WORDS Kim Newth PHOTOS Supplied

Romantic souls may look to Paris as the city of love but wedding events entrepreneur Samantha Gerard believes New Zealand ranks with the best in the world when it comes to out of the box, intimacy-inspiring locations and venues.

A stylist by trade, Samantha’s innovative business Wild Hearts Wedding Fairs NZ was founded on her vision of wanting to showcase New Zealand as an innovative, world-class wedding destination. Since launching in Nelson in 2015, the brand has grown into a nation spanning platform for brides-to-be, fashion lovers, industry leaders, and influencers.

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“I have a background in fashion design and event planning,” Samantha says. “[But] when my now-husband and I got engaged and moved back to New Zealand, after living in Melbourne, we found it very hard
to plan our wedding. Everything here was stock standard and we struggled to find the interesting, creative, styled vendors. I ended up starting my own styling business and forming connections with the most amazing people in the industry.”

Within a few years, Samantha’s work was featured in international wedding and lifestyle publications such as Together Journal, Hello May, and Magnolia Rouge and this, in turn, provided an ideal platform for the launch of Wild Hearts.

“I had always seen a gap for something more exciting in wedding events here, so together with a group of industry pals, we had an idea to shake things up and created a little wedding fair in Nelson in 2015, which went amazingly well. Shortly after, we officially became Wild Hearts and then, in 2017, we took the fairs nationwide! Today, we have vendors and designers travelling from all over New Zealand and Australia to be at our destination wedding fair and runway shows.”

Wild Hearts has rapidly established a receptive market among people looking for innovative and creative options when planning their wedding. Samantha’s focus is on giving them an authentic, uplifting experience that’s a world away from a typical wedding show.

“The response has been amazing ... Couples are getting creative and choosing vendors who are exciting, unique and able to celebrate their relationship in a personalised way.

We love the growing trend for destination elopements and more intimate weddings. New Zealand has so many incredible destinations for couples looking for that special place to get married.”

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ilex at the Botanic Gardens is the venue for this month’s Wild Hearts Christchurch Wedding Fair, (Saturday, 7 September, from 4.30pm). Those attending can look forward to an evening of fashion, beauty, styling, entertainment, and inspiration.

“Our level of vendors is beautifully to a high level – we bring together the best of the best. We are seeing a big rise in new vendors in Christchurch, adding some excitement and style into what was a very traditional industry. The highly anticipated runway show will feature an exciting range of stylish bridal wear and fashion for women and men from top designers.”

Local food and beverages will be available on the night, with the event line-up also featuring a panel discussion of industry experts. (A hosted VIP package includes wine, canapés, generous goodie bags, and Bobbi Brown pamper stations, all inside the Truly Yours marquee).

As well as wedding fairs, Wild Hearts offers inspiration via a blog, an annual magazine and an online directory of vendors.


FeaturesJoshua Brosnahan