It’s no secret that Australians are enamoured with the luscious shores of New Zealand – how could you not be? The scenery is soaring & epic, and the people are generous & warm. All of this makes for a pretty wonderful destination for a wedding, wouldn’t you agree? But how exactly does planning a wedding in New Zealand from Australia play out? We asked past Polka Dot Wedding real bride Holly, whose stunning Queenstown wedding to Phil can be read here, how she went about executing their perfect day in New Zealand from Sydney in “How To Plan An Epic New Zealand Wedding From Australia” for The New Zealand Issue. Their wedding day was captured exquisitely by Kellie Francis

PDW: Holly, what made you choose New Zealand for your wedding location?

New Zealand has to be one of the most beautiful places in the world – it’s picturesque and tranquil and the people are just amazing, so it was an easy decision to make to land on New Zealand as a destination, and Queenstown, in particular, is one of our favourite places. My husband Phil was born and raised in the US and moved to Australia 12 years ago. His parents had actually migrated to the US from New Zealand, so most of his extended family reside in both Australia and New Zealand. Not too long after Phil moved over to Australia, his mother moved back to NZ and shortly after so did his sister and her beautiful family.

We knew everyone was going to have to travel to join the wedding from across both Australia, New Zealand and various other parts of the world – and we really couldn’t go past the stunning Queenstown, so everyone could experience how amazing of a place it is.

PDW: What were your first considerations when you decided to have your wedding in NZ? Guests? Vendors? Etc?

As we were planning our wedding from Australia, we wanted to try and make things as easy as possible for ourselves, which was to find a beautiful location that could also do a lot of the additional planning for us – including transport, flowers, décor, food etc. We were so thankful to find the amazing Winehouse in Gibbston Valley, and the incredible Sam who just made our lives so easy by organising most things for us. For areas that Sam couldn’t organise, she provided suggestions on other vendors and then those vendors had their recommendations too.

It was also important for us to find a photographer that we would gel with. You spend your entire day with this person, so you want to make sure you feel comfortable and relaxed with them. We were thrilled when we found Kellie Francis – we quickly bonded on our initial Skype call and was incredibly helpful recommending additional vendors like our videographer, Emily from Woven Images. Both Kellie & Em just made our day extra special and fun, knew the venue and offsite locations to shoot at, and then produced the most spectacular images we could ever imagine.

PDW: What was your favourite part of planning your wedding?

Our favourite part of planning the wedding was just the one trip we did over to Queenstown prior to get a full site tour of the venue, and go through the finer details of seating arrangements, table settings, along with the food and wine tasting!

On this trip, we also got to have one on one time with our incredible celebrant Charlotte Winkel (from Your Big Day & Shaken and Stirred Weddings) to get to know each other better. We originally bonded over our love for working out, so we did an F45 session together, followed by a bottle of Rosè. That’s the normal way to get to know your celebrant, right?!

PDW: Any difficulties you faced planning your day from Australia? Anything you would do differently?

Honestly, it was so easy. New Zealanders are just the most accommodating people and everyone made our lives so easy. We had FaceTime/Skype calls with the venue, our photographer and videographer and our celebrant. I honestly don’t think it would be overly different doing it via distance than it would if we were planning within our home city.

PDW: If you were planning a New Zealand wedding from Australia again, where would you start and who would you contact?

Venue first – that’s going to determine everything around it. It’ll allow you to know what vibe you want for the wedding, it’ll provide you with your date to ensure all vendors are available, and if you are lucky enough to have someone at the venue to help coordinate almost everything like we did, then even better!

PDW: Any other tips & advice for planning a wedding offshore?

If you don’t have a venue coordinator, I would recommend sourcing a wedding coordinator that has relationships with other vendors to help.

PDW: Any favourite NZ vendors you want to give a shout-out to?

Charlotte Winkel – our celebrant from ‘Your Big Day’ and ‘Shaken & Stirred Weddings’ – she provided a ceremony that matched our fun, loving and quirky personalities.

Kellie Francis – our photographer produced the most amazing photos that we will cherish for the rest of our lives. She also made us feel so comfortable and relaxed, plus was very organised in the lead up.

The Winehouse – Such a beautiful venue and, as mentioned, made everything actually come to life for us by working with most vendors on our behalf

In2Food Catering – They work directly with the Winehouse and provided some of the most amazing food I have eaten. They took one of my husbands only requests, being tacos for canapes, and then mouth watering shared plates for mains.

Sarah Bergin at Pure Hair Studios – ensuring my hair looked perfection on the day, and stayed put the full day, including from the wind at the top of the mountain.