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.
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.
All you need is love and … a beautiful new wedding venue.
Feast your eyes on the beautiful Port Molyneux School
A few weeks ago I attended the official opening of a brand new venue. I knew it was going to be awesome, partly because of the location (hello, stunning Kaka Point, Catlins!) and partly because I had met Jade (the director and visionary behind the venue) and her enthusiasm and positivity for the whole project was infectious (definitely my kind of people)
Jade and her family rescued the “Port Molyneux School” from ruin, after coming across it by accident, and realising that it was for sale. She could see the potential of the location (right across the road from the beach) and for a venue in the area, because her husband and her had struggled to find a suitable venue in the area, when they got married.
So after a lot of blood, sweat, tears and restoration work, the venue was open to the public for the first time, and it is beautiful!!! The character of the place is still in tact but it has been bought into this century with a lot of love and care, and has everything you could need to hold the wedding of your dreams.
The school rooms have been lovingly restored and are a blank canvas, as either a ceremony space area, for after wedding cocktails or sit down reception space. They feature wooden floors, and beautiful windows letting in an abundance of natural light and views across the road to the ocean. There is of course ‘boys’ and ‘girls’ toilets (apparently part of the bathroom decor is original) and a fully equipped kitchen for event catering.
Part of the hire of the venue includes the use of the headmasters house, a stones throw along a stone path from the main building. This 3 bedroom house has been fully restored and decorated and has everything you would need to spend your wedding night in absolute bliss. The section the venue is on is large enough and flat enough to be used by your guests if they wanted to camp for the night also. On the open day Tussock Country had set up one of their luxury camping tents, and it was amazing, so much more civilised than a pup tent and a sleeping bag.
Outside the school at the front, there is a beautiful spot which has been specially created to accommodate outside weddings, there is a mantle and seating. This all coming together to create a perfect spot with the ocean roaring in the background to exchange your wedding vows.
The Port Molyneux School is not just available for weddings, but any occasion that requires a unique and beautiful setting. Now I just need someone to get married there so I can visit this beautiful spot again, but as a celebrant.
Find out more about this very special wedding venue.
Jade McNab +64 (0) 21 1202 722 or email@example.com
So the wedding planning train is still chugging along and slowly gaining momentum. There have been many stops this month, but now it’s full steam ahead, to destination: married. Here’s May’s update from Sharmain and Jeremy and their journey from Engaged to Married.
This month they have finally received a written agreement for use with their reception venue (woot woot) and have negotiated the terms on what they can and can’t do for their wedding. They have booked a caterer, which obviously couldn’t be done until after the confirmation with the venue, and now just have to work out menu options and prices with them.
They have a booked a meeting with a baker to look at cake options and pricing
They have also started designing the wedding invitations and are currently working through the stressful task on finalizing the guest list.
The biggest struggle at this point in time is being able to arrange meetings with suppliers/vendors or to go look at things together as they both have only one full day off work a week, and it’s not the same day of the week.
Another thing they are going to have to work on is their time management, as they get so far and then just stop and forget for a while. (I’m sure you are not the only ones that have that issue, I think when something feels like it is so far away, it is easy to think, “Oh, we have all the time in the world” editors comments ) The countdown is on, they only have 233 days to get this sorted!
They are at the point in their planning process where all the major things have been pretty much sorted and now they’re getting into sorting out the nitty gritty stuff and making sure they get it all done with plenty of time to spare. The plan in the long run is to not have to do any major last minute jobs in the last three weeks leading up to the big day, so they have time to relax beforehand and not feel too stressed on the day. Hopefully!
Plus that way we have everything sorted before places start shutting down for the Christmas holidays.
Still currently looking for ceremony and vow ideas, there are soooo many!!
The next few things are, starting to look at suit and dress styles for the wedding party as well.
All you need is love and … some wisdom from a wedding professional.
Now, I know a lot about weddings, but not everything, so “Tradie Tuesday”is a series of interviews with wedding professionals, who will share their stories and wedding wisdom.
