Frances Lowe, designer and founder of slow fashion label Loclaire has always wanted to get married. “I think it is a beautiful and concrete way to acknowledge your commitment to your relationship,” she says.
"I think the power of memories and creating traditions together is invaluable in relationship-building – celebrating and now looking back on these lovely memories makes our relationship richer and deeper.”
In June 2021, one month before her six-year anniversary with partner Adi Komari, the couple took a trip up to Mangawhai Heads to Frances’ parents' bach.
“It was a freezing but clear winter’s night, so we had takeaways (1 burger, 1 pizza, and a side of fried chicken) and were eating on the couch with the heater on. After dinner Adi went out onto the deck to stargaze (not unusual for him) but he stayed outside for so long I ended up going out to see him,” says Frances.
“The stars are pretty incredible there on a fine night, so we were rambling on about the universe and galaxy as you do, when Adi wondered to me if we closed our eyes for a while then suddenly opened them, whether the stars would appear brighter. We closed our eyes together, and upon opening I was intensely focused on the stars to see if his theory was true.
I heard a little giggle behind me, followed by a soft ‘Fran’ and when I finally cut my attention and turned around, Adi was on one knee holding out a shell ring. He launched into a little speech before asking me to marry him. I was caught so off guard I went into hysterics and started laugh-crying, and of course said yes!
Replaying that night now, all of the signs were there, but you have to know Adi is an extremely curious person who always asks and tries the most random things! So up until he was on one knee it was honestly just another night with him.”
When it came to planning their wedding(s), the designer found the initial process very fun. “We knew we didn’t want a super traditional wedding and found it quite easy to pick and choose what we wanted to keep and which parts weren’t for us.
The couple actually ended up having three wedding events. “Adi’s family are Catholic so we had a small church wedding, dubbed the ‘Indonesian wedding’, where we were legally married at St. Mary’s Chapel with 25 of our closest friends and family, followed by dinner down the road at Bali Nights. For this I wore a champagne silk Chloe dress I had bought years earlier from a vintage store in Japan.
Our second wedding (the ‘Kiwi wedding’) was our main event at Mangawhai Heads, and our third wedding (the ‘Chinese wedding’) was a 110-guest banquet dinner held at Grand Park, to include extended family who weren’t able to be at Mangawhai. For this I had to wear some element of red, which I don’t usually wear! I ended up wearing a blood-red mesh Khaite top, paired with a skirt from my Mum’s wardrobe that I’ve claimed now.”
Although Frances wouldn’t recommend having three weddings to anyone, “I love that both of our cultures and families got their own special moment to celebrate in a way that felt meaningful and respectful.”
Deciding to have their main wedding at Mangawhai Heads was a no-brainer. “The place holds such special memories for us and it felt perfectly fitting to celebrate another milestone there.” 80 guests joined them for a special ceremony on the grass in front of the beach, followed by a reception inside the Surf Club.
“I cry super easily (love the Cancer in me) so I basically planned as much as I could to alleviate some of the emotional intensity of the day. We had our first look and photos done before the ceremony, so we could have quiet time to ourselves before the craziness began and I wouldn’t feel as much pressure walking down the aisle,” says Frances.
After their good friend Amelia (acting celebrant) pronounced them husband and wife, a pod of dolphins swam into the beach. “It was the most surreal moment – everyone was cheering at them! They were impeccably timed as if they had come a few minutes earlier, I don't think anyone would have been watching us get married.”
The little beach town naturally set the aesthetic of the day, “I wanted the vibe to be beach-appropriate-glam, in a cute, Chloe Sevigny, home arts-and-crafts-meets-couture kind of way,” says Frances.
“The surf club is a very humble, old, surf-club-looking building (for want of a better description) with memorabilia and notice boards on the walls, salt-crusted sliding doors and a huge centerpiece table that looks like a surfboard riding a big wave. I knew we couldn’t change this - and I didn’t want to! - so our challenge was to find the balance between making it feel a bit special and us, while keeping its personality.
The reception area had three rows of long wooden tables, flowers arranged ikebana-style, wonky candle holders and soft draping on the walls. The dance floor reminded me of a high school disco in the best way possible – we used the surfboard wave table for the DJ, and had fairy lights draped down the walls. Our friends Biran and Jaishan DJ’d the evening which was really special."
The bride wore a Loclaire dress, of course, for the ceremony and reception and then changed into a Simone Rocha mini cream puff for dancing. She wore Simone Rocha beaded bow earrings in baby pink, and her Grandmother’s gold bracelet. The couple’s rings were made by Good Gold, an ethical jeweller using New Zealand alluvial gold.
“My sparkly heels were from Zara (sorry) that I bought a week before. I was completely surprised by how comfy they were – without breaking them in I lasted the whole day and night in them.”
The bouquet was from Auckland florist Isadia. “My brief was pops of purple sitting on top of a cloud. Our table flowers were a mix of Mum’s homegrown dahlias, cornflowers, and gladioli, with bunches of peonies from the local dairy. We had the magical trio from Poet Pictures capture our day on film, which totally suited everything. Our brief was candid. cute and intimate."
“Adi and I paid for the majority ourselves, and considering we had just bought a house together three months before, we did as much as we could ourselves. If we were the leading actors that night, Mum was the best supporting act. She accepted and took on all of my demanding, crazy requests with no question – from creating our watercolour illustration for our invite and menu, to making our candle holders, baking shitloads for our canapés and desserts, growing our flowers for the tables!”
Frances’ mum and brother helmed the food with DIY canapés and a dessert buffet (“which honestly turned out impeccable”). Auckland restaurant Ima catered the reception dinner with mezze platters, slow cooked meats and lots of salads shared at the table, while Lowe’s friend Juliet made a chocolate and berry cake lathered in lilac icing, and a lemon cake dotted with flowers from her garden.
On reflection, Frances wouldn't change anything about their big day (except maybe wearing more sunscreen), and feels lucky to have had it in such a special venue.
"The surf club actually got damaged from a slip during Cyclone Gabrielle and has been closed ever since," she explains. "They need to demolish and rebuild. It’s so sad and makes us feel incredibly blessed that we were able to get married there."