I can’t tell you how incredible this couple is.  Sara first contacted me months and months ago regarding doing family portraits for Kevin’s family while they were visiting from New Zealand.  We’d chatted over email a bit and I knew instantly that I couldn’t wait to meet her in person!  She was just as sweet and down to earth in person as her emails were!  I captured her and Kevin’s beautiful family and did some portraits of just them two before they’d headed off to celebrate over dinner afterwards!

How did you and your fiancé meet?

Kevin and I met online over 10 years ago in Toronto. We joke about the profiles we shared, because his mentioned that he was a typical Sagittarius (even though he doesn’t know anything about astrology) and I explained how much I love golf yet I’ve never played… and the kicker is that Kev isn’t much of a sports guy! We cringe when thinking about our online profiles, but it seems all the cool kids are doing it these days. We ended up having a few interesting things in common considering we met online, for example, while we met in Ontario, we both grew up in small towns in Alberta. And while out on a date with his friends in Toronto, it turned out his group of friends that night included people I went to high school with, sometimes the world is a small place. It was nice to meet someone who had family in Alberta, and I love that I’ve been able to return and visit an area where I grew up.

Kev was in the middle of changing jobs when we met and soon after, he moved to the States for a couple of contracts, and we continued dating long distance. We would catch up at night, and as a ‘date’ we’d watch a movie or show together by playing a DVD at the same time. Technology has definitely evolved since our MSN messenger days when we were dating!

When Kev settled into a longer contract, he asked me to move in for the summer… so I packed up my little Mazda and with a friend, we zoom zoomed across the country, Toronto to Los Angeles. We were on a mission and made the trip in just four short days! That summer lasted and here we are. About six years ago we relocated to New Zealand (another contract for Kev) and it’s now our adopted home along with our three cats (Sven, Waffles and Stewie).

How did you get engaged?

It was very simple and straightforward, and I didn’t take him seriously, it was very unexpected! It was the day we adopted our third cat Stewie, and Kev sort of just blurted out and asked me if I would marry him. He said the night before when we had gone out for dinner, a Kiwi classic of fish’n chips, he had planned to ask then. The sun was setting, the weather was calm and the scene was quite romantic as we enjoyed a little picnic along the water. We went off for a walk on the pier where he had planned to ask, but there were groups of people fishing every which way and it smelled quite bad, the pigeons were going crazy and he decided that it wasn’t the best location. The next day, he asked me if I wanted to marry him explaining he was sorry it wasn’t romantic and he didn’t have a ring (he wanted me to create one with him). Once I realised he was serious I said yes! We ended up designing an engagement ring that was made in New Zealand using a Canadian stone.

What’s your best piece of advice for couples planning their wedding?

Focus on what’s important to you… I know everyone says this but you have to figure out the important part so you can plan for it! For us, we wanted to get married on our 10th anniversary, and since our families and friends live all over, we wanted to plan smaller celebrations so we could be present with them and really enjoy our time together. We were married in a private ceremony in Wanaka, New Zealand and we splurged on videography so we could share a video with family during our celebrations. We’ve since gone on and had three celebrations across New Zealand and Canada with family and friends.

We tried to incorporate surprises or fun elements since our celebrations were small with dinner and no ceremony. We also kept our wedding video under wraps and showcased it at each event. Our celebration in New Zealand was with our friends at a winery. As it was close to Christmastime, we hired a guy to be ‘bad Santa’ who showed up and hauled out gifts. In Calgary we hired a food truck to make an appearance, and in Toronto we had a mariachi band surprise everyone upon arrival.

And a second bit of advice for good measure, sometimes plans don’t work out. Our wedding planning was a big lesson in how the best laid plans can go sideways but still end up beautifully. For starters, our private ceremony last November was about two weeks after a devastating earthquake in New Zealand. There was a lot of uncertainty, fear and stress as our city and surrounding areas were affected. We made the decision to continue on with our plans despite everything, even thought it wasn’t an easy time, we were distracted and concerned for our city and friends.

Our flights were cancelled, and the marriage certificate office closed down temporarily and communication with vendors during this time was understandably delayed. My wedding dress (in these pictures) was hemmed too short and poorly altered and the seamstress was difficult to work with, so I ended up buying a second dress for the ceremony off the sale rack in town. We had planned to marry on a Sunday but severe weather hit the town we were travelling to, so we moved it to the next morning (thankfully our vendors down there were used to weather delays!). After all of that, we woke up to dusting of snow which was rare for that time of the year. We flew up to the snow capped mountains, and we climbed them in our wedding gear with snow under our feet. We were incredibly giddy because snow reminds us of Canada, and it’s one of the things we miss most. We couldn’t have planned for a better day!

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