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Wedding Venue: The Old Church, Napier

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Selecting a venue for your wedding can sometimes be the most difficult decision in the whole the wedding planning process. So, to make your decision that little bit simpler, we present one of our favourite venues, the stunning The Old Church in Napier, Hawke’s Bay.

The Old Church is a gorgeous historical building dating back 150 years. Set amongst the vines, and with views out towards the Ruahines this vintage location is one of a kind. As one of the leading winery wedding venues in Hawke’s Bay it offers a great indoor outdoor ceremony.

Its fascinating history goes back to its first incarnation in 1862 when the missionaries began planting vines and cultivating the land around St Mary’s. The brothers were popular, industrious and very successful farmers, sharing their skills and ideas freely.

The Old Church boasts high ceilings, and an impressive chandelier creating that breathtaking impact for your wedding. This church then opens onto the conservatory and out into the courtyard garden. This compact venue can be great for guests to mingle while the bridal party takes photos amongst the vines and beautiful buildings.

When the light fades, the magic really starts to happen at The Old Church. As a venue for amazing wedding photography, it offers a range of visual stories in one location; the fresh and distinctly Hawke's Bay landscape of the vineyard, the diverse interior spaces, the romance of the candle-lit underground cellar and the rustic charm of the church set at the end of a long tree-lined driveway.

This venue offers the best of each season. Whatever the season or weather, the venue is perfect for both. Autumn and Winter weddings are equally if not more beautiful than those in summer. With the sun setting earlier, the beauty of our fairy lights, candlelight and beautiful chandeliers glow in all their magnificence. The exceptional colors of the leaves of the Vineyard lend an incredible background to your wedding and photography.

The Old Church also offers a smaller location for the more intimate weddings. The villa on site offers space for up to 50 people. This stylish renovated villa, set amidst graceful surroundings next to The Old Church, is enhanced by tall trees, ornate gardens & a beautiful fountain.

The gorgeous The Old Church offers many options for couples to make the most of their wedding weekend. Whether it be the ceremony in the church, photos amongst the vines or candle-lit dinners, this Hawke’s Bay venue is one of a kind.

Wedding venue: Criffel Station Woolshed, Wanaka

Selecting a venue for your wedding can sometimes be the most difficult decision in the whole the wedding planning process. So, to make your decision that little bit simpler, we present one of our favourite new wedding venues, the rustically beautiful Criffel Station Woolshed.

The Criffel Station Woolshed venue is a romantically relaxed setting among Wanaka’s rolling landscape. The 2000 hectare high country deer farm is only seven kilometres from Wanaka town, but feels like you’re on another world.

The venue offers three idyllic rural venues; Criffel Station Woolshed, Stone Hut Terrace and the 100-year-old Homestead. The Station’s rural charm is the perfect backdrop for a stunningly, memorable wedding. The Woolshed boasts natural charm creating the warmth of a rural, rustic wedding in the heart of Central Otago. The history of the Woolshed has been retained using materials from around the station.

The newly landscaped Stone Hut Terraces is another location option. It’s an area exclusively fenced off - for a marquee - from the working farm that looks out to Mt Barker and across the Wanaka basin. While it is a site purpose built, it keeps in with the natural landscape but includes tended lawns, a gravelled fire pit with outdoor seating. As part of a wedding package, this venue offers a one-night stay at the shearers cottage for the bridal and groom.

When it comes to photography you’ll be spoilt for choice of backdrop. Whether it be in the woolshed among memorabilia or out near the yards. This combined with Wanaka’s renowned dry landscape in the summer or snow-capped mountains in the winter, there will always be the perfect background. Or if you love the rural surroundings but wanting more summer feelings, Lake Wanaka is close by for stunning lakeside photos.

Guests will have the options of various rural-style accommodation. The Gardener’s Cottage are for those we love an authentic experience and to be surrounded by fields where deer roam. Or for those summer wedding, guests can be treated to glamping, tipi-like-bell tents that are reminiscent of vintage safari and summer time.

