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The Single Girl’s Guide To Surviving Wedding Season

Feeling like the last single girl during wedding season (again!) is tough.
Even if you are more than content with being single, attending back-to-back weddings can still feel like a slap in the face for all the single ladies. Weddings are all about a celebration of love, and when we are single, it can make us feel our utmost loneliness. But weddings can just be as fun when you are single. Here are some tips for the do’s and don’ts to survive wedding season for the single ladies, a few tips for couples inviting their single friends, and the tweets that hilariously sum it up.

Do plan something fun with the girls.

Weddings bring everyone together. As adults, life can get so busy, making it hard to catch up with your nearest and dearest. So why not make the most of having all the girls together again, even if you’re the only one sans +1? Invite all the girls over to get ready together and have a couple of glasses of bubbles to celebrate – most of them will be overjoyed to have a girls’ morning instead of getting ready with their SO. Having a bunch of girls to get ready with also has its perks as you can swap items of clothing to wear, and share makeup to look your absolute best- because who knows who you will meet at the reception ;).
If you are getting ready together, you will have people to travel to the wedding venue with. This means you do not have to arrive by yourself and make yourself feel even more single.

Don’t bring a date for the sake of it.

Even if the bride and groom has allowed you to bring a plus one, do not bring them unless you are in a relationship with that person. If you have just started dating someone or are not in an official relationship, it is likely that they will become a burden on you at a wedding. It is likely that they will not know anyone at the event, therefore they will be hanging on to your side at all times.
Weddings are fun, but not much fun when you have someone follow you to the bathroom and wait outside until you are finished because they don’t know anyone else.  You will also probably spend the whole of the reception introducing your date to everyone… and possibly explaining your circumstances and why it’s totally inappropriate to ask him when he’s going to propose. Why would you want to do this when you could be dropping it low on the dance floor? You also must remember that you are not paying for the wedding. Weddings are expensive, and each guest costs around $100 just for food. Therefore, it is not fair on the bride and groom to be paying for a guest that you have only brought along to avoid being seen as that single girl.

Help out! Find yourself a task.

If you know you might struggle being alone at the wedding, why not lend the bride and groom a helping hand? There are so many jobs to volunteer for at a wedding – and you never know which other singletons may assist with you. These could include making sure everything is sticking to the time schedule, helping the DJ and setting up decorations. Keeping yourself busy and having a responsibility can keep your mind distracted from being alone

Have a bloody good time.

Don’t try and convince yourself that you should be sad cause you’re single – embrace having fun! Being seated at the singles’ table and meeting new people is not the worst thing in the world! The groom’s long lost cousin could end up being the one you marry, OR you could make a new friend for life. Enjoy the food, the drinks and the music. Make use of the opportunity to dress up, wear your favourite outfit and take as many insta-worthy pics you can.

Cry only happy tears!

There is nothing worse than being the sad, single one crying, especially when you’re drunk. If you know you’re prone to getting upset in social situations like this, limit the number of glasses of wine you drink and maybe switch to water or lemonade. You do not want to be remembered for being the ‘drunk single girl’ and even be responsible for upsetting the bride. If you’re crying at a wedding, they’d better be tears of joy!

You’re there to celebrate other peoples’ love – not your lack of it!

Their wedding (and their happiness) is not about you or your loneliness. This may seem harsh, but it is the truth and something that many of us need reminding of. Yes, single jokes are funny, but there is a time and a place.  You are there to celebrate the married couple and not dwell on your singleness, as hard as that can be.
P.S. Cheer up with these hilarious tweets about being single at a wedding!

Momzilla? How to Deal with an Overbearing Mother of the Bride or Groom

We’re all familiar with the term “bridezilla”, but it’s probably not until you actually begin planning that you realise the scariest wedding monster of them all is the Momzilla. Whether Mother of the Bride or Groom, or (eek) both – many of you are going to need some help to deal with an overbearing mother or future MIL. Uh oh…

Momzilla: Definition
|ˈmʌðəˈzɪlə| noun informal

Via Urban Dictionary: Like Bridezilla, Momzilla is highly controlling of the wedding – everything must be perfect for her child’s day. The excuse for being controlling and overbearing is usually that Momzilla has paid for a large amount of the wedding. Common conflicts include last-minute changes to wedding plans, guest list/wedding party members who she does not like, and/or being opinionated and controlling about everything in her path.

Why does a Mother become Mom-zilla?

Your mother has been dreaming of this day for even longer than you (especially if you’re the groom!). A child’s wedding is an exciting experience, so it should come as no surprise that your Mum/Momzilla wants this day to be as “perfect” as you do.

How do Deal with Momzilla?

1.Have your own game plan:

Before the dust even settles on the new bling, and while a new couple are spreading the word of their engagement, often the new mother-of-the-bride or groom is already running amok looking for wedding venues, schmoozing caterers and writing her (!) shortlist of guests. By the time the couple announce they want a small and simple wedding, dearest Mother has announced the tentative date to the local parish, pencilled in the vicar, and begun the calligraphy on the invitations.
To deal with a Momzilla who wants to take control, you have to get organised first, and have a game plan that can’t be railroaded. Get your head in the game, play it confident (even if you don’t feel like it) and tell Momzilla what you want.
Then, and only then, can you allow, at your discretion, Mom, or future MIL, to help with your plans. If you’re using a wedding planner book, put your plans and preparations in there, and then confidently show Momzilla your game plan so far.

2. If your Momzilla is contributing to the cost of the wedding… Give her a Project

Where financial contributions are involved, it can get especially messy. While any offer to help to pay for your wedding is generous – and sometimes necessary – it’s crucial to manage reciprocal expectations right from the outset.

If momzilla’s payin’, you need to listen to what she’s sayin’.

When you begin discussing your wedding budget with your parents and future in-laws, discuss not only the amount each party is able to give you, but also what they want in return.

Mum wants to invite everyone from her address book, which is huge, and everyone whose wedding my parents had been to automatically made it on to our guest list

– 9/10 brides.
Instead of allowing Momzilla to have carte-blanche control over your big day in exchange for financial input, consider giving her specific elements to have some control over, the catering, for example. If Momzilla is footing the bill, she probably thinks that guests will see all of your choices as a reflection of her. Talk early about how many guests they want to invite, and any other issues you think might arise.
Things like your wedding venue, dress and guest list are a few of the many areas where Momzillas love to have their say, but it’s up to you whether to do as they say.

  1. Stay Strong

It’s your day. You and your fiance’s. Yours. Not theirs. Momzilla may test you and make you feel weak at times – you need to be strong and confidently remind Momzilla that it’s your wedding day. Notorious guilt trips, with lines such as ‘I’ve waited your whole life for this day’ may weaken your resolve – but hold your ground. Make sure you get the point across to her that this is what you want for your day, in a manner that also respects her. Use strong, but polite words:

It means so much to me that you’re so interested and invested in our Big Day. I hope you’ll be able to respect that we are putting a lot of thought into having our wedding reflect us very personally. I hope you can place your trust in our ability to find what we feel works best for us.

