TRAVEL: NORTH ISLAND NEW ZEALAND

I recently shared about Jared and I's trip to his homeland of Sydney, Australia. If you missed it, click here. After the Land Down Under, we decided to hit the north island of New Zealand in 3.5 days and drink gallons (may be an exaggeration) of their coffee along the way.

We rented a car in Auckland (my favorite of the cities we visited). After a day of shopping on Ponsonby Road, we traveled east to Mt.Maunganui at Bay of Plenty. It was a dream beach. Then we traveled south through Rotorua and Lake Taupo and the beautiful forest parks of the North Island only to land in the wonderful city of Wellington, the capital of New Zealand. 

AUCKLAND

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Ponsonby Aukland New Zealand

DIZENGOFF - FAVORITE BREKKY IN NZ

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Dizengoff_Aukland_New_Zealand
So grateful for this right now
Ponsonby Street Aukland New Zealand

KATE SYLVESTER

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Kate Sylvester was one of my favorite shops to peruse through in Auckland. Kate is a NZ native designer who mixes conceptual designs with modern femininity.

The last collection was inspired by Jane Ayre and Marilyn Monroe. The inspiration she drew from when I was there was from a book called The Luminaries by Elenore Catton (based out of NZ).

Her earrings below are a native flower, the clematis. Everything she created had such thought put into it.

Kate Sylvester Aukland New Zealand
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Kate Sylvester_Aukland_New Zealand

KAREN WALKER'S HOMELAND.

Karen Walker Aukland New Zealand

DANTES PIZZERIA

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The Lane Aukland New Zealand
Dantes Pizza Aukland New Zealand
Dantes Pizza Aukland New Zealand

LONELY

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Lonely_Aukland_New Zealand

WIDDESS

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NEW ZEALAND'S PIT STOPS - NOT TOO SHABBY

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The landscape from Auckland to Wellington was out of this world. One minute we were in a beachy town, then we came upon a Maori town, Rotorua, that smelled like sulfur from miles away. Next, we saw one of the most beautiful lakes with cascading mountains in the background. As we drove around it, we came upon a desert...only to see the snow capped mountains that were once in the background. And Wellington, it's a lovely city with a great artistic vibe. It's one of the few places on the north island that Lord of the Rings taped.

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MOUNT MAUNGANUI

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LOCAL STORES AND CAFES

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Mt.Maunganui_New Zealand

WELLINGTON

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FIDEL'S CAFE - BREKKY SPOT

Fidel's Cafe
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CUSTOMS BREW BAR

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Supreme Coffee

KARAKE CAFE

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Wellington_New Zealand

Thanks for traveling through the north island of New Zealand with me. Til next time. 

 
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TEN TRUTHS ABOUT WEDDING PLANNING

I had a friend that was getting married a few weeks before me say, "Your engagement was magical (this is true....see here), and you look like you're both having so much fun planning the wedding."

OH MY GOSH.

I about fell over because little did she know, in a five month engagement, I had just had three major surgeries including a double knee surgery and two months later, a deviated septum repair (AKA breaking my face so I could breath...leaving me with black eyes for weeks). All three of them left me worse off. I had a follow up septum surgery planned the day after my honeymoon (not convenient) because I only had 50% breathability at the wedding and I had to get three different rounds of painful steroid shots in my knees and then a fourth heavy duty, NFL worthy round, the week of our wedding so that I could walk down the aisle. Did I mention the month long side effects I had to the anesthesia? You don't wanna know. 

Just being real here...

Just being real here...

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All that happened on top of my fiancé touring most of the time, dress complications, signing my life away on our house the week of the wedding and packing/moving literally right before the rehearsal. This was all while meeting my soon to be relatives that flew in from Australia. They probably didn't meet my best side.

So, all that to say...we had a bit of a stressful engagement. I would say we maybe even had an extreme case. Ha.

 

NORMAL BRIDE STRESS.

Besides all that craziness...I still had normal bride stress. The thing is...I didn't have anyone say to me, "You're normal". I thought I was the only bride to feel out of control and stressed at times. So, what happens when that feeling sets in? Shame. What a killer of joy during a once in a lifetime process.

After talking to a few former brides, I realized we ran into similar issues during the engagement and had no warning nor did anyone talk about it afterwards. Shame. I came up with a list of things that we wish we would've been told to avoid the shame or shock that a bride can experience. Not all of them will be true for every bride...but it's here more so for all brides to say "Me too! Thank God!" or for the friends and family of a bride to help them out.

