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What Would They Know? Belinda Kirkwood of Byron Beach Cafe

by | Venue Wisdom, What Would They Know?, Wisdom


Polka Dot Bride

Belinda of Byron Beach Cafe

How do you package up a premier restaurant, right on the beach in Byron Bay no less, with understated luxury,  spectacular views and the sound of the sea as your wedding song? It’s all at Byron Beach Cafe of course – the award winning venue that has it all. Positioned perfectly it’s only a short walk from your beach ceremony to the bubbles and yummy food that awaits you at Byron Beach Cafe. At Byron Bay, somehow the stars shine a little bit brighter, the feeling of relaxation and fun is everywhere – the perfect place for a destination wedding.

Tell us about Byron Beach Cafe – where it is situated and how close to the beach is it.

We are literally right on the beach! The cafe is located on the dunes at Clarkes Beach in Byron Bay and overlooks Julian Rocks with sweeping uninterrupted views stretching in all directions from The Pass and the Byron Lighthouse in the south to Mount Warning and the Byron hinterland in the north. We are actually the only absolute beachfront café in the area.

Every part of the Byron Beach Cafe has been created with passion and attention to detail – a far cry from the rundown cafe we inherited in 2006. After two significant renovations, in a space of five years, we are committed to providing Byron Bay’s best dining experience. We know we’re doing it right when our guests arrive and we watch a huge smile transform their face.

 Byron Beach Cafe 1

You’ve recently won some awards. Could you tell us about them?

It’s always nice to win awards and be recognised by your industry and peers. We’ve been extremely blessed in the past 12 months winning 4 major accolades, including ‘Best Cafe’ at the Australian Small Business Champion Awards and ‘Best Tourism Restaurant and Catering Service’ at the NSW Tourism Awards. We were up against some really big capital city venues, so it’s great to see our family-run business be acknowledged as the best in Australia and the state.

These awards also pay tribute to our hard working staff, our wonderful customers and to our suppliers, including some of the region’s most ethical and sustainable food growers.

Byron Bay Wedding 4

Please describe your wedding space/s and how it is best utilized for the reception?

Being the only purpose-built wedding venue on the beach in Byron Bay, we offer our clients a unique opportunity to exchange their vows on the beach and then it’s just a short stroll up the dunes to their wedding reception.

Our team is on hand to greet guests on our expansive deck with champagne, cocktails and canapés. We also provide towels and scented foot baths to wash the sand from their feet! This gives our newlyweds time to have their wedding photos taken; and, with one of the world’s most beautiful beaches on our doorstep, their photos are always stunning!

We love what we do. My husband and I have invested an enormous amount of time and resources into renovating this iconic Byron Bay building into a quality landmark. Inside, the interior has been designed with banks of bi-fold doors that open right up to offer stunning ocean and hinterland views from every table, both inside and out. The interior is a light, bright space filled with natural sunlight and warm wood-trimmed walls, which are, actually, reclaimed 100 year old Sydney Harbour piers.

For weddings and special celebrations, the space is transformed using everything from floating silk lanterns, chandeliers hanging from the trees and jam jars filled with candles. Steering clear of convention and looking to nature, invariably, produces some of the most atmospheric results. Think driftwood, shells, beautiful scented flowers and sand sculptures. We also encourage the wedding party to personalise the space with whatever colours and décor they choose.

Do you have a wedding planning service available?

Yes we do! We have a full time dedicated wedding team, so whether it’s a little or a lot of assistance needed, we are here to help. We don’t offer packages or off-the-shelf generic weddings. Our approach is to work closely with our couples to ensure we deliver the wedding of their dreams. We feel it’s important to create and design weddings that make a special connection for each individual couple, that will touch their hearts, and be something they and their guests remember forever. This can only be achieved by a hands-on personal approach.

