An Outdoor Wedding Guide: Rain or Shine

By The Boat House - at The Riverhead and Raashka Mannie

A favourite in New Zealand, outdoor weddings have been trending for years. With the picturesque background that New Zealand has to offer, it’s no wonder that people are all too happy to have their day in the sun in the sun. Outdoor weddings lend a different feel to the event: earthy, fresh and wholesome, the sense of romance that comes with an outdoor wedding, whether it’s in a simple garden or amongst golden leaves in fall, is unmatched. However, planning your outdoor wedding can seem a daunting task. What happens when it rains? What should you do about wind? Surely wedding styling will be different? That’s why we’ve got Paula from The Boat House at The Riverhead to give us the most useful tricks of the trade when it comes to outdoor weddings.

Image by Perspectives Photo + Cinema


Look for a venue where you have a quick and easy backup plan. The last thing you want to be doing on the leadup to your wedding is worrying about what the weather is doing. With Auckland weather, it can come down to making a call on the day of the wedding, because the weather is so moody.

Remember, it’s as much about the wind as it is the rain. It doesn’t look great when the bride has 50 knot winds to contend with, hair and veil flying everywhere and fighting to keep dresses from blowing up. Make sure that your venue has an alternative place to have the ceremony so you can easily swap if needs be.

Image by The Boat House

Having a shelter of some sort is a lovely touch for the older guests, so they have a place they can sit in the shade or out of the breeze whilst waiting for the ceremony to start or to mix and mingle afterward. Having comfortable chairs and chatting areas is important because there’s a lot of catching up to do with relatives seldom seen.

Outdoor weddings are absolutely beautiful, but always remember that you have to set up the ceremony space, the area to eat (tables, chairs that don’t wobble), the lighting, power, bathrooms, the ambience and decorations, food, beverage, crockery, cutlery and glassware, and people to serve. If you’re planning on having it in a public space, you will need permits and consents − and will you be seen by the public? Consider it all when planning your outdoor wedding.

Image by Christina Schmidt Photography


New Zealanders love the unpretentiousness of being outside. I think an outdoor wedding emphasises the realness of the commitment you’re making, but here are some other ups and downs that many may not have thought of:

  • The bridal party can drive into the ceremony in a unique vehicle which is seen by the guests.

  • Part of the bridal party have also included the couples ‘next best friend,’ which often included the couple’s dog.

  • The photo opportunities with an outdoor wedding are endless.

  • Choose a place where your guests won’t get bored with the surroundings or find it hard to spend the next 9 hours (a wedding is a long day). Are there appropriate clean and tidy toilets nearby? Can the women stand comfortably in high heels without sinking into the grass? Are there any bugs around? Is there any inappropriate noise? This can come from vehicles, stock, people or even aircraft. Can you be seen by the public? Consider where the sun will be during the ceremony and afterwards. You don’t want to be staring into a flaming sun before it sets.

  • Dress appropriately. If you are having an outdoor winter wedding, wear furs and brocades, be warm and cover up. Conversely, on a hot summer’s day, should the men have to wear three-piece suits, ties and jackets? Be comfortable!

  • Of course, the next most important part of the wedding is the reception. Self-catering can be very time consuming, logistically troublesome and more expensive than first considered when taking into account all the items that need to be hired. The break down is also something that takes time and effort, just when you really want to be having fun with friends and family who’ve made it a long way for the occasion.

Image by Perspectives Photo + Cinema


The reasons for choosing The Boat House as your outdoor wedding venue are numerous. The Boat House has a 100-year-old oak tree on a clifftop, overlooking the water of upper reaches of the Waitemata. The large lawn offers plenty of room for all your guests to mix and mingle before the ceremony. The large marquee is permanent and always opened to allow for your guests, family and friends to catch up and reacquaint themselves before the formalities begin. This also provides older guests with the chance to sit and chat in the shade.

It’s also yours to decorate from 10AM, with exclusive use from 2.30PM until 1AM the following day. It has bathrooms concealed behind a wall of greenery available for before the ceremony. The hard-packed lawn means that women can stand comfortably in high heels. There aren’t any bugs as we are near to sea water. There is a long high fence that reduces traffic noise, and it is completely private and away from the public. Best of all, the sun rises behind the oak tree, so by 3PM, the summer sun is behind your guests, and, as it sets, we get lovely shades of pink over the estuary.

Image by Amy Kate Photography

At The Boat House, we’ve had the bridal party arriving by motorbike, vintage cars, hotrods, horse, boat, horse drawn carriage and helicopter. Couples also want to be able to include “the whole family,” including pets, so we’ve have had numerous dogs − and on one occasion a goat! Leaving the venue to have photos taken is becoming less common, especially if you can do it on site. At The Boat House, we have numerous spots that offer the ideal photo opportunity.

We provide the best of both worlds. The chance to have a stress-less outdoor venue, given that we have a permanent marquee as backup in-case of bad weather, a “garden party” area to have canapes and bubbles after the ceremony, and a climate-controlled, stunningly decorated venue for your reception and dance. It’s rather like a progressive wedding day, with your guests moving from one experience to another throughout the event. With the decks surrounding the building overlooking the water and the second clear marquee outside the dance floor, it gives plenty of room for people to talk quietly and catch up.

Image by Perspectives Photo + Cinema

The Boat House at The Riverhead is only 20 minutes from Auckland in a semi-rural area. You’re right on Auckland’s doorstep, but it feels a million miles away, a home away from home. With a fully-equipped catering kitchen, trained chefs and front of house functions team, you are in professional hands and needn’t lift a finger. The Boat House is here to cater to your outdoor wedding day needs from start to finish.

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