Shannon’s aunt and Richard’s sister were very close friends and the two came up with a master plan to set Shannon and Richard up without them ever knowing. “I was just about to move to Melbourne, Australia for what I thought would be one amazing year of fun and adventure,” says Shannon. “I never imagined that I’d meet the love of my life and one year would turn into so much more. So, just before I arrived, my Aunt said that she was friends with this guy who had moved to Australia from New Zealand the year prior and that he would be the perfect person to show me around the city. A week after I arrived, we met for coffee at the park and the rest is history.”
At first considering putting the wedding off for a couple of years as the couple embarked on a move to Peru, the couple changed their plans when Richard’s mom let them know that she was planning a trip to the States in August, 2017. “We knew we had to jump on the opportunity to have so many family members in the same country (which rarely happens as Richard is from New Zealand and I am American and we both have family and friends in Australia).”
For this adventure-loving couple, a travel-themed wedding was certainly ideal. But how does a bride properly plan when she is living in Australia and then Peru for all of the wedding planning process? Shannon says, “Having a shared Pinterest account where I could show my mom my ideas while living on the opposite side of the world was crucial.”
When it came to the finding the perfect venue, Richard and Shannon’s love of food trucks led the way. Shannon says, “I fell in love with food trucks while living in Melbourne. We would go to food truck festivals all the time and thought that would be an amazing and unique thing to incorporate into our wedding. So, once we had that idea, we needed a space that would be suitable. I went to high school with a girl who owned a wedding venue called the Ivy Barn in Marshall, MI where I grew up. I had never been, but heard great things about the space. I told my mom about it and after she visited she was so excited. I was living abroad so I said, ‘If you’re happy, I’m happy…let’s book it!’”
Shannon fell in love with her Cassia gown from BHLDN. “I knew I wanted an empire waist, but having never tried on wedding dresses before, I didn’t really know anything else,” explains Shannon. “The first dress shop I went to didn’t have any empire waist gowns and I started to worry that the dress I had in my head might not exist. Those feelings were put at ease when I walked into BHLDN and fell in love with every single dress in the shop.”
Shannon says, “I loved all of our personal touches! Our entire wedding just screamed us! From the tables being named after cities that we have been to together with pictures of us in those cities, to the photo pallet that we had with old pictures of Richard and I from when we were little. One of the most meaningful touches for us was having Richard’s friends and family bring some cultural elements to the wedding from New Zealand like singing the Waiata. Family is so important to us, and because we move all over the world, we often have to go long lengths of time without seeing family, so it was very important to us to make the wedding very family-focused. My uncle married us and my sister played guitar and sang the processional song at the ceremony. We had family and friends come from all over the world, which meant so much to us. I had an old handkerchief that belonged to my late grandmother in my bouquet, which also meant a lot to me.”
Shannon emphasizes that her wedding really was a team effort. Not only did her mom design the “boarding pass” invitations herself, it was a whole family effort to put them together and get them mailed out. “Richard made the cornhole boards himself, with help from my step-sister on designing a decal with our initials to put on them, and my step-mom made the bean bags,” Shannon says. “My grandmother covered books in blush, white and navy paper for the centerpieces, and I designed all the signage and put together a map seating chart.”
Shannon says, “I hope that they will remember how happy we all were and all of the love that was in the room. Guests mentioned to me that they loved playing lawn games and eating from the food trucks! Another unique part of our wedding day that guests will certainly remember was our vintage hot air balloon basket that served as our photo booth.”
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