Stephanie & Jack

When Jack and I started planning our love celebration, it was always clear to us that we wanted exactly that: a celebration of love. We never gravitated towards some of the standard wedding formalities – things like the walk down the aisle, the seating charts, the bridal party, the cutting of the cake. They just didn’t feel like us. Jack and I had a vision of coming together with our closest family & friends to celebrate the love we have for each other and for all our guests – and that’s what mattered most!

When we first visited OFS, we were so enchanted by everything. How could you not?! It’s the perfect spot for a relaxed yet magical vibe. We wanted to make use of all the little nooks on site, and we knew guests both from NZ and overseas (and of all ages!) would have so much fun discovering the space. 

We started our love celebration with a small legal ceremony in the walled garden with our core family members – our parents, sisters, and Jack’s sister’s partner and children. Our celebrant was just wonderful, and the vows Jack and I wrote for that moment felt warm and intimate. It was very special to share that moment with our closest family. We then had the bar pour us a glass of bubbles as they were setting up, and the caterer who was prepping grazing platters made us a gorgeous lunch tray to share. Our photographer then arrived, and Jack and I spent just over an hour taking photos with her through OFS. We had so much fun with her!

When our guests arrived, they were ushered into the schoolhouse. Jack & I gave some opening words – things we wanted to say about our love for each other and to express all the gratitude and love we had for those who had travelled from near and far to be with us. It felt important to us to be the only ones speaking then to welcome our loved ones and set the tone for the event. It felt a perfect way to kick things off! 

From there, we had grazing platters, music, and even a coffee cart (divine!) for us all to enjoy for a few hours. In late afternoon, we brought everyone together for a group photo on the grandstand and migrated over to the archway under the large tree for some speeches. It was a strategic choice! The lighting was still good, it allowed the caterers to clean up the grazing station, and our dinner wasn’t going to be a formal sit-down occasion where we would have everyone’s attention. The speeches were so, so wonderful. We laughed, we cried! Everyone we spoke to afterwards said how incredible they were.

From there – the evening only got better. Tacos were served for dinner, our friend sang and played piano, a few more toasts were made, we danced, we sang! It was a completely magical day and evening, full to the brim with love. Jack and I couldn’t have imagined how spectacular it would be.

We think part of what made the day so perfect was that we did everything in a way that felt like us. We didn’t follow a script or feel the need to do anything that didn’t align with what made us happy. We did get several questions about things you’d expect – “Are you sure you don’t want to get legally married in front of at least your aunties? Is your dad expecting a father-daughter dance? Won’t people mind if you only serve vegan food?” In the end, we always just came back to the fact that we were creating the day we wanted, a celebration that felt like us. It meant that we went into the day really excited – but also relaxed! Which was such a great feeling. It made us so open to things unfolding organically rather than carrying stress over whether they were executed according to a plan that wasn’t ours. We knew every choice we made was intentional. That sense of serenity and joy rippled into how we greeted, hugged, and chatted with everyone, bringing them all into that same happy energy. Jack and I have absolutely no regrets from the day – only that we can’t relive it again and again!

Our top advice for other couples is to do things that feel authentic to you. You won’t regret it. And well done choosing OFS! You won’t regret that either. 

Kerri & Kate

We both met in November 2018 in Hamilton while Kate was here from England on a working holiday. Kate is from England and Kerri is from NZ but we now both call NZ home together with our two dogs.

When booking our wedding we both lived together in Hamilton. We found this gorgeous little gem of a place online, i think on Instagram. As soon as we drove in and Su-an walked us around the grounds we both just looked at each other and fell in love. We chose our wedding date and booked it right there and then on the spot. Our original date was meant to be 15th April 2022 but we had to make the tough call to postpone due to covid and lockdown uncertainty. We got married on Thursday 6th April 2023.

How did you pick your celebrant? 

Kelsey Jamieson was recommended on the OFS website. We met up for coffee with Kelsey and straight away loved her vibe and felt like we’d known her for ages. She really puts lots of thought and personal touches into the ceremony and made us both feel at ease throughout the whole process, highly recommend Kelsey!

We did all of our decorations, planning, made our own bouquets and table arrangements ourselves. We sourced most of these from facebook marketplace which helped us save some money. Tip is if you’re going to do it all yourselves make sure you have an amazing bridal party and family support behind you as it was a lot of work but we wouldn’t change a thing.

We chose to have Beacall Hospitality cater and also run our bar for us. They were hands down the best team for the job. On recommendation from them we had family style which worked really well. We didn’t want guests to be lining up for their meal, Beacall made this super easy. 

We had Josh and Nick from Josh Pow Music. These guys were unreal! All our guests partied all night and said how amazing they were. Josh also played all of our aisle songs (we had 3), he played his own acoustic version of them and they were just perfect…goosebumps all round.

