OMG I FINALLY DID IT! Excuse the interruption, but after years and years of being asked how to actually find a wedding venue, I have created a free wedding vendor directory site for New Zealand, Fiji, Rarotonga and Samoa, which enables couples to search and find hundreds of wedding venues in one place! This article is still full of lots of handy tips on how to find a wedding venue, but the smartest thing you can do right now is check our “Our Wedding“!
Having started your budget and at least a draft guest list, it’s time to find a wedding venue. If you haven’t at least attempted those yet, I suggest you head back to first steps to plan a wedding. Without a little structure and planning in advance, it can be really hard to gauge whether a wedding venue is going to be appropriate for you.
How to Find a Wedding Venue: Overview
- Where to begin searching for a wedding venue in Auckland (and greater Auckland/Northland/surrounds);
- Browsing wedding venues via wedding vendors and photographers;
- How to choose between wedding venues;
- What to consider before you sign a wedding venue contract; and
- Suggestions for Auckland wedding venues by type (e.g. BYO, budget, unique, large venue, auckland vineyards)
Where to begin searching for a wedding venue in Auckland & surrounds
We are just so spoiled for choices of wedding venues in New Zealand, and Aucklanders are some of the luckiest kiwis when it comes to picking a spot to get hitched. Whether you’re looking for a venue in Auckland city itself, want to head across the water for a beautiful Waiheke Island wedding, or you’re planning a wedding a little further afield in Coromandel or Bay of Islands, you’re inundated with options!
Browse, Pin, Save… Stalk?
To find a beautiful wedding venue that’s right for you, there’s a few ways to start, but of course my first tip has to be to head to my new wedding vendor directory, www.ourwedding.co.nz! Once you’ve browsed what’s available, my second favourite method is to browse some of our best wedding vendors’ websites and go from there. This gives you the ability to not only find a beautiful location, but also helps you to work out what style of photography, and perhaps even style of wedding you like.
Wedding photographers especially will feature their most beautiful weddings on their site, and you’re likely to come across wedding venues you’ve never seen before too. You’ll also potentially discover the best local photography spots and hideaways nearby those wedding venues – which can be huge drawcards too, and help you choose a venue.
P.S. Get a little stalker-ish: See if there are any pictures showing a wedding hashtag that you can creep on via Instagram (couples often put it onto a sign that ends up in the wedding photos) and get a more personal look at the wedding venue through the eyes of a guest.
See also: How to actually find a wedding venue.
Google & Wedding Venue Directories
Another way of finding Auckland wedding venues of course is to ‘google’, and you will also be able to find some ‘Auckland wedding venue directories’ – like those on Christchurch Weddings or Auckland Weddings. Wedding directories can be a great source of information, BUT, like magazines, they only feature those venues and vendors which pay for their inclusion – so it’s not going to provide you with a complete picture. Update: OurWedding is a brand new and free directory, so it can provide you with a complete picture!
Auckland, Hamilton, Bay of Islands or Coromandel Wedding Venues
If you’re looking to browse for venues in Auckland and surrounds, I suggest starting with The Official Photographers or Nardia Buist – two photographers I’ve personally worked with and can vouch for. Their photography is sure to inspire your choice of venue! Each of the photos in this article are The Official Photographers’ work, as was our wedding.
How do you choose between two great locations or venues?
If you find it hard to actually choose between various locations, e.g. a great Auckland city venue and a great Bay of Islands venue, you need to put pen to paper. The same applies if you’re choosing between two great venues in the same location.
Create a table with the potential Auckland wedding venues or locations across the top, and all of their various favourable attributes in a list, then mark an X on whichever of the two is the best in each category. Not only will you have a table full of X marks (and hopefully more in one column than the other) but you’ll have given each venue a serious thought, and thought about all the elements that are important to you.
I also recommend you create a spreadsheet of the key attributes of each wedding venue you’re interested in, so that you can compare venues in terms of cost, available dates, restrictions, catering options, type, layout, and any other pros and cons which are relevant to you.
Take a road trip to discover wedding venues
Still struggling? Plan a weekend getaway and explore! Take a road trip over to Bethells Beach Cottages, or a longer drive to Kauri Bay Boomrock. You could do a vineyard tour through one of the many wine regions near Auckland, stopping at each venue for a look around, (and a wine for the passenger), head out for a weekend away, and take your time to see where you fall in love with.
Waiheke Island is only 30 minutes’ ferry from Auckland and is one of the most beautiful spots in the country to get married. Mudbrick and Cable Bay are two of the most popular vineyard wedding venues on Waiheke, Lavender Hill is a stunning house available for hire, and Delamore Lodge is worth a look too. My Waiheke is another great place to start to begin planning your Waiheke Island wedding day once you’ve found a wedding venue too
Also a short distance from Auckland are the vineyards and wedding venues of Kumeu, where you’ll find Gracehill Vineyard Estate, among others. There’s lovely accommodation nearby at Rosebud Cottage too, where Blair and I stayed last year, and the best cake-bakers in the business – PaulaJane Cakes – are nearby. Further north is Matakana (see Ascension Wine Estate), and beyond that, Bay of Islands, so hit the road and explore. A quick note though… Don’t just turn up at wedding venues especially on a Friday or Saturday – you might crash a wedding!.
Email their coordinator to enquire about package and pricing options. Set out an email with any preferred dates or at least the month and days of the week, and the approximate number of guests you intend to have, and then only make an appointment to view if you can afford it. This also avoids potential disappointment in visiting the venue only to find that your date is already booked. It also gives you an insight into how helpful they may be to communicate with over email – a valuable part of wedding planning.