If you have any more things to add to the list...please comment below or email me!

1. I'D RATHER EAT SOAP THAN MAKE ANOTHER INVITE LIST.

Narrowing down the invite list is the worst! There will always be people that you want to invite that you aren't able to invite. Jared and I created a rule of thumb that if they weren't family, they had to know both of us well and be involved in our lives in some shape or form. We set a number of people we could invite according to our budget. I wish I had an endless budget because it would've looked very different, but that just wasn't possible. Set up your own parameters to remain sane.

Our RSVP's.

Our RSVP's.

2. NOT EVERYONE WILL RSVP. NOT EVERYONE WILL SHOW UP THAT RSVP'D "YES". GIVE THEM GRACE.

The sad part about this point is the people that do this don't understand that they took up a spot that could've been someone else's spot. It's easy to translate this action as a form of disrespect, but try not to take it personal. 

The redeeming part is that you will (or should) probably get a "Sorry I couldn't come wedding gift". Or you may receive, like we did, a sweet card or gift from the thoughtful people that you wanted to invite but weren't able to add to the list. I did notice the older generations were extremely thoughtful when it came to rsvp's, presents, making a commitment, etc. Just so you know.

 

 

3. OTHERS WILL WANT TO HELP. LET GO OF YOUR PRIDE AND PERFECTION.

Some brides are shocked by who doesn't offer to help. For me, what I was more shocked by was who offered to help. I had a handful of people that I could not have pulled off the wedding without. I had to constantly let go of my pride and creative perfection and know that I could not do this thing on my own. It takes an army.

Wedding planner. Worth the investment! With all that we had on our plate, we could not have done it without our wedding planner, Leigh. She kept me sane, organized all of our vendors, and was my rock the day of. Skip out on the extras that no one will remember and pay a professional to help you. That way,  you, your family & friends can relax a bit more.

4. ELOPING OR DESTINATION WEDDING WILL CROSS YOUR MIND MANY TIMES.

These wouldn't have been bad choices looking back. We would've saved a lot of money and brain power....yet, we found it really important to not only have the day about us, but to have our loved ones experience what the day represented. You have to decide what's important for you. 

5. YOU WILL HAVE A BREAKDOWN. THERE WILL BE TEARS.

Jared and I are two of the most laid back people on the face of this earth. So, when I heard of brides getting "slightly" stressed, I didn't think twice about it. That wasn't me. It was fine for the majority of the time until the last month...really the last two weeks. Then, it was all over.

What happens is you work like crazy to get everything done on time. When the last two weeks arrive, it's crunch time. It's different for everyone, but here are a few triggers: In laws come to town, final decisions and numbers need to be turned in, weather issues, & all the last minute things to be done are suddenly an emergency. The worst thing is that only you and your fiancé can really do them so you become business partners. Just know, you will get through these two weeks. 

6. YOUR PINTEREST BOARD MAY NOT FULLY COME ALIVE.

So for the most part, I've learned that most brides have encountered major stressors if they have married within the last couple of years versus 7+ years ago. Why? I blame Pinterest, Instagram, and other social media for setting a creative standard that keeps raising. I had to let go of some outrageous ideas that included life size flowers since it was fall (what was I thinking?!), a 6' x 6' watercolor backdrop, a cascading bubble chandelier, whimsical drapery, etc .

Inspiration from Anthropologie.

Inspiration from Anthropologie.

7. YOU WILL RECEIVE A LOT OF ATTENTION AT WEDDING SHOWERS.

I mean, they are all there for you! I thought I would love this part of the engagement since I had waited so long to get married. It was my time to shine. 

Yet, when it came down to it, I was a bit uncomfortable at times. I don't know if it was the repetition of telling people how the wedding planning was going and realizing I had so much more to do or all the eyes on me at one time. Ha! Overall, our showers were out of this world gorgeous and thoughtful. There isn't much personal interaction at the wedding so this was a great time for one on one convos. Just relax and sit back and soak in as much as possible because they are such a good break from the planning!

