There was never any question James and I would get married in Raglan.
When we drove over the hill into this very special little town, our hearts were captured and we knew this was where we belonged. We were lucky enough to stumble into, and become part of, one of the most wonderful and heartwarming communities.
I have never been so totally embraced by such a group of strong, beautiful, independent, creative and kind women. Artists, designers, teachers, writers, florists, photographers, chefs, nurses, mothers, wives… friends. When my husband asked me to marry him, I wanted to share my day with these women who so loved me. And they wanted to share it with me. James and I wanted something small and intimate. ‘Understated elegance’ was the mantra – a natural, clean style. long_line With the photographer, there was only ever one person I wanted – Geb Burns.  I had seen Geb’s work at an exhibition at Rock-it Kitchen, and immediately fell in love with it. She has this amazing way of capturing light; dreamy, moody landscapes where colours are washed into a haze of tones. I went to see Geb at her home one rainy morning. We sat at her kitchen table, with the sound of tui in the trees, and discussed what I was hoping for. She showed me image after gorgeous image, and I knew she was the one to capture the feeling of our day. All I wanted was what she is so good at. I wanted her to see us, and wash us in that glorious light of hers. I wanted that to be the mood I felt every time I looked back, over the years to come, and recalled our day. We visited the sight of the ceremony several times together. I trusted Geb completely with my vision, as it became hers. On the wedding morning she came up early to shoot us getting ready, sharing in the joy of the day but never intrusive. Geb’s skill at capturing the feeling of a moment is so important, and shines in every photo taken that day. She turned a situation that could have been so unnatural and stilted, into something natural, elegant, fun and playful. And she stayed later than planned, in order to capture the special moments that can often get lost in the big picture. Geb saw us. She saw my husband and I. In the most beautiful way. long_line Angela Hardy, the creative genius behind Leef Floral Deisgn, was my go to gal. On many evenings, drinking tea or a having glass of wine, on her deck overlooking the harbour, we hatched the most beautiful ideas to make my wedding day something perfect. After asking me very simple questions to get a feeling for what I was after, she presented me with options that were exactly what I had thought of, but didn’t have the ability to explain. Not only did she discuss bouquets, table arrangements and decorations, but between us we came up with the design aesthetic for the entire wedding! James and I got married on the 31st March, which as I learned is not the most auspicious time for the flowers I was longing for. But Ange went out of her way to source the most stunningly scented heritage roses from a tiny grower in the foothills of Mt Pirongia. We went out together one dewy early morning in our gumboots, and walked through beds of roses, learning names and scents and colours. Blue and silver gum came from the property of local friends; foliage came from my own garden; twisty willow came from her backyard, Ange’s beautiful mum came down and helped fill jar after jar with posies. Ange has such a personal touch with everything she does, it helped to create such a beautiful intimate feeling throughout the entire process. I was able to completely relax, knowing that she had my vision in her head and would execute it with such style and grace. She pinned the buttonhole on my dad’s lapel, and the corsage on my mama’s dress. She hand-delivered my exquisite bouquet and we had a hug and a cry. She stood up and spoke to my husband and I at our wedding ceremony. There is no one in the world I would rather have shared this experience with. Her artistic vision, her ability to feel a situation, to be gentle and kind and fun, is a wonder. Not only a fantastic artist, but my soul sister in life. Having two of my dear friends share their wisdom, expertise, joy and love with me for my wedding is something I will never forget. Marrying that person you want to share the rest of your life with is never to be forgotten. Sharing it with your closest friends turns it into a thing of true beauty.

“And in the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures.  For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.”

- Khalil GIbran

  long_line Photography - Geraldine Burns – g. DESIGN

Florist - Leef Floral Design

Venue - Rock-it



Stephanie and Mike tied the knot at their family farm in Te Mata, Raglan on February 11th, 2017. Stephanie shares the details of their rustic celebration.

Tell us about the proposal …
We had a full weekend planned – our friends 30th birthday in Warkworth on the Saturday and Mike’s birthday on the Sunday – so I wasn’t expecting a proposal at all! I had Friday off work and Mike was busy working on his family farm. He came and asked me to give him a hand with something outside, so we made our way up to the back of the farm. We arrived at a paddock that’s a special spot for us, because we’ve talked about building our dream home there one day. There was a towel lying on the grass with a handmade wooden sign that read, “Will you marry me?” The ring was sitting in the circle of the question mark. Mike got down on one knee and asked me to marry him – I started crying and of course I said yes! He had a bottle of champagne and we celebrated on the edge of Mount Karioi overlooking Raglan. It was the most perfect proposal and a great start to a weekend of celebrations!

How did you meet?
Mike and I met at a New Year’s Eve party in Mount Maunganui. We were together for seven years before we got engaged, so both our families were so excited that we had finally made it official! Mike asked my Dad for permission to marry me and Dad’s response was “I’d like that very much,” followed by, “I would have let you know by now if you weren’t part of the family”! We had a short six-month engagement.

Why did you decide to get married in Raglan?
Raglan has always been close to our hearts, and we knew immediately that we wanted to get married there. Mike grew up in Raglan – he was born and raised in Te Mata on the family farm. I grew up not far away, in Hamilton. After Mike and I had been together for a few years, we moved to Australia together and when we returned home in 2014, Raglan became home for both of us. The family farm backs onto the beach and was perfect for the relaxed, rustic beach wedding we had in mind.

