Ahhh, Waiheke – New Zealand’s very own, close to home, slice of island paradise. As a quirky little town, it has everything you need. As an island in the sun, it has everything you want. As a wedding venue, it is truly spectacular. Beautiful views, incredible scenery, delicious food and wine…it has it all. But – as with any little landmass bobbing in the ocean – a wedding on Waiheke requires a bit of extra thought, a touch of extra prep and one quick read of a very helpful blog put together by us.
If you’re planning a Waiheke wedding, read on! If you’re going to be a Waiheke wedding-guest – read on! If you accidentally clicked on this blog instead of the Auckland -Waiheke ferry timetable – honestly, it’s a pretty informative piece, so you may as well read on.
Why(heke) we love it.
We touched on this in the paragraph above, but we’re happy to say it again (and again) – Waiheke is stunning. A tropical island getaway without the passports, plane snacks, compression socks and special dispensations for mid-Covid travel. Everywhere you turn, you’ll find beautiful beaches to explore, spectacular scenery to immerse yourself in, and many delicious snacks to gobble.
As a wedding location, Waiheke sits at the top of many lists. With its fun and relaxed vibe, its premium winery and restaurant offerings, and its outrageously amazing views for grade-A wedding snaps – it really is the perfect close-to-home destination. And, it’s easy to get to! Provided you read the next section very, very carefully…
Getting there, getting around, and getting home at the end of the night.
First things first, the ferry. The salty sea-voyage from Auckland City to Waiheke Island takes around 40 minutes on the Fullers ferry – with an extra 10 on top if your ferry is swinging by Devonport. If people are travelling over with their cars, they’ll be hitting the Sea Link ferry which leaves from Half Moon Bay. Your guests can buy tickets online in advance (or in person on the day, although this adds to your queue time). With no set-time required, your guests can pick and choose when they want to hop aboard. As with everything in the big city, it pays to arrive at the ferry terminals nice and early – especially if you’re having a summer wedding. On beautiful days, the queues can quite literally go out the gate, down the street and into the parking lot next door. Be prepared.
Once you’re on the island, you’ll need to think about getting around. As a tourist hot-spot, Waiheke has a pretty solid range of taxi, shuttle and car hire services. However – just like the ferry queues – it pays to get in nice and early with a booking to avoid any last minute stuck-at-the-terminal panic. Although Waiheke is a fairly small island, it can take a while to get to where you’re going, so make sure your guests know how far it is from the ferry terminal to the venue well in advance.
Just as getting on and getting around, getting off the island can be a very straight forward process – as long as you’re prepared. If any guests are planning on leaving straight after the wedding, make sure you’ve had a look at the ‘last ferry’ times. Guests should pre-book taxis and shuttles to take them back to the ferry terminal – leaving plenty of time for delays, queues and manoeuvring travel partners off the dance floor.
When you’re figuring out all the travel times, it pays to work backwards. What time is your ceremony? How long will the taxi from the terminal to the venue take? How long will the ferry trip take? Which ferry should guests be catching to make all of this work? Once you have a time in mind – go back another hour. If people could jump on the 11am ferry and make it in time, tell them to be there in time for the 10am. Your ‘always running slightly late’ guests will be eternally grateful.
Finding the right people.
When it comes to the people, our advice is (and always will be) to go local. Waiheke has a host of incredible vendors who know their island inside out and upside down – which will help to make your life a whole lot easier. Also, as Waiheke is such a hotspot for weddings, it pays to secure your vendors as early as humanly possible. We spoke to Sarah from ‘The Island Collection’ – Waiheke’s full-service wedding and event company – who said; ‘We’re lucky to have such a large range of talented, creative vendors based right here on the island. You can generally source everything you need, without the added costs and logistics of bringing it over on the ferry. And, if something you’re after isn’t available, there are some great Auckland and Tauranga based vendors that love an excuse to come over here too.’
