Queenstown’s positioning as the most beautiful wedding destination in the world has never been as strong, as New Zealand’s popular resort town makes a growing number of dreams come true.
Last year Queenstown hosted a staggering 834 weddings – up 40 percent from 2013’s just as impressive 600 – generating around $58 million in revenue for the resort town.
Queenstown Wedding Association (QWA) president Sarah Arkin says the figures are set to keep rising.
“I can confidently say that we’re on track for at least another 10 per cent growth in the number of weddings taking place in Queenstown this year,” says Sarah.
“Couples from all over the world come to Queenstown for the same reason – its incredible natural beauty.”
Its universal appeal can be put down to many things, mainly centring around the town’s breathtaking scenery – but what truly sets Queenstown apart as a top wedding destination of choice is its unique ability to offer a sensational all-year-round experience.
Queenstown’s distinct four seasons attract visitors from all corners of the globe – summers are warm and bright, autumn is crisp and vibrant, winters are snow-capped and enchanting and spring is fresh and fragrant with blossoms.
Couples travel from as far as Asia, Europe or the United States to wed, whatever the season. The QWA reports increased numbers of couples travelling from India and China, as well as Singapore and Hong Kong.
QWA member and photographer/filmmaker Holly Wallace captured a recent Indian wedding on film.
“I felt honoured to be part of this wedding, which saw two families come together in Queenstown for a day that they’ll never forget,” she says.
“The beautiful couple wanted to treat their guests by bringing them to a special location.”
Increased flights across the Tasman from Melbourne, Sydney and Gold Coast direct to Queenstown entices many Australians across the ditch for their big day. With same-sex marriages still unrecognised in Australia, New Zealand welcomes gay couples with open arms and many cite Queenstown as a super gay-friendly destination.
Gay Ski Week QT organiser Sally Whitewoods says Queenstown’s laid-back kiwi attitude makes it a “perfect” location for same-sex couples tying the knot.
“Queenstown’s always been a gay-friendly town and since same-sex marriages were legalised in 2013, we’ve become even more attractive to gay couples as they can now get married here,” she says.
“During Gay Ski Week QT, we see couples proposing, getting married and some even returning to celebrate their anniversary; a trend I’m sure will continue to grow.
“The pink dollar’s becoming increasingly valuable to Queenstown.”
Another trending strongly in the world of weddings in Queenstown is pre-wedding visits. Not only does the actual wedding bring in additional visitors and revenue, but couples are spending more money visiting the area beforehand to scope out venues, trial photographers and meet key suppliers before the main event. Even couples who aren’t actually signing on the dotted line in Queenstown still flock to the town.
“Asian couples in particular head to our little slice of paradise even if they aren’t getting hitched here. It’s all about those picture-perfect wedding photos to take home and treasure forever,” said Sarah.
Besides the beautiful backdrop and friendly welcome, Queenstown offers an adrenaline rush like no-where else. It’s not unheard of for couples to strap themselves together and throw themselves off a bridge or out of a plane, screaming ‘I dooooooo’.
Less adventurous couples don’t need to raise their heart rates quite as much to add in some fun elements. There’s plenty more leisurely activities such as mountain biking, wine tours, boat cruises, golfing and skiing.
“It’s not just the bride and groom who spend their money on the huge range of activities Queenstown has to offer,” says Sarah. “Guests do too as it’s often an once-in-a-lifetime chance for many.”
And why get married in a church when you can do it on the top of a mountain, in a working woolshed or amongst the vines. Milford Sound is only a 20 minute flight away for couples wanting to marry at the ‘world’s eight wonder.’ Queenstown’s eclectic range of venue options only adds to its appeal.
Kathryn Omond has been a celebrant in Queenstown for 13 years and says every single wedding is so diverse and memorable.
“We’re totally spoilt for choice – I’ve wed couples in luxury lodges like Matakauri and Blanket Bay, and under willow trees by the side of the lake or in Queenstown Gardens,” she said. “Every budget can be catered for.”
Queenstown’s wedding suppliers are looking ahead to what’s set to be a bumper spring and summer season.
“As the weather starts to warm up, our bookings increase pretty quickly. In November we already have one weekend with eight weddings being held,” says Sarah. “We’re so lucky in Queenstown to be surrounded by amazing scenery and a fantastic range of suppliers at hand to create the most unforgettable wedding experiences.”
Visit www.queenstownweddings.org for a full directory of wedding professionals available in Queenstown.