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! 

When Do I Send Invitations and Save the Dates?

Another reader request! Thank you Hayley for using our 'Ask Rhonnie' feature! We love hearing about your wedding plans and helping out where we can.

Hayley asked us "When do we send out our save-the-dates and how long do we wait before sending our invitations?"

Some couples follow wedding etiquette to the letter (much to the delight of Emily Post we're sure) and other couples choose to eschew save the dates altogether, especially if their wedding is less than 8 months away - it really depends on the couple, your budget and how formal you wish to be but we've put together the 'ideal' timeline for your full stationery suite so that you can pick and choose the elements you'll use and ignore those you won't!

9-12 months before your wedding

  • Start putting together a guest list - remember that this will probably go through many drafts before it's fully refined and will likely go through a further 2-3 refinements down the track once the RSVP cards are returned.
  • Create a Pinterest board of images that inspire you, search the net for suppliers and samples you like and consider your budget.
  • If you're planning a destination wedding, are inviting guests from far away or are planning a holiday wedding, we recommend sending your save-the-dates now to avoid disappointment. Think about what your invitation siute will look like or the formality of your wedding so that your save-the-dates will be in line with your invitations.

6-9 months before your wedding

  • Refine your invitation options - these should be emblematic of the style and formality of your wedding. If you're planning a boho wedding, a formal letterpressed invitation will send the wrong message, and similarly, an overly floral or relaxed tone of invitation will not fit with a black tie wedding.
  • Reach out to vendors for quotes and consultations to discuss the style of your invitation suite
  • Review the wording of your invitations - this is another nod to the formality - for reference, see our post on invitation wording.
  • To ensure your theme carries through all of your stationery, we recommend purchasing it all from one vendor in the same style. A full suite might include save-the-dates, invitations, seating charts, table numbers, place cards, menus, programmes, envelopes and liners, seals, RSVP cards, thank-you cards, note cards, aisle runners, backdrops and more so decide which elements you'll include before your meeting so that you don't get carried away.
  • Review what other cards, envelope liners, invitation enclosures, embellishments, seals, stickers and envelopes you'll need to complete your suite.

4-6 months before your wedding

  • Ensure you have an up-to-date address list with full names, postal addresses (or email addresses if sending electronically), post codes and postage requirements.
  • Place your order for invitations (including calligraphy)

3-4 months before your wedding

  • If your vendor doesn't assemble and deliver as part of your package, this is the time to create an at-home assembly line ensuring all embellishments, enclosures, addressing and postage are included.
  • Order any of the additional stationery you need from the relevant stationery suite.

  • Mail your invitations and wait with anticipation for the responses to arrive - keep a tally of who has responded, who hasn't and your back up invitations to send out if your first wave of guests includes apologies.

6 weeks before your wedding

  • Contact any non-responses to confirm attendance

4 weeks before your wedding

  • Provide your final guest count to all vendors - your planner, caterer, venue, hirers and florist.

1-2 weeks before your wedding

  • If you've ordered menus, placecards, ceremony programmes or table numbers (or all of the above), ensure that the person setting them up has them the day before your wedding (or delivered direct to the venue) to avoid any set-up delays.

Within 2 months after your wedding

  • Send out thank you cards

Remember that Harlow Garland offers a bespoke stationery service, Bespoke by HG where you can pick and choose from a selection of stationery elements to create your ideal stationery suite or allow us to dream something up specific to you.

Or if you'd prefer, our online store offers ready-to-go stationery options that you can personalise yourself on the spot!

Art Deco Laser Embossed Invitations - BUY NOW

Art Deco Laser Embossed Invitations - BUY NOW

Bistro Bliss Wedding Invitation - BUY NOW

Bistro Bliss Wedding Invitation - BUY NOW

Black & Gold Opulence Invitation - BUY NOW

Black & Gold Opulence Invitation - BUY NOW

Vintage Boarding Pass Style Invitation - BUY NOW

Vintage Boarding Pass Style Invitation - BUY NOW

The Intimate Winter Wedding


The French Country House Tauranga (via)

The French Country House, Tauranga (via)

The French Country House, Tauranga (via)

Chateau Tongariro (via)

Chateau Tongariro (via)

Heritage Hanmer Springs (via)

Heritage Hanmer Springs (via)

