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My top 5 Tips for planning a New Zealand wedding from overseas

Overseas couple of their weddingday in the Wairarapa

Are you planning a New zealand wedding from overseas? Then you know that for the past two and a half years, New Zealand has pretty much been living in a self-contained bubble, with very few people in or out of the country – which has meant a lot of people living overseas have had to put their dream New Zealand wedding on hold. But that all changed recently with the announcement that our borders were opening up again, and will be fully open before the spring/summer N

Are you living overseas, and dreaming of the perfect New Zealand wedding? I’ve got great news for you – because your dreams are finally able to come true! To get you even more excited, I’m sharing my top five tips to help you plan your dream New Zealand wedding from afar. 

1. Get in early when planning a New Zealand wedding from overseas 
New Zealand is a small place, with a lot of small industries – and that includes the New Zealand wedding industry! Vendors and suppliers tend to book up fast – and with so many couples having to postpone their wedding due to COVID, there’s a backlog of weddings that have had to be rescheduled and rebooked, putting even more pressure on the small network of wedding suppliers. I was recently talking with a colleague who runs a local wedding venue, and she said that almost all upcoming weekends in the 2022/2023 wedding season are nearly completely booked out – and even their 2023/2024 weekends are booking up quickly, well in advance!

 Do you have your heart set on a specific location or wedding vendor? If you do, I’d recommend speaking to them as soon as you have a date in mind for your New Zealand wedding.

 2. Find a trusted New Zealand-based friend and use them!
Well, don’t use them – but having someone on the ground in New Zealand as your wedding correspondent when you’re planning your wedding from overseas is incredibly helpful. They can help check out locations, check in with suppliers, and get hands-on with the wedding planning when there are parts you just can’t do from afar. 

Take it from my husband and I! We were living in Scotland at the time, and planning our dream New Zealand wedding – so I enlisted one of my wonderful bridesmaids (thank you Jess!) to be my handy helper. She’d give us video tours of the venue options, give opinions on fabric choices, and (the best part) – selflessly helped us out by trying different cake options. 

3. Zoom is your friend when planning a New Zealand wedding from overseas 
This leads me on to my next tip for planning your New Zealand wedding from across the globe – make the most of Zoom and Facetime! So much of a wedding is visual, and it can be hard to get the full experience of the different options through email and text. 

Having someone take you on a real-time virtual tour makes a huge difference – you can ask questions and make decisions on the spot, and cover a lot more ground in a 30 minute video chat than in 100+ emails (not to mention so much of the nuance of conversation is lost in an email!). You can be yourself, ask your suppliers questions to your heart’s content, and really get to know the people who are making your wedding a reality, rather than trying to get to know them over email.

4. We do some things differently here so don’t be afraid to ask questions (and be prepared to be a little flexible)
I’ve worked in the New Zealand wedding industry and the UK wedding industry – and while there are some similarities, there are also plenty of differences. Aotearoa is quite unique in how we do weddings – from our slightly more relaxed dress code (hello to dress shorts and sundresses in summer) to smaller numbers in our bridal parties.

The timing of the day here is also a little different in New Zealand. We tend to have a larger gap between the ceremony and reception (prime time for drinks and nibbles!), and whilst most of our weddings run late into the night, we tend to round up the night with cake and a cuppa, rather than a full supper. (PS. I’ve got a handy guide to the typical New Zealand wedding timings here to help you out with your planning!)

If you’re planning your New Zealand wedding from overseas, I’d highly recommend asking your caterers and photographer for a suggested run sheet, and get them to explain what to expect. Don’t stress though – if you want to do things a little differently, we’re super flexible, so just ask!

5. when planning a New Zealand wedding from overseas do the legal bit before the day!
This one is mainly for the couples who aren’t New Zealanders, and are booking in their New Zealand wedding as a destination wedding. There’s something so exciting about tying the knot in another country – but it’s important to remember that marriage licences can differ from place to place (just ask Jerry Hall)! Take some time to do a bit of research, and figure out all the legal bits and pieces if it applies to you, no make sure your marriage will still be legally recognised in your home country. 

Bonus tip: Ask for recommendations
I know I promised just five tips – but as they say, under-promise and over-deliver! Here’s my bonus tip. It can be hard to know which vendors are good and which ones to avoid (this is the case in any industry, anywhere in the world!) and this can be doubly hard when you are not familiar with the local companies. Most wedding vendors have a list of other wedding companies they regularly work with, and can recommend their trustworthy favourites – so if you connect well with one of your vendors, don’t hesitate to ask who they love working alongside. Your venue is always a great place to start for recommendations!

As always, don’t forget to check out my Facebook page to see what I’ve been up to lately, and pop along to my website here if you want to know more about my wedding photography. You can always flick me a message or email too, if you’re looking for recommendations on local vendors!

Otherwise, keep scrolling for a little bit of inspo from one of my recent weddings with a couple from overseas!