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An Elegant Urban (Second) Wedding

Today’s wedding is actually a second gathering to celebrate with the Groom’s parents not able to make the first. This chic photoshoot beautifully combines the couples sophistication with cool inner city backdrops (how cool are the concrete silos!) all captured by the talented Diana V Photography. Enjoy! xox

Who Obed & Brogan George
Where Auckland
Guests 30
Budget  $10,000 (wedding two)

Our love story began… by a chance encounter Sydney, Australia

I said yes… in the snow Queenstown, New Zealand on our first ever vacation together.

Our wedding style was… Classic with a hint of cultural tradition.

We chose to have a second reception in New Zealand because… Obed’s parents were unable to attend our original wedding in Sydney, Australia due to illness and we wanted to celebrate our marriage with them and everyone who couldn’t make it the first round. We had originally planned to celebrate twice but Obed’s parents’ absence firmly cemented this desire so we went ahead with the planning.

This time we saved on flowers! Gina (the groom’s sister & bridesmaid) and I purchased the flowers ourselves making the bouquets, boutonnieres and flower arrangements for the tables.

We splurged on… our HONEYMOON to Hawaii. It was fabulous.

Our advice to engaged couples… Enjoy the day or in our case days it goes by so fast! We decided on a videographer at the last second and it was worth every penny! Oh and don’t worry about the weather! Two weddings, two days of torrential rain!


Photographer Diana V Photography
Stylist Consultant Chanel Friend
Flowers Purchased locally in Parnell (first wedding was Tammy Ingledew for Bouquet of Dreams – absolute perfection!)
Venue Soljans Winery
Brides Dress Pronovias, Fashions by Farina
Brides Shoes Ivanka Trump
Bridesmaid Dresses Designed by the bride and created by the very talented and professional seamstress Margaret Thornhill residing in the bride’s hometown Harden, NSW Australia
Grooms suit Noose & Monkey UK via ASOS
Grooms accessories David Jones
Rings Designed by Lauren Albon, created by Matthew Ely by York Jewellers

Actual Wedding Budget Breakdown & Template (Our wedding of 75 in Coromandel)

Before you begin, let me just say, welcome, and I have been where you are now – wondering how much it’s really going to cost to create your dream day, taking sensible steps to save where possible, but not having to scrimp too much on the things which are really important to you for your wedding. To be honest, I do feel like I went overboard with our wedding expenses. I didn’t have a great wedding budget spreadsheet and I had never actually seen another person’s wedding budget breakdown.

So, I thought it would be really useful for those of you organising your wedding budget to have a look at mine. I hope this will help you to see how different an actual wedding budget often looks from what is considered an ‘average’ wedding budget. It may also be helpful to know that while the “average” cost of a real wedding in New Zealand and Australia is commonly cited as $35,000, this figure can be misleading. How each couple will spend their total budget is also a very personal choice – for example you’ll see from ours where we prioritised. You can also see more actual wedding budgets here (scroll to the bottom for the budgets).

To help you stay on track and organise your wedding (and keep on track of your budget of course, don’t go away without seeing the little white book wedding planner.

This is my personal wedding budget breakdown, so it will be entirely different to anybody else’s, and will be different to yours too, but it may provide an interesting starting point for your own wedding budget.

An Overview of Our Wedding

On 20 February 2016 we were married in Coromandel, New Zealand at a private home which we hired for the weekend, with a guest list of 75. Renting the property for the weekend was very expensive but it included wedding day accommodation for many of our closest family and friends who had travelled a long way to be with us. 

Because the wedding venue was a private home, we had to hire absolutely everything necessary to create our dream day – which really added to the cost (i.e. what you save on BYO beverages, you more than make up for in hiring wine glasses). We chose not to hire a marquee, as we loved the venue in its natural state, and managed to tightly squeeze the 75 guests into the main dining room instead.

I spent a lot on my wedding dress, around $10,000 NZD, but it was worth it in the end, and by adjusting our spending elsewhere, we were able to save money to afford it. We had a single musician, followed by a DJ rather than a live band, had fairly cheap wedding invitations, and put a few things on our credit card for airpoints to use on our honeymoon.

The Wedding Budget Breakdown

You can click to zoom in, have a look around, and see where my wedding budget got totally blown out. This is more than the cost of a wedding for a lot of people, but you can see how easy it is to go over your wedding budget with just a few splurges.
N.B. This mostly covers wedding suppliers. I have excluded the costs of gifts to each other, and our honeymoon, from the totals.

wedding planner real wedding budget spreadsheet template8

We began our wedding budget with an estimate of $48,000 NZD, and we ended up spending just shy of $53,000 NZD excluding engagement rings, gifts to each other and our honeymoon.

Wedding Budget: Splurge or Save?

