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Beautiful Havelock North Love Story

Today’s beautiful wedding features not only one gorgeous bride, but two. We are thrilled to share Sophie and Kat’s special day at the intimate venue in St George’s Restaurant, Havelock North.

“Sophie signed up to the gym and Kat caught her eye. The rest is history!”

Who Sophie and Kat Hickford

Where St George’s Restaurant

Guests 80

How did you meet? We met at the Gym, in Napier. Kat worked on reception and Sophie had just
moved to the Bay! Sophie signed up to the gym and Kat caught her eye. The rest is history!

How did your partner propose? Kat whisked my away to Waiheke Island for my 30th. She had
hired out an amazing air b n b and it was so us! We had a romantic bath in the outdoor area and
then Kat had told me to wait there while she organised some food. Kat had lugged platter food and
my fav wine all the way from Napier – she arranged it all inside for me and told me to get changed
and come in. I didn’t really suspect anything as this is the type of thing that we always do. Kat then
got my birthday card out and started reading it to me. The end of the card finished with there is
one thing I want and that is you.. Sophie will you marry me? Well I started screaming and hugging
her and then finally said yes! We then spent the afternoon drinking wine, calling our family and
friends and went out for dinner! Was such a beautiful time for us.

What was important to you when you started planning your wedding? We wanted our wedding to
be remembered for good food, drink and music! So that was high on our priority list to sort. We
also really wanted an intimate venue that kept our guests guessing! We were very happy to score
David Le as our photographer as he matched our vibe to a tee! Banter and professional all in one.

In three words describe your wedding style? fun, minimalist and cruisy!

Was there anything that you did that was a little different to the ‘norm’ for your wedding? We had
our parents come up and give us their blessing when we were about to do our vowels. This was
extremely special – they gave us a hug shook eachothers hands and were very welcoming to each

How did you personalise your wedding day? I (Sophie) did all the table florals, entrance sign and
seating plan florals! They were all dried flowers and this actually sparked a huge passion in me
and I now have a side hustle @sophiejohana_florals over on Instagram.

What were your save and splurge items for your wedding?

Splurge – photographer, hair, make up, venue, food and drink

Save – music, and we didn’t have any decorations as our venue was so stunning, used a venue that
had everything we needed so we didn’t need to hire anything in

What was the most difficult part of planning your wedding? And the most fun? We didn’t find anything difficult. Sophie is extremely organized and chipped away at all of the to do
list over the year and this helped with us not feeling stressed or overwhelmed. It is extremely
important to lock in your big vendors first and then chip away on the small stuff that you will
personally be doing. I liked to work in sections of the wedding and write to do lists for each area.
This helped me see what needed to be done. The most fun bit for us was the build up to the wedding – everything is done and we got to enjoy special times with family and friends in the lead
up to the big day! Everyone is so excited for you so it was nice not to be stressed with all of the
last minute wedding admin and actually enjoy having a drink and something to eat with the people
that you love.

What did you use to plan your wedding (hire a planner, use a wedding planner book online tools
or apps?)
I had a wedding notebook that I would use for quotes and to note down who was
booked in and what apts we had coming up. I would also use this for my to do lists! RSVPS were
also in the back of the book and would highlight off peoples names as they RSVP’d. I found that
having a book I could carry around with me at all times helped and everything was in the one

Did you DIY anything, or have family and friends help? We DIYd the table florals, entrance sign
and seating plan florals! This added a special touch to the wedding. Family and friends helped set
up for a couple hours the afternoon before the wedding – they really wanted jobs and we
appreciated them helping us.

Did lockdowns have any effect on your plans, did you have to postpone, change any of your plans
or reduce your guest list?
It didn’t really affect us a part from a couple of overseas guests not being
able to attend. We were very lucky we got in before the major changes came into play.

What advice would you share with others planning their Big Day? Lock in all of your vendors first.
Make a to do list of every area and what needs to be sorted. Delegate jobs out to people. Give
yourself lots of time to plan. Chip away over time and dont wait till the last minute to sort things
out. Don’t sweat the small stuff – most people don’t notice the finer details! Have fun – include your
partner in the decision making process. Save the seating plan till last and any printing that needs
to be done.

Do you have any regrets, what would you change, if anything? No regrets at all – this day was
perfect for us! Nothing went wrong on the day. This day exceeded our expectations. There is no
better feeling than having every single person that loves you in one room. It was an overwhelming
emotion and a day that we will never forget.