There were a few things that were really important to us so we spent more on these. Including: Our band (Josh Pow Music), Caterer (Beacall Hospitality), Photographer & Videographer (Lemon Photo & Film) and our amazing Make Up Artists/ Hair Stylists (Beauty Tribe) the girls worked their magic on 2 brides, 5 bridesmaids and 2 mother of the brides…it was a very busy but super fun morning with loads of laughter and bubbles. We saved money by getting our cake done through The Cheesecake Shop in Papamoa and they did an awesome job. Everyone raved about how good it looked and tasted. We provided them with dried flowers for it and they decorated it for us. This on top of creating, making and sourcing secondhand decorations and setting up ourselves (family and bridal party) saved us quite a bit.

We decided to get ready at the same beach house together with our mums and bridal party so it was easier for us and all vendors. It also meant it was lots of fun and we got some cool photos together throughout the morning.

We had a 2pm ceremony, this was our photographer’s recommendation due to daylight savings. It was just the right amount of time for photos before it got dark at around 6pm.

Because we all got ready in the same place and stayed together the night before we weren’t as nervous as we could’ve been. We also chose to do a ‘first look’ before we left Pukehina Beach so that got some of the tears and nerves out of the way. Definitely recommend doing this, we are both so happy we did.

We had 56 guests which we found was a perfect number. Kate’s family and bridesmaids travelled all the way from both England and Spain to share our special day. The rest of our guests were from around NZ, we chose to make it a long weekend getaway which was the best decision. We got to hang out with friends and family a few days before and also after the wedding. 

Around 80% of our guests booked beach houses at Pukehina Beach, others in Papamoa and surrounding areas. We also chose to charter a bus through Go Bus Transport to ensure all our guests got to and from the venue safely as well as being able to all let their hair down. To help towards the cost of the bus we asked them to contribute a small fee each.

Our guests all commented on how stunning the venue was, how good the food and music was, our decorations and just the whole day in general. It was truly the most amazing day of our lives filled with so much love and we honestly wouldn’t change a single thing. 

There are so many amazing memories…walking back down the aisle as wife and wife, listening to speeches, our first dance was unreal including dancing the night away under the gorgeous OFS lights. We took time to step away from it all together and watch on, this was something we would definitely recommend as it’s true what everyone says….it goes by super fast. So soak in every moment you can with each other.

Best part about married life…

Nothing has really changed but at the same time so much has. We’re just both looking forward to all of our adventures in the future as wife and wife.

All of our vendors were absolutely incredible…they all went above and beyond. 
Celebrant – Kelsey Jamieson
Caterers and Bar Staff – Beacall Hospitality
Music – Josh and Nick from Josh Pow Music
Photographer & Videographer – Lemon Photo & Film
Cake – Cheesecake Shop Papamoa
Hair and Make Up – Beauty Tribe
Kate’s Dress – Alison Blain
Kerri’s Outfit – Made by Curvy Couture (Judy Moughton)
Bridesmaid Dresses – Pagani and Davids Bridal (England)

Guests Chartered Bus – Go Bus Transport Te Puke

Kate & Wade

We are two Aussies who have made New Zealand home since 2017. We love golfing and exploring all across the country together. We love our work, friends and seeing family as often as we can. This year our greatest gift and achievement is on the way, with little baby Eatts due in July.  

We both live in Auckland, New Zealand. Discovering Old Forest School as a venue by good old google.

We knew Old Forest School was the place for us… 

It was honestly the first venue we looked at online and in the flesh. Straight after we visited, we pretty much signed the contract then and there. The deciding factors were simple,

  • The beautiful space
  • The fact that we could host the whole day there
  • Everything was already set up for us to put our own flare to it
  • We knew we had a majority of guests visiting from overseas, so it was the perfect location to not only spend a wedding but to give our guests the opportunity to explore the region
  • There was no phone reception – one of the biggest factors!

I stayed with my bridal party at a beautiful Airbnb at Pukehina. We woke up early to do a meditation as the sun rose over the ocean before breakfast, hair and make-up all resumed. It was super relaxing and enjoyable. 

Wade was at an Airbnb also at Pukehina where we was with his groomsmen. They had a relaxed morning before going to Old Forest School where they got ready with our photographer taking some snaps. Dan came to the girls after the boys to take some more photos. 

We had about 50% of our guests attend from Australia from varying states. 

Our best tips for people getting married at Old Forest School…

  1. Su-an and Alistair are fantastic hosts. They have the most stunning venue so don’t feel like you need to build on it with expensive decorations and add-on’s. It honestly speaks for itself.
  2. Bus people in and out. It brings all of your guests together beautifully and brings added excitement to the day as guests can truly, let their hair down. We were so well looked after with Go Bus Transportation and they really took care of our loved ones.
  3. Choose vendors who do it all for you. While this can be the more expensive approach we had the most relaxed and enjoyable lead-up and post wedding because of it. Our main priority was having the best day surrounded by those we love and therefore, we did not worry about a thing on the day because of the people we hired. 

Initially we were steered in the direction of a celebrant that Su-An and Alistair recommended which was amazing – however he fell through and as they say, “everything happens for a reason”. We were then recommended Will Johnston who hands down made our (and our guests) day. Will is so personable, kind, funny and just a genuine legend. Our guests are still singing his praises as being the best celebrant they have ever heard. Furthermore, Will MC’d for us which took the stress away from one of our loved ones and kept the formalities fun, professional and wrapped up in a timely manner. No one wants to go to a wedding and sit and listen for hours – there is far too much dancing and drinking to be had! 