How many guests attended?
We knew it was going to be a big wedding and having the wedding on the family farm meant we weren’t limited in the number of people we could invite. We ended up having 142 guests at our wedding.

Where did you have the ceremony and reception?
Our ceremony was held at the back of the farm overlooking the ocean in the afternoon. The weather was just right – nice and hot but with plenty of big trees and a refreshing west coast breeze. The farm is just stunning and we felt truly grateful to be able to exchange our vows there. To the left of the ceremony spot we had a large marquee set up for our reception. We had bar leaners, tables and umbrellas set up outside so our guests could mix and mingle while we snuck away for our bridal party photos

What were some memorable moments from your wedding day?
One of the memories that sticks out most to us is our ceremony. Seeing each other for the first time on the day was an amazing feeling. Planning a wedding and seeing it all come together at that one point is pretty overwhelming, so getting to the end of the aisle and holding Mike’s hands made everything feel so right. We also loved going down to the beach and having our bridal party photos taken. This was a chance for us to relax and have a good laugh with our closest friends.

Were there any hiccups on the day?
On the day everything went according to plan. We stayed at separate places the night before the wedding and when I woke up with my friends, the sun was shining and I remember feeling like a weight was lifted off my shoulders. I knew everything was going to be perfect. Our ceremony was at 3pm so we had plenty of time to get ready. I felt so excited and couldn’t wait to see Mike.

If you could do it all over, is there anything you would do differently?
There wouldn’t be much that we would change to be honest. We had six months to plan our wedding and for us, that was easy. Being together for so long before the engagement meant we already knew what each other liked and wanted on the day.

Tell us about the wedding rehearsal – did you and your guests find it useful?
We had a small wedding rehearsal the day before the wedding for the bridal party. It was mostly to see where everyone was going to be standing and make sure everyone knew where they were supposed to be on the day. We found it helpful because it was good to have everyone on the same page. Most of us were already at the venue setting up for the wedding, so it didn’t take long at all.

How did you find your photographer?
Our relationship with our photographer Geb (Geraldine Burns) was really important to us. The photographer shares your special day with you from start to finish, so you need to get to know them and feel comfortable with them. I found Geb on the Hitched in Raglan website. We met at the pub for a catch up and from the first meeting we knew she was going to be perfect! Mike and I wanted a relaxed photographer who could have a good laugh. Mike’s not big on photos so it was really important to us that we got along with our photographer to help ensure our photos looked natural. We met Geb a second time and took her and Andre (her assistant) out to the farm and showed them where everything was going to be. I think they were just as excited as we were!

What help did you get from family and friends?
We knew we wanted our wedding on the family farm – and to be honest, Mike’s parents wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. It was always going to be a big job getting everything organised and wedding-ready but it had to be done. We had a few working bee weekends leading up to the big day and we had huge love and support from our extended families. Everyone pitched in and put in long hours to help out, and in the end it come together beautifully. Without the love and support from all our amazing friends and family our wedding wouldn’t have been as perfect as it was. We are forever grateful to those who helped make it happen – you know who you are!

Tell us about your wedding style and colour scheme.
With such beautiful scenery on the farm, we kept our decorations pretty basic and natural. The style was rustic with lots of flowers and wood in shades of cream and white. The bridesmaids wore navy and the groomsmen wore light grey suits. Everyone looked stunning! We kept everything pretty low-key so everyone could fall in love with the stunning view!

How does it feel to be married?
It feels so good to be married! Marrying my best friend means we get to spend the rest of our lives together laughing, making each other happy, and eventually starting a family together. We’re so excited for the next stages of our lives.

Did you have a honeymoon?
The lead-up to our celebration was pretty full-on, so it was nice to get away and have a break after the wedding. We left for our honeymoon on the Monday after our big day and it was so good to spend some quality time together as husband and wife. Both Mike and I hadn’t spent much time in the South Island so we planned a road trip there. We booked our flights, hired a ute and hit the road to wherever it took us. We personally loved that our honeymoon was immediately after the wedding. Some couples get married in summer and honeymoon in winter, which has its own benefits – but there would be nothing worse than going straight back to work after the best day of your life!

What advice would you give to future brides and grooms?
Take time off before your wedding. You’ll be able to finish off your planning, fit in last-minute appointments and have time to just relax before your big day. You only get married once so if you can, take the whole week off! I did, and it was a huge help.


Photography - Geraldine Burns – g. DESIGN
Venue - Family farm
Bride’s dress - Felicitys Bridal
Bridesmaid dresses - Evolution Clothing
Groomsmen suits - Tailor Made Suits
Make-up - Paige Churchill- Makeup Artist
Hair - Hannah @ DEDE & DAPH
Flowers - Carly @ Love Vintage
Celebrant - Tania Lattaney
Marquee - Mackquee Marquee and Party hire Te Awamutu
Rings – Stephanie’s was brought from Pascoes and Mikes was hand made by Michael Platja at Dinsdale Jewellers (its made out of deer antler)
Cake – we put our cake together ourselves (a “Cheese” cake)


Angelina Gridelli and Harley Muru tied the knot in true Kiwi style at Whale Bay, complete with a haka and waiata. Angelina shares the details of the relaxed celebration with their friends and whānau.

