That’s me done!

All you need is love and … love and fun and celebration.

This wedding season 2016/2017 is officially over for me. It’s been my biggest yet, with over 25 weddings performed, and I have absolutely loved every moment of it. Well, what’s not to love, I get to be right in the thick of a whole lotta love, and people pay me for it, crazy, I know.

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Jeremy and Sharmain

My wedding season, here in Dunedin, pretty much runs from September to May, because not a lot of people down here choose winter weddings. This season has seen my marry 4 different Sarah’s, one Angela (in fact every year I’ve married an Angela, which is crazy, and I even have one lined up for next season) and one friend, and second brother from the same family.

I have married couples in their favourite restaurants (at least they knew the food was going to be outstanding) and in their living rooms. I have performed weddings in gardens, in beautiful chapels, in tiny little churches in tiny little places with magnificent views, and on beaches. I have wed couples on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and even Wednesdays.  There have been morning weddings and late afternoon weddings, and even a surprise wedding, where the guests didn’t know there was going to be a wedding. There were weddings with 200 guests and weddings with only 10. I have had brides arrive by tractor, and a groom land in a helicopter. I have had brides be late, early and right on time. I have had some of the cutest ring bearers and flower girls you could imagine.

Danni and Andrew
Danni and Andrew Nicole Pilgrim Photography

I have worked with some amazing suppliers who have toiled tirelessly to make sure that a couple’s dreams and ideas will come to life and exceed their expectations, and have been gracious enough to share their work with me.

I have offered advice on everything from dress choices to photographers, to time lines to invitations to florists, and of course wedding ceremonies.

Every single wedding is different, because every single couple and love story is different, I have married couples who met at Intermediate School, and other couples who met on Social Media. I have married couples who have been together for a short time, and others who have been together for 18 years. Every single wedding makes my heart sing, because every single bride and groom are being brave enough to put their hearts on the line, and share what it means to love and be loved, and you can’t really get better than that.


Haily and Norman Kerry Hodge Photography

Yes there have been moments when things didn’t go according to plan, little people didn’t want to play ball, or some-one forgot to use the fancy thingy the bride bought especially, but you know what, no-one cared, because everyone was too swept up in the love filled moments which were happening all around them.

I can’t think of another job that exists where everyone’s happy. Maybe not a the rehearsal, generally brides are overwhelmed with everything that needs to be done, and can be a little stressed, but that smile on a bride’s face when she walks down the aisle is absolutely priceless.

I can’t wait until September when I get to do this amazing job all over again.




From engaged to finally married ….. Mr and Mrs Bray!

All you need is love. That’s it, that’s all you need.

So we’ve followed the journey of Sharmain and Jeremy as they went through the process of planning their wedding day.  We saw what went well, and what was more challenging, and finally we get to share the last installment, The Wedding Day! Here Sharmain and Jeremy share how that final week was, and of course the day itself.

All photos supplied by the very talented Chris Garden.

What was the week before the wedding like? The week before the wedding was a very busy one.  Luckily, we had both taken that week off work, so that helped a lot!  It was very stressful for me as our reception venue was still far from finished and by Wednesday I was nearly in panic mode no matter how much Jeremy tried to assure me it would all work out.  Thankfully, the place was finished enough for use by Thursday night and on Friday we were able to set up for the reception.  There were a lot of last minute jobs that needed done in that last week, and I’d definitely recommend to anybody to take that week off, if possible.

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What surprised you the most about the wedding planning process? Overall i did find the wedding planning enjoyable.  There were a lot of hiccups along the way and many stresses that came with it, but I think knowing that in the end, after it all, I’d be marrying the man of my dreams, made all those little glitches worth it.  I honestly can’t describe the excited feeling I’d get every time I thought of a new idea or something for our wedding.


How did you feel the day before the wedding? The day before the wedding I’ll admit, I think I was a mess.  My Mum took me out to get my nails done for the wedding and all I could think about was how the venue was going to look and why wouldn’t it stop raining.  When we returned to the venue and I say how everything looked I broke down in tears.  Jeremy’s family and my litte brother had spend the last few hours placing everything exactly where I’d wanted them to and how I’d wanted it and I was so overwhelmed with how everything looked that I couldn’t hold back my emotions.  Everything was perfect.  Later at the rehearsal I saw how badly the rain had affected our ceremony venue and almost broke down again, for a different reason.  There were puddles everywhere and I went in to a panic about how it would be the next day.  Thankfully it, somehow all dried out overnight and was perfect.

