The number one question I get asked by couples who haven’t yet set a date for their wedding is, “can you recommend anywhere good in Sydney for my reception?”. This is quite a broad topic in itself and you will have to factor in such things as food options, capacity, parking and proximity to the ceremony venue. In this list I’ve attempted to collate our studio’s top 10 most popular Sydney (and surrounding) wedding reception venues (in no particular order), with a personal account of our experiences there and whatever information we know about them.

Curzon Hall

Approximate capacity: 100-300
Food options: Self catered or venue provided
Parking: Plenty, free
Official Website
Check out Southern Light Photography’s Curzon Hall wedding photos

Curzon Hall hosts several rooms of varying sizes and can cater from smaller parties to very large groups (i.e. for cultural weddings – Indian, Lebanese etc.). In the past few years they added a gorgeous new room to the grounds which can be partitioned if you need a smaller group. In fact, when I got married in February this year we chose the new room and had it sectioned off because we only had around 140 guests. Beware though – if you partition the room some of the noise can carry through from the other room. We had some loud Lebanese drumming from the adjacent reception which caused some interruption to our night. Make sure to check with the event manager that this will not happen.

The banquet hall in the main castle is absolutely stunning, with engraved high ceilings, a spacious dancefloor and capacity for around 300 guests. It’s a little tricky to shoot in because of the high ceilings and the fact that it’s fairly dark in the room, but we usually bring in external lighting to lift the brightness of the room up a little without destroying the ambiance.

Curzon Hall is definitely one of our favourite places to shoot because of the variety of areas around the grounds to photograph in. In the daytime you can roam the well-tended gardens and get some gorgeous greenery, and by night the whole venue is tastefully lit so you can get some amazing wedding photos at the front, by the rotunda, and even in the garden in the back. Curzon Hall also features a grand staircase indoors which lends itself to very romantic, dramatic photos (not to mention the wet-weather convenience).

They offer a package price which includes everything you need – definitely a godsend when planning a wedding as everything is taken care of. This is one advantage of choosing a venue that specialises in weddings, rather than a restaurant that caters for wedding receptions which sometimes require you to organise everything separately. I was concerned that on our wedding day we would run into other bridal parties and ruin the magic of the day, but this didn’t happen as the staff were very efficient in directing guests to their respective rooms and keeping us all separate.

Curzon Hall Wedding Photographer
Curzon Hall’s grounds offer a wealth of photo opportunities – day or night

Le Montage

Approximate capacity: 80-500+
Food options: Self catered or venue provided
Parking: Plenty, free
Official Website

Check out Southern Light Photography’s Le Montage wedding photos

Le Montage in Sydney’s inner west also has a number of rooms of varying sizes to accommodate most wedding parties. With the same owners as Curzon Hall, they have lots of experience with traditional and cultural weddings. A lot of Indian and cultural couples have been choosing Le Montage because they allow external catering. For Hindu wedding ceremonies, they permit lighting of a contained fire indoors.

We’ve had only good experiences at Le Montage and have heard the same from our couples. There’s a great range of areas for photographs – Le Montage is situated on the bank of Iron Cove (if I’m not mistaken) which by day offers beautiful water views and jetties, and by night has fairy light-wrapped trees along the water’s edge for some moody, romantic images. There’s a grand staircase with a large glass chandelier inside, and a neighbouring park for some greenery.

Le Montage Wedding Photographer
Le Montage is on the water’s edge offering some gorgeous photos during the daytime and after dark.

Starship Sydney

Approximate capacity: 140-750
Food options: Venue provided
Parking: N/A
Official Website

Check out Southern Light Photography’s Starship Sydney wedding photos

For an unbeatable view of Sydney’s stunning skyline, you can’t go past a harbour cruise for your wedding reception. The Starship Sydney is a grand vessel with 3 levels and a whole lot of glass for you to soak in that breathtaking Sydney skyline. We’ve photographed Indian and traditional/Western weddings aboard the Starship. For Hindu weddings, you are permitted to have the ceremonial fire on the upper deck which is outdoors.

