Traditional weddings and sit-down receptions may soon be a thing of the past as more Kiwi couples get married at low-key festival-style gatherings or opt for "pop-up" ceremonies.

Weekday celebrations and smaller guest lists are also becoming increasingly popular, several experts in the industry told the Herald on Sunday, likely because of the high costs of large receptions and the increasing variety of venues and packages on offer.

And in another development set to horrify traditionalists, a growing number of newlyweds are opting for donut walls over wedding cakes.

Celebrant Emma Giddey said during her five years in the industry she'd noticed more couples having smaller and more personalised weddings. Some hold their nuptials in a backyard and others have food truck dinners or "bring a plate" receptions.


"I think people are having a bit of freedom to choose what they actually want and what's probably going to be cheaper," she said.

"What people actually remember from a wedding is where it seems like the people are being themselves and look comfortable and relaxed and not kind of putting on a show."

Chris Dillon, photographer and founder of wedding planning and offers website The Bridal Club, said clients were now often putting more emphasis on the ceremony than the reception, less non-religious people were getting married in churches and more were using "alternative" venues that meant something to them.

That included forests and beaches.

Another increasing trend, he said, was having a donut wall instead of a cake.

Newmarket-based boutique cakery Sugarcoated run by Tina Kapp-Kailea had recently launched a line of custom-made glazed donuts that could be artfully attached to a wall using wooden pegs.

Dillon said he expected the colourful creations to be popular at weddings this spring and summer.

"Donut walls" like this one by Tina Kapp-Kailea of Glazed by Sugarcoated in Newmarket, Auckland, are set to be a popular alternative to cakes this wedding season, says The Bridal Club's Chris Dillon.

Meanwhile, Gracehill Vineyard Estate - a popular wedding venue in Kumeu, west Auckland - started offering "pop-up" wedding packages about a year ago to cater to those who wanted a guest list of about 10 to 30 people and had a lower budget.


"Most places wouldn't look at you if you had that small numbers," owner Robin Roodt told the Herald on Sunday.

Although the venue has a capacity for much larger weddings, Roodt didn't want to exclude people with smaller guest lists and so came up with a concept where couples could book a two and a half hour wedding on weekdays or some winter weekends.

"You come to the venue, you have the ceremony for half an hour and then you have two hours of champagne, bubbles, canapes, beers," he said.

The model meant that Gracehill Vineyard Estate could host up to three small weddings a day and couples could rent the 5 acre site for upward of $1100.

"It's dirt cheap. It's $600 venue hire and $50 per adult guest and there's a minimum spend of 10 guests," Roodt said.

The venue had hosted about eight pop-up weddings so far and had another "six or seven" booked in.

Auckland-based Inna and Kelly Goodwin tied the knot in a pop-up wedding at Gracehill in front of 11 close family members on September 8.

"We only invited the nearest and dearest - parents and siblings," Inna told the Herald on Sunday.

Inna Goodwin (centre left) and her wife Kelly Goodwin with their 11 guests at their
Inna Goodwin (centre left) and her wife Kelly Goodwin with their 11 guests at their "pop-up" wedding at Gracehill Vineyard Estate on September 8. Photo / Supplied by Inna Goodwin

She and her wife had been engaged for seven years but previously put off getting married because traditional weddings were too expensive, their guest list was too long and they wanted to spend their money on holidays and were saving for a house.

They opted for a pop-up wedding because it was easy to manage and allowed them to have the "good bits" of a traditional wedding - ceremony, cutting the cake, first dance, drinks and food - without paying for all the extras.

Another Aucklander, Tamarin Vermeer, set up venue listing website Backyard Weddings in 2016 after she struggled to find a suitable, unique venue for her own wedding.

About 60 venues had signed up to use her service, which was similar to Airbnb, connecting owners of private lifestyle properties with engaged couples who were interested in hiring their property for their wedding.

One venue had booked eight weddings in the last two months.

"[People] want something that's unique and reflects them. Backyard weddings mean that they can customise it and make it their own."