It's hard to believe it's already February as we've been so wonderfully busy with beautiful bridal couples this busy summer wedding season, and though the sun still beats down hot upon our backs as we work away, our winter brides are now in full swing with their planning for upcoming winter weddings in a few months so today, rather than posting inspiration for a summer wedding, we thought we'd put the spotlight on winter weddings - how to plan, the style, the inspiration, the locales:

While we adore summer weddings, there's something so inherently magical about a winter wedding, especially so if you're granted the luxury of a snowy scene for your big day. While those locations may be few and far between in the major cities, heading a little out of town to Ohakune in the north island or Queenstown and surrounds in the south can bring an abundance of that winter wonder and the magic of candlelight and sparkling fairy lights.

Our director is particularly in love with winter weddings - the earlier hour of dusk, the warm firelight, the intimacy of a smaller gathering, the long sleeved gowns and fur accoutrements, the lush evergreen foliage and deep colours of the winter florals. Winter weddings should never be discounted simply due to the possibility of bad weather - it's even an old tale that rain on your wedding day brings good luck!


If your venue is a little further off the grid than a major city centre, factor in a back up generator to ensure the festivities aren't over far earlier than planned due to a powercut.

Choose a venue that is easy to get to with plenty of local accommodation and safe transport - especially if you're in a snowy locale nestled in the mountains.


Add extra travel time to get to your location(s) and consider holding the ceremony and reception in the same venue for ease of transportation and to ensure the day's events continue on schedule.

The usual timeline will be either brought forward or pushed back depending on what light you hope to capture. With dusk far earlier than in summer, your sunset ceremony may need to take place at 4-5pm while in contract a summer sunset ceremony might take place at 8-9pm. If you're hoping to capitalise on the darker more intimated winter feel, then you have a lot more freedom as to when you begin.

Talk with your photographer about the look and feel you hope to capture to work out the best timings for the required light.


For clothing options, look for 20s-40s influences with furs, cardigans, long sleeves, scarves and pashminas. A striking art deco beaded gown would look perfect paired with a fur shrug while an elegant form fitting long sleeved gown would look incredible with a simple updo and ear adornments - elegance is simplicity. For the bridesmaids, attire is far cheaper in the offseason and you have the perk of finding all of the deep berry hued dresses made for winter weather at the likes of Alannah Hill to select from rather than the usual 'bridesmaid'-specific gowns.

Colour Palette

While most colour palettes will still suit a winter wedding, we love to focus on the deep romantic berry hues, the jewel tones and warmer gold, bronze and copper metallics.


Think Romanov Russia, Gatsby Glamour or Woodland Vintage - three dramatic extremes but all perfect examples of winter wedding wonder:

Romanov Russia: Gold, glass, jewel tones, crystal, firelight, chandeliers, candlesticks, coppers, bronzes, trinkets, elegant and sleek attire, white roses or berry toned florals, very formal.

*Gatsby Glamour: *Black and gold or silver, glitz, crystals, balloons, champagne saucers, art deco attire, pearls, art deco fonts and designs, prohibition, feathers and jewels, white orchids and lillies.

*Woodland Vintage: *tree trunk slices, hollow out tree limb napkin rings, moss, pinecones, birds, feathers, greenery and antlers.


We love mittens and scarves or blankets for an outdoor ceremony for favours or depending on your theme, s'mores, candles, matches, sparklers for the send off, coffee beans, honey pots, handwarmers in mini hottie covers, snowflake trinkets - there are so many options that are outside the realm of the usual favour fare.


Think texture - winter has some incredibly unique and textural blooms. Apart from the variety of seasonal evergreen foliage, you're also gifted with dried flowers, or unique blooms such as

Guest comfort

In creating a memorable winter wedding, guest comfort is going to be a priority. If your ceremony will take palce in an area exposed to the elements, offer mittens, blankets or pashminas for warm favours and have a cosy roaring fire and patio heaters set up to warm the area. Incorporate velvet seating, candelabras and hurricane lanterns mixed in with fairy lights or edison bulbs and cosy reception seating.

Offer a variety of warm drinks such as mulled wine, spiced cider, tea, coffee, cocoa and hot toddies served in copper Moscow Mule mugs.

