Handy Hints

Listed are 17 tips I hope will be of help with the planning your wedding.

1. It’s Your Day, it’s Your Way; make sure everyone knows ‘your’ vision for your wedding.
You are planning life’s most important ceremony;
make sure you have the wedding of ‘your dreams’, not someone else’s. Do you want a traditional formal wedding? Are you looking for a more relaxed style on the beach or in a lovely garden.

Beach & garden weddings are popular ceremony venues as couples can combine the glamour and sophistication of beautiful clothes, with the natural loveliness of nature for their ceremony.

The nice aspect of today’s weddings in New Zealand is that couple’s can select where, when and how they wish to be married and it is not every couples desire to have a traditional style wedding.
For example; a couple who had their very formal wedding booked with me and then some 3 months before the actual date, they wisely decided to use the saved wedding money as part deposit for a home. A year later, the wedding was re-booked at their new home. The entire lawn was covered with tables settings and umbrellas supplied by family and friends and a number of BBQ’s offering different food types made for a great atmosphere.

I have in the past been involved in surprise weddings where the couple have invited family and friends to a BBQ on the pretence of it being an engagement/birthday/Christmas/New Years Eve party, (whatever worked).

When everyone invited was present, the bride and groom slipped away, got changed, the music was switched to the wedding march and ‘surprise, surprise’ they are getting married. [TOP]


2. Guest List: be tough, once you’ve established a budget, stick to it. You can always invite friends to your ceremony and or your dance rather than having a massive budget blow out by getting carried away and inviting guests with your heart and not your head. [TOP]

3. Guests Contribution: it is becoming more popular for couples who already have a well established home, to ask their guests to pay for their meal instead of a buying a present. A cash bar is not only sensible nowadays, but the expected practice. If you have difficulty in finding the right words asking for money instead of a wedding gift, the following verse may help….


"We have lived together before this wedding
So we have a home, full of appliances and bedding
So what do you get for the bride and groom
Whose house is set up in every room?
To save you looking, shopping and buying,
Here’s an idea you might like trying!
Please put some money into a card,
Now make a wish… see, that wasn’t hard!
Now we’ve saved you all that buying fuss,
We hope you’ll come and celebrate with us!"


4. Off Peak Season Bookings: when making your bookings be aware that for some venues, off season or Sunday bookings may be cheaper. If you’re not totally set on having a midsummer wedding on a Saturday - could ‘pay’ to check.

5. Beach Weddings: As mentioned beach weddings are lovely, but just a few points to note if this is the type of wedding you are planning. In the height of summer your guests may not be able to get parking near the part of the beach you have chosen for your ceremony. Invite your guests at least 15 minutes earlier than you plan to have your ceremony. Not a good look when guests are rushing past the bride to get there before her. Or you may need to think about supplying a bus to transport your guests to and from a designated area. [TOP]

Contact the local council and let them know the ‘the date, time and where’ on the beach you are intending to have your wedding. They will advise you of the local bylaws, whether there are any sporting events planned for that day and will issue you with a permit for your ceremony.

A word of advice – when applying to the Council for a permit to marry in a public area such as the beach or a park, make sure the address and description of the location, matches that on your  ‘Notice of Intended Marriage’ form. Make sure also, that you view a map of the area and identify exactly where it is you want your wedding. This can save your spot being taken by another couple on ‘your’ wedding day.

On your invites make sure you mention your ceremony is actually on the beach so your guests know to wear suitable footwear and a hat. As silly as this may sound, I have seen women arrive in hosiery and very high heels, not realising the ceremony was taking place on the ‘sand’. Another consideration when planning a beach wedding is ease of access for older folk attending or those who may be mobility impaired? Also make sure you have plan ‘B’ arranged in case of inclement weather. If the logistics are looking like your plans are heading for the ‘too hard basket’, you can always go to your favourite spot on the beach for your photo shoot, leaving your guests at the reception to await your return.

