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Choosing Your Wedding Season

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Your wedding day will probably be one of the most important days of your life and making sure you tie the knot in the perfect weather can be tricky. So to help make sure you pick a season, and venue to go with it, we have crafted together the go-to list:

New Zealand can offer some of the most stunning venues In the world. Depending on the season, landscape backdrops can include waterfalls and the beaches in the summer and snowy mountains in the winter. Different seasons can alter the menu, colour scheme, dresses, flowers and so much more.

Summer

If you have always dreamed of a beach wedding, New Zealand can be less temperamental throughout the summer. While the North Island beaches are typically warmer, some northern South Island beaches such as Golden Bay are picturesque at this time of year.

Some would argue that everywhere in New Zealand is beautiful in the summer and while this may be true, some places stand out more than others. For a warmer more humid climate, try the Bay of Islands, East Coast and Northland. For a hot, dry temperature where the afternoon sun leads well into the night, central Otago can be at the top of the list.

Autumn

A typical New Zealand autumn day can be described as a clear blue sky with a touch of winter’s fresh crisp air. Imagine walking up the path of one of Wellington's idyllic historic churches amongst a backdrop of autumn's stunning natural colours. Or down the streets in Arrowtown with the array of orange and yellow leafed trees lining the paths.

Central Otago can be breathtaking in the autumn with its colour scheme from the trees’ leaves changing and the dry hills in the distance.

Winter

The cooler season can often be overlooked as the one to say ‘I do’ in, but if planned correctly, winter can offer so much. Venues can be less busy meaning higher chance of securing them, and if you’re after a snowy backdrop, this could be on the cards.

The winter months can be perfect for cosy, candlelit celebrations. Imagine the setting at one of Canterbury’s charming venues with a cosy log fire, creamy hot chocolates and fair lights. It's the time of year that suits warmer decorations and a hearty menu.

Spring

While the season can sometimes be unpredictable with fluctuating temperatures, and thehours of sunlight increase. It is also the month of greener growth and beautiful spring flowers, there can even still be snow capped mountains with the warmer air lingering. Spring offers the most amazing garden setting with perfect outdoor venues amongst native bush or country styled venues.

Whichever season you choose, consider that each one can influence the theme, colour and added extras for guests comfort. Some pastel shades complement a spring wedding, while an autumn celebration would suit a palette of gold and rustic tones.

And don’t forget to take the climate of your honeymoon destination into consideration, too.

Honeymoon Venue: Chewton Glen Country House

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 Chewton Glen Country House & Spa - a quintessentially English escape.

As the only privately owned five star hotel in the UK and only a two hour drive from central London, Chewton Glen is the perfect weekend getaway to include in your English honeymoon. On arrival, guests are escorted to their choice of suite with their own private golf cart, situated upon 130 acres of exquisite countryside. Whether you are after something traditional or more contemporary, there are rooms and suites to suit everyone, all with an emphasis on comfort.

What makes Chewton Glen truly unique though, are its treehouse suites, nestled ten metres above ground and offering impeccable panoramic views. Focusing on the finer details, the treehouse suites provide everything you’ll need so you never have to venture out. Every morning, a breakfast hamper is delivered through a secret hatch and treats you with everything from pancakes to salmon and cream cheese bagels. An outdoor hot tub on your private terrace, a bespoke walk-in shower, hot chocolate buttons and mini marshmallows (or a bottle of Pinot), complete the offering and make for superior comfort. Located within the rustic woodlands and tree canopies, these treehouse suites are an eccentric hideaway.

The hotel is situated between the New Forest National Park and the seaside, meaning there are countless activities to enjoy, should you decide to venture out of your couple cave. Whether you stay on-site and enjoy a game of croquet or archery, take a private tour of the New Forest by horseback, enjoy a short drive to one of England’s many coastline towns, or unwind with a break at the spa, the quiet English hamlet has something to offer any couple’s style, not to mention its crystal steam rooms and grand Roman-themed pool.

If you decide you want to explore further, take the opportunity to discover the magnificent attractions that surround Chewton, the likes of Stonehenge, the Exbury Gardens, the Isle of Wight and Winchester Cathedralall within close proximity.

Back at the hotel, guests are provided with a full range of dining options for any hour of the day. The Dining Room is where James Martin and Jean Christophe-Novelli, some of Britain’s most well-known chefs, learned their craft, offering everything from the typically English to the more contemporary cuisine.The Pool Bar provides guests with lighter and more delicate options.