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Did things go well on the wedding morning? On the wedding morning I swear there as just a blanket of calm over the both of us.  I was up early making breakfast for the bridesmaids and Jeremy fed the dog and checked into our hotel for that night.  There were no hitches and I just couldn’t wait to see my soon to be husband.  Our photographer commented that he’d never had a couple, or wedding party in general, be so calm on the morning of their wedding.  We were too excited and too happy to be nervous.

Do you remember what you were thinking as you walked down the aisle? As I walked down the aisle everything was a blur, all my focus was on Jeremy waiting for me at the end.  There were people at the ceremony that I didn’t even realise were there until looking at photos weeks later.  The world felt like it stood still and he was the only thing that mattered in that moment.  All Jeremy could think was simply ‘wow’

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What were some of the highlights of the wedding day? Jeremy’s biggest highlight of the day was seeing me walk down the aisle.  I think my biggest highlight was seeing his face once I reached the end.  I swear I’ve never seen that man so happy.  Overall though, I think the entire day was amazing, the best day of our lives so far.

Any thing you would have done differently? I think if I could’ve done anything differently it would be to practice our first dance before performing it, preferably in similar clothing to what would be worn on the day.  As we found out, on the night it wasn’t as easy as we thought it was going to be, as I couldn’t step backwards in my dress because of the train, which was not something I’d thought about until I stood on it.

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Advice to other brides/couples? Our advice to other couples would be to try not to stress.  As difficult as that sounds at the end of the day all that matters is that you’re marrying the love of your life.  Throughout our entire planning process and wedding day and everything Jeremy was very laid back and easy going, it was me who stressed over every little thing and at the end of it I look back and just wonder why I ever let some things get to me. Also remember, it’s your day, so have it the way you want it, not everyone else.

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Would you recommend your vendors on the day? We were very happy with all of our vendors for the day.

  • Michelle and her team from Just Essence Catering did an amazing job, and were more than happy to work with every requirement we threw at them. Including setting up a children’s buffet table to keep their meals separate for the adults food.
  • Kate and the team at The Dessert Room were amazing too and worked with us very well. Plus they were far more reasonably priced than we expected.
  • Hirepool was one we didn’t expect to use but ended up needing to hire the tables and chairs for the reception from, they were very easy to work with, and allow 3 day hire which was definitely easier than trying to set up and clean up all in the same day.
  • Our photographer Chris Garden, was great! We had a lot of communication with him leading up to the day and he was happy to do whatever we asked of him, and his photos are amazing.
  • And of course our amazing celebrant Angela Port.  She worked with us so well, and helped out with everywhere we needed it.  She was happy to give us any advice we needed and help with vow writing, and we both love her ceremony and working with her.

What was your biggest surprise on the wedding day? Our biggest surprise on our wedding day has to have been the weather.  For the days leading up, it was absolutely pouring with rain, right up until 2am that morning (yes I was still awake) and then on the Sunday it again was pouring down.  But you couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful day on the Saturday, it was absolutely stunning.


What is your favourite memory of your wedding day? I don’t think we’ll ever forget our wedding day, but I think my most favourite memory would be learning Jeremy’s reaction as I walked down the aisle, more happy tears were shed then. Jeremy’s favourite memory is seeing me, at the end of the night walking around cradling my baby cousin in my arms.  I absolutely adore babies and Jeremy says I looked so peaceful and happy in that moment.

Anyone you would like to especially mention for their help? So many people helped us out in so many ways.  Friends giving advice and support, family giving advice and helping us out financially.  I don’t think we could really thank one person in particular without listing many, many names.


How did you feel the next day, once it was all over? The day after the wedding, we had to go clean up the reception venue and start returning hired things back to the companies.  It was a very busy day and felt like we’d just had a great big party, but we didn’t feel any different.  However it was a very stress free day, like a great weight had been lifted from our shoulders.  And I know I saw Jeremy playing with his ring, just as much as I played with mine.


At the end of the day I believe just do what makes you happy.  We were both so happy with how everything turned out for us, we couldn’t have asked for it to be better.  The day definitely does fly by though and I think the best piece of advice I could give to any couple is to try take a moment for themselves out of their wedding day, away from the guests, and just enjoy each other.  It’s something we didn’t do and in the end we didn’t really see a lot of each other once we got to the reception.

I wish you a life time of happiness together, and thank you for allowing me to share a part of your special day with me – Angela Port 

How to choose your wedding date and time.

All you need is love and … a date and time.

