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Poronui Trumps Weather on Wedding Day
– Weddings

Bad weather threatened to cast a shadow over this Waikato couple’s big day. But thanks to a very flexible venue, they needn’t have worried at all.

When Neil and Ashley started looking for wedding venue a few years back, they were very clear about what they wanted. “A venue that complemented our personalities and relationship,” Ashley says. “Neil is a keen hunter and lover of the outdoors and a venue that expressed that was important to him. Neil and I spend a lot of time in Taupo, where my family are based, so it was important to me to choose a venue that we would return to time and time again.”

Poronui Lodge, nestled in the secluded Taharua valley 40 minutes east of Taupo, was the perfect choice. Awarded two top honours in the recent prestigious Andrew Harper Travel Awards, the lodge is the ultimate wilderness retreat.

But it is also a boon for brides. “The best thing about the Poronui team was how helpful they all were,” explains Ashley. “When we first met Claire [Hall, assistant lodge manager], we were blown away with how proactive she was, providing us with ideas and suggestions, vendor information and constantly keeping in touch with us leading up to the wedding day.

“The thing we loved about Poronui is that there were no rules – we were free to do whatever we needed, whenever we needed to. We could come and go from the venue whenever we pleased. We didn’t have to vacate by a certain time and Claire did whatever she could to accommodate our requests. On the day before the wedding, Claire and Chris were on call to help us with whatever we needed – they really were lifesavers!”

And while the ever-capable Poronui team can’t claim to control the weather, they can certainly manage around it. “It was forecast to pour with rain on our day,” says Ashley, “and wanting to have our ceremony outside, the forecast was problematic. We managed to get an hour-long break in the weather right at the time we were due to marry. Then the rain in the afternoon turned out to be great, it encouraged all of our guests to mingle together inside Blake House. It was intimate and just perfect.”

“Weather is always a concern for all brides,” adds Claire, “and it is certainly one factor Poronui/Blake House has over other venues. Clearing one of the two lounges provides ample room for a wet weather wedding and the symmetry of the room and fireplace makes it cathedral-like. Then we have additional rooms like the Cigar Room and the library, which easily hosts 100 to 150 on wet days for drinks.

“We also have stunning indoor photo areas in wet weather – like the Cellar, the Stables, the Red Hut, and the surrounding dense forest areas.”

Neil and Ashley, who met through work and got together when Neil was transferred from Taranaki to the Waikato office, agree. “Our guests loved the venue – the landscapes, the beautiful lodge and most of all, the isolation. It gave people a chance to reflect on the reason they were all here – to celebrate our love,” says Ashley.

Their most precious memories of the day?

Neil: “Watching Ash stand outside Blake House, her veil blowing in the wind, before walking down the aisle. A close second, our helicopter ride to the Red Hut.”

Ashley: “Finally being able to hold Neil’s hands after a long walk down the aisle.”

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