How to find authentic wedding style

Authenticity is a popular subject when it comes to weddings. You already know you don’t have to look far before you someone gives you the advice to have the wedding be a true reflection of your personal tastes, and to make sure it is emotionally genuine. I have also talked about finding financial authenticity, and cultural authenticity in a wedding.

What I haven’t spoken about is the part that makes a lot of us fall in love with the romance of a wedding in the first place – the aesthetic touches. It’s true some of us don’t give a shit about this, but on the other hand, some of us have been looking at wedding magazines as a source of visual delight since forever, and reading wedding blogs for…years…without actually being engaged…(cough cough…So?).

The inspiration blogs often give a destination as an aesthetic theme for a wedding.  It often seems like the purpose of emulating these styles is to pretend for a while that that’s where you really live, and that’s what your life is really like. At the same time, it’s a rejection of how things actually are, which I think is why we are wont to use them as fantasy escapes.

The same thing can be found all the time in things like architecture, interior design, and garden styles. Elliot Stables in Auckland is awesome because of the “European-style” cobblestones, and places in Northland are always in a rush to call their gardens tropical.  Take it from someone living in Singapore: there is nothing tropical about anything in New Zealand.  Meanwhile French farmhouse style kitchens have been all the rage, everywhere.

So what would a kiwi aesthetic look like? When people on other continents are fantasising about New Zealand, what do they see? Maybe the trusty Style Me Pretty can help us out. This wedding took place took place at Mangawhai Heads. Says the bride:

Finding the venue was our first challenge. I had trouble letting go of my dream to get married on a Caribbean beach. But Robin (kudos to him) found the perfect location, which encompasses so many things we love: outdoors, tropical, sea and holiday feel.”

“Being a seaside resort, we really felt transported into a tropical environment and looking at our photos from Branco Prata, we really have the impression to be in the Caribbean or somewhere exotic. So that was it: we found our perfect venue.”

Mangawhai Heads is on the eastern coast of the North Island, north of Auckland. Just a few hours away is the Tutukaka Coast, voted by National Geographic Traveller as the second best coastline in the world (tied with the Pembrokeshire Coast in Wales) So why on earth is it being valued only for its resemblance to a tropical island? It’s better than a tropical island.

All the times and places that form the basis of various aesthetic visions did exist at some point, and they existed because that’s the way life actually was. A French farmhouse back in the day wasn’t trying to style itself “French Farmhouse”, it was simply a house, on a farm, decorated in the way that was available to the owners at the time.

To have a stylistically authentic wedding, it’s not necessary to try to emulate anything else. How about we stop trying to be something we’re not, and instead let others look at what we have going on here, and perhaps let them get a little jealous of the kind of life we live? As far as decoration goes, all you have to do is use the flowers (or rocks, or shells, etc, if that’s more your thing) that can be found in your local area at the time the wedding place. Like the way this kick-ass bride did it. Easy. Let’s take back our weddings!

4 responses to “How to find authentic wedding style

  1. Interesting post. I am still trying to figure out if my wedding was used a good or bad example. Just to clarify nonetheless: our wedding style was truly us. I am from France, lived in French tropical islands most of my life, and when it came to planning my wedding to my Kiwi fiance: both our heritages before we met and what we built since we met was to be included. I have always wanted to get married on a Carribean island (in a tropical setting in other words) but couldn’t really do that in the Caribbean so when I found the perfect New Zealand tropical setting we were done with searching for a venue.
    There was no attempt to emulate or recreate something that New Zealand wasn’t. But it was using what NZ had to offer and put our personal touches to it: things what make us, us: travels, different countries and cultures. And I think we made this wedding a truly international/kiwi event.
    I think that as long as brides and grooms remain true to themselves and who they are, they should in no way limit their imagination and desires to what the land has to offer: they should find what represent them best in their environment and just add their uniqueness to it. If it means: French Farmhouse – so be it :D

  2. Hmmm. The thing about taste in art is it’s individual, and there’s no accounting for it :)

    This blog is largely about authenticity as an artistic principle, and exploring what that means in the context of weddings. Virtually every blog about design showcases or espouses a certain design style, my design style happens to be hung up on this concept of authenticity. So yes, in my book, a French Farmhouse kitchen executed in New Zealand irks me, unless it’s done in a way that truly is applicable to the everyday lifestyles, budgets, and building materials available to kiwis. Why don’t we come up with such a thing as an Early 21st Century New Zealand kitchen instead?

    As for unique touches that are meaningful to you, obviously that’s awesome. I support that. It’s just not what my blog is about. I’m not trying to come up with prescriptions for individuals, I’m trying to define an idea of what a generalised NZ wedding vernacular might look like. I want to see weddings that say, “This is how we rock it kiwi style!!” , and have that style be something that can’t be done any better anywhere else.

  3. Great post! I have actually been planning on writing something similar…I am from the southern US, and my wedding has incorporated numerous “decor” items that are very popular (i.e. blue mason jars) but that I am using out of practicality (i.e. my mom has a farm and has a ton of mason jars that she actually cans with, so they are free). Of course – one thing that was hard for me – is that at times I felt that I couldn’t “afford” things that I felt very authentic about (i.e. locations that had special meaning, but wanted $$$$ to host a wedding). C’est la vie.

    • I know what you mean about the locations. It’s only natural to want to be married in a place that is beautiful and means a lot to you. Religion is no longer part of my life, but one of the things that was good about it was having a lovely community place at your disposal. I wish we had secular versions of churches – places that are available to anyone and that are beautiful. In NZ there are community halls, but they tend to be dreary, uninspiring, utilitarian. And in Auckland at least, people’s back yards are not nearly big enough to have weddings in. I think this is why beach ceremonies are so popular – the beach is where kiwis find transcendence! haha. And they’re one of the only affordable places that also look nice.

      Ultimately, affordability is a major component of being authentic, in my opinion. So if something is out of reach for most people, then it is something that can’t be authentic to that culture. My thinking is that generally, authenticity, as an aesthetic ideal that I have in mind, can usually be found in whatever is the simplist, most practical, easiest solution available to you. This is why I really dig the jar trend, the idea that you need a bunch of vessels to hold flowers, so you use the thing you have on hand that can do that. I think I’m going to use tin cans as vases for wedding: the easily portable, disposable, destination wedding version of jars!

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