Celebrity couples tie the knot at local lavish weddings, but commoners are increasingly ditching tradition to elope overseas.

Infinity Holidays product manager Melissa Bramley said there had been a significant spike in "destination weddings".

Bramley said the pressure of organising a large, expensive wedding and inviting extended family made eloping an attractive option.

She said marrying overseas also worked as a combined honeymoon, and a holiday for guests.


"People choose to have a destination [wedding] because you can get such great photography and it can be a lot more cost-effective than having it in New Zealand," Bramley said.

She said most resort wedding packages also included a wedding planner which took the stress out of the special day.

Rarotonga was the most sought-after destination, followed by Thailand, Fiji, Samoa and Tahiti.

A Cook Islands Ministry of Justice spokeswoman said more than 900 Kiwis had tied the knot in the Cook Islands since 2010. Rarotonga's Edgewater Resort wedding co-ordinator Julie Parry said it hosted 140 weddings last year.

"About 90 per cent were Kiwis and 10 per cent Australians," she said.

Meanwhile, celebrities are choosing to splash their cash at glamorous local venues, including The Wharf in Auckland and Puketutu Island.

The Herald on Sunday understands Keisha Castle-Hughes will marry her fiance Jonathan Morrison on Puketutu Island in February. Radio DJ Jay Reeve and model Anna Fitzpatrick will also tie the knot in summer.

The Wharf spokeswoman Anne Wentworth confirmed they were expecting "one or two" celebrity weddings next year. She would not reveal who had booked their wedding at the popular Northcote location.

The Wharf became a hit with celebrities after Dominic Bowden and Claire Robbie's glamorous celebration in 2008.

New Zealand's Got Talent host Tamati Coffey was the latest star guest to marry his beau Tim Smith at The Wharf.

Family and a few friends

Melanie and Darren Griffen aren't ones to make a fuss.

So when Darren, 38, proposed, they knew a big traditional white wedding with 100 guests was out of the picture.

Instead, the couple eloped to Aitutaki Island with their parents, siblings and a handful of close friends.

They were among 400 Kiwi couples to tie the knot in the Cook Islands last year.

Melanie admitted the thought of inviting relatives she had met once 10 years ago was not her idea of a perfect day.

"When you are paying all this money for a wedding you want the people closest to you there," said Griffin, 33. The couple put out an open invitation to everyone they knew and 33 guests joined them on the island.

On their return, they had a party for those who couldn't make it.

Melanie said eloping also eliminated stress as she put everything in the hands of experienced wedding planners.

"I went for a 9km walk on the morning of my wedding and had a few glasses of bubbly. There was not one hiccup.

"There will always be people disappointed and people who don't understand, but if you base your wedding on what suits others then you are starting a marriage based on other people."