Major drop in overseas-based couples coming to New Zealand to get wed

Bride holding bouquet of white flowers
Photo credit: Getty


The number of overseas residents coming to New Zealand to marry has dropped significantly this year.

The registrar-general of births, deaths and marriages says there have been a number of changes to weddings as a result of COVID-19.

Jeff Montgomery said there is quite a significant market of people from overseas coming to New Zealand to get married, either tourists or people returning home.

He said a year ago an average of 200 weddings a month for an overseas couple, this year that has dropped to an average of 10.

"Anecdotally we have heard that those marriage celebrants in tourist locations, particularly Queenstown, have experienced a drop in demand for their services, because they no longer have Australian couples flying into Queenstown for a romantic mountain-top wedding, so they have experienced a drop in demand," he said.

Celebrant weddings

The decision to scrap registry weddings in favour of a simple service by a wedding celebrant has proved popular, with a tenfold increase.

In July, court staff across New Zealand stopped conducting registry weddings, with couples instead being married by an independent wedding celebrant.

Montgomery said numbers of these registry style weddings have grown from 20 to 30 a month to more than 200.

He said there are enough wedding celebrants around the country to do a registry style wedding in any town around New Zealand. They can conduct a ceremony in their home, the couple's home or some other small community space.

"They have taken off partly because of the closed borders and because of the lockdowns. Couples have been choosing a smaller, intimate, low-price event and then having a large party later in the year," he said.

"So we've seen a significant increase in couples choosing to have a quick ceremony, with standard vows with less than 20 guests, led by a registry-style celebrant."