Winter weddings can be some of the most magical and memorable weddings - they're often significantly less expensive than summer weddings and you won't be competing with other couples for vendors but moreso, winter weddings are more intimate and feel 'warmer' than many summer weddings because there's almost more a sense of community within the bubble of the winter wedding locale.

Remember too, to utilise our free wedding advice portal where you can ask us anything about your wedding journey and we'll respond with the benefit of our 16 years in the business!

The Big Day

Welcome to 2016! With wedding season now upon us, many of you brides-to-be out there will be fretting about the timing of the big day and how everything fits together. Below, we've outlined a sample timeline based on a 3pm ceremony.

Use this as a guide and adjust the times accordingly to suit your big day's festivities.

For the Ladies

7:30 Wake up. Eat a substantial breakfast, shower and put on a button-up shirt to prevent spoiling your hair or makeup. If your gown is strapless, don’t wear a bra.

9:00 Hair. Time your hair trial or allow for an hour each person, depending on the number of hairstylist plus any travel time needed.

11:00 Makeup. Allow 40 minutes for the Bride and each of the Bridesmaids. Flowers should be picked up or dropped off at some point in the morning by someone outside of the bridal party.
12:30 Lunch. Remember to eat as you may not have a chance to during the rest of the afternoon.

1:00 Dress. Once hair and makeup is done, the Bridesmaids should put their dresses on before helping the Bride into her gown.

1:45 Photos. With parents and Bridesmaids

2:20 Bride, her attendants and parents depart for ceremony (based on venue being 30mins away)

2:50 Bride, her attendant and parents arrive at ceremony

For the Gentlemen

9:00 Wake up. Shower, shave. Eat a substantial breakfast.

12:30 Lunch. Remember you may not have a chance to eat the rest of the afternoon

1:50 Depart for ceremony venue

2:20 Arrive at ceremony venue to greet guests and check everything is in order

The Wedding

3:00 Ceremony. Your celebrant should be able to give you an indication of how long this will take, usually about 20-30 minutes. Allow an extra 15 for unexpected delays.

3:45 Mingle with guests and have photos with family members.

4:15 Wedding party photos.

5:45 Reception. Bride and Groom arrive

6:00 Dinner and speeches – before or directly after entree

8:30 Cutting the cake

9:00 First dance

12:00 Bride and Groom depart

Wedding Superstitions

Do you know why a Bride tosses the bouquet over her head? Or why the happy couple saves a layer of cake in their freezer for a year? or perhaps why brides go to such lengths to keep their grooms from seeing their dresses before it’s time to walk down the aisle?

Here, we answer those questions and more and give you some insight into the traditions and superstitions surrounding weddings. Remember though, that superstitions are only as true as you believe and are myths / old wives’ tales that date back to 100 years or more, so marrying on a Saturday (the most popular day of the week for weddings) does not really end in bad luck – these are merely a bit of fun for the couples going through the planning process.

Superstition #1: It’s bad luck for the Groom to see the Bride in her wedding dress before the ceremony.

Origin: Back when arranged marriages were the norm, the betrothed couple weren’t allowed to see each other before the wedding at all, this was out of fear that the Groom would see the Bride, decide she was unattractive and call off the wedding. It was a similar deal with the veil which hid the Bride’s appearance from the Groom until after the deal was done. Ahhh… sweet romance…

Today: Although arranged marriages are no longer common, most Brides still don’t want their Groom to see them all done up before the wedding. Many believe it makes the day more exciting and memorable. It’s completely up to you and your Groom. Talk about it before the big day arrives and find out what makes the most sense for you.

Superstition #2: The Bride must wear something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue (and a silver sixpence in her shoe).

Origin: This Victorian rhyme is a time-honoured tradition that is sup- posed to bring the Bride good luck. Wearing “something old” expresses the newlywed couple’s desire to retain connections with their family or the Bride’s “something old” be an old garter given to the Bride by a happily married woman so that the new Bride would also enjoy a happy marriage. Wearing “something new” conveys that the couple is creating a new union that will endure forever and looking to the future for health, happiness and success. “Something borrowed” is an opportunity for the Bride’s friends or family to lend her something special as a token of their love. And finally, “something blue” is a symbol of fidelity and constancy. This custom began in ancient Israel, where Brides wore a blue ribbon in their hair to symbolise this promise to their new husbands. What many couples forget though, is that the rhyme actually has another line “…and a silver sixpence in her shoe.” Placing a penny in the Bride’s shoe supposedly will bring her a life filled with good fortune.

