A Himalyan wedding elopement and incredible journey took our studio owners Neisha and Jamie to Nepal, trekking to Gokyo Ri. At an altitude of 5357m they took incredible pre-wedding photos overlooking the summit of Mt Everest, before finally tying the knot in an intimate ceremony at Annapurna Basecamp. These two crazy people share their story… as they stand on a mountain, declaring to each other a lifetime of love and adventure.
As invitation designers, we give away some of our best design ideas to our clients, so it can be hard coming up with something unique and equally as stunning for yourself when your own big day comes along. Neisha tells us that “it wasn’t as hard when you have the Himalayan mountains to inspire you, but I quickly got caught up in perfecting the scale, shape and tiny detail in the custom illustration of the mountain range and glacial lakes!”. The illustration features the trekking route taken through the Everest Region of Nepal, letterpressed in the subtlest shade of pale grey. Using a split fountain printing process, making sure that the letterpressed gradient over the invitation wording held out enough to show off two shades of blue-grey ink was a much bigger challenge than coming up with this unique, modern typographic design.
When deciding on destination wedding locations, Nepal is not usually the first country that comes to mind. But when we (finally!) decided to get married after 13 years together, Jamie and I wanted to find a way to make our day as intimate and meaningful — to us — as we possibly could. This meant deciding on a wedding location which held a strong significance in our lives and where we could be our true adventurous selves — a location that had left as much of a mark on our hearts, as our relationship with one another — and so Nepal was chosen. Having mountain biked through the Mustang Region in the Eastern ranges of the Himalayas in 2014, we found a deep appreciation for the culture, hospitality and generosity of the Nepalese people. As a couple, we connect with each other over a shared passion to live our most adventurous lives. So without hesitation, our wedding was to be our next great adventure and the mountains of Nepal were to play part in the biggest occasion of our lives together.
Where exactly in Nepal? Well, let’s just say my wedding dress, (or to be more precise, a skirt and top with hiking boots under) is quite possibly the most well travelled wedding attire ever! Carrying our wedding outfits in our backpacks for days, we climbed Gokyi Ri in -10 degrees with a light, rather chilly wind, pulling my skirt over my leggings and hiking boots when we got to the top. Following our actual wedding ceremony at Annapurna Base Camp, we then had wedding photos taken in a few of our favourite spots around Fewa Lake and Shangri La Hotel in Pokhara, before enjoying Pokhara Street Festival and dinner with our Nepali friends. Our final stop was Boudhanath Stupa in Kathmandu, a UNESCO World Heritage listed site, receiving a Tibetan Buddhist blessing at the Monastery. We didn’t get enough time here on our last trip, so we walked around the prayer wheels of the stupa which is quite a beautiful and peaceful experience at dusk, lit by thousands of prayer candles on tables around the Stupa.
On the wedding dress:
Made by Jamie’s Mum, she was pretty patient with me as I kept losing weight during training. This meant many alternations in the lead up to our trek. Plus, I had quite a brief for my wedding dress which didn’t make it easy looking at styles or fabric with my Mum in the dress shops.
Below are just some of the thoughts that crossed my mind as I browsed dresses in stores:
— I prefer to live in jersey fabric
— Must be two pieces so that I can dress myself on the side of a mountain
— Must use zips and be able to get on and off easily!
— Make it of lace that does not look crushed when you roll it out from your backpack!
— How much space would it take up in my pack?
— How much does it weigh? I have to carry this thing on my back for 10 days.
— Must be stretchy for climbing on big rocks or pulling over clothes
— Needs long sleeves… It’s cold and windy… Is there such a thing as windproof wedding dress fabric?
— Make it grey underneath, it will be easier to keep clean!
So with the grey dirt from our adventures embedding itself in the ivory lace, I had washed my skirt three times by hand during our travels, twice sitting on the sunny rooftop of our guest house in Kathmandu to try and get it to dry quicker in their winter weather!
Like most weddings, the video was one of the most important aspects of our day. We couldn’t share our wedding day with our family and friends, so I had commissioned a creative studio called The Montage
in Kathmandu to make our video. We only met them in person the day after we arrived in Nepal. Kuching, Beck and Puwan were amazing. Considering the language barrier they understood exactly what we were looking for and were incredibly accomodating. You wouldn’t believe it… how they managed to get three blokes and numerous cases of photography equipment onto two scooters, riding 8 hours to Pokhara just to shoot our wedding! Words cannot describe the difference between an Australian highway and a Nepal highway. Let me put it this way — Kathmandu to Pokhara is the same distance as Brisbane to Toowoomba, except that it takes 4 times as long to drive 200kms!
Our nature inspired rings:
Even our rings were inspired by nature and the scenery of Nepal. My engagement ring was designed by Jamie with the assistance of Noosa jeweller, Susan Ewington
. After stalking Susan for 12 months on instagram (check our her work here)
I knew her style was perfectly suited to creating a piece that replicated our personalities as a couple… and she did an amazing job! The points in the rings symbolise the mountains and our love of travel, a beautiful black pearl Jamie bought me during a trip in Asia years ago with the intention of making into an engagement ring that reflected our love of being on the water (I was never going to get a big sparkly diamond!), a blue-grey parti sapphire found speccing an old tailings mine in Glenn Innes and a gold dot made from flakes of yellow gold that we found together digging near an old mine site at Warwick which we do for fun on camping tips. Surrounded by smaller Australian diamonds and set in ‘Grey Gold’ it is absolutely perfect and made just for me. Jamie’s ring was made with sustainably sourced deer antler and redwood inlay by Boundless Bands
which I had inscribed with ‘A lifetime of love & adventure.’
Questions we get asked a lot:
Was your wedding legally recognised? It could have been legally recognised in Nepal, however unless we wanted a religious ceremony or were able to be there for longer than 30 days to make the arrangements, it seemed too hard. Apparently we would have to advertise our nuptials in Nepal for 21 days giving people the chance to oppose the union, but who would do that! So we got married anyway and of course we still had to make our union legally recognised in Australia — our Australian ceremony was literally a 2 minute exchange of ‘I Do’s’ to cover the legal requirements following our wedding video. Shortest wedding in the history of my family and everyone was still in tears!
Was it cold? Cold is an understatement! I wore leggings and a thermal shirt under my dress.
Did you wear your hiking boots under your dress? Haha, YES! Boots were our wedding shoes, with the added bonus of keeping our feet warm!
What did you eat? Momo’s (dumplings) were our wedding dinner and our hotel surprised us with a gorgeous little black forest wedding cake left in our hotel room.
Did you have a party when you got home? Of course! We celebrated with a gorgeous garden cocktail party with 100 of our nearest and dearest, at Jamie’s family property in Noosa.
NEISHA’S DRESS – Handmade by Jamie’s Mum, Sandy