How to get Married without going into Debt!

Happy 2019 again! I am finally ready to write something more full now that I’ve settled into the New Year.

We got married at the start of the month across two days. One of the key components of all our wedding planning was not to spend the average $25k. Ouch. We bought our home in 2019 and got engaged the day we moved in. We also travelled to Italy which we’d planned for almost a whole year. That was our reverse honeymoon.


Day Two of Our Wedding – 4th January 2019

We’re also thinking about kids a lot now and we’ve been saving of money towards that for when I’m not working in my current job. So our financial resources have had other important purposes in mind and as a older couple (the average age for marriage in New Zealand for both genders is closer to 30 – we’re 35 & 37) we don’t have the time to save money to have children and also splash out on our wedding. We had already put our earlier savings into our house – buying it and improving it.

We went through a few options of how to have a nice wedding without spending a portion of our new important savings. We thought we might just do it at my Husband’s parent’s house but decided that might put too much pressure on people. While we were still thinking about that, we were looking at catering and through that we found the venue that we ended up having our family celebration and ceremony at which was a nature reserve. It has a big lake, a building in case of poor weather and from where to serve food and find shade, and another cottage for my mother and I to use to dress in.


This may not work for everyone but if you can keep your guest list small, you will save a lot of money. For myself it was quite easy to achieve this as my extended families are quite spread out around the country and are therefore not very close. For my Husband, there was some pressure to invite Aunts, Uncles and Cousins. I think we partially soothed this by the fact that we had our legal ceremony in a Registry Office where you can only have a small amount of guests and then we had our own ceremonial day with our immediate families. We may have some miffed family members now but no one has spoken up yet!


  • Even if you had a celebrant or perhaps married in a church, the more people you invite, the more catering you need to supply.
  • Hiring a venue or even a backyard wedding may cost you money in things like tables, chairs, glasses and the more people you have, the more likely you will want to use a catering company because feeding lots of people is hard work that you might want to avoid on your special day.
  • You could even keep costs down further if you are comfortable by only marrying in a Registry setting and not doing anything further. Many people do and have done for a long time. Be aware that a Registry ceremony can feel very much like a formality as it takes about 5-10 minutes depending on whether you exchange rings.


While we are both interested in Religion (this is what I completed my highest studies in!) and churches are some of the most beautiful places made by man, we don’t belong to a church and found that to be an inappropriate option!

We looked for an independent celebrant but because of the close family nature of our ceremonial day, we decided to that no celebrant (stranger) was ever going to feel quite right either.

I work leading the team that issues marriage licences for my country so I am aware of the processes and thought, why don’t we do it at the Registry and still have our own ceremony the next day. It was the right decision for us.


So, how did we manage to run our own ceremony with no help from anyone outside the family?

  • Aside from our wedding cake – which we had at my Husband’s parents house later in the day – we self catered. The food choices were very important, not only because we had dietary requirements to meet but also, we didn’t want to be working hard on the actual day. My Mother and I menu planned and tested recipes for about 3 weeks leading up to the big day. We ditched some things and made sure that we had lots of finger food, platters, and the hot food were all things we could make a couple of days in advance and heat up on the day. We also did a barbeque and catered successfully for 23 people.
  • We did DIY decorations but we kept this subtle because when you are in a beautiful, nature environment, not too much more is needed. img_0208We had daisies, rosemary, lavender, an orchid centrepiece on the food table and we bought in potted plants to create an sacred space for our ceremony.

We had a duck waltz in. Also, these plants and ourselves were to be viewed from the front, which looked much better! I just don’t have a photo but you can get the idea.

We wrote our own ceremony in which we each had bits to say. We included:

  • Thank you’s for coming and to those who travelled
  • Acknowledgement of Ancestry – living and passed.
  • The story of how we met.
  • Stories of what we’ve done together.
  • Time for others to speak.
  • Vows.
  • Exchanging rings.

This felt much more authentic than had we had someone involved. It was perfect.


