22 March 2024

Love’s Simple Pleasures

Ngā Mārena. Rural Weddings.

writer: ELISE CACACE
photographer: Esther Kilgour

Myriam Amri and Hanno Snyman’s wedding prioritised what really matters in life – time with friends and family. Framed by the gorgeous peaks and valleys of Te Tarahaka o Kaimatau Arthur’s Pass, it was an intimate ceremony, perfect for the smitten, down-to-earth couple.

MYRIAM AND HANNO-209

Above. “I was single my entire life until I met her,” Hanno says. “For me, to have somebody in my life is to not be alone. I always had a desire to be in a relationship, but I just could never connect with anybody. Now, when I come home, or when she’s with me, it’s amazing that I can just be myself and she accepts me for who I am. I’m not a complete introvert – I’m on the introverted side – but being with her doesn’t drain me at all. I can be with her 24/7, every single day, and I don’t feel like I get emotionally tired. I just enjoy spending time with her, and life is just better with her, without a doubt."

Hidden above the clouds of Te Rua-o-te-moko Fiordland National Park, where only the most experienced of adventurers dare to go, is a place Hanno calls “the best summary of New Zealand.” From Barrier Knob, on top of Gertrude Saddle, you are able to see everything from snow-capped mountains and alpine lakes to fiords, valleys, glaciers and even the ocean. So, when it came to choosing a special setting to get down on one knee and ask the love of his life, Myriam, to marry him, he knew there was no better place.

“We’d been dating for about sixteen months and had started talking about the next step, and so I was basically waiting for the right opportunity to propose,” Hanno says. “We were planning to do a big one-week hike around the backcountry of Queenstown and also around Milford Sound – all I needed was for the right opportunity to arise.”

Yet after a challenging climb up a steep snow ledge, ice axes in hand and crampons strapped to their feet, a romantic marriage proposal was the last thing on Myriam’s mind. “When we got to the top, I was so happy that I’d made it without falling, but was already anticipating the way back down again. So when Hanno got down on one knee, I didn’t quite process it. I thought he was looking for something, so I started looking at the ground too, and then he started to talk, and I had no idea what he was saying. But soon I started thinking, ‘He’s on his knees...maybe he’s proposing!’"

A map in Kidson House. “New Zealand is a trap. It’s a one-way trip because once you come here, you can’t go
back,” Hanno says.
A map in Kidson House. “New Zealand is a trap. It’s a one-way trip because once you come here, you can’t go back,” Hanno says.
Myriam says, “One of my friends brought a really nice henna kit, which was really special for me. The Indians and also the Arabians do it for weddings, so it was a nice tribute to my culture because I’m half French, half Arabian.
Henna was more important than the actual makeup itself, and my Indian friend did it for me because it is a part of her culture as well.”
Myriam says, “One of my friends brought a really nice henna kit, which was really special for me. The Indians and also the Arabians do it for weddings, so it was a nice tribute to my culture because I’m half French, half Arabian. Henna was more important than the actual makeup itself, and my Indian friend did it for me because it is a part of her culture as well.”

As Hanno, 35, and Myriam’s faces light up as they recall their love story, it’s clear they were destined to be together. He grew up in the “barren croplands” of South Africa, while she lived in the bustling seaside city of Marseille in Southern France, but their shared passion for the countryside and outdoor adventures brought them both to New Zealand – or more specifically, a climbing wall in Ōtautahi Christchurch. “I was new to New Zealand and wanted to get into climbing, and one day at the climbing wall I saw her. Myriam’s got a very invitational smile. She makes you feel welcome and is just very friendly and approachable, so we started talking and became best friends. We stayed friends for a long time and really got to know each other before we started dating,” recalls Hanno.

Myriam getting ready. “I had no hair dryer and no electricity and as we were a two hour drive from Christchurch, I couldn’t get to a hairdresser or anything. I don’t like that sort of thing anyway and I don’t like makeup either, so we did it all
ourselves,” she says.
Myriam getting ready. “I had no hair dryer and no electricity and as we were a two hour drive from Christchurch, I couldn’t get to a hairdresser or anything. I don’t like that sort of thing anyway and I don’t like makeup either, so we did it all ourselves,” she says.