Today: Many modern Brides find it fun to keep with tradition. Think of creative ways to incorporate all four items into your wedding-day ensemble.

Superstition #3: The person who catches the Bride’s bouquet or garter when she tosses it over her head will be the next to get married.

Origin: In medieval times, it was considered lucky to get a fragment of the Bride’s clothing, so hordes of guests would follow the newlywed couple into their wedding chamber after the ceremony and stand around the bed, trying to rip pieces of the Bride’s gown right off her body. Because dresses were often torn apart, Brides searched for alternatives to preserve their gowns and began throwing their bouquets to distract guests while they made their getaway. When the Bride and Groom made it safely into their wedding chamber, the Groom would then crack open the door and toss the Bride’s garter to the throngs of people waiting outside as a way of saying that he was about to “seal the deal.”

Today: At many modern weddings, the Groom removes and tosses the Bride’s garter to the Groomsmen right after the Bride tosses her bouquet to the Bridesmaids. Traditionally, the unmarried man who catches the garter must place it on the leg of the unmar- ried woman who catches the bouquet, and it is said that they will be the next two to marry (not necessarily to each other).

Superstition #4: The Bride and Groom must save the top layer of their wedding cake to eat on their first anniversary.

Origin: It used to be thought that once a wedding took place, a baby was going to come shortly after, so therefore the wedding and christening ceremonies were often linked, as were the respective cakes that were baked for each occasion. With fancy, elaborate, multi-tiered wedding cakes becoming a major trend in the 19th century, the christening cake began to take a back seat to the wedding cake. Since the top tier of the wedding cake was almost always left over, couples began to see the christening as the perfect opportunity to finish the cake.

Today: As the time between weddings and christenings widened, the two events became disassociated and the reason for saving the top tier changed. Now, couples enjoy saving the top layer of their wedding cake to eat on their first anniversary as a pleasant reminder of their special day

Superstition #5: The Groom must carry his new wife across the threshold of their new home to prevent bad luck. * *Origin: In Medieval Europe, it was scandalous for a woman to show en- thusiasm about losing her virginity. By the Groom carrying the Bride over the threshold, she avoided looking too eager about consummating the marriage. Western Europeans, on the other hand, believed that a Bride who tripped over the threshold of her new home would bring bad luck to her home and her marriage. Therefore, the Groom carrying the Bride into the home was a good way to avoid such a mishap altogether. In ancient cultures, the threshold of the home was considered to be a hotbed of lurking, unattached evil spirits, and since a new Bride was particularly vulnerable to spirit intrusion, especially through the soles of her feet, the Groom ensured that his wife would not bring any bad spirits into the house by carrying her inside.

Today: The Groom carries his Bride across the threshold today not because of a fear of spirits, but as a romantic way to welcome her into his life.

Superstition #6: Receiving knives as a gift - (or can openers, scissors -- anything with a blade.)

Origin: Apparently it’s bad luck to be given something that can sever. The blade, its thought, will sever the friendship. It’s especially bad luck for a wedding gift, where the fear is that the sharp edge will sever the marriage vows. Some people hold this superstition so strongly that they disapprove of giving knives as wedding gifts.

Today: Some that still believe the tale will also include a coin in the gift for the Bride to give back to the gift-giver to ‘buy’ the knife which is thought to dispel any evil it contains.

Superstition #7: Lucky days/ months/ dress colours for your wedding

DAY: Monday for wealth Tuesday for health Wednesday the best day of all Thursday for losses Friday for crosses Saturday for no luck at all

BRIDAL GOWN COLOR: Married in White, you have chosen right, Married in Blue, your love will always be true, Married in Pearl, you will live in a whirl, Married in Brown, you will live in town, Married in Red, you will wish yourself dead, Married in Yellow, ashamed of your fellow, Married in Green, ashamed to be seen, Married in Pink, your spirit will sink, Married in Grey, you will go far away, Married in Black, you will wish yourself back.