After a 9-year relationship with three children together, Angelina knew Harley would pop the question at some point – it was simply a matter of when. Then during a family holiday in Taranaki, she noticed he bought champagne.

“I thought, ‘Oh, it might happen’,” says Angelina. “But the weekend went past and we drank the champagne and nothing happened.”

It turned out Harley just hadn’t found the right moment – until they stopped to watch the sunset at Mokau beach on the way home. As they stood barefoot in the sand and marvelled at the pink sky with Mt Taranaki in the background, Harley dropped to one knee.

A year later the Raglan locals exchanged vows on the shore of their favourite surfbreak, Whale Bay, guided by local celebrant Sean Ellison.

Harley and his groomsmen made a dramatic entrance by riding to the ceremony on Harley Davidson motorbikes, wearing black short-sleeved shirts suited to the sunny Raglan weather.

The bride wore a blush-coloured dress that she purchesed online from Bridalup. Her hair was styled by Annick Faubert of Tonic Hairdressing, while her natural-looking makeup was applied by Monica Grimshaw from Raglan Beauty Studio.

The celebration was a meeting of cultures, including Angelina’s German and Italian background and Harley’s Māori heritage. Harley’s family spontaneously performed a haka and sang a waiata to officially welcome Angelina into their whānau, creating memorable moments for the newlyweds and their guests.

“For me it was so emotional and powerful,” says Angelina, “and a lot of our guests said they’d never seen a haka or heard a waiata before.”

The couple had their reception at the Raglan Golf Club with around 120 guests. The rustic styling was complemented by flower arrangements from Raglan Buds Flower Farm, as well as plates and cutlery borrowed from the local marae in exchang for a koha. They were entertained by local DJ Barry Rogerson (B.rex) while enjoying a pork and lamb spit roast, along with salads and desserts that were lovingly contributed by guests.

The day was captured beautifully by photographer Jwan Milek, with a mixture of posed photos and more spontaneous shots. “I especially love those candid photos where you’re really in the moment,” says Angelina.

Her advice for brides who are doing most of the wedding planning is to make it easy for your partner to help where they can.

“If you’re the main organiser of the event, help your partner by giving them a list of things they need to do beforehand and on the day. That way they can be involved without having to make the big decisions.”


Photography: Jwan Milek
Ceremony: Whale Bay
Reception: Golf Club
Bride’s dress: Bridalup
Rings: Lauren Haynes, Debrasic
Cake: Harley’s cousin, Kylie Muru
Make-up: Monica Grimshaw, Raglan Beauty Studio
Hair: Annick Faubert, Tonic Hairdressing
Tables, chairs, cutlery and plates: Raglan Marae
Flowers: Raglan Buds Flower Farm
Celebrant: Sean Ellison
Music: B.rex
Blog written by : Briar Douglas, Copy Craving


Andrew Peart asked Christina Schmutz to marry him by flying her to Raglan and writing “will you marry me” in the sand. Unfortunately Christina didn’t realise the message was meant for her…until Andrew dropped to one knee and produced a gigantic flashing plastic diamond ring.

“Of course I said yes!” says Christina. “Then, from behind a bush came a gorgeous little girl carrying some celebration ice-cream. We flew back to Hamilton and I realised Andy wasn’t scared of flying the plane at all, it was just his nerves that had made him so anxious on the way over! On our arrival back in Hamilton the airport staff were waiting to see if we came back together or not. Andy had prepared a packed lunch to enjoy down by the river. It was such a beautiful day.“

Their wedding day was just as beautiful. The couple were married at Whale Bay Reserve on a gorgeous summer’s day in January 2014. “Andy was born in Raglan and has lived here ever since,” says Christina. “Although I’d only lived in Raglan for two years, I felt a special connection with the place and the people – it was the perfect place for our wedding.”

Not so perfect were their plans for a big group photo after the ceremony. Thinking the rocks at Whale Bay would make a picturesque setting, they hadn’t anticipated the difficulty of getting their 180 guests into position. “We had people sliding down the muddy bank, including Andy’s 83-year old granddad, people tripping on the rocks and people giving it a miss completely once they realised the effort it took to get down there. Luckily we can look back on it now and laugh at how terrible it was!”

While Andrew’s proposal was a high-flying one, the newlywed’s entrance to their wedding reception, held in a marquee at Andrew’s family farm in Te Uku, was slightly more sedate – atop two vintage bicycles. Before she met Andy, the thought of riding a bike terrified Christina. “We were going to Andy’s grandparent’s bach at Lake Rotoiti with friends and during our stay we planned to go to the Redwoods for a bike ride. I was very embarrassed but eventually I built up the courage and asked Andy to teach me to ride a bike. For Christmas he brought me my very own vintage bike.”

Their alternative choices of wedding transport didn’t stop there – the couple borrowed the Raglan Surf Academy bus to transport guests from the ceremony to the reception and the rest of their bridal party rolled in behind the wheel of a classic VW Kombi. “We didn’t have a strict theme for our day,” says Christina. “We used bits and pieces from everything we liked and combined it altogether. Overall we had a very rustic look with old pieces of wood used for signs, the archway and the ceremony doors.” 

Wise words

Prepare a list of people you’d like photos with before the wedding day – the day goes by so quickly you don’t remember who you’ve had a photo with. And it only happens once so take lots of photos, they really help capture the memories. 


