Real Weddings: Brendon and Eve’s laid back, butterfly garden party wedding

Here’s the next instalment in my “Real Weddings” series, where I profile both real weddings that I’ve officiated, as well as other alternative readings submitted by readers. I’m slightly behind (just slightly) as I actually performed this ceremony over a year ago.

I went to school with the bride, Eve. She was a bubbly, vivacious girl who was extremely active in our local youth group and other activities. My younger sister married Eve’s brother, so technically we’re family, which is awesome. I hadn’t heard from her for a number of years, but one day she contacted me on Facebook and asked if I could come down to Te Awamutu to perform their wedding ceremony.

Of course I could!


For their venue, Eve and her husband Brendon chose Rosenvale in Te Awamutu, a stunning purpose-built function venue surrounded by lush, fairytale gardens. This place is seriously magical, with a little fairy bridge over a pond, garden artwork and little meandering paths everywhere. The sun was shining, it was a beautiful summers’ day – the perfect day for a wedding.


After spending the morning with the bridal party at the salon, I arrived an hour or so before the ceremony began, shook hands with the groom, Brendan, and got my notebook, ceremony papers and documents in order. Well, I tried to get everything in order. It turns out, someone had left the marriage license with the bridal party. Not to worry, one of the grooms dashed off and retrieved it, and, after a 30 minute delay, the ceremony got underway.

Eve looked absolutely stunning in her white beaded wedding gown. Both her and Brendan looked exceptionally happy together standing at the altar. It’s always a joy to be present at such a beautiful moment in a couple’s life. I must confess my eyes watered a bit as they exchanged their personal and very humorous vows! (Don’t tell anyone, or they’ll revoke my License to Marry!)


Brendan and Eve incorporated a candle ceremony into their wedding, where their mothers came up to light two separate pillar candles, which the bride and groom then used to light one central candle. Candle ceremonies are extremely popular as they’re simple, meaningful and easy to customize.

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I spoke about love:

“As those of us who’ve been married for a few years know, love is not something that is turned on and off like a tap or a playstation game. It grows as the relationship grows, like the delicate tendrils of a plant, reaching out in search for ever more fertile ground. Falling in love is like being the first to discover the most beautiful thing in the world, to find something so lovely no one else even noticed. Love often begins in little ways … a smile, a glance, or a touch, but it blossoms and grows until it is like a great tree, sheltering you as you live and grow and learn. As Brendan and Eve grow in their relationship, as their friendship blossoms and deepens, so the love between them grows, and spreads outward, becoming part of all of us.

The beautiful thing about love is that it’s an experience we share with all people throughout the world. And yet, to everyone who falls in love, it is the most unique and precious thing in the world.”

My nephew Sean, and his friend Ozzy carried boxes of monarch butterflies up the aisle and, after the ceremony was finished, Brendan and Eve released them into the air. The butterflies are frozen earlier in the day (apparently this doesn’t hurt them) and, as they are warmed by the heat of your hand, they fly away. The butterflies were pretty sleepy, though, because they didn’t seem to want to fly away, even after much coaxing. One sat on my finger for the next half hour!

After heartfelt speeches from family and friends, we all sat down for a delicious meal, but not before the bride and groom cut into their amazing butterfly cake!

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It was a beautiful wedding for a lovely, down-to-earth couple. Thanks Eve and Brendan – it was an honour to perform your ceremony!

I am a registered NZ Wedding Celebrant and am available to perform alternative, secular and traditional wedding ceremonies throughout New Zealand. If you want a wedding ceremony that’s a little different, a little offbeat, contact me and I’ll help you create a ceremony that truly reflects your beliefs and personalities.

All photographs are by Brendan Eagle.