How do you choose your wedding date and time? The majority of weddings I attend  take place in Summer, on a Saturday at 3pm. And there’s a good reason for that, it’s warmer in Summer (well sometimes, although not always in Dunedin) a Saturday means no-one has to go to work early the next day, so they can party late into the night, and 3pm works well, for the ceremony, photos, dinner time line.


Is it really the best time?

Ask any photographer, and 3pm in Summer is not always the best time for those magical wedding photos. There are times of the day (morning and late afternoon/dusk) that they call the ‘golden hour’ because it provides stunning light, and thus equally stunning photos. It can be harder for a photographer to work with the light in the middle of the day in summer to make sure the bride and groom aren’t squinting during the ceremony, or that half the bridal party is in direct sunlight and the other half are in shadow, a bit of a nightmare to make everyone look great.

Summer, while it should be warmer, and less chance of rain, is peak wedding season, so all the good venues, celebrants, photographers will be booked up really fast. You snooze unfortunately you lose in some cases. And I know not everyone’s that organised to plan 18 months ahead. Where as Autumn, you get great colours, leaves falling, it’s still not that chilly yet, and the light is better for photos. Google search ‘weddings in Queenstown’ and you will see the most stunning winter wonderland images. There are also some absolutely stunning venues around that lend themselves to the perfect winter wedding, and if you plan a winter wedding inside, you don’t have to stress about whether it’s going to rain or not. I know many a bride to be who has been constantly checking the weather app on their phone the week leading up to their wedding.  One less stress in my opinion.

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3pm, or as I call it “wedding o’clock” is the most popular time for a wedding. Why?  Well most people figure it gives the girls long enough to get hair, make-up, maybe a glass of champers under their belt, and then it leads nicely into canapes after the wedding, while the couple go off to have their photos taken, leaving the guests to their own devices, and the open bar, then back after photos straight into speeches or dinner and dancing the night away. But what about exchanging your vows at sunrise, then having a wedding breakfast with your guests?  Or having an 11am wedding, then heading into a beautiful lunch somewhere fancy, or having your ceremony at 5pm (having your first look and photos before hand) and then not having to leave your guests, who you invited because they are your favourite people, and starting the party straight away?

Why Saturday? Fridays are awesome for a wedding, you get to spend a long weekend with your loved ones, especially those who have travelled a long way to hang out with you. And if you give everyone enough notice, then most people will be able to get the time off work, and still not have to go to work the next day. And you’ll have a better pick of venues, celebrants, photographers etc. Having a wedding out of season could also let you take advantage of specials that many photographers, venues etc may have to build business in the less busy season.

If you’re looking for a way to stretch the budget, then consider thinking outside of the 3pm on a Saturday in Summer square. There’s plenty of other options around if you just be open minded.

Just remember it’s your day, and of course you should do it your way, whether it’s 3pm on a Saturday in Summer or not.

How to get the most out of your celebrant.

All you need is love and … a great celebrant.

Ok, so you’ve locked in your dream celebrant. They’re organised, down to earth, a wealth of ideas, and get your vibe. Yay for you, now how are you going to get the best out of your celebrant.  Getting the best out of your celebrant, doesn’t mean they’ll be doing your dishes for the next 6 months. But it does mean that doing and remembering a few key ideas will ensure you get the best possible ceremony, and the best execution on the day.

Pic by Kerry Hodge Photography

Be open-minded – I’m not talking keys in the bowl type of open minded (but if that’s your thing, more power to you) I’m talking, ask your celebrant for ideas, what are the different ways we could do this? Does it have to be done this way? Could we do it like this? Your celebrant has done more weddings than you have, probably (hopefully) so they will know what will work, and what may be awkward. Listen.

Be engaged – Not just with the ring type of engaged, but the listening, and asking questions, and putting your phone down for 10 minutes type of engagement. I know weddings can be a subject that completely makes the groom zone out, but if you want it to be your day too then listen. A good celebrant will make sure they talk to both of you, not just the bride, and you should both have a good feeling about the celebrant.  I know meeting new people, especially a celebrant, can be daunting to some people, but most of us are warm, personable and down to earth.

Short and sweet isn’t always best – I know some people just want to get the ceremony bit over so they can move onto the more fun bit of drinking, dancing, and cake eating. But, and again I may be biased because I’m a celebrant, the focus should be on the ceremony. You are going to be standing in front of your nearest and dearest, and maybe Dave from work, telling your soul mate how important they are to you, and sharing your love story, surely that deserves longer than a 5 min ‘wham bam thank you ma’am?’

Don’t leave booking a celebrant till the last minute – In my opinion it’s never too early to book your celebrant.  The good ones, like venues and photographers will get booked out pretty early on.  You may get lucky with a last minute phone call, but that is the exception rather than the rule.