Getting the assistance of an experienced team, and having people on the ground who know the nuances and unique aspects of a Byron Bay wedding, can make all the difference, especially for couples getting married away from home. Trying to remember and coordinate every tiny detail is stressful and time consuming and our empathetic and professional team can help with hints and tips that couples may never have considered on their own.

And as they say, the devil is in the detail. And this could not be more so than when considering outdoor wedding ceremonies. A beautiful beach wedding, a lighthouse ceremony or a garden party are all stunning options. But, what if it rains? Many of Byron Bay’s dream wedding ceremony locations can be compromised by the rain. Having a backup plan is essential for both the ceremony and the reception. Couples having their wedding reception here at the Byron Beach Cafe can discuss options with our team, in case of bad weather. Engaging our expert team ensures a swift and seamless reaction to any obstacle, allowing everyone to stay calm and relaxed and, if necessary, dry.

Byron Bay Wedding 2

What does the complete planning package include? 

We don’t offer wedding packages per-se and we can honestly say that no two weddings at the Byron Beach Cafe have ever been the same. The reason for this is simple. Every couple is different and we plan weddings that are unique and specific to each and every couple. We enjoy spending as much time as is necessary with each couple, helping them design a menu that’s original as well as delicious, sourcing beautiful pieces to make their day truly unique or working with the groom to plan a special surprise for his new wife! And vice versa!

We feel so lucky that this is our job and that includes all the marvelous network of people who work with us from the celebrants to the florists to the amazing wedding cake artists. And then there are the talented musicians, videographers and photographers. The pool of talent in this area is almost unlimited. We know the ropes and, by working with all the local authorities, can assist our couples in obtaining the required permits and all the necessary paperwork for the actual ceremony and photographic locations.

However laid-back or lavish couples want their Byron Bay wedding to be, the necessary key is planning and organisation, the detail. While not the glamorous part, our team know it is absolutely essential to ensure a perfect day.

Are there any items the couple need to source/provide themselves?

Not a thing! Seriously, we’ve got it all covered. Our team has over 15 years of experience organising local weddings and we can take care of everything. Or, for couples who prefer to be more hands-on, we can advise and guide them to the most professional service providers for their big day. Everything, from entertainers, makeup artists, photographers, cake decorators, venue decorators and all other wedding day essentials.

However, planning a wedding in Byron Bay can present some unique challenges, particularly without local knowledge. Getting married on the beach in Byron Bay does require a good deal of forethought and there are a lot of details involved from the very practical matters of obtaining permits and checking tide times to transportation and styling. We find that the best way to start planning a Byron Bay wedding is to pick up the phone and give us a call. We’re here to help.

Can you suggest some gorgeous places to have a wedding ceremony around Byron Bay?

Byron Bay has so many spectacular and unique locations for a wedding ceremony that clients are spoiled for choice. Everything, from the traditional to the unexpected! For beach weddings, it’s hard to go past Clarkes Beach with its sweeping views of the bay, Byron Lighthouse, Mount Warning and Julian Rocks. Unlike other beaches in Byron Bay, Clarkes Beach is uncrowded whilst close to everything, including the Byron Beach Cafe. Which is great, if you’re looking for a relaxed yet stylish beach location for your reception, one that your guests can stroll up to after the ceremony. In the event of bad weather, couples also have the luxury of having their ceremony at the Byron Beach Cafe, including a stunning beachfront backdrop.

For jaw-dropping views and iconic locations, the Byron Lighthouse is ideal and nothing says a “Byron Bay wedding” like this location. There are, however, limited times when ceremonies can take place at the Byron Lighthouse precinct, so our advice is to check before booking or contact one of our wedding planners to help you with all the required council permits and paperwork.

For a more traditional ceremony, the 100 year-old St Oswald’s Anglican Church is a beautifully intimate venue with pretty lead light windows, antique wooden pews and a lovely bushland setting. Full of charm and character, this church is perfect for couples wishing for a church ceremony whilst not compromising on location. This venue is a 10 minute drive from town, so you may wish to consider transport for your guests or we can organise buses or private cars for you.

