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Beach Weddings in the Bay of Islands

During the fabulous Summer months here in the Bay of Islands, many couples choose to have their ceremony on one of the many beaches or islands, and even on the range of boats available for charter, around the bay.  Beach weddings can be as simple or as vast as you want them, and they always give the feeling of being free and relaxed with nature.


Here are few ideas and tips to remember for making sure your beautiful beach ceremony is as you want it.

Choose your location wisely – Beaches are usually breezy. Try to pick a cove or area protected from direct winds for your ceremony. Be mindful of the tides on the day.

Decide how many guests will be attending – Most beaches do not require a special permit for small informal weddings. Check with the Far North District Council or local authorities to be sure.

      Remember your guest’s comfort and safety – Provide seating for the elderly as well as sunscreen and insect repellent just in case. If some of your guests have mobility impairments recognize that it’s nearly impossible to push a wheelchair in the sand, and it’s very hard for people who have difficulty walking to negotiate sand as well. Note how far parking is from your intended ceremony site don’t forget to find out if the beach has toilet facilities.

Seating – When deciding where to set up your seats, pay attention to both the sun and the wind. You won’t want the wind whipping up sand into guests’ faces, nor do you want them blinded by the setting sun. It is often a good idea to do a trial run or two…set up a couple of beach chairs around the time of day you plan on getting married and sit in them for a half hour or so to see if you notice any issues.

[Use white and foldable chairs if possible as dark or metal chairs can get very hot in the afternoon sun, you don’t want anyone burning their legs!]

If you plan on having a long ceremony during the middle of the day, you should seriously consider using a tent or awning to provide shade. At the very least, plan on having plenty of water available and small tubes of sunscreen for your guests.

Have a few umbrellas or parasols available for the guests to use as shade too.

rainbow at beachAlso, don’t forget to check on the tide. If the tide is coming in during your proposed ceremony time and you put your chairs too close to the water, you may find your feet getting wet before you make it to the I do’s!

  Weather  – Beach ceremonies are no different than other outdoor ceremonies, and are subject to the whims of the weather. Even if it hasn’t rained a drop on your chosen date in the past years at your location, there is no guarantee that it won’t rain this year. Rather than worry endlessly up until the actual moment of the ceremony, make sure you have a backup plan. It is a great idea to put  a ‘Location B’ on your ‘Notice of Intended Marriage’ form when you lodge it. A nearby hall, pavilion, or tent will alleviate any weather-induced stress.

Wedding Attire – Formal wedding attire can be beautiful for photos on a beach ceremony but sometimes heavy, floor-length bridal gowns can become extremely cumbersome in the sand, tuxedos can be stifling, and high-heeled shoes are nearly impossible to walk in. Make your beach wedding slightly less formal; you don’t have to get married in a cotton sundress (though you certainly can!), but choose a lighter, more breathable fabric and a slightly higher hemline. Men can wear khakis with a button down shirt, or even shorts and a T-shirt if that’s your style!

Dreaming of a barefoot ceremony? You can still dress up your feet. Beach Wedding shoes

It is a good idea to communicate appropriate footwear suggestions to all your guests beforehand. Not everyone will realize that high heels are a poor choice, and others may not realize that the sand can be uncomfortably hot to go barefoot on. Suggest that people bring jandals or sandals, or depending on guest numbers, even have a basket of these available at the main entrance to the venue. [Provide a basket of small brushes so that guest can clean the sand off their feet and shoes after the ceremony.]

You also want to keep in mind that the wind can be pretty active at the beach. This is not the place for that long, flowing veil (unless you can find a way to pin it down securely.) It’s also a good idea to keep the wind in mind when choosing a hairstyle.

Bouquet Ideas – If you want to skip flowers and opt for a seashell bouquet, this can be a fun project to make before  the wedding and it will last J. The men can include a mini starfish or shell in their boutonniere too.

Wedding Party – Bright leis make fun photo props and giving one or two parasols/umbrellas in complementary colours to your wedding theme, will protect the wedding party against the sun.

Ceremony Ideas – Tie your wedding rings onto seashells for your ring bearer or bridal party to pass to you during your vows.

A sand ceremony on the beach equals perfection! You can pour sand, dyed in the wedding colours, into a special glass vessel that’ll become a meaningful piece of art in your home.

Having baskets of mini beach balls near the guests can be a great alternative to confetti or petals. Kids and adults alike will love tossing these during your recessional and it makes for great photos. [Blow them up before though!!]

You should also keep in mind that the background noise of the ocean will make it much harder to hear. It is often difficult to hear a couple say their vows in a silent church; if you have added wave and seagull noise, it would make sense to rent a small PA system. Or, if you don’t like the idea of using a microphone your celebrant can use one and hold for you during your vows,  or practice projecting your voice beforehand .