Danni and Andrew
Pic by Nicole Pilgrim Photography

Feel free to interview, or chat with more than one celebrant – It’s not like dating, we won’t mind. What we do mind, is if you don’t tell us that you have booked someone else, and we keep the date open for you.  A simple “we have decided to go with another celebrant” is great. No hurt feelings, honest! We want you to have the best wedding possible, whether it’s with us or not so if someone else floats your boat and gets your vibe, go for it!

Don’t change anything about the ceremony, and not tell the celebrant – Especially if you want the celebrant to be there on time! I usually double check at the rehearsal what time the groom will be at the venue, to make sure we’re all on the same page regarding start times. But I have heard of angry calls to the celebrant when everyone’s at the ceremony inquiring about their whereabouts, when the couple have changed the time and not told the celebrant.

Give us the dirt, all the dirt – Most celebrants will send you a questionnaire to fill out (I call them my homework questions) to get to know you better, they will either come and visit with you again to discuss the answers to your questions or just write your ceremony from those answers. Give us as much info as you can on your questionnaire, the more info you give the better ceremony you are going to get. It’s really hard to personalise a ceremony (which is what most good celebrants will want to do) when you give nothing personal to work with. I for one, want to know what you love, what you don’t love, what you enjoy doing together, all great fodder for a ceremony.

Try to be organised – I know there are a million and one things that need to be organised for a wedding, but if you can get back to us sooner rather than later when we request information that would be grand. It’s no fun for a celebrant to be waiting the day before the wedding for the groom to get his vows to them. It creates stress not just for the couple but for the celebrant. If you can’t make a designated time for a catch up, let them know as soon as you can.

Send us an invite – We love weddings, all the weddings. So if you want us to get an idea of your style, colours and personality then give us an invite. Also helps so we know where we’re going and at what time (see point Don’t change anything about the ceremony and not tell the celebrant)

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Pic by Kerry Hodge Photography

Good manners – Like your mumma always said, good manners go a long way! If you like the vibe and style of a celebrant, then they will probably either have a Facebook page, Instagram account, or website, do a bit of stalking, and you can probably find out their price. We don’t love texts/emails/Facebook messages that just say “how much?” We do love texts/emails/Facebook messages that say “Hi Angela, We are getting married 9/12/2017 and are after a celebrant, are you available and what is your price?”

Thank you’s – If you are the type of bride/couple who are going to do a thank you post/wedding post on Facebook, please please please thank or acknowledge your celebrant, if they did an awesome job, if they didn’t then maybe contact them and tell them why, don’t splash it on Facebook.  For us reviews are like gold, so go ahead and give your celebrant a review, tell them what a great job they did. They will love you for it, and it only takes 5 minutes, and you are helping other couples out by leaving honest feedback.

Try not to turn bridezilla on us – I know planning a wedding is stressful, and expensive, and not everyone wants to do what you want them to do as fast as you want them to, but your celebrant is a professional. We will act like the professional we are, and should be treated as such.

Remember, we may only be a part of your wedding day for a short time, but we are emotionally invested in your day. We have taken the time to get to know you, spent time with you and your family, helped bring your plans/dreams to life, written and performed an amazing ceremony for you about you, met your friends and family, calmed you down, made sure everything is perfect for you and your guests. A little acknowledgement goes a long long way, kilometres in fact, like from here to the moon!

Show your celebrant some love!

Including your fur-baby in your wedding

All you need is love and … how to include your fur baby in your wedding.


Many couples have pets together before they get married, and a lot of couples consider their pets as their fur babies and so want to include them in their wedding, naturally. So here’s a round up of ways to include you pets in your special day.

Use your pet to propose – How super cute is it to include your pet in your proposal? You could tie the ring on their collar, and then tell your partner that you have a new collar for the pet. Instant brownie points. You could also have a sign made to go around the pets neck with “will you marry my dad” on it.

Save the dates – Use your pet to announce to your guests your wedding date.

Engagement photos – Include your pet in your engagement photo shoot.

Wedding photos – If you’re not sure about your pet coming to the ceremony or reception then ask someone to bring them along for the wedding photos. Brides all dressed up with their pets make magic photos.

Flower Girl Escort – Let your flower girl escort your pet down the aisle.

Pet instead of bouquet – Carry your pet down the aisle instead of a bouquet. Obviously dependant on the type and size of pet. But a rabbit or kitten would look super cute in a flower adorned basket.

Have them by your side during your ceremony – If your pet is the sit still and not move type of animal, and would no be phased by all the attention and people around, it would make for an adorable photo.