As you’ll see, hireage of the wedding venue itself was $10,000 in New Zealand Dollars (around $9,400 Australia, $7,000 USD), which made up a huge portion of our total wedding budget. We didn’t hire a marquee, so we saved a few thousand there, but a lot of money went to the hire of all the other little things we needed to build our venue from scratch.
We set a few priorities in our budget, as I suggest you do, and spent a lot on the dress, the photographers, and having lots of food and drink catering (canapes in the afternoon, a large shared-style feasting dinner, dessert tables, wedding cake and pizzas late in the night). However, there were also areas we chose to forego entirely, and saved a lot on those things, such as a videographer and transport. We were able to do full BYO beverages at our venue, and because I decided to use a special ring I already had as my wedding ring, only had to purchase Blair’s, so there were many areas where we didn’t spend anything.

We don’t regret our Wedding Budget, but you don’t need to spend that much

Some people will say that is a horrendous amount of money to spend on one day, but it was actually five days, including accommodation for our family who travelled around the world to be with us. We have zero regrets, but I also don’t think it’s necessary for you to spend $50,000 on your wedding, I’m just sharing this so that you can see how a lot of very small things can add up to one very large sum.
For some, the wedding of their dreams will also be at a huge cost, mine was 20% of our wedding budget, but there are also so many ways of planning a wedding to meet whatever budget you are working with, and I hope you won’t feel any pressure to spend a certain amount.

The photos of our wedding budget featured are from the little white book wedding planner, or you may wish to use a wedding budget calculator like the one I sell both on its own ($17), or as part of the ultimate wedding planning bundle.

Things to be Wary of when Planning Your Wedding

When organising a huge event like your Wedding, there are potential pitfalls of the excitement, adrenaline and hasty decision-making. With their often huge financial costs, decisions fraught with difficulty and all the politics of negotiating with two families, it’s no wonder wedding planning can be stressful for all involved. However, one cause of stress that no couple should ever have to endure is that caused by a wedding scam, or being ripped off, so I’m sharing some advice on things to be wary of when planning your wedding.

Things to be Wary of when Planning Your Wedding

Unfortunately, over the last few years, a number of fraudulent schemes have emerged, cheating brides and grooms to be out of their precious wedding-planning dollars. As humans, we’re naturally pretty trusting of others, and in the beautiful wedding industry, it seems almost unbelievable that some don’t have your best intentions at heart. In making decisions for something so important, especially when large sums of money are involved, we really can’t be too careful – so how can you avoid wedding scams?

Research Eaach Wedding Vendor, Read Reviews, Do Your Homework

Before choosing each wedding vendor, and certainly before paying a deposit, research the company or vendor you are contemplating using. This should be a done with a combination of communication with the company itself, and doing external research. To completely understand the offer, exclusions and what questions you should be asking before booking, have a look at the wedding planning pack which offers these in detail. Externally, google the wedding vendor, find them on Facebook and read any reviews or information about them, or deals offered. Be aware of fake reviews that are written by the scamming company or vendor – those which seem overly positive, or come from profiles that look suspiciously related to the company itself.
Most wedding vendors should have social media – it’s a key way they market their services and showcase their work. It’s also a great way for you to check out couples who have used them before – by seeing who has tagged the wedding vendor in photos on instagram, or left reviews, tags and comments on Facebook. Most wedding vendors also work with others in the industry, a florist is likely to also be tagged by photographers, for instance – so don’t be afraid to private message previous customers or vendors to find out their experience. Married couples understand the stress and the difficulty of wedding planning, so will most likely share their experience.
There are also Facebook groups and pages of women whom are planning their wedding. If at any point you have questions about a particular vendor or offer, or you just want a second opinion, post asking for their opinions or advice.
If people have had bad experiences and have been scammed by a company or vendor, in this day and age, they are most likely going to share it online, but likewise, if a vendor had no online or social media presence, this would certainly raise alarm bells for me.

Be Wary of the “Too Good To Be True” Offer

If a wedding vendor’s offer was significantly better or cheaper than competing vendors of a similar experience or skill, who wouldn’t be tempted to accept?
Well, unfortunately scammers target vulnerable people, and brides and grooms-to-be (making huge financial decisions at an emotionally heightened time) fit squarely into this category. To make up for a lack of reviews or years in business, those who might be hoping to rip you off will probably offer a deal that’s far superior, or far cheaper, than the competition. The reality is that most wedding vendors have fixed costs which will be similar across the board – the cost of materials to create a wedding cake, a bouquet or other decor, for instance. While there are exceptions, such as photographers, who charge based on their experience, skill and demand, you should still be wary of any wedding vendor who’s deal is surprisingly good.
If you’re still interested in accepting the offer, it’s reasonable to ask why the cost is cheaper than others, and you will probably get an inkling from their answer, if they are being dishonest. This question may also help you establish the quality of the goods or services you are receiving – if a product or service is significantly cheaper than market standard, it’s likely that the quality is consequently cheaper.
It is also beneficial to compare the contracts and agreements of vendors to see what you are actually signing up to, and ensure that these are properly drafted. These should be considered with as much scrutiny as any other legal document you would sign. Go over your wedding agreements and contracts as closely, as well as preferably getting the advice of a savvy friend or parent.

