Couples

The Ultimate Guide for Queenstown Weddings

Queenstown is a sweet, growing alpine town protected by the largest mountain ranges in New Zealand, a beautiful turquoise lake and special occasion venues a plenty. People love Queenstown as a wedding destination to celebrate their love, with scenery which is dramatic, inspired and breathtaking. Queenstown becomes busy with the amount of people who travel from overseas, meaning that the business of celebration is booming. Weddings, elopements and engagements are this townships specialty. Just over the Crown Range is the equally beautiful, and slower paced, town of Wanaka – a fantastic wedding destination in itself. Below I have compiled a comprehensive guide to all the things you need to know and check off when planning a wedding in Queenstown.

Where to start?

The most important things to get checked off and booked in advance when planning your wedding are the venue & the photographer. Venues can book out up to 18 months in advance so it pays to be prepared. The busiest wedding season in Queenstown and Wanaka are the summer months between October and the end of February. So if you are looking at getting married then I suggest you start looking for your dream venue now. Photographers generally take bookings up to a year in advance and are also super important to book in advance. If you find a photographer whose style you like I would say get in touch before even booking a venue to make sure they are free on that date.

1. Queenstown wedding venues

Mother Nature has provided a dazzling array of options when it comes to an outdoor wedding here in the mountain lakes area. You could just about get married anywhere! From a quiet lake among the mountains, such as Moke Lake and Lake Hayes, to estates which have it all in one spot, you are spoilt for choice. Lake Hayes Pavilion is a popular venue as the ceremony can take place outside, overlooking Lake Hayes with its incredible reflections and Coronet Peak in the backdrop. Stoneridge Estate is just over the road and provides a more comprehensive package, they even have their own chapel on the property. You can go further afield to Glenorchy, paradise – or make it exclusive with choosing a more luxurious venue like Blanket Bay Lodge. If you want a more rustic kiwi experience Queenstown has a choice of beautiful farm stations with untouched scenery and views all around. Walter Peak, Mount Nicholas, and NZ High Country are just a few with sensational views for the adventurous couple. Queenstown is also home to some of the most amazing wineries in Central Otago complete with wedding venues. I have put together a list of my favourite venues, click Here when you are ready for this step!

2. Queenstown wedding photographers

There are plenty of wedding photographers here in Queenstown. So do some research. Instagram is a good place to start, just search the hashtags for #Queenstownweddingphotographer and you can also look on Queenstown Wedding Association’s website. The ‘on trend’ look at present is a natural candid approach, which captures the true essence of your day. You will be presented with snapshots that may have gone unnoticed if it wasn’t for the keen eye of the photographer. My approach is to capture lot’s of candid’s of your guests, yourself and your partner enjoying yourselves, all the little details such as jewelry, signage and floral’s, as well as creating beautiful natural images of the two of you during your couples portraits by giving you plenty of direction without being overly posed and unnatural. I will always work with you to create authenticity which captures you both looking naturally yourselves. Whatever your style, make sure to discuss what you are drawn to with your photographer in your initial meeting. Choosing a wedding photographer can be a daunting task but I’m on hand to give you wedding photography tips before & during your day to make sure everyone is comfortable and you, as the newlyweds, will receive special memories from your big day. Now that you have spent time planning your wedding day and having every special moment captured; here are a few tips regarding questions to ask your photographer, and my personal answers to them.

My answers xo

How would you describe your wedding style?

My style is very natural and authentic. I aim to capture real moments and pictures of you and your guests enjoying themselves on the day. During the ‘Couple’s Portraits’ I give you movement based prompts such as holding hands and walking towards the mountains. This will allow you to relax and be yourselves and ensure you have a break from the wedding day craziness to just enjoy spending time with your partner.

Can we give you a list of specific shots we would like?

No two weddings will look the same even if they were shot at the same venue. A good idea is to start a pinterest board for inspiration and share this with your photographer. Keep in mind this is for inspiration only, we can not exactly replicate photos as there are many factors that go into the way they look. Colours palettes, styling, time of day, what the light is like, what the venue or room looks like are all factors which are extremely hard to replicate.

Do you charge a travel fee if my wedding is out of the area?

I don’t charge a travel fee for any weddings within an hour from Queenstown

What time will you arrive & leave our wedding?

I have several different wedding packages to suit your wedding day requirements, you can choose the one which best suits your day.

What packages do you offer?