8. THIS ONE IS FOR GUYS: GIVE ADVICE. 

Depending on their personality, some girls like the idea of planning and others will need help making decisions. One thing I've heard from girls is how they needed help, and the fiancé would answer "Either way is fine. I'll be happy with your decision". NO!!! Wrong answer. While that's lovely and I'm sure it's thoughtful from your perspective, it actually puts one more thing in the bride's court that she has to make a decision on. 

Even if you don't care guys, give your gut answer. It may help her make her decision easier if she agrees, or she may realize she actually likes the other option better once she hears your opinion. Either way, it may help her.

9. THE HONEYMOON MAKES EVERYTHING WORTH IT. 

I felt like once the wedding day actually came, I was absolutely fine. Something could've gone wrong, I wouldn't have cared. Why? Because I was marrying the man of my dreams, throwing a big party with all my loved ones and then heading to St.Lucia with my new hubs. Best feeling ever. All the months of planning are suddenly worth it.

10. THIS DAY REVOLVES AROUND YOU, BUT IT DOESN'T, AT THE SAME TIME.

This time is a transition for everyone. You, your fiancé, the families, etc. I didn't necessarily have this issue, but many of the brides I talked to mentioned the friction with their future in-laws or own family. What helps? Realizing that everyone is letting something go and gaining something else. You both are losing single-hood but also gaining a spouse. A mom is losing the thought of being the only girl in his life, but she gains a daughter-in-law. Be patient and understanding all around.

 

MY BEST ADVICE. TAKE 'EM OR LEAVE 'EM.

- LET LAUGHTER BE YOUR FIRST RESPONSE!

Our premarital counselors said that early on their marriage, they decided laughter would be their go to. We thought, why wait until we're married? So, did things go wrong throughout the planning process? Yes! Did things go wrong during the wedding? Very minor...but yes. Did things go wrong after the wedding? Oh yeah. But, when you decide to not let them get to you and to laugh at life, it makes things seem not quite so bad.

- THOSE LAST TWO WEEKS...TAKE CARE OF YOURSELVES.

Don't overbook yourself outside of the wedding, stay focused on you and your fiancé and even take a night to grab a last "dating" dinner.

- DIY SOME PARTS OF THE WEDDING, BUT DELEGATE AND HIRE FOR THE BIGGIES.

I absolutely knew that I could do the flowers, Yet, when it came down to it, I didn't have one extra second right before the wedding. So, hiring someone may have cost me more money, but it was worth it. I just kept it reasonable by not going overboard and I got a great price because of this.

- I RECOMMEND A SHORTER ENGAGEMENT.

Some people would recommend a longer engagement to stretch out the responsibilities. My advice is the longer the engagement, the more time you have to think, stress, change your mind, and find more to do. Just shove it into a few months and get on with the fun part!

- DON'T HAVE FOUR SURGERIES, BUY A HOUSE, DESIGN YOUR DRESS, GO IN DIY OVERLOAD ALL IN A FIVE MONTH ENGAGEMENT PERIOD WITHOUT EXPECTING SIDE EFFECTS. :)

 
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THE PLANNING OF A WEDDING: IT'S IN THE DETAILS

Thanks for all the great feedback from last week’s post “The Planning of a Wedding: The Gown, Dresses & Suits”. If you missed seeing the pics of the wedding party’s attire and how I decided to design my own two piece wedding gown, then check it out here.

So, now it’s time to show you some of the extras that we spent hours and hours planning. We didn't feel the need for our day to look like anyone else's day or for it to be a perfect Pinterest wedding. So we made it personal by bringing in elements of Jared's Australian roots, his career in music and my love for creative detail. 

THE INVITATIONS.

We wanted everything to be clean, crisp and modern. We decided to go a bit trendier and make our invites a tad mid century modern with the print and icons, but we kept the rest of the wedding as timeless and polished as possible. 

It just so happens that my Uncle David is a graphic designer. He helped us with the layout and the unique packaging of the invites and its tedious details. I had never seen anything like it. His vision was much bigger than mine and I'm so thankful for that.

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The colors: We wanted to create a branding with the colors, icons, and font. I worked with another graphic designer, Brandee, to create the exact look I wanted. 

The ombre of green colors evolved because I wanted something natural, yet unique, to go with the white. We used forrest green, teal, & mint. The outer envelopes were mint and the inner envelopes were a pale sparkly silver, sealed with gold wax. I came up with the idea to use watercolor because it's one of my passions in life and once again...it represented us. 

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THE VENUE.

Oh the venue. This was a huge decision for us.

