There are some people in your life who you would do anything for. Even if that anything means flying to the other side of the world to be a part of their secret New Zealand beach wedding. That’s exactly what I did for Kate and Thom.
I have had the pleasure of being best friends with Kate, a Canadian expat in New Zealand, for the last twelve years. We met in our second year at Brock University in Canada, and have inseparable since – even though most of the last 8 years she has lived on the complete other side of the world. This has just meant lots of traveling on my part to one of the most magical, naturally beautiful places on the planet- New Zealand! Since 2009, I’ve had the pleasure of traveling to my favourite country 4 times, including a one-year stint spent on a working holiday.
I met Thom on my second trip to New Zealand – in January 2011, about a year after Kate had moved to the rugged and sparsely populated Far North, where she had found work as a teacher. Their connection was unparalleled to any I’d seen Kate have in the past with anyone else. Thom’s thoughtful, calculated and quiet nature perfectly complimented Kate’s outgoing, chatty and lively personality. I knew that it was something special.
On my third trip to New Zealand, this time in December 2011, I was embarking a new role in my Kate and Thom’s life – that of roommate. For the twelve months that followed, I watched Thom support Kate, and Kate be Thom’s biggest cheerleader. They were basically already an old married couple!
It was no surprise to me when during one of our monthly catchup Skype sessions in early 2015 that Kate mentioned that she was planning a secret wedding. She was going to use the guise of her 30th birthday as well as the holidays as incentive for a visit from her parents, sister and grandmother from Canada. But really it was to celebrate her New Zealand beach wedding to Thom. Obviously, I too, was invited. December 7, 2015 I boarded a plane once again and headed to the land of the long white cloud. In the days that followed, Kate’s family also joined us and before we knew it, on December 18 we were all attending a super private, family-only New Zealand beach wedding on 90 Mile Beach in Ahipara, New Zealand.
The ceremony was so perfectly Kate and Thom. On the beach right outside of their home, surrounded by about 15 of their closest family and a handful of friends, and officiated by the local pharmacist/winemaker, Kate and Thom said their “I do’s”. It was the most relaxed, low key wedding I’ve attended and it was perfect. The little touches were what really stood out to me. For example: Kate’s hair was done by her mom and sister, I did her makeup, her bouquet was made up of handwoven roses made by Thom’s mum. It was simply perfect in every way.
They finished off the special day by hosting a surprise reception at their beachfront home, making sure to invite all of their friends – who had NO CLUE what had just happened. Kate’s big idea was to send invites to her friends telling them they were celebrating her 30th birthday. Nobody had a clue what they were stumbling in on. The look of shock and surprise on everyone’s face as Kate proudly showed off her one-of-a-kind wedding band, was absolutely priceless!
Needless to say, this is one of my favourite wedding experiences – not only because it was my best friend’s wedding, but because it was Kate who encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone (of only doing landscape and wildlife photography) and photograph them on their special day! If it weren’t for this opportunity, I may not even be in business – so thank you, my darling Kate, for believing in me.
Enjoy the following shots from this extra special secret New Zealand beach wedding.
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Toronto Lifestyle & Travel Photographer
Specializing in business lifestyle portrait photography, newborn photography, couples and engagement photography, family photography, fur family photography, pet photography, event photography, retreat photography, travel photography
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