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Nick & Carla

— New Zealand Vineyard Wedding


21 December 2013


96 people


Lucy Spartalis

Nick and Carla by Lucy Spartalis
Nick and Carla by Lucy Spartalis

Nick and Carla's wedding was set at the base of undulating rolling green hills and framed by the luscious grapevines and manicured gardens of Poderi Crisci, an Italian run vineyard in New Zealand. The long rustic timber pews were set in a circular arrangement and were adorned with glass jass filled with Columbian white roses, crisp white hydrangeas and Queen Anne Lace Flowers.

The reception was impeccably styled with rustic timber tables, dark stained timber bentwood chairs and decorated with an abundance of white flowers contrasted with deep greenery, wild agapanthus, olive branches and herbs that emitted an amazing aroma. 

Nick and Carla's day was expertly documented by one of our favourite creative duos, Lucy Spartalis and Alastair Innes of She Takes Pictures, He Makes Films.

HOW WE MET: Nick shared a house with mutual friends and after a year or so of friendship we found ourselves both single and fancying each other. He was dressed as Elvis and me as Cher (it was Nicks 30th birthday a dress up Karaoke bus party), our friend Andrea saw us deep in conversation with eyes only for each other. She suggested we kiss and once we did the stars aligned! It was love at first kiss. At 3am that morning we jokingly mapped out our lives together... so far pretty much all of it has come true!

OUR ENGAGEMENT STORY: It was a dream engagement in the afternoon sun in a gorgeous setting with a romantic man. We were staying in the Hunter Valley for the Easter break and had enjoyed a long lunch as the chef’s guests at a beautiful vineyard on the Saturday. Oddly ,Nick suggested we revisit and do the same on Sunday. I threw a few spanners in the works by putting up a fuss on returning to the same place (!) then stubbornly refused a walk through the vines (it was 40 degrees, I had only packed winter clothes and was sweltering). So the romantic spot under a tree was abandoned for the side of the driveway. He dropped to one knee and had an incredible speech prepared. The next thing I knew waiters were coming out with Veuve, we were ushered into the restaurant where he had organised a private dining room had one of our favourite tracks “Not Given Lightly” by Chris Knox be playing.

MARRIAGE TO US MEANS: Everything! We are so excited to share this great big adventure together and raise our family. Marriage to us is a whole lot of laughter, fun, compromise, forgiveness, love and endless support.

WEDDING LOCATION: We were married on Waiheke Island, 40 mins from Auckland City, New Zealand at an Italian family run Vineyard called Poderi Crisci. The Vineyard and restaurant is very remote and takes 45 mins drive from the wharf through the most luscious green native bush. It’s a relatively new vineyard for Waiheke that has a true Tuscan vibe, in fact aside from the native pines and Pukeko birds you would swear you were in Tuscany. We decided pretty early on we wanted a location wedding where guests would have a mini holiday and we would be able to spend a few nights together. Poderi Crisci hosts a maximum of ten weddings per year, this was important to us to give our guests a new experience as many attending were travelling internationally and had visited the Island before. Poderi Crisci has become our favourite place for a long summer lunch when we’re home. The wines (especially the sparkling Rose for which they are renown) are world class and the food is consistently delicious and the service and atmosphere outstanding. We hired houses at Onetangi Beach and held a chilled out rehearsal dinner at Charlie Farley’s pub on Friday night. On Sunday we had a casual recovery party at Stony Ridge Vineyard. (Another favourite) We lazed in the afternoon sun on blankets drinking Bloody Marys and eating bruschetta, lots of mezze plates and French fries. Waiheke Island is a true slice of paradise, and Nick and I have big dreams of setting up a home there one day.

THEME/STYLE: Rustic yet sophisticated. The location and scenery of Poderi is so breath taking with grapevines, lavender fields, olive trees, huge conifers and manicured gardens surrounded by undulating rolling hills that we worked with the vineyard and restaurants rustic setting. We had the ceremony in the gardens followed by cocktails and canapés and a sit down dinner – Italian style, followed by dancing and cake. Food, great wine and music were a very important ingredient to us – essentially we wanted an atmosphere of ease, lots of fun, laughter and candle lit romance.

PHOTOGRAPHY & VIDEOGRAPHY: Photographed by the talented Lucy Spartalis and filmed by the super clever Alastair Innes. Together they are She takes Pictures, He makes Films. I knew as soon as were engaged I wanted Lucy Spartalis and Alastair Innes to shoot and film our wedding. I have never seen better wedding photography or footage than the thoughtful and sophisticated style in which they work. We were blown away with emotion and gratitude when we received our photographs. The attention to detail,  to the imagery of our casual getting ready shots, candid wedding guests having fun (a favourite for the album), the ceremony, food and formal photos. They were able to capture the harsh New Zealand light and turn it into a series of soft, magical images throughout the day and into the night. Through the photos it’s almost as if Waiheke Island is another character in our wedding story – which we love!