The part of our day guests are still talking about…

How good the whole day was. The main stand outs were our celebrant/MC Will, the venue, the food (No Biggie) and the band who had everyone up and loving life the whole night. Furthermore our catering team come out with some late night toasties which really hit the spot!

Our Photographer…

This was a choice that Wade had no say in the matter… I (Kate) had followed Dan Evans work for a long time on Instagram and always knew I wanted him to photograph our wedding. Dan is based in Adelaide but was well worth every cent. When he arrived, he did a pre-shoot at Piha Beach in which we had a ball and made the wedding day itself that much more relaxing. We adore our special images from the day.

Best spendy item was our band (our neighbours at the time) who were incredible. A band can read a room and that they did. Our guests did not stop dancing all night. 

Best savey item was not having a wedding cake… or videographer. We were told by many people that we will regret not having a videographer, but in all honestly, we haven’t had a second thought and love our photos so much that it really wasn’t what we needed or wanted. 

Best ‘on the day’ tip…

Kate – Enjoy your day. It is you marrying your best friend so enjoy it. You haven’t paid so much money and planned it all for you to stress on the day. Therefore, hire the best vendors and let them work their magic. 

Wade – Pay for the experience of your vendors. Don’t try and do it all yourself.

The best memory from our day…

Kate – My personal favourite was taking some time at the golden hour to sneak off with Wade and our photographer Dan to get some photos. The timing was perfect I feel as we could both take a breath and absorb what had just happened. Upon returning from this shoot, we walked into the most beautiful setting of all of our loved ones enjoying their meals and just generally, loving life.

Wade – There was no individual best memory of the day, it was the whole day combined. 

The best part about married life 

You get to do life together. Having a partner in crime for the rest of your life we think is pretty special. 

Vendors…

Photography @dan_evans_photography
Catering @nobiggie.food
Celebrant & MC @radiowill
Music Our neighbour Adam
Make Up & Hair @sitashairandmakeup
Florist & Styling @onmyhand
Tableware @royallaboratorie
Favours, Menus & Neon @sketchandetchcreative
Transportation Go Bus
Desserts @mondayswholefoods
Guestbook @bowandarbour
Bar Staff Eddie & Dani 
Confetti @everlandfavours
Guestbook/ wedding zine @bowandarbour
Invitations @pulpandwillow
Bridesmaid dresses @shonajoy_
Signage @paperdarlingnz
Inspiration @hellomaymagazine

Luci & Calum

We are chill but love adventure! For us, nothing beats a weekend at home in our own company but going out hiking and exploring comes in a close 2nd! We’re a bit more home body right now as we’ve just moved into our 2nd house but big plans to travel and explore shortly now that we’re married too! 

I’ve always had some sort of vision for my wedding day but I remember finding Old Forest School  just by a Google search and when looking at the photos I fell in love and I knew because after only seeing photos online, I could picture our whole wedding day in 1 moment. 

We booked 2 years almost exactly! Booked late Feb 2020 and got married late Feb 2022. It was perfect timing for us as we still had time to save and boy was that needed!!!! 

Our vibe was really just to show who we are and we totally did that! We’re not fancy out there people so wanted minimal, elegant and we did exactly that.

Best tip for people getting married at Old Forest School…

The only thing that I regret feeling on my day was stress in the morning instead of having fun! I was stressed as I didn’t think about who was setting things up properly on the day (covid got in the way for us and the person setting up) I would totally recommend getting a professional to help set up the morning of as OFS allows morning of only. 

The month of the year we got married…

February. We decided as we wanted to (hopefully) have nice weather! And we absolutely did! No special date or anything, but now it is special of course!

Our Photographer…

I was on the hunt and came across a competition for one of the photographers I was considering and I actually placed 3rd in the competition so got a full package deal minus $1000 so I definitely didn’t want to pass that up and she was an award winning photographer too, how good!?

We did table arrangements ourselves, parts of the signs, planning. I didn’t realise how hectic planning a wedding was and to be honest, if I hadn’t just had one of my best friends get married with a wedding planner and have her help with almost everything, I would have been super stressed and wanted a planner.

  • Aisle song: This Kind Of love by Sister Hazel. Just a beautiful song with beautiful lyrics.
  • Reception entry I actually can’t remember if we even played it!
  • First dance: Beautiful War by Kings Of Leon, my husband loved the lyrics of this song and it resonated with him so naturally I loved it! 

Big yes to seating plan! Would do it that way again for sure. We didn’t want anyone moving chairs to tables and having an overflow of people at one table and less at another.

The part of our day guests are still talking about…

The reception! I guess music, games Old Forest School had and food won! 

We had family style. I would actually maybe choose differently next time. There didn’t end up being enough for everyone to be full enough! 

