Suzannah McFall

April 17, 2023

Wedding ceremony with groom saying his vows to his bride

Wedding Traditions that STILL Happen

My Journal

New Zealand weddings are becoming less and less traditional with some of the older customs and ways of doing things becoming a thing of the past such as throwing the bouquet or tossing the garter (rarely do I see these at a kiwi wedding nowadays). It has become acceptable for couples to ditch the customs and instead add in their own personalised ways of doing things that are more suited to their personality. 

But here are some customs that most bride and grooms still carry out at their weddings (and for good reason as they are generally the things that make the day so special)

Traditions that Haven’t Died in New Zealand

Getting ready at seperate locations – while it might not be so common to follow the tradition of the groom not seeing the bride at all on the morning of the wedding with many still spending that final night together, it is still very common for the bride to get ready at her own chosen location with the people important to her, and for the groom to get ready at a seperate location with the people that are important to him.

bride all dressed for her wedding admiring her reception dress before the ceremony in Auckland
This Bride hired a motel room to get ready for her wedding with her Bridesmaids and close family

Walking down the aisle – Most brides still walk down the aisle towards their groom at the beginning of the ceremony. Whilst this is not always followed with some brides choosing an alternative way and even some couples walking down the aisle together, this is very much a tradition that has stayed in place when it comes too kiwi weddings. Brides really do want to see that reaction from their partner when they arrive and many enjoy this moment too much to stray from the tradition.

bride with her father prior to walking down the aisle in a Browns Bay home
reJust before she walks down the aisle to her future husband

The First Kiss

I don’t think I have ever photographed a wedding where there hasn’t been a first kiss! As a newly married couple, it is one of the most important moments that signifies the start of life as a newly married couple. Perhaps there are shy couples who might omit this tradition if they are a little bit uncomfortable with showing some ‘lovin’ in front of their guests, but this is rare, even for the shy ones. 

first kiss at wedding in matakana with guests congratulating in the background
The signifying moment that the marriage has begun!

Speeches – If a wedding has a ceremony, it most certainly will have at least one or a few people who stand up to do a speech, even if just a short thank you. Even in cases where the Bride and Groom have expressed that they don’t want speeches, guests want to express their happiness for the newlyweds, maybe embarrass them a little and wish them all the best for their life together, regardless of what the bride and groom want. And this leads me on to the next common tradition…

wedding toast with guests raising their glasses to the newlyweds
Toasting is a wedding tradition that the guests LOVE to be involved in

Toasting! – at least once, but often more times than that, there will be toasts to the bride and groom and everyone in the room will find their glass (hope that it is filled) and raise it to toast the happy newly married couple. Personally, these moments always make great photos as the add to the storytelling of the day.

Cutting the cake – There is almost always cake, and it is almost always turned into a ceremonial event at a wedding where the guests watch and congratulate the first cut of the cake whilst the photographer snaps the moment for them to remember forever. And as with most of the important traditional moments, this is one that generally makes it into the wedding album and the photographers gallery. 

bride and groom cutting their cake at their wedding
Cake cutting is a strong tradition at New Zealand weddings

The first dance – This one is a little more hit and miss. It is still common, but at the same time, more and more couples are choosing not to do a first dance and it really comes down to their personality. Those who do add in the first dance have many options from an impromptu swirl on the dance floor, to a fully choreographed number, to a flashmob that involves their guests. I always love to see the creativity that happens with a first dance, but also it can be such a special moment that the bride and groom get to share together, and one of the only moments they will be close and intimate on their wedding day. 

While modern couples are embracing their own personal style, there are still some wedding traditions that remain popular at Kiwi weddings. This post has highlighted seven of them that you’re likely to see at your own wedding, and I reckon they will be around for some time to come.

Suzannah Maree

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