Real Brides

The Peace of the Wilderness

It’s easy to forget how to appreciate amongst the wonderful world where you can find calmness, beauty, charm and adventure until you find beautiful photographs like Anna’s that happily remind us what an amazing universe we live in. Anna’s wedding takes us to Moke Lake at the foot of the Ben Lomond mountains in Queenstown, New Zealand and wow how truly breathtaking this place is.

Anna is originally from New Zealand and her husband Sam is from Canada and although life has taken Anna to unexpected places, love has brought her home. After scouring the web for wedding blogs, Anna came across the designer Laure de Sagazan which took her to The Mews Notting Hill in London. After falling in love with all of Laure de Sagazan’s collection Anna finally choose the Chaplin dress and the Bruyere top to wear in the evening. The “simple less is more”, statement comes to mind when I look at the aesthetic Parisian style, with the effortlessly elegant beauty of Anna’s dress fitting perfectly with the overall theme.

I find Laure de Sagazan’s dresses each telling their own story cleverly complimenting the bride in a relaxed bridal fashion. I just love everything about Anna’s Wedding and you just get lost in her amazing photos, to me it’s a place where you could forget your worries, plan new memories and live freely. Enjoy.

Tell us a little about yourself?

I was born and raised in New Zealand, and after finishing school trained as a doctor. Growing up I loved the wild and varied landscapes of my country – the ocean, the mountains, the rivers and islands – and the relaxed way of living.

After working as a junior doctor in Auckland, I moved to the UK when I was 26 to do my PhD in Surgery at the University of Cambridge. During this time I used the UK as my base to pursue research, and did some surgical and health policy work (my other passion) in East and West Africa. My plan was to return to New Zealand after my PhD to finish training as a surgeon. But these plans were soon thwarted when I met my then neighbour, now husband, Sam!

After four great years based out of Cambridge and London, I now live in Toronto, Canada with Sam (who is Canadian). I am currently completing my specialty training in General Surgery and planning our next adventure.

How did you meet your Groom?

We were next-door neighbours in our College accommodation at Cambridge, and also moved in the same social circle, so spent a lot of time walking home together from nights out! However, we didn’t actually start dating until about 6 weeks before Sam finished his Masters in International Law and was due to leave Cambridge and move back to Canada. But we knew we had something worth making work. Before Sam flew back to Canada, he had plans to drive a small car from London to Mongolia, through 17 different countries in Europe and the Middle East as part of a 2 month long charity rally, an early test for our fledgling relationship as there was very little in the way of telecommunication/internet while they were on the road. Instead he sent me postcards from every country, and (luckily) backed them up with texts and calls when he could, as the final postcard from Mongolia which said ‘I made it! Xox’ arrived 5 months after he sent it!

Sam’s Mongolia trip marked the beginning of much long distance for us, and right from the beginning we realised this was a relationship that could not only survive distance, but really grew as we supported each other from far and near, perfect given we both had strong interests in international work in some fairly far flung areas of the globe. Although Sam did eventually move back to the UK while I finished my PhD, our work interests meant we still spent a lot of time apart travelling. In the end ours was a four-year courtship conducted across some 30-odd countries on 4 continents, and survived not only the initial Mongolian rally but also an Ebola outbreak while I was working in Sierra Leone in 2014.

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How did you come across The Mews?

I came across Laure de Sagazan’s dresses after pouring over what felt like hundreds of blogs and bridal websites, and not really finding anything that felt like ‘me’ and would be appropriate for the organic, outdoors wedding in New Zealand we envisioned. I was delighted to find that The Mews, as the sole British stockist of her designs, had recently opened a store in Notting Hill, London. I booked my first appointment with Lauren for the afternoon after I handed my PhD thesis in – a fitting way to celebrate the end of 3.5 years of hardwork!

What styles were you channeling whilst dress shopping?

The fashion-influenced, slightly bohemian, effortless style of the French, so Laure was perfect.

Tell us about finding your perfect Wedding dress?

I found my perfect wedding dress designer in Laure de Sagazan, but I never found my one perfect wedding dress, as I loved all of her designs and really couldn’t choose a favourite! A wonderful dilemma to have. I initially was set on a top and skirt combination, but after setting up an appointment with Lauren at the Mews, and Skyping my Mum in from New Zealand and my sister from Sydney, I went with the Chaplin dress and the Bruyere top which I wore in the evening, so that I could have the best of both!

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Where did your wedding day take place? Was there any themes or inspiration behind your day?

Given a lot of our friends and family were travelling from overseas to be with us for our wedding, many of whom had never been to New Zealand before, we wanted to capture the rugged beauty of the country and the laidback, organic way of life in our venue and day.

We had an outdoors ceremony next to Moke Lake at the foot of the Ben Lomond mountains in Queenstown, which we wrote ourselves. To welcome our guests to the wedding site, we had a traditional Maori karanga (indigenous welcome ceremony), in which guests were called onto the land by female members of the local iwi (tribe). To get to the wedding my Dad drove the two of us through sheep paddocks and over small fiords in the little vintage Triumph wedding car we had hired, and I had to lift up my dress off the car floor to stop if getting wet! I loved it. After years of living abroad it really felt like I had come home to my roots to get married.

Our wedding ceremony was followed by a champagne picnic in a field next to the lake. We set up a huge antipasti table and threw Moroccan rugs around the field for people to picnic on.

Our reception was in an 1800s barn at Peregrine Vineyard, where we served local cuisine (wood-chip hot smoked Salmon, Merino slow-roasted lamb, fig and salted caramel cake) from shared platters, drank wine from the vineyard and danced under the most amazing and dense set of Southern Hemisphere stars.

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What did he wear?

Sam wore a bespoke mid-blue suit from Zeglio tailors in Toronto and shoes from Allen Edmonds.

What was your favourite detail of the day?

It’s tough to choose! From an aesthetics perspective, I loved our gorgeous unstructured flower and foliage arrangements by Michelle Coomey of Rose’s Florist. As an experience, taking a helicopter up into the mountains immediately after we were married for photos and an intimate walk up high in the alpine tussock, looking out across the mountains and lakes was an amazing way to spend our first hours as a married couple.

Our favourite thing about our wedding though had to be having all our family and friends descend from all corners of the globe onto this tiny piece of land at the bottom of the world to witness us say our vows. For us this is probably the first and last time we will ever have so many of those closest to us together in one place. It was especially meaningful to have Sam’s Dad there, who despite suffering from cancer was adamant he could make the trip from Canada to New Zealand to be with us, and fought hard to hold onto his health long enough to do so.

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What advice would you give out to a bride to be about finding the perfect dress?

Be true to yourself and your style and think about how you want your wedding day to look and feel. This really helped me narrow down what I wanted in a dress. I really enjoyed the personalised and unhurried service that Lauren and the girls at the Notting Hill store gave, and their impeccable style. I loved that I could take a bit of Paris via London home with me to the bottom of the world to wear on my wedding day!

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Any words of wedded wisdom?

Enjoy the planning process and the lead up. Wedding planning was a total creative escape for me and I loved every minute of it.

Get a good photographer, it’s worth the investment. We have had endless pleasure reliving the day – including moments we didn’t see ourselves – through our photos.

On the actual day, be present in the moment. The day goes much faster than you imagine, actively trying to pause and take it all in helps slow things down and create memories.

I felt so thankful on my wedding day to have found someone I wanted to spend the rest of my life with, and to be able to celebrate this surrounded by people I love and who loved me. That’s got to be what it’s all about.

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