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Kara & Jeff

— An Organic Country Love Story


2 March 2013


100 people


Carolyn Haslett

Kara & Jeff, by Carolyn Haslett
Kara & Jeff, by Carolyn Haslett

OUR LOVE STORY:  Jeff is was living in Hawaii, (originally from Danvel near San Francisco) & I was living in NY & LA for modelling (originally born in Fiji but moved to NZ where I did all my schooling) but  we didn’t meet until 3 years ago, our paths finally crossed when I went to see the premiere of a documentary “180 degrees south”,  that Jeff was in, he and the rest of the cast were there, we all ended up going out together for a drink since our friends new each other, it was total love at first sight for both of us, and its been a blissful journey ever since. The first thing he said to me was “Where are you from” and when i answered New Zealand he responded that he has always thought if he ever went there he may never return, this was music to my ears......

OUR ENGAGEMENT STORY: Jeff proposed to me at Waimea Bay on top of a water fall in a Hawaiian sun shower, sitting in a rock pool.... it was so beautiful as i sat there in his arms he asked me the ring was so perfect! both so nervous, i could tell something was up, since he was so fidgety & kept taking photos the whole way up, I thought to myself he is really documenting this hike! he was holding a dry bag which he told me had his real camera in it, i later found out that it was champagne!  He did so well! We had to sneak up a hidden path that Jeff new about from his years living there when they would all sneak into the park and jump of the waterfall in full moon, he timed it right this day as there was no one around and the park was closing, He was hoping that we would do i Giant leap off the falls after i said Yes, but we scaled down a bit before making our leap....

When we got back to our friends house where we were staying, they had lined the outdoor bathroom with candles and prepared a hot bubble bath... that’s when I later found out that everyone of our friends there had been in on it, helping with all the details getting the ring made/calling my dad when I wasn’t around, (they kept missing each other my Dad even called me asking why there was a strange broken up message from Jeff!) they all new except me... we all went out and had a lovely dinner together that night... I felt very loved...

WEDDING LOCATION: We had our ceremony outside at my parents property where they have a few acres of olive trees. We chose my parent's place because we both felt it would feel relaxed, and it also made my parents and family very happy....It just seemed right for me to come home and get married.

THEME/STYLE: We wanted the wedding to really represent who Jeff and I really are and to take pieces of all the things near and dear to us, which meant bringing in all the places we love and where we are from such as the relaxed island life, Fijian, Hawaiian, Maori influences, (leis, maori kits, bula shirts & music,) we also bought some unique personal touches into our ceremony our celebrant first said a welcoming in Maori first to pay respect to the land we stood on, and some words in Fijian, also in the ceremony after we had said our I do’s, we took a celtic tradition (Jeff and I both have some Scottish heritage) the “Trust/Giving cup” which is where I gave Jeff a drink he had to trust me that I wouldn’t spill it on him and have his arms at his side, we kinda turned it into a Kava cup (Fijian ceremonial half a coconut shell) but filled  not with kava but champagne of course! We did a clap as u do in a Kava ceremony we both did this 3 times to each other representing the past, present, and future.  

As far as the look of the wedding, we wanted to keep everything simple and organic by using colors like creams and ivory for the tents, teepees, vintage lace doilies and table cloths, the natural fibers of  linen on old weathered wood, wine barrels and hay bails so everything felt natural. We also liked the idea of bringing in an old world feeling, whimsical (flowers, my veil) . We wanted our guest to feel relaxed & we chose a palette of creams, whites, succulent blues, pale peach and pink & other natural earthy tones.

PHOTOGRAPHY: Our wedding photographer was Carolyn Haslett and Carly Van Winkel (Assistant photographer) 

(interview continued under gallery)

BRIDE’S DRESS: I tried on a few dresses, I originally wanted a vintage type dress, but all the ones I tried on looked frumpy. In the end I was drawn to the color of my dress, it was pale pink and the dress was called peony (which is my favorite flower) by Monique Lhuillier... I just put it on and was like, this is hot, pretty and elegant... perfect for a garden wedding!