Where did you go for your honeymoon? We wanted to go over seas but COVID came into play. We ended up going to Queenstown and Wanaka – loved it

Photographer David Le
Venue St George’s Restaurant
Makeup  Josie Brenstrum
Hair LOCO hair
Attire Etcetera Bridal and Shona Joy
Wedding Party Attire Iconic
Rings Michael Hill
Flowers Magdalen Hill
Wedding Cake Pretty little details

What a Wedding Planner / Coordinator Does (and Should You Hire One)

When planning a wedding there are so many things to think about, even the small details that you may not even consider. Hiring a wedding planner could just be the best decision you make, to help with all of decision making to leave less time for you to stress and more time doing the fun stuff. However, it’s important to know exactly what they are doing for you before you hire one.

What is the role of a Wedding Planner?

A wedding planner, or coordinator, acts as an agent between you and every other wedding vendor (and sometimes even between you and your family!). They are your event manager, communicator and wing-man, turning your vision into a reality. While you’ll be making the decisions about your Big Day, they’ll be organising those choices into a cohesive plan.

For instance, Emma Newman says “I see myself as being like an “Event and Wedding Executive Assistant” for a client, couple and their family.”

Rebekah of The Event Girl says “From style and design, all the way through to on the day management and post-wedding pack-up, I am for anyone who wants to set aside the stress and focus on creating truly magical moments.”

1. A Wedding Planner can help you Budget

Often, one of the most stressful parts of wedding planning is money. You have so many ideas and dreams you want to bring to life, but how do you do this in the most cost effective way, ensure your money is being used in the best way possible?

With each wedding vendor being priced individually (and likely not advertising these prices online), it makes it hard to choose and also find the best deal whilst doing so.

Sitting down with a wedding planner and letting them know your budget can help immensely. Leave it all up to them and take some of the weight off your shoulders. They may also be able to get you the best deals and help crunch those numbers.

2. A Wedding Planner communicates with your Wedding Vendors

So many questions, so little time… communication with vendors can be one of those things on your to-do list that you can just find yourself too busy at times to do. The same goes with contracts and paperwork, both of which your wedding planner should be very experienced in. They will read all of the fine print and maintain communication with the vendors to work through any potential issues.


3. Wedding Planners come with a wealth of experience and ideas

You may already have hundreds, maybe thousands of ideas by now. For many it’s a dream to get engaged, you may have planned your wedding in your head a thousand times, let alone the hundred (plus) Pinterest wedding inspo boards. You may think you know exactly what you want… but your wedding planner has most likely been in the game for years, and has helped with all sorts of weddings, incorporating different cultures, traditions and other ideas. Your wedding planner will be a wealth of insight and knowledge to pass on if you are stuck with anything.

4. A Stress-free Big Day – you can let your Wedding Planner take the reins

So long as you’re hiring your wedding planner to help with on-the-day coordination, you can sit back and relax on your Big Day, knowing everything is taken care of. Your wedding planner will make sure everything runs as smoothly as possible during your special day, so you can just soak up the best moments instead of being pulled in multiple directions. Your wedding planner will deal with timings for the day and even deal with last-minute changes in weather conditions, implementing your back-up plan so that you can get married without a hitch..

They will handle it all in the most effective way possible.

Most of all, on your wedding day, you just want to have fun and soak up all of the wedding goodness. Because before you know it, it will be over in a flash. So get started, search for recommended planners and also start off with our best selling little white book (wedding planner book) to record notes along the way as you work together to create your magical day.

Elegant Rustic Kourawhero Estate Wedding

Elegant and rustic with some serious hollywood glam (that tuxe!), today’s gorgeous Kourawhero wedding is a biggie (soooo many gorgeous pics by Acorn Photography), and if you’re wondering why today’s couple look so familiar, both Huriana + Derek are well known rugby and 7’s players! (Huriana is the NZ 7’s captain!). Enjoy xox

Who Huriana + Derek
Where Kourawhero Estate
Guests 150

She said yes…

Derek proposed in Japan at a beautiful skyline restaurant that New Years eve. I said YES!

Our wedding style was…

Elegant rustic

We saved on… 

Our wedding stylist Nicole Paris created our beautiful centrepieces for our tables and Nicole Forbes (groom’s cousin) made our delicious wedding cake.

We splurged on…

My Wedding dress and Dereks Tuxedo.

