Janelle Bates and Rhys Hill met eight years ago through a group of friends. They married on Saturday 26th of January 2019 at Horotane Lodge in Christchurch.
We knew we wanted to have a classy yet whimsical garden wedding in summer. My dream was to hold the wedding at a big house with a big garden where everything can take place in one spot and our guests could enjoy the day as much as us, which is exactly what we got and more.
I stayed the night before with my besties, mum and sister and got ready there. Rhys spent the morning at his mum's crib overlooking Christchurch before coming to the venue around midday. Once the wedding started (one o'clock) we spent the whole day there – only leaving to go up the summit road for some evening photos.
We had an intimate ceremony of 75 guests and had cushions and rugs for guests to sit on, laid out in a circular shape. This created a really personal experience for everyone, which meant we could share open-heartedly with our family and friends in a relaxed way.
For the dress, I wanted something elegant, but I also wanted to be able to sit on the ground in it. I found my dress at Brides of Merivale and it is the Della Dress by Wtoo Watters. The dress was originally strapless with a velvet sash for around the middle and lace going straight across the bust, however I added straps and lowered the front to give a more elongated look. I liked the velvet sash when I tried the dress on, but decided not to wear it on the day as I felt it made it feel more boho than I wanted.
Rhys chose his own suit. What he wore was just as much a surprise to me as what my dress was to him. He found his suit the week of the wedding, not out of not being able to find one but because he knew the perfect one would come together – which it did. He also wanted to be comfortable so went with a linen shirt and added a pocket square.
The most memorable moment was hanging out with our nearest and dearest during the speeches and sharing, laughing and crying together. It was also taking time after dinner to drive up to Summit Road to take photos. We practised our first dance up there and were just being us, having banter and heel-clicking while walking down the road.