Twigs N Twine
Business Name: Twigs N Twine
A bit about yourself and your business: My name is Ayla. I have a gorgeous husband and 2 fur babies. We have recently moved back from Auckland to our home town of Dunedin. Twigs N Twine evolved through word of mouth, starting it’s journey from prettying up my office to flower bombing “Morning Magpie” cafe. After being inspired in Melbourne and working in a very sterile environment, (the Prison system) I realised the need to have living creations around me and began flowering everything!!
Our new store aims to create a magical space to gather and create. We host events such as bridal showers and also have various flower workshops on offer. With the main feature being a long table set amongst candles and flowers to come and chat, chill and recharge your inner flower child!
We source unique blooms to create beautiful artworks for all occasions and especially those Mondays!! We also do a free wedding consult prior to your big day to finalise the specifics.
The latest addition to our packages is “The Proposal” So should your loved one need some creative inspiration/flowers for the big question/a space or assistance to set the scene, they can book in for a consult. The consult includes a ‘love them’ bouquet and action plan.
What do you love about your job? The best part about blooms, would have to be the amazing amount of people I have met!
What do you do in your spare time? HaHa, actually this is my hobby! I also love spending time with friends, family, exploring, sipping coffee, travelling, beaching, getting lost in our MASSIVE garden, and most of all walking with the pups.
What one thing do you wish that every wedding couple knew? That whatever their vision is to GO FOR IT and to do what they want to do!
Any wedding trends you love? I love flower crowns!
What piece of advice would you give to a couple planning their wedding: To not let others opinions sway you, and to do whatever is YOU. Don’t get caught up in the details, and make it fun.
One insider tip or trick to pass on: Take time out together on the day. Factor it into your schedule.
We would so love to create something amazing for your magical day, so pop by, or give us a call to lock in your beautiful blooms.
Want to know what Sharmain and Jeremy have been up to on the journey from engaged to married, well, here’s April’s instalment.
This month has been interesting for a number of reasons, but they definitely feel like they have made some progress. The Save The Date cards have been officially either mailed out or hand delivered, and once the overseas guests have a received theirs, then we can officially announce the wedding date. Woot woot!!
The bridesmaids and groomsmen have all been asked and booked in for the wedding date.
Sharmain bought a bag for her wedding dress, which she purchased in February, to keep it away from prying eyes and beautiful and clean leading up to the day.
The flowers for the bouquets and buttonholes have been purchased and arrived. Sharmain decided to go with artificial flowers, because she really liked the idea of being able to keep her bouquet forever.
Wedding favours have also been ordered. Sharmain has a regular customer who bakes and decorates gingerbread cookies by hand. They look amazing and taste great too, and they both feel its good to be able to support a local business as well. They are yet to decide on the design and size of the cookies they will use, this will be decided on when the wedding favour boxes arrive, and they can tell the size.
The biggest challenge this month has been the on-going saga with the reception venue. The venue they have their hearts set on is currently undergoing renovations, which means there are alot of questions surrounding, whether it is going to be ready in time, can they use outside caterers, how many guests will it fit? So there have been numerous emails, and meetings, and finally they have a verbal agreement with the committee members and will have a written one in the next few weeks, which will make it an official booking. Once this is done, then they can finalise the guest list and book caterers.
They are currently playing around with centerpiece ideas and have bought a few bits and pieces, to see what they like better.
There have been thoughts on the wedding ceremony itself, and Sharmain and Jeremy have been gathering ideas for vows and readings that they may be able to incorporate into the ceremony, their wonderful celebrant (me) will be able to help them with other ideas closer to the time, and it’s always good to have some ideas, to discuss.
So all in all, lots has been happening, lots of bits and bobs have been bought, and as soon as the venue is finalised, we’ll all breathe a sigh of relief.
All you need is love and … a run down on wedding speeches.
Wedding speeches can scare the beejezus out of even the most confident person, and it can be the part of the wedding day that stresses people out the most.
There is a list of who traditionally performs speeches at a wedding, but this is really just a guideline and many couples choose to add extra people to the list, or lots of couples do away with the speeches altogether, knowing that sometimes people just want to get into their dinner and dessert and then the dancing part of the wedding. Fair enough I say.