Meet with Wedding Vendors Face-to-face or at least on Zoom

Technology and social media is so prevalent in our lives, it can seem easier to communicate and even book wedding vendors without meeting them face-to-face. However, when something of significant importance and expense, such as a wedding is involved, meeting your vendors is crucial.
Not only is it a costly outlay, but many wedding vendors will be with you on the day – you want to know that you feel comfortable and get on with them. By meeting your vendors, you will get an understanding of the type of people they are and whether you actually want them involved in your big day.
If someone refuses to meet with you in person, or is unreliable, this is a definite warning sign – they may not have dishonest intentions, but equally they are not someone you want to rely on to provide goods and/or services for such an important occasion.
When you meet with your vendor, do ask for references. If a company is reputable, they will be more than happy to share referrals to make their clients feel at ease.
Meeting with wedding vendors also helps ensure that you are both on the same page with what each are going to provide. When communicating via text, email or messaging on social media, it can be very easy for something to be misconstrued or completely missed. This will avoid something going wrong on the wedding day or not having your expectations met. Wherever possible, use lots of photos to show, as well as describe, your vision – words can be easily misconstrued.

Only Pay a Deposit

When you first choose a wedding vendor and book in their goods and/or services, they shouldn’t be asking for much money upfront. Most vendors require a small deposit, and then to pay the remaining amount a few weeks prior to the wedding so make sure this is clear and agreed on with each vendor.
If a wedding vendor or business requires you to pay the entire, or majority of the cost upfront, ask yourself why. If a wedding planner, for instance, is paying the deposits to other vendors, you should be able to pay them directly. This should also cut out the possibility of the wedding planner taking secret commissions. Those who do so are breaking the law, and should be reported to the Commerce Commission. Unfortunately, it still happens.
Once you’ve paid your deposit, you should be hearing more from your vendor – not less, as they organise whichever element of your wedding day you’re paying for. If communication quickly dries up, this could be a sign that you are involved in a wedding scam. If you suspect this might be the case, look back to your contract or agreement and if necessary, visit your bank, and seek legal action. At this point it may also be beneficial to look for an alternative vendor, as even if they were not a scam, they may not be able to be relied on.

Wedding Planners: Secret Commissions & Scams

Whether it’s the taking of secret commissions from your other vendors (aka hiking up the cost and passing it onto you – totally illegal), or in the case of the recent Rarotonga wedding scam where a pair of Auckland-based planners “Paradise Wedding Desires” failed to organise basic services for the big day. “They’ve had no intention of carrying out these weddings, it’s a scam” the bride said.

“For those coupes who arrived in Rarotonga to be disappointed, I would definitely have suggested to couples that even if they’re working with a wedding planner, to have some correspondence with individual vendors well in advance of the big day.”

“Organising a wedding in another country can be more difficult, but the event teams at individual resorts are actually excellent, and can take care of most of the planning for couples. Putting your trust (and money) in the planning team at a resort with a physical presence is a lot safer than using a separate contractor. I have travelled to Rarotonga and Samoa to meet with resort wedding planners over the last couple of years, and have been really impressed by how much they can take care of.”

There have been cases in the US where wedding planners have told couples to leave their cheques blank as the company name is still unconfirmed. Though cheques are not as common anymore, you can ask for proof of a vendor’s account details to ensure you’re paying the right entity. If you have paid via credit card, check that your credit card bill matches up with what you have paid. Do not be afraid to ask questions if a company name looks unfamiliar or the amount is different to what you agreed.

Online Shopping?

Bridesmaids’ (or bride’s) dress, shoes, veil, decorations, rings, flowers – there are so many wedding elements that many choose to order online.
While most of us are very familiar with online shopping, purchasing items for your wedding is a “one off” – you’re not using the sites you usually shop on, or the vendors you’ve bought from before. When it comes to clothing, for instance, there are often vast differences between the photos used for advertising, and the dresses delivered (if any), so for bridesmaids’ dresses or even your wedding gown, use a high degree of scrutiny before purchasing. Consider a company’s return policy, especially if they are offshore, and, like all other wedding vendors, read the reviews. Many things you buy online, especially on websites you have never purchased from, come in a different fabric to what you thought, the colour is slightly different, the sizing is completely off, or to make matters worse, gets lost in the post.  Wedding dresses are a common example of this and there have been many wedding dress scams along these lines. If possible, purchase something cheap from them first to check how fast the item gets to you, and if you are buying what you thought you were buying. To protect your credit card details, buy from a secure site, that’s one which begins with https.
To completely avoid this risk, try and purchase things in stores, or from reputable websites with a physical presence. It’s safer for you, and also better for your local vendors. This way, you can try it on, check the quality, sizing and you know exactly what you are purchasing.

