The Procrastinator Bride? Your last minute wedding planning handbook

Are you a procrastinator bride? That is, have you left all your wedding planning til the last minute (and now you’re stressing out)?

Just watching Say Yes to the Dress I feel stressed for the girls who only have one or two months til their wedding and haven’t yet chosen their gowns! My wedding dress took six months to get made, if I’d procrastinated, I would never have been able to have my dream dress!

So this is the wedding planning procrastinator’s handbook – what to do if you’ve left things til the last minute, or perhaps you’re planning a wedding in a short time-frame, so you don’t have the luxury of months. Of course, if you’re using the little white book, you can’t possibly procrastinate, but just in case…

You haven’t found a wedding venue

If you haven’t secured a wedding venue you love, or the ones you loved are booked well in advance, think outside the square. In most countries there are thousands of private properties which are suitable for a hiring for a wedding. In New Zealand, the wedding map operates like an ‘Air BnB’ for wedding venues – you can search by location or category (e.g. beach/barn) and specifically opt for a private home, as we did.

You still need to ask any and all questions you possibly have about hiring a wedding venue before you sign a contract – even when you’re in a rush! You may be working on a tight deadline, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have time for clarification. The little white wedding planning pack includes all those niggly questions, including the legals you need to know.

Consider restaurants, art galleries or even museums for your gathering. Auckland’s new food and yoga studio TRUE for example is a perfect reception space, overlooking beautiful Okahu Bay, this stunning studio has the most incredible light and energy. Oh, and TRUE’s food is by none other than Masu’s Nic Watt, so catering is a cinch too!

If you can’t find a suitable caterer… Talk to local restaurants and see if they’re able to provide even just the main course. Friends and family may be able to whip up canapés, crudités and cheese for after, and your wedding cake can do double-duty for dessert –add cream and berries for a summer feel.

If that just reminded you that you haven’t organized a cake… Do you really need one? Honestly, if you hadn’t thought of it til now, or you’ve been putting it off, is it a must-have? If so, most cake bakers will be able to whip up something simple even at short notice. When our wedding cake was damaged en route to the venue in February (not their fault), our cake bakers PaulaJane Cakes offered to prepare something else for us with no notice! We actually declined, and ate the damaged cake for breakfast on the morning of the wedding #whynot?!

You forgot about the flowers? If you’ve already called Rose Tinted Flowers but you can’t get her at short notice, source a wholesale florist locally and choose your own blooms, Don’t worry about an elaborate floral arrangement, just arrange the flowers and greenery in pretty vases – I like The Pretty Prop Shop for those.

You couldn’t decide on a wedding dress, so you put it to the back of your mind… While this wasn’t the way I played it, the girls on Say Yes to the Dress appear to be coping, as can you. Purchase off the rack and have altered to perfectly fit you – just allow at least 2 weeks to do so for the perfect fit. Oh, and I’m selling mine, if you’re size 8 and want to feel like a princess in blush pink couture…

What about the bridesmaids dresses? I struggled with bridesmaids’ dresses myself, as I bought four, wanting a slightly different one for my Maid-of-Honour, and then just couldn’t find the right colour. I played ‘trial and error’ with The Iconic though, and it wasn’t long until I had the perfect dress in just the right shade. I love this website because not only is shipping free… return shipping is free too (and they pick up from your house). A quick search of ‘bridesmaid dresses‘ reveals hundreds of styles, while just browsing women’s dresses will take you through almost 4000. I also by shoes, handbags and other accessories on The Iconic – it’s where my bridesmaids got their shoes too.

If you tried to DIY wedding invites and it didn’t go so well… Hit up Etsy! If you haven’t already used etsy for your centrepieces, favours or bridesmaids’ gifts (don’t forget those!), you’re missing out, and wedding invites and other stationery is a specialty.


You don’t have wedding bands… That’s okay, these are easy. Within approximately just four days, The Diamond Shop will handcraft your wedding rings from a solid bar of your precious metal choice (most large jewellers mass produce rings by cutting them off a pre-made tube of gold). They can also engrave your real handwriting in the ring by scanning a pre-written note: names, initials, wedding dates, religious symbols and hearts are among the most popular options.

Can’t find a live musician? Contact a music school or a University music class to find a student or instructor, or even a band. If the delay in booking is due to the expense involved, consider a DJ – we had The Ridler DJ and he kept our guests dancing all night, and Jan Holland DJ comes highly recommended too. Of course, you could always put together your own playlist instead, just be sure to check the sound system in the days before the wedding.

Writing your vows and wedding speech is tricky whenever you do it – when else are you expected to express your most personal feelings in front of dozens (if not hundreds) of people? Even if you’re a wordsmith, it’s unique to share such intimate and private feelings in public, but its also one of the most special and sentimental elements of a wedding, and important that your promises are witnessed by friends and family. I recommend keeping a diary throughout your wedding planning journey, noting down things you love and admire in your partner, recalling special memories and making speech notes along the way. If you haven’t done this and there’s not long to go, spend an evening with your partner and a bottle of wine and discuss your shared history, favourite memories and intentions for the future.

Seating arrangements… again, this was done over a bottle of wine: many suggest writing names on post-its and moving them around until everyone has a seat. We started by putting small groups together, say 4 names to a post-it, and shifting them around until we felt everyone was well-matched. Of course, you could cut the post-it of four into two’s or singles if you don’t succeed that way, but it’s a less intimidating way to start. Think groups of 4 of your school friends, groups of two like-minded couples, and groups who know each other anyway. We also seated the groomsmen’s wives and girlfriends together.

Marriage Licences need to be applied for at least three clear days out from the wedding, but you can do so up to three months out, so don’t delay (we know the Government don’t do things in a hurry!). See NZ marriage legalities here.

For most things, ask for help. Those who have been married are usually very understanding of the number of loose ends to tie in the ‘final countdown’ and be happy to help. Friends, parents of friends and family too, probably want to get involved (I know I do!) so don’t be afraid to ask them to lend a hand.

The way I designed the little white book was to avoid any need for last-minute planning: the 12 month countdown diary has wedding planning checklists at suitable intervals, so you’re prompted to tick things off as you go and not leave it all til the last minute. Whatever you need to organise, head to the wedding planning index for how to guides and inspiration. If you get stuck, (whether you’re a customer or not), please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me at [email protected] and I’ll see if I can help.