Our advice to engaged couples…

Have fun! You often hear that planning a wedding can sometimes be quite stressful and cause tension – if you let it.

Remember your wedding day is one of the most important days of your lives, think about why and how you fell in love with each other and enjoy the experience together.


Photographer + CinematographerAcorn Photography
 Weddings by Paris
Venue Kourawhero Estate
Flowers  Honey Suckle Flowers
Stationery + Signage Paper Rose Stationery
Catering iCater

Hire Company

 Organised by Woman’s Day Magazine, Luisa Petch + Krishla Bogue
Makeup Rebekah Banks
 Nicole Forbes of U-Neeks Cake Design
Celebrant Ronald Reti (Grooms Uncle)
Brides Dress Trish Peng

Brides Accessories + ShoesMichael Hill + Steve Madden
Bridesmaid DressesZARA and ASOS
Grooms Suit & Accessories
 Sartoria Ciccio Noriyuki Ueki – Japan + Emporio Armani
Rings Michael Hill
Music DJ4YOU

Why start using a wedding planner as soon as you’re engaged?

Getting engaged is one of the most exciting times of your life, and you will be feeling all sorts of wonderful emotions. You will be so loved up, full of excitement and may also feel bit panicked with everyone now asking the question… “So when is the wedding..!?”

Take your time before you start wedding planning

Most likely, you are just trying to soak up the engagement bliss and haven’t made any ‘set in stone’ plans. That’s a good thing – take your time before you start wedding planning, you have to make some pretty big decisions for your ‘Big Day’, and you’ll be able to do so in a better frame of mind once you’ve had some time to mull things over.

However, while I do recommend you wait before actually planning your wedding, here are a few reasons why you should buy (the best) wedding planner book right away.


Why you need a Wedding Planner before you start Planning…

1. Record the proposal, and your story so far, to look back on one day.

Relive the butterflies. The time can seem to go so quickly when you’re planning, and then counting down to your wedding, so rather than rush into it all, write it all down.

Take a moment to reflect and record about the day you got engaged, how you shared your news, and what you’re most excited about. Include pictures of the moment, how your family and friends reacted, and all the special memories you have of the day.

Were there screams of excitement? Did you get sent anything special in the mail from loved ones? Was a dinner planned? Any surprises arranged with loved ones waiting for you to celebrate after the proposal? In the little white book, there’s plenty of room for reflections and photos – because we think these moments are just as important as all the others to come.

2. Brainstorm ideas with your partner about what your dream day might look like

Before you really start planning your wedding, it’s time for the fun (okay, and sometimes serious) stuff…

Brainstorming! What wedding venues have you always loved the look of? Is there a style of music, or a band you both immediately agree on? Pinterest is great for brainstorming and finding ideas…. if you haven’t already started, I know I had 😉 Then incorporate these into your wedding planner book, print photographs and make a scrapbook of ideas if you’re more of a visual person. Or if you like anything in a bridal magazine you can stick those in too.

3. Write about your love story – it will help with your wedding vows later

Before we get onto wedding planning, the little white book has a section all about your journey so far. It’s called ‘our love story’, and by filling them in now, you can return to them later and reflect on your journey together to remind yourself what is important to you both, what you are celebrating and help you write your vows.

This section includes journal prompts are thoughtfully curated from our couples journal (also called ‘our love story‘). Including prompts such as ‘what do you think has made your relationship strong, and kept you together?‘ and ‘why is it important to you to get married?’

4. Use your wedding planner to write down the advice everyone is passing on

Don’t forget a thing. Wedding advice is great! Not that you have to follow all of it, but it’s great to hear others’ experiences of wedding planning, and write down anything that resonates.

Friends who have been recently married may be able to give you tips on wedding vendors, or even assist with budgeting (i.e. how much they spent on catering). Take what advice best suits you and names of business contacts recommended for later when you starts making bookings/appointments.

5. A wedding planner book is a space to bring all your wedding ideas and inspiration together

Now that you’re engaged, you may just start finding inspiration everywhere. Try to keep a note of everything you and see and like, and then you can start finding a common thread of ‘style’ and ‘theme’ to draw on later.

Having all of your notes and memories in one space not only makes wedding planning easier, but also creates the most special keepsake of planning, moments that you can cherish and things to look back on together in the future to bond together while you flick through your gorgeous wedding album. As a bride with ADHD, I found it really hard to remember all the little things along the way I was supposed to check off, so writing it down also really helped!

