Engagement to Marriage Guide

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Your incredible wedding adventure has started.
To help get you on your way here’s a guide I put together with Auckland Weddings to help you on the journey to your memorable and stress-free wedding!


Tell your parents first, then start telling everyone – if you want to be really formal you can even take out a classified ad in the Herald. Then the planning begins…


Sit down with your partner and dream up some ideas. Think about the style you’d like, whether it’s a beach bash, silver service in a ballroom or a ceremony on a mountaintop. Even though you don’t have to set a firm date yet, choose the month or season you want to marry in, then you’ll know how long you have to get things organized. The size of your wedding determines where you’ll hold the party, how much it will cost, and whether travel will be involved.


Make your list with your partner and ask both families who is important not to forget. You will most likely cut this but use as your base. Here’s a super helpful quick guide.


Buy a notebook and separate it into sections for each budget category. This way you can write down the amount you want to spend on the item and then note your expenditures. As you near your limits, you can start to figure out ways to cut costs. Speaking of your budget take some time in these early stages to decide on your bottom line and if family can contribute. Remember you can always make up costs by asking for koha contribution rather than gifts. Little White Book is the perfect tool – and looks so pretty too!!



You can’t get married without a Marriage Celebrant to officiate. Your ceremony is the heart of your wedding day so make sure you choose someone you can relate to and who suits your personal style. I hope you choose me! Click here to see how I can help make your wedding super special.

Image of Ascension Winery


Are you going to have your ceremony at your reception venue or different? It may be in your hometown, or for convenience a place that’s in between your homes and your parents’. And then there’s the destination wedding; just make sure that everyone you really want to celebrate with can afford to travel and is able to make it. Make sure you have a rain day alternative as well, just in case. Some couples find holiday homes in their area to rent. Search the internet, ask friends and family for ideas. Then start scheduling visits.


The best ones usually book weddings many months in advance, so get on this one early. Get recommendations from friends, then research what kinds of shots you’d like to see—formal portraits and dancing shots or a candid, journalistic format. Always meet in person and ask to see other wedding albums the pro has done. Try not to go with a large studio – they sometimes interchange people so you may end up with a photographer you didn’t meet who turns out to be a disaster. Look for photographers with a looser style and many package choices on offer. You don’t have to make up your mind right away. After the wedding, you may even want to get creative and make your own album – there are loads of online photo book options. It’s likely everyone will be going snap-happy with their cellphones. To avoid ending up with 300 nearly identical shots, give guests a few ideas (print up a card to place on each table). Suggest one photo of each couple at the table, some goofy dance pics and a surprise shot of their choice—all to be shared later. Candid photos by friends can be really cool and much more meaningful. The lovely Anna from BLUSH Photography will make your photo shoot a breeze – she’ll make you feel comfortable and take some beautiful shots to capture those memories.


Arrange to hear musicians perform before you book them. Make sure they agree to stick to the playlist you give them. Find out how they will dress and how many breaks they will take. Hiring a DJ is usually less expensive than a live band, but not always. And the old iPod is a great option with no budget attached. DJ4YOU definitely know how to get the party started – and keep it going!!! Give them a call!!

Image from Coco Lily Events by XOX Waiheke


Once you have your venues booked, you can decide on table arrangements and other decorations. A hotel ballroom might be a relatively blank slate, whereas a museum may need little more than simple centerpieces. If you can buy fresh stems at a local farm, ask a talented friend to help put together bouquets and centerpieces. Or ask your florist to incorporate tons of greenery to make fewer flowers look like a lot more. There are so many vibrant props available now – check out the incredible decorations by Covers Decoration Hire and stunning arrangements by Susan Rogers Flowers.


You want to know how dishes will taste and look and how flexible the caterer is with menus and prices. Don’t be afraid to bargain; you can cut costs by limiting the number and kinds of hors d’oeuvres served at cocktail hour. Remember that sometimes going with a venue and hiring a caterer separately doesn’t usually end up saving you money after hiring of tablecloths, china, glassware etc. A venue that has caterers onsite and provides all the gear will save you the hassle.


