The lowdown on wedding celebrants

Okay, so you’ve picked a date and booked a venue, maybe even booked a photographer! But have you got the most important person (other than you two!) booked in? Your celebrant, besides your marriage licence, is the other legal aspect that you have to have for the two of you to get hitched.

So what do you need to know before booking a celebrant? We answer your top questions below.

What does a celebrant actually do?

First up, the legal stuff – in order for you to be married in the eyes of the law, you have to be married by a qualified and registered celebrant and say “I [name] take you [partner’s name], to be my legal [wife/husband/partner]” or something similar in front of them. They also have to confirm that you are who is named on the marriage licence, and send off a copy of the licence to Births, Deaths, and Marriages following the ceremony (check out our blog post about the legal aspects of a ceremony if you want to know more!)

However, the biggest part of their job is probably the part that can change the most – planning, writing, and performing the ceremony. Most celebrants will normally meet with you a couple of times before the wedding to plan this out, and make sure that the ceremony is exactly the way you want it. A good one will likely give you some ideas to look through to give you inspiration, or if you don’t like any that they’ve already got, will write a new ceremony for you.

How do I find a wedding celebrant?

There are heaps of ways to find a wedding celebrant – the Celebrants Association is a good place to find people, but it can be a little hard to know who to choose. So try talking to people first – ask your friends who have already been married, look at whether you know any celebrants personally, or search for recommendations in wedding groups on Facebook.

How do I pick a celebrant?

Most celebrants are happy to meet with you when you’re considering who to choose – it’s all about finding one who you get along with, who you feel will reflect who you are as a couple, and who is either happy to do the ceremony just the way you’d like it or provide guidance if you don’t know where to start! Try asking questions about what they do in the lead-up to the day, how they run the ceremony on the day, what they do other than being a celebrant and generally get to know them. You’ll normally find one that just ‘fits’ – much like when you found your other half!

What does a wedding celebrant cost?

It varies – but in NZ you can expect to pay anywhere from $350 to $600, with many sitting around $450-$550. Usually that will cover local travel but they may add extra on if you’re getting married a little further afield. Keep in mind that they do spend a lot of time working on your ceremony both with you and by themselves before the day, as well as obviously spending several hours getting ready, travelling to and from the wedding, and performing the ceremony itself – so it’s not just about showing up on the day!

A wedding celebrant is one part of the wedding you definitely can’t do without – and a good one can make your day absolutely amazing! So do your research, meet a few, and pick ‘the one’. Happy marrying!

For more wedding advice and to check out our ‘Bride to Bee’ video series on planning your wedding, follow us on Facebook!

How to thank your guests with flair

So, the wedding’s over and done with (congrats, by the way!), you’ve just returned from your amazing honeymoon and you’re ready to settle into life as a married couple. After all the stress, excitement, challenges and celebration over the past few months, sometimes the last thing you feel like doing is sitting down to write thank you cards. As much as you are so thankful to everyone involved in the wedding, it can seem like such a daunting task! So I’ve written a few tips to get you underway…

Don’t procrastinate

Try and get onto those cards as soon as possible after your honeymoon. The longer you put it off, the less likely you are to do it and the guiltier you will feel (trust me!). I find it helps to have something in the background so it feels less like a chore: music you enjoy, a podcast or even your wedding video. Bring out the snacks, a glass of wine or decent coffee, and get writing! And make sure both of you are involved – it will take half the time if you share out the cards between the couple.

Make it personal

With all these cards, it might be tempting to write a generic message, sign it and be done! But if your guests have generously contributed towards your honeymoon or other gifts, I really think it means a lot to thank them personally. For us, that meant including a picture of us enjoying their gift (for example a dinner out during our honeymoon) and a picture of the guest(s) from our wedding photos. Luckily, we had a great photographer who managed to snap candid shots of everyone at the wedding. Often your guests don’t get the chance to see all the photos so this is a nice way to share them.