Food and drink outside Kidson House. Hanno remembers, “The week leading up to the wedding, she started baking pies, making food and getting everything sorted and buying things second-hand, like decorations and dried flowers that were used for other weddings."

Five months after the proposal, against a backdrop of golden fields, pristine mountains and an archway hand-crafted using wood from a nearby forest, the happy couple stood before ten of their closest friends and family and exchanged vows. It was a minimalist affair – a testament to their way of life – at Kidson House, a private hut they’d managed to borrow for the weekend from Christchurch Boys’ High School.

Myriam, 37, says, “What we wanted to do was reuse as much as we could. We like keeping it simple, and I didn’t want to buy into what I call ‘wedding consuming,’ where you feel the need to have everything flashy and brand new, so we did a lot ourselves. The main objective was to have a beautiful time together. I wanted everyone to have fun and enjoy it.”

Myriam’s two bridesmaids walking
in together. “I’m a minimalistic kind of person
and don’t like a lot of stuff,” Hanno says of
their plan for the day. “I like to keep things
simple and intimate.”
Myriam’s two bridesmaids walking in together. “I’m a minimalistic kind of person and don’t like a lot of stuff,” Hanno says of their plan for the day. “I like to keep things simple and intimate.”

Complementing the remote location, pre-loved wedding dress, simple dried flowers from their neighbours’ gardens and homemade food and drinks, Myriam and Hanno’s wedding included something most celebrations don’t – a treasure hunt!“

We wanted to have some photos taken and we knew it might take some time. We didn’t want our friends to be just sitting around waiting for us, so we asked our friend, Eric, to plan an activity for everyone to do. We didn’t think our guests would be super fussed about it, but they all loved it so much – to the point where they were completely ignoring us!” Myriam laughs.

Hanno adds, “It’s true! We were in the forest having our photoshoot and then, all of a sudden, these four people in running gear came sprinting past us. They didn’t really care about us, they were so focused.” And although their parents and loved ones back home in France and South Africa couldn’t help hunt for treasure, they were still able to witness and celebrate the special occasion through livestream videos the couple had set up around the venue.

“He’s the best man I could have. He’s always caring and always here for me and I feel
really loved and supported. I’m really happy. I’m just so happy I found him,” Myriam says
“He’s the best man I could have. He’s always caring and always here for me and I feel really loved and supported. I’m really happy. I’m just so happy I found him,” Myriam says

Now that the wedding-day jitters have subsided, the photographs have been framed and all the treasure has been found, Myriam and Hanno are relishing their everyday lives together – Hanno as a mechanical engineer and Myriam as a sales representative for European food brand Ghiotti. However, they’ve had one more big, exciting thing to prepare for...

“We’ve had a baby! Elias, a healthy boy, was born in January.”

MYRIAM & HANNO
6 May 2023

Bride Myriam Amri, 37, daughter of Regine Zaouni, Aubagne, France
Groom Hanno Snyman, 35, son of Francesca & Dirk Snyman, Migdol, South Africa
Wedding Location Hawdon Valley, North Canterbury
Ceremony & Reception Kidson House

Celebrant Helen Nugteren
Photographer Esther Kilgour Photography
Bride’s Dress Bought second-hand from the Salvation Army
Bridesmaids’ Dresses RUBY
Jewellery Myriam wore a necklace left from her late dad, Berreka Amri
Hair & Makeup By Myriam's bridesmaids, Catherine Elliot and Camille Rousset
Catering Homemade by Myriam and Hanno
Cake Made by Myriam
Flowers From the garden of the Reverend of the local Methodist Church of Samoa, Catherine and Facebook Marketplace

Honeymoon First to South Africa for Hanno’s family reunion and a safari, then to the south of France for Myriam’s family reunion and twelve days of travel.
Living In Ōtautahi

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