The official blog for Harlow Garland Weddings and Events. To search for posts or view all posts, head over to our library which is searchable and categorised! 

Choosing your Wedding Theme

A wedding theme as we've previously discussed, is not a necessity, the only thing you need to factor in is 'Rhonnie's rule of cohesion' (a rule our director speaks passionately about.) but if you will opt for a theme or you need help working to that rule of cohesion, we have put together a list to make sure you both choose the perfect theme that reflects you both. Right from the start, it is good to have an idea of what your wedding vision is. This can help with planning from the beginning and avoid any finer details issues.

The season

Knowing what season you want to be married in can help with the colour palettes, flowers and venue. If you have always dreamed of being married in the summer where guests can use umbrellas to shade from the sun, or in the winter where a large fire can warm the reception area for guests. Choosing the right season can have an effect on many things such as venue bookings and weather. Just like any part of the wedding, but organised is key.

The couple

Because the wedding is celebrating both the bride and groom, drawing on something that you both share can make your day even more special and individual. This could be anything from something simple like a favourite colour you both share, to your favourite restaurant or a hobby that you both love. Whatever it is, it can be incorporated through the table settings, props for photos, colours and even dresses and outfit.

The wedding venue

Venues can be seen as inspiration for other details of the wedding. Sometimes it is best to have the wedding venue decided before taking the next steps, it is easier to work with it rather than not. Similar to choosing a season, once a venue is chosen, the colours and additional features fall into place so they can compliment the venue.

Personal connection

Having a culture that is close to both your hearts, whether is be a religion, tradition, or even a language, drawing on that can be a powerful addition to the wedding. This can be drawn on anywhere, from the ceremony style and vows, to the type of food or outfits. Culture can be a visual impact such as colours and flowers too.


Once you have chosen, or even just thought of, a theme, research. Making sure you have the right food for the right theme, or the correct phrase from a religious reading can be vital on the day. You don’t want to look foolish for using the wrong details within the theme of your perfect day.

Honeymoon venue: The River House, Sri Lanka


When considering an overseas honeymoon, the venue selection can be rather harrowing with an entire world to consider. In this post, we've profiled a truly amazing location to inspire your wanderlust.

This week’s venue is a boutique hotel, The River House, which is tucked away along the banks of the Madhu Ganga, Sri Lanka. The River House’s magnificent beauty is a place that will make you treasure the scenery and indulge in the seclusion. This honeymoon location lies in between the coastline and the Randombe Lake.

The luxurious suites, each named after surrounding rivers, Menik, Gin, Kirinda, Kala and Walawe, each boast their own unique style offering a sanctuary to yourself. The beauty of this boutique stay is that each element of the accommodation, whether it be the suites, dining or the location in its entirety, nature is heightened.

Imagine having a champagne breakfast laid out by the peaceful river or a romantic dinner for two served underneath a native Kumbak tree. The River House aims to keep your stay in with the culture of Sri Lanka. The menus offer rare native vegetables and fresh seafood from the nearby coast.

An inviting element to the accommodation is its dipping pool, engulfed by cashew nut trees, the pool will whisk you away. A mid-afternoon dip coupled with cocktails can be perfect wind down from a day of adventures, and you may even be treated to the entertainment of purple-faced langur monkeys.

Dubbed one of the most romantic honeymoon locations in Sri Lanka, it’s hard to find a fault at this luxurious accommodation. The complex lies along the Madhu Ganga riverside. Its swift waterways and immaculate forest, recognised by Ramsar - wetlands of International importance, are home to many native species. Guests can take the offer of a morning boat ride to visit the nearby temple, or take the adventurous option and spend the day kayaking.

The River House is only a 15 minute drive to the ‘workaday’ town of Ambalangoda. The town is uniquely known as a place to discover the magical meaning of the ‘devil’ masks, and dances which drive out spirits causing illness. The town is also known for being overshadowed by nearby Hikkaduwa as the tourist destination. It’s the perfect location for a day trip away from the secluded oasis at the River House. Top activities include the the Sri Lanka Camo Tours. Rated the second top activities for honeymoon couples to do, the tours give tourists the inner secrets to finding the best local food, beaches and immerse in the scenery. After the tour, why not stop by the Sea Turtle Hatchery and get up close to baby turtles.