Get creative

Are you an expert at DIY? There’s plenty of ideas out there for creative ways to thank guests. Our family once received a thank you card made of recycled paper with seeds embedded. Once you read the card, you could bury it in a planter and watch the flowers bloom – what a lovely and eco-friendly reminder of the day. Of course, if you’re less DIY inclined, there are plenty of beautiful thank you card designs out there.

Remember what it’s all about

These days, sending a handwritten card can seem old-fashioned and time-consuming. You might think ‘why not save time send a group email instead’? But I guarantee everyone will get something out of receiving something you’ve spent time on. We had so many comments from our guests who were delighted to receive something in the post and hear about how much it meant to us that they could join us on the day.

Honeypot makes thanking guests easy. You can log in at any time and see which guest has contributed to what item. No need to worry about gift tags falling off presents and wondering who gifted what! Get your Honeypot Registry started today.

Don’t blow the budget: 5 ways to save money on your wedding

Everyone knows that weddings are expensive – but they don’t need to be quite as crazy as Pinterest and bridal magazines would imply! There are heaps of ways to cut costs without only cutting down the guest lists (because, for some of us with big families, that just isn’t viable!)

So what are five great ways you can save money on your wedding?

1. Know your ‘must-haves’ vs. your ‘nice-to-haves’

This is quite possibly the best way to prioritise the money you do have for your wedding – list down what’s important to you (whether that’s great food, an amazing band, or an expensive dress) and the things that would be great, but you can live without. Spend up on the things that matter and, when you need to cut costs, the nice-to-haves list can easily be culled.

2. Weigh up DIY vs. getting it done for you

While DIY can be a great way to save money, that isn’t always the case. Especially here in New Zealand, where craft supplies can be pretty expensive, DIY can add up pretty quickly. So be sure to weigh up all the costs involved (including your time) before deciding whether DIY is the route to go down. If you’re keeping things simple, it can be cheaper – but if you’re wanting something super fancy, then you can often save costs by using your vendor or an event hire/coordination company.

3. Follow wedding buy & sell pages

If your wedding’s still a while away, one of the best ways to save money on your wedding is by keeping an eye on wedding buy and sell pages on Facebook and taking advantage of great deals from couples who have just gotten married. Whether it’s picking up tablecloths for half the price you would hire them for, getting a gorgeous dress for a bargain or finding the exact decorations you’re wanting already made, you’ll be amazed at what you can get.

4. Get off Pinterest!

Pinterest is an amazing tool – it can give you so many ideas and help you craft a vision for how you want your wedding to be. But once you’ve decided on your wedding, it can also be a black hole of distractions and temptations! So once you’ve settled on your theme, dress, and more, we’d suggest cutting yourself off from Pinterest. You won’t be tempted to add extra decorations to your tables, or decide that you prefer a different dress – all things that could quickly sap your budget!

5. Get your guests to help with the honeymoon

Planning an amazing honeymoon right after a wedding can be a bit of a strain on the bank account – so instead of gifts, why not ask your friends and family to help you turn your dream honeymoon into reality? Set up a registry with Honeypot and you can ask for funds towards anything you like (I mean, you could even ask for help with the wedding yourself if you really wanted!)

Ready to get started? Find out how it works now.

When to use a wedding planner (and when not to!)

Not everyone loves planning a wedding – in fact, heaps of people find the whole process stressful. Sometimes, you just need a little extra help in the form of a wedding planner.

But how do you know when to use a wedding planner – and when you probably don’t need to?

WHEN TO USE A WEDDING PLANNER

  • When the idea of planning a wedding is the most stressful thing you can imagine
  • When you’ve run events before and hated it
  • When you’re getting married quite soon and don’t have anything organised
  • When you’re crazy busy (with work, hobbies, kids and more!)
  • When your dream venue doesn’t provide extras such as catering, beverages or decorations
  • When you don’t have much family or friends around (or at least not many helpful family members)
  • When you’re putting on what feels like the world’s biggest wedding…

And lots of other times we haven’t mentioned!

A wedding planner can organise everything from venue to catering to decorations to on-the-day coordination. They’ll often be able to get you a good deal because of their relationships with vendors and their ability to negotiate.

