…to get married on the Lower North Shore

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2011/04/13 by Elizabeth

After much searching (not really – only looked at three places),  I think we may finally have our venue. And a date. I can’t tell you how exciting this is.

Our criteria for a venue was, to be honest, pretty vague. Somewhere nice and outdoors for the ceremony, followed by a reception… somewhere. Mr Sweetpants started off wanting somewhere with fantastic food, and so we looked at Quay, which is undeniably spectacular and, surprisingly, not as hard on the wallet as I had initially feared. We also checked out The Wharf, which became the frontrunner until I read in the fine print that we wouldn’t be able to play our own music, or have a band or DJ, because we would only be hiring one of their balconies rather than the whole restaurant – because our numbers are small.

The numbers thing is interesting. We’ve got the guest list hovering at around 50 people, which I realise is small when compared to some of the enormous weddings you see in bridal mags. However, what I didn’t realise was how hard it would be to find a reception venue for that number. Take Quay for example – they have a fantastic private space, for a maximum of 32 people and their next private room has an ideal minimum of 80 – what about those of us that fall in between? And as mentioned, unless you have over 100 and something, The Wharf can only give you a balcony, where you’re limited in your entertainment options. It’s a tricky one.

And then there was the ceremony to think about… waterviews and trees was our basic requirement. So, how about the Royal Botanic Gardens, complete with joggers and tourists? Or Observatory Hill, with a hundred other brides? Balmoral? Balmain? All very… public. Exposed. So began the search for a private garden or park. Vaucluse House? McKell Park? Gap Bluff at Watson’s Bay? Then I stumbled upon some amazing wedding photos from a place I’d never heard of, in a part of Sydney I hadn’t considered.

Mr Sweetpants and I are Inner West people, so getting married on Sydney’s Lower North Shore was not really something I had ever pictured. But then again, I’d never pictured myself getting married at all, so I figured if the location was ‘right’ I’d just have to get over the socio-geographic implications.

Athol Hall - 'the' place

Athol Hall sits just inside the entrance to a National Park at Bradley’s Head –  next to Taronga Zoo. The Hall itself is a rather rustic looking 1880s building, probably with some kind of military history. But it sits within a wonderful garden setting, with views of the city to die for. It even has friendly resident kookaburras, and a small private beach is a short walk away down the hill. The moment I saw it in person, I felt it was ‘the place’. And thankfully, Mr Sweetpants (who was pretty much at the “let’s just pick somewhere” point) liked it too.

We can have the ceremony and reception there, taking some of the stress off finding two perfect venues. And I’m already imagining our guests playing croquet or quoits in the grounds of our ‘garden party’ wedding, while we’re having photos taken. I am still a bit concerned about our party of 50 being a bit small, but the Athol Hall people tell me they’ve done functions for much less. We might just have to get a bit creative with the decorating and furniture layout to make it more ‘cosy’.

So, we have a tentative booking for November this year. A Friday. Just a few questions and details to iron out with the function people there (who have been wonderful so far – as were the girls at Quay and The Wharf) and then we’ll hand over our deposit. Hip hip hooray!

One final note: upon hearing the news of our venue find, my sister suggested we’d be better off getting married in a function room at Penrith Panthers. My sister is a bogan. But that’s for another post…


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