Luxury Adventures are conducting a series of interviews with some of our key suppliers looking at the different aspects of their lives and how these influence the experiences they offer. Minetta from The Wedding Company arranges intimate weddings in New Zealand, predominately in the South Island.
Why should people choose New Zealand as a wedding destination – what does it offer in your opinion? Aside from the spectacular scenery we have on offer here as well as world-class photographers and wedding venues etc New Zealand is a really easy place to get married. It only takes 3 working days to have a New Zealand Marriage License processed and because we are able to apply for one on our clients behalf this effectively waives the processing time. Couples can arrive in New Zealand for example on a Monday, appear in person at the Registrar of Marriages Office where their marriage license application was filed, make the required statutory declaration to complete the application, uplift their marriage documents and then get married that same day if they wish. Its that easy. New Zealand Marriage documents are recognised worldwide and we can organise any additional authentication or verification of their New Zealand Marriage documents should this be required so the documents can be used as proof of marriage in the couples home country. Countries like Germany and Holland will require an Apostille and countries like China or Russia with require that the documents are authenticated by the relevant Embassy or Consulate-General here in New Zealand.
What does your organisational process entail – what do and don’t your organise? The Wedding Company arranges weddings in New Zealand for couples from around the globe and I specialise in weddings for just the Bride & Groom only who have chosen New Zealand for their destination wedding. Occasionally my clients will have a small number of friends and family with them but the vast majority of weddings I arrange are just for the Bride & Groom. Couples normally contact me via my website and choose one of my Wedding Packages. These include the “must haves” for a wedding at the particular venue or location that the couple have chosen. Couples can also choose a Wedding Package that already includes a Photographer, Hair & Make-up and Flowers or they can make their own selection from a list of additional services. The must haves are always:
– Arrangement of the Legal Documentation
– Marriage Celebrant
– Two Witnesses
– Hire of the Church or Chapel where they have chosen to marry
– Helicopter Flight to a Mountaintop or Glacier for their wedding ceremony
– Boat Charter to a Beach or Island for their wedding ceremony.
Talk to us about your most popular or requested options? At the moment Heli-Weddings are super popular and are a fantastic option for couples wanting the spectacular views and scenery that comes with the elevation. Shuttling a big group of people by helicopter to a mountaintop for a wedding ceremony would be outside of most peoples budget so this is really unique to weddings that involve a small group of people.
Whats has been your most spectacular wedding and how did it go off? One that stands out was in March 2011. The couple were English living in Australia and got married at the stunning Chapel by the Lake overlooking Lake Hayes, near Queenstown. It was just the two of them, no guests. The main reason this stands out is that the photos from this wedding were amazing. An absolutely beautiful bride, the groom in uniform and all the little details were just perfect. The couple were supposed to fly by helicopter to Cecil Peak after their ceremony for a photo shoot but due to the weather they flew to Mt Creighton instead which overlooks Lake Luna with spectacular views towards Lake Wakatipu. The photos that resulted (by Alpine Image Co who are based in Wanaka) are some of the most beautiful wedding photos I have ever seen. The clouds were incredible that day from the remains of a storm the day before, and made for some breath-taking vistas… and there was just the right amount of wind to help the brides veil blow dramatically in the breeze. This wedding to me is the perfect example of everything coming together on the day including the weather which is the one thing you just can’t control or pre-order. You can view some of the images in this heli wedding blog:
Where is your most popular destination and what are the reasons for this? My most popular destination is Queenstown. The scenery is fantastic of course and I think because it is a resort town you many of the benefits that normally only come with a bigger city. There are lots and lots of amazing wedding venues, places to fly for heli-weddings (the Remarkables and Cecil Peak for example), great restaurants, an excellent selection of accommodation and its also a place where couples can stay on and honeymoon after their wedding and enjoy all the activities that Queenstown has to offer.
This is a how long is a piece of string question but how much will people spend on a wedding with you generally, what is the range? NZD$2500.00 to NZD$15,000 with the average being around NZD$7000.00. Further information on travel budgets and general costs once you arrived can be found in our travel budgets blog.
Tell me about some of your more unusual wedding locations or requests? I’ve organised a few bungy weddings over the years where couples have had the main part of their ceremony on Kawarau Bridge and have said their “I do’s” while Tandem Bungying from Kawarau Bridge.
People tend to focus on the physical aspects of their weddings, but are there any hidden pitfalls such as legalities they should be aware of? Some nationalities like the Philippines will require a Visa to visit New Zealand and making definite wedding plans can be really difficult until this has been issued. Planning a Catholic ceremony here in New Zealand also requires quite a bit of fore-thought and pre-planning as you cannot really do this at the last minute. You need to allow at least 6 months to complete the required paperwork and other requirements for a Catholic wedding.
Can you offer us a few tips regarding the big day? Since most of the weddings I arrange are outdoors its really important that couples have a good back-up plan that they are happy and comfortable with. New Zealand’s weather is famous for being four seasons in one day so being prepared, relaxed and flexible can go a long way to reducing stress when the weather is not playing ball.
How about weddings for different cultures or denominations, do you offer this along with multi lingual celebrants? Catholic wedding ceremonies are available at a number of the venues I offer. Multi lingual celebrants are also available but this is usually considered on a case by case basis as if the ceremony is conducted in another language then the two witnesses also need to understand the language being spoken.
We know couples are choosing to get married at home, then enjoy a South Pacific Honeymoon and having their wedding photos taken in NZ is that something you are involved in? No but lots of the photographers I work with are involved in offering these kind of pre or post wedding photo shoots. These are especially popular with Asian couples.
Which countries do you find most of your customers are originating from? Australia, UK, USA, China, Canada + a variety of European Countries – Holland, Germany, France, Italy etc.
Is there a set period of time you have to be in NZ prior to the ceremony? It is actually really hassle-free to get married in New Zealand for most couples. Because I am able to apply for the couples marriage licence on their behalf before they arrive in New Zealand this waives the normal 3 business day processing time if a couple were filing a marriage license application themselves after arriving in New Zealand. The only requirement is that they allow time on a weekday during normal business hours of 9.00am to 5.00pm to appear at at the Registrar of Marriages Office where their marriage license application was filed to make what is called a statutory declaration and to uplift their marriage documents. They could effectively get married that same day if they wished.
Where is the perfect place or places in New Zealand to honeymoon after the big day in your opinion? It depends on what you’re in to but if you’re looking for the best of New Zealand’s scenery and you only have a couple of weeks here then you can’t really go past the South Island. The Marlborough and Central Otago wineries; The golden sand beaches of Abel Tasman National Park; The rugged coastline, whale watching and delicious seafood in Kaikoura; The amazing turquoise coloured Lakes Tekapo & Pukaki; Anywhere where you can view the spectacular Southern Alps especially when you drive through Burkes Pass on the way to Lake Tekapo – stunning!; Mt Cook on a fine day – breath-taking; The drive between Westport and Greymouth and Haast – so many great places to see – Punakaiki, Fox & Franz Josef Glaciers, Okarito. And of course Wanaka, Queenstown and Stewart Island.
Minetta Hope is the Owner/Principal of The Wedding Company located in Nelson, New Zealand.
Luxury Adventures – Tailoring luxury travel in New Zealand, Australia and the South Pacific Islands since 1999.