In the weeks leading up to the wedding, and on the day, a wedding planner can seriously reduce your stress by taking care of anything that goes wrong, making sure that everything happens when it’s meant to, and leaving you to focus on just marrying the love of your life.

But does everyone need a wedding planner?

WHEN YOU COULD PROBABLY DO WITHOUT ONE

  • When you’ve been planning your wedding for years and already know what you want
  • When you love DIY and have plenty of time to do it all in
  • When you’re a fairly chilled out couple and don’t feel the need to have everything perfect
  • When you’re overloaded with family and friends offering to help

If you decide not to go with a wedding planner, that’s cool! Neither did any of our team. If you decide not to pull in a professional, make sure you’ve got everything planned well in advance so you don’t have to stress at the last minute, delegate whatever you can, and recruit a friend or family member to be your ‘on-the-day’ coordinator (or hire an actual one). The last thing you want is to be fielding phone calls on the day you get married!

If you’re not using a wedding planner, we’ve also put together a free, handy checklist to make it a little easier for you to organise your wedding yourself.

Download Honeypot's free wedding checklist

One thing that is easy to organise yourself is your registry – especially with Honeypot making it easy to ask for cash in a non-confrontational way. Get started on your registry, your way now.

Save the dates: Do I need them?

When I said to my fiancé, “What do you think of these save the dates?” his response was more akin to “What the hell are save the dates?” than the excitement I was hoping for.

However, that’s not really that surprising – after all, save the dates are a fairly modern invention. They only really came about in the 2000s or so as a way to let people know to keep the date open, especially for people needing to travel.

But do you really need to send save the dates?

Our answer, just like pretty much everything else when it comes to weddings is simple: only if you want to! There are a few situations where they can be a really good idea, but frankly, it’s your wedding – do what you want!

This is when we’d recommend save the dates:

  • When your wedding is still quite awhile away and you’re unlikely to send the invitations until much closer to the time
  • When you’re inviting lots of people from overseas who may need notice in order to make arrangements
  • When you’re of an age where many of your friends are getting married too – so no-one doubles up on dates!

So who do you send them to?

We’d suggest being really careful with who you give save the dates to, as, although it’s not a full invitation, it’s a pretty good sign that they will be getting one. So send them to those you know are definitely going to be inviting, and don’t go overboard.

Don’t stress about sending a physical one overseas if you’re going to have to send an invitation too – save your postage and send them the image over email or Facebook!

What are your options for save the dates?

From a magnet for the fridge to a small card or an email, you’ve got heaps of choices. A few of our suggestions are below.

For the DIY bride:

  • Design them yourself on Canva, get them printed at your local print shop or VistaPrint, and hand them out yourself.

For the eco-friendly (and budget savvy) bride:

  • Send online save the dates through Paperless Wedding – they’ve got heaps of designs and the best part is they’re totally FREE!

For the hands-off bride:

  • Use a stunning template design from a designer in NZ or on Etsy – the cost often includes printing and delivery to you, so one order makes it super easy.

For the unique, perfectionist bride:

  • Get a design created just for you by the amazing Kelly from Creative Box or Kate from Speckle Spot Creative – our fave designers! Getting them designed especially for you also means you can get the rest of your stationery and signage designed to match too.

 

 

Way past the save the date stage and already thinking about your registry? Find out how Honeypot works and get started!

The ultimate free wedding checklist

Every married couple knows how much is involved in planning a wedding – and nearly every bride has had a last minute freakout about having missed something. That’s why we’ve put together our go-to wedding checklist – with all the things you need to think about when planning a wedding.

We’ve made this a 12 month checklist, but you can easily do it in a shorter time – just condense the ‘to-dos’ down into fewer months. Either way, if you follow a good checklist, you should get everything sorted for your wedding with no (well, minimal!) problems. These are our main things – but feel free to add your own too!

Download Honeypot's free wedding checklist

Plus, get our free template for keeping track of all the little things you need to buy, make, borrow, hire, or just remember to bring along from home on the day – included in the free wedding checklist as a bonus!

