Suzanne and Matt had the wedding of their dreams. Although it was a long time in the making, and morphed into several different ideas before the final day was set in stone, it was exactly how they had always hoped. The two of them alone on a cliff top and surrounded by a panoramic ocean view, and with the arresting beauty of nature all around them. This was what it was like when Matt proposed, and again when they sealed their personal vows with a long sweet kiss seven years later.
Suzanne's wedding dress was designed by Claire Pettibone, who had the perfect vision for Suzanne's style. When the couple were first engaged, the bride to be pictured herself on a beautiful beach and knew she wanted her dress to have a vintage quality to it, and somehow be timeless, yet modern as well. Suzanne went to the designer's boutique in Los Angeles, and as she selected several dreamy dresses to try on, little did she realise that Claire herself was in the salon preparing for a show. Having neither friend nor her mother with her on the trip, she asked Claire, without recognising her to be the designer of the gowns, what she thought of the favoured dress, the Cybelle. The designer treated Suzanne to a personal fitting and in that moment, Suzanne knew this was the dress. To complete the picture, Suzanne flew her mum to LA for a visit several months later to be part of her fitting and to share in the joy.
Loved this sweet little box which contained the heel decorations. It held Suzanne's fun little blue rings that she wore on each heel of her fabulous Manolo Blahnik shoes. Her something new was her wedding dress, and her something old was a sixpence her mother had given her at her sister's wedding which she tucked into her bouquet. The bride had brought from home a seashell, and some sand, borrowed from nature, to hold their rings.
At the time of finding her dream dress, Suzanne could not have imagined that she and her dress would have a five year relationship before she wore it on her wedding day. The whole time, the dress was kept hidden from Matt so as to be a surprise. Mostly, it was hidden quite literally under the bride to be's pillow, for it was tucked away in a box under her side of the bed. When it was finally time for her finally fitting, Suzanne was as excited about her dress as when she had first tried it one, and grateful that it was indeed truly timeless. I think I would have been grateful that it still fit!!
Suzanne and Matt opted for a first look before the ceremony. I love it when couples do this as it not only allows for some relaxed photos rather than the nervousness of knowing guests are waiting, but also it allows the couple to actually speak to each other rather than just squeezing hands in silence throughout the service. It is always so intimate and I feel honoured to be able to witness these once in a lifetime moments.
Matt and Suzanne had not intended for their engagement to go on so long. Since Matt had originally proposed in Big Sur, California, surrounded by the natural beauty of the Californian coastline and panoramic ocean and mountain views, the dramatic coastline made an early impression on the couple as they began to plan their elopement. They decided an island destination wedding was perfect for the two of them and they broke the news to their family and friends that it would be just the two of them when they tied the knot.
They started scouting for the ideal location on the big island of Hawaii, where they found a spectacular coastal bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. As they were in the midst of planning, an earthquake struck off the coast of Hawaii permanently closing their ocean view site.
As they tried to re-envision their wedding site, the pair leisurely researched possibly romantic destinations and enjoyed several more scouting trips looking for that perfect location that spoke to their hearts. On a return trip up the Californian coast, the couple decided to revisit the location of their proposal. They decided then that their original romantic spot was where they would wed later that summer. With all the wedding details planned, her wedding dress and his suit in hand, their rings purchased and the officiant booked, a hurricane hit Puerto Rico where Matt was completing filming of a movie he had written and was producing. Unexpected delays in wrapping production meant their planned wedding date wasn't going to work, so they let that dream go as well.
With a sense of humour, they told family and friends, "first an earthquake, now a hurricane - what next?" And then they decided to take a break from planning and just simply enjoy the life they were building together, with or without the official documents.
Time passed and in early July 2010, they turned to each other and said, let's get married, and this time, let's plan it quickly so that nothing can stop us. They selected a day between both their birthdays which are one week apart.
Suzanne went to Strands where her hair was done by Fannan and Jana did her make up.
Marguerite of Petals designed the sweet hand tied posy of ivory dendrobium orchids, white cymbidium orchids and freesias with accents of pink roses and mokara orchids, as well as Matt's striking deep pink mokara orchid boutonniere.
Bermuda was a perfect choice. Suzanne had holidayed here with her family several times since her childhood and she had always adored the island's beauty and friendly people. Matt had never been but Suzanne was sure this was the place and when Suzanne wrote to me and asked for a cliff top setting, obviously Warwick Long Bay came to mind. Once the couple arrived on the island, they headed straight out to explore the South Shore beaches and when they came upon Warwick Long Bay, they fell in love with the expansive beach and impressive rock formations. To heighten the dramatic effect, Hurricane Danielle was off shore and driving madly high surf to shore. Can you believe it - another Hurricane? So the original wedding date was planned for the Sunday, but I was a bit neurotic about the weather reports and so we changed the day to the following Tuesday, when it promised to be clear and calm. So so glad we did - can you believe the day they had?
Pastor Dean Smith delivered a beautiful, heartfelt ceremony which allowed the couple to intimately exchange their personalised vows. Although the couple had done most of the planning themselves, when they saw the forecast for the possible "conga line" (a term the weathermen were using) of hurricanes heading for the island, they decided to place on the ground logistics of their special day in the hands of Nikki Begg at Bermuda Bride, just in case last minute changes in plans were needed due to weather.
Not sure if you can tell in the image below, but I drew a heart in the sand for them to stand in.
Suzanne and Matt had selected their rings form a local jeweler in Santa Monica, California.
One of the things I love about elopements is the intimacy and spontaneity that always is inevitable. Foregoing the formality of sitting at a signing table, the newlyweds signed their documents on Pastor Smith's back, as well as on mine and Robyn's since we were the two witnesses.
A wee self portrait, with Robyn signing on my back.
Bermuda Bride may not have been needed in the end for emergency relocating the ceremony due to weather, but Robyn was still a star on the day, and was there for last minute touch ups and also presented a special seashell that Suzanne had brought from home to hold their rings.
Anyone who knows me knows that I am obsessed with hearts. I look for them in nature all the time and many years ago did a series of hearts in nature and one wall in our bedroom is covered in those photos. I still take pics when I can so was over the moon excited when I discovered this heart shaped jelly fish washed up on the sand.
Suzanne and Matt - your wedding was heaven. It was a glorious day, but more glorious was how open you were to spending the time with me to get some beautiful images to capture your love on the day that was so long in the making. I am happy that those other disasters spoiled your plans, for I think all that waiting and planning made it that much more special, especially since it landed you on our shores, with Hurricanes in the distance, reminding you of all you have been through, but the clam on land mirroring the bliss you must feel now that you are finally finally husband and wife. Congratulations and thank you for a wonderful afternoon. xxxx