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How to Find a Wedding Venue: Auckland, Bay of Islands, Coromandel and surrounds

wedding-venues-auckland

You’re engaged!
Congratulations!

If you’ve just started wedding planning and you’re looking for the perfect venue for your wedding in Auckland, Waiheke Island, Bay of Islands or Coromandel you’re in the right place.
I hope you find this article useful – Please have a look at little white book wedding planner before you go.
I hope that you have a draft guest list in mind and you’ve started your wedding budget before you begin searching for your wedding ceremony and reception venues. They will probably be the biggest cost for your wedding, and will largely be determined by your number of guests, and how much you want to spend.
Whether you’re planning a small and intimate wedding or a big event for your ‘big day’, Auckland and its surrounding regions are home to many of .

How to Find a Wedding Venue: Overview

  • Where to begin searching for a wedding venue in Auckland (and greater Auckland/Northland/surrounds);
  • Browsing wedding venues via wedding vendors and photographers;
  • How to choose between wedding venues;
  • What to consider before you sign a wedding venue contract; and
  • Suggestions for Auckland wedding venues by type (e.g. BYO, budget, unique, large venue, auckland vineyards)

Where to begin searching for a wedding venue in Auckland & surrounds

We are just so spoiled for choices of wedding venues in New Zealand, and Aucklanders are some of the luckiest kiwis when it comes to picking a spot to get hitched.  Whether you’re looking for a venue in Auckland city itself, want to head across the water for a beautiful Waiheke Island wedding, or you’re planning a wedding a little further afield in Coromandel or Bay of Islands, you’re inundated with options. Sea views, lush greenery, award-winning food and wine, or a centrally located city roof-top – it’s all on offer here.
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Browse, Pin, Save… Stalk?

To find a beautiful wedding venue that’s right for you, there’s a few ways to start, with wedding vendor directories such as Our Wedding. One of my favourite methods to find wedding venues is to browse some of our best wedding vendors’ websites and go from there. This gives you the ability to not only find a beautiful location, but also helps you to work out what style of photography, and perhaps even style of wedding you like.
Browse google, facebook, instagram, magazines and other blogs for wedding vendors: local wedding planners, photographers, florists, etc, and have a look at their portfolio.
Wedding photographers especially will feature their most beautiful weddings on their site, and you’re likely to come across wedding venues you’ve never seen before too. You’ll also potentially discover the best local photography spots and hideaways nearby those wedding venues – which can be huge drawcards too, and help you choose a venue.
P.S. Get a little stalker-ish: See if there are any pictures showing a wedding hashtag that you can creep on via Instagram (couples often put it onto a sign that ends up in the wedding photos) and get a more personal look at the wedding venue through the eyes of a guest.

Google & Wedding Venue Directories

Another way of finding Auckland wedding venues of course is to ‘google’, and you will also be able to find some ‘Auckland wedding venue directories’ – like those on Christchurch Weddings or Our Wedding directories. Wedding directories can be a great source of information, BUT, like magazines, they often only feature those venues and vendors which pay for their inclusion – so it’s not going to provide you with a complete picture.

Auckland, Hamilton, Bay of Islands or Coromandel Wedding Venues

If you’re looking to browse for venues in Auckland and surrounds, I suggest starting with The Official Photographers  or Nardia Buist – two photographers I’ve personally worked with and can vouch for. Their photography is sure to inspire your choice of venue! Each of the photos in this article are The Official Photographers’ work, as was our wedding.

How do you choose between two great locations or venues?

If you find it hard to actually choose between various locations, e.g. a great Auckland city venue and a great Bay of Islands venue, start by writing a list of the attributes of each.  The same applies if you’re choosing between two great venues in the same location.
Create a table with the potential Auckland wedding venues or locations across the top, and all of their various favourable attributes in a list, then mark an X on whichever of the two is the best in each category.  Not only will you have a table full of X marks (and hopefully more in one column than the other) but you’ll have given each venue a serious thought, and thought about all the elements that are important to you.
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I also recommend you create a spreadsheet of the key attributes of each wedding venue you’re interested in, so that you can compare venues in terms of cost, available dates, restrictions, catering options, type, layout, and any other pros and cons which are relevant to you.