(PS - Kara is selling her beautiful Monique Lhuillier gown, if you are interested please contact her by email here)

BRIDE’S SHOES: Rag & Bone boots

BRIDESMAIDS DRESSES: My 6 bridesmaids they all picked dresses they wanted to wear, I just told them to get something creamy light colored, vintage, bohemian or flowy. my maid of honor wore a peachy Zimmerman dress…


FLOWERGIRLS: I had 5 flower girls carrying Maori kits (woven bags) filled with rose petals and lavender heads… the flower girls all had matching ivory dresses

JEWELLERY/ACCESSORIES: A vintage veil that my amazing stylist Leisa Welch did her magic with, we were inspired by Kate moss’s veil, I bought the veil online, Leisa sewed it into an elastic band on my head on the day... she is very talented! I also wore my grandmother moon stone ring.

GROOMSMEN ATTIRE: We just kept it simple with the guys and got them all matching shirts and ties from J Crew, and told them all to wear pants in a light grey/khaki color.. they all wore Hawaiian men’s leis that we made the day before, Jeff wore one that Naomi at Leaf & Honey made.

HAIR/MAKEUP: Everyone just had their hair curled and left loose, as they all had wreaths to wear. Makeup was natural

STATIONERY/INVITATIONS: One of my favorite parts of our wedding planning was the touches that Erin Pata at Butter Bean Studios created with our save the dates, invitations, she made little labels we put on the chutney favors, the place name cards,  she even screen printed some canvas bags we had as gift bags, and children’s goodies and activity bags. I feel they tied in a represented our wedding, simple and elegant black on cream, yet relaxed and hand written/drawn. There was a little drawing of a church some rolling hills & sheep the ocean with a sailboat and a cliff with jeff climbing up ( as he is a climber) it was very cute she made a separate card with a hand drawn map of the area, with all the details, and an extra card invitation for those who were invited to the welcome rehersal dinner which we had at the boat house at the riverhead tavern outside there.

FAVORS/BONBONNIERE: My mother made feijoa chutney, which was from our garden she makes the best chutney, we had little thank you notes on each.

FLOWERS & BOUQUETS: Everything was tied in with the flowers, which was my absolute favorite! Naomi at Leaf and Honey in Auckland did such a great job! We picked succulents roses tied it all in with gum and olive.

VIDEOGRAPHY: Winchey Zheng

PREPARATION: We all got ready out at a house in Muriwai, where some of my friends? bridesmaids were staying... all our guest and us rented houses out at muriwai. It was the ultimate getting ready! I was really nervous though, The girls definitely put on a spread, and made sure I ate... they kept it all very calming, I had my two cousins there and a friend helping with the flower girls and some of the brides maids hair and makeup since there were so many.

One of my bridesmaids held a Wedding Way we all sat in a circle and she said a blessing to me and burnt some sage, as we all held hands, a said a few things here and how special it was for me to have everyone together, thanked them all my mother was also in the circle, it was great because i got to cry a bit here, and get it all out before the ceremony.

CEREMONY DÉCOR: On our guest arrival they were shown the way by rustic wooden signs pointing them in the direction of the drinks, ceremony, parking etc. Guests passed floral decorated hay bales and big oak trees full of white paper lanterns. We had about 4 pergoda’s (white /cream Moroccan style tents) and one other for shade a bar set up for refreshments in mason jars and champagne filled flutes with a head of lavender in each. We also had a white/cream souxe teepee set up with a Fijian woven mat inside where the kids could play, there was a wishing tree where guest could write a message to us on a piece of card (we had pre attached some twine to) and hang on the tree.

There was a traditional Fijian 3 piece band wearing matching Bula shirts (same as Hawaiian shirts) playing guitar, ukulele and a one of a kind home made base, which is basically a wooden crate box attached to long stick with some nylon string the stick and the string need to be the same measurement in order for the string to be taught, and there u have a basic base…..

A row of olive trees created a naturally forming aisle and the ceremony site down at the end of the property was surrounded by native forest. As a backdrop my Dad and brother made a structure out of New Zealand native Punga Trees. The trees had been lying in a creek, the trunks had sprouted their ferns coming out from the side ways and not on top so these beautiful Punga Ferns were facing forward, and our florist decorated the arch’s and trunks with olive leaf and gum leaves. We used hay bales for ceremony seating.

RECEPTION DÉCOR: We had our reception at the Tasting Shed also in Kumeu, this restaurant is on the coopers creek winery, its so relaxed with this indoor out door feel super modern lines mixed with a farm house, they serve everything tapas style and its delish!

