Hannah and Chris aren’t afraid of a bit of humour, telling us that ‘marriage isn’t a word, it’s a sentence…a life sentence’. Clearly a lighthearted couple, it’s no wonder that these two decided to maintain a simple and relaxed vibe for their New Zealand elopement. “So many people get lost in the big day and forget what it’s really about, we wanted to strip everything back, no fuss and no stress.” Scroll down for all the pics by Dawn Thomson Photography and don’t miss the snow-capped mountains shots – helicopter and all! 

THE VENUE “After following a few legendary wedding photographers on Instagram, I came across Dawn Thomson Photography. I immediately fell in love with her work and started to research potential locations in Queenstown, New Zealand, where she was based. The more research we did, the more we fell in love with Paradise Trust. It was perfect, the rugged mountains, the natural beauty, it was peaceful, secluded and how can you not get married in a place called Paradise? We booked via email and the first time I visited was when I walked down the aisle. It was breathtaking.”

THE DRESS “I tried on too many dresses, but if I’m honest, I found the whole experience overwhelming and felt like there was too much emphasis and pressure of it being the best dress you have ever worn in your whole life – ever! I found it especially tricky as with it only being a small wedding, the dress needed to be subtle and not too over the top. When I tried on the ‘Lita’ dress, from Catherine Deane, I didn’t cry (although my mum did!) I didn’t get a ‘feeling’ or a ‘moment’, it was pretty, it made me happy, it suited my style and our day, it was comfortable and I could fit it in a suitcase – that was good enough for me!”

FAVOURITE MOMENT… “Can I have two?! One was after the ceremony when we took the helicopter up to the top of a mountain for photos. It was eerily quiet – not a breath of wind. It was unbelievably beautiful up there, it felt like we were standing on the moon. My second favourite memory was at the reception after the speeches. I looked around the table and I could have burst with happiness. Each family member had travelled from all over the world, quite literally, to share our day with us.”

A WORD OF ADVICE “Be true to yourselves. Don’t get too caught up in trying to make it the best day of your life because it already will be, even if it’s just the two of you standing in a field in the middle of nowhere. I’d also invest in some sort of cinematography if you hadn’t considered it. We have a short film and although photographs capture so much so beautifully, the film for us captured all the feelings and emotions. I still can’t watch it without crying!”

WE’RE GLAD WE… “Decided not to go for the standard wedding. Eloping with just our immediate family was the best decision we could have made. We may have ruffled a few feathers amongst our friends and extended family, but we wanted it to be just about us and I realise now that there’s no shame in that.”

STANDOUT VENDORSDawn Thomson Photography went above and beyond. Not only did she help us with the ceremony location but also all the extremely talented vendors she recommended, all of whom were faultless. We would have been truly lost without her. Her knowledge of the local area was priceless and her great professional relationship with our heli pilot meant we could get my brother in law up the mountain with us to shoot his film. She felt more like a guest rather than our photographer. I cannot recommend her highly enough, her work is outstanding and her pictures blew us away. Philippa Thomas our celebrant, was also a standout, she put us at complete ease. She also helped with our marriage licence.”

This wedding was originally published in our 2018 Real Weddings Special If you’d like to check out more from this issue, limited copies are available via our online store. Keen for even more inspo? Our 2019 Real Weddings Special has just been released and you can get both mags for the price of one via our online store. Get in quick! 

CONTRIBUTING VENDORS Photographer Dawn Thomson Photography Cinematographer Ryan Brabazon Florist Orange Blossom Designs Stationery The Wild Goose Project (Bride) Printer Stitch Press Ceremony & Reception Paradise Trust Reception The Bunker Cake Cup and Cake Cake Topper LovelyCakeTop via Etsy Wedding Favours Handmade Dream Catchers & Devlin’s (Cigars) Hire Items Paradise Trust (Arch, Benches & Registry Table) Celebrant Philippa Thomas Engagement Ring & Groom’s Wedding Band Diamond Heaven Transport Limousine Services Queenstown & Heli Glenorchy (Helicopter) Vintage Champagne Coupes MyVintageAlcove via Etsy THE BRIDE Bridal Gown Catherine Deane Bridal Boutique Agape Bridal Boutique Veil JJ’s House Alteration Bridal Affair Wedding Band Natalie Marie Jewellery Hair Piece Anna Marguerite Garter DavieandChiyo via Etsy Shoes Tony Bianco Hair Beautiful Bridal Hair Makeup EVE Makeup Artistry THE GROOM Suit & Cufflinks Politix