We aren’t the barn type couple. We aren’t the banquet hall type couple either. We are the beach type people, but if I waited for this long to get married...I was going to have some witnesses there! 

Leigh, our amazing wedding planner, from A Delightful Day, told us about a modern urban place called The Cordelle that had just opened a month prior to our engagement. As soon as we visited, we could picture the whole wedding taking place at this one location.

I would highly recommend renting a place that is naturally beautiful because you will see a lot of it in the background of your pictures. This was a big selling piece to us because the owners of The Cordelle took obvious efforts to make the place look amazing from the gardens to the main hall to the bridal suite. The details were splendid.

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We LOVE Johnny Cash (well, maybe it's more of my thing) so we had to sneak away to get a pic in front of my favorite wall in Nashville. Jared, Jenna, and Johnny forever.

Kneale_Wedding_Johnny_Cash_Wall

THE FLOWERS.

First of all, I’ve never been a flower person. But, after seeing how creative my florist and I could get with the bouquets, I can now say I have a whole new appreciation for them! But, as I described it to her...I like weird, unpredictable flowers.

I met with Mary Love, of Rosemary & Finch, and told her that I wanted something abnormal like a red cabbage. And she did it! I also told her that I needed eucalyptus EVERYWHERE because I have an Aussie fiance. Success. I had pointed out several flowers that screamed to me, not knowing any of the names, and she instantly knew what I was talking about and made everything even better than I had envisioned. 

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We replaced the bouquets at one point to hold the "How I know the bride" signs. Fun little change to the bridal party shots.

THE ALTAR AND DECOR.

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The Altar: Jared actually designed our modern altar. Way to go hubby! His best man, Zac, helped him build it and I was amazed at the majestic outcome, especially under The Cordelle’s stunning tree. 

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You’ll notice the wave of cones hanging from the altar. This was by far the craziest thing I did. With the help of a few friends, I spent weeks making the cones. We cut, wrapped, glued and strung 1500 of them. Yes, 1500!! It turned out to be as whimsical as I envisioned during the lengthy, paper cutting process.

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What would a fall outdoor wedding be without a corn hole game?! Crazy at it was, this was a must for me. Yet not any corn hole game. I dreamt of one board having a USA flag and the other board having the Aussie flag on it...both in our wedding colors. 

Um...that’s a lot of stars in case you didn’t notice. (Thank you to Brandee for your amazing painting skills.)

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THE RECEPTION.

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Growing up, there were only two details about my wedding that I knew I had to have. One, I wanted a fall wedding. Two, I had to have pies. Cake is my least favorite dessert, but pies on the other hand...

There’s a backstory here - my mom was a chef and one of her specialties was pies. We ALWAYS had a pie in the house. So, Jared and I bought a small, inexpensive spice cake to cut at the reception. The true treat was having the special women in my life bake a pie of their choice in honor of my mom. The array of 30+ pies was the one thing that made me feel like a piece of my mom was there. What a special treat!

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The pies included chocolate bourbon pecan, pumpkin, cherry, rhubarb, bourbon pumpkin with sea salt, dark chocolate ginger pie and more!

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To close out the toasts, we did something very Aussie. My (Aussie) bridesmaid, Nikki, sang "Nashville", a song that Jared and I swear was written for us by Kel. I wish I could explain how beautiful it was. What really got us was when our bridal party surprised us by joining in on the meaningful chorus. 

Then, after her song, the caterers passed out tea and Tim Tams as she and her hubby demonstrated how to do a Tim Tam Slam as a true Aussie would do. Then, we all joined in on one...well, those of us that could wait to eat the yummy treat.

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Jared, being a drummer, took care of the reception music and it HAD to be a live band. He invited Nashville's funkiest soul band, The Jason Eskridge Band, to get the party started. At one point, Jared got on the drums. Yeah hubby!

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And the farewell....

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THE PHOTOGRAPHERS.

All of these pictures could not have been captured without the talent of Teale & Justin from Teale Photography. I cannot say enough about these two. We knew that we wanted them from the beginning because we had seen their work and been blown away by it. This is the one area of our wedding that we knew would last a lifetime and we are so thankful to be able to look back at all the details that made our day special.

NEXT TIME...

Ohhh...I can't wait to share the next post! Our wedding video! It will blow you away! Here's a little teaser by Trenton Alan.

 
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