bride |brʌɪd| noun
a woman on her wedding day or just before and after the event.
tribe |trʌɪb| noun
1. a group of persons having a common character, occupation, or interest
2. a community linked by social, economic, religious, or blood ties, with a common culture and dialect, typically having a recognised leader
Bride Tribe: a supportive community of brides, newlyweds and industry experts uniting to encourage, uplift, and share experiences and first-hand advice.
Sunniva, just one look at your wedding photos tells us that you are not someone who follows the herd, or does something just because she’s told it’s a good idea, and that’s just one reason you’re so inspiring. I love your choice of wedding dress, the fact that you had your Brussels Griffon fur-baby Ecko involved (and that she wore a tie). Can you tell me about your wedding day?
It was really important to me that it be what WE wanted, not what anyone expected from us. We invited only the people we really wanted there and kept it as stress free as possible. We had both the ceremony and the after party in St Matthews church – not something they usually allow but we had an in being that Mat’s dad is the Deacon!
It was a night wedding, we did photos in the afternoon then the ceremony started at 8pm. It was quite a party, we didn’t wrap up till some ridiculous hour – I think it was around 5:30am when most people left…
Aside from being totally bad-ass, what made you choose to wear a black wedding dress?
As soon as I saw it I knew it was ‘the One’. I tried on a ton of the traditional white dresses and it wasn’t me, I didn’t feel good in them. I was actually just going to wear a full length black Zambesi dress but then less than 5 weeks before the wedding I found this & fell in love.
What else did you do “differently” or in a way that isn’t the norm?
All my bridesmaids wore black same as me, I just told them to turn up in whatever black dress they wanted to wear. Mat & I read our vows off our iPhones. The song I walked up the isle to was I Follow Rivers by Lykke Li. We didn’t even have wedding rings because we hadn’t got around to buying any so Mats Mum gave us a couple of old ones for the ceremony
We just wanted to celebrate our decision to commit to each other rather than follow tradition that meant nothing to us, so that’s what we did.
Did you enjoy planning your wedding? Did you have much help?
I’m not much of planner but it all worked out! Mat and I are both super chill, not big on organising or stressing
The wedding was a team effort. A friend made the cake, another friend made the platters, a friend DJ’d for us, Mats parents organised the venue & alcohol, my brother made cocktails, a couple of friends organised a photo booth. I kinda just turned up.
You’re incredibly financially savvy, being both a successful business woman and property for investor. So, what did you save on, and how did you splurge?
I knew from the beginning that I didn’t want to spend a lot on the wedding because I am alll about the honeymoon & traveling. The dress, photography & alcohol were the only bigger expenses but even they weren’t much compared to what a lot of people spend. I think the whole thing only cost about 7-8K! I bought orchids from the Grey Lynn shop, we didn’t even do traditional bouquets.
Was there anything you that didn’t standing out to you as being important?
None of it is that important except feeling beautiful & having fun!
Did you feel any expectations or pressures as a bride?
No not really, only because I didn’t allow myself to. I did it my way from the beginning and didn’t buy in to any of how it ‘should be’
What advice would you give to a newly engaged friend, about their wedding?
Do whatever makes you happy. Don’t worry about offending your parents or random relatives, it’s not about them. Enjoy every minute of your wedding day, it goes insanely fast!
Now, onto what’s so much more important, your marriage. As you know, I’ve only been married eighteen months, but I’m already thinking hard about how to ensure we’re in this together for the long haul. How would you describe your relationship with Mat, and what do you think makes your marriage strong?
It’s gotten better and better every year because we are so committed to each other and being in it for the long haul. We keep it FRESH and FUN with a lot of adventures and fun. Most of all though, we’re just so easy going and roll with the punches. Shit doesn’t tend to stress us out easily – and I still laugh at his bad jokes which I’m sure helps!
You’ve spoken before about the importance of mindfulness, mindset and settings intentions for your day to ensure your success. Does mindfulness and mindset relate to your marriage too?
Yes absolutely. I’m always looking for ways to make every area of my life better, including my relationship. If I’m pissed off at Mat I get really present and remember all the things I loved about him when we first got together. Which obviously haven’t changed, it’s just so easy to forget and take our love for granted.
Do you set ‘date nights’ or ensure you have time alone? What do you do to make each other a priority?
Yes every week, although often they’re ‘date days’ so we can go on adventures instead of just out to dinner. We both thrive on getting outdoors & doing things that keep us feeling healthy and vibrant, although wine often follows that!
I’ve read your blog post about gratitude journalling, how does journalling help you?
I do it every day, it’s one of my most powerful tools. It helps me work though things, get clear on the direction I’m heading in, and what I really want out of life.
What about challenges? After 8 years together, and 4 years with your gorgeous daughter Lily, have you found ways to work with each other, rather than against each other, when you disagree?
Oh, I’ve learned a lot! The biggest thing is realising how many unspoken agreements we have and to get them all out in the open. We often have ‘business meetings’ for our marriage, to get clear on what it is we want as individuals then how that works for us both together and where we can compromise.
What has five years of marriage taught you?
If you’re willing to put in the work, it keeps getting better and better. But it does take work.
Don’t get married then think you’re done. You get to choose your partner every single day, so celebrate them often and never stop telling them how wonderful they are!
Thank you so much to the beautiful Mat & Sunniva Holt for letting us share your wedding images and beautiful story!