Here’s a brief description of the traditional list of wedding speeches.
It is your Master of Ceremonies role (among others, see that list here The role of a Master of Ceremony) to seemlessly introduce the speech section of the evening, and to introduce each speaker, and then thank them afterwards.
Father of the bride – (or whoever gave the bride away, not always the father)
Welcomes and thanks the guests for coming.
Expresses how proud he and his wife, are of their daughter.
Welcomes the groom into the family.
Possibly shares one or two stories about the bride.
Shares words of wisdom and good wishes for the couple.
Proposes a toast to the couple.
Thanks his father-in-law for his kind words and the toast.
Thanks the brides parents for all their work raising the woman of his dreams (his new wife) and all their help with the wedding
Thanks the guests for coming and for the wedding gifts.
Acknowledges his best man for all his help, and any other helpers.
Acknowledges the bridesmaids, and thanks them for all their help with the wedding, and proposes a toast to them.
Adds to the comments about the bridesmaid, lamenting how great they look today.
Congratulates the groom, on his good fortune, in marrying his new wife.
Possibly shares a story about the bride and groom, maybe about how they met.
Reads any messages to the bride and groom, from guests that couldn’t make it. Traditionally this was in the form of telegrams, and letters, these days it’s most likely to be texts and/or emails.
There may be other guests that have asked before hand to speak, or who you would like to include. Make sure that you have a general idea of the content of their speech, and that you communicate to them how long they have to speak. I would not recommend the Master of Ceremony, ask if anyone else would like to speak, on the fly, it opens you up to Great Uncle Barry, who’s had one too many beersies ramble on, or say something inappropriate.
This is by no way an exhaustive list, and it is very common for couples to include mother of the bride/groom, the bride herself, and a bridesmaid/maid of honour.
Make sure all your speakers know their time limit, say 5 mins, so they can tailor their speech accordingly.
I would not recommend forcing any-one to speak if they absolutely loath public speaking, it will either cause stress for the person, possibly stress your relationship with the person and probably lead to a bad speech, better to address everyone before hand, asking them if they are comfortable doing so (don’t assume, they may not have even thought they had to speak)and if they are not comfortable, then ask someone else or not have them speak at all.
All you need is love and … The real life wedding of Conan and Lydia in Beijing, China.
In March 2016 Tristan (my husband) and I were invited to a wedding, nothing unusual about that really, except that the wedding was in Beijing, China. We received the informal invitation (from Conan and Lydia, good friends who now live in Australia) about a year out, which is generally the case for out of town (or out of country, in this case) weddings, so it gave us time to organise flights, accommodation, visas, extra spending money for shoes etc. We had no idea really what to expect, so just approached it with an open mind, and it was awesome, so completely different from a western wedding, and kinda nice to be at a wedding that I wasn’t officiating at.
Conan and Lydia have been gracious enough to share their story and of course the all important pictures of their day. Below is the information Conan supplied in his own words (kind of special to have a grooms perspective of the whole thing)
Names: Lydia and Conan
Venue: Hong Cai Fang (Chinese restaurant) Beijing
Wedding Dress: (see pictures as attached)
Photographer: Feng Zhiyuan (Lydia’s cousin)
Hair and Makeup: Meng Huan Jiu Jiu (wedding planner)
We were married in Beijing at Easter of 2016. Lydia’s parents live in Beijing and we live in Adelaide, South Australia, so they organised for the ceremony to be conducted through a local wedding planning company. With this in mind, I’ll share what little insight I might have from someone largely outside the actual organisation of the ceremony and also from a wedding where two different cultures met. Oh, just to be clear, I speak very little mandarin.
I come from a large kiwi family, but only one sibling (Kevin, my younger brother) could make it all the way to Beijing. We actually chose the date to coincide with his mid semester break. As it turns out this was Easter, which I imagined help the other four western guests, two of whom were Tristan and Angela Port. It took a bit of “to and fro” trying to get the right date, but it was important to us that Kevin, who was coming from New York, could attend both the wedding and the catch up in Hong Kong beforehand. Rather than just set the date and deal with who might be available, we were flexible and had everyone we’d wanted, come.
