The Reluctant Wedding Planner
Back in what seems to me to be the distant past, River Valley was first and foremost an adventure company. We cut our teeth in the early 1980s on the Grade 5 white water rafting section of the North Island’s Rangitikei River. This stretch of river, voted by Red Bull as one of the world’s top 8 rafting sections, has been a mainstay of our offerings ever since then. That is until recently.
How things have changed!
Personally, I was never that keen on us hosting weddings. It all seemed too hard trying to work details of a wedding around many other people who were on-site to go adventuring or just chilling out. Plus, there were the stories of bridezilla’s and so on – (I have to confess, I have never met a bridezilla, but I am assured they exist!).
Just as well, weddings were not about me, and other staff (daughter mostly) were keen on working with couples who wanted to get married at the Lodge. To be fair, it would have been hard to say no. These couples had often as not had long associations with us and the place. In many cases, they were family friends, neighbours, people who had been coming for many years to go kayaking, and even close family members.
Okay, I thought we could work with that. Even though we had regular enquiries, we would limit weddings to just a few special people and only occasionally.
Then along came Covid-19
For the tourism and hospitality industries, the Covid-19 pandemic has changed everything. Lucky for River Valley, many staff members like helping out couples with their special wedding day, and the feedback they receive, both from the bridal party and guests, has been fantastic.
Thank goodness for that!
During those warm late summer and autumn days of 2021, we hosted a steady trickle of smaller, often intimate weddings. Ceremonies were, weather permitting, which was most of the time, carried out beside the river. Meals were sometimes relaxed affairs with guests mingling in the Lodge gardens or were sometimes more formal sittings inside.
I have to admit, I feel very proud of how all the team have got behind making these events such a special occasion for everyone involved.