As photographers we sometimes get fed last (or not at all) and are sometimes without a table which forces us to eat off our laps. With the Starship the coordinator regularly checked on us, offered us drinks and a table of our own! This speaks volumes about their level of service and after getting to know the coordinators and staff I’ve no doubt they will look after you and your guests.

In terms of photos, you can get limited photos on the upper deck with the city behind you, but if you want some variety I suggest getting the ship to dock after the ceremony and going somewhere such as the Botanic Gardens for some photos before hopping back on. Otherwise schedule in some photo time after your ceremony before boarding if it’s at a different venue.

Starship Sydney Wedding Photographer
Starship Sydney wedding reception cruises offer up breathtaking 360 degree views of the Sydney skyline.

Vaucluse House Tea Rooms

Approximate capacity: 100
Food options: Venue provided
Parking: Plenty, free
Official Website

Check out Southern Light Photography’s Vaucluse House wedding photos

For those of you who prefer an intimate garden ceremony, somewhere like Vaucluse House is hard to beat. Tim and Linda’s Vaucluse House wedding which we photographed last year had a string quartet, a handful of guests and beautiful sunshine surrounded by immaculate gardens and the lush greenery of Vaucluse Park. It’s a short drive to views of the city, and of course you can take advantage of the gardens for photographs.

The Tearooms are warm, rustic and cosy and the dancefloor, though quite small, ended up being just the right size for their smaller wedding party. Guests can also hang out in the adjacent courtyard for a bit of air.

Vaucluse House Wedding Photographer
Vaucluse House is perfect for an intimate garden wedding.

The Taronga Centre

Approximate capacity: 250
Food options: Venue provided
Parking: Plenty, free + paid
Official Website

Check out Southern Light Photography’s Taronga Centre wedding photos

If I was going to get married again (which I hope doesn’t happen!), I would have my reception at the Taronga Centre. Situated high on Bradley’s Head in Sydney’s North, the top room affords uninterrupted views of Sydney’s famous skyline. There’s nothing like watching the sun set over the city while enjoying some great food and company.

When we photographed Emma and Jeremy’s Taronga Centre wedding, they were permitted to go with a guide through the actual Zoo and get photos by the bird amphitheatre (which has the best views of the city) and outside some of the animal enclosures. As the sun set many of their guests got some great photos on the long outdoor balcony, and as the night rolled on, a live Jazz band got the dancefloor pumping.

Taronga Centre Wedding Photographer
Taronga Centre has some of the best views of the city I’ve ever seen.

Waterview, Bicentennial Park Homebush

Approximate capacity: 50-650
Food options: Venue provided or self catered
Parking: Plenty, free
Official Website

Check out Southern Light Photography’s Waterview Bicentennial Park wedding photos

We love shooting at Waterview in Bicentennial Park. The function centre is surrounded by vast photogenic forests and avenues of trees, all within minutes. There’s not much else around the area so as long as you’re happy with lots of lovely greenery and trees then this is an excellent venue. It’s situated on the Parramatta river which gets you some nice water features, although the river sometimes looks a bit brown.

We have photographed Indian and traditional weddings here so it’s quite versatile for small to very large groups. For Hindu ceremonies, an indoor fire is OK. The main room is quite dark but we do bring our own lighting to subtly brighten up the room when needed. The main room’s best feature in my opinion is its massive dancefloor – more than ample space for 300 rowdy Indians.

Waterview Bicentennial Park Wedding Photographer
Waterview Bicentennial Park has a wealth of parklands to explore for your wedding photos.

Concord Function Centre, Concord

Approximate capacity: 300+
Food options: Venue provided
Parking: Sufficient, free
Official Website

Check out Southern Light Photography’s Concord Function Centre wedding photos

We have photographed numerous times at Concord Function Centre, and have experienced top-notch professional service and delicious food. It is run by Manjit, a seasoned Indian food caterer, who caters absolutely delicious food for all diets and tastes.

Concord Function Centre staff run a very tight ship – I’ve watched in awe as they turn a theatre-style seated ceremony into round table seating for the reception in less than an hour!