Once you establish this she will learn where you stand and which boundaries not to cross.

  1. Breathe

As Oprah Winfrey once said:

Breathe. Let go. And remind yourself that this very moment is the only one you know you have for sure.

No matter how stressful it may get planning your wedding with Momzilla, keep the bigger picture in mind. You’re marrying the love of your life, and nothing (and noone) can detract from that. If Mother’s being overbearing, remind yourself that it’s really about getting married, and that may not mean getting exactly what you want all the way through. Breathe, and take a step back. Treat yourself, go out and get your nails done or indulge in a movie with a glass of wine. This will not only help you but it will ensure your relationship with your Momzilla remains civil in the process.

  1. Communicate

Communication is key in any relationship, especially in the process of planning your wedding. So maintaining a clear line of communication with Momzilla throughout the wedding planning process is crucial. If there’s something you don’t like make sure you get that point across and if there is something you do like, do the same. Communication is key, it will ensure that boundaries are set and that any differences are resolved as soon as they arise. This will avoid any unnecessary dramas and will allow you to focus on the important things.

  1. Make wedding planning fun

If you find that the organising of your wedding with Momzilla on board is becoming more stressful than fun, make a change to steer it back in the right direction. If you’re meeting to talk about your wedding, do it in a relaxing and fun environment to keep you both calm and enjoying the experience.
Stay organised with a wedding notebook and planner like the little white book, where you can jot all your ideas and inspiration, and enjoy the process of sharing those with your Mum or MIL. Be excited about your plans, and take pleasure in being able to involve her. If you’re happy and radiant and having fun, chances are your elation will be infectious, and she’ll have fun too.

What You Need to Know if You Don’t Have a Wedding Planner

Let’s set something straight right away. The vast, vast majority of couples are not using a wedding planner – in NZ or around the world, so if you’re planning your own wedding, you can rest assured you’re in good company.

But I read that I need a wedding planner?

When you see articles such as “Why you need to hire a wedding planner” or like “Are wedding coordinators worth it” (written by a wedding planner), remind yourself that while you may need a wedding planner, and a wedding planner may be worth it, they’re also the exception, not the rule.
I am not sponsored by any wedding vendors, so I can give you my honest and objective opinion without affecting advertising prospects.

What you need to know if you don’t have a wedding planner…

If, like most, you’ve chosen to plan your own wedding, stay on track and organise like a wedding planner would with these simple and easy to follow tips.
A reminder: (the She Said Yes motto…):

Your wedding does not have to be expensive to be perfect, and it does not have to be perfect to be wonderful.

  1. Don’t try to plan your wedding all at once.

    The reason “wedding planning” can appear to be overwhelming is because you’re trying to do it all at once. When you book a holiday, you don’t expect to organise flights, visas, insurance, accommodation, accommodation, tours, meals and shopping excursions, not to mention time off work (and dog-sitter) all at once, would you? I certainly don’t. Think of planning your wedding like organising your next trip. P.S. I’m currently booking my next Hawaii trip and you can save $40 on any accomodation via

  2. Start your wedding budget before you begin organising your big day.

    If you hired a wedding planner, one of the first things they would ask is how much you’d set for your wedding budget. Why? Because they’d work to your budget (and stick to it). A wedding planner shouldn’t try to tempt you to spend more than you initially wanted to, and neither should you allow yourself to be tempted. If the price is too high, don’t even say hi! Just made that up.. don’t mind me. Relevant to budget, and for those interested, a New Zealand wedding planner costs between $4 and $10,000 for a full organisation and day-of coordination.

  3. Create some structure and order in your wedding planning.

    Personally, organisation has to be physical. I love my iCal but my social life actually lives and die by my physical diary. I need checklists (and the satisfaction of ticking things off), columns, dates, note pages, sometimes even just room for squiggles… and for me, wedding planning is no different. I needed to put pen to paper, have my guest list, budget template, checklists and wedding plans altogether, as well as my daily diary. Enter the little white book wedding planner. Integrate wedding planning in day to day life, approach tasks month by month, and tick them off as you go.
    Or, if physical isn’t for you, download an app, power up your excel guest list and budget templates, set iCal reminders over the next few months in your phone (invite your fiance!), create a dedicated email address for vendor contact, and actually give wedding planning a plan.

  4. Prioritise and Compromise.

    Your wedding planner would ask you which elements are most important to you, and prioritise them in terms of budget and organisational timeframe. Your planner would help you allocate and stick to your wedding budget around these priorities, and encourage you to compromise on other areas. I would advise you to totally cut out many other elements too… Not only should you prioritise them as being most important (and perhaps splurge-worthy) but actually go out, book and spend on those elements, so that you don’t risk falling short later on.

  5. Interpret & Understand your Contracts and Vendor Agreements.

    I cannot stress this enough, as I have heard from and seen many a bride who has rushed into a vendor contract without really thinking about what it entails. Wedding planners have the experience to know what to look for in a contract, but with an extra five minutes of thought, and sometimes a second opinion, you can take care of yourself too.
    Coming from a legal background, I feel very strongly about this need, so I created the planning pack to include all the questions you need to ask of your vendors to understand their, and your, responsibilities and obligations. Because New Zealand doesn’t really have “wedding insurance” – this is all the more important.

  6. Don’t plan your wedding all by yourself.

    Brides-to-be often joke that their fiance has nothing to do with wedding planning, but most often that’s because they’ve taken charge, and their partner doesn’t know how to get involved, let alone help. Make decisions together, and call in the advice of a trusted friend or relative too.

  7. Keep on top of things to avoid stress down the line.

    Part of a wedding planner’s job is to ensure you address those things that need to be organised, in a timely manner. You too can organise yourself that way – and I’m totally here to help. If you subscribe to my emails and include your wedding date, I’ll send you emails which correspond to your personal countdown. The little white book will also be your daily/weekly/monthly checklist and reminder.

  8. Wedding Day Delegation.

    Your wedding day is your day off as a wedding planner, okay? The planning is done, and coordination is to be delegated. Friend, family member, responsible venue staff and other vendors, and especially your bridal party are on hand to get their hands dirty if need be. You. Are. Not. Create an on the day plan and a list of contacts (both are in the LWB), photocopy, distribute and delegate.

  9. Simplify and Personalise.

    This isn’t specific to those not hiring a wedding planner, but is even easier for those that are planning their own wedding – by default, everything will be the most personal choice. Keep is simple, too, focus only on those elements of a wedding that really, truly matter to you. Related Article: The Life Changing Magic of Wedding Planning.

  10. Don’t overdo the DIY.

    As a wedding planner will tell you, DIY doesn’t necessarily save you money, and it certainly won’t save you time or stress. If you’re planning your own wedding, spend your time getting a schedule and system together, and spend your money on those things that will really make a difference to the way you feel on your Big Day. Don’t give in to the expectation to have everything, and to DIY because you feel financial pressure. If you’re doing DIY for a fun activity, then by all means, but don’t DIY your wedding for the sake of extra fluff.