Take a road trip to discover wedding venues

Still struggling? Plan a weekend getaway and explore!  Take a road trip over to Bethells Beach Cottages, or a longer drive to Kauri Bay Boomrock.  You could do a vineyard tour through one of the many wine regions near Auckland, stopping at each venue for a look around, (and a wine for the passenger), head out for a weekend away, and take your time to see where you fall in love with.
Waiheke Island is only 30 minutes’ ferry from Auckland and is one of the most beautiful spots in the country to get married. Mudbrick and Cable Bay are two of the most popular vineyard wedding venues on Waiheke, Lavender Hill is a stunning house available for hire, and Delamore Lodge is worth a look too.  My Waiheke is another great place to start to begin planning your Waiheke Island wedding day once you’ve found a wedding venue too
Also a short distance from Auckland are the vineyards and wedding venues of Kumeu, where you’ll find Gracehill Vineyard Estate, a beautiful spot for both summer and winter weddings.  There’s lovely accommodation nearby at Rosebud Cottage too, where Blair and I stayed last year, and the best cake-bakers in the business – PaulaJane Cakes – are nearby. Further north is Matakana (see Ascension Wine Estate), and beyond that, Bay of Islands, so hit the road and explore. A quick note though… Don’t arrive unannounced at wedding venues – especially on a Friday or Saturday – you might crash a wedding!.
Email their coordinator to enquire about package and pricing options. Set out an email with any preferred dates or at least the month and days of the week, and the approximate number of guests you intend to have, and then only make an appointment to view if you can afford it. This also avoids potential disappointment in visiting the venue only to find that your date is already booked. It also gives you an insight into how helpful they may be to communicate with over email – a valuable part of wedding planning.
Around 12 months prior to the wedding is the ideal time to do so, so that you can see how the venue will look on your wedding day, and it is also a key booking to have in place early, so that you can organise everything else.
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Once you’ve found a wedding venue, or a wedding location 

When you’re looking at various venues on the internet, it can be hard to get a general feel for the wedding, without seeing actual wedding photos at the venue. Or, if you know the general location but you haven’t come across the right wedding venue yet, this technique is also effective, in which case just use the name of the location, or the name of a nearby venue.
For example, I was looking for a Bay of Islands wedding venue, and knew of the BOI wedding venue Eagles Nest, so I searched “Eagles Nest Wedding Photography” and found a wedding shot by Jess Burges.  From there, I was able to explore Jess’s other weddings, and find other venues in her location, such as Kerikeri, Whangarei and Mangawhai.
For wedding photography of the specific venue, I’d head to both the venue’s Facebook page, and also type into Google “Wedding Photography [Venue Name]” to browse.
In Matakana, a popular wedding venue is Ascension Wine Estate, so I would search “Ascension Wine Estate Wedding Photography” and find a photographer’s website to browse, and see if there were any other nearby wedding venues that appealed.
After using these tools, I’m certain you’ll have identified plenty of wedding venues in Auckland and nearby! You can use the venue selection questions from the planning pack and make sure to take lots of notes in your wedding planner book.

Found your Dream Wedding Venue

Just before you breathe a sigh of relief that you’ve found your dream wedding venue, I suggest you take a step back and take a second look through the below list of considerations.  Once you know everything you need to about the venue, revisit the budget and double-check that the wedding venue fits all your requirements. Though you might be willing to go slightly above the budget for your dream location, you need to know exactly how much above the budget that will be.
For more information, read How to Choose Wedding Venues: All-Inclusive, BYO or DIY
What else to consider:
This list is an excerpt from the wedding planning pack, which includes all the questions you need to know and ask of each of your wedding vendors.

  • Don’t book the first venue you see (your fiance isn’t the first man you ever met, is he?!), make sure to weigh up a couple and ensure you’re not just ‘getting it over with’!
  • Consider all the venue’s options for photography, and always look at real weddings at the venue;
  • Dates can book up quickly at popular venues, so call around to check on date availability before falling in love with a particular wedding venue only to find that the season is full;
  • Ask for minimum spend or per-head cost during the initial phone call or visit, to ensure it’s within your price bracket;
  • A more expensive venue but incredibly beautiful wedding venue might save you money on decor, flowers and lighting;
  • Your venue will play a huge roll in determining the theme and ambiance of your wedding;
  • An all-inclusive price will save you a lot of worry, but if that’s not possible, make sure you understand what is or is not included;
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for a discount if you’re booking a weekday, last minute, etc.
  • Consider a spot where your guests can ‘getaway’ for the weekend and turn it into a real holiday;
  • Always have a contingency plan for weather, and if the only reason you like a venue is because it will be stunning on a perfect day, rethink this plan;
  • Find out if the venue offers a wedding planning or organisation service;
  • Ask if you’ll have exclusive use of the venue, and what time you can occupy it until;
  • Take care before you sign on the dotted line – a wedding venue contract should be entered into with the consideration you’d give any other contract (can you tell I’m a lawyer).  Read every line and clause, discuss anything you don’t understand with the vendor (or a lawyer), and don’t feel pressured to sign straight away.  Some questions to ask before signing include:
    • What are the noise restrictions?
    • Does the venue have an events manager?
    • Where can your guests stay nearby?
    • Can you bring in whatever outside vendors you want?
    • Are the kitchen facilities available for those vendors?
    • Is there tableware included?
    • How many tables fit into the room?
    • What is the sound system provided?
    • Is it a licensed venue? What time does the licence go until?
    • Is there enough lighting provided?
    • Are you allowed to light candles? Throw confetti? Have fireworks?
    • Where can guests park?
    • What is the weather contingency plan?
    • If it’s BYO, what’s the corkage fee?
    • For the full list, see the wedding planning pack or bundle.

