Ten tips on how to create a wonderful wedding

By Sophia Hoadley

Leading Waiheke wedding planner Sophia Hoadley shares her ideas on how to ensure your big day is both stylish and unique to you.

Finding the dream location is a priority on this list of 10. Photo / Supplied
Finding the dream location is a priority on this list of 10. Photo / Supplied

Your wedding is a time to bring the magic of love; family, friends, ritual and a good party together and really celebrate! I can't get enough of them, and one of the greatest pleasures for me is bringing to life the unique and personalised style of each couple. Here are some of my favourite tips especially for you.

1. Discovering that dream location

Go for outdoor settings wherever possible. Maximise on our beautiful scenery, but be prepared for bad weather. Booking a luxury private property will give you something different. Platinum Hire's range of VIP glass walled marquees take outdoor events to the next level. They make remote cliff top locations and beachfront hideaways accessible in any season. One standout wedding this summer was set in a local barn in a woodland glade. The rustic-chic theme included wild flowers, scattered picnic blankets, a petanque area and outdoor festoon lighting. Swoon.

2. Written with love

I can't get enough of beautiful stationery. Letterpress is a style that's stood the test of time, often described as printing with heart. Bringing beautifully crafted stationery into your wedding will say a lot about your style. Made-to order invitations, place cards, menus and seating plans tied in with a whimsical design will really stand out on the day.

3. Embellishments to enhance

Start with how you want your guests to feel and style from there. Bring an evening to life with the glow of fairy lights, strung festoons and lanterns. I love browsing through La Lumiere's range and adorning venues with their lights. It's about creating the mood, so nothing too bright. Fairy lights laced through any prominent trees are a must. No matter the theme, the day's success lies in doing something that really reflects you as a couple.

4. Get creative with hand-craft

Try DIY paper decor, photo booths with fun cut out masks and vintage eyewear. Hand-made preserves, or baked goods are such a treat to receive, and don't forget the labels. Create your own personalised monogram and have it stamped. Modern classic style interspersed with vintage or handcrafted can create such a welcoming atmosphere.

5. Fresh flowers and lots of them

Embrace abundance, allow your reception to overflow with beauty from every angle. Tie in colour with petal aisles and scattered blooms on tables. Think outside the box with succulents, lemons, artichokes and fresh rosemary. Fragrant herbs in vintage pots are a winner and an easy take home gift for guests.

6. Eat, drink and be married

Consider alternatives to the three-course sit-down meal - perhaps long tables covered in gourmet platters, or a cocktail menu where guests graze on canapes. Look at creating a wedding lounge to relax in for a more informal feel. I always encourage couples to bring an element of surprise into their wedding, something unique and fun that speaks to them.

Consider a dish from a country of origin, or a fun arrival cocktail like jam jar mojitos. On Waiheke I like to include the local gelato cart, woodfired pizza stall or gourmet French crepes for something a little different. These are ideal catering options for post-wedding gatherings.

7. Putting it all together

You have your family and friends but there is never anyone quite like a wedding co-ordinator. When selecting someone to help organise your day, always meet them first and go with someone you're comfortable with and happy to include in your wedding day. Best to choose someone local to your destination. Check their portfolio to make sure they will understand your style and preferences. These people are the gel for the whole event, handling the unexpected, offering unlimited advice and will minimise the stress and maximise the fun.

8. Photographers

You cannot get a better documentation from your wedding. Hiring in a professional and trusted photographer should be a priority on any budget. Make sure it is someone you feel relaxed around. Get creative or even theatrical with your wedding shoot and consider booking in an engagement session. These can be loads of fun and are a sweet way to capture the love.

9. Entertainment

We all love a good dance at a wedding and you can't beat live music. Hiring a band is worth some research; make sure to check their repertoire. Arrival impressions last, so having a well thought out playlist or string quartet playing when guests arrive will set the scene for a romantic evening. Have some fun; consider your favourite alternative/rock tune for the ceremony. Let's not forget the classics, some Frank Sinatra jazz will always go down well.

10. The details make the difference

Personalise wherever you can. Consider your guests with ceremony fans, pretty parasols, fun arrival cocktails and a guest notes area. Supply a basket of white pashmina shawls for cooler evenings and fragrant candles to scent the room. I'm an eco-chic wedding enthusiast, always looking at ways to incorporate a "shade of green". Consider using local or organic produce, nominate a charity on your registry, or have a native tree planted.

Address book:

* Sophia Hoadley

* Letterpress printing - Magpie Press

* Photography - Vela Images / Shine Studios

* Florist - Wallflower

* Marquees - Platinum Hire

* Lighting - La Lumiere

- NZ Herald

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