Carlton Party Hire. They were so helpful and able to cope with last minute changes. They went over and above what I expected! 
Sarah Manning Hair & Makeup. Sarah travelled all the way from Auckland to Raglan. She’s very easy to work with and her communication skills were fantastic. She even went the extra mile helping getting the girls ready.  

Photography: Anne Paar Photography

Dress: Aurora Bridal

Hairdresser: Sarah Manning Hair & Makeup 

Make-Up Artist: Beauty World Hamilton

Florist: Jasmin Aebischer (Cousin) 

Cake: Renee Wilkinson 

Ceremony Venue: Whale Bay Reserve

Reception Venue: Te Uku family farm

Celebrant: Roger Peart 

Stationery: Ourselves and family. Amplifier Graphic Design. Matthias Schmutz (Brother)

Catering: Spit Roast Catering Company

Marquee: Carlton Party Hire, Hamilton. 

RAGLAN BUDS FLOWER FARM – Moroccan Bohemian Tipi Styled Shoot

Styling a Moroccan, Bohemian wedding shoot in Raglan, more tantalizing images from the Raglan Buds, Kristel & Jenny.

Q. What was the idea behind the second stage of your shoot?
For the second shoot we wanted to make it a bit more colorful and decided to go for a Moroccan bohemian theme. Monica the make up artist and Kristel’s daughter Ayla happily played models for this one. Bridget from The White Wedding Club styled the tipi space beautifully with her gorgeous pieces. Alongside the delicious Feast Box platter and Dizzy Ice blocks. We used a colourful array of our homegrown spring bulbs and red waratahs to create the flower designs. At the end of the shoot Kay had an idea for Monica to be laying down on the hides surrounded in blooms so we pulled them all off their stems, threw them around the place and let her play sleeping beauty. We all had a blast, connections and friendships were made and we’re looking forward to working on future projects together.

Q. How do you see Raglan Buds Flower Farm growing in the future?
We envision having every spare inch of our 3 acres covered in colourful, thriving flowers and foliage!! It can take time for plants and flowers to grow so we need to practice patience.
We would like to offer workshops, internships, farm visits and develop our own seed and plant range to share with other garden enthusiasts or growers.

Q. Are you looking forward to the summer season ahead?
Yes! We are very excited for this coming wedding season and can’t wait to play with all the summer blooms that are starting to pop out.

Photographer – Kay Buchanan
Models – Saras Howie, Jono Hutson, Monica Grimshaw and Ayla Lindfield
Props – The White Wedding Club
Floral Design – Raglan Buds Flower Farm
Dress – Dominique Lecourtois Couture
Groom’s Clothing – Atamira
Jewellery – Ocean Inlays, Little Bright and Wonderland
Makeup – Monica Grimshaw
Hair – Tonic Hairdressing
Food and Beverage – Feast Box, Dizzy Blocks, Raglan Brewing Company

Raglan Buds Flower Farm
Phone: 021 257 8729
Email: ​info@raglanbuds.co.nz
Facebook and Instagram

RAGLAN BUDS FLOWER FARM – Woodland Styled Shoot

So what does Raglan have to offer the wedding market? The ladies from Raglan Buds Flower Farm (Kristel & Jenny) set out to showcase the individual talents that Raglan holds. Here’s what they had to say about the first part of their styled shoot :

Q. Who is involved in Raglan Buds Flower Farm ?
A. Kristel Lindfield and Jenny Gaunt, two close friends and neighbours who share a passion for gardening, nature and its ever-changing seasons. We create our designs predominantly using our homegrown flowers and consciously foraged elements. We love nothing more than making connections with others through the universal language of flowers.

Q. What services do you provide?
A. We provide fresh, farm-picked flowers for all occasions.
You can find a selection of our bouquets at the Raglan Four Square or call directly for a customized order with a delivery service for the Raglan to Hamilton areas. Subscriptions and mini subscriptions are also available and make a great gift or can brighten up your home/office/business.
We love to design flowers for all types of weddings and occasions and cater to all budgets.

Q. How did Raglan Buds Flower Farm start?
As busy mums with 6 young kids between us, we wanted to create a business that would fit in around our families and utilize our love of the land. Something that could nurture our passions for growing, creating and working with nature. Having previously focused on growing food and natives, suddenly we launched into the wide world of flowers and foliage and it’s been like learning a magical new language. 

Q. What was the intention of the photo shoot?
To pull together some of the creative souls here in Raglan and collectively showcase their talents and services. Also to have a laugh and play dress ups! 

Q. Please give some details about the day? How did it all go? What was the most enjoyable aspect? The funniest moment?

One of the biggest challenges of organizing this outdoor shoot was having to work around the weather. We eventually managed to get a day with no rain and had perfect overcast conditions. Originally we had planned on doing one big shoot using multiple locations on our properties. In the end we decided to break it up into two different shoots over two days, part 1 being a Woodland themed shoot and part 2, a Moroccan Bohemian Tipi shoot.

The inspiration for the first shoot came from the beautiful bespoke bohemian wedding dress that was made especially for the shoot. We wanted to create a romantic rustic woodland scene. Using muted pastel tones, rich luxurious textures and magical lighting in the bush. Jono and Saras a couple in real life, soon relaxed into their roles. Kay the photographer and Saras the model have a special energy when they work together, and with everyone being friends it made for a fun relaxed vibe.

