In the heart of Sydney Harbour lies a little island called Fort Denison. Although the history of the island involves our convict past, today you can take advantage of the magnificent views to Sydney city, the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge while enjoying post ceremony drinks with your nearest and dearest on the lawn. Throw in a ferry ride to and from the island, a golden sunset, and twinkling city lights and you have all the ingredients for a magic wedding day. Liz is the driving force making all the elements of your time on the island run smoothly, so let’s meet her……
Fort Denison – what a wonderful place to hold an event! How did your connection with Fort Dennison come about?
We were fortunate enough to win a tender from 14 other companies back in 2006. At that time the venue had been closed for almost a year and the island was not in great shape so we all rolled our sleeves up and got to work.
Do you exclusively run events on Fort Denison?
Yes we look after the restaurant, and all the Events and Weddings across 7 days of the week.
Image by Cameron Bloom Photography
What makes this venue so special for a wedding? What do you particularly love about it?
Nowhere in the world is there a venue quite like our island. How fabulous and exciting is it for the guests to arrive by boat, on the quick 5 minute ferry ride from the heart of the city. For our couples to be able to have Fort Denison only for themselves and their guests for such a special event as their wedding makes it a truly unique experience. Then there is the view back to the Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and the constant activity on the water throughout the night. Bridal couples and their guests are able to watch the sun set behind the Harbour Bridge.
Can you describe the areas suitable for a wedding on Fort Denison?
Lots and lots of couples choose to be married on Fort Denison. There is the magnificent Battery Lawn which offers 360 degree views all around the harbor and Sydney from there. We bring our bride to the island about half an hour before the guests arrive, and hide her in a special room so she can then walk up the aisle to be married. After the ceremony concludes everyone enjoys drinks and pre-dinner canapés before heading downstairs into the marquee for the dinner reception.
Image by Silverboat Photography
Are any of the historic buildings themselves used for events?
There is a private dining room within the main building, which can accommodate up to 24 guests for a very intimate experience. At each wedding there is a National Parks and Wildlife Ranger present who is more than happy to take guests on a mini tour of the iconic Martello Tower throughout the night – another gobsmacking view all around Sydney from up there. The Tower is a fabulous photo opportunity to capture the ceremony or pre dinner drinks or both. Also located in the buildings is the Musuem where guests are free to wander around and take in all the history of the island.
Arrival on the island is by boat. Is this included as part of the wedding package when couples book a Fort Denison wedding?
Yes. In our packages we offer two styles of transport – the first one is included in the packages for up to 140 guests, and the second option, a heritage style ferry, is offered as an upgrade and when guest numbers exceed 140.
Can couples include a harbor cruise for their guests, as part of their wedding day?
Another hugely popular choice for our weddings – to offer a cruise for up to an hour around the harbour which is especially fabulous when guests from interstate or overseas attend. Our ferries will take guests around under the Harbour Bridge towards Barangaroo and Goat Island then back towards Watsons Bay before returning to Fort Denison to commence the reception. We offer a beverage package and food on these cruises so guests don’t arrive ‘starving’.
Image by Blumenthal Photography
Can couples bring in their own vendors e.g. wedding planner, cake, flowers – or are you able to provide a comprehensive service to cover all aspects of the day?
Yes they can and we will work with each couple’s vendors to coordinate all the transport to and from the island. However we have our own ‘little black book’ of the best in the business and are those who know Fort Denison intimately, which can take a lot of the guess work out of holding a wedding at the island.
What is the perfect styling for a wedding at Fort Denison – formal, DIY, rustic etc?
Fort Denison lends itself to many options. We do not allow DIY largely due to the time constraints, but can certainly recommend vendors who know our venue inside out.
What have been some of the amazing things brides have done with their weddings at Fort Denison?
We can’t go past fireworks – located just off the island. For a bride and groom to offer a 5 minute show for their guests is fabulous.
Image by SugarLove Weddings
What is a favourite menu on offer from the team at Fort Denison?
Pork miang in baby betel leaf tart w light chilli kaffir lime & coconut (g)
Ricotta cigars w toasted pinenuts (v)
Kingfish tartare w mini Asian greens & Ponzu dressing (g)
Served with warm crusty breads & dishes of local butter
Serrano jamon snowpea tendrils – peas – mint – buffalo mozzarella (g/v)
Heirloom tomato salad goats curd – baby basil – macadamia crumbs (v)
Roasted barramundi fillet shallot puree – beetroot – watercress (g)
Roast pork belly, apple puree – caramelised apples – spiced walnuts
Rocket – fennel – steeped currants, pommes frites
Creme brulee white chocolate – red berries
Sheeps milk panna cotta Rhubarb – apple
Frangelico – espresso
Image courtesy of the bride (via Fort Denison)
What other events take place at Fort Denison during the year?
Lots and lots of corporate events at night time, lots of birthday celebrations in our restaurant during the day, and of course our highly sought after tickets to the Gala New Year’s Dinner each year with front row seating to the spectacular 9pm and midnight fireworks. For the past 3 years we have participated in the Vivid Festival of Light Music and Ideas and have our own lighting installation on Fort Denison. We open the restaurant at night time especially for dinner on 7 nights during the festival.
And an extra treat, a wedding film featuring Fort Denison, from The White Tree:
Thank you Liz for sharing the Fort Denison story. To find out more about what Liz offers at Fort Denison visit the website.
Headshot courtesy of Liz of Fort Denison