The secluded River House accommodation oozes with elegance and romantic surroundings making it an ideal getaway in a country that boasts beautiful scenery. It’s handy location offers the chance to explore more of the coastal area too.

Checklist for the Newly Engaged

Checklist For The Newly Engaged

If you’re newly engaged there is no doubt that you will be floating on cloud nine right about now. It is all so surreal and the days and weeks following the proposal are likely to be a whirlwind, there are so many things to do, think about and people to contact. This is why, to ensure these initial weeks or months aren’t too overwhelming, we have put together a basic checklist of what to do after you have said yes to kick-start the whole wedding planning process.

Tell Your Friends And Family

Personally tell your nearest and dearest the exciting news, your parents, siblings, grandparents and best friends. They will be especially happy you took the time to tell them personally in today’s social media crazed world – then you can show your ring off on Facebook!

Dream Up Your Wedding

Sit down with your partner and talk about what you envision your dream wedding day to look like and what kind of styles and vibes you want to create. This could be anything from a church ceremony to a barefoot beach wedding.

Either way, discussing what you are both wanting early on can help to eliminate any misunderstandings further down the road. Have a look at out Pinterest boards to get some wedding day inspiration!

Size And Insure Your Ring

If your engagement ring doesn’t perfectly fit your finger, you will want to get it sized as soon as possible – you would hate to lose it moments after saying yes!

While you are dealing with your ring, you may want to decide to insure it to give you piece of mind. This can easily be done by adding it as an extension to your existing homeowners or renters insurance.

Talk Budgets

Before starting the planning, sit down with your partner and other family members to discuss what your budget will be and what people are wanting to contribute. Having a budget is important because it will affect every decision that you make regarding your big day.

Draft A Guest List

Sit down with your partner and determine a guest list and the amount of people you want to invite. Keep in mind that the more people you invite, the more expensive it is going to be. It is also helpful to have an estimate amount of attendees in mind before deciding on a venue, as some venues accommodate to a maximum amount of people.

Think About Potential Dates

When thinking of potential dates to have your wedding on, keep in mind the time of year you would prefer, including the weather, work schedules and holidays.

To be safe, you may want to choose two or more different dates in case the venue you decide on is already booked out. This is especially important during peak wedding times as venues can be booked very far in advance. Read on our blog our top tips for deciding when to marry.

Research Venues

The venue for your wedding day will become the backdrop for all your photographs and can heavily influence your budget and the all round atmosphere of the day. Do research online, visit and call different venues and get information on pricing and availability.

Hire A Wedding Planner

Many couples decide to hire a wedding planner to take unnecessary stress off their shoulders. By hiring a wedding planner they can take care of the details, liaise with vendors and have everything ready for you on your special day, not to mention take care of those last minute vendor mistakes - or better yet, ensure they don't happen in the first place!

Here at Harlow Garland have a range of packages available to help you with your planning. These range from assisting with just one select part of your wedding planning process to taking on the entire event in our full service packages. Click here for a full view of our services. Having been in the business for over 16 years, we have unparalleled experience that many of the latest 'pop-up' wedding planners simply do not have - this means we've seen it all, we know how to handle it and we have the knowledge and expertise to manage all aspects of your wedding.
Read our post on how to choose a wedding planner over at Auckland Weddings.

How To: The Basics of Mismatched Bridesmaids

Image by Kate Little for Harlow Garland, bridesmaid attire by Alannah Hill, Wedding gown by Vinka Design, Hair by Inspired Hair

Image by Kate Little for Harlow Garland, bridesmaid attire by Alannah Hill, Wedding gown by Vinka Design, Hair by Inspired Hair

Having to decide on a bridesmaid dress that the entire of your bridal party will love as much as you do can be a daunting task. Luckily for you, the trend of mismatched outfits is becoming increasingly popular.

If you’re considering letting your bridesmaids choose their own dresses, it can take a lot of unnecessary stress off your shoulders, as well as making sure everyone is happy and confident. However, the mismatched trend can also come with a variety of challenges in regards to ensuring your bridal party doesn’t turn up looking disjointed.

Follow our quick tips and options on following the trend to make sure you and your bridesmaids still have uniformity – you still want everyone to look like part of your bridal party in the end!

Mismatched Dress

Having each of your bridesmaids in a different style of dress ensures that each of them are dressed in a way that is flattering to their own body type. Often when having different dress styles, the bridal party decides to have all dresses in the same colour, this helps to ensure a cohesive outcome. Differing the dress styles is a sure way to please your whole bridal party – especially because there is a better chance that they will want to wear the dress again!