  • We took a risk and did NOT pay a photographer. All we wanted were a few nice photos on the day and our family members have been talented and kind enough to do that for us. The memories of the day will always last.
  • Wedding attire – Wedding dresses do NOT have to cost thousands. I bought my dress online and accessorised it with a Rosemary and Lavender Flower Crown and some flowers at my wrist. My mother was amazing with helping with making these pieces. My Husband wore nice new but re-useable clothing that he can blend into his work wardrobe – so that was quite practical. My Mother also made him a small floral piece that tied into mine that was pinned to his shirt.
  • Flowers – all our flowers we gathered with the help of my mother (this was her wedding gift to us – lots of plants!) She did an amazing job. I did not want a bouquet type thing to hold as I honestly thought it would drive me nuts!


Our wedding was perfect, for us. We had known shortly after we got together that we’d likely get married. At that stage we had no idea what that would look like. We honestly had a short engagement in part because we wanted to get married when overseas family would already be in the country but equally because we feel like we are catching up on life a lot of the time. Our relationship catalysed a lot of change for both of us that moved us from the messy people we used to be into people more aligned with the spirit of humanity’s time honoured traditions. Our Wedding was an important part of this.

We did additional saving leading in and paid for things across a 6 month period. If you have a longer engagement, this could be even easier! You can have a beautiful wedding without spending too much, it just requires real thought about what you really need and what you can skip. Be very careful about having things because someone else thinks you should. This is your biggest, special day with your spouse and it has to be meaningful to you.

All the best! – J. xx

We got Married!!!

A month has passed since my last entry & this is just a quick one. We’ve been very busy, not only with Christmas time and working a lot through the season but also with the final planning our wedding. I don’t have many photos yet, but here is our cake ❤️

Our wedding days could not have gone much better & we are very happy 😊 I will post a more substantial blog soon but just thought I’d catch you all up!

Ignore things for a little… & they explode!

Two of our 5 tomatoes plants are busy making fruit & flowers despite the wettest November in forever. It’s been getting extremely muggy in the past couple of days so I think they’ll be loving that. Though it is also windy, so I worry.

This blog has really become an accidental gardening diary which was not at all what I intended when I started out. Alas, I will see where this thing goes.


We also now have some Monarch Butterfly caterpillars on the property! December 2018.

We have butterflies on the way, beans zooming up. I planted out the first of our pumpkins and am just waiting a little longer for the celery seedlings to strengthen. Our zucchini’s are taking off, the carrots are up. Lettuces are growing, rescued coriander is trying to bolt, radishes are nearly ready to start being eaten.

Though this all sounds very healthy, I think we have lost some seeds to overheating…. or maybe (but doubtful after all this time) I have sown them too deep! I need to re-sow but one of the biggest hazards in our garden is our dear Cat. He has dug in our onion patch where we’ve lost some plants. Everything is surrounded by rocks to keep him out but with only moderate success…

Here are a few of our garden beds as well as a little progress on the staining of the fence. We need to sort out the bottom grass area, hence not going down to the bottom but I thought I might as well get started on the upper portion. We’ve had storms and rain so the progress is rather slow at this stage. This is just the first coat. Fingers crossed for a fine weekend this week.

And finally on the garden front, here are some radish seedlings and the first staking of a broad bean. So much wind has already broken some leaves off the other plant. 😦


This week also saw a first trial run of our gluten free, vegan wedding cake. The actual cake will not be pink – that’s from the blueberry juice I put in the icing – and some things were learned and I will keep trying. Seems our choice of timing was not good for caterers who do both gluten free and vegan cakes! The one that I eyed up since I first started looking at wedding cakes can be done, just not in the first week of January! Alas, I am enjoying these processes….

I just had a wee look at my post from last week before I round this off, it feels like it’s been much of the same news but with updated pictures! Gloomy weather…

My job is going well and My Love is closer to starting his new role. We managed to make a large dent in our Christmas shopping & we’ve got a few more things sorted for our wedding. It’s hard to believe it’s only a month away. ❤

My car also died on the motorway the other day…. it was kinda harrowing at the time but we got safely out of the way as it was going in small starts… I’ve had money aside for it’s maintenance and repair for a while now, so that’s not really a problem but I probably should have got it fixed sooner by the looks of things. Good thing I have a mechanic or two in the family!!

And life takes over again

Hi! I’ve not written for almost two weeks now & I feel like a lot has been going on!


Broad bean baby in mini greenhouse made from a milk bottle. November 2018

We’ve had a lot of progress in our garden. The above photo feels like old news now. I’ve been working on a very nerdy but useful spread sheet that lists when seeds are sown, germinate and are ready to harvest, among other details, including notes! I love it.