If you think a company or a vendor is in any way too good to be true, you’re probably right – it is much safer to go with an alternative, even if they are slightly more expensive. Trust your instincts and your intuition. Talk to other people, such as your friends and family and ask for their opinion as well, as many newlywed friends will have recommendations (or warnings).

Be Organised Well In Advance

The earlier you get organised, with both your vendor bookings, and all the things you need to pick up along the way, the more time you will have to deal with anything unexpected. In the case of Primrose & Finch’s bridal store closure, for instance – which, while not strictly a ‘scam’ but rather a company liquidation, being without a wedding dress could spell complete disaster for a bride who intended to pick it up just a couple of weeks before her wedding, but would be a lot more manageable if you were organised enough to have a couple of extra months’ leeway. As wedding dresses sometimes take 6 months to make (my own included), this means time really can be ‘of the essence’, so I encourage brides to get sorted ASAP. This also leads to a much less stressful lead up to the wedding. The little white book has all your recommended timeframes and checklists, as well as helping you to get well organised.
Finally, when organising your wedding, you’re certainly more at risk of making emotional decisions, but don’t feel pressured to rush into anything without really careful thought.

Report Any Dishonest Behaviour

If you think you have been scammed, speak up, if only to avoid others suffering the same fate. Tell your friends and family, post on social media and go to the police or the relevant agency, such as WINZ or the Serious Fraud Office. If you believe your wedding planner is taking secret commissions, contact the Commerce Commission. The more people that know about scammers and the types of scams that are around, will stop people from experiencing the same thing, and with any luck, you may be able to recover.

Expecting the Unexpected on Your Wedding Day

You know the saying “the best laid plans…” – well, I wouldn’t be surprised if the author was thinking of weddings when they wrote it. Of course, it’s an oxymoron to plan or prepare for the unexpected, when practically anything could be an unexpected event, but as you finalise the organisation of your wedding day, at least keep in mind that anything could happen (or go wrong), and try to mentally prepare yourself to be able to handle the unpredictable on the big day.

No matter how well you plan, life is full of surprises, and your wedding day is no exception. In fact, with the organisation of a huge group of people and coordination of so many vendors, coupled with a little stress and huge anticipation, your wedding day has a higher chance than most for something unexpected to happen.
For our wedding, just a few things went ‘wrong’…

  • wet weather caused flooding, which blocked the road to Coromandel for a while (thankfully, the day before);
  • a groomsman left half the liqour (for cocktails) and a few cases of red wine back in Auckland;
  • the linen arrived in black… instead of white (a few hours’ drive from the depot);
  • the wedding cake was delivered in multiple pieces (unintentionally), in various states of disrepair and ruin;
  • we completely left my step-brother off the seating arrangements;
  • the local accommodation had overbooked our guests, leaving two vendors without a bed; and
  • the decor and glasses to be placed on the tables actually took up far too much room, leaving too little space for the food (feasting platters for guests to share from), so of course, those were promptly moved to the floor!

In fact, I’m sure there would be more ‘surprises’ if I thought long and hard about it, all I know is that we had more than our fair share of the unexpected.
So what happens when the big day of your dreams doesn’t quite go according to plan? How can you expect the unexpected, or at the very least prevent stress and angst over them from affecting your enjoyment of the day?

Change your Mindset

Planning a weddings is such a unique experience, and the way we plan and focus on the task has a tendency to make us all a little bit… fussy. In daily life, you’re probably used to handling the unforeseen, whether that’s the weather changing your weekend plans, or a clumsy coffee spill messing up your outfit as you head out the door to work, but when it comes to your wedding, the thought of it being anything less than “perfect” is a tragedy.

The reality, of course, is that it won’t be either, it probably won’t be “perfect”, but it certainly won’t be a tragedy either (and the surprises do make for the best stories). As we fret over minute details such as the stationery wording; matching flowers to decor, and everything in between, it’s easy to lose sight of the bigger picture and “see the wood for the trees” and in doing so, forget the importance and meaning in the day itself, rather than the details.

The best advice I think I can give about preparing for the unexpected for your wedding day is to keep a sense of perspective. It’s the couple’s attitudes which totally determine what happens when something goes wrong at a wedding – though little things may go awry here and there, they don’t have to impact how great the day is for you both.

Don’t let the Weather determine your day

Unfortunately, you just can not book your wedding months in advance and guarantee clear skies and a fine day. As much as that’s a super-power we’d all love to have, none of us can control the weather. Even the weather reports seem to be wrong half the time, so the best thing you can do to prepare for unexpected weather is have options for all odds.