  11. Manage relationships and expectations.

    An excellent wedding planner will not only negotiate with vendors, but also with family members, especially where difficult issues are concerned. If you feel that there may be arguments, a third party can be a useful intermediary to involve – just to keep the peace. If you’re not using a wedding planner, consider whether there is someone else on neutral territory you can ask to help with family divisions. More than anything, though, be very certain of what financial contributions entail – do your parents also want to contribute their wedding planning wisdom… for example?

  12. Do your Research on Wedding Vendors

    As well as asking all the right questions and understanding your contract, ensure you also do your due diligence on each vendor – whether that’s asking for referral couples, or talking to others in the industry to see if they have a good reputation. Wedding planners will know the industry, but you can quite easily find out too.

  13. Get Yourself a Wedding Planning Book

    If you’ve decided not to have a wedding planner, a wedding planner book is the next best thing (the little white book was recently voted the best!). If you’re unsure, read the reviews.

A final word on wedding planning and wedding planners – do you really need one?
Of all the beautiful and magical weddings I have ever been to, none of my friends have used a wedding planner – and neither did we.
However, if you have any qualms about your ability to do what it takes to make your dream day come true, and you don’t happen to have experienced friends who are willing to forfeit a little bit of their enjoyment of your day in order to play overseer, then if you can afford it, a wedding planner may be exactly what you need.
You don’t need to make up your decision right away, you can always get started with wedding planning and find a wedding planner in a few months if you need one. Whatever you do, don’t plan your wedding without checking out our index, and the little white book 😉

9 Most Annoying Questions Asked When You’re Engaged

CONGRATULATIONS! WHEN’S THE WEDDING?! If this isn’t literally the most annoying question people ask when you’re engaged, then these next few most certainly are…

It seems that not only are you expected to have your entire wedding planned within minutes of slipping the ring onto your finger, but you also have to answer the most annoying and inane questions over and over and over and over and over, when you’re engaged. Oh, and don’t expect there to be any interest in the rest of your life (you know, the one you had pre-engagement) until well after the nuptials.

I literally just said yes, IDK when the wedding is, okay, next?

The 9 Most Annoying Questions People Ask When You’re Engaged

When there’s a sparkly new engagement ring on your finger, not only are you preparing for a wedding, but you must also prepare to be asked some of the most annoying questions. Oh, and if they’re not annoying, they’re awkward AF… (no, I haven’t finalised the guest list or sent out the invitations, yet…)

After discussing this issue with newly engaged women, I’ve compiled a list of the 9 most annoying questions people ask when you’re engaged.

1.    “How did They Propose?” The Proposal Story…

That feeling you experienced when they got down on one knee and asked you to marry them… try to capture that excitement and replicated it 1,000 times over the next year, at least.

It is the most asked question that everyone wants to hear about. Will it meet everyone’s expectations of being THE MOST romantic proposal of all time? Maybe not, but they’ll want to hear it anyway. Depending on how well they know you already, telling your proposal story also opens the door to a huge range of questions – so look forward to talking about your relationship for the rest of the day! Trust me, in a month’s time, you will be over talking about it.

2.    Were you expecting him to propose? The Guessing Game…

The question most likely to follow the proposal story is the guessing game question… had you ruined the surprise for yourself, did you see through the elaborate ruse that morning; have you been nagging them to propose for five years already?

Does everyone really need to know whether you were prepared or not?  Whether you discussed marriage before he popped the question is your business… and something you’re welcome to keep to yourself! If you’re happy to share, go for it, but there’s something nice about keeping your cards close to your chest when it comes to the guessing game.

3.    Do you love the ring? Is that what you would have chosen?

Um… this is tricky. You can hardly respond by saying you secretly don’t like your engagement ring, can you? It’s a strange question for people to ask, but they will! Simply answer saying it fits perfectly, he/she made a great choice, and you love it. If you don’t actually like it, you can always change your engagement ring…

4.    Have you chosen your Bridesmaids and Groomsmen yet?

For those who have many friends, this can be a cut-throat decision. There may even be friends who are secretly hinting (pick me!)… but it is best not to say anything yet. Until you know what size and style of wedding you’re having, it’s best to keep this on the down-low – if you’re having a smaller wedding or opt to elope, you may not even have a bridal party. Don’t rush into the decision of who to choose for your wedding party – like inviting too many guests, it’s a difficult one to undo!

5.   How many people are you inviting – The “Am I invited?” question…

This is write up there with “When are you getting married?” because when you’re newly engaged, prior to working out your budget, and before choosing your wedding venue, how can you possibly know how many are on the guest list?

It’s especially difficult to answer this question if you’re already pretty sure the person asking is not going to be attending… but a “we haven’t began to work out our guest list” will suffice!

6.   Who’s paying for the wedding?

This is one of the most annoying questions to be asked when you get engaged, not only because you probably don’t yet know, but also because it’s a very personal question!

People seem to think that a wedding is an “open book” when it comes to finances – but really, how much your wedding costs and who’s paying isn’t really any of their business.

What I can suggest, though, is that if you are receiving financial contributions towards your wedding budget, that you are very clear with those assisting exactly what they’re getting in return – whether they are expecting to invite many of their friends, or whether they’re hoping to be involved in any other decisions. While any offer to financially contribute is generous, those offers may also come with expectation of reciprocity.

Even worse than this question is “Why would you get married, it’s such a waste of money” – and YES people even ask this!

7.   Will you be changing your last name?

Again, this can be quite a personal question, but it’s also one you will probably be wanting to give a little thought to.

Changing your name after marriage is a big deal to many, so don’t feel rushed into making (or informing others) of your decision.

Tell them he’s taking your surname and watch their eyebrows soar.

If you want to know more about how to change your last name once married, check out Southern Bride’s article.

8. Are you planning on having children?

What’s your uterus up to? This question is not only cringeworthy and deeply personal, it can even be upsetting – not everybody can have children, let alone choose to.

Some people will immediately assume that children are on the radar, as soon as there’s a ring involved, but “we are just focussing on the wedding for now” is the perfect way to deflect attention away from your reproductive organs.

9. Are you going on a Wedding Diet?

almost have no words for this one – it is never acceptable to ask if someone is going on a DIET – but I particularly dislike the assumption that a bride-to-be needs to lose weight. At least, if someone asks this question, you’ve got the perfect excuse to exclude them from the guest list.

Finally, what’s most annoying about everyone’s stupid questions when you get engaged…

One of the major annoyances for brides-to-be is that sometimes the wedding is all people want to talk about. YES, you are excited to be planning your wedding, but you also still have a life outside of becoming  a part-time wedding planner, and want to discuss other normal day-to-day happenings too!

If you’ve just got engaged and people haven’t begun asking these questions, at least you’ve got a taste of what’s to come.