A costume designer friend of mine was married last year in the most fabulous Stevie Nicks style all lace kaftan gown. After trying on what felt like hundreds of dresses and searching Sydney and Auckland for the style I had in mind – long sleeves, lace, backless, I tracked down her designer and begged her to make mine. As she was already fully booked this involved a fair bit of persuasion. Once she agreed, Katie was incredible to work with. I sent her a mood board of dresses and shapes I liked, she sketched up the design pulling different elements from 4 dresses and we started on the fittings. We sourced the silk and lace together – 11 meters of hand made Italian lace with a two inch trim either side. Once this arrived and she laid it out on her mannequin the shape really came together and my train kept getting longer each fitting! I was so happy wearing my gown I didn’t bother changing into the vintage lace cocktail dress I ‘d bought for our first dance and the reception. I’m really glad I didn’t change - there are so many great shots on the dance floor of various angles of the dress.

BRIDE’S SHOES: Jimmy Choo ankle tie and single toe strap sandals in a very soft metallic pink/silver suede. My ankles and below the knee were exposed by the centre split in my dress so I needed a statement shoe, without being too much for the lace and train. These were the right amount of sexy and contemporary – and non-bridal!

BRIDESMAIDS DRESSES: I wasn’t convinced dressing the bridesmaids identical was the right way, but once we settled on the dress we unanimously decided it was perfect. Gary Bigeni is a great friend and old client of mine. He really helped me with direction for my dress and the whole bridal party. The girl’s dresses were from his stellar SS13 collection. Silk, cut on the bias and daringly backless. The bold print was the real stand out feature of the dress, his exclusive Matthew Johnson collaboration multi colour polka dot print. They were sexy and certainly no wallflowers! When it got colder in the evening and at the after party they wore black IRO leather biker jackets. A nice touch to edge up the softness of the look.

BRIDESMAID’S SHOES: Givenchy influenced ZARA – black toe and ankle strap stilettos.

FLOWERGIRLS/PAGEBOY OUTFITS: I had my gorgeous godson Jack (5 years) and his sister Eva (6 years), both my cousins’ children, plus our 14th month old daughter, Lily Grace. Gary insisted we dress Lily in the same style as the girls to include her in the bridal party. I’m so glad I listened; it was really sweet having her in the bridal party. Jack wore white Converse shoes, chinos and white shirt from the Gap, baby blue blazer from Witchery, suspenders, straw fedora and bow tie from Seed. Eva and Lily Grace wore custom made silk and tulle Gary Bigeni full skirts, ballet slippers and pink leotards from Bloch. We made little bags from the left over tulle full of petals for them to throw, and flower halos made of white roses, sage, rosemary and lambs ear.

JEWELLERY/ACCESSORIES: I wore a cathedral length tulle veil, vintage pearl and diamond drop earrings (borrowed from my Aunty) and a Just Cavalli leopard print, pony hair purse for the reception.

WEDDING RINGS: We are both so lucky that my father is an amazing manufacturing jeweller. He has made my whole family’s jewels over the years. Obviously he was always going to make my engagement ring – something Nick was aware of from early on. I choose an art deco style three stone diamond cluster (oval and brilliant round) with 26 surrounding diamonds. It forms a flower, set in white gold and platinum. Dad also made Nicks 18ct white gold band. 6mil width with a matte finish. My wedding band is an inherited classic Tiffany 18ct yellow gold band with diamonds. Dad resized it and engraved them for us. I love the contrast of my platinum and gold rings together as I’ve always worn both silver and gold together.

GROOMSMEN ATTIRE: The guys wore slim line black tuxedos and Beau Coops black patent leather oxfords.

HAIR & MAKEUP: One of my oldest and dearest girlfriends Aimie Fiebig happens to be an incredible hair and m-up artist. With her in charge I knew I couldn’t go wrong. I trust her and love her work so much we didn’t even have a
trial run through. I sent her a few tear sheets of a dramatic smokey eye, dewy skin and nude lip and she suggested the loose rolled bun at the nape of my neck. I loved how she smoothed the crown of my hair in a middle part so slick, and then had a loosely rolled bun contrast. I needed a fair bit of touching up before the photos as I cried throughout the ceremony (!) I would strongly suggest having your make up artist on hand after the ceremony if you plan on taking your photos afterwards!

STATIONERY/INVITATIONS: I wanted to set the tone with super slick and beautiful invitations. We sent a botanical themed, ‘save the date’ through Paperless Post to collect postal address and the formal invitation was designed by my great friend Katie Forsman at Pie Design. We went with a natural coloured and really thick stock paper with olive green cursive font in letterpress. Both the invite and the second card (with the transport/accomodation/travel details and the wedding registry card were tied together with a rustic gold twine. We printed address labels and a sticker to seal the envelope in dusky pink and the same olive green font.