Many outdoor venues will have indoor options incase the weather turns, so to avoid disappointment on the day, it’s best to really put a plan in place for how to make that space beautiful if the unfortunate does eventuate. As far in advance as actually choosing your wedding venue, you should consider the wet-weather option and whether you’d be happy with that alternative to the outdoor space.

As well as preparing for rain (and flooding), keep in mind wind and cold – if the venue is exposed to the cold where guests will be mingling, consider having blankets available, especially for late in the evening. Strong winds may also cause you to have to rethink decor and furniture, so ensure there are ways you can decorate the space in all eventualities.

Importantly, as well as thinking about all-weather options, you need to allocate somebody else to be in charge of making changes on the day – as bride and groom, that’s not your job, so allocate a trusted friend to execute plan B.

If the weather does look risky on the day, make sure your hairstylist and makeup artist keep this in mind to ensure your hair and makeup lasts the duration of the day, for instance, an up-do might hold better in the wind than loose curls.

Remember, only you can let bad weather ruin your big day.

Decor Disappointments

If you are ordering any decorations and/or accessories for the big day, make sure you order them well in advance. This will allow you to flexibility to replace anything that is broken, or is different to what you believed you were ordering, or order more. When working with professional vendors, make sure your communication is clear, ideally with photos or drawings as well as a description of your desires. If you are ordering anything that is to be picked up close to, or on the day, such as flowers, and keep in touch with your vendor in the last couple of weeks.

Decor is a popular DIY item for weddings, so if family and friends are helping our, do make sure that they are committed, be clear on their roles and your expectations, and have everything done well in advance… just incase you need to make any changes.

Surprise Guests

Unbelievable as it might be, a situation could arise where guests show up unexpectedly. This could be anything from someone bringing along their new partner (or their child), an extra vendor staying for the meal or a couple mistakenly believing they had RSPV’d.

This can easily be resolved, with a little preparation. It’s sensible to include a couple of extra plates for catering- it is better to have too much food than too little, as well as organising meals for those vendors who will be present, such as photographers. You can ask the venue to be prepared with a few spare table settings and chairs on hand, so that any unexpected guests can slip in without a fuss (even if they do have to sit on the corner of the table like my step-brother).

While ordering meals, don’t forget to cater for the wedding photographer too, and any other vendor who will be there for the whole day (wedding planner or coordinator)

Wardrobe Mishaps

Snagged fabric, stuck zippers, broken heels, the ways to ruin your wedding outfit are seemingly endless… You can’t foresee a wardrobe malfunction, but you can take precautions. Avoid red wine or any dark liquors at least until you’ve had your post-ceremony wedding photos, have a needle and thread on hand, as well as safety pins, ribbon if your dress is corsetted, and double-sided tape. These are just a few of the items suggested to put in your wedding bathroom baskets for guests, too. If possible, ask your dressmaker if there is anything that could break easily and supplies you should have on hand.

Expecting the Unexpected on Your Wedding Day The Official Photographers

Refreshments and Beverages

It’s practically impossible to predict the exact amount of refreshments and beverages for your big day, there are so many contingencies – even the weather will play a part in how much people drink, and we know how unpredictable that is! If you are supplying your own refreshments and beverages, always buy more than you think you will need – many liquor stores will allow returns, possibly with a restocking fee. Likewise, it’s better to have additional food than risk running out, even if you have to send some away with friends and family following the wedding. Many people have day after wedding brunch or lunch events the next day with friends and family, so the food could always be used then.

Personally, we way over-catered the drinks for our wedding, and three years on we still get to open a bottle of wedding wine, something I don’t mind at all!

Tight Schedule

There can be so many people and elements to try and fit into your wedding day, so having a schedule is essential. Each wedding vendor, such as your venue coordinator and caterer needs to know times of when wedding guests are arriving and the order of the day’s events. The key is to be flexible – allow extra time before and after the ceremony, longer than you think you’ll need for photos, and be open about the need to hurry things along if need be (or nix them altogether, if unimportant to you – I was happy not to have an official “cake cutting” for instance.

Focus more on the general order of events, and don’t worry too much about the day being run minute by minute. Certainly let someone else be in charge of timekeeping, such as your MC, to be able to readjust anything if need be – one less stress for you.

Silly or Embarrassing Speeches

If you are worried about having embarrassing speeches, limit those only to a few special people, such as your maid of honour, best man and parents, and speak to them in advance if need be. Ensure those speaking know not to drink too much alcohol beforehand, and if you are nervous about inappropriate stories, set boundaries about what they can and cannot talk about.

If things do turn sour (which is completely out of your control), have a signal with your MC to take the microphone from the offender.

The Awkwardly Drunk Guest

Speaking of silly and embarrassing, don’t be surprised if one or two of your guests partake a little too freely in the open bar. Sure, they might be the life of the party… until they’re not anymore – ending in tears, injuries, or a vomit covered dancefloor. Plan ahead for this ‘unexpected’ eventuality – talk to your bartender about host responsibility and let them know that you’re trusting them to make good decisions.