Now you know everybody is also going to be asking you when the Big Day is, so grab your little white book wedding planner book now, and you’ll have the answer to everything 😉

little white book best wedding planner book australia nz

How to choose your Canterbury Wedding Venue – Christchurch, Akaroa, Kaikoura and Surrounds


You’re engaged!

If you’re looking for how to find a Canterbury wedding venue – Christchurch, Kaipoi, Akaroa, Kaikoura, Ashburton, Timaru and surrounds – then you’re in the right place! (If you’re looking for a wedding venue outside Cantebury, see the wedding venue guide.)

How to choose your Canterbury Wedding Venue

Once you’ve established a budget and compiled a guest list, it’s time to choose your wedding venue for your big day. If you haven’t accomplished those two yet, I suggest you head back to my article on first steps to plan a wedding and work your way through the list in order. Without a little structure from having your guest list and wedding budget started, it will be more difficult to know whether a wedding venue is going to be appropriate. Whatever you do, make wedding planning easier with the little white book and wedding planning pack. 😉

  • Where to begin searching for a venue for your wedding in Christchurch and greater Canterbury;
  • Locating potential wedding venues and seeking inspiration via photographers;
  • How to choose between wedding venues;
  • What to consider before you sign a wedding venue contract; and
  • Suggestions for Canterbury and Christchurch wedding venues.

Getting married in Canterbury

We are just so spoiled for choices of wedding venues in New Zealand, and Cantabrians are some of the luckiest kiwis when it comes to picking a spot to get hitched.
Whether you’re looking for a wedding venue in Christchurch, under the majestic Southern Alps at Terrace Downs resort, further North in Kaipoi, overlooking stunning Banks Peninsula, among the natural wonders of Kaikoura, or somewhere in between, you have so many options in picturesque Canterbury.
I always thought we’d get married in the South Island, where Blair and I met. For years I was always on the lookout for the best Christchurch wedding venues for our special day, and while we ultimately moved North and got married in Coromandel, I’m still love Canterbury and know it well.

Find a Canterbury Wedding Venue

To find a beautiful Cantebury wedding venue, my favourite method is to browse local photographers’ 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 New Zealand wedding blogs) for Christchurch and Canterbury wedding photographers, and have a look at their portfolio.
Wedding photographers 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 will you able to see the best of each venue’s indoor and outdoor spaces through the lens, but you’ll discover the best local photography spots and hideaways nearby those wedding venues.

Canterbury Wedding Photographers to Browse

To name just a couple of local photographers and some of their Canterbury and Christchurch wedding venue inspiration:
Lovelight Photography & Videography
Mount Vernon Lodge, Akaroa
– Flaxmere Gardens, Canterbury
– The Woolshed at Tipapa
Larcomb Estate
Mandy Caldwell Photography
Premberton, Canterbury
Christchurch Botanical Gardens
Stoneridge Estate
Trents Vineyard
Hotel Ashburton
Of course, it doesn’t have to be a photographers’ website you start with, You can do the same with wedding planners or florists websites for example. Emma Newman is one of the best wedding planners in Christchurch. I’ve also written a separate article on Christchurch wedding venues organised by type of venue – which you might like to read too. A few of my favourites are Mona Vale Homestead and Iris Lawn on the Avon river, Cossars Wineshead, and Peppers Clearwater just 7 minutes from Christchurch Airport.

Another way of finding Christchurch wedding venues of course is to ‘google’, and you will also be able to find some ‘Christchurch wedding venue directories’ – like those on Christchurch weddings blog, Paper + Lace, and Wild Hearts, for example. Wedding directories can be a great source of information, BUT, like magazines, they usuallt only feature those venues and vendors which pay for their inclusion – so it’s not going to provide you with a complete picture.

Perfect Venue has 98 Christchurch wedding venues listed, My Wedding Guide has 53, and NZ Wedding Venue guide has 20 Canterbury wedding venues, for example. For a few cheap wedding venue options, consider the council websites which also provide hireage of event and function centres: Christchurch City Council has around 20.

Comparing your Favourite wedding Venues

For more information on choosing between venues and what else to consider, read How to Choose Wedding Venues: All-Inclusive, BYO or DIY. Once you’ve compiled a list of your favourite Canterbury wedding venues, or even If you find it hard to choose between various locations try putting pen to paper.
Create a table with the potential 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.
You can also 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.

Visit your favourite Canterbury Wedding Venues

Prepared with your wedding venue questions (part of the wedding planning pack), as well as lists of all the below questions and considerations, make an appointment to visit your favourite wedding venue or a couple of those which appeal to you.
Email their coordinator to enquire about package and pricing options, with any preferred dates or at least the month and days of the week, and the approximate number of guests you intend to have for the wedding reception. 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.

Wedding Venue Considerations

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.

I’d love to hear any other suggestions you have for Christchurch wedding venues, leave me a comment. Choosing your wedding venue is just one of the many decisions to make, do so with ease by purchasing the little white book & wedding planning pack in the discounted bundle.


How to Choose Between Wedding Catering Food Options

Wedding Catering is important & can be a big-ticket budget item… How do you choose?

Ask any wedding guest what makes a good wedding, and their mind soon turns to catering – it’s the food that they’re really looking forward to!
Whether it’s a formal sit-down dinner, a cost-effective canape service or just celebratory Champagne and cake, enjoying food and beverages is easily the most social part of a wedding. It is also big decision to get right, as it takes a huge portion of your wedding day budget. Grab your wedding planner book and make some notes – you may need some help making decisions, as there are many, many choices…

wedding catering
The variety of options available to choose from might seem overwhelming, but you’ll probably find that the options becomes more simple with the choice of venue, the formality of the your wedding, and the budget.
From casual buffets and barbecues to multi-course plated meals, I’ve served up the most popular wedding catering styles and menus and provided tips on choosing a catering style to suit you both and your guests.
How you choose your wedding catering style may also be an important factor to assist your wedding reception decor, your on-the-day timeline, and may influence how to allocate the rest of your budget.  This article will set out:

  • Food Serving Options
  • Catering Budget
  • Things to consider
  • Questions to ask your Caterer

Whatever catering option you choose for your wedding day, consider using the wedding planning pack to help you choose and interview your caterer without making any mistakes.