As with your caterer – make an appointment to taste test. Bring along lots of photo references you’ve found on Pinterest or magazines. Cakes are a bigger cost than you think – but worth every penny. Try Temptation Cakes for delicious creations that look as amazing as they taste!!!

Image by The Official Photographers


  • Explain to prospective bridesmaids, groomsmen, ushers etc what the role requires, like planning the hen night and stag party and paying for their attire.
  • Tell each person they will need to commit a certain amount of time and energy—and if they can’t, it’s fine to decline.
  • Choose as many or as few people as you want – although the more people the more help you will have throughout the process and on your big day. It makes a huge difference.
  • Give your closest friends or relatives the key positions.

Include your partners relatives; it’s a diplomatic move that can only strengthen family relations – providing they are reliable. Choose wisely!

Image by Benjamin & Elise Photography


Erase emotion, stay within the bounds of both budget and practicality. If it helps, bring your mum and an honest friend along with you. Decide which kind of shopper you are, and work accordingly. Online dress buying is an option – just make sure you use a site that has been recommended to you and get your dress measurements accurate – it can be cost effective or go horribly wrong if you don’t do your research right. Don’t second-guess yourself. Think you’ve found The One? Then you probably have. Look no further—and relax.



No matter what your wedding budget may be, here’s a rough idea of how much is typically spent in each category. Keep in mind that the numbers are not hard and fast. Some couples may, for example, choose to spend more on photography and less on flowers. It’s up to you! The average cost of a New Zealand wedding is around $30,000 for a wedding held in a cost-effective venue with 100 guests.

  • Reception: 40%
  • Honeymoon: 14.5%
  • Photography and videography: 10.5%
  • Wedding attire: 7%
  • Engagement rings and wedding bands: 6%
  • Flowers: 5%
  • Music: 5%
  • Invitations: 2%
  • Miscellaneous incl. celebrant: 10%

Image by Justine Milton


Your invitations should be sent out six to eight weeks before the big day, so work backward from there to be sure you order in time. The basic invite announces the hosts of the wedding (whether that’s the two of you, your parents or a combination) and the place and time of the ceremony. It may include a card that gives the dress code, reception details, accommodation options, gift registry info and rsvp details. Get a sample of the invite before deciding to use it— and proofread! If you’re having a destination wedding give your guests plenty of notice with a Save the Date card.


It’s easy to become so caught up in the planning that you forget one simple thing: you! So start now to create and stick to a self-care plan. Exercise regularly and keep to a healthy diet. Even a 30-minute walk several times a week can be enough to keep you feeling energetic. To prevent fatigue, take a multivitamin everyday, especially if you’re skipping meals. Bring healthy snacks—almonds, a banana—along with you when you go shopping or to work. Get plenty of sleep. Most brides-to-be find themselves having alot of late nights, but try your best not to skimp on sleep; not getting enough contributes to lowered immunity, and you don’t want to get sick now. Plus, well-rested gals always look their best. Meet with a hairstylist. If you want to maintain your current cut and/or color, tell your regular hairstylist, and be sure you’re not due for an appointment the week before your big day (you should ideally have your hair cut and colored a couple of weeks prior). If this stylist will do your hair for the wedding, see her for a practice session or two to try a couple of hairdos. (If you’re wearing a headpiece or tiara, bring it along.) For a budget conscious express facial go see Melissa at Life Pharmacy Northwest and try the Dermalogica natural skincare range – it will leave your skin feeling like brand new and you can purchase and start your regime!


Smith & Caughey and Farmers beauty counters will give you a makeover; you usually have to book in and pay a fee redeemable against product. It is also worth considering looking into getting a trial done by a profesional makeup artist, if it so happens that you like their work you can book them for your wedding day! Life Pharmacy can help you out here too – plus sign up for their loyalty programme and earn points with every purchase!! Makes it worth your while.

Image by Samantha Donaldson Photography

Most importantly – take your time and have fun along the way! You will only do this once in a lifetime with your partner so make every moment count. The wedding day itself goes by way too fast – so enjoy the journey and the planning process to get to your special day you’ve put so much energy into!! xx

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