Just had a Spotify playlist from a laptop. Dj or live band wasn’t important to us, we just wanted to boogie and have fun with music we knew everyone would love! (And bonus it saved us money) 

Our favourite photo spot at Old Forest School…

In front of the little barn! LOVE

The best part about married life…

Not having planning a wedding consume your thoughts!!! Lol. Seriously, best part is just being able to spend every moment knowing you are both fully in to committing to each other in every single way. Having a partner in crime for all things and every night is a sleepover with your best friend 🙂 

Vendor shout out…

Bethany Howarth Photography & Samantha Donaldson Photography 
Voyage Gourmet catering
Flora In the Wild floral – Shirelle is amazing!!

Kate & Ryan

We’re Kate and Ryan and we were lucky enough to get married at Old Forest School on January 16th 2021. We’ve been together for 15 years this August (we’re getting to the stage we’ve been together for longer than we’ve been apart!), and we met in high school when we were playing on the same sports team together. We’re based in Auckland- Ryan’s a teacher and I write the bits of the radio that people skip- and we consider the weekly grocery shop one of our top regular date night haha!

How we discovered Old Forest School…

It’s actually a little weird, so bear with us here; we discovered Old Forest School entirely by accident before we were engaged. We were looking for walks we could do around Auckland as all our favourite trails were under rāhui to protect the trees, and Old Forest School popped up as a location on Google. We had a look, thought it was absolutely stunning, but was most definitely wasn’t a walking trail in Auckland! When we got engaged two years later we remembered it, and quickly got in touch.

Old Forest School was the first and only venue we visited… and we had a great feeling about it as soon as we arrived! Su-an met us at the gates and we had a wonderful tour- I was immediately taken by William and Wallace! 

We knew definitively by the time we got to the donkeys. Ryan’s Gran had passed away earlier that year and donkeys were her favourite animal- she collected figurines of them and each of her grandkids received one to remember her by. When we reached the paddock one of them started braying and Ryan turned to me and said, “Gran approves”.

If you can, book in to stay at Pukehina! I was convinced that on my wedding day I’d be a little bundle of excited nerves… but I wasn’t. There’s something so soothing and special about getting ready for your wedding day whilst listening to the ocean crash away in the background.

We had just over a year and a half between booking and getting married. The great thing about securing our venue meant that we were able to pick a date we liked and the process didn’t feel rushed!

We got married in January; we picked it for a few reasons… firstly because we got engaged in January 2019 and we liked the symmetry there (we had 2 years and one week between our engagement and our wedding days), and secondly because we both have extended family we wanted to come over for the wedding and the Christmas/January break seemed the most friendly for everyone’s schedules. Of course between booking and our wedding day COVID-19 became a thing so the boarders were actually closed for our wedding, but we still adored the beautiful summer day we had!

We had a very gentle vision of how we wanted our day to look- all we wanted was to be surrounded by the people we love, and be married by the end of it! That made booking vendors and things much easier during the planning stage. 

We had the normal ups and downs of wedding planning; a couple of vendors fall through before our wedding day because of COVID and things- and we were able to laugh it off and say, “well we have our venue and we have a celebrant- we’re getting married either way! Oh we have a photographer now too, great, we’ll have photos. Oh yay! The food trucks replied- everyone’s going to be fed!”

I think knowing that the only people at our wedding were people we knew and loved really took the pressure off and allowed us to just create a day where we could share and celebrate.

I asked Flynny, a colleague, to be our celebrant. We had worked together for years, and I had seen him be a DJ/MC/Celebrant at my friends’ wedding a few months prior and I thought he did a great job! When I was wedding planning I was really aware that I didn’t want to feel awkward or like I was on the spot- I wanted my vows to be for Ryan first and foremost. A lot of celebrants were offering things like microphones etc for the service and that just so wasn’t what we wanted for the day, and I felt Flynny really understood that.

If we were definite about Old Forest School, we were just as definite about Rambo! Those two things were our must-haves. The photos that made us fall in love with Old Forest School were taken by him, and he has a wonderful way of capturing the love between the couples he photographed without it feeling staged which I loved. 

We had a zoom call with him before we confirmed our booking, just to make sure all three of us were on the same page, and he zoomed us from a caravan as he was touring the South Island. Ryan and I were planning to do the exact same thing for our honeymoon so it felt like a good sign we had found someone great to share in our day!

I’m so so glad we spent money on our photographer. We love the photos and they really do prompt memories when you flick through them!

We had our wedding outside under the gorgeous sycamore tree. We loved it. The gorgeous blooms in the areas you walk through worked as nature’s decoration, and the archway was so beautiful we felt it needed very little additional dressing. We hung a macrame hanging behind it and flanked either side with toi toi… and that was that! How many other venues are so gorgeous you can do so little to them?!

We DIY-ed our wedding invitations, which was fun but definitely took a lot longer than we had perhaps anticipated! It is very nice to have a part of the day we can point to and go, “we did that”.

Our aisle song was the Vitamin Quarter version of “Home” by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. We picked it because we love it- it’s a fun, upbeat love song and home is wherever we are together. Finding the instrumental version was a real treat because it made it easier to “wedding up”!

We didn’t actually have a reception entry song- we snuck away for photos after the ceremony and then slipped back without fanfare, and when it was time for meals and speeches we just entered the barn with everyone else- again, we’re very casual!