Enjoy the great English tradition of afternoon tea served between 3pm and 4pm on the terrace, or, of course, opt for the 24 hour room service. An array of seasonal fruits, vegetables, herbs and edible flowers are even harvested from their very own nursery as part of their commitment to ethical sustainability. Guests can pair any dish with their personal selection of over sixteen hundred individual wines from Chewton Glen’s multi-award winning wine list.

Its luxurious aspects, unique, finer qualities and unexpected details are what have earned Chewton Glen an array of prestigious awards, ranging from Best Large Hotel in the United Kingdom (2016) to Countryside Hotel of the Year (2016).

You will not be disappointed in Chewton Glen Country House and Spa for your honeymoon or for a relaxing British escape.

Choosing Your Wedding Songs

Harlow Garland Weddings

Thank you to our wonderful readers for taking advantage of our "Ask Rhonnie" facility, the place for you to ask your wedding planning questions and have them answered by our director with her 16 years of wedding planning experience.

We have seven call-ins last week about wedding songs:

  • What song should we play as we walk down the aisle?
  • What song should play during the signing?
  • What about the recessional?
  • What about our first dance?!

Yes, there are indeed a number of song cues and an ever expanding catalogue of music to choose from. When it comes down to it, it's all about songs that have meaning to you and your partner - whether that's something romantic and soft or something bouncy and comedic, the songs should be relevant to you.

The main two you need to worry about are the processional (walking down the aisle) and the first dance because for the signing, you're really not paying attention to music and the recessional you're too busy fielding congratulations and salutations from excited guests.

The signing is usually just something instrumental and soft - you don't want to excite the guests too much at this point because it'll be all the more difficult to hush them and continue the ceremony afterwards.

The recessional is common for more upbeat bouncy numbers that get the guests riled up and act out the excitement musically for both the wedding party and guests.

If you don't have a couple's song or songs that you can think of, consider songs you've shared but haven't reserved as your own - perhaps a song he added to a playlist for you, a song he mentioned makes him think of you or her favourite romantic song.

If absolutely nothing springs to mind, it's time to head to the catalogue. Apps like Spotify can be brilliant in this scenario because once you set up the type of music you're looking for, it'll start making suggestions, same with iheartradio and Pandora. Youtube has some great 'wedding playlists' you can rifle through for inspiration or you can of course turn to the classics - Nat King Cole and Frank Sinatra.

There are no rules around what you can and can't play - one couple hip hopped down the aisle to Chris Brown, another sauntered down to Christina Perri's "A Thousand Years" - it's all about choosing the style of your wedding and the music that fits.

A European themed wedding at a private venue would benefit from a string quartet or Spanish guitarist, even a harpist would be an amazing choice.

A busier venue that you don't have exclusive use of would be better suited to music cued up by your Maestro for the day - preselected songs where the volume can be adequately controlled to suit the noise of the day.

A church with it's incredible acoustics is best suited to a piano, vocals with strings or solely acoustic harmonies.

If you're planning more of a hootenanny that a refined event, an elegant instrumental quartet simply won't fit the bill.

One thing to bear in mind is lyrics - you may find a beautiful melody to saunter down the aisle to but if the lyrics are crooning about lost love or death, it's not going to be an appropriate song.

We've put together a playlist of some common wedding songs and some tha twe just love - whether you choose to use them for an aisle song, a first dance or the filler music during the ceremony, we hope you'll find some inspiration!

 
 

Remember we offer FREE advice to all couples planning their wedding themselves - we want to ensure everyone can achieve their dream day!

Honeymoon Venue: Magic Cottages at Takou River

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 Magic Cottages at Takou River, right here in New Zealand.

Located just outside Kerikeri in the beautiful Bay of Islands, Magic Cottages is a beautiful riverside retreat set on the banks of the picturesque Takou River. Voted one of the Top Ten Luxury Lodges in New Zealand, Magic Cottages offers a secluded honeymoon haven, four private cottages, a lodge and a luxury 'Glamping' site among 150 acres of certified organic pasture, native bush and sub-tropical gardens.