Include them in your vows – I have included many a mention of a pet in a wedding ceremony. You could include them in your vows “I promise to love you as much as Oscar (the dog)”

Dress them up – there are a few ways you can dress up your pet for the big day, without hindering it’s movement, or dignity. Try a cute bandana around it’s neck for something understated.

Cake topper – Order a customised cake topper which includes a nod to your fur baby as well.

Table numbers – Incorporate photos of your pet as your table numbers, that way everyone gets to see your pet.

Cardboard cut out – Have a life size cardboard cut out of your pet made, that could be displayed at your reception, or used as a prop in a photo booth.  It would be just like they were there.

There are a few things you may need to consider when deciding if your pet is going to be a part of your big day. How are their socialisation skills? If you have time to get them training, then that would be wise, if they are the type of pet who will wander in and then fall asleep at someones feet, then they are the perfect candidate.  If they have not yet been trained and bark at everything that moves then it’s probably not a good idea.

Take your pet to the venue well before the big day, so they get comfortable and familiar with the place. And make sure that your pet is allowed at the venue.

Make sure there is adequate food and water available for the pet during the day.

Let your guests know before the day that your pet will be attending, that way if they are allergic to animals they can take precautions before hand.

Ensure you have a pet wrangler available on the day, who isn’t yourself or your partner. I recommend someone who the pet knows and is quite happy to look after your pet during the day.

Pets are very special members of the family, so of course they should be included in your wedding day.

How to include your children in your wedding ceremony.

All you need is love and … a way to include your children in your wedding ceremony.

As a celebrant, I find a large percentage of the couples I marry already have children, either together or they are blending two families when they marry.  Most couples want a way to include or at the very least acknowledge their children in their wedding ceremony.  Here’s a list of some of the different ways you can do this.

Bridesmaids or groomsman – you can include your children, depending on their age as a bridesmaid or groomsman/best man.  This type of role is best suited to a child who understands what’s going on, and can stand still long enough.

Unity ceremony – the whole idea behind a unity ceremony is the joining together of (usually two) people, but it’s an awesome way to incorporate your children into the ceremony. You could preform a sand ceremony (where you pour different coloured sands into a vessel) or a candle ceremony ( where you each light a central candle with a smaller candle)

Write children into vows – Use the platform of your vows to include a mention to your children. I like to use the I Do’s part and write a portion about supporting the other person to be the best mum/dad to your child. It’s a very effective way to make a small acknowledgement of the children if that’s what you’re going for.

Walk down the aisle – You can have your children walk down the aisle with you. If your children are older they could actually do the ‘giving away’ part, or if they are smaller they could just walk hand in hand with you.

Reading or poem – Depending on the child’s age and confidence level, you could ask them to perform a reading or poem, or ask them to write a poem themselves to read out at the wedding.

Flower girl/Ring bearer – Little people are super cute as flower girls or ring bearers.

Vows – There are numerous examples of children saying vows as well as the couple. Again the decision should be based on age, and their understanding of the wedding process.  It could be as simple as a question and the child simply saying “I Do” or in the case of a blended family, the step parent saying vows or promises to the child.

Picking the ring, or helping plan the proposal – Depending on the age of the child, you could include them in the picking of the engagement ring, or involve them in the planning and execution of the proposal.  Just make sure they can keep a secret.

Invite them to join the first dance – Ask your children to join you a little bit after the first dance starts, super cute.

Sign the marriage certificate – Your children can sign the marriage certificate, as long as they understand entirely what they are signing.  If you don’t think they are quite age appropriate to do that, you can ask your celebrant to produce a family certificate (not legal) and all sign that on the day as well.

Hand fasting ritual – Include your children in a hand-fasting ritual, as part of the ceremony.

Exchange gifts with children – You can exchange rings with your children as well as your husband/wife or another piece of jewellery altogether, maybe a necklace or pendant or a signet ring.  I do know of a couple who had 4 rings made, and the children’s rings fit into adults rings, very cool.

Handing out ceremony booklets – Use children to hand out ceremony booklets or bubbles or confetti to guests before the ceremony starts, and usher people to their seats.

Play music – If your child is a talented musician, ask them to showcase their musical abilities before the ceremony begins.

Getaway car – Ask them to help decorate the getaway car, you know the deal, tin cans, streamers, ‘just married’ sign.

Photographer in training – Give them a cheap camera, with a strap for added security, and ask them to take photos after the ceremony and during the reception.  You’ll be amazed at the shots you’ll get, and you’ll see the celebration from their point of view.