Unique Auckland Wedding Venues for inspiration!

BYO Auckland Wedding Venues

Large Auckland Wedding Venues

Budget Auckland Wedding Venues

Auckland Vineyard Wedding Venues

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All photos © The Official Photographers



How to actually find wedding venues

Though there are hundreds, if not thousands, of articles online entitled “How to find a wedding venue” – yet not one of them I’ve found actually gives readers any advice as to how and where to actually find a wedding venue.

Quite literally, how do you find wedding venues?

Not how to choose a wedding venue, or all the questions to ask of a wedding venue before you book, or all the things to consider, but actually how to find, aka locate them… nada.

How to find potential wedding venues

Utilise your Best local Wedding Vendors’ Websites and Social Media

To find a beautiful wedding venue that’s right for you, there’s a few ways to start, and my favourite is to browse the best local wedding vendors’ websites and go from there. This gives you the ability to not only find a beautiful location, but also helps you to work out what style of photography, and perhaps even style of wedding you like. Browse google, facebook, instagram, magazines and other wedding blogs for wedding vendors such as photographers, wedding planners, florists, etc, and have a look at their portfolio.
Wedding photographers especially will feature their most beautiful weddings on their site, and you’re likely to come across wedding venues you’ve never seen before too. Not only that, but you’ll discover the best local photography spots and hideaways nearby those wedding venues – which can be huge drawcards too, and help you choose a wedding venue.

Social Media Stalking…

P.S. Get stalker-ish: Scroll through photos to see if there are any pictures showing a wedding hashtag that you can creep on via instagram (couples often put it onto a sign that ends up in the wedding photos). This way, you’ll get a more personal look at the venue through the eyes of a guest, as well as seeing the professional photos.
This is also a great way to see an honest view of the wedding venue, or another vendor’s work. When researching your wedding venue or any other vendor, have a look at photos tagged on instagram both at the venue (location tagging) and also tagging the profile. I even included this as a tip to avoiding wedding scams.

For a DIY/BYO Wedding Venue

If you’re willing to do a bit more organising yourself, creating your wedding venue from scratch can be hugely rewarding, and it also gives you a huge availability of venues you potentially hadn’t thought of.
Depending on the size of your wedding, you may be able to hire a family home or farm, from where to DIY your wedding. For DIY New Zealand wedding venues there are a couple of Wedding Vendor Directory websites specifically for this including Backyard Weddings, but otherwise look on Air BnB, Book a Bach, and/or whatever your local Rental Home website is. Even if you can’t rent an entire house for the wedding, you may be able to find a piece of land to put a marquee on, or access all kinds of creative spaces without spending a fortune (and while giving back to the local community).
Read more if you are planning a marquee wedding, to know what you’re getting yourselves into.

For a Cheap Wedding Venue

If you’re on a small budget, the DIY/BYO wedding venue option above may suit, but you also might want to consider local Council websites to find public and council-owned spaces. If you’re getting married in New Zealand, you have the luxury of being able to get married literally anywhere (other countries don’t have this privilege). Many beaches do not require a special permit for small informal weddings, though of course you should organise a back-up venue too. Just be aware that you do have to specify the location on your marriage licence.

Consider a Destination Wedding

Lots of couples are opting to have destination weddings, which can (surprisingly) be easier. Most couples having destination weddings have a smaller guest list, and thus can save lots of money on the budget, and often have a wedding planner in the destination to take care of the majority of planning too.
It may surprise you that an all-inclusive destination wedding can actually be a cheaper option too, depending on where you go of course – Rarotonga has some great options.
Just remember, the more remote the wedding venue you choose, in Samoa for example, the smaller the pool of local wedding vendors (celebrants, bands, florists, etc.) to choose from. Check on tourism websites for any major events that might mean there’s a shortage of beds for visitors, and check the WHO and CDC for warnings against risks like Zika virus if you expect pregnant family and friends to attend.

Ask Married Friends for their Favourite Wedding Vendors (and ask them for help)

While you may not want to marry at the samewedding venue as a close friend, especially if your weddings are only a season apart, you may be able to ask their favourite wedding vendors for recommendations, or find out which other venues they considered.
Wedding planners, stylists and florists for example will work closely with many wedding venues, and may even work on styled shoots at brand new wedding venues, and can help you discover something special. It was really important to us to have a unique wedding venue at which we hadn’t attended a wedding, or seen many weddings at, and we were able to find one through our wedding photographers.

Be Flexible and Open-Minded when Finding a Wedding Venue

While you shouldn’t settle for something you don’t absolutely love, if you can be flexible and open minded when finding, and visiting your potential wedding venues, you may just surprise yourself with something really unique. There are so many things which can be done to transform most spaces from bare to breathtaking, if you’re willing to look with an open mind.
Once you have found a few potentials, choose your wedding venue carefully, do your homework and ask all the right questions, and don’t rush into making a booking before you’re certain of all the little details.