This photo is from about 2 weeks ago now. The broad bean is much larger now and when I looked at it (and its neighbour) I think they are almost ready to be staked. We’ve had such crazy weather with so much rain, gloom clouds and very little sunshine but the garden seems to be coping regardless.

We’ve got 4 active raised garden beds now. 1 has zucchini, one has lettuces, spring onions and onions, one is a 3 sisters planting and the first and final bed has carrots, beetroot, spinach and silverbeet. We’ve had to do a lot to protect our beds from our cat with moderate success…. The plants just need a little longer to really establish. My radish sowing is doing amazingly with expected harvest of round one next week. I have already done a successive sowing too!

The above photos illustrate the kind of weather we’ve had lately. This is CRAZY for November in New Zealand…. you know…. Summer!

I started staining our fence but didn’t get very far before I realised that the weather was far too dodgy and I’d have to call it quits. This is STILL the case. I want to do more after work each day but I can’t until the weather clears. It’s frustrating as the bit I’ve done looks great and I want to do more!!

I’ve had some garden sadness too. It looks like the 3rd broad bean plant rotted and some kind of critter (slug probably) ate one of my radish plants. This is part of being a gardener, you have loss as well as success. I think I might have lost some onions to the cat’s digging too. I’m thinking I might have to strategise better and let seedlings get much larger, growing more from seed, before planting them out. We have celery on the way but they are still very tiny though abundant. I need to look into other cat deterrents too as I’ve had a couple of suggestions to follow up.


Our photogenic digger cat. November 2018

There is a lot more going on – basil seedlings doing well, a butterfly garden planted, swan plants too, much landscaping. I need good weather and I need good pictures!

I love being productive and working in our garden. I go to work wishing I could stay home and work there despite actually enjoying my job a lot. It’s bit of a crazy world. My Love has just secured a new role too which is really great in the scheme of our life together & our planning for our wedding have been part of the reason I’ve not written much lately – as well as nephew’s birthday and wedding dress fittings. ❤

Life feels busy but productive when you put it all together like this. I’m probably not writing coherently at this point but I am enjoying the reflective process.

Goodnight world.

After rain comes action!

So, there was a very soggy, sorry scene at our home on Friday night after a solid lot of rain. We had started lifting pavers to let the raised herb garden drain downhill and this inspired some big changes as well as soaking us right through! We were always going to lift these pavers and use them elsewhere, but our process has been expedited. We will lift all of the pavers but the photo on the right is where we have got to so far. The pavers are heavy but the thing that takes the most work is shovelling out the base course and sand (which we are also reusing to fill in raised beds and dips in our lawn) and laying down the bricks in a fashion that is reasonably even (not perfect! it needs character – you get that with recycled bricks.)

You can kind of see that part of our old concrete path got the smash too which is exciting as we start thinking out how to make our back door space look much better.


New gate! 

My Love and his Father also put this gate together this weekend. Where you can still see a gap will be trellised with a climber growing through it. At least that is the current plan!

Ideas move and change quickly around here. One job we have now committed to is staining the fence. A giant bucket of stain has been acquired in a “Smokey Charcoal” shade. It’s not too dark but should tie in with some of the accents on our house quite nicely indeed. I am actually looking forward to that project a lot as I like painting.


Cat-Proofed Three Sisters Sowing… With an Oak leaf scarecrow.

I finally got to sowing some seeds in our raised beds. Above is the Three Sisters bed, which is kind of 4 Sisters as I have also put a few sunflowers in there. We are trying out some heirloom corn that looks to be yellow, blue and red from the seeds. We will also grow beans and a variety of squash in here too but the corn and sunflowers need to establish first. Hopefully all those sticks and rocks provide enough deterrent to Mr Cat.

The other garden bed has two rows each of carrots and beetroot,  and 1 of silverbeet and spinach. I’ve got a makeshift greenhouse going over that one to protect from The Cat and to keep the seed bed warm. So long as it doesn’t rain like it did last week, I think it will perform well! My love also planted some celery and zucchini in egg cartons and toilet rolls and I planted a new batch of basil for the kitchen windowsill as the current plant has started to flower and looks pretty after serving us very well since we came home from Italy.