If you know who might cause a problem, take action before one starts, whether that’s having a quiet word to them, or the bartender, about what you expect.

Above all, when it comes to wedding day expectations, just forget the word “perfect”. Noone is perfect – people do not behave perfectly, any more than weather does, and neither can be controlled even with the best laid plans. There is no such thing as perfect, so by normalising your expectations from the outset, you prevent disappointment.
I can’t give you a perfect wedding, but I can give you the perfect tools to get organised well in advance, so have a look at the wedding planning pack and the little white book wedding organiser to get started.

Pregnancy Sick Leave and Parental Leave in NZ

Knowing your rights and entitlements at work is always important, and being aware of your pregnancy sick leave and parental leave is especially so. We are so lucky in New Zealand that there are strict laws employers must follow, including specific pregnancy sick leave and parental/maternity leave, so educate yourself well in advance.

While most employers are supportive of pregnancy – allowing women to take leave when needed, and providing flexible maternity leave, unfortunately there will always be some whom are not so encouraging. Without knowing your rights, you mightn’t realise you are being treated unfairly in the work place whilst pregnant – so it’s crucial to understand pregnancy sick leave and parental leave.

I hope you find this article useful – Please have a look at made with love – pregnancy journal before you go xx

Pregnancy Sick Leave and Parental Leave in NZ

Pregnancy Sick Leave

While there is no special rights in law as ‘pregnancy sick leave’, pregnant women are still provided for by statutory sick pay entitlements under the Holidays Act 2003. While pregnancy is natural, and not an injury or illness, employees who feel unwell during their pregnancy receive the same rights and sick leave entitlements as other employees would for any injury or illness. It does not matter whether the illness is in relation to pregnancy such as morning sickness or pre-eclampsia, it can be enough that you feel exhausted and need to go home early to rest.

It is important, though, to be aware that there may be grounds for termination of employment if there is a sickness that is causing an employee’s work responsibilities and performance to suffer – keeping in mind there is a process that has to be followed in order for an employer to do this. However, when an employee is pregnant, an employer cannot jeopardise their role, pay or work conditions.

Therefore, if any illness is affecting working ability, employers should meet with their pregnant employee, to discuss an interim arrangement. This could include such flexible hours, a more convenient location (such as working from home), different responsibilities or even unpaid leave until the illness declines.

Pregnancy Sick Leave and Parental Leave in NZ

Pregnancy Special Leave

The Parental Leave and Employment Protection Act 1987 establishes that pregnant women are entitled to 10 days unpaid leave from work for anything pregnancy related, such as appointments and antenatal classes.

To be eligible for pregnancy special leave, employees must have worked a minimum of ten hours each week, for the same employer, for 12 months before the expected date of birth.

In saying this, many employers are reasonable and will allow pregnant employees to take this time off work, even if they do not meet the requirements. However, employers are not strictly bound by the law to allow employees to take special leave if they do not meet the requirements.

Whilst the law states that pregnancy special leave is unpaid, many employers will still pay pregnant employees to attend necessary appointments. Employers do not have to do this, so if they do, it may indicate that they will be more supportive and flexible of your return to work – something not to take for granted.

Pregnancy Sick Leave and Parental Leave in NZ

Paid Parental Leave

If employees have worked at least 10 hours each week, for the same employer, for 12 months before the expected due date of your baby, they are entitled to paid parental leave from the government, which an employer may choose to top up. PPL payments equal your normal pay up to a current maximum of $564.38 a week before tax. You’ll receive the average of your highest 26 of the last 52 weeks of earnings up to the date the child arrives in your care.

Adopting a baby can make employees eligible for parental leave. However, this can be a harder process to prove to employers.  It is advised by the Human Rights Commission to get in contact with the Department of Labour, Employment Relations Service.

Parents with babies due on or after 1 July 2018 are eligible for 22 weeks of paid parental leave. Parents with babies due on or after 1 July 2020 are eligible for 26 weeks of paid parental leave.

Pregnancy Sick Leave and Parental Leave in NZ

Unpaid Parental Leave

The law in New Zealand requires employers to allow working mothers (that meet the criteria) to take a maximum 52 weeks of unpaid leave if requested. Employers are also generally obliged to hold their jobs open for the pregnant employee, until they choose to return to work.

It is also part of the law in New Zealand, that women who are not eligible for parental leave and remain working during their pregnancy cannot have their employment terminated. Employers must allow non-eligible employees to take unpaid parental leave.

The Parental Leave and Employment Protection Act 1987 allows an employee to choose when to begin her unpaid leave:

  • Up to 6 weeks before the expected due date
  • As directed by their midwife or pregnancy caregiver
  • or as agreed with the employer.