One of the most memorable parts of that shoot was near the end of the day, the sun was getting really low. We asked Saras if she would mind taking some shots in the creek. She happily obliged and didn’t even batter an eyelid when our pet eels swam up around her feet!

Q. Who was involved?
Photographer – Kay Buchanan
Models – Saras Howie, Jono Hutson, Monica Grimshaw and Ayla Lindfield
Props – The White Wedding Club
Floral Design – Raglan Buds Flower Farm
Dress – Dominique Lecourtois Couture
Groom’s Clothing – Atamira
Jewellery – Ocean Inlays, Little Bright and Wonderland
Makeup – Monica Grimshaw
Hair – Tonic Hairdressing
Food and Beverage – Feast Box, Dizzy Blocks, Raglan Brewing Company

Q. How can couples contact you?
Phone: 021 257 8729
Email: ​info@raglanbuds.co.nz
Facebook and Instagram


Briar Douglas and Ben Chapman-Smith got married on a sunny autumn day in Raglan. Briar tells us about the intimate celebration with their closest family and friends.

Ben and I moved to Raglan in July last year, after falling in love with the relaxed community and beautiful water views during a weekend road trip. And as soon as we saw Solscape – an ocean-facing eco retreat at the foot of Mount Karioi – we knew it was the right place to celebrate our nuptials.

I wanted to wear something a bit different to the conventional white dress (but not so different that no one could tell it was a wedding when they looked at the photos!) I decided on a blush-coloured bridesmaid gown from Jessica Bridal. Eva at Tonic did a great job of styling my hair and my makeup was done by Hayley at Heavenly, using her divine organic cosmetics.

We exchanged vows at the charming Surfside Church in Te Uku. We didn’t want our ceremony to feel too traditional so we walked in together, hand in hand, to the sound of Never Tear Us Apart by INXS.

We were keen to find ways to make the occasion feel more relaxed, so we also had a friend perform a coin toss to decide who would say our vows first, which made our friends and family smile.

After the ceremony, we headed to Solscape for the reception, where our 38 guests were greeted by a breath-taking view of the west coast. Ben grew up on a farm in Te Akau so getting married so near to his childhood home was especially meaningful.

We mingled and ate canapés (prepared by Solscape) that were as eye-catching as they were delicious, including grilled bruschetta, fresh figs with goat cheese, and raw zucchini rolls with sundried tomatoes and cashew ricotta.

Ben and I slipped away for a photo session in Solscape’s beautiful gardens, with our talented Morrinsville-based photographer Lorena Barnes.

We then joined our guests for dinner in the Tui Room – a stunning spot with polished wooden floors and beautiful views. We decorated the tables with chunky white candles and an array of local wild flowers in gold vases.

Near the entrance of our reception room we set up bowls of candy for people to enjoy as they entered. For our two youngest guests – Ben’s nieces, aged two and five – we put colouring books and crayons at their table settings to keep them occupied.

Having meat on our menu was a must for Ben’s farming family! Thankfully, Solscape allowed us to have our meat dishes brought in by well-known local chef Colin Chung. His delicious plates complemented Solscape’s incredible selection of vegetarian food, from cannelloni stuffed with spinach and walnut to key lime pie. Ben’s mum Sandra made our delicious gluten-free chocolate mud cake topped with white icing and blueberries.

We saved money by supplying our own alcohol. There ended up being plenty left over, and the extra bottles of wine and bubbles made great gifts for guests who had helped out on the day.

After dinner we had our first dance to a Cook Islands love song called I raro i te tumunu – a nod to the year Ben and I spent in Rarotonga together. Local DJ Reuben Brown turned Solscape’s deck into the perfect dance floor – even my 80-year-old Grandad got up for a boogie.

As most of our guests travelled to Raglan from around New Zealand and abroad, many stayed at Solscape for the weekend. This gave them more time to get to know each other, so by the end of the weekend many were exchanging contact details and heading off for a surf together.

We were lucky enough to be able to book Solscape for the last weekend of daylight savings, which not only meant it stayed light for longer but also gave us and our guests an extra hour the next day after the clocks went back.

To make the most of it, we had a post-wedding brunch with our friends and family on Solscape’s sunny deck. It was the perfect way to wrap up our celebration, and Solcape’s brunch menu went down a treat.


When it comes to creating atmosphere on your wedding day, nothing does the job quite like music. Waikato bride Kylie Carver shares how Amoroso String Trio helped to strike the right tone on her special day.


Jonathan and I knew we wanted live music for our January celebration at Hamilton Gardens, and Waikato-based Amoroso String Trio definitely brought a sense of occasion.

Choosing the songs we wanted was easy because the trio provided us with a great selection of both classics and modern love songs. They played for around 2.5 hours, with their repertoire including many well-known pieces such as The Bridal Chorus, The Wedding March and The Arrival of the Queen of Sheeba, along with some modern string arrangements such as I’m Yours by Jason Mraz.

They were more than happy to learn a few songs specifically for us, too – including You Raise Me Up by Secret Garden, Stand by Me by Ben E. King and Thinking Out Loud by Ed Sheeran.

Having live musicians at our wedding was useful for those special moments, where timing was particularly important. I made my entrance to Here Comes the Bride, and because the trio told us how long the song would last, I was able to time my walk perfectly. For the signing of the register, Amoroso String Trio played two pieces including Pachebals Canon in D, which they finished just before the speeches that followed.