Engagement Party Planning – Everything You Need to Know

How to Plan your Engagement Party

If you’ve just got engaged and can’t stop smiling from ear to ear (and can’t stop staring at your new sparkle-adorned finger) you probably want to shout it from the rooftops and really celebrate your new relationship status.

Planning your engagement party is a great opportunity to bring you families and friends together – some of whom won’t have met yet – and really kick off your engagement celebrations. Discovering how to plan your engagement party, is also brilliant practise for planning your wedding, which we’ll help with soon!

Grab your little white book wedding planner and take notes as you read this, and before long you’ll be popping Champagne and feeling every bit the bride-to-be (or groom-to-be, of course!)

Read these first considerations, and then move onto 5 Steps to Planning Your Engagement Party below:

When to Plan your Engagement Party?

Traditionally your engagement party is held within around 3 months following your engagement. If you are planning a long engagement, with plenty of time for the Big Day, you may wish to wait a little longer, but ideally it will be at least 6-9 months out from your wedding. This allows you ample time for planning your wedding after the engagement party (which is an event to plan itself).

Who do you invite to the Engagement Party?

You may be wondering whether everybody you invite to the engagement party needs to be invited to your wedding too. Strictly, no, you don’t have to decide on your wedding guest list immediately – so much can change in the lead up to your wedding, however, take care with your engagement party invitations, because some guests will assume their invitation extends to the wedding.

If you know you will be having a smaller wedding, you may wish to have a larger engagement party, but if practical to do so, communicate this with your engagement party guests in advance, so that they know the big day will be a smaller guestlist. It wouldn’t be very fair to only exclude a few engagement party guests from the wedding day, so do be mindful of who you ask. It’s all about communication, and insuring your messaging is as clear as possible from the outset, it’s perfectly acceptable to have a different guest list for your engagement party and your wedding day, you just want to make sure you do so thoughtfully, and try not to make anyone feel excluded.

Where to Host your Engagement Party

Traditionally, engagement parties were always hosted by the bride’s parents, but now, anything goes, and many couples choose to host their own engagement party celebration at home. There are countless suitable venues – as many as for a wedding: restaurants, bars, parks, wineries and more. Take a look at 20 alternative and unique venues to get inspired. Your style will influence your choice, as well as the number of guests, but don’t be afraid to be creative.

Who pays for What at your Engagement Party

What you choose to provide, and pay for will depend on your venue of choice and the style of celebration you plan. If you are having your engagement party at home, you could provide the food and some drinks, but also ask your guests to BYO a bottle of wine if it’s going to be a big party. If you are at a bar or restaurant, likewise, it’s nice to provide some platters or nibbles, but guests probably won’t expect you to foot the bill for the bar tab too. When you choose the venue for your engagement party, unless you arfe planning to provide all of the catering and alcohol, keep in mind your guests’ budgets, if you don’t want your friends missing out due to budget – for instance a trip to Waiheke for an expensive winery meal may be out of the question for some. We invited friends to join us for a meal at a local restaurant, where we provided Champagne to drink, and cake for dessert, while guests paid for their own meals.

Do you need to send Formal Engagement Party invitations?

It’s not necessary to have expensive wedding stationery made for your engagement party – you can treat it like you would another party by sending emails or creating a Facebook event. You can also use a service like Paperless Post, or a downloadable invitation template to email.  Be clear about the details such as dress code, address and the time you expect the party to start and finish, and give around one month’s notice if possible, following up with all RSVPs one week out. 

Should Engagement Party Guests bring Gifts?

Some of your engagement party guests will choose to bring you a gift, I’ve made suggestions in Attending an Engagement Party Tips, but unlike some cultures, we don’t really register for engagement gifts and it’s certainly not mandatory to bring a gift. However, as you can expect closest friends and family to bring a small gift, think about a safe place to store these during the party, and getting them safely home – there may be a few bottles of wine to carefully pack into a car or taxi at the end of the party.

5 Steps to Planning Your Engagement Party

Planning your engagement party is not dissimilar to planning your wedding, and is much easier to do broken into small steps.

  1. Set a date – ideally a month in advance to gift guests ample time to make arrangements and RSVP. 
  2. Choose a venue – there are some ideas above, and if you are having your engagement party at an external venue, decide whether you are hiring it for exclusive use, or will share the space. Communicate with the venue, if hiring, and discuss things like decor, music, a microphone for speeches, and anything else you require from them. If you are ordering food for guests to share, you may wish to do so in advance, to give the kitchen ample time to plan and ensure the food arrives on time. If you’re organising the food at home, create a menu or organise catering in advance. Like planning a wedding, have a wet-weather option if you are partying outside.
  3. Create a guest list, giving thought to the considerations above about who to invite. Consider the space you have at the venue, and the expense you’re willing to take on for your guests – whether providing food or drinks.
  4. Decide whether you wish to send formal invitations or invite guests informally through email or a Facebook event. If formal, gather wedding guest addresses and send at least one month in advance.
  5. Decide what to wear – some couples choose to dress quite formally, with many brides opting to wear a semi-formal white dress. Consider whether you will have some formal photos taken too, either by friends or a professional photographer.