FAVORS/BONBONNIERE: I was stuck for ages on what to give as bonbonneire as most of the time I find (me included) they are too big to fit into ladies clutches, and left at the venue or lost along the way. When I was sourcing the gold twine for the invites I came across the prettiest white lace pouches with satin strings. Small enough to fit in your hand. I decided to fill them with seeds (Assorted local herbs) so guests could plant them when they got home. We attached a tiny white paper label with hand written names to each bag, and then this also served as the place name.

FLOWERS & BOUQUETS: Holly Roberts is such a talented florist based in Auckland. I really only wanted Lily of the Valley for our bouquets. We tried everything to get them, even importing and it wasn’t possible. My next option was peonies but they were out of season (just) in New Zealand unfortunately. Holly suggested using Columbian white roses, buying them a few days earlier so they would be open wide for the day. We had posey style shapes and keeping with the theme of the vineyard used a selection of mixed greenery, lambs ear and herbs (Rosemary & sage) in the halos and bouquets.

PREPARATION: We started the day with an hour of yoga which really helped create the relaxed vibe. The boys and my two bridesmaids and I had a local yogi come to our batch and we did a hatha on the deck followed by a swim in the ocean and breakfast together. It was really lovely to hang out together the morning of, and be all excited together. Our hair & makeup chicks arrived by 10am and I got ready with my Mum, Lily Grace, the Bridesmaids and Janice my MC. I commissioned my dad to make all the girls 18ct fine gold rings in the shape of a knot. A ‘thanks for helping me tie the knot ring.’ Fortunately we guessed the right sizes and they all fit! We opened the champagne and I gave these to them just before we got dressed. It was quite emotional for me because I was so thankful to them for all their hard work and support in the lead up. Organizing from another country would have been impossible without my mum and their help. The gift of the knot rings was so popular with our friends my Dad and I have started a little collection of fine jewellery together. The range is called "LilyetMarlowe" and you can order the LOVE KNOT style in gold, silver or platinum.

CEREMONY DÉCOR: We decided to work with the gorgeous natural surroundings on the vineyard for the ceremony. We seated guests on long wooden pews in a circular style on the manicured lawn with the vineyards framing the scene. We provided white parasols and brochures as fans, and gave cones made of white card filled with white rose petals to throw once we were married. The end of the pews were decorated with glass jars and vases filled with a section of Columbian white Roses, white hydrangeas and Queen Anne Lace flowers.

RECEPTION DÉCOR: I took my best friend, wedding stylist, MC, creative director, and wedding planner extraordinaire to the venue for lunch a few months before our wedding. She talked me out of a few of the decorating ideas I had (white table cloths, pewter candle sticks, floral wreath above bridal table etc) based on the utilizing the natural beauty of the venue. With a small space and exposed kitchen there was a lot going on. She is so clever in this sense, one of her greatest skills is to keep things simple but elegant. As we had close to 100 guests (the most the venue had ever had, which also needed some convincing to the manager) we used the existing wooden table for the bridal table and long marble tables and chairs for the inside tables. We brought in four long rectangular tables to seat outside guests, and the pews from the ceremony. The outside tables had full view as the French doors were open but were most certainly the ‘naughty’ tables, and we loved popping out during the reception to chat with them. The pews were great idea, they were space saving and worked perfectly for our 4 course banquet style meal. Tables were decorated with lots of white pillar candles in glass votives and a selection of crystal vases and jars all varies shapes and sizes fill of all white flowers – Columbian Roses, hydrangeas, Queen Anne Lace, wild agapanthus, olive branches and herbs – to match our bouquets. The ‘aromatherape’ scent of the herbs in the room was such a nice touch!

WEDDING PLANNER: Myself with so much help from Janice Kumar Ward.

WEDDING STYLIST: Janice Kumar Ward.

OTHER DETAILS: Janice found me a vintage typewriter, which we set up at the reception with paper so guests could type up keepsake notes. We have these in an album now. We loved reading these on our mini moon.We had a set of vintage badminton racquets and shuttlecocks that guests used on the lawn while we were having our bridal photos taken. We created an Instagram hashtag and encouraged guests to use this when posting shots from the weekend. I had the Instagram shots printed through Picture Postie and we now have another album of really cool candid images. As they are so instant a wedding hashtag folder was really precious to us while we waited to receive our professional photos.

CAKE: We asked my mum to make the cake; she’s a great baker. We had a round three tier, with butter cream icing. She did the top two layers (lemon, and choc Guinness) and Janice made the bottom fruit layer. As the roads are gravel she had to ice and set it up at the venue, which was a little scary for her. She sat it on a rustic style tree truck round and decorated in white roses and rosemary. It was perfect, and delicious!