Just remember to think about the age of the child, what are they going to be able to handle on the day? What type of personality do they have, are the super confident or very shy? Are they liable to say something inappropriate at the wrong time? Also think about to what extent you want to include your children.  Some couples just want a small mention of their children in the ceremony, and the rest focused on them as a couple committing, while others want to include the children saying vows to the family unit as well. Your celebrant should be able to point you in the right direction, and give you lots of options.

Remember as always that it is your day, and to do it your way.



Ideas We Love: Flower Girl Inspo

All you need is love and … a cute flower girl.

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Flower girls are cute, we all know that. Choosing  to include a flower girl  is a great way to include either your own daughter, family member or some-one who is close to you’s child. And of course you don’t have to have a flower girl or girls (as is sometimes the case) especially if you are budget conscious, as adding extra people into the bridal party, makes for extra cost.

Photo via: youtube

There are a few things you are going to want to think over before choosing your  flower girl.

  • Age – yes, babies look delicious all dressed up, and definitely get a cute factor dialled up when they come down the aisle, but generally they can’t walk, so will need someone to hold them, do you have that someone? and will said child behave itself during the ceremony, and do you have an exit strategy for if they don’t?
  • Practice – little people need to have a rehearsal! They need to know where they are going to walk from and then to, and then where are they going to stand after they do the walking from and to, will they go to grandma, or mum or dad, and where will that person be seated? It is very very common for little people to freak out when they realise everyone is looking at them, so have a strategy for what to do if that happens, perhaps they could walk with a bridesmaid.
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  • Combo – little people do better if they have a partner, either the ring bearer or another flower girl, it will help them feel less nervous, so feel free to combo them up.
  • Processional – I always place the ring bearer and flower girl after the bridesmaids, and just before the bride (they are essentially sprinkling those rose petals for the bride to walk upon, not the bridesmaids) and this also helps because then they know where they are walking to, because the bridesmaids are already in place. Tip – always leave a bigger gap between the flower girls and the bride, everyone will be ‘ohhhing and aahhing’ over the cuties, and totally miss the bride’s entrance.
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  • Getting ready – will they get ready with the ‘big girls’ and arrive in the car with them or are they just going to arrive at the venue before the wedding with their parents/grandparents. Leave them getting dressed to the absolute last minute, just before your walk out the door, to save the dress from getting dirty. And don’t forget to factor in things like car-seats.
  • Reception – it is totally acceptable to have the flower girls/ring bearer at the wedding ceremony, and then not include them for the reception, if you are not having children at your wedding, and it gives the parents the night off too.
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  • Importance – make sure the little one knows how important her role is, and where she fits in with the bridesmaids, and how she has to behave.
  • Your own daughter – if you are using your own daughter be prepared to her not to want to sit in her seat, she may even want to wander off and have a look around. Know that she may want to stand with you, especially in between the two of you! In most cases it is just a case of ‘go with it’ it is your child after all, and who is going to have an issue with that. I have done many a wedding with either the bride or groom, having to hold onto their little flower girl. No drama.

And of course your flower girl does not have to be a little girl.

Photo via: Ashley Elizabeth Photography


People We Love: Angela Port – Celebrant

All you need is love and … some wisdom from a wedding professional.

Now, I know a lot about weddings, but not everything, so “People We Love”is a series of interviews with wedding professionals, who will share their stories and wedding wisdom.

Meet: Angela Port – celebrant


Business Name: Angela Port Weddings

Tell us a bit about yourself and your business: I became a celebrant a little over 3 years ago. I was asked by my good friends to MC their wedding, and after one too many wines I agreed. I worked really hard when preparing for the role on writing a funny and  personal script to deliver at the wedding.  When I looked back on the experience (yes, it was quite a way out of my comfort zone) but I realised how much I actually enjoyed it, and wondered how I could do more of it. And so I applied to become a celebrant.

I am a wife, and mother, and have another part time job, so I juggle all that with providing my couples an awesome wedding ceremony.

Leah and Keirin

What do you love about your job? I love the fact that every couple has a unique love story to tell and it is my job to tell that story. I love that a wedding ceremony only has a small part that legally has to be done, and the rest is completely up to you, so you can absolutely stamp your own personality on it. I love that everyone is always happy on a wedding day (also slightly nervous, usually) and there are not many jobs that I know of where that is the case. I love the moment after the ceremony, where I congratulate the couple and you can see the look of relief on their faces, because the hardest part of the day is over, and they say to me “wow! that was easy” To me that means I’ve done a good job.