6. Starting a wedding planner makes it feel real!

Starting to write in your wedding planner really makes it feel real. You’re engaged, you get to marry the absolute love of your life, so start by recording all the feelings and memories you felt when it all started. Use your wedding planner to record feelings and memories to look back on.You’ve got one special place to make and record all of the plans for your special day.

Our wedding planner book is a chic, understated A5 hard-cover journal, which has a 12 month diary throughout – so that it can easily be incorporated into your everyday life. It’s the wedding planning tool that you’ll keep close to you, and really use throughout your engagement. As someone with ADHD, I need deadlines, checklists and extreme help staying organised, and that means having a wedding planner book I really wanted to keep opening and using too. This wedding planner is exactly that. The best part is you can download a sample here to see if it’s the best wedding planner book for you!

wedding planner book little white book

An Elegant Pacifica Auckland Tongan Inspired Wedding | Landsendt

wedding-559Today’s venue Landsendt has to be one of my favourites in Auckland (I have never actually been there, but how amazing does it look!!!) with the tropical landscape creating a perfect backdrop for an elegant day filled with culture and family tradition. Newlyweds Ben & Maria created their dream wedding without the added extras and the result was simple and stunning!

“The biggest thing for us was turning away any ‘optional extras’ at the wedding venue and not worrying about adding unnecessary décor. Pick a venue that is natural in beauty so that is the focal point for the day.” – Maria (the bride)

A big congratulations to Ben & Maria and a very special thank you to Olga from Levien Lens Photography for sharing these perfect pics with us! xox

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Who Ben & Maria Vete
Landsendt, Oratia, Auckland

How did you meet?

Ben and I first met when we were teenagers, however nothing really came of it at the time. We met up again 5 years later at a friend’s 21st where we hit it off and rekindled our love and friendship for one another and haven’t turned back since.

In three words describe your wedding style…

Tropical, culture and elegance.

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Tell us about your hens and stag do’s…

Ben and I were very lucky to have such an amazing bridal party, who were so supportive and they planned us both wonderful hens and stag weekends.

Ben’s groomsmen organized a weekend away, they headed slightly North of Auckland to Leigh, with cars packed with mounds of food and beverages. They all went paintballing first and then retreated in a huge house in Leigh which slept about 22 boys. They ate, swam, played rugby on the beach and then partied all night with a couple of games chucked in here and there. Ben came home having no sleep at all and the most wonderful memories to speak of.

My lovely bridesmaids were very secretive and planned a lavish weekend away in Waiheke. I didn’t know what I was doing until I was driven to the port on a Friday evening. Our weekend included so much fun and laughter, pampering, beautiful views, champagne breakfast, sharing of love and tears of joy, a wine tasting tour, espresso martinis, naughty games and dancing right through the night to lots of 90s music. A weekend I will never forget and am truly grateful for.

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What were your save and splurge items for your wedding?

Having such a beautiful setting, we didn’t feel the need to add too much to it, so we definitely saved on décor. With plenty of family help in various areas we saved on favors, cake and design work. We splurged on my dress, our rings and making sure that there was plenty of yummy food and drink for our guests to enjoy.

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

The most difficult part of the wedding was toward the end, in the last week or so. I felt like I had lists coming out of my ears, and I just wanted to have them all ticked off with time to spare. The most fun part was having the lists ticked with about a day and a half to spare before the wedding, and getting into the fun spirit of it with our bridal party and then finally enjoying the best day of our lives!

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What music did you play for those special moments? 

It was really important to both Ben and I that we had a live singer to serenade us before during and after the ceremony. We were lucky enough to find the wonderful Pat Mose who did a medley of beautiful songs before and after the ceremony whilst also playing his guitar.

My down the aisle song was ‘Don’t Let Go’ by Spawnbreezie, as this is ‘our’ song. While signing the register we had ‘Sweet Darling’ by Fiji. As we partied back down the aisle after the formalities, Pat sung the classic ‘Signed, Sealed, Delivered’ by Stevie Wonder. Our first dance song was a mix of songs that we requested from our DJ, these were; ‘Ben’ by Michael Jackson and ‘Maria (you were the only one)’ also by Michael Jackson, and the final song was a popular Tongan party song ‘Si’i Lolo’ where are bridal party joined us in starting the dance floor for the night.