Engagement Party Ideas

  • Consider having your engagement shoot done in the afternoon before the party. It spreads the excitement of the day out longer, and you can justify having your hair and make-up done for the event!
  • Place a few disposable cameras on the table and have fun flicking through the photos in a few weeks once they’ve been developed. 
  • If you have any idea of your wedding theme, style or colours, use them now: colours in the menus, a signature cocktail, flowers, candles, decor etc. 
  • As this is the first event leading to the wedding, take the opportunity to organise it properly! 
  • If you have already chosen your wedding party, ask your bridesmaids or groomsmen to help out. You can assign small jobs such as speeches, checking the music, or ask someone to take a few photos throughout the night to look back on. Your attendants and close friends will love to get involved.
  • You’re the host, so be responsible and don’t drink too much, especially not before you’ve made a little thank you speech, greeted all your guests and introduced your guests to each other if they aren’t already friends.
  • Have fun, let your hair down and show your guests a good time too.

Don’t overthink it – Planning your Engagement Party doesn’t need to be difficult.

Planning your engagement party may be the first big celebration you’ve ever organised so I can understand if you’re feeling a bit anxious, but your engagement party can really be as simple and easy as you like. After organising your engagement party, you’ll probably also see that planning your wedding needn’t be difficult either. You’ll be excited to plan the future, but planning your engagement party is a great way to enjoy the present. Once you start planning your wedding, you won’t want to stop, so bask in this moment and make the most of it. Your engagement party is a practice run where you’re the hosts, the decision-makers, the centre of attention, and hopefully the life of the party.

Ideas and Inspiration

Personalised Neon Sign | Wedding Planner Book | Popped Corn Favour Bags | Custom Cake Topper | She Said Yes Balloon Set | He Said Yes Balloon | Donut/Cake Diamonds | Engagement Party Balloon Set


Christchurch Weddings: Venues, Gardens & Wedding Planners

Having grown up in the beautiful garden city, I always thought we’d get married at one of my many favourite Christchurch wedding venues. Most of our New Zealand guests hailed from Christchurch too, with both Blair and I making most of our life-long friends during our years there. Ultimately, because we had so many wedding guests flying in from overseas into Auckland and staying at our house, we got married in Coromandel, but I just love returning back to our hometown for friends’ weddings in Christchurch.

Though some of Christchurch’s wedding venues suffered at the hands of the earthquake, even most of Christchurch central is now back in business now.  There are hundreds of fantastic options for your your big day, whether hosting an intimate wedding or a large wedding ceremony.

Wherever you’re planning your dream wedding, plan it with the wedding planner of your dreams too – pick up a little white book before you go.

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A Garden Wedding in the Garden City

Home to some of the most beautiful gardens, Christchurch is the perfect setting for a garden wedding day. Once you’ve identified a few favourites or have got some good ideas, read How to Choose Wedding Venues: All-Inclusive, BYO or DIY

Get married in the Botanic Gardens

Ilex Cafe
Instantly, Christchurch Botanic Gardens come to mind, where new wedding venue Ilex Cafe offers a stunning modern sanctuary, and Jonny Schwass’s famed local cuisine. After the Christchurch earthquakes, wedding venues were harder to come by, and Ilex’s arrival in the beautiful gardens was welcomed by friends of ours for their beautiful February wedding. Ilex offers exclusive events spaces which can accommodate up to 120 guest for a seated event or 150 guests for a cocktail party, at quite affordable wedding venue hire.
Curator’s House
Also situated in the Botanic Gardens, the award winning historic Curator’s House restaurant offers intimate dining rooms and a tranquil enclosed garden courtyard for your wedding, right by the Botanic Gardens and Avon River. With wedding packages starting from of $110pp, the Curator’s House is a picture-perfect venue that’s still affordable.

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Flaxmere Garden Venue

A short detour en route to to Hanmer Springs or Kaikoura, Flaxmere has been selected by the New Zealand Gardens Trust as a Garden of National Significance, and has been given a rating of five stars. You are spoilt for choice for a location within the garden, different areas offering wonderful opportunities to create your own exclusive garden wedding.
There’s a gorgeous cottage available to get ready and relax in with your bridal party before the ceremony or stay on after, and Flaxmere is also conveniently located to plenty of Hanmer Springs accommodation for your wedding guests too (and places for you to enjoy a day spa experience with your bridesmaids in the lead up).

Historic House & Garden Weddings

Riccarton House & Bush is not only home to the beloved Christchurch Farmers Market but also makes for a beautiful garden Christchurch wedding venue. A unique heritage site consisting of two historic buildings, flanked by beautiful open parkland and ornate gardens, this tranquil 12 hectare reserve is located just 3.5 km from Christchurch city centre. Local at Riccarton House specialises in Winter weddings with a roaring fire and cosy spaces throughout the restored homestead.