What do you do in your spare time, hobbies/interests? I am a wedding junkie, so usually spare time is spent researching wedding related topics on line.  My website keeps my pretty busy. I love walking, especially on the beach, and hanging with my family.

My own wedding day, 17 July 1999

What one thing do you wish every wedding couple knew? The day is about YOU, I know you do know it, but you can absolutely lose focus so easily once every one else puts their 5 cents in. Weddings and funerals, can sometimes bring out the worst in people. Just remember that the wedding is about you and your loved one committing to each other, not what Great Aunty Fanny wants (no offence intended to Great Aunty Fanny)

Any wedding trends you love or would love to see disappear?  I love it when a couple think outside of the box, and make the day reflect their own individual personalities.  Not a fan of the white pouffy dress? Wear colour or a beautiful tailored jumpsuit! Want your Mum to sing you down the aisle? Go for it! There are so many different ways to do things, and no particular way is correct.  So just go with what feels right to you and your partner.

Amber and Jeff

Any great/interesting stories about working with a couple? One of the first weddings I performed, when I asked them about exchanging rings (in our planning session) they told me that she had a ring, but he couldn’t wear one because of his job, so he got a new socket set instead of a ring! They had one of the socket thingys engraved with their wedding date.  The wedding was at Moeraki and there was only 5 of us there, and the bride and groom both wore jeans, and afterwards they headed to Fleurs for lunch. It was super relaxed. I love it when a couple get married their way.

What two pieces of advice would you give a couple planning their wedding? Be realistic about what you can afford, your wedding will not be less than because you can’t afford fancy wedding favours. Remember what the wedding is about, (hint: it’s about you committing to your loved one) people spend so much time and energy focusing on the finer details, and wanting to impress their guests, that they don’t actually think about what they are going to say to their partner during the ceremony (which I know I may be biased, considering my job)  but I think that is the most important.

One insider tip/trick to pass on? If you think you are going to cry and don’t want to, press your tongue to the roof of your mouth. I’m not sure why it works, but it does. And who cares if you cry, it’s a wedding!

People We Love: Charlotte Winkel – Queenstown Wedding Celebrant

All you need is love and … some wisdom from a wedding professional.

Now, I know a lot about weddings, but not everything, so “People We Love”is a series of interviews with wedding professionals, who will share their stories and wedding wisdom.

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Meet Charlotte Winkel – Your Big Day – Queenstown Wedding Celebrant

Business Name: Your Big Day – Queesntown Wedding Celebrant

Tell us a bit about yourself and your business: I’m Charlotte Winkel and I’m a wedding celebrant and wedding blogger based in Queenstown.  Originally from the UK, I moved to Queenstown in 2010 and have since become a NZ resident, bought my first home here and married a kiwi! I became a celebrant whilst Brad and I were planning our own wedding.  We wanted a celebrant who we could relate to, and someone who could help make our ceremony special and personalised.  We found that most celebrants were much older than us and not exactly what we were looking for.  So I decided to register myself, and help other couples get married in Queenstown.  As a celebrant I’m passionate about creating a wedding ceremony that is unique, special and personal for every couple.  Everyone has their own story to tell, and I love to do this in a fun and creative way with lots of personality, local knowledge and professionalism.

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What do you love about your job: I love meeting couples from all over the world and learning about them and their relationship.  This is what helps me to write a ceremony that’s a true reflection of each unique couple.  I like to get creative with a ceremony and challenge some of the wedding traditions.  I also love helping couples write their own wedding vows so they can say what they really want to say to their partner on their wedding day.

What do you do in your spare time, hobbies/interests: I practice yoga daily, ski all winter and ride my mountain bike all the rest of the year.  I love to stay healthy and active but I also enjoy binge watching Netflix with my husband Brad on a rainy day.  We’re big animal lovers and have a friendly border collie, Marley, and a cheeky tabby cat, Floyd.  I also love great food, great wine, and getting together for dinner parties.

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What one thing do you wish every wedding couple knew: The legal requirements for you to be married are so minimal – say “I do” and sign on the dotted line.  That’s it.  Everything else is fair game!  There’s so much opportunity to put your own personal stamp on your wedding day.

Any wedding trends you love, or would love to see disappear: I try to steer away from “trends” and stick to themes and ideas that best represent each couple on their wedding day.  That being said, one wedding reception trend I do love is using bare wooden tables in long rows rather than round tables covered in white table cloths.  This improved seating arrangement is more social, relaxed and organic.  Plus, a few bright beautiful flowers against the dark wood grain of the table is a super effective look.  I’m totally bias though … we did this for our own wedding!

