Checklist for Choosing Wedding Locations with Tauranga wedding photographer Michele Wilburn in the Bay of Plenty

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Create a checklist for choosing wedding locations for your Big Day

Once the initial flush of the proposal  has worn off, you will find yourself settling into the exciting task of planning your wedding. As wedding photographers and videographers we have enjoyed working in some wonderful  wedding locations. From our perspective, when we arrive at a new  wedding location we immediately set about considering the best way to proceed to capture the events of your wedding so that you have a great wedding photography and video portfolio.

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With so many options available for choosing wedding locations you are literally spoilt for choice when it comes to making a decision! There are many issues to consider when choosing the best wedding locations. The first step is to get out the notebook and begin brain storming!

Practical issues to consider when choosing wedding locations for your Dream Wedding

Once you start brainstorming your requirements, you’ll be able to get it down to a shortlist of wedding locations and venues based on practicalities, budget and personal preferences.

These are just a few of the issues you need to be aware of,  regardless of whether you are considering destination wedding locations or if you are planning your wedding in your home town.


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Top of the checklist for choosing wedding locations

What date or date range will suit for your wedding?

The first thing that any service providers will ask is “what date is your wedding” This includes nearly every service provider you will need to hire, including wedding celebrants, wedding planners and co-ordinators,  wedding caterers, accommodation facilities – and so the list goes on.

  • As wedding photographers the first question I consider is – am I free for the date?
  • In order to secure the services of everyone involved it is important you begin with an ideal date, with several alternatives in mind  – if you remain flexible as you set about choosing wedding locations everything should fall into place for your dream day!

What type of wedding ceremony would you prefer?

Will it be a religious ceremony in a church, or a civil ceremony in  registry office or outdoor location – perhaps  a beach wedding, a garden wedding, or any other glorious location. Most civil ceremonies can be held almost anywhere these days as long as you have obtained necessary council permissions.

As wedding photographers it is important to know that if the wedding is held in a church or other religious institution that we have full permission for our photography services.

Some religious wedding locations provide definite guidelines and rules as to what they will allow of wedding  photographers, where they can not stand, amongst a variety of other stipulations. These need to be established prior to the wedding day.

Will your wedding ceremony and reception be at the same location? How will you transport guests?

When choosing wedding locations think  about whether you’d prefer to hold your wedding ceremony in a separate location to the wedding reception. In that case consider how guests will easily move between the two locations.

  • If you need to hire a bus to transport your guests remember to add the cost to the budget. You can lose quite a lot of time moving between ceremony and reception locations. On the other hand this break in time can make a pleasant break for the bridal party portraits away from the main wedding party. The choice is yours.
  • When choosing wedding locations it is a good idea to establish your priorities for photography and video as soon as possible. It may be helpful to contact photographers at this early  point and gain understanding from advise they provide.

When choosing wedding locations you need to consider wedding reception facilities, remembering the wedding reception venue  you choose will reflect your choice of theme for wedding day. Beach receptions are always special – you can also go for chic urban style,  a charming garden, or  traditional.

How will your choice of wedding locations influence the ability of your family and friends to attend?

How far will your guests be travelling and is there suitable accommodation for them nearby? Do you prefer an indoor or outdoor wedding? And if outdoor what plans will you make if the weather turns sad on you?

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In addition to the above considerations when choosing wedding locations you will need to consider the size of the wedding you would prefer, and the ambience or theme of your wedding and décor

Wedding photographers and videographers tips for choosing wedding locations

What size wedding would you prefer?

Will you go for something very intimate with immediate family and friends or do you want to go full steam into a grand special occasion?  How many guests do you need to cater for? It wont be possible to get an accurate count to begin, but the first thing you will be asked when you inquire about availability of wedding locations is how many guests you expect to cater for.

What ambience would you prefer in wedding locations?

When looking at potential venues be sure to ask to view  wedding photographs of  specific weddings in that location within the same season. There is a big difference in the light and ambience between a sunny midsummer day and the beginning of the autumn rain.

Consider the time of day you would like to be married. If possible check your potential venue at exactly that time. It is a good idea to consult wedding photographers and raise any concerns about specific locations, season and time of day.

  • What facilities are at hand in different wedding locations if the weather turns bad? This is important – you cant entertain a hundred guests in the rain!
  • If you are using or choosing a wedding planner or co-ordinator who will be acting on your behalf, make a full list of queries you need addressed.
  • Check the hidden costs that may bump the budget up when the final bill is presented to you. Often wedding professionals have a different take on choosing wedding locations and of the suitability of wedding venues –  they should be able to offer some good advice.

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After the brainstorm trim down the checklist for choosing wedding locations


Once you have compiled your checklist you will quickly formulate definite ideas for the type of wedding locations you are specifically interested in choosing from.

