Today we chat with Canadian-born Photographer Kate Roberge as she shares her personal tips on planning an intimate elopement nestled in the serene surroundings of Queenstown’s wild mountainscapes.
Having eloped herself, Kate’s ethos boasts of true authenticity, deep relationship, and awe-felt moments of adoring love. We are beyond excited to have Kate offer experienced advice, as a guest writer, around creating a soulful and intimate elopement in one month for you and your forever love.
Elopements are the best, and I don’t think that just because it’s what Hamish and I decided to do.
With the current situation happening in New Zealand and the world, weddings are already starting to look a bit different. I personally love it, and think micro weddings and elopements are a welcome change! Hamish and I decided to elope in four weeks, because we didn’t want our wedding planning to become all consuming. In order to do that, we decided that a short timeline was the best way to keep our sanity. To make it happen, we contacted the photographers we were wanting to capture our day (Shout out to Bayly and Moore, the legends who took the photos for our own wedding day! and simply asked “What date are you free” and once we had a date decided, we when into full elopement planning mode!
Obviously, I’ve had a bit of practise with the whole wedding planning thing, so it was a bit easier for us than the average newly engaged couple. For me, it took 30 minutes to pick the date, location, vibe of the day, what to wear, who to hire, who to invite and where to go to eat after the whole shindig went down. For that reason, I wanted to use my knowledge and write this blog to help couples who feel the same way about how they want their wedding day to go down.
Pick A Date
Since you’re looking to keep the wedding planning time line to a minimum, I would recommend picking a date within the next one to three months. Another tip, booking a weekday is the best way to make sure all of the vendors you want there on your day will still have availability!
I found personally, that by setting a date that seemed quite soon, we didn’t fuss around. Instead we had to make the right decision the first time, and had to keep to the plan with no fluffy extras. I think that was one of the reasons our wedding planning felt so good to accomplish and stuck on budget.
Choose What ‘Vibe’ You’re Going For
Picking what kind of look and feel you want for your day is probably the first thing to do when planning your wedding day, no matter if it’s a 200 person party, or an intimate day just between the two of you. The vibe of your day will very much influence everything you choose for your day, including location, what you wear, what vendors you choose, what they create for you, how many guests you plan to invite and where you have dinner afterwards!
We went with the vibe of “pretend we didn’t miss autumn because of lockdown’. We brought that into our day by asking everyone to wear grey, black, white or orange, by having our flowers be all of the autumnal colours, Hamish’s burnt orange corduroy suit and by asking one of my best friends to bake us apple and pumpkin pie for dessert instead of the traditional cake most people go for.
Choose Your Perfect Ceremony & Portrait Location
Queenstown, Wanaka and Glenorchy have an abundance of amazing locations to choose from for your elopement ceremony and portrait spot. I would recommend chatting with your photographer as they will know what will suit what your looking for, will know what will look best and fit your timeline, and will also know all the secret spots that you won’t find by just asking around or talking to other wedding vendors.
We chose to make our way out to Glenorchy to a place not most are able to get to, but because of our amazing friends could use as our wedding location. In the beginning, I didn’t want to get married in Queenstown because I felt it would feel like work, so when we found Lake Fyfe it was a dream come true.
Get Something To Wear
I suppose this is probably one of the most important parts of planning for the actual day. There are lots of options for this! If you’re not looking to buy and keep what you wear, I would recommend looking into a dress or suit rental company. There are a few wonderful options for this both in Queenstown or around the country –
Or if finding a dress or suit to buy is more your style, I would recommend getting onto that right away! You’ll most likely have to buy off the rack or just ask the shop owner or designer what the turn around time is for outfits.
I got my dress when we first got engaged and Trudy at Nemo Bridal helps us get in contact with Savile Row to create his custom suit in 3 weeks.
Here are a few designer options to check out –
Find The People
The people you choose to help you with your wedding is where all the difference will be in the planning process. Find people you click with, and your day will be amazing!
Here are the vendors you should be looking to hire for your day, and a few suggestions –
Photography – Is it too cheeky to only suggest myself?
My goal with every couple who books me is to make the part of their wedding that I’m a part of easy as possible. All I require to be there on your day is a date, location, invoice paid, questionnaire filled out and contract signed. Everything else, I’m available for but don’t require. I’m happy to provide any information my couples need, and give them advice on anything they want advice on, but if they don’t need or want that from me, I’m more than happy to just show up on the day and have an epic time with you both!
Invite Some Friends
You can decide, but try to keep your guest list to either just family or just friends, or a mixture of only your parents and best friends. As soon as siblings or extended friends start to be invited, it can be really hard to know where to cut things off. If you would like to celebrate with more people, you can easily plan to have a party with everyone when things are more settled.
We chose to only invite friends, so that we could have a party with family later on. In our eyes, we thought if we were to invite Hamish’s family it would mean we wouldn’t have a lot of motivation to have a party later on, also it wouldn’t be fair to my family. Thus, we invited 7 of our closest friends to help us celebrate.
Make A Timeline
Good news, making a timeline with only 8 friends is super easy! For the most part you don’t even really have to worry about them. They usually are all good to just hang out until it’s time to go to the ceremony, and it’s a small enough group size that take two cars is enough for transportation.
To start off, decide when you would like to eat, and from there, work backwards. If you would like to have dinner at 7pm, and know that the ceremony space is a 30 minute drive away, I would recommend having your ceremony at 4pm so it will be finished by 4:30pm, you can hang out with your friends afterwards for a drink and some group photos, then plan to take photos from 5:15pm-6:15pm and then have time to meet up with your guests again and go to dinner!
That timeline broken down would look like this from my perspective as the photographer.
2:30pm – Photography begins and take detail photos
3pm – Makes and hair ends, couple gets into final wedding attire together
3:30pm – Leave for Ceremony
3:50pm – Arrive at ceremony location and walk to final spot
4pm – Ceremony Begins
4:30pm – Ceremony ends and champagne with friends
5:15pm – Portraits
7pm – Dinner and speeches
7:30pm – Photography ends
Find A Place To Eat
Queenstown has an amazing range of beautiful restaurants and dinning options. We personally choose The Sherwood because it has great food, good music and has a chill vibe.
Because there was only 13 of us for dinner (we invited our photographers and videographer and her husband to join us!), we were able to just make a reservation and show up to everything being done for us.
If you aren’t sure what restaurants to check out, I would recommend asking your planner, photographer or celebrant. I have a list for all of my couples that I send out if they are wanting some advise of places to check out.
To name a few –
So there we are, how to plan a wedding in four weeks or less. I know it sounds like a lot of steps to go through, but take it from me, once you give yourself a deadline and a goal to meet, wedding planning becomes a lot easier.
I hope that through this blog, you’ve realised that it can be easy for you too and that you can start planning your wedding day with minimal stress or it taking over your personal life.
If you have any other questions, please feel free to DM, email or comment down below.
Words & Images by Kate Roberge
Want to read more insights into planning a wedding in Queenstown, New Zealand, or tips on how to nail your bridal portraits?! Check out Kate’s Journal here, and make sure you follow her on Instagram at @katerobergephotography