And, of course, we can’t leave out Wategos Beach. With its white sand, palm trees and stunning Pacific Ocean views – it truly is paradise. Wategos is also home to some of the most luxurious beachfront accommodation in Byron Bay, making it an ideal location for wedding parties to stay. Choose from the many truly unique hotels, guest houses and private bungalows. However, couples do need to check the tides for this beach and have a standby plan in case of bad weather. If you’re holding your reception at the Byron Beach Cafe, our team can help you with an indoor ceremony back-up plan and transportation there and back.

No matter where couples choose to say ‘I do’ in Byron Bay, one thing is for certain, they’re spoilt for choice when it comes to gorgeous wedding ceremony spots.

Byron Bay Wedding 5

Are you able to serve post ceremony refreshments at these places?

For weddings at Clarkes Beach and Wategos Beach, our team can be on hand at the Byron Beach Cafe to greet guests with post ceremony cocktails and canapés in the garden or on the deck. The bride and groom can relax whilst having their wedding photos taken on the beach and surrounds knowing their guests will be catered for and enjoying the chance to mingle.

Currently it is not possible to serve food and drinks on any beach in Byron Bay, but for all other locations, we can provide post ceremony refreshments including drinks, champagne and canapés before the wedding party make their way to the Byron Beach Cafe for the wedding reception.

Our award-winning offsite catering team can also bring the Byron Beach Cafe food experience to many locations in and around Byron Bay. We have created the ‘moving feast’, so wherever our couples’ weddings take place, we can cater it.

Please describe the style of food your chef prepares for weddings?

Our head chef and I really love simple food that is fresh and full of flavour. Rather than following trends closely, our food evolves from a close collaboration with our local food producers. Our starting point for each new wedding menu involves sourcing the best local in-season produce and designing dishes that are then made from the freshest raw ingredients. Almost all our dishes have some kind of connection to the local area, be it Bangalow pork, Byron Bay seafood or the best Byron hinterland organic produce.

For weddings, share plates are our idea of wedding heaven! We love this style of dining and how it brings people together. And it’s a bit of fun too. Our share plate feasts include a large variety of dishes from classics like salt and Szechuan pepper squid and mini wagyu beef sliders to such plates as Thai smoked trout, char su pork Vietnamese rice paper rolls and crispy duck and shitake mushroom wonton. Our dishes are designed to be the perfect champagne or cocktail companion, leaving the taste buds tingling.

Grant MacIntyre Photography

What is his current favourite dish?

That’s a hard question! With every wedding it’s something new. Currently, I’d have to say, it’s either between the slow-cooked Bangalow pork belly with cauliflower parsnip puree, spiced plum mandarin glaze, king prawn and crispy pancetta or our Beach paella with prawns, mussels, chicken, chorizo and saffron. But then there’s dessert… Our musk coconut tapioca sprinkled with sherbet musk dust is unbelievable!

Does Byron Beach Cafe have a food philosophy?

For us, it’s all about what’s in-season and available at the local farmers’ markets. Our head chef and I like putting together menus that reflect not only Byron, but also the bride and groom, whilst always having a signature Byron Beach Cafe touch of understated luxury. Our philosophy is to let local provenance guide our menus, with home-grown ingredients looming large. How we put these together is a result of consultation between the couple and ourselves.

Can a bridal couple request an a la carte menu or shared platters for their sit down reception dinner?

Yes and yes! However laid-back and relaxed or formal and opulent couples want their Byron Bay wedding to be, our team will provide a wide range of menu ideas. Everything from sit-down dinners, cocktails and matching canapés, share plate feasts to formal fine dining menus with expertly matched wines.

We can also create menus to suit specific styles, themes, budgets or dietary requirements.

You also offer a catering service for events held off-site. So could a bridal couple choose to have their ceremony and reception on the beach, or by the lighthouse, for example?