Our guests raved about how much Amoroso String Trio added to the atmosphere of our day. They were a delight to work with, and we would definitely recommend this amazing trio.


Amoroso String Trio is made up of Anne Marie Bird (cello), Mary Smith (violin) and Gloria White (violin). To find out more, visit their Facebook page.


Why limit yourself to one evening to celebrate your impending nuptials with friends? Renee Smith’s five bridesmaids surprised her with a hen’s weekend away in Raglan, where they enjoyed three days of delicious food, stunning views, water sports and cocktails. Bridesmaids Justine and Nicola share the details of their unforgettable Raglan retreat.


Sweet Escape

We chose a long weekend for Renee’s hen party, to give us extra time away from everyday life. A lot of us hens are friends from school and we wanted to get away properly to catch up like old times. For those who didn’t know each other yet, that time together in Raglan meant everyone was really excited to catch up at the wedding, which was only a week later.

We invited 15 of Renee’s friends and family. Keeping the number reasonably small meant everyone could really get acquainted and the bride-to-be could spend quality time with her loved ones. This was especially important given many guests had travelled from all over New Zealand and Australia. Not everyone arrived at the same time, so those who showed up later were an added surprise for the bride-to-be.


Destination Unknown

Raglan was a natural choice for Renee’s hen celebration because she’s spent a lot of time there with friends over the years. At one point she’d even considered buying property in the area. One of her bridesmaids had a family beach house in Whale Bay that we were able to use, and with its amazing ocean views, it was the perfect location for our mini-retreat. Plus, her local knowledge made it easier for us to find the right vendors to create an amazing experience.

Renee knew we were planning a weekend away but the destination, guest list and activities were all a surprise; her only request was for the event to have a relaxed vibe.

So, after brunch and a pampering session in Hamilton, we blindfolded Renee for the 45-minute drive to Raglan. But knowing the destination so well, she guessed where we were heading – and even told the driver where to go when we got lost!

On arrival, we made sure Renee looked the part by adorning her with a floral crown made by a local florist – and the other guests enjoyed getting creative and making their own flower crowns too.


Action Packed

Most of our guests arrived just after lunch on Saturday. We’d prepared a grazing table and champagne to be enjoyed on the patio, overlooking Whale Bay’s famous surf break. We then enjoyed an amazing dinner including a bounty of local produce, catered by one of Raglan’s resturants, before indulging in cocktails and relaxing in the spa pool.

On Sunday morning, we surprised Renee with a group stand-up paddleboard session run by Raglan Paddleboard Hire, before jumping off the local bridge into the harbour – a dare from the bride-to-be herself! Later, we enjoyed refreshing glasses of Pimms in the sunshine and eventually headed back into Raglan’s town centre to enjoy a meal and live music at Bow Street Depot.

The next day, we cleared our heads with a yoga & pilates class on the lawn of our beach house, where a local instructor and friend of one of the bridesmaids was kind enough to hold a private class for us. It was the perfect end to our Raglan retreat.


Tania and Mark tied the knot at eco venue Solscape on January 30, 2016, on a picturesque lawn overlooking the Tasman Sea. Tania recounts the special moments of their two-day celebration.

As soon as we saw the jaw-dropping ocean view from Solscape’s front lawn, Mark and I knew it was the perfect spot to exchange our vows. It also made an incredible backdrop for the canapé reception, where our guests mingled after the ceremony.

With such a naturally stunning venue, we kept the styling simple with a DIY floral archway as a centrepoint for the ceremony. The covered deck became a spectacular dining area, with only minimal table decorations needed to supplement the beautiful trees, gardens, wooden pergola frame and fairy lights that were already in place.

Solscape’s food was fresh and delicious. As the venue’s kitchen is vegetarian, we supplemented their amazing dishes by providing and cooking our own meat (with the aid of a hired convection oven).

Solscape organised a food tasting for us well in advance of the big day. It meant we could have complete confidence our guests were going to love the meal, and gave us a chance to talk through our wedding day plan with the staff.

On the day before our wedding, we had another meeting to make sure we were all on the same page for the event, and that Mark and I knew who to go to if there were any issues.

Being able to bring our own alcohol to the venue helped us keep to our budget, but you need to remember to organise glasses and pouring facilities. We were lucky enough to be able to borrow a fridge trailer from a family member, but Solscape also offered one of their back fridges to help cool the drinks if we needed it.

After dinner, it was easy to shift aside the tables and form a great dance floor on the deck, while also leaving plenty of space for the non-dancers to sit and chill out on the lawn. Our band, Nicky Keys Trio, did a great job of getting people on the dance floor with a variety of songs that appealed to a range of ages. Frontman Nicky was so laidback and generous with his time; he even turned up an hour before the ceremony to let us use his sound system and mic, even though he wasn’t due to play for six hours!

The band finished playing at 10pm due to sound restrictions, so to wind down from their time on the dancefloor, our guests enjoyed retiring to the converted train behind the venue’s main building for cake and hot chocolate to finish the evening.

Having Solscape as our venue gave us the opportunity to hold our wedding over two days. This was particularly important to us, because some guests had travelled from far away and we wanted to spend as much time with them as possible. Since Mark and I are based in Mount Maunganui, getting married in Raglan also allowed us to get away from our daily lives, giving our celebration that magical holiday feel.

