Sarah and Dylan's love story was spun with adventure, from the moment they first met to the romantic beach proposal. Both wildlife ecologists, they first crossed paths catching parakeets on a deserted island nature reserve in New Zealand.
“It wasn't the most conventional courtship, Dylan wooed me by chasing me with a wood pigeon that had been caught in a net, but it worked,” laughs Sarah. Romance blossomed during a surf trip back on the mainland. “We spent a night cuddled up on the beach under the stars, where we sealed the deal with our first kiss. We had such a strong connection from the start and were brought together by the same big loves; surfing, exploring and nature.”
The proposal was another seaside adventure, with a picnic at their favourite beach in Devon on their fourth anniversary. “We walked across to Torbay Tor, a tidal island where we regularly go for picnics, only this time it was a little different,” explains Sarah. “Each layer of the picnic basket revealed a photograph of us on a trip together and culinary delights we'd enjoyed there, until the last layer, which uncovered a rose with a small box.” Dylan proposed with a diamond ring, set with aquamarines, Sarah's favourite stones – she said 'yes' of course.
Swept away by the moment, they nearly didn't make it back after the tide came in leaving them marooned. “There was nothing for it but to swim, with Dylan carrying the picnic basket, trying not to drown under its weight,” recalls Sarah.
Read on for more of her account of their seaside nuptials...
Although we both live in New Zealand, I'm originally from Hampshire and all of my close friends and family, and many of Dylan's, live in the UK so it was an easy choice to have the wedding here.
I bought my Essense of Australia dress in New Zealand and had it altered from a keyhole to a low-back design. I personalised it with two different sashes, one with a starfish on for the ceremony and a delicate gold metal one set with seashells and tiny gold leaves, for later in the day.
First and foremost, the wedding had to be by the coast, due to our love of the sea, and secondly we wanted to marry outdoors. The Penn ticked all the boxes and it was love at first sight for both of us.
I wore a flower crown in my hair with tiny clusters of dried gypsophila down the length of my fishtail plait.
To complement the coastal theme, I had a loose, unstructured bouquet with sea holly, feather grass and my favourite flower, love-in-amist, which reminds me of the haze you get over the sea on very still mornings.
The aisle was decorated with jars of sweet peas, gypsophila and love-in-amist, hanging from the chairs.
My bridesmaids wore long, strapless dresses in either pastel blue or pale coral with olive leaf crowns in their hair to add a bohemian, hippy feel.
We made a special effort to personalise the ceremony. We wrote our own vows, which were punctuated with comedy and spoke about what we loved and appreciated about each other.
We made strings of seashells collected from local beaches to hang behind the garden pagoda for the ceremony. We also made an arch out of twisted willow branches and flowers to frame the front.
To make the most of the beautiful grounds and amazing weather we set up garden games for during the reception drinks.
One of the groomsmen is a professional saxophonist so Dylan surprised me by getting him to play a set during the reception drinks. It was perfect!
My talented mother made the centrepieces using flowers with a soft, dynamic feel incorporating the pale blue and coral tones of our coastal theme.
“It was particularly special for us to have all of our loved ones together in one place as it so rarely happens when you live on the other side of the world.” – Sarah
Bride and bridesmaids' jewellery
Bride's flower crown
Bride's hair and make-up
Embrace Hair & Beauty
Ceremony and reception music
Best Disco, Dorset
Flowers and catering
Nomad Food, Flowers and Functions
Marks & Spencer
Real ale keg
Oak Leaf Brewery