My (now) wife wore a red lace dress that we had made in Hong Kong a week and a half prior to the wedding. Red is the traditional colour for wedding dresses in Chinese culture. We had a few concept drawings with us when we arrived, courtesy of Kevin, who was studying fashion at the time. Rather than actually commissioning someone to make a dress to our design (which would have been amazing) we quickly adjusted to looking at dresses on offer in a similar style. We found a beautiful dress a size or two larger than was needed that would fit the bill.
The dress maker wanted to discount the floor model and adjust it to Lydia’s size, but we declined and asked that she construct a new dress from scratch, with a few changes that we requested. For those brides considering having a dress made, particularly overseas, I would advise you start from scratch, or you will forever be dealing with a flawed/compromised article. Pay a deposit and insist on multiple fittings. Don’t be pushed around by the dress maker, who will generally not be invested in how the final product is delivered. They are more concerned about throughput. Pay only when you are happy with your dress.
We also bought a metre or two of extra lace in the same pattern as the dress, just in case we have a daughter who wants to wear it someday and it needs to be adjusted, or sleeves added. I got a bit of flack for this idea, but felt vindicated when Kevin reckoned it was a cool and thoughtful move.
I wore a blue wool suit that I had made overseas and tailored back in Adelaide. I am built like a bulldog so also wore a bespoke shirt. I had planned to wear a linen suit and brown brogues, but the bride’s parents thought the shoes would have been too informal and requested black footwear. Lydia wore shoes we found in a mall in Sydney for the wedding ceremony and red flats that we spotted for $50 HKD (about $10 NZD) in a shoe store in Kowloon just after we’d picked up the dress. Between us, our wedding attire cost us maybe $1300 AUD. I wore black R M Williams boots that I’d had for years, but were essentially new.
The wedding ceremony didn’t involve a wedding party, so we had no need to concern ourselves with their attire, nor with choosing those that would fill the important roles. What it did include was a drink pouring tradition, immediately after the wedding ceremony, in which the new couple had to refill the cup of each guest in attendance. For this, my bride changed into a red and gold qipao (bought in Beijing) and the aforementioned flat shoes from Kowloon.
Ours was never going to be a typical western wedding. For starters, even though we were ready to depart for the venue at 9.50am, we had to wait until9.56am as six is an auspicious number. Likewise, we started our procession “down the aisle” at 10.58am, because eight is similarly lucky.
There was no separation of the bride and groom prior to the ceremony. I’d thought about spending the night at the guests’ hotel and getting ready apart from my bride, but it such move would only have complicated things in a country where it’s hard enough to get the simplest of things accomplished.
Shortly after we arrived at the venue on the wedding day we were whisked away to wait in a makeup room while the guests were seated and our celebrant belted out a few songs. I say belted, because though I wasn’t there, I heard that it was like a pop concert in both intensity and volume. My best friend, who would have otherwise been the Best Man, said it felt closer to a game show than a western wedding.
We’d met the celebrant for our wedding the evening before the event at the venue which was a large Chinese restaurant. He seemed charismatic but wore a polyester suit that was a size too small and had a noticeable food stain. I almost said to my (now) wife, “I hope he’s not going to be wearing that to our wedding”, but didn’t. He did.
I wish we’d done a sound check the night we met the celebrant and they were setting up the venue. The equipment guys were late getting there and it was a particularly cold night so we didn’t hang around. As we walked into the venue on the day, it was pretty clear that the microphone volume was way too loud (though probably normal for a Chinese wedding, I’m told). I asked that the volume be lowered as we started toward the stage, but of course, no one within earshot spoke English. That one’s on me. I definitely should have learnt more mandarin.
The two sentences of mandarin I did master, were used to thank the guests in attendance at the beginning of my wedding speech. I was both nervous and so relieved that I’d remembered the mandarin portion, that I hardly enjoyed the actual delivery of the English part. Having said that, sharing the content of my speech quietly, the night before with my bride-to-be was probably my favourite part of our whole wedding.
