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.

Deciding on the Style of Your Wedding

Beach Wedding  Image via:

Beach Wedding Image via:

Vineyard Wedding  Image via: 

Vineyard Wedding Image via: 

Garden Wedding  Image via:

Garden Wedding Image via:

City Wedding Image via:

City Wedding Image via:

Marquee Wedding  Image via:

Marquee Wedding Image via:

DIY / Backyard Wedding  Image via:

DIY / Backyard Wedding Image via:

When choosing the type of wedding to have and where to host it, there are a myriad of puzzle pieces to consider:

  • For older guests (or those with mobility issues), climbing to the top of the island of Stromboli to watch you exchange vows in front of the erupting volcano, or having them board a boat for a harbour cruise, may present some concerns or limit their attendance.
  • Holding the reception close to ceremony is always best so as to prevent any guests getting lost between the two or being stuck in bumper to bumper traffic and arriving late.
  • Remote locations may be romantic, but remembering the amount of work it is for a standard wedding plus the additional access difficulties for catering and set-up, you’ll probably find you will have to compromise on some facets of the event. Another thing to remember about remote locations is that the bathroom facilities may also be inadequate.

Whichever theme or location you choose, remember to infuse the event with whatever makes up the essence of you two as a couple. Your personal styles joining together to make a shared style – much in the way you and your fiancé are joining together in life- two different backgrounds making for a shared future.


If you choose to marry on the sand, you will need to be granted a permit from the council. You’ll also need a liquor licence and someone to be in charge of the liquor, if you aren’t using a licensed caterer. Beach weddings will in most every case be BYO seating, power and props and will often be combatted by wind, crashing waves and the possibility of bad weather turning the whole thing sour. They can however, also be beautiful and simple, with a full focus on you as a couple and mean you can possibly scrimp on the decorations since Mother Nature is doing a lot of the work for you. It may be that a few flowers here and a few mason jars filled with sand and shells may do the trick or you can go all out and hire a tent with your selection of hire furniture, cushions and opulent furnishings to hold a sort of ‘Arabian Nights’ themed wedding by the sea (ok so there’s no sea in ‘Arabian Nights’... but there most definitely was a lot of sand.) As well as the permits and licences, you’ll need to keep an eye on the weather and the tides in the lead-up to the big day and have a plan B on the cards, just in case.


Vineyards are a popular option because most of the work is done for you. The trailing vines make an opulent back-drop and create your aisle, while the restaurants in wineries generally offer all the seating, furniture, glassware, tableware, lighting and décor you need, leaving just a few personal touches here and there. Some, like Markovina Vineyard in Auckland even offer petanque and other outdoor games for guests to busy themselves with while you’re off with the bridal party and the photographer. Again, the weather may be an option, but with a vineyard there is usually the facility to move things inside and thus a plan B is generally included in the cost of the venue.


If you’re opting for a garden wedding, you will need a marquee and to take into account the parts of nature that may aggravate guest’s health like pollen having an effect on hay fever sufferers or insects biting up a storm on bare legs. If the garden is in your own backyard, you’ll need enough flat land and room for the marquee to set up. You’ll likely need to hire portable toilets and everything from additional power sources right down to the teaspoons and napkins. You’ll also need to think about who is going to clean up afterwards if it’s in your family home. Think George Banks (Steve Martin) sitting in the easy chair after Annie’s at-home wedding extravaganza in ‘Father of the Bride’.

City: Weddings in the city usually take place in Art Galleries, Museums or Hotels which are generally the easiest. Hotels especially if you have out-of town guests as those not from the same city might find it a little overwhelming just trying to find their way around and it may be an added convenience for them to be close to their rooms. It will also be beneficial to use a hotel suite as your home base for getting ready before the ceremony, catching a quick nap if you’re exhausted part way through the evening, rushing back for touch-ups or just being able to skip having to carry a bag.


Marquee weddings make outdoor weddings much easier, but you will need to remember that any marquee bigger than 100m² requires a permit and more than likely, a lot of hands to set up. The area for the marquee will need to be flat and have ample access to power and water. You’ll need to check whether set up and pack down are included in the price and arrange for the marquee to be set-up with plenty of time to spare before the wedding. You’ll want to inform your neighbours (if having the marquee at home) that the disruption from the marquee could last for up to a week and perhaps sweeten the deal with some extra wedding favours so they don’t complain too much.High-heel wearers will find they sink into the grass and unless you like the idea of mud on your wedding dress or highly aerated soil, it’s best to hire a floor as well. Is there sufficient power? – If not, hire a generator too.