The ‘B’ word – how to make a wedding budget you can actually stick to!

Budgeting – the very word can strike fear in the hearts of many; not least if you’re planning a wedding! Luckily, we’re here with our top tips for how to plan a wedding budget, as well as our super useful free wedding budget template and wedding savings planner template.

So how do you set a wedding budget that’s actually do-able?

Figure out how much you’ve got to play with

A wedding budget is generally always finite – made up of how much you can save by your wedding date, and how much others (usually parents) are contributing. Setting your wedding date further away, or looking at ways you can cut down your spending can help you achieve the budget you’re hoping for. Open our free wedding savings planner template in Google Sheets and make your own copy to figure out just how much you’ve got to play with it. Check out our video below for how to use the template to figure out your potential savings!

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Set your priorities

We talked about this in our last blog about how to get started with wedding planning, but it’s just as important here – figure out what the most important things are to you, and assign the most money to them. Is an amazing photographer a must have? Budget for the one you want and look for ways to cut costs in other places. Keen for a big bar tab? Make sure you’ve budgeted that in.

Do your research

Now it’s time to figure out what the average cost of things is – and unfortunately that can vary a lot! Use resources like the Wedding Discussion Group – New Zealand on Facebook to search for what others have paid, get recommendations, and ask for anything you are trying to gauge the price of. A photographer could be anywhere from a grand to well over ten grand, so getting an idea of what others have paid can be helpful.

Set your wedding budget

Now it’s time to put those numbers in! Decide what you’re comfy with for each item and put that into your budget. If the budget adds up to too much – look for where you can cut costs on the things that aren’t as important to you. And don’t be afraid to change the budget up as your ideas about your wedding changes – so long as the total doesn’t change, you should be all good!

Not sure where to start? Use our awesomely useful free wedding budget template to create your own budget. Get it here and watch the video below to find out how to best use it, plus get a view of a real-life wedding budget!

Get your wedding budget template now

First steps: How to get started with wedding planning

Honeypot co-founder Verity is newly engaged and ready to share her tips – but what needs to happen first?

So I got engaged just over two weeks ago (woohoo!) and there are already heaps of things to think about. My fiancé, Matt, was fairly surprised when I immediately kicked into wedding planning mode, which he should not have been given my penchant for organising everything well in advance.

I’m lucky in that I’ve had a couple of years in the wedding industry and so already had a good idea of what I wanted to do, but I know for a lot of people the thought of wedding planning is this horrendous mountain to climb. The number of people saying ‘good luck!’ when they find out you’re about to start planning a wedding isn’t super helpful either…

Luckily, that’s what we’re here for! To make your wedding planning journey as smooth as possible.

So you’ve just gotten engaged – what do you need to do first? Here are my top 3 things to help you get started with wedding planning:

 

  1. Get your ring insured

Whether your fiancé had already chosen the ring or you’ve gone out and picked one together, the last thing you want to think about is losing your gorgeous new engagement ring. Unfortunately, it can happen (believe me – my mum lost not only her original engagement ring AND her replacement one).

If you’ve already got existing contents insurance (which I’d recommend anyway) then it’s pretty easy – give your insurer a call and ask them to add a specified item. This is important as many contents policies only cover items up to $1000. You’ll need to know how much the ring is worth (either how much it cost or a valuation provided by a jeweller) as well as a basic description of the ring. I called up AMI to add my ring and it was actually really lovely – as soon as I said the specified item was a ring she asked if it was ‘a very special ring’ and immediately got super excited for me when I told her we’d just gotten engaged. Go Melissa at AMI; you did the impossible – made sorting insurance exciting for me!

If you don’t have contents insurance, there are also specified jewellery insurances out there. Just make sure you read the policy – some policies have rings covered only if you’re wearing it at the time (which is a bit shitty if you take it off to protect it while doing the dishes only to lose it!) The other important thing is to prove that you actually own it – luckily with the number of photos newly engaged people tend to take of the ring, you should be okay!