For couples getting married at the Byron Lighthouse or elsewhere, yes. We can help with all arrangements, including all required permits for their wedding ceremony, reception and wedding photos. For beach weddings, it is currently not possible to hold your reception on the beach. Byron Bay is a very special and unique part of Australia and permits are subject to conditions designed to ensure the conservation and integrity of our beaches and reserve areas. We can assist couples with exchanging their vows on the beach, but, due to current regulations, no one is allowed to serve food or drinks on any Byron Bay beach. This is one of the reasons why the Byron Beach Cafe is Byron Bay’s favourite venue for beach weddings. Being the only absolute beachfront restaurant and wedding venue in Byron Bay, couples have the luxury of being able to say their ‘I do’s’ on the beach then it’s just a short walk up the sand for them and their guests to their beachfront wedding reception venue.

Byron Bay Wedding 3

Are there plenty of accommodation options for wedding guests, close by?

There are plenty of great places for couples and their guests to stay, which cater for all styles and budgets from five star luxury resorts, Bali inspired villas to cosy beach shacks. As a town which is a popular holiday destination, accommodation is plentiful. We will advise our clients the best times to take advantage of special pricing and full availability at locations best able to meet their special interests.

What are your favourite things to do around Byron?

Aaahhh…where to begin? There is so much to do and see in Byron Bay!

For me, because work is so all consuming at times, a pamper package at a local spa is always welcome and, often, necessary. For most locals, including our family, the beach is a focus of life here too. Everything emanates from and revolves around the water from surfing to swimming to stand-up paddle boarding to kayaking with dolphins. There is something for everyone.

Staying fit and on top of my game is important and sees me at the gym a few times a week as well as regular runs up to the Byron lighthouse. When the kids are on holidays, we also love exploring the hinterland, finding secluded and intimate places to camp, fish and go bushwalking. My husband, when he can, enjoys a game of golf at the local course as well.

Wandering around the abundant local farmers’ markets is another favourite pastime. I love starting the day with a freshly brewed coffee and chatting to the local food producers before selecting some great produce for the cafe and to take home.

For all of us, though, we never forget how privileged we are to live in the best area in Australia.

Thank you Belinda for sharing your story with us. To find out more about Byron Beach Cafe visit the website.

All images courtesy of Byron Beach Cafe.


Wedding Beauty Regime by Paula’s Choice

by | Hair and Beauty Wisdom, Wisdom


Camille Davies

Paula’s Choice is the website we all wish was around when we were hormonal teens, with unfortunate skin (and too much eyeliner in my case), and no clue what to do about it. Packed full of advice,  product reviews, and information on all thing beauty, this is the bible for those who want better skin, better makeup, and better results.

We’ve been speaking with Paula herself (*squeal!*), on behalf of all you gorgeous brides-to-be, and asked her for some top tips on getting your skin in shape for your wedding. Kind of like boot camp, but with much less sweating and internal cursing.

We’ve broken it down into a simple six week plan, with some tips and tricks and do’s and don’ts for your face and body in the run up to your wedding. We’ll be posting in weekly installments, so you can follow along!

Six weeks until the wedding:

Paula’s top tip: Practice smart skincare well in advance.”

“Experimenting with new products right before the big day is risky. Not only could it result in an adverse reaction that leaves skin red, rashy, or flaky – it also cheats your skin out of ample time to reap the potential benefits of a well formulated product. Starting a great skincare routine now (if you don’t already have one) is the key to getting the best possible results so you can feel confident and beautiful on your wedding day!

If you’re unsure of where to start, here is a handy guide to products and their uses – click the links to browse for your specific skin concern!

Cleanser – Step One
 A gentle cleanser removes debris, oil, and makeup.
Why? When your face is clean, it allows the other products you use to work even better, morning and evening.
Results? Skin will look and act healthier, feel smoother, and be ready to receive the maximum benefits from your other skin products.

