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Esther and Vincent

15 February 2022
queenstown elopement esther and vincent. Pictured embracing by the lake.

Words: Esther Leong Photo: Luisa Apanui Photography

Vincent and I met back in 2016 over a good bowl of pho! I had just recently moved to New Zealand and didn’t know many people, so our mutual friend brought me along to dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant one evening and introduced me to a few of her friends, including Vince. It was love at first sight for Vince and he got in touch very soon after we met. We got along really well and got together eight months later.

He proposed in July 2019. I was all dressed up that evening, expecting to attend our close friend’s engagement party – which turned out to be mine! Vince was away all that day as he said he was helping out a friend, so I got a ride with my friends. Once I got into the car, our friend (who was driving) said that there was going to be a surprise, but we all had to be blindfolded. The blindfold was only taken off me when we were walking into the venue and I was surprised by a path lit with candles leading to Vince, who was standing in the middle, with fairy lights everywhere, a friend singing to Lukas Graham’s ‘Love Someone’ on the stage, a slideshow of all our memories together and our closest friends standing at the side – and the rest was history. It was truly a night that we’ll never forget.

Our initial plan was to celebrate our wedding day with family and friends in Queenstown during the autumn of 2020. Our family and friends from Malaysia and Indonesia had all booked their flights, so we were quite disappointed that it couldn’t happen because we were in the middle of the Covid-19 lockdown. We had to plan the wedding all over again, but we weren’t sure how long we had to wait for the pandemic to be over.

We finally decided to elope in June 2020. It was our first time in Queenstown during winter (we live in Christchurch) and it was truly magical. Our wedding ceremony was intimate, with only six of us – including our celebrant and two close friends as our witnesses. Our wedding day was beautiful, and we were blessed with the best weather, venue (Jacks Retreat), friends, vendors and the best photographer. We had Zoom on so our family and friends could join us – we had about 100 people watching that way!

Right after the wedding ceremony, I requested for a Boomerang video to be taken to remember that special moment. We weren’t 100 per cent sure how to pose for it and we ended up falling on each other on the ground, almost instantly after I said, “Don’t drop me!” Everyone (including us) laughed really hard about it and it was definitely something that we will always remember.

The whole experience was completed with the most breathtaking sunset on Cecil Peak, where we took our wedding photos. I’d had high heels custom-made for the wedding initially planned for April, but they also didn’t make it to New Zealand due to the pandemic. After the change in wedding plans, I decided to just go with a pair of white and silver sneakers. It was a good call because it was freezing cold up there!

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