Seated Reception Dinner with Plated Table Service

A sit-down plated reception dinner usually consists of a two or three-course plated meal, with a couple of options for the main course, served by waiters at the table.  This wedding catering option is the most traditional.
A table service sit-down dinner is most appropriate for a formal wedding and an evening reception, where guests may be seated for a couple of hours to enjoy dinner and speeches.  This might not be suitable for a particularly festive or ‘party’ wedding, as guests must remain seated for a long time for staff to serve and clear plates between courses.
If there are lots of children in attendance, or if guests would prefer to be dancing around and chatting with everyone beyond their own table, this might not be the best wedding catering choice.
The expense of a sit-down plated meal is more, because of the number of servers required to attend to guests, especially if they are pouring guests’ wine.  However, you can save a lot on the quantity of food required to be provided (compared to a buffet) so you may be able to afford much better quality, and with an ‘alternate drop’ option, there will be no food wastage. Similarly, guests usually drink less wine if it’s being served at the table.
Alternate drop means only two meals are prepared (e.g. Chicken and Beef) and half the guests receive each.  If guests prefer one over the other, they are free to swap with their neighbors, but they do not get the option of selecting their preferred option.
Once you’ve determined you want this style of wedding catering, you’ve still got plenty of options for the type of cuisine to serve. As this type of catering is pre-plated, you need to be more mindful of dietary requirements, and probably choose items which are more universally loved. With a buffet, banquet or canape style, you can get away with more exotic choices, because guests get to pick and choose.

Shared Banquet Style Catering

Slightly less formal than the plated 2 or 3-course meal is the shared banquet style menu.  This is what we opted for at our wedding, choosing Italian-style catering.  Each platter is large enough for every guest to have a little, and it’s the perfect way to cater to those with dietary requirements too, or picky eaters, as they can pick and choose whatever they feel like.  Apparently the gnocchi was delicious, but unfortunately Blair and I didn’t have the opportunity to taste it, we were too busy making speeches and drinking champagne!
Something to be aware of is how much room this takes up on the tables – because as well as each guest’s plate, platters take up a lot of room. You may wish to omit centrepieces or lots of foliage in the centre of the table. We even had to remove some of our guests’ glassware to allow room.
This is a great catering choice to give guests multiple food options, you don’t necessarily have to have a gluten free or vegetarian option as long as you give them plenty of choice. Good for fussy eaters!

Buffet Catering Menus

For an especially large number of guests, or where guests are not necessarily eating at set tables, a self-service buffet provides guests a multitude of options. Buffet dinners are the second most popular choice for an evening reception.
While buffet dinners are suitable for large numbers of guests, be aware of having long lines forming – you may have to plan guests going up to the buffet a table at a time, or having more than one buffet set up.

Is a Buffet Wedding Cheap?

Often, couples assume buffets will be much cheaper.  It may sound like seated dinners are more expensive, but it can be the opposite. Fewer service staff are required for a buffet catering, as guests will help themselves, but a lot more food ends up being served (and often wasted), so the costs will be determined by the style and quality of food chosen.  Often, even if buffet food isn’t wasted, guests will go for seconds and even thirds so the amount of food is increased to accommodate this.  Make sure you ask your caterers the actual price difference between buffets and seated dinners.
Do check that caterers have enough staff to remove the dirty dishes in time, to fill up the buffets on time and to tend to the other needs of the guests. It is also important to ask about the “shelf-life” of the food in the buffet.
Buffet wedding catering is popular in New Zealand with Maori and Pacific Island communities, as Polynesian island food is typically served in buffets.
Another popular wedding trend (which we adopted) is to have a Dessert Buffet, rather than a plated dessert.  This can be made up of the cake and other finger foods, macaroons, fresh fruits, etc. I had a little taste before the wedding, as well as after…

Cocktail/Canape Wedding

A less traditional option, but one appropriate for an afternoon wedding so long as guests are advised not to expect a full dinner.  At a cocktail reception, staff will serve canapes either at tables for guests to help themselves from, or by walking around the venue with trays. This can be more convenient and much more budget-conscious than buffet stations.
For a large wedding, dinner can end up being prohibitively expensive, whereas a cocktail/canape style reception will be much cheaper.  You should tell guests in advance that the reception will be cocktail style, otherwise they are likely to assume they will have a full meal provided.  This might be obvious from the time of the reception, e.g. an afternoon-only reception, or one that begins at 7 or 8pm.
ia TasteAsYouGo


The most casual wedding catering option is a spit roast or barbecue meal, which can either be prepared by family (for example at an at-home wedding) or by a professional company.  If your wedding isn’t particularly formal, and/or your really close friends and family and would prefer the informality of a casual meal, this might be the most appropriate wedding catering option.  A spit roast company is likely to be the cheapest of professional catering companies.
If you’re not hiring a professional company to come in and prepare the meal, you’ll need to have a good plan of action for the preparation, cooking and serving of food.  Be very conscious of the safety and sanitation of preparation, and how difficult it can be to cook huge quantities of food quickly and properly (without burning or fires), and then providing the meal to guests before it gets cold.  If you’re a control freak, this may not be suitable.  However, if your friends or family have experience in the catering or hospitality business, you could save a lot of money this way.

Lunch or Brunch Wedding

Weddings are moving further and further away from being constrained by tradition, and it’s not unheard of for couples to host a morning reception followed by brunch or lunch.  Brunch food is perfect for buffet style serving, e.g. fruits platters, muffins and different omelettes.  If you’re interested, see this complete article on hosting a brunch weddingHint, it includes coffee and donuts…
Via Budget Savvy Bride
Finally, questions to ask your caterer

  • Do they have tastings available? If not, reviews from others are essential.
  • How many staff members will be available and will they be available to pour drinks, wash dishes and serve wedding cake, as well as the main fare?
  • What crockery, cutlery, glassware, salt/pepper (etc, etc) is included?
  • Is tea and coffee provided?
  • What will staff wear (and does this suit your formality?)
  • Will there be enough food to provide a small meal for your photographers?
  • Will children eat the same food?
  • What happens to any leftover food (e.g. after the buffet)?
  • Are they able to cater to various dietary requirements?
  • What date do they require final numbers and dietary requirements? (And then add this to your diary.)
  • Is a complete cleanup performed by staff after?
  • What space is needed for preparation?
  • How much room will be needed on tables for the type of service provided?

We hope it all goes well for you on your wedding day. Let me know about your catering plans or experiences in the comments below!
See also expert advice on How to plan your Wedding Catering Menu with Chef Tips

Balancing Motherhood and a Small Business

Over the past 7 years of running a small business, I’ve had my fair share of challenges. My website crashed with 1200 people on it one night (nobody could purchase anything); a large order of the ‘little white book’ once arrived looking slightly yellowed, I’ve wasted countless hours on marketing strategies that haven’t worked, and countless dollars on agencies who haven’t worked hard enough. However, nothing compares to the challenge of balancing it with motherhood.

There is the desperation to achieve everything within an ever-decreasing nap-time-slot; the inability to keep my office clear of duplo, connetix and other colourful plastic paraphernalia (or keep my own business paraphernalia from going walk-about through the house), the strain on my relationship as I lean on my husband to pick up the slack when I can’t, and the almost constant mum guilt.

I can’t say it got easier with the transition to two under 2 this year, but I’m working on skills to reduce the burnout, and feel like I’m achieving some semblance of ‘balance’ between motherhood and motherhustle.