It is important to be aware that there are some job positions that an employer cannot keep open (for example, when you have an important and big role in the company). This is uncommon, but if it does arise, contact the Department of Labour, Employment Relations Service for advice.

An employee that qualifies for unpaid parental leave does receive paid leave for the first 12 weeks. However, the employee will no longer qualify for payments if they return to work before the 12 weeks is over. This is taxpayer-funded and therefore an employer does not have to continue paying their employee while they are on leave. What is required by the employer is an application form to confirm that the mother-to-be is employed and affirm the leave arrangements.

Pregnancy Sick Leave and Parental Leave in NZ

Government and Employer Paid Parental Leave

If an employee has a paid parental leave agreement with her employer, she is entitled to payment from both the employer and the Government. It is common in New Zealand for businesses to have their own paid parental leave arrangements with their employees. In this case, employers are bound by law to allow the employee to use the company’s paid parental leave system as well as the Government’s scheme.

Pregnancy Sick Leave and Parental Leave in NZ

If you want to read more about pregnancy sick leave and maternity leave, head over to the New Zealand Human Rights Commission Website. It’s advisable to have a really good understanding of pregnancy sick leave and parental leave well in advance, so that you can plan for the future.

I hope you find this article useful – Please have a look at made with love – pregnancy journal before you go xx

Your 12 Month Wedding Day Countdown – An Ultimate Guide & Checklist to start

Your Wedding Countdown begins, so where do you start?

Whether you’ve just got engaged, or you’ve just started planning your dream day, checklists are going to be your saving grace over the next few months! This first one is designed to start around 12 months out from your wedding – a great place to begin the wedding planning process. Keep in mind that the 12 month timeline is just a guide – if you’re having a short engagement, you can plan your entire wedding in just a few months, or you can take it slow and have a long engagement. You are on your own unique wedding-planning journey, and it should be at your pace. Even if you have a shorter time to plan your wedding, work through this list to make sure you haven’t left anything off.  You’ll see not only what steps to tick off now, but also get an idea of what’s to come over the next 12 months in the lead up to your wedding.

Our best-selling wedding planner is designed to incorporate all the checklists and other pages you need to plan your wedding, so grab your little white book, make notes along the way, and have a beautiful keepsake of your engagement to look back on forever.

Planning a wedding should be a fun and exciting experience, and it really can be if you can stay on track and tick checklist to-do’s off in manageable bite-sized pieces. Let’s make planning your wedding as stress-free and enjoyable as possible.

You’ll see not only what steps to tick off now, but what’s to come over the next 12 months in the lead up to your wedding.

The Ultimate 12 Month Wedding Planning Checklist

As with all the wedding planning advice you’ll find here, this 12 month wedding planning checklist is just a guide. I encourage you to celebrate your day in a way that is special and meaningful to you, and include only those traditions and wedding customs which feel natural and personal.

There’s almost nothing you absolutely must do for your wedding (choosing a celebrant and getting your marriage licence are the exceptions), and your special day will be all the more so if you follow your heart.

The wedding planning checklists and articles here are designed around the time-frames set out in the little white book. When I was planning our wedding I found it easiest to stay organised and on-track with countdown checklists in my diary, hence the wedding organiser I designed is also a 12 month countdown diary – making it the ultimate wedding planner book. The wedding planning checklists are integrated into the diary on a day-to-day basis, so you can organise your wedding with ease.

wedding planner book little white book

Your First Tasks: 12 Month Wedding Planning Checklist

When you start planning your wedding, it’s sensible to start with choosing your wedding venue and setting a date. However, before you do that, you need to give a lot of consideration to your wedding budget and determine your guest list.

Start your Wedding Budget

The first thing I would strongly recommend is starting and prioritising your wedding budget. Your wedding budget may be relevant to determine how many guests you’ll be able to invite (and therefore the size of your venue), so the first thing to do is work out how much you’re comfortable spending.

Organise your budget to refect the elements most important to you for your big day. While it can be tempting to think that you can plan, organise, and spend as you go without considering what it is all going to cost in the end, by doing so you risk being unable to afford some of the elements which may be really important to you, later down the line.

Budget checklists:

  • Determine who will be contributing to the wedding budget.
  • If family want to help you out, just make sure you know if they want to have any influence over decisions you make.
  • Consider how much you can each save, and feel comfortable spending on the Big Day.
  • Discuss and set a budget, update the total budget in your book and/or the software and make adjustments  as needed.
  • Begin to prioritise and allocate your budget according to what’s important to you (software helps with allocations too).

Begin Your Guest List

Once you have an estimate budget, you can start to consider how many guests you can afford to invite, depending on the style of wedding you want. Before you can book your wedding venue you will need to confirm your guest list, so take a few days or weeks to be really sure about what size of wedding will suit. Whether you want a big wedding or a smaller, more intimate wedding, at around this stage, you should be talking about and writing out your guest list to working out what size/style and cost of wedding venue will suit.

