’s Refuge and has supported our campaigns for many years, volunteering her time and commitment on a number of occasions.


Good luck!


‘Till Death Do You Part

Last week, an elderly couple of my acquaintance died within hours of each other, after 60 years of marriage, which got me thinking about the phrase “’till death do us part”

No matter how non-traditional the ceremony,  it’s surprising how often the vows end up including some version of the words “for as long as you both shall live”.  It’s a high ideal, and a huge committment – after all, no-one can see into the future, and who knows what form the years of  “for better or worse, for richer or poorer” will take. And yet, those words are carefully and deliberately still being included in 99% of the ceremonies I attend.

When I give couples the first draft of their ceremony, I’ll often include some totally nonsense vows in the space where they will ultimately insert their own vows, and even when I’m at my most irreverent, the concept pops up [usually in the vulgar form, as in  “…until one of us is dead :p “].

I wonder if it’s not so much “I’ll love you until I die” as “I can’t imagine not having you in my life”.

I recently overheard an elderly couple arguing good-naturedly about it – she was insisting that she should die first, so she wouldn’t be left alone. He was trying to convince her that was a terrible idea, because he always burned the dinner, so without her, he’d die of starvation. Her response? “Perfect, then we won’t be apart for long!”

Would that all marriages could be so long, so happy, and so united.  Of course, it’s never that easy – life gets in the way of our best intentions. It’s so rare for a couple to live and die in such close tandem that Syd and Marion’s deaths made the front page of the newspaper.

Whether it’s a spouse, or a parent, or a child, whether you promised to or not, you love them until death parts you, and beyond. It’s less  a case of “for as long as we both shall live”  and more like  “for as long as I live, I will keep on loving you”

Perhaps that’s why one of my favourite pieces of symbolism is an informal sand ceremony, where the couple stoop down and pick up a handful of ordinary sand from the beach where they are standing, walk to the water’s edge and together pour the sand into the waves. There’s a real sense of surrender about it, an awareness that the future is huge and uncertain, but choosing to take the risk of loving each other anyway.

It’s a tired old cliché, but still true that love doesn’t make the world go around, it’s what makes the journey worthwhile. So travel with your whole heart!













Trash the Dress / Drown the Gown

…It’s enough to give brides nightmares – wedding gowns dragged in mud, snagged on bushes, rolled in sand or drowned in seawater. Yet a photo shoot trashing the wedding dress is a popular concept overseas, and after a test trashing with a model at Tahunanui Beach on Saturday, a Nelson photographer is keen to bring it to our region… [Nelson Evening Mail]

Trash the Dress / Drown the Gown is not a particularly new concept, but it’s one that has been slow to catch on in this part of the world.  I suspect that misconceptions about what goes on at a Trash the Dress photo shoot have more than a little to do with that.

Point in case, the headline to the article linked above:

“New trend ruins wedding dresses”

It’s an attention grabber. But it’s also totally wrong.

In spite of the name, Trash the Dress is not about wrecking your gown, or disrespecting the traditions around a wedding. It IS about getting the most mileage out of your wedding gown – getting images that just aren’t possible on your wedding day while your guests are waiting, while you still have to get several more hours’ wear out of the gown.

And really, what’s not to like about a chance to get back into your wedding dress and glamming it up in a totally different context from your formal wedding photos?

It’s not always messy, though gumboots are usually a sensible accessory. The possibilities are only limited by a bride’s imagination, and her willingness to take risks. From messing about with an umbrella and a high pressure hose, to literally jumping in the deep end of a swimming pool or the ocean; the mood can be wild, or serene, mischievous or romantic – and every couple’s photos will be different.

I guess that’s some of the appeal – The rulebook is tossed, and tradition gets set aside. And the resulting images are breathtaking, eye-catching, and beautiful. Suddenly, instead of sitting politely through a standard album of  traditional wedding photos, you find yourself eagerly turning pages, asking questions,  and emotionally connecting with the images.

That’s why I’m so excited to see Sandra Johnson, Boutique Photography and John Jepson, Feijoa Films adding  Drown the Gown to their respective portfolios. They each have the vision, passion, and [most importantly] the mad-camera-skillz to take a Trash the Dress photo shoot off your wish list and into reality.

The results speak for themselves…

Here are the roughs from Saturday”s session:  photos video1 video2

Winter Wonderland Wedding Expo in Nelson

This Sunday Nelson’s biggest ever bridal show will take place. If you’re in town, and you’re planning a wedding, I strongly recommend you come along and see what’s on offer! With more than 75 different local wedding product and service providers strutting their stuff, it’s the perfect opportunity to meet the people you could be working with, gather ideas, and get inspiration for your wedding plans.