WEDDING SONGS: Through a friends generosity we were lucky enough to have Laughton Kora, lead singer of KORA, one of Nicks favourite musicians play (what a wedding gift!) As guests arrived he sat with a microphone, guitar and amp and played loads of our favourites tracks from Neil Young to the Pixies. I had goose bumps hearing him play as I waited to walk out. I walked down the isle to “I think of you’ by Rodriguez, signing of the registry was “Where is my mind” Pixies, and leaving was “Not Given Lightly’ by Chris Knox. Our DJ was an old friend who knows how to get a party going and plays loads of funk, old school hip-hop and favourites. We had our first dance to “Lets get it on” by Marvin Gaye, but had Jamie cut it to Daft Punk "Get Lucky" after our moves ran dry and the dancing began.

FOOD & BEVERAGES: We chose the venue based on how wonderful and consistent the food is so I wasn’t overly fussy with what we served - knowing it would be fabulous. The menu was prepared especially for our wedding using all local and seasonal ingredients. We offered a variety of canapés, olives, dips and fresh bread at the tables. The entrée was black tiger prawns and crayfish bisque risotto, the main was lamb rump or eggplant and mozzarella tart, and desert was a passion fruit pannacotta. We served all Poderi Crisci wines beginning with their specialty the Poderi Ombra (Sparkling Rose), followed by Rose, Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Novello Merlot Riserva and Peroni beer.

TRANSPORT: We arrived in private cars and our guests arrived in two buses. We all left together in the busses from the reception venue to the after party. The bus ride was hilarious and a real highlight. There was lots of singing!

HONEYMOON: We had a mini moon on the Island, and stayed 4 nights after the wedding. We’re going to Sri Lanka in July for our Honeymoon.

GIFT REGISTRY: Auckland based Mildred & Co – we could not recommend highly enough. Choosing our gifts in owner Milly Nolan’s Auckland showroom was such a highlight of the event, and opening them (as they very kindly and speedily delivered our very stylishly wrapped gifts especially for us to open on Christmas Eve) literally was, and felt like Christmas. What I found particularly useful about using a registry, especially this one was the ease in which you could navigate the website, track what gifts had been purchased and then top up through the e- store afterwards. We were able to complete crockery and glassware sets and add to a few of our gifts.

CELEBRANT: Monsignor Bernard Kiely carried out our wedding ceremony. He was very personal and open to the fact Nick is an atheist!! Most importantly for us he included Lily Grace in the ceremony with us.

READINGS: Together for Life, Corinthians and a reading from the 14th Dalai Lama

SOURCES OF INSPIRATION: Pinterest was the biggest inspiration – especially the very beginning stages of planning when there are so many options to decide. The LANE, Harpers and Vogue Brides were excellent visual aids.

A MEMORABLE MOMENT: I remember standing with my Dad at the edge of the gardens out of sight from guests. I could hear Laughton’s magical voice and I could see all our best friends and family, and Nick at the front waiting for me. I thought this is it, it’s finally here and it’s about to begin. I was so excited I practically skipped down the isle.

ONE THING I WISH I KNEW BEFORE I STARTED MY WEDDING PLANS... Know that no matter how prepared you are, the last week will be the craziest and most stressful. There are so many things to confirm, try to hold your hens earlier rather than later, and restrict too many social engagements in the days leading up to the wedding. Oh and forget the diet by this stage, you’ll need the wine!

IF I COULD GIVE OTHER BRIDES TO BE ONE PIECE OF ADVICE... someone told me to choose three things about the day that are important to you. Ensure they are water tight e.g dress, music, flowers. Be prepared to relax on other details if they don’t go exactly to plan - as inevitably with any event things may change at the last minute or not be how you’d imagined or requested. I applied this tactic early, and it really kept me sane. I would also advise leaving yourself an hour or more to be dressed before you depart for the ceremony. I wanted to get dressed at the last moment so as not to crush my dress but by doing so was time poor and missed having ‘before’ photos with my bridesmaids etc.


PHOTOGRAPHY: Lucy Spartalis (She Takes Pictures, He Makes Films

BRIDE'S DRESS: Katie Brown (Email: [email protected] )




FLOWERGIRLS/PAGEBOYS: Bloch,  Seed & Gary Bigeni

GROOMS FORMAL WEAR:  Working Style & Beau Coops 

WEDDING RINGS: David Robinson (enquiries through [email protected])

HAIR & MAKEUP: Aimie Fiebig 

STATIONERY/INVITATIONS: Katie Foresman & Paperless Post

FLORIST: Holly Roberts (Email: [email protected]) & Janice Ward 

CELEBRANT: Monsignor Bernard Keily


WEDDING VENUE: Podericrisci 

ENTERTAINMENT: Laughton Kora & DJ Junior

VIDEOGRAPHER: Alastair Innes

GIFT REGISTRY: Mildred and Co 

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