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Did you DIY? If so, what did you do?

Ben and I both are not so creative and good at the DIY thing, however we were lucky enough to have such talented family to lend their crafts and expertise in these areas. Ben’s Aunty Lua who lives in Fiji, worked months on creating the most pure and delish virgin coconut oil for our favors. We also had family in Tonga who created some beautiful lemongrass soaps to add to the favors. My brother in-law Robin worked on all our design work, including invitations, labels for favors and the seating plans. My cousin Trish was also amazing in gifting us our stunning and yummy wedding cake as a wedding present.

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Do you have any money saving tips for engaged couples?

The biggest thing for us was turning away any ‘optional extras’ at the wedding venue and not worrying about adding unnecessary décor. Pick a venue that is natural in beauty so that is the focal point for the day. Also, seek help where you can; use your family and friends expertise!

Where did you go for your honeymoon?

We went to the beautiful island of Samoa and stayed at Saletoga Sands Resort on the South Coast of the main island of Upolu. It was heaven on earth, and all that we could ever want in a honeymoon.

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Photographer Olga Levien from Levien Lens Photography
Planner/Stylist Taryn Liddy (Event organizer at Landsendt)
Flowers The Botanist
Venue & Catering Landsendt, Oratia, Auckland.
Hair Charlotte Zieleman
Makeup Karina Jonassen from Face Me Make Up Atistry & Hair Styling
Cake Trish Bonnici (Cousin)
Celebrant Minister Fatafehi
Brides Dress KellyLin Couture
Jewellery Grandmothers necklace and earrings.
Shoes Windsor Smith from Andrea Bianni
Bridesmaids Dresses Kilt
Grooms Suit Cambridge Clothing Company
Tradional Tongan Ta’ovala Mat 100 years old and passed through the family.
Rings Alan Woods Jewellery
Music/Singer Pat Mose
DJ Percy Afeaki

Starting your Wedding Guest List? Here’s What You Need to Know

Your wedding day guest list is one of the most important elements of your Big Day. The people who you choose to celebrate this momentous occasion with can really influence your own experience of your wedding day: your memories, your reflections, your photos. Consider how being in the company of different people, or groups of friends make you feel. Some friends will always have you in fits of laughter, old friends might make you reminisce, while being around family might make you feel a different way altogether. How you feel on your wedding day will be related to who you are around.

Your Wedding Guest List – What’s important?

Starting your wedding guest list can be a daunting prospect – trying to finely balance the wedding budget, your venue’s capacity, and the risk of offending family and friends. To help with this part of wedding planning, I’ve put together the ultimate guide to your wedding guest list: etiquette, budgeting, and respectful ways to tell people they’re not invited your wedding.

When you first got engaged, did you sit down and talk to your partner about what was really important to you about getting married? What your wedding priorities and purpose were? If not, do that now – really try to find the essence of what’s important to you about your Big Day.

While many of us would love to invite all our friends, family and colleagues, often logistics make that impossible, but I also believe that having a smaller, more thoughtful guest list will benefit you in the long term. This about how much more time you will have with each of your guests. You are often so limited as to who you can really spend time with and talk to on your big day, so plan your wedding guest list while being mindful of who you really want those people to be. Be mindful of not just the ‘who’ but the ‘why’. Think about all the reasons why you are getting married, and therefore why you would invite each of your guests. 

How does your Wedding Budget influence your Guest List?

For many couples, it is the wedding budget which is the biggest determinate of your guest list. If you want to give your wedding guests an incredible experience with really great food, wine and entertainment, you’ll know that the cost per head can be very expensive. If faced with a limited budget and large guest list, it’s about finding a balance between the experience you want to provide and share with each guest, and how much it will cost you. Of course, the quickest way to reduce your catering and hireage expenses is to reduce the number of invited guests. A smaller number of guests also opens up your options for wedding venues, accommodation, transport and more.

As you may have already worked out, I am a big advocate for a small guest list, if possible. However, I know that’s not always a practical reality, with big families, lots of friends, and possibly pressure from parents – especially if they are contributing to your wedding budget.

So, for those of you who are grappling with a lot of potential guests, and you’re not sure where to begin, read on. See also a sample of the guest list pages of our wedding planner at the end of this article.

How to Begin your Wedding Guest List

If you’ve already begun searching for your wedding venue, you may have a target guest list to work to, and/or if you fall in love with a particular venue even after starting your guest list, you may wish to reduce the guest numbers to fit.

