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How To Pull Off A Surprise Wedding

Braided chiffon bridal chairs by Harlow Garland

Braided chiffon bridal chairs by Harlow Garland

Pulling off any surprise party is never easy, but when it is a surprise wedding you can be sure it will be even more difficult. One of the hardest parts of planning a surprise party is keeping the surprise element under wraps while ensuring everyone you love is going to attend. To help you with the planning process, here are our top tips for how to pull off a successful surprise wedding.

Keep It A Secret

First and foremost when planning a surprise wedding is to of course keep it a secret. To help with this, we recommend telling as few people as possible. You may choose to tell your and your partner’s parents or even just keep the secret to the two of you.

Create A Cover Event

To ensure a successful turnout from your friends and family, it is a good idea to decide on a creative cover event. You could say that the event is to celebrate a milestone birthday, anniversary or even a faux engagement party. These are important events that your friends and family would likely want to attend.

Send Detailed Invitations

With your wedding being a surprise from your guests it is important to communicate detailed information about the occasion to ensure that everyone arrives on time. To help with this, you may want to specify on your invites that the event will have surprise entertainment and guests should arrive by a certain time to ensure that they can enjoy it all.

Inform Your Vendors

You want to be sure to inform your vendors that your wedding is going to be a surprise to your guests. The last thing you would want would be for one of your waiters to accidently say something regarding the ceremony in front of a guest before the surprise has been revealed!

Hire A Wedding Planner

If you are planning a surprise party, we recommend you look into also hiring a wedding planner. Hiring a wedding planner can eliminate any stress that may be created by adding the surprise element to your wedding. Here at Harlow Garland we are experienced wedding planners that can help to bring your dream vision to life.

Be Aware Of The Cons

When planning a surprise party you want to be sure that you are aware of any cons that come along with it. It is possible that your family and close friends may feel upset that they were not more involved in the wedding planning process. One way to navigate this, is to plan some time with your family or close friends after the wedding to show them that they are still a priority to you and that you appreciate their support on your wedding day.

Choosing a Wedding Planner

Congratulations to all you newly engaged couples! It seems a great many of you became engaged over the Christmas/ New Year break and we're delighted that so many of you have already chosen Harlow Garland to help turn your dream wedding vision into a reality.

For those who haven't yet decided whether to go with a planner or handle it themselves, we wanted to share this blog post we wrote for Auckland Weddings last year to help you in your journey.

Click the image below to read the full post over at Auckland Weddings.

To get in touch to discuss your wedding day, send us a note here - we'd love to hear from you x

The Harlow Garland girls

Honeymoon Venue: Casa Madrona Hotel And Spa, Sausalito

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.

This week's honeymoon destination is Casa Madrona Hotel and Spa, situated in the beautiful city of Sausalito – California’s very own Mediterranean Riviera. Perched upon the hillside and overlooking the picturesque seaside, Casa Madrona is a tranquil retreat with many places to explore nearby to help celebrate your honeymoon.

Awarded second place in the 2016 Boutique Hotel of the Year by the Boutique and Lifestyle Lodging Association, Casa Madrona combines modern day hospitality with its storied heritage to make for the ultimate stay. The hotel offers rooms in three different lavish styles, The Mansion, Hillside Cottage or Bayside. The Mansion is Casa Madrona’s signature luxury residence, which offers its respected guests grand style and a unique experience. The renovated 1885 Victorian estate provides guests with a private chef, an exclusive yacht and the utmost in comfort and service. The Hillside Cottages are designed in an apartment styles with breathtaking views of the San Francisco skyline. The nautical décor and modern design combines impeccably with its historic touches. Should you opt for a Bayside room, enjoy a modern, expansive room with a four-poster bed, beautiful French doors that open onto your private balcony and a range of amenities for your personal comfort.

For a chance to relax, take advantage of Casa Madrona’s spa. Inspired by the hotels seaside location, their treatments include natural elements to help refresh and revitalise your mind, body and soul. Get pampered from the extensive spa menu of treatments. During your stay, Casa Madrona recommends that you visit Poggio Trattoria, a classic Italian restaurant adjacent to the hotel. They use the finest of local, organic ingredients in their menu which changes daily, to help you experience the soulful and classic tastes of Northern Italy.

When in Sausalito there is a range essential activities to do and sights to see. First and foremost is the infamous Golden Gate Bridge. The iconic landmark can provide you with a spectacular background to your honeymoon photos. In the evening, take a stroll through Sausalito’s waterfront and cobbled sidewalks. Enjoy the sea air, ambiance and a collection of unique shops and restaurants. If either you or your partner are an Otis Redding fan, take a trip to the cities main dock where you can find the very bench that he wrote “Sitting On The Dock Of The Bay” from. If you are after a ferry ride, a trip to the notorious Alcatraz or even some delectable seafood, head to Fisherman’s Wharf where you can find all this and more.

