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“We should just elope?” is often shouted out in frustration when planning a traditional white wedding that throws up all sorts of unexpected issues……… never considered when accepting the proposal.

Your friends will say “but how can you go through with that, with so much to consider?” What will your parents and/or friends say?” 

Will they think you don’t care?

Given the escalating costs of a traditional white wedding, elopement is definitely an option to combine the ceremony with the honeymoon (or as we call it a Weddingmoon) for the same budget, or maybe even less?  However, before committing to eloping, you should carefully balance the pros and cons  of such a decision.  I would suggest you include your closest and dearest friends and family in that discussion, so they understand why you are tilting towards excluding them from your event, or maybe they can join you too?

Speaking from experience after orchestrating many elopements from the mountain tops to the sea I can bring you sound advise to contemplate as you make your decisions to elope or not?

So what is an elopement?  While the technical definition of eloping is “running away,” it means to get married without telling anyone, especially your parents. This does still happens these days, but I find more often than not, its more the parents running away without telling the children!

Terri Everett, New Zealand Registered Celebrant

My name is Terri Everett and I have been a New Zealand registered celebrant since 2013 after spending several years on our Sealimousines charter boat business, as a wedding planner in the Abel Tasman National Park.  Along with Jim, my husband of 25 years we run Moonraker House which we built to provide romantic and significant celebrations bundles as well as memorable holidays and corporate events.

To elope suggest that you forgo a formal or traditional wedding and each country has its own rules, many offer few location options and couples dream of a significant celebration in an environment they chose, which is not cold or surrounded by beliefs that they do not believe in.

New Zealand has very relaxed rules and I am registered to orchestrate a legal true marriage with the freedom to chose almost any location that can be marked as having an address.  European couples chose to do their legal paper work across the counter in their own home town and then celebrate while on their holiday/honeymoon.

Considerations to getting married in New Zealand.

Wherever you live in the world, travelling to your wedding destination is a considerable risk. You are putting all your budget and trust into people you have never met before, so it is important to do your homework. Trip Adviser is a great way to find out how a certain provider has performed for other couples in a similar situation.

Check what sort of credentials your providers have, are they industry members like The Celebrants Association or been awarded to show their performance and quality of service, under the terms of industry leaders for example.

By choosing to elope could be a great disappointment for some, especially to the bride’s mother for example.  However, traditionally parents help out with the budget of a wedding, so you could soften the blow by inviting them to join you, for the trip of their lifetime, killing two birds with one stone.  They can enjoy being part of the elopement wedding experience and then disappear to enjoy their own holiday while you relax in your honeymoon.  

On you return home you can exchange relevant stories and plan a party, where guests are asked to bring a plate to share to help keep costs down and the bride & groom can wear their wedding attire again, with a rolling slideshow or video of your event, bringing a true sense of the atmosphere during your day into your home and event.  

We can arrange traditional New Zealand flax flower bouquet and boutonniere and offer a service to pack up the flowers in a box and mail them back to your home address as a keepsake and to enjoy on your party night.

Your budget could be the deciding factor and I suggest you make up a dummy budget of costs to hold a traditional white wedding at home and compare it to the dummy costs of travelling to New Zealand for your wedding, remembering that this also is combined with your honeymoon.  Really think about what you need to invest in, dump the flash car for example to invest in a really good photographer, who can encapsulate your emotion with the beauty of the New Zealand backdrop. Those pictures will undoubtedly be envied, when family and friends see your beautiful photos and the delight on your faces, they will all wonder why they didn’t do the same?

Reasons why you want to elope

Most couples who decide to look elsewhere from their local parish, have a need to make their commitment in privacy and without months of fuss and worry. The costs of travelling for an intimate wedding ceremony with an option to blend their honeymoon can be considerably less than dividing the two events.  Some couples have to opt out of a honeymoon to keep within their wedding budget, yet this is as important to a successful marriage, as the ceremony itself and will never really be claimed back if not enjoyed directly after the wedding.

The question of who to invite is so difficult and I often hear couples deliberating who and why certain people should be invited and often they say: “Because they invited us to theirs.” This is a huge cost to consider, while those people may not necessarily be of great importance for a very personal day.  Eloping means you don’t upset these people for excluding them and you can still invite them to a BYO party on your return.

Family discussions can become quite heated and commonly in the planning stage of a wedding everyone has their pennies worth to add.  This often shrouds the true reason for the event.  Taking this out of the picture can save a lot of heartache and possibly life long feud.

There is something old fashioned and romantic about running away to another country to be married,  but it is often associated with trouble of some kind, like a partner not accepted by the other family, an unexpected pregnancy, different religions and of course the fast love and passion that can overshadow the reality of life.  These days I see more often older couples escaping to New Zealand for their big day. One couple recently didn’t even tell their family and friends and booked me on April Fools Day, Of course their family still didn’t believe them until they posted a photograph of their celebration.