On the second night, we had a pizza evening using Solscape’s wood fire pizza oven. It was incredibly easy and relaxed, with the venue staff taking full control and making sure everything went to plan – enabling us to switch off and relax with our loved ones.

Our guests loved the range of accommodation styles, including the novelty of staying in a tipi or caboose. For those who needed it, there were also self-contained cottages and studios. I recommend carefully choosing where your guests stay, bearing in mind different people’s needs. For instance, you might want to offer the self-contained options to parents with young children, or elderly relatives, to ensure they have a more comfortable stay.

After our celebration, we had $125 in credit at Solscape, and wanted to donate it to a good cause. Solscape owner Phil McCabe offered to match the amount, so we are giving $250 to either the Surf Club or Coastguard as a payback to the Raglan community that was so good to us during our stay.

Find out more about Solscape’s eco-friendly, all-in-one wedding venue on www.solscape.co.nz



With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, chances are romance is on your mind. So what better time to give some thought to immortalising your loved-up feelings on camera? Raglan-based photographer Anne Paar shares her secrets for wedding and engagement photos that are so romantic, they’d put Jane Austin to shame.

Be in the moment

Showing genuine love and joy is key to creating photos that make your heart skip a beat. But how?

First, make sure you find the right photographer – if you don’t feel comfortable with them, it’s going to be hard to let your feelings of love shine through. “You need to trust the photographer completely,” says Anne.

Second, don’t try to force romantic moments or set up the perfect shot. “The best photos are never of the ‘standard’ moments at a wedding,” says Anne. “It’s usually when something unexpected is happening, and it’s up to the photographer to capture that in the best way possible.” To help create those unscripted moments, Anne suggests interacting with your beloved rather than forcing an unatural pose. “Be yourselves, look each other in the eye and forget there’s another person there.”

Set the scene

To give your photos a romantic vibe, there are two crucial things to get right: the lighting, and the scenery.

Anne suggests scheduling your photo shoot for just after sunrise, or just before sunset; with the sun lower in the sky, the light will be softer and you won’t get harsh shadows.

As for scenery, your photographer should have a plan of where to go for the best backdrop. But feel free to suggest any favourite spots, or have your engagement shoot somewhere that holds special meaning for you as a couple – such as where you had your first kiss. “It’s about the energy between the couple, the light, the situation you create as a photographer, and the scenery. If you get that right, you’ve got top-notch photos,” says Anne.

Go natural

Forget the cheesy props that flood your Pinterest feed. “The danger is that in 10 years, those props might be so outdated they’ll make you cringe when you look at them,” says Anne.

Instead, she suggests finding something you connect with on a personal level. “On an engagement shoot, you might try a snuggly blanket to wrap around each other, or a big hat – even your favourite pet. Anything that says something about who you are as a couple can help you get those intimate, romantic shots.”

Embrace the day

Nothing kills romance like stress, so try to relax on the day. If you’ve prepared well and delegated last-minute tasks, it will be easier to take a deep breath and enjoy the moment. Then the only butterflies in your stomach will be from excitement rather than concerns that the cake won’t arrive on time.

As for things you can’t control, such as the weather, it’s all about attitude. “Embrace bad weather!” says Anne. “With umbrellas, a nice sheltered location and your beautiful wedding clothes, it will make for a pretty picture.” Just be sure your photographer has a back-up plan for wet weather, so you know where to go if it rains unexpectedly.

Dress for romance

Anyone who’s seen photos of a bride’s gown billowing in the breeze knows what you wear can help create amazing shots. While it’s a given that your wedding attire will be stunning, what should you wear to your engagement shoot?

Anne says although you’ll want to look natural and wear something you’re comfortable in, you should also make an effort to look presentable.

“Make sure you dress well – don’t arrive in your flip flops.” But don’t play it too safe either – showing some personality can help create that sense of intimacy in your pictures. “Wearing something funky, quirky or colourful – anything but bland – will give your photos that extra bit of spark.”

With many thanks to Anne Paar

Written by Briar Douglas - www.copycraving.co.nz


A boutique glamping experience, that is a perfect honeymoon destination or special accommodation for VIP guests.

The round tent is a boutique camping experience in a Mongolian style yurt. The luxury campsite is a super comfortable environment that has been designed to promote relaxation and romance in a unique setting. All the stylish comforts make it a truly unforgettable getaway.

The chic retreat is 8 minutes drive from Raglan just off the main road on your drive into the township. In a rural setting with a backdrop of established trees and a willow lined pond this is a getaway like no other. This is the camping holiday you have always craved but we’ve thought of everything. We’ve tailor made a glamp site for people to take the ultimate break and unwind with features like an outdoor fire, a stone bath under the stars and the treat of watching movies under canvas.

Come rain or shine the spacious 7m-diameter yurt is a beautiful space to relax in, with every last detail sorted including all your technology requirements. A generous deck and fire pit compliment the tent but on a rainy day there is nothing more soothing than feeling cocooned inside the yurt with the sound of rain on your canvas roof.

An easy walk down the road is the famous Raglan Roast coffee shop and the old Te Uku store where you can pick up basis supplies.

