New Zealand’s Wanaka is famous for stunning views, adventure and vineyards. It was the perfect spot for couple, Callie and Rhys, to say “I do” - and an awesome shoot for me to do, as their Queenstown wedding photographer.
Callie and Rhys met in Hawaii, where Callie was born. As the story goes, Adelaide-born Rhys strolled into the beachfront restaurant where Callie worked in Waikiki. She was instantly bitten by the love bug, saying to her friend, “that is the most beautiful man I have ever seen!”
Lucky Rhys sat down in her section. By the time he was ready to go, he’d asked for her number - which Callie had already written down to give him anyway. For the next week, the couple kayaked, hiked, spent time on the beach and explored the island. Callie knew he was the man of her dreams, but she never imagined she’d actually get to marry him.
Fast forward to a romantic proposal on the island of Kauai, during an early morning cliff hike. Rhys veered off the track and called Callie over to an incredible spot on the bluff, overlooking the ocean, and asked her if they could get a photo. His clever tactic involved ‘pretending’ to set up the GoPro, which was already on record and capturing the whole proposal.
Organising a Wanaka Wedding
Callie and Rhys decided to get married in Wanaka as a place with special meaning for them both. With views that speak for themselves, what a choice it was! The theme of the wedding was simple and modern to suit their natural, healthy styles.
Callie actually stumbled across her perfect dress at a small boutique, while shopping for a dress for another event. Her advice for brides is to not settle for anything less than a dress that makes you feel like a goddess. She paired the dress with simple nude heels and a pair of droplet earrings from her mother-in-law.
To save money on flowers, they ordered a bunch of arrangements from a local florist and the bridesmaids put the boutiques and table arrangements together. They weren’t too fussed about the wedding cake, other than wanting a healthy-spin, so they got a chocolate creation covered in fruit.
Photography Adventures Before the Big Day
The day before the wedding we planned to hike up Mount Roy, to get some location photos with the incredible views of Wanaka in the background. We got an early start and made our way up the famous peak, which is a three-hour hike. When we were at the top, we were so high up in the clouds we lost our view!
Not letting this deter us, we started to hike back down and found the perfect spot for some stunning photos, on the side of the mountain. After this epic adventure up Roys Peak, we journeyed to Rippon Winery to rehydrate and taste some beautiful New Zealand wines. It was a great day for me, as this awesome couple’s Queenstown wedding photographer, and an exciting way to lead up to the big day.
An Autumn Wedding in Wanaka
On the day of the wedding, the guys went off and played golf while the girls got ready. It’s pretty hard to get through any wedding without a hitch and Callie had a small one with her hair, which was falling flat before the ceremony. It wasn’t a problem though, with her amazing bridesmaids coming to the rescue and redoing it perfectly.
The intimate ceremony was attended by about 30 close friends and family, on a private property overlooking gorgeous Lake Hawea. We did location photos after the wedding, capturing precious moments down by the lake, with stunning results. Back on the property, the reception took place at the property with a tent and a fire pit adding to the idyllic backdrop. As for the honeymoon, Callie and Rhys kept the party going, taking friends and family to Queenstown for more amazing adventures.
Lastly, Callie had some fantastic words of advice for brides to be:
“Just do you girl. It's so easy to worry about everyone else and if they're having a good time and if you're socialising enough etc. Spend as much time as you can enjoying everything with your partner because it goes quick and you want to be able to look back and have those memories to share. Try not to stress about a thing and just have FUN!”
Weddings in Wanaka
If you love adventure and outstanding views, the Wanaka region, on New Zealand’s South Island, is calling your name. Surrounded by alpine peaks and lakes, there are endless opportunities for water-sports, hiking, biking and skiing. Within the natural beauty, you’ll also find galleries, shops, restaurants and award-winning wineries.
It’s no surprise that Wanaka is a popular destination to get married, with majestic backdrops for wedding photography everywhere you look. Like Callie and Rhys, you’ll find plenty of options to hire private properties and arrange most of the details yourself, if that’s what you prefer. However, Wanaka also has a variety of wedding venues, so it’s just a matter of taking your pick of picture-perfect locations to say, “I do”.
The Criffel Station Woolshed is a 2000 hectare deer farm surrounded by mountain views, with a strong focus on providing a balanced, healthy environment for its animals, people and land. Two venues are available, with a charming, authentic Woolshed and The Stone Hut Terrace that offers panoramic valley views.
The Rippon Hall is a dream setting for wine lovers who want to tie the knot. It stands on top of the Rippon Hill, with views encompassing the vineyard, Lake Wanaka and the Southern Alps. There’s also a natural amphitheatre and a sheltered nursery for exchanging wedding vows, before holding a reception in the hall.
Another option in the midst of vines includes Archangel Vineyard. The venue is perfect for intimate weddings of up to 40 people. For wedding photography and exchanging vows, you can do so right in the heart of the vines, before holding your reception in the sophisticated surrounds of the Wine Lounge.
If history is more your thing, the Cardrona Hotel is one of New Zealand’s oldest. It’s located on the scenic Crown Range Road between Queenstown and Wanaka. Weddings here are relaxed, with the option of a church or garden ceremony. You also get exclusive use of the entire venue, including the hotel rooms so friends and family can stay too. Best of all, the wedding photo locations are utterly charming.
Edgewater is an elegant choice, with manicured grounds on the shores of Lake Wanaka. There’s a lakeside patio and lawn area for mingling, and function rooms in the case of wet weather. Onsite wedding photography can take place by the shimmering water and on the wide expanse of lush, green lawn.
In terms of wedding photography locations, the Wanaka region is practically custom-made by nature for the occasion. Scenic backdrops include the Wanaka Wharf, Roys Peak, Glendhu Bay and the Mount Iron summit. Whether you’re a Queenstown wedding photographer or a smitten couple about to tie the knot, Wanaka provides a setting that definitely makes romantic dreams come true.
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"We can not thank Laurence enough for capturing three whole days of our wedding week in New Zealand!!! Laurence is so professional, kind, and has great ideas for photos! The time spent with him was effortless and he really makes you feel so comfortable and amazing! Not to mention the photos were INCREDIBLE!!!"