On the hillside of Sausalito, Casa Madrona Hotel and Spa is an elegant accommodation choice surrounded by exciting activities and sight seeing opportunities to make for a memorable honeymoon.

Creating Your Wedding Registry

When it comes to your wedding day, your friends and families will want to give you congratulatory gifts. This is why many couples opt for a wedding registry – to ensure those gifts will be items that you actually need. But where do you start and what do you do if you and your partner already have everything you need?

Today, there is a type of registry to suit every type of couple, traditional as well as non-traditional. To help you get started and discover what type of registry is best for you and your partner, we have listed five types of registries for you to explore.


Firstly is the traditional wedding registry. Websites such as The Lovely Registry allow you to pick and choose gifts from anywhere online to create a registry that is personal to you and then share the registry with your friends and family via a personal URL and password. When creating your traditional registry be sure to choose carefully, you want items you know you will use in the years to come. It is also important to remember to choose items that vary in price to ensure there is a budget to suit each of your friends and family. Some couples like to combine a traditional registry with another registry, such as a charity, so give their guests an option.

The House Fund

If you and your partner wish to opt for a cash registry it is a good idea to have one with a designated purpose. That’s why, in today’s day and age many couples opt for a house fund. You can ask your guests, if they wish, to help with a deposit on a house, or even renovating the home you already have.


If you and your partner already have everything you could wish for, let your guests make a donation to a charity that is close to your heart in lieu of a gift. Having a charity registry is the perfect way for you, your friends and family to give back on your special day. When deciding on a charity, it is often good to select a few so that your guests have different options to choose from.

The Honeymoon Fund

The honeymoon registry is fast becoming one of the most popular wedding registry options. A honeymoon registry allows your guests to help with a donation towards your honeymoon – wherever that may be. Websites such as Travel Registry even allow your friends and family to choose which part of the trip they want to help fund. Whether this is the airfares, a romantic dinner or an outdoor adventure.

Make It Personal

For a wedding registry more personal, ask your guests to gift you with something that is meaningful to them. This may be their favourite movie or a framed picture of you together. This way, you will end up with an array of gifts that are more thoughtful than your traditional blender.

Honeymoon Venue: Royal Malewane, South Africa

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.

This weeks honeymoon venue is Royal Malewane, a luxury safari lodge in South Africa’s Greater Kruger National Park that oozes adventure, beauty and romance. Your own exclusive wildlife experience will give you insight into the ways of South Africa’s captivating ecosystem.

Be guided on specialised Land Rovers by one of the most qualified teams in Africa through your safari experience where nature is paramount. The vehicles have a maximum of six guests in order for ultimate viewing, comfort and photography opportunities. With over 300 bird species and 130 mammals to experience in their own habitat, Royal Malewane delivers an unforgettable wildlife experience. Listen as lions roar, watch as buffalos drink from waterholes and leopards protect their cubs from hyenas. Having a wide range of package safari experiences available, there is something for all levels of adventurers and couples to enjoy.

Royal Malewane is made up of just six luxury suites, two royal suites and the Africa House. All suites provide you with incomparable views, opulence and are elegantly designed in a gorgeous colonial style while in the heart of the African bush. Should you opt for a royal suite, enjoy the sun from your own expansive private deck and pool. The spacious Africa House is made up of six bedrooms. The eclectic furnishings, outdoor showers, carved four-poster beds from Kenya and Persian rugs help to create an exotic atmosphere. Due to the lodges open plan design, wildlife can easily be viewed from the comfort of your own suite, with Elephants drinking from your pool and Monkeys sitting on your balcony.

Dining at Royal Malewane is an exceptional experience. Executive Chef Brandon Souris and his exceptional team prepare the contemporary cuisine where beautiful presentation is second nature and the dishes become art. Royal Malewane offers an array of South Africa’s finest wines, ranging from leading reds to boutique pinots. The lodge also offers the largest whiskey selection of any safari lodge and informative whiskey tastings.

After long days of exploring the African wildlife, relax at the award winning Waters of Royal Malewane Bush Spa. Famous all over the world for its picturesque scenery and luxury treatments, it is a special oasis. It is devoted to your personal comfort, to enrich your stay at Royal Malewane.

The multiple award-winning Royal Malewane is beautifully intimate and luxurious and is the ultimate safari lodge for any couple after an adventurous honeymoon.