I have a portable 100W battery powered PA system with mics available for rental if you choose to have them for your ceremony.

Photos – Your photographer will give you more advice but don’t be afraid to get your feet wet and a walk along the beach with your bridal party is always an unforgettable moment.  


Meanings of Flowers and Choosing your Bouquet

Each flower has a meaning derived through a combination of history, legend, art, and style. These meanings are communicated through the colour and shape of each flower, a subtle yet undeniable effect.

My favorite flower is a daisy.  The name daisy comes from “day’s eye” because the flower english_daisyis only open during the day and closes up or ‘sleeps’ at night. The daisy brings a message of innocence and purity, and always has positive meanings. The simple flower can be found in ancient folklore. For instance, there is a belief among folks that Daisy flowers can tell you about the feelings of your beloved. You just have to pull petals from a flower, keep saying “loves me/ loves me not” and the last petal would tell the truth. I remember doing this so many times while growing up!!!

Here are some meanings and symbol-isms of flowers often found in wedding bouquets.


Long a symbol of love and passion, the ancient Greeks and Romans associated roses with Aphrodite and Venus, goddesses of love. Used for hundreds of years to convey messages without words, they also represent confidentiality. In fact, the Latin expression “sub rosa”(literally, “under the rose”) means something told in secret, and in ancient Rome, a wild rose was placed on the door to a room where confidential matters were being discussed.

rose-flowerEach colour offers a distinct meaning: red, the lover’s rose, signifies enduring passion; white, humility and innocence; yellow, expressing friendship and joy; pink, gratitude, appreciation and admiration; orange, enthusiasm and desire; white lilac and purple roses represent enchantment and love at first sight. The number of stems in a rose bouquet can also express specific sentiments. The June birth month flower and the 15th wedding anniversary flower.


Originally from Persia and Turkey, tulips were brought to Europe in the 16th century, where they got their common name from the Turkish word for gauze (with which turbans were wrapped) – reflecting the turban-like appearance of a tulip in full bloom.  By the 17th century, the popularity of tulips, particularly in the Netherlands, became so great that the price of a single bulb soared to new heights, causing markets to crash and putting into motion “tulip mania.”

Although different tulip colours carry distinct meanings – yellow tulips symbolizing cheerful thoughts, white conveying forgiveness and purple representing royalty – a Turkish legend may be responsible for the red tulip’s symbolism. The story goes that a prince named Farhad was love struck by a maiden named Shirin.  When Farhad learned that Shirin had been killed, he was so overcome with grief that he killed himself – riding his horse over the edge of a cliff.  It’s said that a scarlet tulip sprang up from each droplet of his blood, giving the red tulip the meaning “perfect love.”

tulipsThe 11th wedding anniversary flower, it’s said that the tulip’s velvety black centre represents a lover’s heart, darkened by the heat of passion. With the power to rival roses in their red variety and the sweet charm to express simple joy when yellow, it’s no wonder that in addition to all its other symbolism, in the language of flowers, a tulip bouquet represents elegance and grace.


With a history that dates back more than 2,000 years, it’s not surprising that carnations are rich with symbolism, mythology and even debate. While some scholars suggest that their name comes from the word “corone” (flower garlands) or “coronation” because of its use in Greek ceremonial crowns, others propose that it’s derived from from the Latin “carnis” (flesh) referring to the flower’s original pinkish-hued colour or “incarnacyon” (incarnation), referring to the incarnation of God-made flesh.

Today, carnations can be found in a wide range of colours, and while in general they express love, fascination and distinction, virtually every colour carries a unique and rich association. White carnations suggest pure love and good luck, light red symbolizes admiration, while dark red represents deep love and affection. Purple carnations imply capriciousness, and pink carnations carry the greatest significance, beginning with the belief that they first appeared on earth from the Virgin Mary’s tears – making them the symbol of a mother’s undying love.

Worn on Mother’s Day, Teacher’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day (in green, of course!) and at weddings, this hardy, sweetly fragrant flower is the January birth month flower and the 1st wedding anniversary flower.


daffodilSymbolizing rebirth and new beginnings, the daffodil is virtually synonymous with spring. Though their botanic name is narcissus, daffodils are sometimes called jonquils, and in England, because of their long association with Lent, they’re known as the “Lent Lily.” Lore connecting the daffodil to not only a sign of winter’s end but a lucky emblem of future prosperity is found throughout the world. In Wales, it’s said if you spot the first daffodil of the season, your next 12 months will be filled with wealth, and Chinese legend has it that if a daffodil bulb is forced to bloom during the New Year, it will bring good luck to your home.