6. Invitations; another wee tip worth mentioning is to make sure you either write the names of your guests on their RSVP or number the RSVP’s so they correspond with a numbered guest list. I have heard of guests returning their RSVP’s ticking the ‘yes we’d love to come’ box, but forgetting to write their names on it. Several of these make it difficult to work out the table seating arrangements.  For beach or country garden weddings, accompany your invite with a small map with easy directions. [TOP]

7. Trade-me; more and more couples are becoming very budget conscience when planning their wedding so it is well worth checking trade-me for all manner of wedding items. For example, my daughter bought the most beautiful gown (refer photo opposite) from trade-me for a mere fraction of the original price. The gown had never been worn as it was from bankrupt stock and came with the original 4 figure price tag. She added her touches and after the wedding resold the gown via trade-me for the purchase price. [TOP]

8. Overseas Gown Makers: There are a number of adverts on the net offering made to measure wedding dresses for what appears to be a modestly affordable price. I know bride’s who were delighted with their gown and I’m sure there are many others. However I have heard a few horror stories; so I would suggest you get references and check them out. [TOP]

9. Choosing a Ceremony Time: I have often heard photographers use the expression ‘time just gets eaten up on the wedding day’. So when settling on a time for your ceremony, make sure you have conferred with all those involved in your big day; photographer, hairdresser, make-up artist, beautician, venue, caterers and of course your Celebrant. Each service will advise you of the time frame they will need. Once you have all the information, then plan the time of your wedding carefully. Something else to note; it is becoming popular to have the bridal party’s formal photo shoot pre wedding ceremony. If you are considering a later afternoon or cocktail hour wedding, pre photos are well worth the consideration. [TOP]

10. Don’t skimp on time: make your hairdressing and make-up appointments at least an hour earlier than the time frame you think you’ll need. The bride and her attendant’s manicures should be done at the very least the day before. Don’t ‘do’ stress on the wedding day. Give yourself the relaxed enjoyable day you dream your wedding will be. [TOP]

11. Change of Plans; never change the time of your wedding after you have formally made your bookings without first checking with all those involved. Your wedding cars just as your Celebrant may well have a following booking. Changing the time without the knowledge of those involved could compromise your chosen service being available for you. [TOP]

12. Mobile Phones: when on route to the wedding venue, arrange for one of the bridesmaids or your driver to carry a mobile phone ensuring the venue and or your Master of Ceremony’s number/s are either in or with the phone. If there is a problem and you are delayed en-route such as the car having mechanical problems, the problem can always be solved so long as you can make contact with those waiting for you. [TOP]

13. Lateness: don’t plan your wedding around lateness. No one will thank you for it; especially guests who may be standing in the hot sun. Your Celebrant who, as previously mentioned, may have a following wedding commitment, or your photographer who may have to cut short your planned photo shoot, or your chef who will not be happy delaying the meal. After your photos, you need to arrive at the reception with plenty of time in which to relax with and chat to your guests before the meal is served and the band/DJ begins. Otherwise, before you know it, you will be saying goodbye to guests at the end of the evening with whom you’ve spent no time at all. [TOP]

14. Sun Block: remember to wear sun block as ‘red’ is hard to get out of photos, let alone the detrimental effects of sun burn. Off the shoulder or shoe string strap gowns look fabulous but offer no protection when standing for the duration of a ceremony. I have seen bridesmaid’s backs scarlet by the end of a ceremony and that is just the start of a day in the sun for them. If you are planning an outside ceremony in the height of summer, try to provide shade cover not only for your guests but your bridal party as well. [TOP]

15. Tears on the Wedding Day: tears of emotion and joy are part and parcel of weddings. For the bride, a hanky stuffed down her bra is not a good look, especially when needing to get access to it during the ceremony. Place a few tissues in the stems of your flowers or discreetly in your bouquet and have your bridesmaid/s do the same. Make sure the groom has a hanky in his pocket, as tears are not just reserved for the ‘girls’. [TOP]

16. Reception Venue; check with the venue as to when you can have access to the premises for decorating the tables. If the venue caters for the general public, they may have a function the night before preventing you from having access until the morning of your wedding. If this is the case, you will need to appoint a ‘decorating team’. If so, have a trial run at home and take a photo of the dressed table; that way, those in charge of such an important job will have a plan to follow and you won’t be sitting at the hairdressers worrying about whether the finished effect is just the way you want it. [TOP]

17. Photography; remember there are no re-runs for your wedding day. Professional photographers are there to record the event according to your wishes. They are never intrusive during the wedding ceremony and capture in detail, all those wonderful spontaneous moments.

Your wedding album will be for you and your family a source of joy. Your children will giggle over it and your grandchildren will treasure it.

Over the years couples have confided in me saying they were unsure what to do as a family member/friend had taken a photography course and had offered to ‘do’ the wedding photos as their wedding gift and they felt obliged to accept.

A way around this is to suggest the budding photographer could cover the reception and evening shots; enjoying the ceremony as a guest thus giving the professional photographer plenty of scope in which to professionally capture the magic of the moment.

Remember, you have only one ‘shot’ at capturing a day of memories that will last a life time.

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