MONTH: Married when the year is new (January), he’ll be loving, kind and true. When February birds do mate, you neither wed nor dread your fate. If you wed when March winds blow, joy and sorrow both you’ll know. Marry in April when you can, Joy for Maiden and for Man.
Marry in the month of May, and you’ll surely rue the day. Marry when June roses grow, over land and sea you’ll go. Those who in July do wed, must labour for their daily bread. Whoever wed in August be, many a change is sure to see Marry in September’s shrine, your living will be rich and fine. If in October you do marry, love will come but riches tarry. If you wed in bleak November, only joys will come, remember. When December snows fall fast, marry and true love will last.

The rhyme “Marry in May and you will surely rue the day” dates back from the ancient Pagan and early Roman traditions. During that period, Pagans celebrated outdoor orgies in the month of May which in present-day culture considered obscene and outrageous therefore bring bad luck for couples, while early Romans celebrated the Feast of the Dead sometimes in May, therefore symbolises sorrow and mis- fortune.

June is considered the luckiest month for marriage as it is named after the Roman goddess of love, marriage and fertility, Juno.

Superstition #8: Wearing pearls will bring unhappiness

Most cultures in other parts of the globe believes that a Bride should never wear a pearl (earrings, necklace, bracelet) on her wedding day, as pearls symbolise tears and unhappiness.

Miscellaneous Superstitions:

It is said that the Bride should do some stitching of her wedding dress (either by attaching some precious stuff on the inner part of the gown) before she wears it for the ceremony to attract fortune and happiness, other version of the practice allow unfinished portion of the dress (maybe on the inner linen) by the seamstress to be done by the Bride….this old belief signifies loyalty, fidelity and strength within the union, so they say.

The Wedding Cake should be made from fruits and nuts to ensure fertility and happiness and the Bride should be the one to bite first (to ensure she will conceive). An unmarried lady who will put a piece of the wedding cake under her pillow at night will dream her future husband…and most likely have a bed full of ants in the morning.

According to an old English custom, it is unlucky for a woman to marry a man whose first letter of the surname is the same as hers.

Almost all cultures dictate that the Bridesmaids’ dresses should be in the same color or style to that of the Bride, the reason of this is, according to an English tradition, is to confuse the evil spirits haunting the Bride on her wed- ding day ready to spell bad luck.

A beach wedding is often considered to denote a bad omen because the water/waves kissed-goodbye the seaside.

The Bride and Groom are advised not to take any long travel or adventure as the wedding date draws nearer because soon-to-be married people are accident-prone.

The Bride who has a period on the day of her wedding is very lucky and the marriage will be blessed with many children!

During the ceremony the couple with whose side the wedding candle lighted last will be a submissive partner so brief your candle sponsor now to hurry a little bit in lighting the candle.

There is a belief that if siblings both marry in the same year, one of them will suffer bad luck, so forget about a double wedding if you are twins.

Postponing a wedding date or repeatedly changing the date also denotes bad luck.

In some Philippine provinces, old folks often warned newlyweds not to break or drop anything during the ceremony (up to the reception) because it symbolises a difficult life ahead, broken marriage or unhappiness, this explains why traditionally, the wedding ring should be carried by the Best Man and Groom’s Mother respectively (and not by a young Page Boy) to take care of it.

Honeymoon Venue: Sugar Beach, a Viceroy Resort - St Lucia

When considering an overseas honeymoon (or even a destination wedding), the venue selection can be rather harrowing with an entire world to consider. As part of our #honeymoonhumpday series, we're going to be bringing you a variety of venue profiles, honeymoon styles and tips every Wednesday to help you narrow your options down to somewhere truly amazing.

Today's venue is Sugar Beach, a Viceroy Resort in St Lucia, the gateway to the Caribbean Sea.

While each of the resort's rooms, villas, bungalows and residences afford spectacular views of the Pitons or the Caribbean Sea, our favourite has to be the Luxury Cottages - quaint little tastes of idyllic New England and Southern American Plantation style homes, yet front and centre on one of the world's most beautiful beaches.

For those seeking seclusion and tranquility, the luxury cottages are the perfect escape. Nestled amidst lush vegetation and fruit trees, the cottages offer enclaves of privacy as well as spectacular views of the Pitons or the Anse des Pitons below. Speaking to the resort's plantation history, the high-beamed ceilings and romatntic viole-draped four poster bed welcomes you to the bedroom whike a private terrace and plunge pool are an added bonus, allowing you to enjoy a private dip, away from the prying eyes of tourists.

