Real Wedding | Vanessa and Nick

Nick and I met at university in Auckland just over ten years ago while I was studying abroad from Canada. We formed an instant connection and ended up doing long distance, then moving from Auckland to Toronto and now Christchurch together where you can often find us exploring our city by bike. We live in the central city and spend a lot of time attending events, visiting art galleries, and hanging out at cafés and restaurants - We enjoy supporting all the businesses who make up our wonderful city.

On the day of Nick’s proposal, he surprised me with a birthday trip to Akaroa, which had become our favourite spot since moving to Christchurch. After an alfresco lunch at Rona's, followed by a casual afternoon swim, Nick casually asked the question with his grandmother's wedding band. It was spontaneous, lovely and somewhat unexpected. We then went to Smash Palace to celebrate with friends.

When it came to planning our wedding, we wanted to bring our two families (from two continents) together to thank them for their support over the past ten years. Our wedding was a celebration of our time together as a couple, acknowledging all those who've been a big part of our lives over the past decade. We also wanted to incorporate all of our favourite Christchurch vendors and recognise all they do for our community.

Christchurch is a city that has been good to us. There's no denying that it’s been tested, but it's also the place which enabled me to pursue a career as a freelance writer and Nick as an urban planner. It’s a welcoming place, full of kind, amazing people who have encircled us and made us feel at home. Getting married in Christchurch and more specifically, in the central city, was our small way of 'thanking' our city and community. We also wanted to give my relatives and our Canadian friends an opportunity to come to see our little corner of the world.

You can read more about why Vanessa and Nick decided to get wed in Christchurch and support local in this blog post HERE:

The hardest part of the wedding planning process was choosing a venue, especially because we wanted to get married in the central city. We're happy we decided on the historic Riccarton House, which is home to the Christchurch Farmers Market. After making that decision, everything fell into place thanks to our incredible vendors. The team at Local. At Riccarton House were fantastic and made sure everything ran smoothly leading up to and on the day. I also worked with the immensely talented Hayley and Co., who went over and above to ensure our day was as beautiful as we had envisioned. Our main focus with the planning was to put on a great party with delicious local food for our family and friends.

We wanted to use the central city as the backdrop for our bridal party photos, so we went to the recently restored Christchurch Town Hall and The Crossing. We then arrived back at Riccarton House for our ceremony, which took place underneath some of the oldest trees in Canterbury. We both love string music so after the ceremony, Praesto String Quartet played and we enjoyed canapés and champagne on the verandah near the rose garden which was very special. The ice cream from Utopia Ice was such a hit! After group photos, we made our way into the marquee for dinner and speeches and the dance. Our first dance was to Home by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes, a band we saw at a festival with many of our friends who were in attendance. The day went by quickly, but we were surrounded by so much love and warmth that it still makes me tear up thinking about it.

Our traditional Ukrainian Kolomeyka was definitely a highlight, we managed to get everyone out of their seats and up on the dance floor. Another highlight was having poutine for our midnight lunch. We were so impressed that Local managed to create our favourite Canadian snack and some of our guests had three servings!
If anything went wrong, we had no idea. Our vendors and on-day coordinator did such a wonderful job of ensuring everything ran smoothly.

Another special moment from the occasion was the following day after our wedding. We hosted a brunch at Smash Palace, our local bar. The team prepared the most delicious dishes for all our guests. I don't have any professional photos, but it was nice spending extra time with our guests who had travelled so far for our day.

Our pieces of advice to pass on to couples is to focus on what's most important to you. It's easy to get carried away with all the little details and design elements of your day, but remember why you're getting married in the first place. We stepped outside just after dinner to practice our first dance and it was nice to be alone, soaking it all up. On another note, invest in a photographer whose style resonates with you and hire a videographer if your budget allows for it. We're so glad we did and were absolutely blown away by Ana Galloway (our photographer) and Craig Forster (our videographer). My sister kept commenting on how wonderful they both were. They were both such beams of sunshine, kept us smiling the entire day and ensured everything ran to schedule.

Vendor List

Bride | Vanessa Ortynsky

Venue | Local. at Riccarton House

Photographer | Ana Galloway

Videographer | Craig Forster of Lovelight Cinema and Photography

Stylist | Hayley and Co.

Planner | Hannah Goldfinch at Local. at Riccarton House

Florals | Bunch Floral

Catering | Local. at Riccarton House

Ice Cream | Utopia Ice

Celebrant | Hannah Duder

Hair | Graceful Hair Art

Makeup | Kasia Stanicich

Dress | Dan Jones

Bride's Shoes | Chaos & Harmony

Bride’s Earrings | Holly Ryan

Engagement Ring | Pieces of Eight Gallery

Wedding Band | Nick's grandmother's

Bridesmaids' Outfits | Their own, vintage and local designers

Groom's Attire | Barkers tuxedo

Groomsmen's Outfits | Barkers suits

Rings | Brushed gold band by Kennett Crafted Jewels

DJ | Paul McKessar

Singer/String Quartet | Praesto String Quartet

Cakes/Desserts | Cakes by Anna and desserts by Local at Riccarton House

Stationery and signage | Amanda Gilchrist

Arch and signs | Bleu Studio