To get an idea of how many possible guests you have, even including those you probably know you won’t have room for, I recommend making a list, or starting an excel spreadsheet of all of those potential guests. Every person you would potentially invite – if budget, venue capacity, and even time with your guests were no issue. You may wish to do family lists each, and then go through your friend groups together. The guest list template is one of your essential wedding planning tools in the planning pack, and also included in the ultimate bundle with our best-selling wedding planner.

Once you have a list of all those you might consider inviting, you can do a quick calculation to work out how much it might cost on a per-head basis alone. For an all-inclusive wedding venue with a full-service dinner, you can expect to pay around $120-170 per guest, excluding beverages. Alternatively, take around 50% your total wedding budget, and divide it by the number of potential guests – to work out how much your wedding budget would probably need to allocate, per person, to cover catering, drinks and hireage.

You may immediately see that your wedding guest needs to be cut down, either to fit your budget, or your wedding venue.

Your Wedding Guest list is too Big, should you reduce it, or change your Wedding Budget or Venue?

If your guest list is too large for your wedding venue (or your budget) and you are faced with the decision to change one of them, return to your purpose, your intentions, and what you really want from your special day. If you can imagine standing up in front of your guests on your wedding day, perhaps at the end of the aisle or during the speeches, what would make you happier – seeing all the faces of those friends and family members on your list, or having a smaller, more intimate group that you can spend a little more time with?

When you envision your dream day, what are you more prepared to sacrifice, the venue, the budget or the guest list? You will probably instinctively know what feels comfortable for you. I suggest you think only about whose company you truly most enjoy, and who you expect to be part of your lives in the future, and invite them to spend this once-in-a-lifetime day with you.

Practical ways to narrow down your Guest List.

If, for whatever reason, you need to trim your original wedding guest list (don’t worry, most people do), head back to the list or spreadsheet you started. Take the list of everyone you’ve considered inviting, and put them into an order, using three columns: Definites, Probables, Maybes.

  • Definites/Non-negotiables – those you just can not get married without. 100% attendance required – for some this will be their immediate family and best friends, for others it will be more. Imagine you’re eloping, or heading off for a destination wedding, who are you taking with you?
  • Probables: If you can make it work, you’ll have them all… if they can all make it, that is. Put this list in order of absolute importance, from your ride-or-dies that’ve been with you since childhood to the colleagues that get you through Monday morning, get them in some semblance of an order.
  • Maybes: Extended family, friends you haven’t seen in a while, those you aren’t that close with but are vaguely in your friend circle, acquaintances, and others.

The “Definite” Wedding Guests

If the number of guests in this column fit with your venue capacity/budget/desires, you are already half way to organising your ideal guest list. You can already get married with all the most important people in your lives, and you get to do so in the venue you love.

If there’s already too many on list one, you need to find a bigger venue, reallocate your budget, or save for longer. People are everything, and you need those people there (you said so yourself).

The “Probable” Wedding Guests

For most couples, they will want to include more guests than just those that they absolutely could not marry without, and will want to include more of their most loved family and friends. Have a look at this list again – would you invite each of these people to your house for dinner, or a small party? When did you last see them, or talk to them? How would you feel if any of them couldn’t make it to your wedding. If you would feel disappointed not to have them, then hopefully your wedding budget and venue capacity can fit them in.

If there are any people whose presence you just don’t feel particularly bothered by, I really recommend you cut off your guest list with a smaller number. If you still have capacity and budget, think about why you really want to invite them.

The “Maybe” Guest List

If there is enough room for all of list one, and all of list two, and you still have room for those in the third column, think hard. You put them on list three. Are you sure you really, really want them there? Unsure? You don’t have to make a decision immediately, as your wedding is likely to be a while away at this stage, but I suggest you not be in a rush to invite everyone on this list “just because” – save your time, and wedding budget, for those you really want to be with.

Wedding Guest List Etiquette: Overcome Issues

You may now know that you need to have some hard conversations with family and friends about the size of your Wedding Guest List. Common issues arising are

  • Having large numbers of extended (or even immediate) family who will expect to be invited
  • One person having a much larger family or friend group than the other, and wanting to keep it balanced
  • Expectations from family about inviting parents’ close friends, when you’re planning a smaller wedding.
  • Expectations from friends to invite significant others (+1’s), their children, or reciprocate an invitation to their wedding
  • Anxiety about pressure of having to invite colleagues, old school friends, or reciprocate invitations for other weddings you’ve attended

Who you don’t need to invite.