Our first dance was to an instrumental cover of “Gold” by Koven- I actually recorded myself playing the music before our wedding day. It’s a song I like that always made me think of Ryan- I love to hold him, he’s worth his weight in gold to me, and even when I feel I ask too much, he gives it all to me. When I shared the idea with him he thought it would make a great first dance. We also loved the way lyrically the concept of home tied into our aisle song… though we went instrumental for both so that’s a little treat that only we really knew about!

Did we have a seating plan?… 

Nope! We didn’t have one for the ceremony or the reception. To be honest our wedding was small, we were under 50 people total and it just felt like a little too much planning to me. Everyone managed to find a seat and it seemed to work pretty smoothly… but maybe we were just lucky!

The guest who travelled the furthest to attend our wedding… 

Because of COVID this is a very short answer for us- nearly everyone was from Auckland, but one of Ryan’s cousins was studying in Dunedin so she wins top prize!

We booked a string of batches along Pukehina Parade- an absolute must do if you can!

We love food so it was really important that we had good food at our wedding. Because of COVID-19’s impact before our wedding day a lot of the small local vendors we contacted actually went out of business before our wedding day which was so heartbreaking for them; it also meant our plan for food really did keep changing!

In the end we served a grazing platter for our guests after the ceremony while Ryan myself and our wedding party went for additional photos (and a picnic!). 

For dinner we had a taco truck which was just amazing- the service was really fast and everyone was happy because we had a few options of fillings, and for dessert we served up our wedding cake.

During the reception we had late night nibbles being served from another food truck- think fried chicken and other bite sized bits of goodness!

I really feel having two food trucks on site really helped us on the night; they were both able to tag team the service. For example, truck A took care of the grazing platter and picnic while truck B prepped tacos. Then truck B served the dinner and cut the cake while truck A prepped late night nibbles. I think this kept everything running really smooth!

The wildest guest antic at our wedding was…

Hahaha our sister trying to convince her very new boyfriend that since they were at a beautiful wedding venue with an MC present maybe they should just get married too? For what it’s worth they’re still together- he didn’t go running to the hills- and I reckon there might be some wedding bells on the horizon for them in the near future too.

We had a DJ because Flynny our celebrant was also our DJ and MC. I really wanted a DJ at our wedding- I felt like being able to play tracks people loved and knew would give a better atmosphere than live music would. One of my favourite memories from the night wouldn’t have happened without our DJ being there… and that’s seeing two of Ryan’s uncles absolutely jamming to Darude’s Sandstorm haha!

In a pre-wedding day panic 6 weeks out from our wedding we also hired Blume & Darling to be our wedding coordinators and wow were they magic! We really did leave them no time to help and only had everything half organised yet they swooped in and made sure it all entirely came together, and during the day they were amazing- picking up and delivering our florals to us at Pukehina, helping with safety pins when I broke a strap on my dress (I was a little too competitive during a round of badminton haha!), walking to my mum’s car during the reception to get her a change of shoes because they didn’t want her missing out on anything and so much more. The peace of mind they gave us pre event was more than enough to justify the expense… but then all the additional extra ways they helped and kept things flowing during the day really was just priceless!

We’re gunna be a bit cheeky on best savey item and say party favours- we didn’t have any and no one missed them!

On the morning of our wedding…

Ryan and I stayed together the night before our wedding- we didn’t want to be apart!- so the next morning we had breakfast together and then he went down the road to get ready. We were about 4 doors apart at Pukehina; myself, our mums and my bridesmaids all getting ready together, and Ryan, our dads and his best man all together too. 

We had a photographer at each house with us as we were all getting ready which was really fun- I loved being able to see what the guys had all been up to when we got the photos back! We gave each other a letter and a gift of a scent to wear for the day as well the morning off, and our photographers captured us opening those too.

To be honest based on the photos both sets of the bridal party just got ready, had some laughs and loved the beach!

We got married at 2pm and deciding on that was simple… I messaged Su-an all confused about it and followed her advice haha!

I was SO less nervous than I had anticipated. To this day our wedding day is the calmest day of my life. Waking up and getting ready right by the ocean really set the tone to the day- I really found the sound of the waves really soothing as my hair and makeup was being done- and by the time we got to the ceremony I was just so excited to be married to Ryan! Dad joked I almost had us running down the aisle!

Ryan says he was less nervous too- he really relaxed properly when he arrived at the venue because it looked so beautiful, he knew he was on time and everything was going well, and said Su-an meeting him and saying hello really helped because she was just so happy and calm and made the day feel really real in the best way possible!

Best “on your wedding day tip”…

Kate: try and be as present as possible- it’s a beautiful day you get to experience and when days get tough in the future it’s little moments from now that’ll make you smile and feel all warm inside… so collect them!

Ryan: remember it’s your day so make sure you don’t spend it guessing what others might be thinking- who cares!

We loved the picnic spot with the swing and the donkeys! Some of our favourite photos are in front of that beautiful log wall too.

