Congrats are finally in order for Nicole Warne and Luke Shadbolt! The couple—she's the digital influencer behind Gary Pepper Girl; he's a photographer—have been together for more than a decade and engaged for three. And though they're both natives of Australia's Central Coast, Nicole and Luke didn't meet until they were both invited to a mutual friend's Christmas party in 2007. "It felt odd that we hadn't met each other," says Nicole. "But as soon as we did, there was instant chemistry." And while the couple is now known for their picture-perfect romance (she's a social media star, he's a professional photographer, after all!), their relationship began with (and is rooted in) their shared love of adventure. After that first brief encounter, the two joked about going sky diving on their first date and how great of a story that would be if they got married. "It's actually crazy that we ended up getting married," says Nicole, laughing. "I think it was an early testament to our mutual love of adventure and for how much we trusted each other from the very beginning."
Eleven years later, on March 19, 2018, Nicole and Luke married in a celebration that showcased that initial love of adventure. After much consideration, the couple selected Rippon Hall, a remote yet epically beautifully property in Lake Wanaka, New Zealand, as their venue. "We wanted a destination close enough for all of our family and friends to easily travel to from Australia," explains the bride. "We also wanted somewhere they could keep exploring and create their own adventure." But first, the couple had an adventure for their 90 guests: A three-day weekend that included an organic wine tasting, a picturesque ceremony on a cliff, a dance party under the stars, and a "recovery brunch" the day after. Not to mention: The fashionista bride had five custom pieces created—by designers such as Valentino and Oscar de la Renta—for the special occasion.
Thankfully, the couple shared their wedding album with Vogue.com, so keep reading to see more photos from Nicole and Luke's scenic celebration on a cliff overlooking Lake Wanaka. Believe us: The weekend-long event (planned by Georgie Duddy of After the Rock with florals by Myra Perez of My Violet and photos by Shane Shepherd) looks like just the beginning of a beyond epic adventure.
Nicole kicked off her weekend's worth of beautiful, all-white bridal looks with a Maticevski pantsuit the night before the wedding.
The bride admits that choosing her wedding dresses was the easiest part of the planning process! "I knew I wanted to wear a mix of international and Australian designers but nothing too bridal," she says. "I ended up with five custom looks for the three-day celebration in Wanaka." On the big day itself, the bride wore three different dresses. First, for the ceremony, she stunned in a custom Valentino Haute Couture dress and veil. The design was inspired by two pieces from the designers' previous collections, which Pierpaolo Piccioli tweaked to make its own. "My main goal was I wanted it to feel modern, so I loved the crop top with long sleeves," she says. Following vows and portraits, the bride slipped into her second look: a custom white velvet gown by Oscar de la Renta. Her final look was a white satin dress by Dion Lee.
Despite an 80 percent chance of rain at ceremony time, the bride insisted that they run with their original plan of an outdoor event featuring views of Lake Wanaka. Adds Nicole, "Those could've been my famous last words but by some miracle, it didn't rain at all and we were welcomed by the most beautiful cloudy and dramatic backdrop." To complement the epic backdrop, the bride worked to create a design that was stunning on its own without taking away from the beauty of the natural setting. Florist Myra Perez of My Violet helped create that vision by styling an abundance of flowers to look as if they were naturally growing from the landscape.
The bride walked down the aisle to "I'm Kissing You" by Des'ree, a song from Baz Luhrman's Romeo and Juliet soundtrack that brought her to tears when she heard it at the Valentino runway show the year prior. During the ceremony, the couple's officiant—Cara Gallagher of Modern Love Ceremonies—read aloud ten things they'd written that they love about each other. And while the rain showers may have stayed away, the ceremony was definitely not dry. "Luke and I spent spent most of the ceremony crying along with most of our guests," says the bride.
Just as their celebrant announced "You may kiss the bride," a gust of wind almost took Nicole's veil out of her hair. But that didn't stop their sweet first kiss and celebratory exit, which was made even more special with a shower of rose petals. In fact, the couple calls their walk down the aisle—to "I Want You Back" by the Jackson 5—their "first song" as they opted to skip the traditional first dance.
In order to capture the most epic portraits, the wedding party took two helicopters over to Roy's Peak, a nearby mountain that's a 5-minute ride from the ceremony site by chopper. But thanks to the stormy weather, everyone had to endure 4-degree weather to get said photos. "At one point we couldn't stop shaking, but everyone was committed to getting the shots and running off adrenaline," says Nicole. (She also thinks everyone they were all in disbelief of the sweeping panoramic view of Lake Wanakea below—and we can understand why!)
The groom selected a custom dark green velvet tuxedo for the occasion. The suit featured black satin lapels and he paired it with black patent shoes, also by Armani. As a finishing touch, the designer surprised Luke by embroidering the label with "Giorgio Armani for Luke Shadbolt." And though Nicole is an international fashion influencer, she notes that her groom did not listen to her advice for their big day. She says, "I couldn't tell him what to wear, I never can, so I shouldn't have been surprised when he came back from his fitting styling and said he went with a velvet suit!"
Nicole's bridesmaids wore custom looks created by Dion Lee. "I didn't want my bridesmaids to match as that felt too traditional for me," she says. "So I referenced my favorite look from Dion's recent collection and asked him to create four different looks with a cohesive theme in a beautiful gold satin." Luke's attendants also wore custom pieces from Giorgio Armani, which were personalized with each of their initials on the shirt sleeves and on the Armani label as well.
Back at Rippon Hall for the reception, Nicole, along with her planner and florist, worked to create several stunning settings—both inside the space and outside it. The planner, Georgie, says the outdoor space had its "own personality" thanks to festoon lights and a custom garden swing made in Wanaka by a local builder. "Every element was so considered and styled in a way that combined well, even though there were a number of looks and feels," she says. "It all came together beautifully and cohesively."
Nicole adds that she wanted each part of the wedding to have its own floral moment—from the ceremony to the reception to the dance hall and courtyard. She says, "They all had different color schemes but needed to feel like they were telling a cohesive story."
Inside the dining room, the ground was covered with green grass to bring the outdoors inside. Fairy lights were also added up above to create the look of a starry sky. As for dinner, the couple wanted everyone to eat and enjoy at their own pace so they created a moving atmosphere with a combination of benches, communal tables, and comfortable lounge areas. "Everyone floated around and each of our different circles got to meet and socialize—it was such an important moment to witness," says Nicole. "At the end of the day, that's what's the most important to us, bringing our loved ones together and creating memories that we'll hold onto forever."
The couple added thoughtful, personalized details throughout the night as well. A few favorites were the handmade Italian crepe flowers, which served as a backdrop to the photo booth, and Japanese fans that were designed by the groom as a nod to the bride's heritage. "We had some fun (and logistical nightmares) with these elements; however, they were certainly worth it and became talking points for the guests," Georgie says.
And while all the florals were stunning, the window installation became the focal point. "It took over 600 white roses, 300 stems of white hydrangea, and hours of work to create," Nicole says.
The bride changed into a statement Oscar de la Renta gown towards the end of the reception. The look was created by designers Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia, who recreated the velvet gown they designed for Brie Larson to wear at the 2017 Academy Awards. But while the statement gown was stunning and looked amazing in photos, the bride admits that she wasn't able to move in it, which is why she changed into her night's final look—a white satin dress by Dion Lee—for dancing. Says the bride, "The only thing we had planned for after the reception was dancing under the stars!"