Chat to Jacqui today to confirm your booking:

Jacqui Kay
T. 07 8255745
M. 021428808
E. jacqueline70@yahoo.com


I have always admired my life long friend Fliss Dray, for her endless energy but also for her magical talent that enables her to make the most amazing creations from random bits and bobs that she finds around.

She has taken this to a whole new level with her new business venture the ‘Crafts Collective’, based in the UK, she offers various creative courses to a range of clients and more recently the hen’s party market.

Getting the whole party involved, she gives them the skills to contribute to the brides wedding by making table settings, fascinators, decorations and all kinds of wedding favours. A great way to make the DIY wedding even more special!



A broken-down wedding car, a crushed bridal headpiece and driving rain couldn’t put a damper on Emma and Chanon McPherson’s Raglan wedding day.

“I’ve always believed everything happens in threes,” says Emma. “So once we had a third issue, I knew it would all be smooth sailing from there! “ She was right. Fifteen minutes before the start of their ceremony the rain cleared, the clouds parted and the couple were able to exchange their vows as planned under the trees in Wainui Bush Reserve.

The Auckland-based pair, who met eight years ago in Gracetown, in Western Australia, decided to get married in Raglan because they love the amazing waves, the beautiful scenery and the laidback vibe. “It’s an awesome location as it’s close to Auckland for people flying in or travelling from there, and has a great variety of accommodation. Plus most of our friends surf, so we didn’t have to twist their arms to get them to come here,” says Emma.

Because Emma loves flowers, beautiful floral creations were a big feature of their happy day. (It’s also the reason Chan’s marriage proposal took place in the Auckland Botanic Gardens.) Emma’s friend Elise, who owns Honeybee Wild Flowers in Opotiki, brought along a selection of blooms and put together the bouquets, while the rest of the flowers were picked from Emma and Chan’s garden and the odd roadside verge.

One of Elise’s creations nearly didn’t make the ceremony: Emma’s floral headpiece was sitting in the fridge when it became accidently wedged beneath a big bottle of cider! Luckily Elise was able to conjure up a quick repair-job, hiding the crushed dahlias with flowers pinched from a bouquet.

Their outdoor ceremony was Emma’s favourite part of the day – even if it did take slightly longer than expected because she forgot to bring along the marriage certificate. “My mum had to drive back to the house and search for it! It was fine though, we got heaps of extra time to chat and drink champagne with family and friends. It was a really incredible experience to have nearly all of the people you cherish in your life, there to witness and celebrate such an amazing day.”

After the ceremony, the wedding party made their way to the Raglan Surf Lifesaving Club overlooking Ngarunui Beach, for the reception – in a Toyota Corolla hatchback thanks to the earlier breakdown of their planned Cadillac.

Their decorating theme for the day was a fusion of everything the couple love: “Vintage, beach, Mexican and recycled,” reckons Emma. “We made Mexican paper bunting (papel picado), painted old jars bright colours for vases, and made tea light lanterns by punching holes in old tin cans. I love bright colours!”

For entertainment the couple made their own dance playlist, before friends and family added their own unique talents to the day. Miss Vixation, aka Vicky Crosby, performed one of her extraordinary hula hoop shows, friend Elise serenaded the party with a selection of loop songs and Chan’s family sang songs in Te Reo. “It was so special to have everyone contribute,” says Emma.

Married life, she says, is very happy.Even though we’ve been together for a long time, and have a toddler together, it has made life seem more special. I was a total skeptic and thought it would feel the same, but we both feel pretty excited to be able to call each other Mrs and Mr!”

Wise Words

Vicky (Crosby) brought a trunk of circus toys for the kids to play with during the ceremony, which was amazing. Then we fed them on pizza and a fruit platter so they were ready to go home to babysitters and their parents could relax and cut loose at the reception.

Organise as much as possible in advance. We were still running around at the last minute getting everything in place, and it was a bit stressful at times.


The ladies at Tonic Hairdressing were awesome – they were so fast, happy and did a great job. Hazel Hayes makes the yummiest food ever. A lot of guests told me it was the best wedding food they had ever eaten. I would agree. Sean was a great celebrant. He was funny, moving and professional, and he’s also a great singer. Amy Kate was such a great photographer, as well as her sidekick Patty. They were heaps of fun and easy to hang out with. Marnie Jade was lovely, she came to our house and did my make-up, very relaxing.

Photographer: Amy Kate Photography from Auckland.

Stationery: Chan’s sister Nicola McPherson from Zenipa did our awesome invites.

Make-Up Artist: Marnie-Jade Make-Up Artist from Hamilton.

Hairdresser: The awesome ladies at Tonic Hairdressing in Raglan.

Dress: Chan’s Aunty Denise handmade my beautiful dress, with Victorian-era antique lace from my mum.

Cake: Chan’s Aunty Mal made amazing chocolate cakes.

Florist: The amazing Elise from Honeybee Wild Flowers in Opotiki.

Celebrant:  Sean Ellison from Raglan, legend.

Transport:  The last-minute Toyota Corolla hatchback. Classy!

Entertainment: Vicky Crosby (Miss Vixation) hula hooper extraordinaire.

Catering: Hazel Hayes Café and Catering in Hamilton.


We are very excited to say that we have new vendors that have recently joined the site and
added to the wealth of talent in the Raglan area.

Perfect timing for the wedding season ahead!












If you would like to advertise your service on the Hitched In Raglan site please contact Shari Amos :