Close your eyes and just imaging the indulgence of a private cottage complete with alfresco claw-foot bath, cosy wood fire, pampering spa treatments and delicious gourmet meals all in the privacy and luxury of this hidden locale, just moments from the Bay's sandy beaches.

If you find yourself venturing out of the room, take the opportunity to explore the acreage or borrow one of the lodge's kayaks or canoes to see the location from the water. Just upstream, you'll find the Maori Waka Mataatua monument and downstream, the deserted Takou Bay beach where you can hunt for shellfish or enjoy a romantic picnic.

If you find yourself venturing further, you'll encounter Kerikeri township about 20 minutes from the lodge with all manner of cafes, farmers markets, wineries, contemporary arts and crafts and award winning restuarants on offer. Also around the same distance away, you'll find the beautiful beaches at Matauri Bay, the majestic giant Kauri Forests and the famous ninety-mile beach.

A little further away, you'll find the historic town of Russell, the marine attractions at Paihia and the House at Waitangi. For the avid golfers, you're close to the world class Kauri Cliffs Golf Course or if viticulture is more up your alley, you'll find a plethora of stunning wineries including Marsden Estate and Ake Ake to name a couple.

For the more adventurous, the Twin Coast Cycle Trail offers 84kms of striking scenery including a section of the historic restored steam railway between Kawakawa and Opua or if your preference is to go by foot, there are a number of tracks of various lengths in the area which the lodge can provide maps and guidance to. For something a little extra exciting, opt for a jet boat ride around the islands to the Hole in the Rock, try kite surfing, parasailing or head to Action World to take on the Flying Trapeze, Tarzan Swings, Jousting and Climbing.

Whatever you're looking for for your honeymoon, whether it's a secluded couple's cave hideaway or a chance to explore together, Magic Cottages makes for both your perfect home base and home away from home, all in one.

Honeymoon Venue: The Palm Grove Villas, Nusa Lembongan, Bali

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 the Palm Grove Villas on the island of Nusa Lembongan, Bali.

A supremely speedy speed-boat ride from Sanur on one of the many commercial speed boats available will bring you to Lembongan Harbour on the island of Nusa Lembongan.

The island is one of a cluster that form Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembongan, and Ceningan islands.

As part of your boat fare, you'll be transported directly to your accommodations so there's no need to panic about how to find your way once you're there.

We were lucky enough to visit this hotel a couple of weeks ago and as we drove through the streets dropping off guests, noting how each little place looked wonderful, I recall saying 'Oh I hope this is our place' just as the truck stopped to let us out.

Situated 100 m from Lembongan Beach, The Palm Grove Villas features private villas with private entrances and traditional Balinese thatched roofs. The resort offers an outdoor pool and garden.

The villas themselves are so cool thanks to the new air conditioning units and provide outdoor bathrooms which are incredible - standing in the sun (with adequate privacy, don't worry) in your outdoor shower is rather liberating!

The hotel is one of few villas meaning the level of customer service is extremely high. The villas are all situated around the main pool area making the pool and poolside restraurant the place to congregate when you're not off exploring the island.

If you do head off on foot, there are a number of great walks to be made. Take a saunter down to the beach, have lunch at the Sadeg Lembongan resort or join up with one of the many snorkelling boats, paddle boarding operators and scuba dive boats on offer.

It doesn't matter which one you choose, they all go to exactly the same spots and tie up together so you're not losing anything by choosing a local, less fancypants provider and you're actually likely to have more fun in the experience as you speak in smiles, laughs and body language rather than much resembling English. (This is not a barrier, just go and have fun).

While there's a great restaurant at the resort, we definitely recommend venturing out a bit and heading to Sandy Bay Beach Club for sunset cocktails or dinner - it has the best vantage point for sunset viewing on the island. Follow the directions Google Maps sends you, even if it doesn't actually look like a path because on our walk there, we took the 'local route' as advised by Google Maps and it was actually a far more fun way to go.

For dinners and lunches, we recommend Hai Bar and Grill, situated right on the beach, with incerdible food and at night some dancing to entertain you, the restaurant is owned by an American man who dines with the diners and makes an effort to speak to each and every one of them. He even recognised us the next day and made a point of coming up to say 'hi'.

The Palm Grove Villas is a wonderfully inexpensive option on Nusa Lembongan, the island where you won't encounter bothersome hawkers or loads of tourists, don't need to worry so much about security and where everyone is supremely delightful.