Congratulations – your engaged! Now what? 

So the love of your life, partner in crime, other half, soul mate popped the question and you said YES!

The giddy excitement of being able to do life with your Number 1 is now a vast landscape  of planning, organising and making decisions
around how you will actually tie the knot. It’s no secret that couples fall into one of two camps when it comes to putting together their big day.
For some the research of potential wedding vendors, establishing the budget, attending wedding fairs, creating a Pinterest board full of ideas that change almost daily, listening to friends and family is an exciting and busy time that they absolutely thrive on. But for some couples, the whole process is an overwhelming, stressful time that for some takes all the joy out of their big day.

Having performed in excess of four hundred weddings since my appointment as an independant marriage celebrant here in New Zealand has allowed me to pick up a few tricks and hints along the way. And while I am certainly no expert or wedding planner – I have had the honour of numerous couples sharing their wedding planning journey with me.

So where do you actually begin? The following are the most commonly booked by couples once a date has been set.

  • Wedding Venue
    The wedding venue is for most couples the first thing they book as this sets the tone for many of their wedding day. Rustic barns, established gardens, vineyards, beachfront pavilions, hotel function rooms, multi purpose venues are all popular venue options – it’s important to consider if the venue is also able to host your wedding reception post ceremony if your having one, or will you need to book an separate venue for this at an additional cost? Take time to visit different venues, speak with the owners about what’s included in their packages  – do they offer a set up service, staff to serve drinks and nibbles post ceremony?  Read their reviews from other couples on social media such as Facebook and Instagram – this is one of the best ways to find out if the venue delivers what it promises. Most venues will require a deposit to secure the date so allow for this in your budget.
  • Marriage Celebrant
    The person you choose to host when it comes your ceremony on your wedding day is a big one.  There are a number of ways to go about finding the right person who will make it official for you as a couple, and also sets the vibe and tone for the rest of your day. A good ceremony should be all about you as a couple – light hearted, full of love and a few laughs – and most importantly leave you both feeling on top of the world as a newly married couple when you walk back down the aisle!
    Good celebrants are like photographers and venues. The reputable and popular ones are booked 1-2 years in advance, so once you find the right person for you – book immediately.Not sure what makes a good celebrant?
  • Births, Deaths and Marriages website allows you to search by region
  • Talk to friends and family, other wedding vendors for recommendations, google local celebrants to your wedding venue and look at their social media pages.
  • Are they smiling, is it clear that they love what they do?
  • Are they well presented, take the time to read their online reviews – other couples experiences are always a good starting point.
  • Is their website professional and contain all the information about their services are and what’s included?
    Once you have your short list – get in contact with your preferred marriage celebrants and make a time to chat. It will become clear very quickly if they are the right fit for you as a couple – make sure you ask about their processes,  do they charge a deposit, have they explained the legal requirements – don’t be afraid to ask questions!
    Finally – if you can, don’t make a decision based on price. Professional and experienced celebrants bring with them a wealth of knowledge, the ability to handle situations should they arise before or on the day where the ceremony is concerned, and will be able to lead the ceremony in a calm and organised manner ensuring you enjoy every second.
  • Photographer
    Wedding photography is a huge industry with so many options for couples now – research is definitely required. The great thing about wedding photography is that as a visual service, you have the ability to view their work before making a decision about whether they are the right person to capture your memories of one of the most important days in your lives together. Popular wedding photographers are always in demand, so once you have a short list – get in contact and make a time to meet them. The service they offer means you will need to feel comfortable with the person in a variety of situations – from hair and makeup, getting dressed, the ceremony, post ceremony bridal party photos and then the wedding reception. Personality is key and the vibe of a photographer is important to make sure you get the photos you want. Create a Pinterest board of photos you love the style of and share it with your photographer so they get a clear idea of how you want your day captured. Make sure you obtain a contract from them if possible – deposits, wedding day time frames, inclusions and delivery time frames are all important details you need to have established from the beginning.


Planning your special day can be a huge process, but if you can make decisions around your wedding venue, marriage celebrant and wedding photographer – then the process just became a little easier, and more enjoyable!