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! 

Bridal Shower Planning

Photo by Kate Little for Harlow Garland

Photo by Kate Little for Harlow Garland

Compared to a hen’s night, the bridal shower is a much more elegant event. In today’s modern times it does not always have to be the maid of honour that plans the bridal shower. It can often be the bride’s mother, sister, a close friend or even them all together. If the planning of the bridal shower happens to fall on your shoulders, we have put together a basic planning guide to make it that little bit more simple for you.

When To Have It

Typically, the bridal shower takes place two to three months prior to the wedding day. Any closer to the wedding than one month the bride will possibly be too busy with last minute wedding planning to enjoy herself. Always be sure to communicate with the bride to ensure a time and date that would suit her best.

Who To Invite

When it is time to create the guest list, it is always best to communicate with the bride to see who she would like to invite. Keep in mind that the people who are being invited should only be people who are also invited to the wedding. Sometimes brides are lucky enough to have more than one bridal shower thrown for them, in this case you may want to invite different people than those that have already been invited to another one. Although, it is best to always invite the bride’s mother, future mother-in-law, sisters and sisters-in-law.

Where To Have It

Where the bridal shower is held largely depends on your budget – and sometimes even your theme. Some people choose to reserve a space in a restaurant while others opt for a backyard event. If you are having the bridal party at a restaurant it is best to book it in as soon as possible to ensure your reservation.

Have A Style And Theme

It is important to decide what theme and style you wish to have for the shower. Whether it will be a brunch affair, cocktails, a sit down dinner or even a group activity. Group activities are becoming increasingly popular, such as a cooking or painting class. A theme and style also ensures the shower is cohesive, by the likes of colours, décor and even packaged favours for the guests.

Keep Track Of Gifts

With the bridal shower comes a lot of gift giving and the bride will often want to send out thank you notes to each person. To make this easier for her, it is a good idea for you (or to assign someone) to write down the name of the guest and what gift they gave to her. At the end of the shower you can then present this list to the bride – she will definitely be thankful for your help.

Click here for our blog post all about bridal shower history and superstitions.

Rehearsal Dinner Etiquette

It is the eve of your wedding and all the planning is complete, which means it is time for your rehearsal dinner. The rehearsal dinner for your wedding provides you with a chance to relax with your nearest and dearest before the excitement follows for the big day - it is also a wonderful opportunity to thank your wedding party for their participation in your big day. Keep reading for everything you need to know about your pre-wedding soiree.

When Is It?

Typically rehearsal dinners take place the night prior to the wedding and after the wedding rehearsal although, it can take place whenever suits you best. Despite its name, it could also be a rehearsal lunch or brunch – these are often more informal.

Wedding Rehearsal

Prior to the dinner taking place, all that are involved in the ceremony should attend the wedding rehearsal. The wedding rehearsal will involve a walk through of the ceremony to establish timing and to ensure everyone knows his or her own responsibilities. We recommend having copies of ceremony programs for the rehearsal so that everyone can easily follow along with what is happening.

Who Is Invited?

The people that are needed at the rehearsal dinner include the bride and groom, their parents, the wedding party, the officiant and anyone who may be doing any readings. Although, many couples also choose to invite grandparents and other immediate family members, close friends and anyone who has travelled from out of town as a way of making the dinner also a welcoming party.

The Hosts

Traditionally, general etiquette says that the groom’s parents should host the rehearsal dinner. Although, with modern times couples often decide to plan and pay for the event themselves or, sometimes the parents of both the bride and groom will arrange the planning and payment between themselves. Whoever hosts the rehearsal dinner should always keep in mind the desires of the bride and groom and communicate with them to avoid any conflict or misunderstandings.

Location And Style

The rehearsal dinner can be anything from a formal dinner to a casual outdoor event - these aspects often largely depend on the guest list and budget. Couples often opt for a restaurant although, a casual backyard barbeque is a great option too. The style of the rehearsal dinner often compliments the wedding – although be careful not to overshadow it. You may want to opt for a complete style contrast with a casual dinner and black tie wedding.

Click here for a timeline on planning your rehearsal dinner.

It's All About the Cheese Course

by Harlow Garland

by Harlow Garland

Harlow Garland

Harlow Garland

When looking at the veritable plethora of wedding cake options, couples are inundated with decisions - will we do one cake or several? Cupcakes or Croquembouche? What about pies? What about take-home individual cakes? If we get one big cake, what flavour do we want? Do we do the tradtional fruit cake layer or give it a miss? Tiered? Layered? Naked? - it's all enough to turn you off cake altogether and so with that in mind, we go off cake and onto cheese.

Initially an odd premise, but over the last few years a more common occurrence at weddings is, the cheese cake. No, we're not talking about cream cheese and marscapone, nor the frozen dessert kind but rather the more literal definition - multiple complementary cheeses of different sizes, stacked to resemble a wedding cake and then styled to suit.

This is fantastic for the society wedding or for those with a more savoury palate and tends to replace the wedding cake and the cheese course in one all-in-one delicious and beautifully presented, edible masterpiece. The decoration can be as simple or elaborate as you wish - whether that means a simple halo of foliage or the addition of a single flower like we've opted for in this particular case or a dramatic display of seasonal fruit, nuts, twigs and berries to create a veritable cornucopia of decadence - which is what we love to do.

This one is a collection of incredible cheeses sourced from Sabato who are a gourmet deli in Auckland and who know their cheese. If you're going to opt for a cheese cake, it's important that you're choosing to buy from someone who understands cheese, who knows which cheeses complement each oher, which cheese will stand up to being out of the fridge a while and which will be most suitable for stacking at each level.

They should also be able to suggest what accompaniments will enhance and complement your chosen cheeses both from a decorative aspect and flavour aspect with chutneys, condiments, cured meats, fruit and nuts all part and parcel with the cheese selection.

Pricing goes by weight, number of layers and of course which cheeses you choose - a wise old aged cheddar will be more expensive that a newborn edam, so it's important to go in to visit the Cheesemonger, (sample the cheeses) and talk budget. It's quite fortuitous that there generally aren't any set prices - there can be and Sabato for example does mention several but because of the completely bespoke nature of the cheese cake, it can be as cost effective or wildly indulgent as you choose it to be.

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!

Harlow Garland Featured in Bride and Groom Magazine

We are beyond ecstatic to finally be able to share with you the gorgeous 4 page spread of our Industrial Winter styled shoot as featured in the latest issue of NZ Bride and Groom Magazine! 

We've been keeping it under wraps the last few weeks and we're positively bursting with excitement now that it's finally here. 

One of our images also made the contents page for a close-up gorgeous early intro to the shoot.

We wanted to take the time to again thank our amazing suppliers: 

The Pretty Prop Shop, Vinka Design, Kate Little Photography, Meagan Rawlings Makeup Artist, Robyn Munro from Inspired Hair, Alannah Hill, Munns, Ponsonby Central, The Great Hiring Company, The Studio of Tableware, Create + Curate Design Studio and our gorgeous, wonderful models for being a part of this incredibly fun shoot!

Our vision truly came to life through Kate's lens and we are so overjoyed to have it feature so prominently in NZ Bride and Groom Magazine. 

Allow us to bring your dream wedding vision to life!

See our other press features here.

Follow us on Instagram