Toner  – Step Two
Well-formulated smooth, soften, and calm skin, while removing the last traces of makeup. They also add vital skin-repairing ingredients after cleansing.
Why? Toners with skin repairing ingredients hydrate and replenish the skin’s surface immediately after cleansing. They also help reduce redness and dry patches.
Results? Skin will feel softer and look smoother, and redness will be reduced. Daily use will give your skin what it needs to function in a younger, healthier way.

Paulas Choice


AHA or BHA Exfoliant – Step Three
What? AHA and BHA exfoliants gently remove built-up dead skin cells, revealing new skin. AHAs exfoliate the surface of skin; BHA exfoliates the surface of skin and inside the pores.
Why? Sun damage causes the surface of the skin to become abnormally thick. Acne and oily skin complicate this further. Exfoliating eliminates this build up, which otherwise would cause clogged pores, uneven skin tone, dullness, and deeper wrinkles.
Results? Overnight your skin will look radiant, smoother, and younger (really)! Daily exfoliation with an AHA or BHA can unclog pores, reduce redness, blackheads, breakouts, diminish wrinkles, build collagen, and improve uneven skin tone.

Paulas Chocie Recommendations

Acne Treatment – Step Four (if necessary)
What? An acne treatment with benzoyl peroxide kills acne-causing bacteria and helps reduce redness.
Why? When acne is your concern, research shows that topical treatment with benzoyl peroxide is an essential step for achieving clear skin.
Results? With consistent use you will see fewer breakouts and a reduction in swollen blemishes. Your acne will be reduced, and possibly eliminated.

Skin Lightening Treatment – Step Four/Five (if you follow acne treatment!)
What? Used at least once daily, skin lighteners gradually reduce, and in some cases eliminate, brown spots and discolourations.
Why? Using a skin-lightening product reduces the over-production of melanin, the skin pigment that causes brown spots and discolourations.
Results? After several weeks of daily use, you will see discolourations fade or even disappear completely. Your skin tone will be more even and radiant. Ongoing use is needed to maintain results.

Anti Ageing/Anti Wrinkle Treatment – Step Four if you’re not using acne or skin lightening treatment; otherwise those go on first!
What? Serums/treatments filled with antioxidants and other anti-ageing ingredients fight the signs of ageing.
Why? Improves skin in numerous ways, from reducing redness to stimulating healthy collagen production and improving the appearance of wrinkles.
Results? Immediately, your skin will feel smoother and look radiant. With twice-daily use, signs of damage will fade and your skin will look and behave healthier and younger.

Anti Ageing/Anti Wrinkle Moisturiser with Sunscreen (last step in your morning routine)
This essential morning step keeps your skin shielded from sun damage (very important for us Aussies!). It must offer broad-spectrum protection. If you’re blemish prone, follow this link for some information tailored to suit!
Why? Sunscreens with antioxidants are essential to protect your skin from sun exposure, which is the No. 1 cause of wrinkles, brown spots, and other signs of ageing.
Results? Protecting your skin from further sun damage allows it to generate younger, healthier skin cells. This is the critical step to having radiant skin. You will see fewer signs of ageing!

Anti Ageing/Anti Wrinkle Moisturiser (Phew! The last step in your evening routine!)
Adds hydration + fortifies skin with the types of ingredients research has shown help your skin look healthier and younger.
Why? Improves skin’s healthy functioning and keep it feeling smooth and soft. You can (and should!) use them around the eye area.
Results? Smoother, radiant skin that’s hydrated and healthier. Dry, dull, or flaky skin will be replaced by skin that looks and acts younger!

And finally…

Optional Targeted Treatments – depending on your skincare concerns.
Why? “
These products may be needed as an extra step to hydrate skin, absorb excess oil, calm skin, or treat a special need or occasional skin concern.”

It looks like a lot to take in, especially if you have no current strict skincare routine at all – BHA and AHA exfoliators, who knew they were a thing?!  But if you can find ten minutes every morning and evening to perform this routine, Paula promises the pay off will be worth it! You may need to speak to your photographer – your glowing skin may cause some lighting issues!

