Big day for couples is also big business

By Amy Shanks

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BUSY: Rhonda Claypole and Tanya Koens, of Flowers by Tanya, have been flat out filling orders for weddings during Hawke's Bay's peak season.
BUSY: Rhonda Claypole and Tanya Koens, of Flowers by Tanya, have been flat out filling orders for weddings during Hawke's Bay's peak season.

Hawke's Bay's wedding season is in full swing, with at least five couples getting hitched throughout the region yesterday and another cluster today.

It's good news for those working behind the scenes - from photographers to make-up artists, caterers, florists and marriage celebrants.

The region's climate, stunning scenery and a range of venue options attracted up to 700 couples, most of whom choose the typically busy period from October to April.

"It's been flat out with weddings ... I have had one a week for the past three weeks, there are loads, and still a huge amount of enquiry about Hawke's Bay," Hawke's Bay Weddings and Events manager Barb Jenkinson said.

"We have about 600 to 700 weddings here a year - that's 26 weekends with an average of four a weekend - it's pretty full on."

Ms Jenkinson recently signed two new venues to her website, including Mana Lodge, the late Sir Paul Holmes' treasured Hawke's Bay estate, which wife Lady Deborah now runs as a bed and breakfast, with facilities for special events.

"Already she's fully booked for 2014 and into 2015," Ms Jenkinson said.

Greenhill Lodge was another addition gaining plenty of attention since advertising wedding services about three months ago.

"People have been enquiring very heavily, we took over Greenhill about 18 months ago ... there are bookings for next January as people tend to book about 14 months ahead," owner John Dick said.

Millhills Lodge was steady, catering to a more boutique market. "We also have accommodation and like the idea of a small family wedding, then having them to stay so we can really take care of everyone."

Mission Estate Winery, The Old Church, Craggy Range, Black Barn Vineyards and the War Memorial were also popular options.

Florists too had seen a huge boost in brides sending enquiries in preparation for their big day and are keeping busy with continuous bookings this month.

"It's a constant thing, we have been very busy with enquiries now and also looking ahead into April, there's a lot more activity this year," Richie Davies said.

Zinnia Floral design noticed a change in trend from structured bouquets to a more "picked from the garden" look and were filling wedding orders most weekends during summer, reflecting an overall rise in people choosing Hawke's Bay as a destination.

"More people are coming here in general I think," Zinnia co-owner Natalie McKenzie said.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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