And, let’s be honest – it’s a chance to take a look at the people with whom you  may be dealing, and make a no-pressure assessment of their style and personality, before you even make that first phone call. In spite of how shallow that sounds, it’s an important factor in your decision-making process.

In my experience, when it comes to choosing between similar options, personality wins out over price, almost every time. And, so it should. Your wedding is a once-in-a-lifetime event, so you should be able to have full confidence in the people you’re commissioning to help make it happen!

Different things will matter too different people. One of my favourite hair stylists is a smoker. And for some brides, that’s a total deal-breaker.  If that matters to you, it may influence your choice of stationer/favors, dressmaker, car hire, beauty services, etc. Your choice of the behind-the-scenes crew aren’t quite so critical, but you definitely need to have a good rapport with your photographer, video guy, Celebrant/Minister, and, to some extent, even your caterer – as they are the people you’ll be dealing with repeatedly throughout your wedding day. The last thing you want is to have someone you really can’t stand, right in your face!

Based on earlier bridal shows, I’m expecting to see mostly brides-to-be with their bridesmaids or mothers. I have to admit that there’s not a lot to enthuse grooms at most bridal shows [though this one may be the exception!]. The reality is that grooms … well,  it’s not that they don’t care, they’re just… not as into the details and decisions as brides so often are. But that’s exactly why they should at least wander through the bridal show – if they don’t see much difference between, say, the style of photographer A over photographer B, then the personal style/manner of the photographer assumes a greater level of importance.  Even if the groom doesn’t stay the distance [and trust me, there will be brides who walk these aisles for HOURS!] he should stay long enough to form an opinion at least about the vendors he didn’t want to work with, and to have some shared ideas about what you both liked or disliked, as a point of reference for future conversations.

The bridal show begins at 10am, this Sunday [18th July] at the Trafalgar Centre. There will be goodie bags and spot prizes, as well as a $10,000 prize package up for grabs.There are also two bridal fashion shows, 11am and 2 pm, including a range of bridal wear, groom’s attire, and even flower girl and page-boy outfits.

Tickets $10.00 at the door, or $8.00 if you register online before you go!

And of course, if you can’t get to the show, don’t panic – I’ll be there, updating my files, meeting new vendors, and I’ll have all the information right here at my finger tips, year round, ready for you, whenever you’re ready to take the next step in the planning process!

Don’t forget to check out our Wedding Planning Winter Workshops, too!

BioPaints : Opera in the Park – Call for Charity Nominations

I’ve got news and it’s all good! Not only are BioPaints sponsoring Nelson Opera in the Park this year, they’re bringing fresh new ideas to the table, too!

For instance, this year, tickets are free! You’ll still need a ticket to get in, but it won’t cost you anything! And, with all that money you’ll be saving, you’ll be able to purchase all kinds of treats and extras at sites around the venue, or even make a generous donation to support a local charity!


BioPaints, the principal sponsors of Nelson’s Opera in the Park 2010, are asking for nominations from registered local charities who would like to be beneficiaries of a charities collection at Opera in the Park at Tahunanui on February 13, 2010.

BioPaints is receiving all nominations via email – Any registered charity in the Nelson/Tasman region is eligible to put themselves forward, explaining why they believe they should be the recipient of the evenings charity donations.

“The process is that charities can email us and explain how they would use any money raised for the benefit of this region. It doesn’t matter how large or small they are – if they do good works with a local focus then we are happy to consider them.


The deadline for nominations is December 7th – so if you know of a local, registered charitible organisation that might qualify – pass the word along!

BioPaints : Call for Charity Nominations.

Fashion With Compassion fundraiser for Marine Reach: Pacific Link

“How to look fabulous for under $50” plus music, comedy, and supper.   7th November @ Hope Community Hall

A fashhion show featuring fashion clothing from local charity shops, musician Matt Werner, hilarious comedy, as well as auctions, raffles, spot prizes and great company. All proceeds will be donated to Marine Reach Ship “Pacific Link”
Marine Reach have visited 16 nations across the Pacific, involving over 130 visits to coastal communities. In each nation, dental and optical teams provide services to the inhabitants, FREE of charge.   Engineers from the ships fix hospital equipment, repair village generators and outboard motors.
Water testing services have been provided, and hospital water systems repaired. Teams work in prisons, orphanages, and hospitals, supporting the local communities in any way they can.

To date over $5,000,000 NZD worth of medical supplies and equipment have been distributed free of charge to poor communities.

Fashion With Compassion aims to raise another $2,000 towards this incredibly worthy cause.Tickets $15 each phone Andrea on 5483821 or 027 376 1149 or simply make a donation directly to Marine Reach

More info about Marine Reach here

Edit to add:
I hear that this was a massive success, and raised almost double the amount hoped for! Congratulations to those involved, and thanks to all who contributed!

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