Our guests are still talking about…

What part of the day are they not?! Honestly, our guests still mention the venue to us- the animals, the atmosphere, the aesthetic- it’s been over two years now, but we will get little stories and memories shared with us quite frequently, it always surprises us!

The best memory from our day…

Kate: I have so many it’s hard to pick! The first one that came to mind when I read the question was from our reception. I walked to the taco truck and loaded up my plate and wandered back to the table. As I was meaning my way there one of the coordinators from B&D sees my plate and goes, “oh good, you grabbed Ryan food too- I’ll let him know to come join you at the table”. Ryan appears two minutes later, sees me and my plate and goes… “that’s just yours isn’t it, I’ll hop in line myself now!” I just loved the way he gets me and he knew that without me saying a word.

Ryan: Seeing Katie walk down the aisle, surrounded by a beautiful landscape with loved ones all around. As soon as the ceremony finished the donkeys brayed which was special as my recently departed gran considered them to be her spirit animal.

The best part about married life…

Kate: A lot of people said to me after the wedding, “it’s just the same though, isn’t it?” and for me it really wasn’t- I loved Ryan before our wedding and I love him now, but it really does feel different now that we’re married- Deeper, constant, more secure. The best part about married life is knowing I’ve got my best friend beside me on the good days and the hard days, the fun days and the boring days, and he makes every single one of them a little more radiant.

Ryan: 2 parts: A) Wearing my wedding ring, having never worn a ring before enjoy it and notice it far more than I had thought. B) Waking up to my best friend knowing that we were committed to staying together for our whole lives.

Vendors

Photographer: Rambo Estrada
Florals: On My Hand
Coordinators: Blume and Darling 
MC/DJ/Celebrant: Flynny – Wedding Celebrant
Caterers: Love Street Food NZ; Aloha Poke, El Cartel, The Caker
Bar Staff:  Beacall Hospitality 
Transport: Go Bus
Macrame: The Macrame Room

Sarah & James

James and I live in Tauranga, New Zealand. COVID19 was a potential roadblock for our wedding in October 2020. In the end we were lucky enough to have a full sized wedding – with our Auckland friends only out of a lockdown one week before (and potential risk of the whole country heading back into lockdown).

James, my husband, had been to Old Forest School once and loved it. I had never been, but could tell from the images online it was the type of place we would both love to get married! I saw the venue in person only one week before the wedding – it was beautiful! Because it was early October we were surrounded by blossoms (to my surprise and love)!

Amongst the lock-downs we managed to catch up with Su-an in Tauranga. As soon as we met her we knew OFS was the place for us and that she would do a great job of making sure everything ran smoothly on the day!

Do it your way. There are so many traditions out there that might not mean anything to you. Think about the things that are significant to you both and make those count – don’t stress about the small stuff!

If you are getting married on the edge of the seasons consider having blankets for your guests or notify them it may get chilly in the evening.

 We booked the venue and were married three months later (a cancellation allowed available space for us). This was a great time frame! It prevented us from getting too caught up in details and helped us make the most of what was available (in all aspects of the wedding planning).

Celebrant…

We asked a friend to marry us who was awesome! So great having someone who knows you – highly recommend it!

Photography… 

Swift and Click were our photographers, we knew them and turns out so did Su-an at OFS. Great to have photographers who know the place / have been there before.

Our ceremony was outside which was amazing! LOVED IT! The perfect day (it was, however, really handy to know if the weather turned there was an indoor space we could use)! 

We wanted the day to feel like a gift / thank-you to our friends for being in our lives, supporting us – I think having it at OFS was the perfect relaxed environment for this.

We were not going to have a seating plan but our celebrant advised us people will feel more comfortable knowing where their seat was at the reception. It’s hard work planning this part, but I tend to agree, if there is one thing I recommend for the reception it’s a seating plan – that way no one feels lost or on their own.

We had a family style meal – great for getting people to interact with each other.

The best person I communicated with was Sita from Beauty Tribe (which was called Sita Engling Hair and Make-Up then). She was really professional and did such a beautiful job. I also highly recommend getting a hair and make-up trial before your day – makes everything easier on the day.

James and I didn’t see each other for two days before the wedding, this subsided some of the nerves, I just wanted to run down the aisle to him instead of thinking about everyone else and nerves. 🙂 We also didn’t have a rehearsal which I loved! It meant we weren’t overly concerned if anything wasn’t quite right on the day.

Best on the day tip…

Relax and enjoy! Soak up what you can!

Best memory from the day…

ALL OF IT!

Best part of married life…

Hanging out with your best friend and riding the highs and lows together! Seriously, marry someone who is kind and will walk with you through all aspects of life – it’s the best!

Natalie & Ian

We were living in Auckland when we discovered Old Forest School via Google! We loved the outdoor space and relaxed vibe.  The rural setting looked peaceful and we love animals so the horses, donkeys, pigs etc enticed us even more. My husband Ian had started a career in teaching, so the setting aligned even more.

Celebrant

We choose Will Johnston, a friend of ours who was just absolutely amazing. And to this day, people still talk about how wonderful and funny he was. Thank you Will!! 