Mismatched Colour

Having an array of colours in the same dress style is one of the most popular ways to follow the mismatched bridesmaids trend. Keep it balanced by staying in the same colour family or complementary colours, the likes of lush tones of royal purples or pastel peach. Opt for a colour that fits with the rest of your wedding and décor for ultimate wedding consistency.

Mismatched Dress and Colour

If you are wanting to go all the way in the mismatched trend, try mismatching your bridesmaids dress style as well as the dress colour. However, keep in mind that this can be overwhelming and may look disjointed. Try to keep some aspects similar, maybe you want to have all dresses the same length or of similar fabrics.

Mismatched Accessories

If you’re not compeletly sold on the mismatched trend, keep it more subtle by mismatching hairstyles, shoes or accessories and keeping the dress style and colours the same. This is the perfect option if you are wanting to go for the more traditional bridesmaids style while still keeping on trend and contemporary.


Set up a Pinterest board with all your bridesmaid inspiration. This way your bridal party can see and understand the dress styles that you like as well as colour palettes. Pinterest is an effect way to give subtly direction and guidelines while also providing your bridesmaids with more freedom.

Follow us on Pinterest here!

Ceremony Ideas

When planning your ceremony there are a great many things to take into consideration, especially so if you're planning to merge and observe two religions and their respective traditions or are trying desperately to wrangle an unruly seating plan. To aid in the planning, we've put together a few things of note:

In Christian ceremonies:

The bride’s guests sit on the left side of the aisle and the groom’s guests sit to the right. Parents and grandparents sit in the front rows; siblings (and their spouses) sit in the second row.

In Jewish ceremonies:

The two sets of parents stand under the chuppah while grandparents and siblings sit in the first few pews. The bride’s guests sit on the right side of the aisle with the groom’s on the left, except if the wedding is Orthodox. In that instance, men sit on one side, women on the other. In all cases, if the number of guests coming for the couple isn’t proportional, you can even up the sides.

If you're having a military wedding:

You'll need to consider the ranking of your wedding guests and develop a seating plan. Consult with a representative from your or your fiancé’s branch of service for specific guidelines.

If you want to save certain seats for family members and important guests:

Rope off the first five rows. Also, be sure to insert pew cards into the invitations of guests who should get prime seats.

For seating in a nonreligious venue:

Instead of having two “sides,” arrange seats in a circle and recite your vows surrounded by friends and family, or replace chairs with couches or benches.

For outdoor ceremonies:

Seat guests on cloth-covered hay bales, picnic blankets or even on heaps of large Moroccan-style cushions.

Other Traditional Ceremony Ideas:

*The Lighting of a Unity Candle: * In many Christian ceremonies, the bride’s parents light a candle, and then the groom’s parents light another. Together, the bride and groom use these two candles to light a third, larger candle of their own. This ritual represents the joining of two families in a love that burns as brightly as a flame. (We sell unity candles in our new online store! - check them out here)

*Handfasting: *

In a ritual that originated in Great Britain during pagan times, the bride and groom bind their hands together with a ribbon, symbolising the joining of their lives. Today, many couples do this immediately before or after the exchange of rings.

*Rose Presentation: *

Some brides and grooms will present a single rose—a symbol of love—to their mothers early in the ceremony as a gesture of love and gratitude.

Medallion Presentation:

In a wedding that includes children from a previous marriage, the new stepparent might present a medallion, charm or other piece of jewellery (like a ring or pin) to the partner’s children during the wedding ceremony. This gift, like the couple’s rings, serves as a reminder of commitment to each member of the newly blended family.

Sand Ceremony:

Much like the lighting of the unity candle above, the sand ceremony involves the bride and groom pouring different colour vials of sand into a singular vessel marking their union. This can be simply done into a mason jar or decorative vase however most couples opt to turn it into a keepsake with a sand ceremony vase like this one.

Also, with only a couple of shipping days left before Christmas, we're offering FREE NZ shipping on all gift boxes and fascinators ordered by 5pm Tuesday 22nd December, so head over to the online store for the gift boxes or to our Etsy page (for the fascinators), to lock in your orders and take advantage of our free shipping offer on these brilliant last minute Christmas gift ideas.