Elegant Christchurch Wedding Venues

By the River Avon

If your dream day involves a garden ceremony beside the River Avon, you can’t go past Mona Vale Homestead for a truly ‘Christchurch’ Wedding Venue – your guests can even punt the Avon River between rounds of croquet, quoits and giant jenga.
The Iris Lawn offers a stunning space for a marquee wedding – up to 400 (600 for cocktail) amongst the grounds – or there is capacity for either a seated meal for 150 guests in the dining room, or cocktail function for up to 220.
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An Absolutely Stunning Venue
Pemberton Gardens is a beautiful Indian-style tea house pavilion set amidst gardens and trees and is one of Christchurch’s most beautiful wedding venues. Couples are spoiled for choice for ceremony locations and the all important wedding photos. Situated just outside of Christchurch weddings at Pemberton are just perfect, rain or shine. Emma Newman Weddings – top Christchurch Weddings Planner says:

“With its stunning gardens and beautiful reception venue it ticks so many boxes. As a wedding planner I have to think about the logistical issues and Pemberton makes it so easy. Cost wise it compares very favourably to other options and this includes the larger guest lists. A special place I have no hesitation to recommending for a Christchurch Wedding Venue.”

Christchurch Weddings among the Vines

Just South of Christchurch, Trent’s Estate Vineyard is a romantic wedding venue amongst grapevines and gardens. I attended a beautiful wedding at Trent’s last year, as well as corporate events over the years, and the Mediterranean-style historic building makes a wonderful reception space.
Fully catered by their preferred caterers and licensed with BYO wine options, Trent’s has served as a Christchurch wedding venue for over 20 years with the same owners – and they’ve thought of everything for your special day. There’s a beautiful video on their website which showcases the venue.

BYO Christchurch Wedding Venues

Waipuna Estate
Waipuna has two picture-perfect locations for outdoor weddings. Our covered terrace is surrounded by rustic gardens, and has sweeping views of Christchurch and the Canterbury Plains – which can be used for your ceremony in either fine or wet conditions. Waipuna Estate offer BYO on all beverages, and don’t charge any corkage, making it a relatively cheap wedding venue in greater Christchurch – just in the hills above Tai Tapu. They also specialise in Winter weddings, with a large open plan function areas inside the villa. With a capacity of up to 85 for seated, or 120 for a cocktail style wedding reception, Waipuna is a stunning choice for your BYO Christchurch wedding.
Westhaven Gardens
A little further out of Christchurch, Westhaven Gardens provides a beautiful wedding venue in the idyllic rural surroundings of West Melton. If you’re looking for a cheap wedding venue in Christchurch, Westhaven Gardens might just fit your wedding budget too – they’re a BYO wedding venue for beverages and food – no corkage charges apply.
Darjon Vineyard
A new Canterbury wedding venue and one that’s incredibly romantic is Darjon Vineyard, another BYO wedding option just out of  Christchurch in neighbouring Kaiapoi. An intimate garden setting surrounded by 8 acres of vines, Darjon Vineyard seats up to 120 for dinner with a very affordable venue hire fee of just $2500.

Unique Christchurch Wedding Venues

You can shop til you drop, and marry there too!
The Tannery possibly doesn’t spring to mind as a wedding venue, but the boutique Christchurch shopping centre actually also hires out the space for unique weddings. The exquisite architectural features of The Tannery‘s arcades and cathedral-like arch of the glass roof make it a spectacular backdrop. The Tannery offers in-house catering for a wedding feast expertly matched with genuine Cassels & Sons craft beers and excellent wines.
Lions & Tigers & Bears, oh my!
Orana Wildlife Park in Christchurch makes a great setting for a very brave and unique couple. Orana’s expansive grounds can accommodate group sizes ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand. If private use of the zoo after hours and exclusive animal encounters appeal to the animal lover in you, this incrediby unique Christchurch wedding venue might be just the adventure you’re after.
View from the top!
Christchurch Gondola’s mountain-top function rooms are a sight to behold, offering spectacular scenic views across Christchurch and the Southern Alps. One of my favourite scenes of Christchurch is from above at night – the magic of all the twinkling lights makes for the most romantic setting, and the Gondola Function Venue has the very best view from above.
Whisk your guests a kilometre above Christchurch by Gondola to the summit of Mt Cavendish, where their combined event space seats up to 200 guests to be taken care of by the excellent Continental Event Team.
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The new Christchurch Cathedral
While nothing will replace the Christ Church Cathedral, the Transitional Cardboard Cathedral offers a stunning replacement, and one unique to Cantabrians. This incredible cardboard structure has a beautiful lightness to it and has hosted lovely weddings for Christchurch couples since 2013. The Transitional (Cardboard) Cathedral was erected after Christ Church Cathedral in Cathedral Square was badly damaged in the 2011 quake, and is a nod to Christchurch’s heritage.
Any couple can apply to be married in the Cathedral and the same conditions that apply to other Anglican churches are followed, that is that one partner should be baptised in a Christian church and both partners are expected to undertake two sessions of preparation and planning for marriage, so this won’t be available for same-sex partners unfortunately, though recently the New Zealand Anglican Church began considering a proposal allowing the blessing of same-sex marriages.