Queenstown marriage celebrant festival elopement

Any great/interesting stories about working with a couple: Heaps! I got an email last December from a couple in Australia who wanted to get married on New Year’s Eve in Queenstown.  I emailed back to let the couple know that I would be at the Rhythm & Alps music festival close to Wanaka for New Years; so, unless they wanted to get married at the festival, I wouldn’t be able to marry them.  Immediately this couple replied, “Oh, can we get married at the festival?” Within three weeks I worked with this couple to arrange their festival tickets, marriage licence, wedding ceremony, vows, photographer, witnesses, the whole works!  For this spontaneous and free spirited couple, a festival elopement was just perfect, and just in time for the new year.

What two pieces of advice would you give a couple planning their wedding:

  • Consider a wedding planner – always money well spent and there’s options for every budget! Let them do all the hard work, so that you can fully enjoy your big day with friends and family, stress free.
  • Consider an engagement shoot – Being photographed all day on your wedding day is a pretty surreal experience for most couples, we’re just not used to it! An engagement shoot helps build trust and develop a relationship with your photographer.  You’ll become more comfortable and confident in front of the camera which will translate into more amazing photos for your wedding day.  Try it, you’ll thank me after!

queenstown celebrant elopement wedding paperwork

One insider tip/trick to pass on: Lots of couples ask for a short and simple ceremony and then afterwards say that it all went too fast! To make your ceremony more memorable consider personalising your wedding ceremony by writing your own vows, choosing meaningful music, or using props to demonstrate your love and marriage.  These are just a few ideas, there’s heaps more!

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The lady herself: Charlotte Winkel!

If you’re a fan of Charlotte and her vibe and want to get in touch, then here are her links.

Facebook: Your Big Day

Instagram: @yourbigdayqt

Pinterest: Your big day qtown

Twitter: yourbigday_qt

Linkedin: Charlotte- Winkel

Google+: Charlotte Winkel



People We Love: Hayden Campbell – Photographer

All you need is love and … some wisdom from a wedding professional.

Now, I know a lot about weddings, but not everything, so “People We Love”is a series of interviews with wedding professionals, who will share their stories and wedding wisdom.

Meet Hayden Campbell: Black Label Photography

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Business Name: Black Label Photography

Tell us a bit about yourself and your business:  I have been shooting for about 4 years , started out shooting  landscape and surf photography which still remain  my number one passion.  Living in the Catlins you cant walk five steps with out falling over something beautiful to photograph! The ocean and beach are my main focus for everything including portraits. I had some help getting in to wedding photography which I am really grateful for as it’s such a daunting thing to get into , one special day…don’t mess it up!!


What do you love about your job? Meeting new people and hearing new yarns , everyone has had a beer or 8 and are dead keen for chat.

What do you do in your spare time, hobbies/interests? Spare time? What is that!! Ha Chasing waves with the boys and hanging out with my 6 month old Asher !


What one thing do you wish every wedding couple knew? Time Management!! Happens every time  “we’ve got heaps of time ”   nope we had heaps of time and now we are late !


Any wedding trends you love, or would love to see disappear? Nooo!!  Its all good , if you’re planning a wedding don’t let what’s in or out of trend influence what you do. If you love it and its your vision just roll with it , its your big day who cares what  old uncle Gary thinks !

Any great/interesting stories about working with a couple?  Just the classic old Brides right in to it and the groom is over it, haha, groom normally gets a dirty look from his new bride and pulls his head in ,quite common …even I was one one these!!


What two pieces of advice would you give a couple planning their wedding? First and most importantly enjoy it  , it goes by so quick , delegate jobs and dump some stress to other people , they will be happy to help and stoked to see you relax and enjoy the day!

Secondly Time Time Time ! Give yourselves heaps and expect things to go wrong, somethings you can not control but if you have a bit of time up your sleeve it will make it easier to deal with!


One insider tip/trick to pass on? My insider tip relates to me actually photographing your wedding. Check your gear and check it again then check it some more! If its a vital piece of equipment (camera body ,flash ,memory cards ) have 2 of them.You do not want to be part way through the day and have something fail!This is my worst fear , SD cards can corrupt so shooting 2 simultaneously may just save the day. Enjoy the day and enjoy the people , the vibe you give off will have a massive impact on your images . Smiles are contagious!

The man himself: Hayden Campbell

If you love the images you’ve seen and the wedding wisdom Hayden has imparted and his vibe and want to have a chat or see more you can contact him here:

Black Label Photography: Black Label Photography


Facebook: hayden.blacklabel photography

Instagram: @hayden.blacklabelphotography