With over 100 acres of tropical rainforest and welcoming white sand beach on its doorstep, Sugar Beach, A Viceroy Resort offers a host of St Lucia activities to satisfy adventure-seekers and sun-soaking visitors alike. For those who seek out action, there’s no end to activities in St Lucia at Sugar Beach, A Viceroy Resort: the sports and fitness facilities are among the best in the Caribbean, and the resort’s activities coordinators make the most of the mountain surroundings.

You certainly won't be at a loss for things to do with a whole host of activities at your feet: Play a round of tennis, pool or beach volleyball, take one of the scheduled fitness classes. Learn to dive at the PADI Dive Centre or take to the water with a myriad of water sports such as windsurfing, sailing, kayaking, pedalos, snorkelling, paddle boarding or jet skiing.

For the more adventurous, the resort also offers ATVs, ziplining and guided tours such as a 2 hour kayak trip to Coral Garden Reef, where sargassum trigger fish can be spotted in the deeper area or take a signature tour to learn how coconut is processed into copra, cocoa into cocoa sticks or how sugar cane juice is extracted from an 18th century sugar mill. Go back in time and visit the 18th century Morne Coubaril Estate to discover how the island's first settlers lived and learn the history of the village of Choiseul.

Hike the Gros Piton and afterwards, enjoy a local meal with Chef Esnard's specialty BBQ and ice cold drinks or shadow Chef Daniel Hurtado for the day as he visits the farms to choose his organic produce and make your own selection of herbs, vegetables and crispy greens before heading to the fish market and returning to the resort for a side-by-side cooking lesson.

Visit the drive-in volcano, Soufriere where an official guide will give you a brief history and then spend some time exploring on your own before setting off to the Botanical Gardens and Diamond waterfall and the spectacular rainforest waterfall at Toraille where swimming can be enjoyed. Finally you are taken to a restaurant with a fantastic view of the pitons and the town where refreshments are served.

At the end of the day, treat your love to a romantic sunset cruise where you'll sip champagne and nibble canapes as the sun slips down into the sparkling waters of the Caribbean.

Back at the resort, prepare your senses to be tantalised with a whole host of dining options. A specialty rum bar calls to the menfolk with its professional "rummelier" to aid in the selection of the expertly chosen native and international rums as well as offering a range of decadent dishes to perfectly accompany your chosen libation. Enjoy a fresh-caught sashimi or sushi platter, try the slider trio featuring fish, chicken and beef topped with caramelized onions and organic arugula, or feast on freshly grilled chicken, beef or vegetarian satay served with traditional satay sauce and bok choy kimchi.

Every Thursday night, guests can enjoy Black & White Party night with free rum punch, wine and beer in addition to sweet temptations such as chocolate truffles and handmade candies.

Take your cocktails and snacks on the beach with the resort's Beach Concierge team who cater to the needs of guests while they soak up the sun poolside or on the white sands of this Caribbean beach resort. Cooling cocktails, wholesome fruit punch, and a full bar service are available to provide the perfect accompaniment to the well devised beach menu selections. Choices include fresh pizza from the wood-fired oven, tempting wraps, and New York style burgers. Guests are invited to simply raise the red flag next to their beach or pool lounge and a member of the beach team will be there to provide personalized service.

If beachside isn't fancy enough, you can even choose a location and the resort will cater to your every whim - guests choose the time and place, and ther chef will devise a personalised menu to suit their occasion, tastes and location. Whether it is an intimate dinner in barefoot elegance on a private stretch of Sugar Beach, a celebration dinner on the Sunset Deck, a romantic Champagne soiree on the pier surrounded by the crystal waters of the Caribbean, or a simple meal under the stars on the terrace of your private villa, the culinary team can turn the most challenging request into an opportunity to shine.

For the most discerning diners, the Great Room evokes Old World colonial charm while serving up Caribbean-influenced delicacies in candlelit, air-conditioned surroundings. Beautifully presented personalised tasting menus are also available nightly and reflect the cultural influences of Sugar Beach’s expert culinary team.

When you're looking to slow it down, head to the resort's spa to wile away the wedding day stresses.