1. Allocate “work” time in advance

2021 was a big year for my ‘job’, less so for my husband’s. Though he had been fortunate enough to keep his job in 2020, his career was still stalled through 2021, and he spent a lot more time at home. This was brilliant for our two children, our second being born in March, and also incredibly fortunate for me, as I was able to turn his inability to work into my own accelerated ability to work on my own small business. However, we have no family to help with childcare, and even our toddler’s 3 mornings a week at preschool were unavailable due to lockdowns. I found myself trying to steal time at any opportunity to just get *something* done. My frequent ‘disappearances’ (sometimes I would close the door to my office when the children seemed occupied, or ask him to take the children out for a walk with 5 minutes’ notice) caused a strain between us, and were ultimately more confusing for the children too. I wasn’t really achieving any kind of ‘balance’ with motherhood, but rather trying to do both at the same time.

After we realised that me dropping a ‘childcare bomb’ on him without warning was causing frustration, and that closing my door while the children played was not really giving me any productive time, we set about allocating me “work” hours (usually 2-3 hours in the morning), and the change in my productivity and my husband’s happiness, is worth sharing.

The benefits we have found are:

  • My husband has time to prepare for my work hours, whether that’s making plans, or just feeling more prepared.
  • As I also have the time organised beforehand, I can better prepare a to-do list, and prioritise those tasks much better.
  • My children are out of the house – I get to work in silence, and without distraction.
  • My children understand that “Mummy is working” – they don’t feel as though I’ve pulled a disappearing act on them.
  • Being able to work in a 2-3 hour block both enables, and forces me to be more productive. I don’t let a minute go to waste, and I have no excuse for getting distracted.
  • I am more present in the time I spend with my children when I know I will have some time to work later.

Whether you have plenty of time, or are extremely time-poor like me, I also suggest using “time batching” to small business owners.

Time Batching

Instead of being a slave to all the small business tasks you have to get done, at whatever moment they seem to demand your attention, make tasks work with your schedule by time-batching.
Time batching is the simple management hack of doing all your similar tasks in one go, rather than spreading them out over the day/week/month. While I might opt to do all my photos on one day; edit multiple blog posts at once; or schedule multiple meetings on the same day, to save time in getting dressed up and out of the house, you can start simply by:

  • Answer your emails all in one go, maybe once or twice per day.
  • Pack all your orders at the same time, rather than as they come in.
  • Do time-consuming tasks, like gift-wrapping for instance, in bulk if possible. I gift wrap 10-20 books at a time, ready to add a note to when an order comes in.
  • Check all of your business social media accounts at one time, once or twice per day.
  • Do all your small business admin and errands altogether. Reordering thermal labels, checking shipping for customers, even responding to customer emails – so long as nothing’s urgent, leave it until you can batch some admin tasks together. This will enable you to be creative or more productive without interruption.

Time-batching reduces your start-up and slow-down time, it reduces your daily clutter, and improves your focus.

Another technique to work smarter is to incorporate the Pomodoro technique, which can also make you more productive, and fits well with the limited time most parents have.

The Pomodoro Technique

Pomodoro (named after a tomato shaped egg-timer) was time managed method developed by Francesco Cirri in the late 1980 as a way to power through distractions and break up time into manageable chunks. Aided by a timer, she works hard for 25 minutes with no phone, no emails, no co-workers knocking on her door – then at the end of 25 minutes you gives yourself a short 5 minute break. After four 25 minute slots have passed (100 minutes of work time) you then takes a 15-20 minute break. It’s a great way to get through your tasks without distraction, allowing you to stay incredibly focused.

2. Delegate something (even though you can do it)

You know that saying…

If you love what you do, you’ll never have to work a day in your life.

…the premise being that if you love what you do it will never feel like work. I respectfully call BS. I absolutely love what I do, I find satisfaction even in the crappy jobs, like fixing website issues, stacking the garage shelves with boxes of books, or wrapping 200 of them at 8pm when my children are asleep, but it’s still very much ‘work’. In 2020, for the first time, I actually stopped doing literally everything myself. I’m still not good at delegating, but I have a (local) virtual assistant who helps with scheduling content, sending invoices and following up on some admin emails; I’ve hired photographers to take photos occasionally; web developers to build a new website; experts to run Google Ads, and more. Each of those things, I can do, but all of those things, I just don’t have time to do. Though it can be really hard to relinquish control over even the minutiae of your business, finding someone to take something off your plate is working smarter because it enables you to focus on the creative, the productive, or the new – whatever’s going to take your business further.

I have some experience working with VAs (virtual assistants) both locally and internationally. With both, you can have great experiences, and terrible ones. I’ve been advised never to give your banking/financial information (even Xero logins) to somebody internationally, but I would be very careful with that information anyway. I did once hire a woman from the Philippines to assist me, warming to her as she had a baby the same age. Unfortunately, we also shared the same inability to be very productive most of the time, with a young baby to care for, and in hindsight, I needed to delegate to somebody who had more time than me, not less. Her rate was around $12 per hour, while my New Zealand VA charges $40-45 per hour.

3. Schedule self-care, reflection and time out

If you’re trying to balance motherhood and also running a small business, chances are you’re not taking much time to yourself. Without down-time or time out, your brain doesn’t have time to recover from the exhaustion of the day you’ve just had (and will have again tomorrow), and you’re less likely to come up with the business ideas or creation inspiration that small businesses need to get ahead. A reel idea, a tagline to use in your next Facebook ad, even a new product – they will only come to you if there’s ‘room’ in your brain for more, so you have to make room by giving your brain a rest, whatever that looks like for you.

As an active relaxer, I can’t possibly just stop working, put down my phone and relax. Meditation is simply out of the question. The only way I can seem to distance myself from technology (which always becomes work) is to journal. When my son was born in 2019, I began a baby book for him, but found that I actually really enjoyed writing letters to him rather than just writing about his movements and milestones. For almost three years to my son, and almost a year to my daughter, I’ve managed to set aside time to write in their journals. Though I’m writing to them, I actually find myself reflecting a lot on my own time and experiences, often finding moments of real awareness while I write to them.

Sometimes I can only write a few lines, and sometimes three pages. Some days I have no clue how to start writing, and others, the words pour out of me like water.

If you’re not good at relaxing, and always have to be doing something like me, I really recommend it. This year, I released a line of childhood journals (suitable to use as baby books) which are lined with space for a date, and come with journal prompt stickers. I have found that using these gives me the best of both worlds in my journalling – I can write to my heart’s content on the days that I am feeling inspired to do so, or can turn to one of 140 prompts to guide me in my ‘meditation’.  The important thing is that it’s the way best way I have found to care for myself, which is integral to being able to run a small business and balance motherhood too.

journal prompted grandparents keepsake journal grandma grandpa book

What Should your Bridesmaids and Groomsmen Pay For? Wedding Party Expenses

Being able to ask your closest friends and even family to be your bridesmaids and groomsmen for your big day is so exciting, and such an honour for them. They will be so flattered and excited to be included for a celebration that is so important to you both, and you will forever look back on having them by your side. However, whether you’ve chosen your wedding party already, or you’re considering who to ask, you may have a niggling little question in your side.