There are some stylish lounges in the actual centre for photos, but I would only use those if it’s raining. Cabarita Park nearby is one of the best parks in Sydney I’ve photographed in and is the best option if you still have some daylight. It has a stretch of beach, a long pier, old boats and lots of dense greenery which make for excellent photographs.

Concord Function Centre Indian Wedding Photographer
Concord Function Centre has heaps of experience running and catering for Indian weddings.

Eling Forest Winery, Sutton Forest, Southern Highlands

Approximate capacity: Up to 200
Food options: Venue provided
Parking: Plenty, free
Official Website

Check out Southern Light Photography’s Eling Forest Winery wedding photos

If wide open spaces and rolling hills are more your scene, Eling Forest Winery in NSW’s Southern Highlands is ideal. It was actually our second choice for our wedding venue (we ended up at Curzon Hall for sentimental reasons). Once a school, it is now run by two gourmet chefs who create some seriously mouth-watering food and desserts (see the galleries above). The adjacent rose garden is perfect for an intimate garden ceremony.

It’s nearly impossible to take a bad photo at Eling Forest Winery – it’s set right near a lake, beyond which lie wide plains and farmland in every direction. Inside the house there is all the original furniture and fixtures (watch your head in the doorways – people were much shorter in the 1800’s!) which makes for some beautiful authentic photos. They have a few traditional country-style rooms on site including a separate block of rooms which usually hold the bridal party and their families.

They only provide the room, tables, staff, food and drinks; you will need to organise your own decorations, music and lighting. There’s limited accommodation around the area so give your guests plenty of notice and you may want to organise a bus for pick up and drop off.

Eling Forest Winery Wedding Photographer
Eling Forest Winery is full of country charm and history.

Briars Country Lodge, Bowral, Southern Highlands

Approximate capacity: 110-180
Food options: Venue provided
Parking: Plenty, free
Official Website

Check out Southern Light Photography’s Briars Country Lodge wedding photos

While we’re in the Southern Highlands, let me tell you about another one of our most popular wedding venues – Briars Country Lodge. It features a large garden at the back with a gazebo (where you can hold your ceremony) overlooking a duck pond. One big plus about Briars Country Lodge is that they have around 30 suites so you can book the place out and have it all to yourselves.

The reception room has glass all around so you can enjoy the views of the garden, as well as an adjoining lounge room for your guests to chill out. The dancefloor isn’t huge but this is a plus for an intimate venue like this in my opinion as it will feel busy and packed even if there aren’t many people on it.

Whenever we’ve photographed at Briars Country Lodge I’ve noticed a sense of togetherness between the guests. Maybe it’s the way the tables are arranged or maybe it’s the comfy lounge area which helps people relax. It could also be that if the whole lodge is booked out with just your guests you can organise get-togethers before and after the wedding. Whatever the reason, I always get a good feeling after working at this venue.

Briars Country Lodge Bowral Southern Highlands Wedding Photographer
Briars Country Lodge in Bowral is inviting and intimate.

Roberts Restaurant, Hunter Valley

Approximate capacity: From 90
Food options: Venue provided
Parking: Plenty, free
Official Website

Check out Southern Light Photography’s Roberts Restaurant Hunter Valley wedding photos

North of Sydney in the heart of the famous Hunter Valley wine region is Roberts Restaurant. This venue is stunning any time of year. Even if the vines and trees are bare you’ll still get some beautiful photos around the restaurant, particularly in the row of trees in the back garden. The two weddings above were taken in two very different seasons so you can compare the look you’ll get.

True and Sam were married in the garden behind the restaurant in the late afternoon, which gave us some gorgeous glowing sunlight which filtered through the trees. Just a short walk around and we were in the vines and across an old bridge.

Inside Roberts Restaurant is equally charming – there’s a well-preserved study with some antique chairs and buffets, and the main reception room features exposed rafters on angled high ceilings. You can also optionally add a marquee to the side of the restaurant if you want more room to dance.

Roberts Restaurant Hunter Valley Wedding Photographer
Roberts Restaurant in the Hunter Valley is perfect for an intimate garden wedding and reception.

 

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