“If I could use one word to describe my wedding it would be: simple,” says Andrea, who in 2021 married the love of her life in a ceremony that cost them just $100 each.
Andrea (who runs the handbag and accessories brand Luna Bonita), is originally from Guatemala, but met her future husband Vagner, who is from Brazil, in Belgium when they were both studying a Masters Degree in Food technology in 2017.
The classmates remained friends, and coincidentally found themselves in Aotearoa after travelling there separately in 2019. Vagner, who had been in New Zealand for a few months already, played tour guide when Andrea arrived in December. A month later they were dating, and in November 2020, got engaged.
While they hadn’t been dating for long, Andrea knew she’d found ‘the one’ who she could see herself with for the rest of her life – a realisation no doubt fast-tracked by spending lockdown together as a new couple.
The actual proposal still came as a surprise. “He had a special trip planned for my birthday, so I didn't suspect anything. We went to the Bay of Islands and stayed at a lovely hotel called Donkey Bay Inn. We were taking pictures out on the balcony, overlooking the sea and he went down on one knee, took out the ring and popped the question. I was ecstatic and said yes straight away.”
As neither of them had family in New Zealand, deciding where they should get married was hard.
“We thought it was a bit unfair to do it in one of our home countries, as the other’s family would have to travel there, so we thought about having it somewhere in between. Then Covid happened, but we were really keen to get married, so we just thought we’d go ahead with it in Auckland.”
Having family on the other side of the world was one thing, but with the pandemic restrictions limiting gatherings to 10 people, they had to really think about what mattered to them most.
“The more we thought about it we realised it could go ahead with just us, our celebrant and two witnesses,” says Andrea. “I’m glad we didn’t wait until the pandemic was over, it would have been a really long time and probably a very expensive wedding given the cost of international travel after Covid.”
The pair decided to let go of social pressures and expectations on what a wedding ‘should look like’ and do what felt right to them. “A lot of couples get stressed about weddings, and feel the financial pressure to achieve a certain standard which I think is the complete opposite of what this event represents.”
They still wanted the day to be fun and enjoyable, but as long as they had what was needed to marry each other, they were certain it would be.
“We broke down our wedding to the minimum of its components which are two people promising their love, one person who can legally marry them, and two people who can testify to that.”
Similarly, when it came to wedding traditions the couple embraced the very basics, like wearing white to the ceremony.
“My dress was a white, plain short dress that I found online (and on sale!) and I wore some white flat shoes I already owned. My husband wore a white shirt with some shorts – he loves shorts, and asked me if I wouldn’t mind him wearing them. For me it was all about feeling comfortable and being who we are.”
Choosing Parnell Rose Gardens as the wedding venue was another easy decision. “We went there a couple of days before and it felt like a lovely place to get married. There are some arches with flowers around so it almost seemed already ‘decorated’ for a wedding.
“I actually wasn’t going to have a bouquet on the day but after a phone call with my mom before the ceremony, she said, ‘Oh but flowers would look so nice in the pictures’ and I agreed – it is a nice detail to have. So my husband went to the nearest flower shop and got me a bouquet before heading to the Rose Garden.”
Without an elaborate entrance and rows of guests to worry about, the ceremony itself was over quickly, but it left a lasting impression. “My favourite part was when we promised to be together in the good times and bad times and sealed the promise with our first kiss as officially husband and wife.”
After the ceremony, the newlyweds took their guests for lunch at their favourite restaurant, El Humero in Takapuna, and afterwards shared a traditional Latin American tres leches cake, made by a Latina baker (@pepastreats) based in Auckland.
Looking back at the photos their guests captured from the day, the couple are still happy with their pared-back wedding. But was it really possible to do it all under $100? If you include the rings, then no.
“For the rings, we wanted something high quality and long-lasting since we knew we would wear them every day. Both of our rings are made from platinum, and my ring band matched my engagement ring, with little diamonds around.
“For the wedding ceremony itself, we spent around $100 each. If you include the $150 fee for the marriage licence, plus the lunch and cake, it was around $550. I would do it the same way all over again – I think we spent the money on what was necessary and important for us.”