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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: Makoura Lodge

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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 beautiful Makoura Lodge Wedding Venue near Palmerston North.

One of Manawatu’s stunning wedding venues is just one hour’s drive from Palmerston North. Surrounded by farmland and native gardens, this venue has it all. Multiple location options for the ceremony, gorgeous backdrops for photos and accommodation for you and the guests.

The property has been owned by the McIntyre family since 1896. It is renowned for its hospitality, relaxed atmosphere and homemade food.

Exchange vows in the native gardens created especially for the special day. The beauty of this venue is it’s seasonal options. The gardens are perfect and cool for the warmer months, but during the winter and when unexpected weather hits the indoor option has a Makoura Lodge rustic charm. After the ceremony, the guests can make the most of the well kept lawns while enjoying celebratory drinks and can indulge in afternoon activities while the wedding party are out getting photos.

The reception lodge can sit up to 110 guests and offers a variety in fresh and organic produce on the menu. Why not make a trip of it and book the lodge for the whole weekend. They offer exclusive use of our; Lodge Accommodation, Glenluce Homestead, Burnside cottage, Glamping tent and our Riverside Honeymoon suite for your wedding, which can sleep a total of 62 guests.

Due to the venue’s remote location, many onsite activities are offered to guests staying at the site. Horse trekking and 4WD across the farmland can add extra fun to the special weekend. Learn to ride a horse or play archery at their facilities, and give axe throwing and crosscut wood sawing a go. Clay bird shooting then mini golf followed by a campfire can end the gorgeous weekend on a high note.

Winter wedding can also be enjoyed at Makoura Lodge which boasts an open fire at dinner time, and an old fashioned woolshed for photos. The nearby Ruahine Ranges are snowcapped during the cooler months which offer stunning photographic backdrop.

The secluded Makoura Lodge Wedding Venue is the most stunning wedding location. Whether it be for a the day, or for the whole weekend experience, this family farm venue has it all.

Wedding Venue Spotlight: Willowbrook Park

Selecting a venue for your wedding to take place can sometimes be the most difficult decision in the entirety of the wedding planning process. So, to make your decision that little bit simpler, we present one of our favourite new wedding venues, the beautifully grand Willowbrook Park.

Willowbrook Park is a stunning 18th century private country estate situated upon 30 acres of picturesque land which was once an apple orchard. Prior to its opening to private bookings this year, owners David and Peter Cowell spent their time creating ad landscaping the gardens themselves. They have planted over 15,000 bushes, trees and plants in order to construct spectacular themed gardens and outdoor-rooms, which have been faultlessly designed in a way that blends seamlessly with the surroundings.

Having your wedding at Willowbrook Park will allow all your dreams to come true. They cater for up to 50 guests and offer an array of options for you to choose from when deciding where in the estate to say your ‘I dos’ and where to have your reception. This could be in a serene garden placed by the lake, intertwined in the blooming fruit trees, in a marquee on the perfect lawns or even in the grand ballroom. With so many options to choose from, there is a perfect area for any couple's big day.

When it comes to your wedding photography, you will again be spoilt for choice. Enjoy exclusive access to areas across the whole of Willowbrook Park. Whether you choose the manor, gardens or one of the numerous other settings, you can be sure that you will be provided with stunning backdrops and photographs that are truly unique.

Willowbrook Park works closely with one of the Waikato’s most highly sought after catering companies, Kerr and Ladbrook Catering. If you choose to, they can work with you to design a menu for your wedding that will not only complement your day, but also the season. Choose from buffet and plated options as well as an array of delectable canapés. Enjoy the likes of Vietnamese prawn skewers, manuka honey pork and blueberry and almond tartlets.

The end of your wedding day doesn't necessarily hark the end of your stay at Willowbrook. Extend your stay in one of the estate's luxury suites. Choose from the three types of themed suites Brideshead, Chatsworth or Blenheim. Each suite has been designed in a way which exudes ultimate luxury with timeless furnishings and impeccable views of the countryside and beautiful gardens. Staying at Willowbrook Park is also the perfect option for you and your bridal party the night prior to your big day to help eliminate any unwanted stress.

With its unique and grand setting, Willowbrook Park is a timeless and opulent venue for your wedding day. Its array of ceremony and reception options as well as its magnificent surroundings will ensure a perfect day beyond compare for any type of couple with any style of wedding.

Venue Spotlight: The Rippon Hall

The Rippon Hall- an impeccable location overlooking its own vineyards, Lake Wanaka and the mountains beyond, what more could you ask for?

Its endless styling possibilities are just one reason The Rippon Hall such an appealing venue. After 30 years of planning it was wisely built from the land, the walls made from compacted earth dug from the hillside and trusses built from the land’s own forest.

The surroundings of The Rippon Hall, offer a natural amphitheatre, gift in prospective brides an array of options for stunning outdoor weddings.. The majestic atmosphere created by the backdrop of the vineyards, Lake Wanaka and the Southern Alps are an ever popular location to hold your nuptials. For an even more private option, opt for the nursery site, nestled intimately between the vines.