I offer a few different Wedding packages. Please enquire for a full price list When you have squared off some of the logistics and you are totally happy with your choice of photographer then book them in and relax. The beauty of wedding photographers is that they know what they are doing. They have chosen this specific genre for a reason and are always prepared to capture your happiest moments in a professional manner.

3. Vendors

Next you will want to look at booking any other vendors you may need for the day. Important things you need to think about are hair and makeup artists, florals, cake, catering, wedding stylists, music and marquee hire. Some venues will have a dedicated wedding coordinator to help things run smoothly on the day, however if you are looking for someone to set up the venue with florals and decorations you should think about hiring a professional wedding stylist. Otherwise enlist a few friends and family members to visit the venue on the morning of your wedding to set up. Most vendors will deliver whatever you need directly to the venue or to your accommodation for the day. Make-up/hair artists can also carry out home visits so that the day runs smoothly. To help you on your way to creating your wedding in Queenstown I have compiled a list including some of my favorite local wedding vendors and those I would highly recommend you check out while planning your big day.

Recommended Wedding Vendors

CELEBRANTS

Helen May Andrew Bell Sarah Noble Glenys Logan Betty Turnball

Food & Drink

Burrito Craft The Plattershare Lavish Grazing Bernie the caravan bar Double Thyme

Wedding Dress hire

Nemo Bridal Couture Suit Hire

Makeup artists

Charm Beauty Kirsty Penetito Georgie Henderson

Florals

Bespoke weddings and events Rosie Flowers The Flower Room In The Pink

Cakes

Cup & Cake White rabbit cakes

HAIR

Beautiful Bridal Hair Pure Hair Studio Hair to Wed Crew Stylists

Stylists

Colour Me Happy Mint Events

Helicopter Bookings

Heliworks (if you wish to add a help flight just ask me and I can book this in for you)

4. Couples Portraits-Location ideas

Once you have booked all your vendors, venue, and photographer you are ready to think about the finer details. An important part of the wedding day is the shoot which takes place once you are pronounced married. It’s time to head off and have some fun celebrating you as a newlywed couple. Sometimes the entire bridal party can join you for this, other times it’s nice to just spend the time by yourselves reflecting on the day.

Mountain top wedding locations

Queenstown and Wanaka are surrounded by mountains. There are two options for getting those epic mountain top views for your wedding photos.

Drive – If you are short on time on your wedding day we can drive to a nearby mountain location. Depending on the location of your venue this could be the Remarkables, Coronet Peak or the Crown range. Each offers unmatched beauty, unique to this part of the world.

Fly by helicopter – Mountain landings are a very popular choice in Queenstown & Wanaka. The reason why is that they are a very quick and convenient way of getting to the highest and most incredible New Zealand scenery. It is often quicker to jump in a heli and zip up to an epic location than to drive anywhere, plus you get a lot higher. The helipad is right by the Queenstown airport making it convenient from almost any location in town. Most heli rides last 5-20 minutes depending on which location you choose. The best part about heli locations is the epic ‘birds-eye view’ of the mountain lakes spread out below. With many locations to shoot from such as; The Ledge on Cecil Peak, Mount Crichton, Roy’s Peak, The Remarkables, The Humbolt’s as well as many more. You can even travel further afield into Fiordland National Park or land in the exclusive Earnslaw Burn, only accessible by foot or flight. Mountain top weddings and elopements are whimsically romantic. Think beautiful views, solitude, and a unique experience to hold onto forever.

Lakefront locations

Queenstown is home to Lake Wakatipu, carved millions of years ago by glacial movement, the lake is surrounded by grand mountains. Knowing that, anywhere you go in Queenstown, the lakeside is beautiful. Areas such as Bob’s Cove, Kelvin heights, Moke Lake, and Jacks’ point are all popular spots to get hitched, with or without a wedding party. The best thing about a lakefront location is that it’s all free, however, if you would like to hold a large ceremony there, you will need to let DOC know.

Top five tips for Queenstown weddings

All weddings are so much fun and full of love. Here are my five top tips for anyone considering a wedding in Queenstown.

Location Location Location

Perhaps you wish to hire your bridal and groom wear locally to save on having to travel with extra weight, or perhaps being spontaneous you decided to elope while on holiday – relax, there are a few options in Queenstown but my pick is Nemo bridal and couture who have you covered. You can hire your wedding dress, all the trimmings and quality suits – because the Queenstown wedding scene is booming, there will always be vendors tailored for weddings to handle that ‘shotgun’ wedding should you become inspired by the magnificence of the natural beauty here enough to marry your loved one off the cuff.