If you are going to opt for a marquee, there are some questions you should ask: 1. Is it possible to erect a marquee at our chosen location? 2. Are you able to give an onsite estimate? 3. What sizes/ capacities are available? 4. How far in advance do we need to book? 5. What colour marquee ‘skins’ linings etc. are available? 6. What condition is the marquee in? 7. Do you provide interior / exterior lighting? Heating? 8. Are tables and chairs included? 9. Can walkways be covered? 10. Can you arrange portable toilets? 11. Will you set-up and dismantle? 12. How long before the event will it be set up? And how long after will it be dismantled? Is this included in cost? 13. Will someone be on call for emergencies?


A Do-it-yourself wedding may seem far cheaper than hiring a planner or using traditional vendors however, they are undoubtedly more time consuming, highly stressful and you’ll need to be highly organised to juggle all the elements. If you choose to delegate tasks to the wedding party or charitable guests, be clear about your expectations and then leave them to do the job. You don’t want to cause friction by being overbearing. Make sure you plan well in advance to allow time to visit and book vendors and to collect decorations and supplies. DIY Weddings aren’t all stress though; they can be a wonderful expression of your couple style as well as your fiancé and yourself as individuals. They’re often simple and elegant and sometimes, a little goofy. If you go DIY, remember to budget around $30,000-$35,000 at least and allow for corkage and other hidden costs and also remember to file all of your correspondence. If you’re after the relaxed feel of a DIY wedding, you can still benefit from a wedding planner to offer you insight on how to combat the stress, what can be delegated and what the planner can do on your behalf to help you realise your perfect vision of the day without the stress ulcers.

Harlow Garland can help your DIY wedding with our DIY packageto review your plans and make suggestions or fill in gaps or ourWedding Day Angel package for Day-of-Coordination so that you can relax and enjoy the fruit of your months (or years) or labour!

Sails Restaurant Relaunch - Ripe for Your Reception

Beef Carpaccio with anchovy mayo, garlic chips, toasted capers, spring herbs and olive oil.

John Dory with parsnip puree, quinoa, lemon gel, super grain & pea shoot salad & broccolini

Salad of poached Prawns, iceberg, edamame, spring onion, crispy shallots, Marie Rose dressing & black sesame

Spiced calamari, peanut cucumber relish, chilli caramel, nam jim, coriander & mint


On Tuesday evening, we were invited to the relaunch of Sails Restaurant at Westhaven Marina, courtesy of Sails and Lassoo Media.

Walking through the front door, the most immediate change we noticed was the relocation of the elaborate sculpture that used to have pride of place in the centre of the restaurant, to its new home in the lobby. No casual feat as the artwork is by no means 'light'.

The previous incarnation of Sails featured elaborate draping above the windows, antique style furniture and a palette of deep reds and blacks, the gargantuan chandeliers reflected in mirrors around the room giving the illusion of depth.

The relaunch has seen those features removed in favour of a cleaner, more minimalist feel with a nod to the nautical setting (Sails is located at Westhaven Marina and overlooks the sea of masts and sails adorning the marina's vast array of yachts). Designed in partnership with the Littlejohn family (owners of Sails) with Leslie Elliot from Evolve Design to evoke a 'Hamptons Lodge' style design featuring constrasting wood hues, board and batten detailing and a clean white aesthetic in place of the drama of the former fitout.

The nautical theme is further apparent through the new sculpture taking centre stage, a wall-hung art piece fashioned from 120 metres of rope (which weighs 70kg and took two people to physically weave it) to match the new 'sailors knot' rope napkin rings.

Foodwise, we were nervous when we heard mention of a menu change with Sails having been our Director's favourite restaurant since she discovered it back in 2012 (the resturant though has been a favourite of diners since the early 1980s, we were just a little late to the game). The nerves were unfounded however as we were greeted with a delectable array of taster dishes to sample the new menu which still offers the diner favourites along with a few new additions including the most mouthwatering samples of prawns, scallops and duck that tantalised even the most seafood-resistant of diners in attendance. While predominantly seafood based, Sails still offers a variety of chicken, duck, beef, pork and vegetarian dishes to satisfy every diner's taste.

Sails has always been - to us, and to it's many regular diners - a place of opulence, of consistently exceptional service and perpetually incredible food - perfectly prepared and always immaculately presented. While the menu has changed slightly, one thing that will never change is the commitment to premium ingredients and to the ethos that the focus should be on complementing the inherent flavours of the food in its finest form.

While Sails has always offered itself as a wedding venue, the new fitout allows for a dedicated bar area with room for a band which should encourage the newly engaged to consider this amazing venue for their wedding reception. Not only are you assured the very best in dining and an already elaborate venue space, but also the assurance of impeccable, consistent service for 100 to 120 people, right here in Auckland, far from the madding crowds and with its own dedicated free parking mere moments from downtown.

Let Harlow Garland and Sails work with you to create a wedding reception you'll never forget!