When mutual friends introduced New Zealand locals Monique Dinsdale and Carlos Twichel in October of 2010, the pair hit it off immediately. “We became fast friends,” Monique says. Their friendship turned into love, and a few years later, during a trip to Queenstown, Carlos surprised her with a proposal. “We were watching the sunset from the most beautiful luxury wooden baths overlooking mountains and a rushing river,” the bride remembers.
The pair wanted to make the most of the spectacular country they call home, so they asked a friend for access to a remote private beach on Rockells Bay. “It is truly a piece of paradise, and it’s hard not to fall in love with the spot as soon as you come down the hill,” Monique says. “We wanted our loved ones to experience that wonder—the view, the stillness, and the instant peacefulness you feel when you arrive.” So that's what they did on November 12, 2016, when they invited 106 people to witness their completely DIY beach wedding, which was a labor of love by the bride, who happens to be a wedding photographer herself.
Monique’s bridal ensemble was completely custom. “I designed the dress with designer Sarah Vincent, with layers of fine silk and delicate straps,” says Monique. She paired the custom gown with a moody bouquet of peonies, roses, ranunculi, and eucalyptus, tied together with flowing ribbons.
Monique's bridesmaids also wore dresses by Sarah Vincent, but theirs were a soft pewter silk. Each carried a bouquet that matched the bride’s and wore twisted updos.
The ceremony took place overlooking the water, with a driftwood altar draped in manuka greenery, which is native to New Zealand. "Everything was handmade—from the table runners, to the wedding arch, to all the signage and flower arrangements," Monique says. "This was a true DIY, made-with-love wedding."
During the ceremony, the couple's goddaughter, Manaia, acted as their flower girl and walked hand-in-hand with her mother. She even had the very important responsibility of carrying the rings, which were attached to an embroidery hoop.
The bride made her way down the grassy aisle on the arm of her father to meet her groom at the altar. There, she and Carlos exchanged vows they'd written together, making the same promises to one another with the ocean in the background. “We have them framed in our bedroom—they’re so precious to us,” Monique says.
After the ceremony, the couple headed down to the beach with their wedding party for a champagne toast and photos in the sand. “We packed a picnic and headed toward the water for some time together,” says the bride. “My dad had mentioned that he saw some whales out in the distance, and Carlos’s best man spotted a pod of orca whales. They swam along the shore and ended up right in front of us!”
Since she's a wedding photographer by trade, Monique's top priority was choosing the right person to capture her wedding (therefore, it was the first task she accomplished!). “We are incredibly grateful that Jordan was not only available, but was keen to fly halfway around the world to be in our little neck of the woods,” she says.
The bride and groom worked with a local caterer to create a truly specialized menu, starting with a grazing table full of Israeli and Kiwi dishes, sandwiches, and sweets. Dinner tables were set with charcuterie boards full of olives, breads, spreads, and cured meats. “We served smoked rainbow trout that was caught and prepared by Carlos’s family,” Monique describes. “The food was sensational!”
The couple’s wedding cake was a stroke of luck. “I had an image in mind, and then we met a sweet and talented woman at the market who just happened to be a cake maker,” Monique remembers. The semi-naked design featured layers of cake and frosting and was topped with fresh fruit and flowers.
“Give yourself plenty of time to plan, especially if you are doing most of it yourself,” Monique says. “We had 10 months, and that was really great. It’s also important to get as much help as you can! There are plenty of people who love you and love weddings who will be happy to help, so delegate to people you know you can trust!”
Bride's Dress & Veil: Sarah Vincent || Bridesmaids' Dresses: Sarah Vincent || Groom's Attire: Barkers || Flower Girl's Attire: Pumpkin Patch New Zealand || Wedding Bands: Fishers On Cameron || Hair: Jayne Golightly || Makeup: Dixie Smit || Floral Design: Jasmine Fuller of Mint Floral| || Catering: Absolute Caterers || Cake: Kim Donker || Photography: Jordan Voth