  • Don’t invite anybody you haven’t spoken to in a year, even if they are family.
  • Don’t just mindlessly give guests a “plus one“.  Your friends need not be joined-at-the-hip to their partner, and you shouldn’t feel like you have to invite them if they’re not also your close friend. Your true friends will understand, and why are you bothering to worry about those that wouldn’t? Of course, do be thoughtful if your friends won’t know anyone else there otherwise, if you’re asking people to travel for a destination wedding, or they will be travelling to you.
  • If you’ve got a large list of colleagues, rethink whether you would be friends with these people out of work (if one of you moved jobs, for instance), and whether you’re going to be friends in the long term.  Be discreet at work, but only invite those workmates you’d spend time with outside work. Personally, with work colleagues, I’d suggest that unless you know their significant other, I wouldn’t invite their spouses, but rather have a small work group who can sit together.
  • If you can, and want to (we could), you can of course exclude children from the wedding reception itself, but keep in mind locality and availability for babysitters and be aware that this could discourage those with children from attending (or having a big night).  Subtly let them know it’s adults-only.
  • If you’re only inviting some couples because you went to their wedding (or were invited) years ago, consider whether you’re being polite for the sake of it, or whether they really are essential to your day.  You don’t know what their thinking was in inviting you (you may very well have been from a back-up list too!).
  • Renegotiate with your parents if they’re intending to invite lots of their friends.
  • Return to the step above and really, only invite those you absolutely must, definitely, non-negotiably cannot get married without!

Figure out Who May Not Come and Have a ‘B’ Guest List

We all have those relatives, friends or just out-of-town guests who we invite knowing they either will not come, can’t come or won’t be able to afford the trip. It’s unlikely that 100% of your invited guests will be able to make it, which may end up helping to reduce your guest list.

For this reason, it is also completely acceptable to have a ‘B list’ or back-up list of people to invite if the first ones can’t attend. You may even wish to stagger your invites, so that those on the B list aren’t all invited at the same time. Hand the invitations out in person – you save on postage, and it will make you very aware if you no longer catch up with a certain couple.

Invite those coming from overseas as early as possible, to give them the best chance of being able to make it.

Avoid Offending Family and Friends you’re not inviting

Though it can be tempting to avoid any potential awkwardness by inviting everybody, this won’t serve you in the long run. Here’s a few ideas about having a smaller guest list and narrowing down your guest list. Remember, the more people you have, the less time you will have with any of them, the more it will cost, and the more you have to organise (stationery, seating plans, hireage, meals, transport).

To avoid hurt feelings, many couples like to narrow down their list with a few rules, like ‘no ring, no bring’, no children, or not inviting certain groups, like co-workers. They may be right for you, or you may wish to work it out on a person by person basis, as rules might exclude people you’re really close to.

How to Explain to Someone they didn’t make your Guest List

You may not want to rush into this, just in case there is some room to manoeuvre later, but at some point you will have to tell someone that they’re not invited to your wedding. This can be an incredibly awkward conversation but there are ways to be respectful and polite.

  • Set the tone early. If you know that you will be having an intimate wedding, let your friends and family know well in advance, so they aren’t as likely to expect a wedding invitation and then wonder why they’re not invited.
  • Explain that your wedding budget is limited. Anyone who has ever been married will understand wedding budget constraints, and it’s a tough one to argue with even if you haven’t. If you are unable to invite a ‘plus one’ then it’s advisable to let friends know prior to invites going out – otherwise they’re likely to ask you anyway. It’s best to front-foot conversations like this and set the tone early.
  • Be respectful and don’t talk about your wedding at length in front of people who are not invited.

Stay Organised

Like your wedding budget, your guest list isn’t static either, and it’s very useful to have a single place to refer to for the guest names and addresses, RSVPs, any dietary requirements, and then even to go back to after the wedding, to make a note of the gift from each couple, and refer to the address, so that you can send a thoughtful and personal thank you note. The little white book wedding planner is designed with this in mind, and we also have an excel spreadsheet for organising your guests (both are included in the ultimate bundle.

See below a sample of the guest list pages in use – with 10 pages, room for 200+ wedding guests, addresses, notes and more.