Choose to share your vows in this romantic setting, followed by continuing the celebration on the expansive terrace or in the grand hall. The main hall can also be the perfect option for an incredible winter wedding. With its native rimu flooring, it is a blank canvas to really let your unique touches and imagination shine.
Imagine opulent white draping, a sparkling night sky of fairy lights overhead,, or floral garlands woven among the rafters, all framing the stunning picture window which looks out to that inimitable view. All with the roar of the lavish log burner which works quietly to keep the room cosy and intimate.

If you prefer something slightly more exclusive for your special occasion, The Rippon Hall also offers a smaller loft space. Should you opt to simply spend your ceremony at Rippon, there are options to suit you also, with the various extraordinary outdoor spaces and The Rippon Hall allowing for smaller or larger gatherings.

The extensive caterers’ kitchen opens onto the hall’s terrace, surrounded in lush evergreen, it is the perfect location for post ceremony drinks and canapés while the guests watch as the newlyweds are photographed among the vines.

As Rippon is one of Otago’s oldest vineyards, they are pleased to serve their own wines at all of the venues weddings. With the well-deserved worldwide reputation that Central Otago has for its Pinot Noir, Rippon has various popular and delectable Pinots. Not to mention the other varieties that Rippon’s vineyard has on offer. To select your favourite of Rippon’s wines, it is suggested you attend a wine tasting in the venues own wine tasting room in the weeks prior to your wedding.

With access to The Rippon Hall from the day prior, you have extensive time to hold your rehearsal dinner as well as prepare your decor for the big day, with proficient staff to work alongside you. This ensures your special day will run as smoothly as possible, giving you time to truly enjoy and take in the exciting and memorable experience that it is.

With its spectacular backdrop, there are many photography locations to choose from, the likes of the verge of Lake Wanaka, intertwined in the vineyards or in front of the main hall’s warm firelight during the winter months. Whichever you may decide upon, you can be certain that your wedding will result in exquisite photography.

With its fantastic facilities and remarkable setting, The Rippon Hall is a timeless and opulent venue beyond compare ready and waiting to impress you and your guests for your wedding or next event.

Harlow Garland is the exclusive wedding planner for The Rippon Hall.

Questions to Ask Your Caterer

Whether you're planning to have your caterer come to you, you're choosing a venue that is BYO Caterer or you're simply exploring a new venue and chatting the chef, you're bound to miss out a few pertinent questions, so we've compiled a range of them here for you to pick and choose the questions that are most relevant to your choice of caterer.


  1. Can we see a range of sample menus and prices?
  2. Can we see some pictures of your work?
  3. What can you provide within our budget?
  4. Can you cater for guests with special dietary requirements?
  5. Can we have a taste test of the food?
  6. Are there any extra costs i.e. glassware, linen etc.?
  7. Is there a minimum charge?
  8. Do you require a deposit?
  9. What is your refund / cancellation policy?
  10. What happens to our deposit if you close down the business?
  11. When do we need to pay the balance?
  12. When do we need to advise numbers?
  13. Do you have the necessary food preparation licenses?
  14. Could you tell us about a wedding you did where something went wrong and how you handled it?
  15. Do you specialise in a certain cuisine or type of menu?
  16. Where is the food prepared? Do you bring it ready-cooked or do you need the kitchen?
  17. Do you take care of the cleaning / washing up?
  18. When does the menu need to be finalised by?
  19. How will your wait staff be dressed?
  20. For buffet meals, how often will food be replenished?
  21. How long do you serve food for?
  22. Can guests help themselves for as long as they want?
  23. How many wait staff will we have? (Rule of thumb: 1 per 16 to 20 guests for a sit down meal or 1 per 25 for buffet or cocktail receptions.)
  24. How is the cost of beverages calculated?
  25. How is usage confirmed?
  26. What brands will be served? If they offer house wine - Can we taste it?
  27. Can we bring our own beer, wine etc. and will there be a corkage fee?
  28. What alternatives to alcohol do you offer?
  29. If we arrange a cash bar, what prices will be charged?
  30. Do you provide a bar person? When will they be staffing the bar?
  31. Are you familiar with this venue? Will you confirm kitchen facilities, clean-up rules etc.?
  32. Who will be responsible for any problems, breakages etc.?
  33. (If they are coming to your venue) - How will you transport and store the food?
  34. Is the price quoted guaranteed for our wedding day?
  35. Do you organise the cutting / serving of the wedding cake? Is there an extra charge for this?
  36. Can you provide boxed meals for us both to take away with us? (You might be so busy chatting with your guests or extra nervous that you may miss the meal).
  37. Who will be there on the day making sure everything runs smoothly?

Beverage requirements

(based on 100 people)

  • Champagne - 48 bottles
  • Wine - 100 bottles
  • Dessert wine - 17 x 375ml
  • Beer bottles - 200-300
  • Punch - 5 bottles of spirits + 60 cups of mixers
  • Non Alcoholic - 50 litres
  • Canapés - 200-300
  • Full canapés - 1200 – 2400 for 2hr party

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