  1. Have a think about what’s important to you

Your wedding is about the two of you, and no-one else. As tempting as it may be to go the whole hog and do everything that wedding mags tell you is totally necessary, that’s not actually true. And with the cost of weddings being seriously insane (we’re aiming for well under $20k and that seems to be a cheap wedding by most accounts), it’s important that you’re not just spending money for the sake of spending money.

One of the best ways to avoid doing that is by considering what’s important to you – sit down with your fiancé and each write down the things that matter most, whether that’s getting time together alone, a gorgeous dress, amazing photography, having everyone you love there, delicious food, a kick-ass party, or keeping it small. Try and figure out what things are common across both of your lists, and decide 3 or 4 main things that you want to focus on so that you don’t get distracted by all the other ‘nice to haves’.

For us, our most important things were having time with each other, being surrounded by all our friends and family, having delicious food, and making sure that everyone’s having fun, so we’re focusing on those four things to design how we want our wedding to feel and look.

Make sure you do this before you start any planning – otherwise it’s really easy to get swept up in what your wedding ‘should’ be like.

  1. Make a rough guest list

Finally, start to have a think about numbers. I know this seems early, but it will affect so many things about your wedding planning – what kind of wedding you’ll have, what venues you’ll be able to use, and most particularly, how much your wedding is likely to cost. I have a big family and several groups of friends from different areas of my life, so it’s already been tricky figuring out who would be on the first draft.

Ask yourself – are we inviting the whole family? Are we okay with just immediate family, or just aunties and uncles and no cousins? Is this friend someone who we think we’ll be friends with in two years or are they someone who plays a big part in our life now? Do we know that friend’s partner well enough to invite them, or have they been together so long that they’re a package deal?

Make a first draft and then go back to it a day or two later – we discovered we’d missed a couple of important people but also realised that we could cut a few other people. Hopefully, you’ll start to get an idea of numbers, even if you change who’s on the list later.

We’ve managed to keep ours to just under 100 which I think is rather an achievement (I think Matt was worried I’d end up with 300 on my list) and are planning on getting married at a venue where only 100 will fit – so we’ll have to keep it under that!

Next week I’ll be talking all about starting a budget – what to include, what some average prices might be, and how to keep track of everything. Check back in then!

 

 

Bride to Bee: My engagement story

I’ve known I would be marrying Matt for a long time.

Within a couple of months I knew he was a keeper and within six months I knew we’d be spending the rest of our lives together.

Not only is he funny, kind and smart, he, like me, has coeliac disease so has to eat gluten free – so just convenient really! 😛

We’d talked about marriage, and I knew he was saving up for a ring. Yes, I am a feminist but yes, I was still very excited about the thought of him proposing and never considered doing it myself. I thought it was only fair since I’d asked him out in the first place – make him put some effort in after all!

Soon after Christmas, I was walking down to Takapuna Beach to meet him for lunch (he was having to work over the Christmas period). I even had a think along the way that perhaps he might propose that day. It was where we’d had our first date after all! But given that he had to return to work for the afternoon, and wasn’t down on one knee when I arrived, I figured it was probably just a normal picnic.

We had a lovely picnic, and he’d even come prepped with flowers as an apology for not having my Christmas present on the day (I’d been giving him shit since then). However, after I’d shoved my gob full of delicious food and far too many scorched almonds, he cranked out the line of ‘actually I do have your Christmas present here if you want to open it’ and a suspiciously ring-sized Christmas present shaped box.

This is the box:

Engagement ring box

And apparently this was what my face looked like when he pulled it out:

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I pulled a ring out of the box, which he took from my hand, and then he asked me to marry him. It’s mostly a blur, but I believe my reaction was to leap on him (not the ring, so I’m gonna take that as a good sign of my priorities). He’s still not sure whether I actually said yes, so we’ve just taken that as a yes anyway!

So what does this all mean for you?

Well, I’ve been writing Honeypot blog posts for a long time now, but it’s always been using other people’s input and ideas. Having been doing this (and trawling Pinterest) for ages, I’m in a pretty lucky spot – I already have some good ideas for how to get started and what I want.