Photographer…

Rose McMahon was the daughter of the owner of Old Forest School and despite her young age at the time, was EXTREMELY talented and natural with the camera! We only wanted her, after looking at the work she had done. Thank you Rose for providing us with memories that will last a lifetime. We will cherish these forever. 

Food…

We wanted people to sit down and eat but something casual and different. We went for Tag Burger, a food truck. And glad we made that choice was! Massive burgers that were delicious! and Mr Whippy was desert, along with wedding cake. Will never regret that decision either. Everyone really enjoyed the relaxed vibe We were going for. And who doesn’t love a Mr Whippy icecream! 

Hiring a bus to take people to and from the venue was a great call. People could relax and drink. If the oldies wanted to head home earlier there was an earlier departure time. But all of our friends said one of their highlights from the day was the bus ride back to Pukehina where everyone sung their lungs out and continued partying all the way to their homes. 

On the morning of our wedding…

Ian went for a swim at Pukehina Beach with his groomsmen. Had beer and whiskey at the beach and bought a Maketu pie from the service station. Natalie had a sleep in, a walk on the beach with my bridal party and French Bulldog and then slowly got ready doing hair and makeup.

Favourite photo spot at Old Forest School…

In the peaceful forest with the roaming horses. They looked magical in the pics and was really neat to see them on our day.  

Our first dance changed from a slow romantic song to Bruno Mars ‘Uptown Funk’ and the whole bridal party joined in and we completed our rehearsed moves. It looks great on our wedding video when looking back. 

A special aspect from our day…

I had my Dad AND Brother walk me down the aisle. We are very close so wanted the two most important men in my life (apart from my husband!) to do the honor of walking me down. It was the best decision. 

The best memory from our day…

Ian: “the ceremony. Seeing you walk down the aisle. That was for us. Everything else was for everyone else”

Natalie: walking down the aisle and saying our vows to one another. AND Having all of our friends and family together in one place. That will never ever happen again

Best part about married life…

Ian: starting a family

Natalie: growing old together. And having our 2 gorgeous kids, who are 2 and 4. 

Lucy & Clint

I’m Lucy Slight and I’m a writer who has worked in fashion and beauty media in New Zealand for the last 15 years. I’m currently the beauty editor at Viva magazine. Clint Roberts, my husband, is a radio announcer on ZM’s Bree and Clint show, which is on every weekday afternoon. We live in Titirangi, Auckland with our two daughters and two cats.

We discovered OFS when scrolling online looking for the perfect venue for our wedding. I came across some photos on a blog, I think, and found the venue from there. Straight away, I knew it was the one, and Clint agreed!

We really wanted a beautiful venue that we could hold both the ceremony and reception at, so our guests didn’t have to move locations. We wanted natural scenery for photos and we were after a venue that provided tables and seating so we had less to arrange in terms of vendors. We loved the whole vibe of OFS – it really was love at first sight. 

Best tip for getting married at Old Forest School…

TRUST SU-AN! Honestly, she has seen it all and organised it all, and she’s one of the best parts of having your wedding at OFS. If you’re nervous about anything or have any concerns, she comes up with solutions quickly and is always there to offer advice. Having someone like that to help you with logistics is invaluable and really put us at ease through the whole planning process.

We had just over a year – maybe a year and three months – from booking to big day, and that was a great amount of time. I think even less would have been fine! Once we booked the venue, we got straight onto locking in all our vendors, and once that was done, it was just a waiting game until the wedding day.

We got married in February 2018, the day before Clint’s birthday! There were only two dates left available at OFS that summer – December and March – and we decided that March was a little easier for people travel-wise, not being as close to Christmas. 

We had our ceremony outside under the big tree, which was absolutely perfect. The day before our wedding it was dark, grey and torrentially raining all day, so we knew that getting married in the school house was likely, but we really had our hearts set on doing it outdoors. Having the back up of the school house was such a relief though! It turned out to be the most beautiful afternoon – super hot and not a cloud in the sky. So hot that the guests went through our beer stocks much faster than we imagined they would!! 

From day one, we just wanted our friends and family to have the best day. We wanted to throw a fun party and for everyone to enjoy themselves in a super casual and easy-going way. Having everything feel really chilled out and informal was key for us, so we loved that we could get the Big Smoke BBQ Truck to do our catering, rather than having formal table service and several courses. People still rave about the food!

Our aisle song was ‘Perfect Day’ by Lou Reed and first dance song was David Bowie’s ‘Ziggy Stardust.’ I had wanted Perfect Day to be my wedding song for years – in fact, I told Clint when he proposed that that was non-negotiable!

 I didn’t want to have a seating plan originally, but our photographer, Amanda Thomas, told me that she’d been to weddings before with no plan and it could get awkward, with people not knowing where to sit and family members ending up near the back etc. So I reluctantly agreed, but actually in the end, I loved creating the seating plan! I drew the table plan on big sheets of paper and wrote everyone’s names on small post-its, moving everyone around until we had it sorted. It was fun! 

Morning of the wedding…

I stayed at the bach with my family in Pukehina and my two bridesmaids came over first thing for hair and makeup. Clint went up the road to his family’s bach with his two groomsmen and they just hung out for the morning before heading to the venue early to get ready and make sure everything was set up properly. 