With the new laws for same sex LGBT legal marriage in 2013, we find ourselves providing services for same sex couples who still can’t be legally married in their home town and we pride ourselves on an unconditional welcoming philosophy. We also see couples who have too many location restrictions in their home town and want the freedom to marry in a location without religious or council ties.  We’ve even had couples who did the paperwork in their own country at the local registrar, but opted to travel the thousands of miles to enjoy everything included in a wedding but no dealings with the paperwork on the day.  Whatever reasons bring you to the final decision of an international wedding, it’s ultimately your decision and it can give you a great foundation for years success in your marriage.

New Zealand is a smorgasbord of choice,  but one place to really consider is the Nelson and Tasman region. It has so much to offer! There are three National Parks, with mountains and beautiful sandy beaches. There are so many unique locations, but if you are going to travel that many miles, you will want the location to be special, maybe even famous, like a Lord of the Rings or Hobbit film location, or unique like a Maori heritage site?  However, it is not quite as straightforward as that, so make sure the providers you use have the necessary Department of Conservation or council knowledge and documentation. Luckily I have had years of experience in these types of location and can advise where and when you will need permits or not and how to obtain them.

With the savings you make, you can budget for some really exciting extra activities and maybe a unique wedding accommodation like Moonraker House. if you are bringing some family and friends the entire house can be hired and I can offer further advise for more accommodation near by.

Some people go to the extreme and combine their activities while saying their vows.  Like a sky dive in Motueka or kayaking in the Abel Tasman.





In New Zealand you’re only required to be in the country for three days before the wedding ceremony date. This simple registration system again adds to the hassle free planning, leaving you fresh and excited for your personal occasion. The Dream Maker team can be contacted for further advice and planning support. We can be your feet and ears on the ground and with our tried and tested contracted suppliers you can feel confident that your day will be perfect.

We are excited to chat with you and know you will not be disappointed.

Here are some nice comments received from past couples.

“Terri has been very supportive and helpful during our wedding preparations last March. She played a big part of our special day and her ceremony script was simply beautiful, just what we imagined. She is also working with a great network of other businesses specialized in weddings which can be very useful and her expertise is a massive plus too. Would definitely recommend her! Thank you Terri!!

Ange & Pete”March 2018


My husband and I are incredibly grateful that our lives crossed paths with Terri. Terri married us in the Abel Tasman National Park and we had a photo shoot in the mountains of the Kahurangi National Park. I am originally from Canada and my husband was born in Motueka. While not having known us for a long time, Terri listened to our story and helped in creating the most comforting, intimate and spiritual day that truly represented our life and love for one another. She was very professional and always approachable. She is part of an amazing team that can offer so much variety for any occasion. She gave us 110% of herself and she created a stress free day for us to truly enjoy our moment together. We highly recommend Terri’s services for future couples or any individual who is looking for an authentic experience in one of the most special places in the world. Working with Terri and her team was a humbling and emotional experience that we are so blessed to have in our memories forever. Thank you, much aroha,

The Kingi-Mikis 

“We have talked about marriage times before, but on our holidays in this amazing country New Zealand we spontaneously realized: this is the location where we want to get married! We wanted a quiet ceremony on a lonely beach with just the two of us (and the celebrant and witnesses, of course ), but we had no clue how to do this. So we called Terri and she was amazing – in a very Kina Beach Wedding 2016 www.thedreammaker.co (2)short time of 4 days she arranged everything. We just had to catch the permission of the … (how is he called?) and that was it. After a very good talk in a personal conversation with Terri (we felt very comfortable!) she gave us a questionnaire so we could tell her everything about us we wanted to. Terri is able to anticipate what a customer wants to have – in our case the wedding should be „casual“, relaxed and also a bit of humour wasn’t wrong for us. We are convinced that Terri is easily able to arrange great, big weddings – in our case a kind of „improvisation“ was much more important. So she made it possible to have one of the witnesses also as film/photo-maker in one person – Sophie. She did a great job and the photo-session was just natural – we LOVE these natural photo she took – and also the film we wanted to have for our families at home. Terri’s speech at the beach picked up our words of the questionnaire in a wonderful, heart-warming and especially individual way. We felt to „be seen“ and understood. She also emphasizes in her speech to be in the moment – which means she wanted us to take a few seconds to feel, where we are and to realize this moment for our memories forever. We think this is really a important thing you might forget on your own wedding!! There was absolutely NO stress (besides our nervousness ), we just went with the flow. This was exactly the marriage we dreamed of. Thank you, Terri!”

Karin & Uli

Karin & Uli 



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