However, because I know it can be pretty overwhelming if you haven’t already been looking at wedding websites for the last two years, I’m inviting you to come along with the wedding planning journey with me! That’s where Bride to Bee comes in…

You’ll get blog posts from a real bride in real time – I’m going to aim to put up one new blog and video every week (hold me to it if I get slack!) to share where I’m up to in the process and give you as many tips and tricks as I can. I’ll also aim to do a few live videos where you can join in the conversation and ask questions about what I’ve done or the other knowledge I’ve got from time working in the wedding industry.

Follow the blog by hitting follow on the right –> or make sure you’ve liked us on Facebook to keep up to date with all the videos and blogs – next week I’ll put up my first proper video, all about the first things you need to do when you get engaged. Are you ready to come with me on the crazy journey that is wedding planning?

 

Getting your wedding invitations right – top 5 tips from an expert

We love working with other awesome wedding businesses in NZ to make sure you get the best advice possible for the wedding of your dreams. This month, we’re super excited to welcome Kelly from Creative Box to share a few of her gems:

INVITES – YOUR QUICK 5 TIPS

Hi there, this is Kelly from Creative Box, a New Zealand wedding stationery business. Our friends at Honeypot thought it might be handy if I put together 5 quick tips for planning your invitations…

  1. THE DETAILS: Ensure you have all the important details included on your invitations. These include: the wedding day, month, year and time, full ceremony and reception venue address, and RSVP details. 
  2. THE NUMBERS: It’s likely that lots of your guests will be couples and they’ll only need one invitation between them. Therefore your invitation order may be smaller than your actual guest list. Always include a couple of spares in your order too, just in case. 
  3. PROOF PROOF PROOF: Honestly, proof it backwards if you have to, or get someone you trust with spelling and grammar to do a second proofread. 
  4. POSTAGE: Keep your invitation and envelope size within the standard size and thickness so you don’t have to spend extra on postage. 
  5. GIFT REGISTRY: As today’s couples typically have been living together for a while and have accumulated all the traditional wedding gifts well before their wedding day it is quite acceptable to ask for money towards a large purchase, a holiday/honeymoon or house renovation. Though you may feel a bit awkward asking for money just let your guests know what their contribution will be going towards, so when they see your honeymoon photos or enjoy dinner on your new deck they know it’s thanks to them.

If you haven’t got your invites sorted yet, or need some help bedecking your wedding in gorgeously designed signage, Kelly’s your girl (just check out some of her gorgeous work below) – drop her a line at kelly@creativebox.co.nz

One year (and 6 months) of being married – a husband reflects!

The Honeypot blog tends to be a bit female-heavy on perspective, so we pulled in our resident guy, Shane to give his thoughts on what changed – and what didn’t – after getting married.

This blog was initially going to be “one year of being married” but since deadlines aren’t my friend, it’s now 18 months later. Whoops!

So here we go – a guy’s thoughts on marriage 18 months after our wedding:

Some things were very different

Calling Katie my “wife” was very odd. Being engaged for just under 18 months before the wedding, I barely had time to adjust to “fiancée” before upgrading to “wife”. So for about 3 months after the wedding, I said things like “my girl f—, fia—, wife(!) Katie…”. And don’t get me started on the number of forms I had to scribble on after ticking “de facto” instead of “married”…

Then there was the ring – I never wear jewellery, not even a watch, so suddenly wearing a ring was a big deal. I noticed it all the time. It made my hand heavy, it clicked and bumped things, it was strangling my finger. It’s less noticeable now but I still don’t often wear it around the house only put it on when I leave the house (like shoes) or when people come around (like pants).

Some things never change

Life goes on – bills needed to be paid, food needed to be bought, Netflix needed to be watched. After this big hype of the wedding and the honeymoon, where everything pretty much got put on hold, within a week everything else in our lives just went straight back to normal.

What’s more, Katie was still the same person – she didn’t suddenly become the “old ball and chain” (a cringeworthy phrase) or some homemaker housewife. She still left open olive jars on the kitchen bench and I still didn’t make the bed before going to work. We still laughed and argued about the same dumb things.