What should your Bridesmaids and Groomsmen Pay for?

Money can still feel like a touchy subject to broach, and even the closest of friends may not know what each other earns or spends their money on – for some it’s a totally ‘taboo’ subject. However, when you’re planning your wedding and involving your bridesmaids and groomsmen in those plans, it’s a topic you really need to give some thought to. It’s also something you may wish to talk about with them early on – they too may be wondering what they will be expected to pay for.

Tradition vs Reality – What should your Wedding Party pay for, according to tradition?

According to tradition, your bridesmaids should pay for the following:

  • Their wedding attire and accessories. This includes the dress (which will most likely be picked by the bride), alterations, shoes and other adornments.
  • Transportation to and from the wedding town or city
  • An Engagement Gift and later a Wedding Present for the couple (purchased individually or contributed to by the wedding party as a group)
  • Bridal Shower and/or Bachelorette/Hens party

Conversely, the couple traditionally covers the cost of:

  • Bridesmaids’ flowers
  • Accommodation for out-of-town attendants (optional)
  • Transportation for the wedding party to ceremony and reception
  • Thank you gift to their attendants
  • Bridesmaids’ luncheon, tea, or party (if hosted by bride)
  • Hair and makeup (if bride requires it be professionally done)

Should your bridesmaids really pay for their own dress? Is that a reasonable request?

The best thing is you could shorten it and wear it again!

Familiar with 27 dresses..? If you’re a bride or bridesmaid, you should be…

Brides, if you find yourself saying those four little words “You’ll wear it again” to your bride tribe, you might want to question your motive. Justifying the price tag by assuring the bridesmaids they’ll wear it again won’t make it any cheaper…
Most bridemaids accept that upon accepting the honour of being in your crew, that they may have to buy their own dress and shoes – but is that really fair?
Though it’s the ‘custom’, I suggest you really consider how much you’re asking of your bridesmaids to do so. Anything more than $100, if she is genuinely not going to “wear it again” may not be an affordable expense for some, especially considering the general cost to attend a wedding, and that it is even more-so for a bridesmaid. Of course, if you buy them, you can keep them after the wedding and sell them as a set to another bride-to-be, while it’s much harder for each individual bridesmaid to sell theirs.
Brides, it’s up to you to choose the dress, and choose who pays for it, so if you’re asking them to foot the bill, try to keep it under $100. Alternatively, if you give the bridesmaids a general colour palette to comply with, it’s acceptable to ask them to pay for it. You could set guidelines (e.g. baby blue, mid-length) and ask the girls to run their dress choices by you before purchasing – saving you valuable wedding planning time too! Either way, Asos is incredible for cheaper options. If you really want your bridesmaids to buy their own dresses of your choosing, have an open discussion early on, and be open to flexibility – covering half the cost, for example.
Personally, I thought it would be in bad taste for me to spend so much on my wedding dress, to not pay for theirs.

Should your Groomsmen have to Buy or Rent a Suit?

Traditionally, groomsmen are responsible for buying or renting their own suits. However, if you are asking your groomsmen to purchase something they are unlikely to wear again, it is unfair to expect them to pay for it. If they are hiring suits, I personally also think the couple should pay, as this is an expense only for the wedding day, and the groomsmen shouldn’t be expected to pay, though my opinion is not traditional in this sense!

If you as a couple are requiring the groomsmen to buy the suits and the groomsmen will keep them, then I would still offer to make a small contribution, on the basis that they are going to get lots of wear out of it in future. For instance, buying a tuxedo can actually be more cost-effective than renting one, if the groomsmen will wear it two or more times, possibly even in another wedding, or to any black-tie event. In my experience, the average price of a suit rental comes in at somewhere between $150 and $180. And, for a one-time-wear, that is generally the better option. Once again, it’s a personal decision, and one to consider when you are choosing your wedding party, because you should consider the ability of anybody you ask to shoulder some of the financial burden.

Hair & Makeup: Who Pays?

Like the dress, it’s up to the couple (or the bride) whether or not she wants the bridesmaids to have consistent and professional hair and makeup. If the bride chooses for the bridesmaids to do so, the bride should pay. If your bridesmaids aren’t confident in doing their own hair or make-up, it may be a sensible expense to take on. Spray tans and manicures are optional, but if the bride insists on her ‘maids undertaking these little extras, the bride should pay for these too.

Party Planning! Bridal Shower/Bachelorette & Hens Parties!

Planning the hens party is usually a surprise for the bride organised by her bridesmaids – their treat. So long as the bride is willing to surrender all control to the maid of honour and her crew, she isn’t usually expected to pay for it herself. Sometimes the bridesmaids ask the other attendees to split the cost of the bride’s day, or that of a hotel room, for example. Bridesmaids, keep in mind the costs of attending the bachelorette party for the other guests too. If there is a “bridal shower” it is often hosted by one of the couple’s parents, rather than the bridesmaids.

Should the bridesmaids pays for their Travel and Transportation?

For many, attending a wedding is a huge enough expense, and the additional cost of being in the wedding party can be eye-watering. While those attending your wedding accept that paying for their own travel and transportation, you might like to help your wedding party out if you know the costs are piling up due to their being there to help you.
Often, the couple ask the wedding party to help out for a couple of days prior to the wedding, in which case it may be more fair for her to pay for their accommodation, or at least offer to contribute.

Bridesmaids’ Gifts / Bride’s Gifts?

As a token of gratitude and appreciation, it is most common for the bride to give a gift to each of her bridesmaids. Often this is jewellery or bridesmaids’ robes, or something more personal, such as monogrammed accessories, or something thoughtful to remember the wedding day by. It doesn’t need to be expensive – the best gifts are from the heart.
Brides shouldn’t be upset if, on top of all the other outlays, a bridesmaid doesn’t also buy them a gift – chances are they’ve spent a lot along the way to your big day.

Bride’s Maid?

However you allocate and manage who pays for what, and who does who, don’t lose sight of the reason you chose these girls to stand by your side. It’s not uncommon for weddings to lead to fall-out between family and friends, and some research shows  32 percent of newlywed women have fallen out with at least one of their bridesmaids.
Whether minor disputes over whether the bridesmaids should pay for a dress not of their choosing, how they are to wear their hair on the day, or how much time is expected of them, it’s not worth falling out with your best friends. Weddings can be very stressful times, take care of your relationships as well as your bank balance.
What do you think bridesmaids should have to pay for themselves?

P.S See how these Old-fashioned Bridesmaids Dresses Trends have been revamped, and take a peek at some of our beautiful and handsome wedding parties in some of our featured weddings.

Pacific Wedding at Landsendt

PAPER & LACE An Elegant Cultural Auckland Wedding By Levien Lens Photography 103

Indian Wedding at Craggy Range

Indian Wedding Craggy Range Te Mata Peak

PAPER & LACE A Hawkes Bay wedding event so unique and stunning it will make your jaw drop 60

Vintage Old Forest School Wedding


DIY or BUY. Six simple sea shell projects for your wedding day.