  • At this point you can focus on contacting specific venues to establish availability and pricing. If you have decided to employ the services of a wedding planner you will be ale to consult to establish definite decisions.
  • If you are organising and planning the wedding yourselves you will need to establish and finalise details with various venues and authorities.
  • If you have chosen your wedding photographer at this point you can consult together regarding all aspects of your wedding location options.


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Choosing Destination wedding locations provide a family holiday, wedding and honeymoon all in on

NZ Destination weddings provide an all-in-one wedding and honeymoon!

  • If you are planning a destination wedding this is very important. You probably don’t want to find yourself with fifty guests for a week in the pouring rain, with local shops shut down because it is end of season and is no longer profitable for locals to trade! That is the nature of resorts – take it from a destination photographer that the final destination  isn’t always postcard perfect!
  • Destination weddings are becoming very popular. You can escape the hustle of everyday life, hire the service of a wedding planner, choosing wedding locations that enable you to have a wedding and honeymoon all in one, With family and friends sharing your big day and maybe part of your  honeymoon holiday with you, destination wedding locations provide a great alternative.

choosing wedding locations including beach weddings

Choosing NZ destination wedding locations shouldn’t be difficult

With the internet buzzing with advertisements and advise  for those wanting to host their wedding away from their homelands, and with a little help from your friendly travel agent, choosing destination wedding locations in the South Pacific for your wedding should be an easy experience.

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You are spoilt for choice with great NZ wedding locations – whether you go for indoor or outdoor NZ wedding locations the options are glorious!

Beach weddings are among the most  popular outdoor wedding locations and always provide for great wedding photographs. You need to plan for bad weather ‘just in case’

  • As wedding photographers we are well aware of problems associated with lack of privacy in some beach weddings in public locations.
  • Privacy might be a consideration you should bare in mind. You may find a few unwanted guests lingering at a beach wedding – and there really is nothing you can do about that! If they choose to loiter in the background in their bikinis there is also nothing you can do about it – a friendly word often suffices, but it doesn’t always work!

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Other popular outdoor NZ wedding locations include lovely gardens, parks, cliff top venues, seaside weddings as opposed to ‘sand-between-your-toes’  beach wedding locations.

Home wedding locations can be the perfect for your wedding

There’s no place like home! If you are able to cater for your guests without undue stress, then a wedding at home can be an ideal way to go!

You can easily set the mood for your wedding, be it with a theme running through the décor, do-it-yourself style, or with a professional wedding service helping out.

Weddings at home create a personal ambience, and can be far more affordable than running far afield. You can decide whether to call the caterers in or do it yourself. if budget is a consideration you can even host a ‘pot-luck’, bring a plate on the invitation.

The number of guests you can host at home will obviously be a crucial factor but if size is an issue you can always hire  marquee.

Wedding marquees come in all sizes, shapes and styles. Very often they support amazing lighting systems, and can be hired complete with furnishings, decorations and set-up fees all in the hiring cost. The costs of hiring wedding marquees is competitive, with different packages requiring  extras for floor settings, furniture and  heating.

More ideas for choosing NZ wedding locations

Whether you’re planning for an intimate wedding ceremony or a large wedding function  there are many stunning venues to consider when choosing wedding locations.  You may need to gain permission from the local council, or local authorities before you can secure some puclic outdoor wedding locations, but with a little groundwork you can set about creating the wedding of your dreams!

Hotel Wedding locations in New Zealand

Hotel wedding locations often provide a fabulous settings and are ideal for more formal wedding locations. Most hotel wedding locations are beautifully decorated and fully equipped.  More established hotels and formal wedding location venues usually provide staff who are experienced at hosting weddings,  into the bargain offering ‘price per head’  packages including food and drink, often with special rates for room hire.

Hotel wedding locations generally accommodate a larger number of guests,, and are suitable for both ceremony and reception. Some even offer free accommodation for the first night when you book your reception, or a honeymoon suite at a reduced price.

Vineyard wedding locations

Rural vineyard wedding locations  provide glorious wedding venues,  ideal for combining a ceremony and reception, and often catering or large numbers of guests. Vineyard wedding locations can be quite remote so it’s best to check that there will be accommodation nearby for your guests

Wedding locations on yachts and large boats

With a variety of boat weddings available you can decide to hold your ceremony on dry land and then head off into the sunset with your guests for a cruise liner reception. If you are serious about the possibility of using a boat wedding locations you need to consider all aspects of the journey wisely. You may have older guests , or parents with young children who would find the option difficult.

Wedding reception locations in restaurants and bars

Many couples these days choose to marry in an outdoor wedding ceremony and follow through with a wonderful wedding reception in their choice of restaurant or bar. With attention to the menu in advance, this can be a stress free option, with drinks and catering taken care of for you, all in a stylish décor.


Choosing wedding locations can best be achieve by drawing up a checklist


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Please phone 0273269726 to discuss Forever and Always Wedding photography and video in the Bay of Plenty and Tauranga regions with Michele Wilburn.