Around 12 months prior to the wedding is the ideal time to do so, so that you can see how the venue will look on your wedding day, and it is also a key booking to have in place early, so that you can organise everything else.
Once you’ve found a wedding venue, or a wedding location
When you’re looking at various venues on the internet, it can be hard to get a general feel for the wedding, without seeing actual wedding photos at the venue. Or, if you know the general location but you haven’t come across the right wedding venue yet, this technique is also effective, in which case just use the name of the location, or the name of a nearby venue.
For example, I was looking for a Bay of Islands wedding venue, and knew of the BOI wedding venue Eagles Nest, so I searched “Eagles Nest Wedding Photography” and found a wedding shot by Jess Burges. From there, I was able to explore Jess’s other weddings, and find other venues in her location, such as Kerikeri, Whangarei and Mangawhai.
For wedding photography of the specific venue, I’d head to both the venue’s Facebook page, and also type into Google “Wedding Photography [Venue Name]” to browse.
In Matakana, a popular wedding venue is Ascension Wine Estate, so I would search “Ascension Wine Estate Wedding Photography” and find a photographer’s website to browse, and see if there were any other nearby wedding venues that appealed.
After using these tools, I’m certain you’ll have identified plenty of wedding venues in Auckland and nearby!
Found your Dream Wedding Venue
Just before you breathe a sigh of relief that you’ve found your dream wedding venue, I suggest you take a step back and take a second look through the below list of considerations. Once you know everything you need to about the venue, revisit the budget and double-check that the wedding venue fits all your requirements. Though you might be willing to go slightly above the budget for your dream location, you need to know exactly how much above the budget that will be.
What else to consider:
This list is an excerpt from the wedding planning pack, which includes all the questions you need to know and ask of each of your wedding vendors.
- Don’t book the first venue you see (your fiance isn’t the first man you ever met, is he?!), make sure to weigh up a couple and ensure you’re not just ‘getting it over with’!
- Consider all the venue’s options for photography, and always look at real weddings at the venue;
- Dates can book up quickly at popular venues, so call around to check on date availability before falling in love with a particular wedding venue only to find that the season is full;
- Ask for minimum spend or per-head cost during the initial phone call or visit, to ensure it’s within your price bracket;
- A more expensive venue but incredibly beautiful wedding venue might save you money on decor, flowers and lighting;
- Your venue will play a huge roll in determining the theme and ambiance of your wedding;
- An all-inclusive price will save you a lot of worry, but if that’s not possible, make sure you understand what is or is not included;
- Don’t be afraid to ask for a discount if you’re booking a weekday, last minute, etc.
- Consider a spot where your guests can ‘getaway’ for the weekend and turn it into a real holiday;
- Always have a contingency plan for weather, and if the only reason you like a venue is because it will be stunning on a perfect day, rethink this plan;
- Find out if the venue offers a wedding planning or organisation service;
- Ask if you’ll have exclusive use of the venue, and what time you can occupy it until;
- Take care before you sign on the dotted line – a wedding venue contract should be entered into with the consideration you’d give any other contract (can you tell I’m a lawyer). Read every line and clause, discuss anything you don’t understand with the vendor (or a lawyer), and don’t feel pressured to sign straight away. Some questions to ask before signing include:
- What are the noise restrictions?
- Does the venue have an events manager?
- Where can your guests stay nearby?
- Can you bring in whatever outside vendors you want?
- Are the kitchen facilities available for those vendors?
- Is there tableware included?
- How many tables fit into the room?
- What is the sound system provided?
- Is it a licensed venue? What time does the licence go until?
- Is there enough lighting provided?
- Are you allowed to light candles? Throw confetti? Have fireworks?
- Where can guests park?
- What is the weather contingency plan?
- If it’s BYO, what’s the corkage fee?
- For the full list, see the wedding planning pack or bundle.
Unique Auckland Wedding Venues for inspiration!
- Kelly Tarlton’s – 100 seated guests (200 for a cocktail event)
- Auckland Zoo
- Bethells Beach Cottages
- Art Gallery (Gus Fisher is great!)
- Auckland Museum (overlooking the beautiful domain)
- Law Society Rooftop Terrace
- Chateau Tongariro (a little further out of Auckland)
- Stardome Observatory
- The Redwoods Treehouse
- Orams Marine Boat Park
BYO Auckland Wedding Venues
- Okahu Waterfront Venue ($20 per bottle corkage)
- Maritime Room
- Mantells, Mt Eden
- Flaxmere House
- Honeysuckle Boutique
- Ponsonby Central Sapphire Room
- French Bay Yacht Club
Large Auckland Wedding Venues
- The Cordis (prev Langham)
- Auckland Museum
- Kauri Bay Boomrock
- Mantells, Mt Eden
- Alexandra Park Events Centre
- Manukau Events Centre
- Stamford Plaza Auckland Hotel
Budget Auckland Wedding Venues
- Gracehill Vineyard Estate
- Skinny Love Weddings
- French Bay Yacht Club
- The Bluestone Room
- Five Knots
- Other Community Halls
Auckland Vineyard Wedding Venues
- Villa Maria Estate (South Auckland)
- Gracehill Vineyard Estate (Kumeu)
- Markovina Vineyard Estate (Kumeu)
- Soljans Vineyard (Kumeu)
- Ascension Wine Estate (Matakana)
- Plume Vineyard (Matakana)
- Mudbrick Vineyard & Restaurant (Waiheke)
- Cable Bay (Waiheke)
- Casita Miro (Waiheke)
I’d love to hear any other suggestions you have for Auckland wedding venues, leave me a comment. Choosing your wedding venue is just one of the many decisions to make, do so with ease by purchasing the little white book & wedding planning pack in the discounted bundle.
All photos © The Official Photographers