The end of the wedding day will continue outside on the makeshift dance floor with the live band, or continue indoors. With its rustic country setting, Criffel Station Woolshed is a unique venue for your wedding day. Its various ceremony location and accommodation options, as well as their extra packages, it will ensure a perfect day beyond compare for any couple.

Making Your Guests Feel Comfortable

Your wedding day will probably be one of the most important days of your life and most couples want their day to stand out from the rest. Adding details to your wedding day that are customised to you and your partner is the perfect way to make your day more special and unique. To help make your wedding as unique as you are, we have crafted together our top tips for customising your wedding day.

There are a handful of things to keep in mind when thinking about guests’ comfort on your wedding day. While it is the bride and grooms day, making sure guests are treated like royalty while they celebrate is important.

Tips for outdoor weddings:

Outdoor weddings provide a beautiful backdrop and a fun atmosphere, but they can also bring unpredictable weather. Summer weddings have the blessing of warmer evenings but the heat can be overwhelming if guests are seated outside, so offering a hand fans for guests is an easy solution. Another way to protect guests in the heat is offering sunscreen or sunglasses. Winter weddings can bring similar changes in weather, so having umbrellas and throws for those outside can be an easy way to make sure guests are comfortable.

Tips for guest activities:

Some brides can be worried if their guests are really having a good time at their wedding. Offering activities for guests of all ages can put a bride’s mind at ease. For those who plan to have children at the wedding, a craft table or simple games are a popular trend, such as activity or colouring books. Even the older guests would get involved in these. Outdoor weddings are perfect to offer lawn bowls or croquet as an easy way to keep guests involved.

Tips for the reception:

Involving guests in certain phases of the reception is a nice way to end the day. Song requests cards can be a great way to make sure everyone can hear their favourite.

Tips For Having Your Wedding At Home

Image by Kate Little for Harlow Garland and NZ Bride and Groom Magazine

Image by Kate Little for Harlow Garland and NZ Bride and Groom Magazine

Whether you want a wedding that is more sentimental and simple or if you are just looking to cut costs, having your wedding at your own home or a loved ones home can be a great option. However, with having your wedding at home there are a lot more details that you may find yourself needing to consider. Here are some of our top tips for saying your “I do’s” at home.

Consider Your Available Space

Firstly you will need to evaluate the space that you have and decide which areas will be best for different aspects of your wedding. You may want to have your ceremony in your backyard followed by cocktails inside and a free flowed reception. If you are having any aspect of your wedding in your backyard, you may want to consider also hiring a marquee. This will provide shelter from any rain, wind or harsh sun.

Prepare Your Landscape

One of the beauties of having an at home wedding is that your backyard can take care of some of your décor. Although, to have it in perfect shape you will need to start preparing it at least 2 months prior to your wedding day. Whether this is just mowing your lawns or reseeding, replanting and sodding your garden. You may even want to hire a landscaper for professional help and advice with this to get it as perfect and beautiful for your day as possible.


Natural, as well as artificial, lighting is an important aspect to consider for your wedding. If you are having your ceremony outside, consider where the Sun will be so that you can have golden glowing light rather than stark light in your guest’s eyes. As it becomes dark, outdoor lighting is not only important for ambience but also for safety. To ensure safety, illuminate all your walkways and the dance floor with directional lighting. For beautiful ambience, hang lanterns and wrap stringing lights around your trees, fencing, and even the ceiling of your marquee.


While you are having your wedding at home you cannot do everything yourself. Consider all the people you will need to hire including, caterers, people to help with set up and cleaners. For an at home wedding we highly recommend also having a wedding planner that can help you with the planning process, set up as well as taking care of any important logistics such as permits and insurance. Here at Harlow Garland we are wedding planners that can provide you with the utmost in quality and service.

Be Good Neighbours

Be sure to tell your neighbours of your wedding well in advance so that they can be prepared – they may even offer you their driveways for parking space. Be sure to also tell them what time your ceremony will be taking place so that they can be cautious of loud activities – such as mowing their lawns. We recommend gifting them a bottle of wine or box of chocolates to thank them for being understanding of any noise or inconveniences.

by Rhonnie Snelgar

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.