Weddings on Waiheke
by Janine Mitchell
Photography by Emma Hughes
The first thing that springs to mind when mentioning a Waiheke wedding is beautiful beaches, vineyards, great wines and blissful scenery. This résumé of perfect qualities has led Waiheke to become one of the most popular islands in the world for weddings, yes, in New Zealand!
Waiheke translates to “Cascading Waters” and has a permanent population of just over 8,000 residents. Over the summer season the tourists, holiday makers and seasonal residents balloon that figure to over 50,000. I decided it was time I took a car and GPS over to check out the people, venues and businesses that make up Waiheke’s wedding industry. Four days later I’d devoured far too many flat whites and sampled many sumptuous meals, and could fully appreciate the incredible choices available to wedding couples.
As you’d expect, once you start exploring the pockets of picture-perfect sandy white beaches, you’ll find you’re spoilt for choice. Whether you love the idea of marrying on an open beach complete with tourists and cameras, prefer a secluded stretch of sand sheltered by towering rocks, or fancy a natural bush setting and more intimacy, you will find it here!
The number of wedding venues on Waiheke provides the opportunity to work within your budget, whether you’re hosting 200 guests or 20. Styles and themes are easily arranged and each venue offers unique qualities that will satisfy everyone’s pallet – the hardest part is choosing one! Will you decide on Mediterranean-style dining at a venue such as Vino Vino Restaurant with waterfront views from their deck, vineyard heaven, beachfront simplicity or forest-like serenity? Cable Bay Vineyards pride themselves on romance, style, sophistication. As well as their ability to cater for large weddings, they also offer an underground wine library for 14 guests that is a magically intimate setting. The award winning olive estate at Rangihoua is ideal for more casual and relaxed weddings. They can provide a total package to suit your needs, and are the only venue to offer a BYO option should you prefer to organise your own refreshments to help ease costs.
Many Waiheke wedding venues offer the option of hosting your wedding service or reception under a marquee, taking advantage of sweeping lawns and awe-inspiring views. Schupepe Tents and Canopies can turn your marquee vision into a magical fairytale event.
The perfect way to prepare for your day is to spend a night or two beforehand on the Island, enveloped in luxury accommodation – many couples also opt to spend their first night as a couple here before jetting off elsewhere. Chardy Ridge is set on the highest point offering spectacular ocean views to wake up to, and Breakfast on the Beach has a specially decorated bridal suite (and they include a white convertible wedding car!).
Te Toki Retreat is a stunning subtropical sanctuary with established rainforest palms, rare exotic plants and native bush that’s alive with the sounds of birds. Total privacy is guaranteed in their opulent gardens and on the formal ceremony lawn. A hideaway of pure relaxation and beauty – your guests won’t want to leave!
I discovered that Waiheke residents offer an enthusiastic and professional approach. They all know one another, so are able to recommend complimentary services for your day. With so much on offer on the Island, you really don’t need to bring much over from the mainland, but if you do, it’s very easy to load up the car and head over on a Sealink ferry. Sealink actually provides more than just a ferry ride – and in one phone call a SeaLink consultant will book ferry travel, offer accommodation suggestions and recommend whatever the heart desires to make your stay complete. And, of course, once you’re there you’ll have the freedom and familiarity of your own car if there are last minute things you need to do! SeaLink’s friendly passenger and car ferry services operate up to 14 times a day, 365 days a year from Half Moon Bay in Auckland’s eastern suburbs. A service also operates from Auckland City on Friday nights and weekends between September and June each year.
Guests attending your wedding can take a scheduled ferry with Fullers who leave from Downtown Auckland or Devonport regularly. As fabulous treat for guests, you could organise a private ferry transfer to the Island. Once there, the Waiheke Bus Company will be waiting to take your guests to your venue.
There are a host of hair salons, makeup artists, florists, cakemakers, celebrants, wedding planners, cars and hireage companies available on the Island. Jenny and Jan of Waiheke Island Weddings recommend that, with hundreds of weddings being held each year, especially over the summer months, it’s important not to leave these details to the last minute – you could find your desired services are booked up well in advance! Once you’ve set the date and confirmed the venue, you’ll need to get onto booking other Island-based services earlier than usual. Remember that if you choose to hire services on the mainland, you’ll usually be expected to pay extra for travelling expenses and sometimes even overnight accommodation and meals!
Irene Armstrong, one of the most popular celebrants on the Island, confirmed the emphasis placed on weddings by Waihekians. She literally had to “squeeze” in her own wedding vows between other couples, not wanting to turn anyone away and disappoint them!
For flower arrangements and bouquets, Waiheke Flower Gallery or Wildflower are all able to supply modern twists or classically vintage styles, always beautifully presented and often utilising the Island’s flora in unique ways.
Finding entertainment is rather easy. There are a number of bands established on the Island, and Corphire can assist with portable sounds or a PA system. La Lumiere Lighting has now set up an agency on the Island, ensuring your venue or marquee has a magical quality that only good lighting can achieve.
If off-site catering is required, there are a number of companies that provide the most delectable banquets. Many, like Chef Deb, will source most of the produce from their own organic gardens, and Waiheke’s micro-climate is known for producing fabulous quality produce!
As for the memories, both Emma Hughes Photography and Shine Studios are award winners offering photos that capture the essence of you and your wedding. Their expert knowledge of the Island means they can find the perfect location for YOU – a priceless commodity! Capture Productions love taking time out from shooting films and documentaries to capture magical wedding moments.
We’ve only just sliced through the icing when it comes to uncovering Waiheke’s wedding industry – there are layers upon layers of all manner of suppliers, services and venues. It really is best to jump on a ferry armed with a list of appointments. Spend a day there, or even a weekend. Tour the venues, meet with suppliers and make your decision from there.
On the ferry home, I felt a renewed appreciation for this tropical paradise in the Hauraki Gulf. I’m envious of those intending to host their wedding here! It’s paradise … and only 35-minutes from Auckland City! ♥
Anu Spa – www.anumobilespa.com
Breakfast on the Beach – www.breakfastonthebeach.co.nz
Capture Productions – www.capturewaiheke.co.nz
Centrepiece – www.centrepiece.co.nz
Chef Deb – www.chefdebwaiheke.com
Corphire – 09 3722061
Delamore Lodge – www.delamorelodge.com
Emma Hughes Photography – www.emmahughes.co.nz
Flower Gallery by Virginia Thompson – www.flowergallery.co.nz
Fullers – www.fullers.co.nz
Iain Stephens Floral Design – www.nzflowers.co.nz
Irene Armstrong – www.waiheke.co.nz/irene.htm
Island Beauty – www.islandbeauty.co.nz
La Lumiere – www.fairylights.co.nz
Rangihoua Olive Estate – www.rangihouathevenue.co.nz
Real Entertainment – www.realentertainment.co.nz
Schupepe Tents and Canopies – www.schupepetents.co.nz
Sealink – www.sealink.co.nz
Stonyridge Vineyard – www.stonyridge.com
Te Toki Retreat – www.tetokiretreat.com
The Waiheke Group – www.waihekeresort.co.nz
Vino Vino Restaurent – www.vinovino.co.nz
Wai Kitchen – www.waikitchen.co.nz
Waiheke Executive Transport – www.waiheketransport.co.nz
Waiheke Flower Company – www.waihekeflorist.co.nz
Waiheke Hire Centre – www.waihekehire.co.nz
Waiheke Island Weddings – www.waihekeislandweddings.com
WildFlower – www.wildflowerwaiheke.com
Wild on Waiheke – www.wildonwaiheke.co.nz