9 Month Countdown & Checklist | Make Wedding Planning Easy

If you’re planning your wedding in around one year, then 9 months until your wedding is a great time to plan, and even get ahead of where you need to be. This is a time when there’s not a huge amount to organise, but is a great opportunity to organise some of the timing, details and nitty-gritty of your Wedding Day. If you can give these checklists a little attention now, you will save yourself time and stress later down the track.

Planning a wedding can be a very simple task, so long as it’s broken into small, manageable, bite-sized pieces. Though all of our timelines and guides are designed around the 12 month countdown in our wedding planner, the little white book, you can easily adapt them to your own timeline, just be sure to go through the 12 month wedding planning checklist before you move onto this one and the next.

The next 9 months will also be broken down into tasks to complete from around 6 months til your wedding and 3 months, but you really can make life easier on your future self by putting in a little more legwork now.

Finalise your Guest List and Wedding Party

I’m sure your wedding guest list hasn’t been far from your mind since you got engaged, but so that you can properly budget and finalise everything else, make sure you get this squared away. Collect guests’ postal and/or email addresses too as you will need those to send save the dates. You may even wish to send your save the dates within the next month or so, to make sure your guests have ample time to set aside time off and/or accommodation for your wedding – especially if a destination wedding. If you haven’t planned an engagement party yet, make sure you get onto this very shortly too.

Confirm your wedding party, including MC, and potentially flower girls/boys, so that you can start thinking about their attire, as well as plan transport and seating arrangements. If having bridesmaids, consider bridesmaids gift boxes which include a robe for your bridesmaids.

Make your Wedding Gift Choice and or Set up a Gift Registry

Start thinking about what wedding gifts you would like, whether a wedding registry, or asking for money towards your honeymoon or other big purchase. If you’re having a gift registry, you’ll probably need a few months to decide who to register with, and what to put on your list.

Research your Stationery needs

Stationery is a great example of something for your wedding that can cost almost nothing, or be very expensive – depending on how extravagant you wish to go for your invitations, and the amount of signage and stationery you require on the day. You can DIY some stationery such as on-the-day wedding signage, and get cheaper options for seating cards and menus, so think about how important the stationery is to your Big Day, and plan accordingly. If you’re planning for custom design for save the dates and/or wedding invitations, research stationery designer options now.

Choose your Wedding Dressmaker (if having)

If you are planning to have a wedding dress made, you need to find and choose your dressmaker as soon as possible, to give you enough time to make design choices, and wait for construction and fittings. It can take around 6 months for the dress to be made, so to avoid being in a rush to choose, do start your research now.

If you are having a custom suit or any other custom attire made, also begin searching for the tailors or seamstresses you require for those – to allow ample time for choice, fittings and alterations.

Think about any Wedding Traditions, or Family/Religious Customs to include in your Ceremony

Create a list of any traditions or wedding customs that you want to incorporate into the wedding. You may wish to include cultural traditions, religious customs, or something that’s been passed through your families. This is a great way to personalise your wedding ceremony and make your wedding feel really special and unique. Find your wedding celebrant in accordance with the type of ceremony you wish to have – religious or otherwise.

Confirm your Wedding Caterer, if not in-house at your Wedding Venue

Review catering options and schedule tastings. Add them to your calendar and think about all the questions to ask your potential caterer – see example menus they have prepared before, and think about any particular needs you might have for catering. Confirm with the wedding venue availability of cooking space, refrigeration and/or other storage, to know if you need to hire a commercial freezer.

Research your Ceremony and Reception Entertainment

Consider your ceremony & reception music and entertainment preferences – whether you’d like to welcome guests with a musician and have live music post-ceremony, and what kind of music or other entertainment (think about lawn games, selfie stations, etc) you wish to have for the evening ahead.

Book your Wedding Florist, Decor, and other Hireage

9 months out from your wedding is a good time to confirm some of the smaller vendors such as your florist, lighting and decor, and any other hireage and equipment rental to organise. Meet with designers to discuss floral options for your event, request preliminary floral quotes, view previous weddings hosted at your wedding venue, and discuss with the coordinator (if possible) how they have organised the floor plan, tables, speakers, microphones etc – so that you can think about how to decorate.

Look ahead to the next few months

If possible, and you don’t already feel like you have too much on, consider reviewing the 6 month wedding planning checklist, as it’s good to know what’s coming up, even if you don’t have the capacity to do it right now.

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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.