We suggested everyone stay in Pukehina, so most people got baches on the main road, but people also stayed in The Mount. Our buses picked everyone up from The Mount through to Pukehina, which was amazing. 

We had the ceremony at 3pm (from memory), which gave us plenty of time to take some quick photos and then be able to hang out with our friends and family before dinner. That was perfect timing for us, as we said no more than one hour for photos because we didn’t want to miss any of the action! 

Best ‘on the day’ tip…

Honestly, we both agree that the best thing is to just go with the flow when the day finally rolls around. There are plenty of people around to help you, there are very few things that can happen that are insurmountable, and if you worry too much you won’t have a good time. RELAX. 

We had friends and family come from New York, Singapore, Australia and all around New Zealand, which was so special – especially because we had friends who had never been to that part of the country before. It made it even more of a holiday for them.

One of our friends, somehow, left his shoe on the bus on the way home… The next morning, the bus pulled up to our bach and the bus driver yelled out to us “I think someone left their shoe!” and threw it out the door. That afternoon, the friend in question turned up to our BBQ, still in his suit, with only one shoe on… So good.

Guests are still talking about…

The dancing! Our friend Dean Campbell DJed and his brief was “dirty pop”. It was the most nostalgic playlist full of pop bangers and the dance floor was packed the whole night. Also, the Mr Whippy truck! Instead of cake, we had Mr Whippy turn up after dinner and that was an absolute smash hit. 

The best memory from our day…

Lucy – having all our friends and family together in one place was amazing. The whole day was a magical blur, but I’ll never forget that everyone travelled from out of town, just for us. 

Clint – At the end of an incredible day, dancing outside under the fairy lights after dark with all my best friends and family, ice cream in hand. 

Best part about married life…

Lucy – Everything we’ve done since getting married! Travelling, renovating a house then buying another, and of course, having our two girls – and doing all of it together. 

Clint – Having someone to help with the fitted sheet (and sharing the journey of life with the person I love the most. But mostly the sheet thing). 

Vendors…

Photographer – Amanda Thomas Photography
Flowers – On My Hand
Food – Big Smoke BBQ Truck, Mr Whippy
Hair and makeup – Melle Van Sambeek
Bar staff – The Rusty Hare 

The arrival of three new goosie friends

Getting Old Forest School looking in tip top shape for a new season of events takes a whole team working hard. So to help with some critical lawn maintenance activities we’ve recently recruited the services of three new friends. The three new feathery friends are a very small gaggle of Pilgrim Geese, two ladies, Martha and Gertie, plus one lad, George. They are excellent foragers, grazing and feeding on dandelions and other weeds, as well as on grass. They will naturally keep lawns down and at the same time fertilise the pasture. Pilgrim Geese are known for their friendly and docile temperament, they have a calm and quiet disposition. Furthermore they have curious personalities and a very good sense of their environment due to their strong vision.

Our three geese are now all less than 2 years old, and will be around at Old Forest School for quite some time. Pilgrim geese can live for about 15-20 years!!… so our new friends will be working diligently on lawn maintenance for many, many years to come. The next time you stop by make sure you look out for their friendly faces and charming ‘honk’ as they come over to say hello.

Guest Blog – Kelly Scawin – Floral Designer – Hand-Picked Flower Company

My husband and I were lucky enough to book Old Forest School for our wedding in 2016. It ticked all the boxes for us as we had friends and family coming from all over the world and we really wanted to bring them together in style.

Old Forest School offered us the outdoor setting we had been searching for with the security of the school house in the event of rain. The outdoor games are a great ice-breaker for guests that haven’t met before and just having the freedom to move from one cool spot to another and actually enjoying every conversation and not being interrupted by phones ringing or social media was a big plus for us as we wanted everyone to be in the moment.

Su-an and Alistair were welcoming hosts from the moment we met. They dished out helpful information and guided us on all the things. The most helpful thing was a goodie bag full of vendor contacts. Because as you all know it’s a minefield out there and choosing the right vendors for your day are key to making it a success.

Now days I’m in that goodie bag!!! My wedding day was a massive turning point in my life and soon afterwards I left my career in hospitality management to pursue my love for flowers. After putting in the hard yards learning all I could, I started up my own floral design business. Hand- Picked Flower Company.

I get a real kick out of working with couples who have chosen to get married at OFS. With knowing the venue as intimately as I do, I know they are in safe hands with me. I am so passionate about my couples having the best day and I love to run a little wild with my creations especially for installations on the ladder above the head table and of course the magnificent ceremony archway.

Here’s just a few of my favourite weddings from the 2018/19 season which were at Old Forest School…

 

Supplier Credits:  

Mel & Steve
Photographer:@flurogrey
Dress: @vinkadesign
Hair: @hair_by_yvana
Makeup: @nkdmakeup
Caterer: @herefordkitchen  

Hayley & Cameron
Photographer – bespoketaupo
Dress – Daisy Brides – Katie Yeung
Hair – Hair by Juanita 
Make up – NKD