First Look Photos

Have you considered a first look photoshoot? If you have a big day planned with all your friends and family you could get your couple photo’s shot in the morning allowing you more time to spend celebrating with your loved ones and giving you some private time before you say I Do. Plus we LOVE the groom’s face when he sees his bride for the first time!

Couples Photography

Something I always hear from newlyweds is that they wish they could do it all again….. Well, why can’t you? If you have time the day after your wedding you could always plan your couple shoot for then, allowing even MORE time with your guests and giving the photographer free run of the whole day to capture those perfect candid photos! The big plus with this idea is that you can time your couples session for the best light of the day, something that’s hard to do on the actual wedding day. Bridal portraits taken around sunset, the golden hour (the two hours before sunset), or in the early morning are visually more stunning and have more of a wow factor than those taken in the middle of the day which can sometimes be too bright.

Seasons + weather

Every season has its unique advantages so keep that in mind when you are booking. Winter weddings in Queenstown are absolutely stunning. The mountains put on their own white gowns as the snow settles on the peaks. This as a backdrop to your pictures is beautiful. You can also get a heli up to the snow for your couples photoshoot for a once in a lifetime experience. Just remember to wrap up warm! Afterwards, join your guests by the fire and warm up with some hot spiced mulled wine. Spring and Autumn have the advantages of being in ‘off season’. It is quieter and therefore less expensive to book your venue and hotel. While the cost may be less, the scenery will not be! The cherry blossoms in spring make for the most gorgeous photography as do the deep shades of burnt reds, oranges and yellows that come with Autumn. The other advantage is that your photographer and venue will probably be more flexible with dates and have more availability. The weather can be unpredictable in these seasons so make sure you prepare for this. Summer is by far the busiest season for weddings so plan ahead. Get your venue and photographer booked in as soon as you decide on your date. The weather is generally sunny and hot with long evenings and early morning sunrises. The temperature usually sits around the late 20’s at the hottest part of the day so make sure your guests have SPF packed! Outdoor venues are a great option for the summer months so you can enjoy the weather and scenery.

Wedding attire

There are so many styles of wedding looks these days that you really can find something to suit all tastes. Bridal dresses can be boho, vintage, classic… leather jackets are quite popular with brides at the moment or a faux fur cape for winter weddings. while guys can go for braces, velvet jackets, chinos and even fedora hats. There are rental shops for both suits and gowns if you are travelling and don’t want to buy. Bridal hair can be both up or down and flower crowns are a popular choice at the moment. Veils never go out of fashion and look great blowing gently in the wind. It’s a good idea to wear comfortable shoes as you will be on your feet most of the day and if you are doing a heli landing on the snow it would be a good idea to bring warm boots and thick skin coloured tights under your dress. Make sure to dress for the season but at the end of the day the most important thing is that you feel comfortable and happy with your outfit, your genuine happiness will show through in your photos and you will enjoy your day so much more if you are comfortable.

My wedding timeline for you!

Ever wondered how a wedding day generally runs – here is an example timeline for an 8 hour wedding. I have used the example bride & groom, however if you are a bride/bride, groom/groom the same still applies – love is love and I cater to every couple.

Bridal prep

Grooms & Groomsmen getting ready

First look Groom departs for the venue

Guests start arriving

Everyone is seated for the ceremony

The bride arrives

The Ceremony begins

Signing the marriage licence

Congratulations Group photos

Bridal party photos

Bride & Groom depart for photos

Bride and Groom announced – enter the reception

Speeches

Mains are served

Speeches

Dessert/Cake cutting

First Dance

Partytime!!

Is an Elopement for me?

If a big wedding day just doesn’t appeal to you then don’t worry, you are not alone! Elopements are a popular choice and we are all about them! An elopement can be whatever you want it to be, from a ceremony on a mountain top to a lakeside reading of your vows. Here is my complete guide to eloping in Queenstown.

Let's Elope!

Let's get married!

Hopefully this Wedding Guide has left you feeling even more excited about tying the knot over here in New Zealand. Queenstown can supply you with the best of the best when it comes to wedding vendors, views & memories to last a lifetime.  I would love to be involved in your big day so please feel free to reach out below. 

I can’t wait to meet you & share in the magic of your love story.

Let's do this!