The Kiwi summer is easily the busiest time of year for engagements and weddings. But what if you don't fancy getting hitched at home? Destination weddings are a growing trend, allowing brides and grooms-to-be to combine their big day with a fun getaway with their closest friends and family - or perhaps the chance to sneak away and avoid the drama that can come with planning a wedding completely. These idyllic destinations can cater to any type of ceremony, whether you're after an all-inclusive package, or the chance to do your own thing.
Many resorts have wedding coordinators on staff, who can advise you on the legal requirements of your ceremony to ensure your marriage is recognised once the honeymoon is over, but like all weddings, it pays to do your research if you are planning to get hitched overseas. So be sure to contact the local registry office to confirm what paperwork you need and the how much time you need to allow for it to be processed.
Here are some of the top picks for destination weddings.
Not only is Tahiti the ideal location for a picture-perfect wedding, but a change to regulations a few years ago has seen a flurry of wedding chapels popping up at resorts. From Bora Bora's Le Meridien, St Regis and Four Seasons resorts, beachside nuptials are becoming increasingly popular - especially between June and August. If you want to completely surprise your guests, think about saying "I do" under the island's stunning, clear ocean. Bora Bora Underwater Weddings combine traditional Tahitian customs - local musicians, a Tahitian priest and arriving at the ceremony by outrigger canoe - with the unforgettable experience of being 4m under the sea. Be warned though, these weddings are not legally recognised.
Regardless of whether the bride wears a white dress or a white wetsuit, remember that the pre-wedding process will take a bit of time in Tahiti, as much of your paperwork will need to be translated into the island's official language, French. Many resorts can provide wedding planners who can help guide you through the process, however.
Of course, the pearly white beaches of Fiji would make a stunning backdrop for any big day, and there are a number of options from the oh-so-private Castaway Island, to the elegance of the Fiji Beach Resort and Spa by Hilton, on the main island of Denarau. And you can always skip the beach if you don't fancy the feeling of sand between your toes as you walk down the aisle. Take in the views with a ceremony high up at a mountain top villa, or make your vows deep within the Savusavu rainforest, near the Koro Sun Resort. The resort's wedding planner can help arrange all the little details, including a Fijian choir to serenade you and your new spouse, a kava ceremony and bridal escort of traditional Fijian warriors, ensuring almost all you have to worry about is catching your flight.
Whether you want to visit the main island of Rarotonga, or the smaller island, Aitutaki, there is an overwhelming number of gorgeous locations to do the deed. From standing barefoot on a secluded beach at Te Manava resort as ukulele players perform, exchanging promises in a tiny island church, surrounded by gospel singers right through to a luxury reception for two under the stars at the Aitutaki Lagoon Resort and Spa, there is something to suit every budget and timeframe. You can even hire your own nightclub at The Rarotongan Beach Resort and Spa, to party the night away if that's your thing.
Just off the coast of Queensland, these Aussie islands are perfect for a mid-winter wedding getaway, when the average temperature is still a warm 24C. And with 74 individual islands making up the Whitsundays, it's easy to get married on one island, and honeymoon on another.
When it comes to getting to your ceremony, why walk when you can arrive by sea plane? For total privacy, the team at Air Whitsunday can fly just the two of you and your celebrant to a secluded spot, before showing off some stunning views of the Great Barrier Reef. Or, if you have your sea legs, Providence Sailing offers private charters for bigger groups pre and post ceremony, on their beautiful 19m boat.
For useful information about getting married overseas visit dia.govt.nz