Our next piece of advice? Hire a planner. Advice that Zoe from ‘Wildflower Waiheke’ – a beautiful florist based on the island – agreed with wholeheartedly. ‘My number one piece of advice for having a Waiheke wedding is to hire a planner/stylist. Not only does it mean your 'day of’ logistics are taken care of, but you also have them guiding you to make the day look and feel as cohesive as possible.’ Sarah from The Island Collection thought the same, ‘Having a planner means the lead up to the wedding is easier and well organised, and you can relax as soon as you get here. With their local knowledge of the island – everything from ferry pick-ups, venue layouts, the best accommodation houses and the hidden spots for sunset photos, you can rest assured everything will run smoothly on the day.’
Things to tell your guests.
Guests are great. They’re excited, they bring gifts and they really help to fill up the dance floor. But, guests can also be needy creatures…especially when it comes to the whos, whats, wheres and hows of your wedding. To help you out, we’ve thought of a few Waiheke-specific titbits for you to throw their way.
Accommodation. Book early. Book really, really early. Suggest your guests book somewhere to stay as soon as they know whether they can make it or not. And, advise them to book somewhere near-ish to your venue, to help save on time and travel costs. There are some truly beautiful bays around Waiheke, but many of them come with little winding roads – meaning a journey that may appear short on Google Maps can take a whole lot longer.
Ferries. See rather extensive paragraph above. As long as your guests are aware that they will have to jump on the ferry (with or without cars) and make their way from the Waiheke terminal to their accommodation and/or your venue…then your job is basically done. If you’re a very organised person who doesn’t like leaving things to chance – strongly suggest exact ferry times to all invited.
Local delicacies. If you’ve spent a bit of time exploring the island, let your guests know about any special spots you found. Wineries, bars, restaurants, cafes...recommendations help both your guests and the amazing places you’re recommending. Win-win.
- Consider people in neighbouring properties, and let them know about the wedding if and when possible
- Include as much helpful info on your invitations as possible
- Tell guests to organise transport well in advance
- Remind guests to look at parking options in Auckland, if this is something they’ll need
- Be very, very organised. It’s harder to do last minute things on an island
- Factor in travel +accommodation costs for any non-local vendors (if part of their requirements)
- Use local where possible BUT if not possible, many Auckland/Tauranga vendors will be happy to travel
Local Waiheke Vendor Spotlight
The Island Collection is a full-service wedding and event company, based on the beautiful paradise that is Waiheke Island. Founded and operated by Sarah and Nick just over three years ago, The Island Collection was created after realising a gap in the Waiheke market. With Sarah’s love for style and organising, along with Nick’s musical and building talents, The Island Collection has grown into a stylish and affordable event company, offering clients everything under the lovely Waiheke sun – including planning, styling, furniture and sound hire, as well as live music.
For over 20 years, Wildflower Waiheke has been creating spectacular blooms across the island. Specialising in florals for weddings and events, their experienced and creative team will work with you to design the perfect look for your occasion. They source beautiful blooms and lush foliage to create bridal bouquets, floral crowns, buttonholes and corsages - and provide floral installations and botanical styling for any and all locations on the island. While known for their ‘undone’ style, Zoe and her team do it all: romantic, modern, textural, dried, relaxed garden party, tropical luxe, rustic, boho, classic…if you want it, they’ll do it (and do it really, really well).
Real Entertainment was founded in 1990 by leading Kiwi cellist Sally-Anne Brown, and since then has become incredibly well-known (and loved) at countless venues throughout New Zealand. Waiheke based, they offer professional musicians of the highest calibre and pride themselves on their substantial repertoire, from the traditional world of classical, opera, and Viennese waltzes, to hits from the twenties, thirties, forties and fifties, to the wild time of the Beatles and all the way up to the music of today.
Need help finding vendors? Browse our curated wedding vendor directory for some of the best in the business.
- Cover photo and image 1 feat The Island Collection champagne tower - Frank and Peggy
- Image 2 feat The Island Collection bentwood chairs - Weddings by Alex
- Table styling feat The Island Collection tableware - Wildfolk Photography
- Wildflower Waiheke ceremony and reception florals at Mudbrick - Trelise Von Sturmer Creative
- The Island Collection hexagon arch - Ludo Petrik Photography
- Wildflower Waiheke ceremony florals at Mudbrick - Trelise Von Sturmer Creative