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Ms Stripey says: Love this – just about the most comprehensive guide to skin care you could hope to find!

Keeping Nerves at Bay on Your Wedding Day

by | Wisdom


Melissa Cornwall Marriage Celebrant
Find me on Ms Polka Dot's Directory

I’ve had a wonderful summer of weddings – marrying the most lovely and in love couples at some stunning locations. But there was one thing I noticed at all of my weddings – some extremely nervous brides and grooms. Now first up, let me assure you, nerves are completely normal. On my wedding day, I couldn’t stop my hands from shaking or my lips from quivering. It hit me that morning that I was about to take part in a life changing event and while I couldn’t wait to marry my man, I was also incredibly nervous.

There are some key wedding day moments that almost everyone finds daunting. If you’re a bride, it may be the walk down the aisle. Or perhaps you’re both stressing about stumbling on your vows or not being able to control your tears (please note: it’s OK to cry, tears of joy are a wonderful thing). Or the fact that everyone’s looking at you may be a nerve-wracking prospect. Feeling nervous is natural and everyone experiences it. But, what to do about it? Here are my tips for keeping calm during one of life’s happiest moments:

1. Talk the talk then walk the walk
Brides, just before you embark on that magical stroll down the aisle, have a little chat to yourself. Take a deep breath and tell yourself it’s OK – the nerves you’re feeling are normal. Visualise the scene: you know you’re going see a sea of happy faces (and probably smart phones and flashes too). When you catch that first glimpse of your man, expect those butterflies in your tummy to be working overtime! This is a massive moment so naturally it feels overwhelming. But if you talk yourself through it beforehand, you’ll be better prepared.


Reid Studios Photography

2. Love is all you need
As you’re getting ready that morning, remind yourselves what’s most important. You love each other. You’re about to launch into chapter one of an amazing adventure with the love of your life. Your favourite people are watching on because they love the two of you very much. Yes, that’s right, this day is all about love! So try not to sweat the small stuff. Instead, feel the love and your wedding day will be wonderful.


PDB post 3

White Rabbit Productions

3. Lean on your loved ones
Rely on your bridal party. Grooms, you’ve chosen the guys standing beside you for a reason. Ditto for brides. Warn your ‘men’ and ‘maids’ that you’re feeling a little (or a lot) nervous. Don’t be afraid to delegate. And tell them you’ll need their love, hugs, jokes, pep talks and all-round support on the day. They will deliver, I promise.


Matt Elliott Photography

4. Focus on your fiancé
If it helps, block everyone out (for a little while at least) and focus on the one you love. Brides, when walking down the aisle lock eyes with your man and keep focused on him. Steal a kiss as soon as you can – don’t wait to be told when to kiss! Hold hands throughout your ceremony and remind each other to take deep breaths and enjoy the moment. If looking at your guests is all too much, just focus on each other. Let’s be honest, you’ll both look so good you won’t want to look at anyone else anyway!

PDB post 1Julian Meehan Photography

5. Keep calm with a sneaky champagne
If all else fails, there’s nothing wrong with a pre-ceremony sip/glass of champagne. Now I wouldn’t encourage a sneaky champers for curing stress on any other day, but this day is an exception. It will help settle the nerves. It will remind you that your wedding day is a celebration. And in my humble opinion, a wedding is not a wedding without some bubbly!

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Ms Stripey says: Great advice from Melissa with these tips. I’d like to add one more – just remember to savour the moment and SMILE!

About Melissa Cornwall – Marriage Celebrant:

I love weddings (I loved planning my own!) and I love meeting new couples and hearing their story. I have a background in radio journalism so I’m a very confident public speaker and of course I love to write. I regard what I do as such a privilege and I’m told I always conduct ceremonies in a happy, relaxed and engaging manner.

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