We suddenly had money again

Weddings are expensive. Most the money related matters leading up to the “big day” (and by that, I mean the day before the wedding when all the suppliers needed to be paid in full!) involved sticking to our budget and saving extra money where possible. But now, we’ve got money again! Suddenly payday meant there was disposable income!

I didn’t know what to do next

A weird feeling I had for a bit after the wedding was emptiness of purpose. We’d spent just over a year focusing all our time and energy on planning a wedding (and launching Honeypot!) that afterwards I didn’t really know what I was supposed to do. It was more that I could do a whole number of things but had taken a year hiatus from thinking about them.

Funnily enough, the practice we had budgeting, planning and saving for the wedding was very handy. We ended up applying for 2-year working visas and moving over to the UK for our OE.

The “kids” discussion

Apparently there’s a social script that suddenly starts running when you get married (and don’t already have progeny) and it dances around the innocent query of a particular time frame. Most people navigate the “so… kids..?” questions subtly enough, but there others who are (a) more bothersome (siblings), (b) have less shame (parents), or (c) aren’t good at nonchalant (grandparents).

My current response is we’re getting a puppy first.

So the wedding was a big, stressful, exciting, one-off event but 18 months later? A lot of stuff changed, a lot of stuff stayed the same. Some things happened and some things didn’t happen. All in all, it feels a lot like just getting on and living life. Just now it’s with my wife beside me instead of my girlfriend!

The Fine Print: Legal Requirements for a NZ Wedding

With all the planning, advice and decisions surrounding a wedding, sometimes we forget that there are certain legal requirements for any ceremony. I heard a story recently about a couple living in Australia who planned to marry in New Zealand. They, unfortunately, assumed their Australian celebrant friend could officiate at their wedding, and since this isn’t the case had postpone their ceremony at the last minute and go to a registry office! To help you avoid this scenario, I enlisted the help of our fabulous celebrant Desiree Mason. Whether you’re having a traditional church wedding or getting married on top of a mountain(!), all New Zealand weddings must include the following:

An officiant

In New Zealand, there are two legal ways to get married – through a registered celebrant like Desiree, or through the registry office. Wedding celebrants can be secular or religious (e.g. a pastor), as long as they are registered in New Zealand. Desiree must ensure that her registration is updated regularly.

A marriage license

This must be obtained at least three days before the planned ceremony. If you have a great celebrant like Desiree, they will probably ask you to organise it earlier so they can fill in the details in advance. You can download the application form here. You will need to know some details of the ceremony in order to complete the form, such as the location, date and celebrant. After sending the form off, you will be posted a marriage license and two versions of the “Copy of Particulars of Marriage,” all of which should be sent to your celebrant. According to Desiree, her obligations include: “formally identifying the couple on the marriage licence as the people that I am marrying, sighting the licence before the ceremony to ensure that the details are correct and holding the ceremony at one of the places named on the licence.”

A wedding ceremony

Your ceremony can include almost anything you like, but there are some “must-haves”. Desiree says as a celebrant, “I need to use the couple’s full names at least once in the ceremony and ensure that the couple says ‘I (full name) take you (partner’s name) to be my legal wife/husband’ sometime during the ceremony”. There must be two witnesses to the ceremony who must not be intoxicated and are able to understand what is happening. If the witnesses do not speak English, then an interpreter is required. The interpreter needs to sign a statutory declaration before the ceremony saying that they will interpret what is said accurately.

Signing the wedding registry (not the Honeypot kind!)

This usually happens straight after the ceremony, and involves the couple and witnesses signing the two versions of the “Copy of Particulars” at the ceremony. According to Desiree, the couple must use their pre-wedding signatures. The celebrant will send off one copy to the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages within 10 days of the ceremony, and the second copy will be given to the couple.

Of course, a good celebrant’s role includes far more than the minimum legal requirements. When we got married, Desiree’s planning advice was invaluable and she works really hard to understand the couple on a personal level. Keep an eye out later in the year when we’ll be profiling Desiree as part of a “Wedding Expert” blog series. Until then, happy wedding planning!