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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!

Wedding Themes: Do I Have to Have One?

When it comes time to decide on a 'theme' for their wedding, many brides are immediately caught in the pressure and confusion of what it all means and more often than not on the forums and discussion groups, we hear "Do I have to have one?" 

The answer in short, is no. A theme is not a necessity, moreso what you need is "Cohesion". 

Cohesion is effectively just making sure everything fits together. It doesn't matter what your taste or what you're trying to classify your wedding as, it's surprisingly easy to fit multiple 'themes' together as long as they have cohesion. 

One example of a wedding theme-a-plooza gone wrong was one written in to us by a guest at the wedding wherein the bride couldn't decide on one theme and so chose everything she wanted without giving thought to how it all fit together. 

The invitation stationery suite was Pohutukawa themed, luxurious, informative and as a first point of contact, lets your guests know what to expect on the day in regards to formality and lets them know what the dress sense and feel of your wedding will be before you officially announce it. 

At the chapel itself on the day, the pews were haphazardly decorated with scruffy blue tulle and wildflowers and the bridal party carried blooms of all different colour and texture without any sense of uniformity or again, cohesion. 

The reception was near the beach and featured boats, anchors, shells and sand as centrepieces with European themed favours of personalised olive oil bottles. 

The overall feel was 'haphazard' and felt as if it were put together at the last minute without much thought. The reality though was on the contrary and at a large expense. 

It's easy to get carried away with all the pins on Pinterest and the many various ways you'd love to style your wedding but bearing in mind Rhonnie's simple 'Rule of Cohesion' will allow you to combine multiple themes and styles in a way that looks purposeful and well planned. 

In this particular instance, the themes could have been combined a little better, what we would have done - presuming the beach theme (since the reception venue was on the beach) and the original Pohutukawas were the main idea ruling the styling - we would incorporate the two. 

Imag e via: 

The flowers could have featured wildflowers grown around the beach - think of the textures! the soft Pussy Willows, the Toi Toi, Pohutukawa blooms,  Daisies and assorted greenery - even succulents depending on which beach you're looking to emulate. Something like the bouquet featured in today's hero image would be perfect. 

Then for the centrepieces - why not continue the style of the flowers through to the reception by bringing in Toi Toi and Pussy Willows for high arrangements with a garland of loosely tied oyster shells, rope tied mason jar candles and perhaps some driftwood or coral depending on the mood/ feel you're after over a latte toned calico drop tablecloth.

Once you develop a sense of cohesion for your style, you begin to see how various elements can fit together quite seamlessly, without needing to decide on a hard and fast 'theme' to rule your wedding day. It's also significantly less daunting that selecting a theme at the start, rolling out the invitations and changing your mind in the months in between or finding it near-impossible to source the decorative elements you need to bring it to fruition. 

Go crazy on Pinterest, pin to your hearts content and then refine it based on the 'feel' you want - the level of formality - how you'd like your guests to dress and behave on the day- how you yourselves want to feel on the day and from there, you'll find it much simpler to continue your planning without the restrictions of a singular theme.

If you ever do get stuck, we love answering your questions at no charge - that's right, NO CHARGE! - because we want you to feel relaxed in your planning. Or one step further than that, we offer several starter packages to help you Get Started or to review your planning leading up to the big day to ensure nothing has been missed out.