The March birth flower and the 10th wedding anniversary flower, a gift of daffodils is said to ensure happiness. But always remember to present daffodils in a bunch – the same legends that associate this cheerful flower with good fortune warn us that when given as a single bloom, a daffodil can foretell misfortune.


With a history that dates back to 15th century B.C., chrysanthemum mythology is filled with a beautiful_chrysanthemummultitude of stories and symbolism. Named from the Greek prefix “chrys-“ meaning golden (its original colour) and “-anthemion,” meaning flower, years of artful cultivation have produced a full range of colours, from white to purple to red. Daisy-like with a typically yellow centre and a decorative pompon, chrysanthemums symbolize optimism and joy. They’re the November birth flower and  the 13th wedding anniversary flower.

In Japan, there’s even a “Festival of Happiness” to celebrate this flower each year. A symbol of the sun, the Japanese consider the orderly unfolding of the chrysanthemum’s petals to represent perfection, and Confucius once suggested they be used as an object of meditation. It’s said that a single petal of this celebrated flower placed at the bottom of a wine glass will encourage a long and healthy life.


The most highly coveted of ornamental plants, the delicate, exotic and graceful orchid represents love, luxury, beauty and strength. In ancient Greece, orchids were associated with virility. In fact, Greek women believed that if the father of their unborn child ate large, new orchid tubers, the baby would be a boy. If the mother ate small orchid tubers, she would give birth to a girl.


During the Victorian era, orchid symbolism shifted to luxury, and today this sense of magnificence and artful splendour continues, with orchids representing rare and delicate beauty. The 14th wedding anniversary flower, pink orchids convey pure affection, and the popular cattelya orchid represents mature charm.


beautiful_sunflower_hd_picture_169107While their distinctive and brilliant appearance makes it easy to see why sunflowers have long held our fascination, when they were first grown in Central and South America, it was more for their usefulness (providing oil and food) than beauty. And perhaps this unique combination of striking beauty and utility is, in part, why sunflowers have appeared as such revered symbols throughout the ages.

It’s said that the natives of the Inca Empire worshiped a giant sunflower, and that Incan priestesses wore large sunflower disks made of gold on their garments. Images of sunflowers were found in the temples of the Andes mountains, and Native American Indians placed bowls of sunflower seeds on the graves of their dead. The Impressionist period of art is famous for its fascination with the sunflower, and this striking flower remains today a commonly photographed and painted icon of uncommon beauty.

The 3rd wedding anniversary flower, sunflowers turn to follow the sun. Their open faces symbolize the sun itself, conveying warmth and happiness, adoration and longevity.


With their wildflower beauty and lush texture, asters have long been considered an enchanted flower. In ancient times, it was thought that the perfume from their burning leaves could drive away evil serpents. Today, they’re known as a talisman of love and a symbol of patience. Also known as starworts, Michaelmas daisies or Frost flowers, the name aster is derived from the Greek word for “star,” and its star-like flowers can be found in a rainbow of colours – white, red, pink, purple, lavender and blue, with mostly yellow centres. The September birth flower, asters also hold the honour of being the 20th wedding anniversary flower.

NZ Marriage Bill Amendment

I watched Parliament for the first time in ages [!!!], on Wednesday night, in anticipation of the vote for legalizing same sex marriage. The amendment was passed, and the gallery started singing “Pokarekare Ana” after the decision was announced.

The definition for love [” An intense feeling of deep affection”] is now to be defined in a marriage for all couples wanting to get married in New Zealand. Enjoy this footage of the decision and the singing :-).

The First dance

The ‘First Dance’ at your Wedding.

The “first dance” of a married couple is a popular element at many post-wedding celebrations, not just here in Russell, but in modern traditions throughout the world. Exactly like an old-fashioned ball, the idea is that the married couple, as the guests of honour at a dance, open the dancing, not that they perform a choreographed duet for spectators. Sometimes, to further the traditional gender roles of father-daughter relationships in weddings (similar to ‘giving away’) the bride and father of the bride may share a dance either as the first dance or after the husband-wife one.

In the past, the first wedding dance was commonly a waltz. In modern times ballroom dancing is no longer a widespread skill, and rehearsing the “first dance” has become a lucrative business for dance studios and independent dance instructors. Today around New Zealand more popular dances include the foxtrot, merengue, and swing. Alternatively, many couples just do a “slow dance”. More recently, some couples have been known to introduce a surprise into their dance to shock and humour their audience e.g. by dancing to a song in a mock disco style.

Check out this great You Tube clip for a fantastic take on a ‘first dance’!