I was out walking today in the stunning sun down in Central Otago. Not a cloud in the sky and surprisingly warm for this time of year. I walked past "The Secret Garden" at Millbrook where I am marrying a lovely couple this Saturday. I am hoping that the day is as stunning as it istoday. This set me to thinking about the various locations I've married couples over the last couple of years.
Increasingly, many people choose to marry outside. I usually marry couples in either Central Otago or Wellington - a slightly odd combination but an outcome of where we divide our time. In Central Otago, I've married couples up mountains, in private homes, by lakes, at vineyards, at the stunning Millbrook resort, the wonderful Thurlby Domain and in the Queenstown gardens. In Wellington, I've married couples at Zealandia, the historic Christ Church in Taita and specialist wedding venues in the city, the Wairarapa and the Kapiti Coast. Over the next few months I'll marry couples in many of these same places but also some new ones. It is always fascinating to see how couples select their venue and then enhance it for their day.
So what are the things you should think about in selecting your venue? What does your venue look like in your mind? Is it formal or informal? Are you looking for a stunning natural backdrop? Perhaps a really casual family oriented environment? A place that is really special to you both? Somewhere with strong family links? A destination for all your guests to enjoy? Couples have given me all of these answers when we've discussed their venue. It often provides the starting point for determining what their perfect ceremony looks like. A casual outdoor setting needs a ceremony that complements it. A very formal venue may have quite a different type of ceremony.
A few pointers. Think about what the venue will be like in all weathers. As I've said in earlier blogs, you can't plan for the weather! We were married on the 29th July in Wellington and, against all odds, it was 18 degrees and I was somewhat hot in a velvet dress and wrap! Equally, it can be very cool or wet in mid summer. So, if you really hope for an outdoor wedding, have a Plan B! Tell guests about what the conditions could be like. If it could be really cool, get them to wear coats/wraps that they can take off for the reception. Even a rug might be a great idea. Think of footwear too. If you are on ground that isn't that flat, heels might also need to be saved for the reception. Equally, if there isn't protection from the sun, getting them to bring a lovely hat to protect themselves with is also a good idea.
Depending on where you want to marry, you might have an audience. It is almost guaranteed that you will have one if you marry in a public space. Make sure you contact the local authority for a public venue to ensure you have reserved your space. Most charge only a very modest fee for this service. Even up a mountain you might have people close by. At a wedding last year, a family arrived for a special "lunch with a view" and set up not far away from the designated wedding venue. They were very kind and refrained from talking whilst the ceremony went on some distance away and a toast was shared afterwards.
Don't forget to discuss your venue plans with your photographer too. If you want a particular "look", make sure that the venue will accommodate that. Will the features you want in the background be visible in the photos? It might only be a matter of a slight shift closer to or away from the trees. It might also mean that the "look" is better obtained with post-ceremony shots up the mountain or in a wild landscape. Think too about size and scale. An outdoor location might mean that some adornments that you really like will be "lost" in the scale of the setting. Flowers, for example, need to be substantive in an outdoor setting. Small and dainty might not work. More on that in a future blog.