A truly intimate wedding held at quaint, romantic Queenstown–that was how Aaron and Nikka celebrated their special day. Set atop the cliffs, with breathtaking views, and with no guests at all, other than the photographer, his wife, and the couple’s videographer friend, what a beautifully unconventional wedding it all was! Scroll down to see more of the photos captured by Orange Studios, and to read more details about this elopement, shared by the bride!
What made you decide on having an elopement instead of the usual wedding?
When Aaron and I were still dating, we always had a vision of having a very intimate and special ceremony. We are both fond of travel and adventure, and we adore spending time together, just the two of us. (After all, our love story began with a backpacking trip!) For some reason, I also had this long-held daydream of having a secret wedding, which I mentioned to my now-husband and some friends. It was definitely the kind of daydream they never took seriously.
After we got engaged, a traditional family wedding in Davao city seemed like an obvious route. However, since we are based in New Zealand, requesting legal documents and contacting guests and suppliers was a bit of a hassle. Like most engaged couples, we were under so much pressure to put all the tiny details together and make us and everyone else happy, but we both did not want to lose sight of what marriage meant for both of us. At that point, instead of going bridezilla, I started thinking back to my secret daydream.
I read about an elopement mountain wedding and I was utterly blown away with the intimacy of it all. It resonated with our relationship and how we want to spend the rest of our lives together. We then combed the internet for more resources and discovered it was not as expensive as we thought.
So, in October 2018, we got married in Queenstown without family or friends in sight, just the beautiful scenery and the wedding celebrant. Our amazing photographer and his lovely wife were our witnesses and we were also joined by our friend and videographer. It had all the elements of “us”–adventurous, very private, and laid-back. Only a handful of people knew about it that time, so it was definitely a secret, just like my daydream.
Although we ended up having the traditional Christian ceremony in Davao last December 2018, we were armed with a better perspective of focusing on the celebration of love. With the help of our wedding planner, there was no longer that much pressure to do something fancy, as we already had an amazing day we could call our own.
Why New Zealand?
Having lived in New Zealand for three years now, we can say it has so many adventures to offer. We chose Queenstown for its mountain ranges and the quaint, romantic vibe unlike any other.
Do you have any tips you can give to couples who are planning on having an elopement?
- If you don’t want the hassle and stress of big weddings, and if you feel that an elopement is more reflective of your relationship than a traditional ceremony, go for it. Make sure you’re both onboard with the plan.
- Do a lot of research on when, where, and how you want to have it. Whether in a courthouse or on a cliff, go with what feels more like you as a couple. It may sound cliche, but just follow what makes you happy.
- For overseas elopements, work with a local wedding planner to get the legal documents in order. And hire an amazing photographer and videographer!
- Inform your loved ones ahead of time. There may be a bit of a pushback so it helps to have a simple celebration with them after the elopement.
What are the pros and cons of doing an elopement based on your experience?
- Breaking the news to family and friends can be the most intimidating part of the decision. A lot of questions (and eyebrows) will be raised, and some people might feel slighted. This is also why we still pushed through with having a traditional ceremony back home.
- If you love planning parties and being in the spotlight, an elopement might not seem enough.
- It’s a solitary event. In our case, we had to do everything ourselves, from makeup down to cleaning up the Airbnb where we did our preps.
- Expect a slight tinge of guilt. During the ceremony, we somehow wished our loved ones were there to share the moment with us.
- It eliminates much of the traditional wedding planning and costs. The venue, attire, and mini reception were all we had to plan. It was definitely a much shorter to-do list compared to our traditional wedding.
- You have so much privacy. No need to worry about having to invite people you don’t really know, let alone cry in front of them.
- There are lots of destination options with stunning backdrops for the ceremony. Couples can even have the elopement and honeymoon in one place, so that can also cut down on costs.
- Every decision is about what we both wanted. We felt that we were not bound by strict timelines, traditions, or expectations of other people.
- There were no normal wedding day stresses. We were able to eat well before and after the ceremony, we also did not have to worry about the entourage or suppliers.
- Elopement comes with very few frills, so your focus is shifted back to the essence of getting married, which is the life-long commitment you’re about to make as a couple. The moment we stood right in front of each other during the ceremony, the tears wouldn’t stop falling.
What did you like the most out of your whole experience?
It was truly our day. I did my own hair and makeup and wore the veil and my second-hand dress on my own. While I was getting ready, Aaron got some drinks and picked up a bunch of flowers from a local flower shop on the day of the wedding. We were then whisked away to the mountaintop for the ceremony with a spectacular view. I remember thanking God for the weather and for being truly present with us that day. We cried so much as we exchanged vows.
Our first meal as husband and wife was by the lake. It was nothing fancy; just our usual comfort meal of burgers and drinks taken out from the best burger joint in the city. It was all about us and our commitment of a lifetime.