Start with an A and B list, discuss with your families any expectations they have around inviting their friends or extended family.

  • Compile your guest list and addresses
  • Consider whether you will have any children present for the ceremony or reception
  • Give overseas guests plenty of notice, even before Save-the-dates go out, to guarantee their ability to come
  • If you’re having a destination wedding, consider guest accommodation

Do consider, 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.

Connect with your most sought-after vendors

If you’ve had your eye on a particular supplier for a while, and you know they fit within your budget, get in touch as soon as possible to avoid disappointment. Many in-demand vendors book out a year in advance, so (especially if you’re choosing an ever-popular Saturday in Summer, don’t delay

If you’re considering a wedding planner or coordinator, connect with them first too, as it’s their job to deal with the remainder of the suppliers.

  • Start looking at wedding photographer/videographer
  • Arrange to talk to/meet a few celebrants
  • Meet with any other vendors you’re determined to have.

Find your wedding venue

You can’t organise very much else without a wedding date set and venue booked. Popular venues can often be booked out around 12 months out from your wedding, so now is the time to start looking at the ones you’ve taken a liking to, and choose your wedding venue.

To find a beautiful wedding venue that’s right for you, there’s a few ways to start. 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.

Begin with how to find your wedding venue.

Once you’ve booked your venue, Look into other essential venue accompaniments

Once you’ve booked your wedding venue, you can begin to organise everything else you need to turn the space into the vision you have. Think about what you will need to hire to accommodate all guests, and logistics like transport and parking, both between the ceremony and reception venues (if applicable) and how your guests will get home afterwards. These are all essential items to work into your budget before spending on other areas.

  • Reserve other necessary rentals: marquee, furniture, etc.
  • Choose a catering company, if not in-house
  • Record all your vendors so far in your little white book, include the total costs and any deposits made into your budget pages.

Prioritise the remainder of your wedding budget

Booking your wedding venue and associated things such as catering and rentals is usually the most expensive outlay of your wedding budget, and following that, you need to work out how to allocate the remainder.

Unless you have an unlimited budget, I strongly suggest you look at prioritising your wedding budget rather than spending money on every element that a wedding could, should, or ‘must’ have (they really aren’t). You do not need to tick every possible wedding planning box as though it is a requirement, I suggest that if you choose and apportion your wedding budget carefully, and organise (and spend money on) only those elements which are really important to you. Spend more on those, and those features will really shine, making your day unique and personal. You may also wish to read how much does a wedding cost (my real wedding budget breakdown); and of course prioritising your wedding budget. (including the pitfalls if you don’t).

Take a Break – You’ve Earned It!

Booking your wedding venue and working out your wedding budget and guest list are huge accomplishments. I understand, between family and financial pressures and expectations, getting your budget, guest list and wedding venue to work together can be a massive task. From here, wedding planning is much, much easier, especially if you still have around 12 months to go.

Don’t be in a rush to plan it all, and please try to enjoy it. Perhaps you’ve already celebrated with your friends, but you may wish to organise an engagement party with both sets of your families and friends to celebrate.

If you’ve started your little white book, I hope you’ve recorded your proposal, started using the ‘our love story’ pages (those will help later with your vows and speeches) and are making notes along the way, it’s going to be a timeless keepsake of your engagement and will be wonderful to look back on in years to come. You will never regret this. It’s so nice to keep a journal of the whole process – there are so many exciting experiences during your engagement, but it can go by in a bit of a blur too – so record as much as you can in your wedding planner book as a keepsake.

If you want to get even more organised, consider the next two steps:

Choose your wedding photographers/photography style

Wedding photographers are often the next wedding vendor to be booked, many being in very high demand. In the very visual (and socially connected) world we live in, there can be a lot of pressure to have the most out-of-this-world wedding photos, but what is really the most important is that you have something to look back on to remember, and cherish your wedding day.

That doesn’t necessarily mean the most jaw-dropping (or jaw-droppingly expensive) wedding photos, in fact many couples still choose not to hire professional wedding photographers. You probably already know whether you will or won’t, but you don’t need to feel pressured either way.

Because photography is so visual, this is one of the easiest wedding vendors to choose just by browsing online, but I also suggest meeting with your photographers or having a Zoom call. You will spend the most one-on-one time with your photographer on the day, so it’s really important that you feel comfortable with them.

Wedding Attire

While most of you probably don’t need to be encouraged to go shopping for this very exciting outfit, do be aware that it may be a longer process than you think – don’t be afraid so start early. If you need some inspiration (and if you’re shopping for a wedding dress, begin with choose the wedding dress shape for your body type.

These are really the only things you need to organise 12 months before your wedding, so you actually relax now for a while, just don’t let your little white book be far from sight.

take a look inside our best-selling wedding planner ​

explore the little white book​

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.