In some ways, I’m grateful for having so little input into our ceremony. What we got was an authentic modern Chinese (well, Beijing) experience, unlike anything our western guests had experienced. We didn’t spend a particularly large amount and recouped a lot of the cost in cash gifts, as is the Chinese custom. We saved our money for our honeymoon, in which we toured through Japan and South Korea, as well as a few days in Shanghai on our way “home” to Beijing.
The advice I’d have for couples planning their wedding, or even having a wedding planned for them, is to recognise where to spend your effort and where not to sweat the details. Lydia’s parents wanted a video shot of the entire day. I thought we’d never watch it and that we’d be better off with paying for still shots (I think they were the two mutually exclusive options offered by the wedding company in the package we chose). Ultimately I didn’t press the case for my preference as the video was more important to them, which I think belies different cultural values. We got great pictures from a relative with a decent DSLR camera as it turns out. In years to come, I’ll probably find I was wrong on the value of the video anyway.
Further, it was liberating to realise the details I would have been fretting over in Australia or New Zealand were (at best) trivial in China. For example, we had juice in tetra-paks on each guest table. When I first saw them, I assumed they’d be decanted into a carafe, but in their tetra-paks they stayed. And nobody cared. The focus, of course, was on the couple and then on the traditional drink pouring that followed the ceremony. Each guest temporarily became the centre of attention as we moved through the tables, making sure that each had a drink and that their cup was refilled. You soon realise that the day isn’t about getting the details right, it’s about not caring and enjoying your time with the friends and family sharing the day.
After the wedding ceremony itself, it is local (Beijing) tradition to have a dinner with close friends and family. In our case, the dinner was attended mainly by our western guests and friends of the brides’ father. The meal was a great fun and probably came closest to the western norm, with the customary Beijing alcohol alleviating any language barriers.
Though I would have preferred to have stayed somewhere separate, it’s local custom that the bride and groom spend their first night in the family house. Similarly, a local tradition is carried out after the wedding in the hope that the first offspring is a boy-child.
The bride’s family make a batch of dumplings the day of the ceremony, including one particular dumpling, filled only with dough in the shape of a, um… bean. When the newly wed couple sit down to the meal, the groom asks his bride if the dumplings are cooked or uncooked as she bites into the “bean shaped” dumpling: “Sheung bu sheung?.” The bride replies: “Sheung!” complaining that the dumpling is uncooked and the tradition is complete.
This was our wedding. Far from the western norm, not without a few hiccups, but entirely enjoyed and attended by our closest friends after a great time in Hong Kong together.
As a guest at the wedding, it was a little hard to understand exactly what was going on, purely bacause of the language barrier, (there were only 6 of us who didn’t understand/speak mandarin, including the groom), but in saying that Tim (Conan’s best friend commented to me that he noticed that I teared up a little during the ceremony, so even though I didn’t really know what was being said, it still absolutely touched me)
The food at the wedding was insane, we had sampled quite a bit of Chinese food already while we were in Hong Kong and Beijing (dumplings and my favourite Peking Duck) but the food at the reception after the ceremony was completely out of control. The food just kept coming, there was everything you could imagine, so much so that it didn’t all fit on the table, and was stacked three plates high in the middle, it’s fair to say that we as well as the rest of the guest were very well fed. Mirroring a western wedding I’m not sure whether the bride and groom actually ate anything, they were so busy greeting and pouring drinks for all their guests.
I would like to say a huge congratulations to Conan and Lydia on their marriage. It was an absolute honour to be a part of your special day. I would like to say a big thank you to both Lydia and Lydia’s parents who went above and beyond to make sure we had a great time in Beijing (even though they didn’t speak a word of English, they were completely welcoming) and a big thank you to Tim (for providing pure entertainment just by being a 6ft6 tall blonde in China) and Erin (for being my partner in crime for helping scope out non-squatting toilets, and being the tour guide) and Kevin (who provided humour and an insight into life in New York City), who we got to spend time with in both Hong Kong and Beijing, it was a real treat to explore different countries and knock some stuff off the bucket list with (the Great Wall).