There are many sea shell projects out there that require insane amounts of fancy pants shells (and talent). Not today – but of course we’ve also included links to buy.

If you can get your hands on some oyster shells they do look fab (especially for project 1.) but all of todays DIYs can be made with nothing more than your good ole local beach shells, and will look amazing for your beach wedding. Hunting for beach shells is good for the soul, and all of these ideas can be whipped up in less than a day (depending on your patience!) Enjoy.

Oyster Shell Salt & Pepper Wedding Favours

one // These Oyster shell salt & pepper holders are kick ass for your wedding table or even your guest favours. Via Design Sponge. If you’re just looking for one or two of these, we’ve also found some affordable ones here and here (and pictured below).

Oyster shell salt & pepper holders

Sea Shell Spoon – Wedding Theme Decor

two // Drill a hole, poke some bendy wire through and twist and tweak. More fab than practical but would look great on a wedding table. Via Sweet Paul Magazine. I also love these wooden oyster shell spoons via Etsy.

Wooden spoon with oyster shell

Sea Shell Backdrop

four // Keep it small as a wind chime or table chandelier or go big and make a backdrop for your photos or for the end of the aisle. Found via Home Sweet Homemade. Here are a couple more intricate of our fav Sea Shell Chandeliers to BUY.


Sea Shell Fairy Lights

five // These shell fairy lights are insanely easy to do – learn how with Ruperts House

Sea Shell Necklace

six // A sweet gift for your bridesmaids! Learn how to make at Madigan Made or buy this beautiful Hawaiian Sunrise Necklace.


If you enjoyed this, make sure to visit our DIY or BUY series, and Shop with us.


How to Start Wedding Planning: Your First Steps Checklist

You’ve just got engaged and can’t wait to start planning your wedding, the most wonderful and exciting journey! It can feel pretty overwhelming to begin with, so I hope I can help you through the entire planning process, from your first wedding planning checklists to how to budget for your wedding and everything in between.

I hope you’ll find this article a great start, but all the advice in the world can’t substitute actually getting started, and the best way to do that is with the little white book wedding planner.

3 things to do before you start wedding planning (which will help you plan)

1. Write down your priorities

Before you begin planning your wedding, I hope you’ll take a little time to celebrate your engagement. Enjoy and reflect on this life-changing time, and what you want for your ‘Big Day’ before you really begin wedding planning. If you dive in too fast without really giving thought to what’s important to you, it’s easy to get swept away, or caught up, with organising all kinds of wedding elements – some of which you mightn’t even want.

I suggest you think about the real purpose of your wedding, the ‘why’ instead of just the ‘how’ and the ‘what’.

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 tasks though, have a few weeks of calm to celebrate your engagement. The magic of your partner proposing, and you agreeing to marry them is a momentous occasion. 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. Write about your proposal – the moment you agreed to marry him or her, 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?

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 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.

2. Discuss with your fiancé – are you on the same page?

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?

Once you feel really comfortable that you know the purpose, the meaning, and the reason for planning a wedding, keep that in mind as you move through the planning process. If you feel yourself getting carried away, return to your purpose.

Before discussing your wedding plans and priorities with your families and friends, discuss with just your fiance 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.

3. Set your wedding priorities to plan with purpose

Related to the first step, but his time, think about what a wedding actually looks like to you – what are your intentions for this day. Is it an intimate and private celebration, a huge party, are you more focussed on a long reception meal with lots of courses and speeches, or do you want more time on the dancefloor and mingling with your friends and family? If you set your wedding priorities before you begin, you can continue to return to them any time you’re feeling lost or overwhelmed. Your priorities are the few elements of your wedding on which you put first and perhaps even those which you splurge on. However, that might mean readjusting your wedding budget and cutting out some of those elements which aren’t so important – and that’s totally okay!


Your first steps – finding your wedding venue (but first…)


The first booking to made is usually your wedding reception venue, but you can’t really make this decision until you have considered your ideal date, your guest list and your wedding budget.


Begin Wedding Planning with a Guest List

Before you even think about booking a reception venue and sending out your wedding invitations, you need to give your guest list some careful consideration. Whether you can afford a large wedding party with all of your friends and family; whether the venue of your dreams has capacity for everyone on your list; and whether you really want to organise a large wedding party.

The more guests you have at your wedding, the less time you’ll actually be able to spend with each of them, not to mention the level of extra work required for a big wedding and the expense. If you already have a wedding venue in mind, double-check their guest capacity.

Otherwise, if you’re flexible for venue and budget, start wedding planning by writing down the names of every person you’d like to see on your wedding day, and work from there. This may also give you an indication as to what style of wedding you envisage, and make sure to keep returning to your purpose. For more help with this go to how to start your guest list).

Don’t Start Wedding Planning without a Budget

Just like your purpose, you will return to your wedding budget often and one of the first steps to wedding planning must be to start it. Without an idea of your wedding budget expectations, you can’t possibly commit to a ceremony or reception venue or any other wedding vendors.

It’s a good idea to sit down early, talk it over with your fiancé, and any parents or family members who may offer to make a contribution to your budget. Start working out your finances well in advance (see more via the wedding budget guide).

Set a Wedding Date

This too will tie in with your budget, as if you don’t have your savings organised, or won’t be able to do so within, say 12 months til your wedding, you might want to consider a longer engagement and therefore a later date.

Are there any particularly special dates to you, such as your first date, or the proposal date? Looking at your guest list, are there certain people who will only be able to make it at a certain time of year (overseas friends coming back for Christmas, for example)? Keep in mind that 75% of brides still wish to get married on a Saturday, and most will get married in summer, so don’t wait too long to book if you have a certain date in mind.

What Style of Wedding do you Want?

You don’t need to have completely determined your wedding style prior to starting wedding planning, because with the right decor you can transform almost any room. However, The more styling or changing a venue will need to suit your style, the more it will cost, so to stick to a budget, it may be best to choose a venue which needs little in the way of decor. If you’re likely to want a classic and elegant wedding, a barnyard reception venue may not be right for your big day. There’s no point in wasting precious planning time (or should I say wedding-cake tasting time) by visiting wedding venues which don’t fit your style. It can be hard to imagine how different a venue can look once it is decorated, so I would suggest firstly working out your ideal style, and then asking the venues whether they have photos of any similar looks they have achieved before.

Finally, once you’ve worked out your guest list, budget, date options and style preferences, now you can finally begin finding your wedding venue. I’ve written specific articles on Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch wedding venues, otherwise you can head to the Top 10 New Zealand wedding destinations or to How to find your wedding venueIf you’re outside of New Zealand, I suggest finding directory wedding websites in your local area.

If you’ve come this far, don’t leave without a copy of the little white wedding planning bundle to keep you on track every step of the way.

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download a sample of the little white book wedding planner to see examples of how to use the pages, and how it can help you plan your wedding.