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Christchurch Wedding Planners

With over 16 years’ experience planning Christchurch weddings, Emma Newman has already thought of, and planned everything. “For a little or a lot of planning”, Emma provides co-ordination of weddings including Same Sex weddings, renewal of vows and civil unions throughout New Zealand but primarily in the South Island. Emma’s testimonials speak for themselves, and I’ve personally heard recommendations for her too.
Boutique planning and styling business Revelry Event Design are qualified wedding and event planners and stylists, passionate about design, love stories and all things pretty. With services ranging from full-service, partial planning, day of event coordination and design & styling for weddings, Revelry Event Designs are a beautiful choice.
I’d love to hear about any Christchurch weddings you have attended, or what you’re planning for your own – is there anything particularly special I’ve missed?
Whether you’re planning your own wedding in Christchurch or anywhere else, take a look at our wedding planning advice and get your hands on the little white book to keep you organised all the way down the aisle.

5 things to do Before you Start Wedding Planning (which will help you with wedding planning)

Congratulations on your engagement, how awesome, exciting and possibly slightly nerve-wracking is it that now you get to plan your wedding!?

Don’t be indimidated, wedding planning is nowhere near as stressful as you may have been led to believe, especially if you let She Said Yes be part of your journey. I’ll be with you every step of the planning process, from announcing your engagement to walking down the aisle.

5 things to do Before you Start Wedding Planning

1. Take a Moment for Yourself

The next few months are going to be incredibly fun, as you start to think about and organise the big day of your dreams. Before you start working methodically (or manically) through wedding planning checklists, have a few weeks of calm to celebrate your engagement. The magic of your partner proposing, and you agreeing to marry him or her is a momentous occasion – worth savouring. Your engagement is a symbolic moment, as your relationship changes for eternity – to marry and commit to a lifetime someone is SO very special.
What does that mean to you? What significance does marriage have to you, in terms of family values, or or committing yourselves to each other, and the world, as one? Think about your purpose for marrying, and for having a wedding.
These are just a couple of questions I suggest you give a little thought to – set your wedding planning intentions, so that you can plan mindfully. Write your thoughts and purpose down in your little white book wedding planner, and if/when you start to feel a little of the pressure of wedding planning getting to you, remind yourself of those intentions. In years to come you can look back on them.
My suggestion is that the first thing you do as a newly engaged bride-to-be (or groom-to-be) is take note of your feelings – start a diary – just make notes in your journal if you haven’t bought a wedding planner yet. Write about your proposal – the moment you agreed to marry them, the planning that went into the occasion – whether any family members knew, whether you had any idea, how you felt, and how you celebrated. Who did you tell first, did you immediately call friends and family, or did you keep it to yourself for a while?

2. Announce your Engagement

You don’t have to announce your engagement right away – don’t be in a rush. It might be nice to enjoy the news between the two of you and your immediate families first, because as soon as you do, the engagement questions and advice begins – from everywhere and everyone.
Even if you can’t wait to share your happy news with everyone, ensure to tell your VIPs first, and decide as a couple how you want to share with everyone else.

3. Discuss with your fiancé first

Before discussing your wedding plans and priorities with your families and friends, discuss with just your fiancé any particular visions you want. Find your purpose and keep coming back to that.
I suggest you think about the real purpose of your wedding, the ‘why’ instead of just the ‘how’ and the ‘what’. Talk to your fiancé about what you both envision for your special day, what marriage means to you, and what traditions or customs are meaningful to you. Think about your relationship, what makes you unique, what is it that draws you to each other?
Consider whether you both want your parents’ input, in terms of financial contributions, and what this contribution might mean. Will your parents want to invite their friends too, and how much ‘help’ you want towards decision-making and planning. Will you lose sight of your purpose if you have too much involvement? One of the hardest thing about wedding planning is often negotiating and managing family relationships and expectations, so discuss and agree with your partner before you cross that bridge.

4. Work out what’s important to you

Find out between yourselves what your engagement (and wedding) is really about. What is your purpose?
Notions of “getting married” or planning a “wedding” often conjure pictures of Hollywood style/Royal Wedding celebrations (as well as everything you’ve ever seen on Pinterest). Well, that is not necessarily what weddings are about. You don’t need to mindlessly follow every wedding custom or tradition, or get overwhelmed with wedding checklists of elements which just aren’t meaningful to you.
Styled shoots, wedding magazines and other visual inspiration can be a great source of inspiration, but can also cause pressure and unrealistic expectations. Your wedding is not a photoshoot, it’s a celebration of your love and commitment. You don’t have to plan a wedding according to what you think it’s supposed to look like, or what the ‘average’ wedding budget is.