There was space to have another large Moroccan tent which is where everyone was seated, the main part of the restaurant was  where the dj set up and became the dance floor and bar. We used Raj tents for the marquee, but kept it white and cream and simple, I collected vintage table cloths and runners/doilies that were placed on linen. They have really great gold cutlery there....

Our florist decorated the tables at our reception using all the vintage  lace/crocheted table clothes runners and doilies, I had been collecting for the last year (there was also some that my nana had made) on top of raw linen on long rustic wooden tables,  lined with mismatching clear glass vases, filled with flowers & succulents. Keeping in mind there needed to be space as it was a tapas/family style.

My good friend artist Sharda Adolf made all the signs for our wedding and this cool old window pane, for the table seating, she helped me decorate and over saw everything on the day of…. it was so great to have her help she really made sure everything tied in together as we had planned we shared the same vision and had so much fun with all the little details….


WEDDING STYLIST: Sharda Robertson

CAKE: Gluten free carrot cake, and other gluten free delights

MUSIC: We arrived at the tasting shed  to the song white man in Hammersmith palais by the Clash, since Jeff was a little punk back in the day! Our first dance was to Van Morrison’s into the mystic….we danced to loads of 80’s songs it was great! My old friends Johny Egdell and Ben Takard “Yam Jams’ DJ'd

FOOD & BEVERAGES: We had our reception at the Tasting Shed also in Kumeu, this reastaurant is on the coopers creek winery, they serve everything tapas style and its delish! They served dreads olives nuts, chees plates, beets and goatchees salad, there were two courses, serving things like meat balls, fish,pigs head!beef cheeks, churros, lambs neck, half chicken,and many sides of veges, i was stuffed they served chocolate homemade icecream cones for desert.

TRANSPORT: I just hired a big 11 seater bus to get the bridal party from Muriwai to mum and dads and i just drove with my mum and brother and a maid. We got picked up by an old classic Ford Zephyr to get our photos taken.

HONEYMOON: We went to Great Barrier, because its our favourite place on earth! My best friend has a house at Medlands we went there for the first week with some of our guests, and then we rented a little cabin in the southern corner of Medlands all to our selves it was kind of like deluxe camping, it was blissful, it never rained and we surfed and hiked everyday...could have stayed for a month.... we then when down to Arrowtown with my family for a few days before flying back to the states.

A MEMORABLE MOMENT: Seeing Jeff's face, my Dad when he first saw me, looking out and seeing all our loved ones...My mother and father, seeing everything come together so gorgeously. Just having everyone together, I tried to savor everything and take it all in...

ADVICE FOR BRIDES-TO-BE… A year ago it was quite bewildering to narrow down exactly what we wanted for our wedding, what with all the ideas out there with Pinterest etc I remember I must have looked at thousands of invitations before figuring out what we wanted, there’s just so much out there, but slowly it all came together, we feel blessed to have found the perfect people to help with our wedding day. Such great memories to enjoy.

I Just loved the creative aspect I found it a lot of fun, having a "day-off" coordinator really helped! I definitely recommend taking the week before your wedding to try and do things for your self, relax a bit hang out with your friends. Make sure you ask for help... it is definitely a really stressful time but it has great rewards. On your wedding day, focus on the man/woman you are marrying what it all means and that all these people are here to witness your marriage, they all are here for you, so just go with it don’t worry about all the details and savor every moment...  I recommend writing down all the details so you don’t forget, the memories are just so precious, it really is the biggest day, and it does feel different, when you wake up the next morning its like you belong to the I am married club.


PHOTOGRAPHY: Carolyn Haslett

BRIDE'S DRESS: Monique Lhuillier


BRIDESMAIDS DRESSES: Zimmermann, Designer and shop their own, some wore vintage, Nightcap, Band of Outsiders


GROOMSMEN: J.Crew, shirt ty, ludlow suit & shoes

WEDDING RINGS: Jessica Eaton

HAIR / MAKEUP: Leisa Welch


FLORIST: Leaf and Honey, NZ

CAKE: Oh Sugar, NZ (email)

CATERING: Sauce Catering, NZ (email) 



WEDDING VENUE: The Tasting Shed

CELEBRANT: Chris Mullane

ENTERTAINMENT: Johny Egdell and Ben Takard “Yam Jams’ (DJ)


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