I need to remember at the end of these long days to take more pictures I have more to share but I might hold that off until I have the visuals. I also got a seed sprouting kit that I might profile once I’ve had a round of using it. Hope your weekends were as productive and happy as mine. Growing seeds and caring for plants gives you such a good feeling and I am so happy to be back into it, and to be able to teach My Love more about it too.

Unplanned Pond = New Plans!

It’s Friday night and I came home to this rather disturbing scene! My herb garden is completely waterlogged as we’ve had a LOT of rain over the past couple of days. I don’t think this really captures the extent of it but you will see this further down this post.


I was ruminating out loud how to cope with this scenario & My Love suggested we pull up some pavers, which we have in our plans anyway and then to create a channel. He was also making a yummy pasta dinner and we were both just embarking on a glass of wine but we put a halt to that and both got rather soggy in the rain pulling some pavers up. I am so glad that we did because it immediately lessened the problem and just went to show how badly we need to get to work on this part of our section.


So the water drained away from the garden and filled up the space the pavers were in, almost instantly. I was tempted to keep pulling up pavers but was quite soaked by this point (yeah I wasn’t wearing a jacket….) so decided to let nature take its course from here. We’ve have a chat and shared our dismay and have a few ideas to discuss and think about now. I think that the pavers will move to their new home under our new washing line sooner than anticipated. I am very hopeful that our old line will go this weekend after a false start (even though we gave it away for free!).

Tomorrow’s forecast is finer and I cannot wait to get out there and start really figuring out what we are going to do.

In better news, our first vegies started germinating this week! Radishes always sprout fast and give you garden hope and excitement! IMG_4142

A bit of uneven distribution for some reason but we’ll see how this goes. I am one who believes in eating the leaves of radishes, beetroot and the like so looking forward to continued fast growth…. provided nothing drowns!

This photo is from my excitement yesterday but I have checked on these and the little raised bed I made for them has quite literally weathered the weather. I love being a plant mother and coming home and tending to them – seeing their progress. I have really missed this as I’ve not really had a garden on the go for a couple of years whilst I camped  out, saving money to buy this home of ours. I love it so much. An emotional rollercoaster of highs (radish babies) and dips (water, everywhere!). To tomorrow!

A little life catch-up

Hi anybody reading this! 😀

I’ve been wanting to write a little life catch up post which may not benefit anyone but myself! Alas.

Beehive Wellington

On a walk between offices the other day. One of our Parliament Buildings “The Beehive”.

I started a new job 3 weeks ago. I am a Team Leader for about the next 5 months, leading a temporary team of 4 core staff and lots of extras I can draw on if needed. This is my first REAL leadership position, after having done some Acting TL stints before. We kicked off as a proper team on the 1st and the two weeks leading into that were about designing the work, doing the training, implementation stuff, which I think I’ve been able to bring a lot of value to. I am also gaining some good experience that I can likely draw on in the future! It’s kind of funny because the work we do is processing Marriage Licences and smack bang in the middle of my stint in this role, I am getting married! Funny life.

My Love and I have been frantically working on our house a lot and are getting quite obsessed with gardening. We’ve built and filled two raised beds now and I have got some seeds in the ground. I cannot wait for them to sprout. I imagine the radishes will show themselves first.

I’ve also been working on a side project which is a blog/website/facebook/instagram (phew) about Gluten Free options and products available in Wellington NZ. I’m not really sure if this will take off and help people but I do hope I can help at least someone. Before visiting Italy I did a lot of research into eating so I want to help those sort of people, as well as locals with new products etc. The address is if anyone is interested who is reading this.

I’ve really fallen off the wagon with exercising which is annoying since we invested in some equipment but at the same time my job and the garden have both been much more physical lately. I got back on the bike tonight though and it felt good!

Sleeping Cat

In lieu of many relevant photos, here is our adorable Cat, Thor.

Our Wedding planning is also floating around in the background with all of this! We’ve done some invites (a few more to post) & we’ve started getting the catering sorted. We’ve booked both our legal ceremony and family wedding celebration in. We are keeping things very small without sacrificing on creating something memorable, I hope!

So as you can see, there has been a lot going on in our lives, lots of change & it can feel like work, work, work. We’ve managed to let of steam with a glass of wine or 4 now & then though, and I think this is just what life is like when you’re a functioning adult!

Best wishes to all, thank you for reading my self-indulgent, personal record keeping, life overview. Be well.