5. Let me (and others) help you

If you haven’t already responded to the pop-up, head here to subscribe and join the ‘Bride Tribe’! She Said Yes will be your new wedding BFF, helping you get organised and inspired for the big day. I’ll be something of a virtual bridesmaid, you can follow along (Facebook & Instagram) and email me on hello @ shesaidyes.co.nz if you have any questions. Your next step is likely to be ‘How to Start Wedding Planning‘.
A couple of years ago I created the little white book, it’s since been voted the best wedding planner book, so have a look and read the reviews (You can use ‘5things’ to save a little too. As well as getting helpful wedding planning checklists and emails, you can also go straight to the index for whatever you need.
Next article suggestions:
First Steps to Wedding Planning
12 Months Wedding Planning Checklist
Setting your Wedding Priorities to plan with purpose

A Chic Inner City Wedding by Jessica Photography

Today’s wedding is a cool, chic, city wedding with a seriously killer dress. I love the simplicity of it yet there are so many unique details. Beautifully photographed by Jessica Higueras of JESSICA PHOTOGRAPHY, I will leave you with some sweet ideas to steal…

Ideas to steal 1. The single stem bridal bouquet and simple bridesmaid flowers dressed with ribbons (unique idea and will save you some mulah!). 2. The black mix and match bridesmaid dresses and shoes (LOVE the boots!) 3. The brides hair and makeup (perfect for a sophisticated modern look). 4. Scout out some great buildings and alleyways in your area for photo backdrops or ask your photographer (they know all the nooks and crannys for great shots!) 5. If you have great legs like the bride Haylee, wear a dress with a split and show off your pins!

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Who Dwayne & Haylee Warby
Where The Sapphire Room, Ponsonby Central, Auckland
Guests 120

How did you meet?

Dwayne and I met over the dimly lit bar at Tabac in Auckland during a mutual friends birthday celebration. It was in fact two of our friends who decided we would be a good match and took it upon themselves to stage the introduction. I will be forever thankful that they did!

In three words describe your wedding style… Modern, Urban, Relaxed

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Did you have hens & stag nights? 

Yes! The Hens-do involved a pole dancing lesson that culminated in a performance to the group by the bride (hilarious and by far the highlight of the evening), a delicious dinner at Moo Chow Chow with “how well do you know the bride” type quizzes etc., and concluded with drinks and dancing at various bars on Ponsonby Road, with the bride equipped with a list of dares to be completed, of course!

The men spent the afternoon at the races (horse races that is) and the evening at…one guess … Showgirls! Surprise, surprise!

What were your save and splurge items for your wedding?

Splurge The whole affair was a bit of a splurge, really! But I think most wedding’s are, right? That being said, we didn’t go completely nuts but we had chosen to have the wedding at Ponsonby central with 120-ish people and in doing so accepted there would be certain cost associated with that. It was a special, significant, once in a lifetime occasion and we decided to make the most of it!

Save From the outset I had no desire to have a typical, traditional wedding dress. I had my heart set on something modern that no one would expect that was also more in keeping with the relaxed and modern vibe of our city wedding. I saw a Stella McCartney dress worn by an actress at a movie premier, fell in love and set about finding someone to replicate it. I ended up with the perfect dress that I absolutely adored and because it wasn’t your typical wedding dress it didn’t come with the hefty price tag either, which was a real bonus!

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What music did you play for those special moments?

I had enlisted a friend of mine who is a guitarist and pre-recorded an acoustic version of me singing “I Choose You” by Sarah Bareilles for my walk down the aisle, as a surprise to my hubby-to-be. I thought it was going to be a nice touch but hubby was so caught up with nerves and the excitement of the moment that he didn’t even click it was me!

What was the most difficult part of planning your wedding? And the most fun?

For me, the most difficult part was also the most fun part, which was drafting the ceremony and the wedding vows. The words we said and the promises we made were hugely important to me, so you can imagine the hours and energy spent ensuring we got it just right and did our special moment justice.

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Do you have any money saving tips for engaged couples?

Weddings are expensive. I’d firstly suggest accepting that from the outset. I’d secondly suggest being realistic and choosing a wedding “format” that is compatible with your budget expectations. You don’t necessarily need to have a huge wedding with all the bells and whistles in order for it to be a special, magical and memorable day! Get creative and do something unique that resonates with you.

Where did you go for your honeymoon?

Vietnam (Hanoi and Hoi An). Amazing food, a bit of culture, amazing resort on the beach, brilliant hot weather…and my handsome new hubby! It was superb!

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CREDITS

Photographer Jessica Higueras of Jessica Photography
Venue The Sapphire Room, Ponsonby
Catering & Event Planning Little Wolf
Makeup Rachelle Fisher Makeup Artist
Hair Terry Whaitiri Hair & Makeup
Brides Dress Nicola Graham of Nicola Dawson Design
Grooms Suit & Accessories Barkers
Rings Louis the Goldsmith