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What Would They Know? Susan Rodgers of The Pumphouse Hotel

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


Polka Dot Bride

 The Pumphouse Hotel What Would They Know? Susan Rodgers of The Pumphouse Hotel

 Situated in a beautiful part of Melbourne, the historic Pumphouse Hotel is surrounded by gardens, laneways and terrace homes. Within the hotel, St Andrews Conservatory is a contemporary glass roofed space decked out in glowing lanterns – perfect for a wedding reception under the stars but protected from the changeable Melbourne weather. Talk to the friendly staff at St Andrews Conservatory about their new venue styling service, or opt to bring in your own vendors – either way, this space will glow with the individual and personal stamp you put on your wedding. Let’s meet Susan, the very helpful and sparkling Function Manager and let her show us through her office.

What is the history of The Pumphouse Hotel?
The original site of the hotel was built in 1854 and was named the St Andrews Hotel.  A fire in the late 1800’s destroyed the building and it wasn’t until 1927 that the Hotel was rebuilt. An Irish woman, who was involved in the rag trade, and always wanted to own a pub, bought the St Andrews Hotel in the late 1980’s.  After flicking through an Irish pub guide, she decided on the name The Pumphouse Hotel.  In the mid 1990’s the Hotel changed hands to its current owner and has undergone a few facelifts over the last decade.

The Hotel has been hosting weddings for over two decades, and was one of the first venues in Melbourne to offer a point of difference from traditional wedding reception venues.

Where is The Pumphouse Hotel situated?
We are very fortunate to be located opposite the spectacular Carlton Gardens, the Royal Exhibition Building, and Melbourne Museum. Most of our couples take advantage of this and hold their ceremonies at various spots throughout the gardens.  It just makes it so easy for guests to walk across the road and into the Hotel, and there are hundreds of amazing photo opportunities throughout the grounds.

Of course also being located in Fitzroy, we have a number of cobbled laneways winding around us, heritage listed buildings, and old Victorian terrace homes just a stone’s throw away.

The Conservatory Pumphouse1 What Would They Know? Susan Rodgers of The Pumphouse Hotel

Image by Fi Mims Photography

Please tell us about St Andrews Conservatory?
By day, our brilliantly refurbished Conservatory is filled with natural light spilling from its distinctive glass roof. This feature is hung with delicate Chinese lanterns which, in the evening, illuminate the venue and give a sense of romance.  The stunning wrought iron gates outside, and the trees lining the windows, which light up in the evening, all contribute to making this a magical space to hold your celebration.

How many guests can the Conservatory hold?
One of the best things about the room is its versatility.  We can seat anywhere from 30 people (without making the group feel lost), to 120 people with plenty of room for dance space.  We can also seat 140 people with no dance space.
For cocktail functions, usually a minimum of 60 guests is suggested so the room doesn’t feel so sparse.  However, we can accommodate 160 guests with dance space or even 180 guests without the need for dancing.

The Pumphouse3 What Would They Know? Susan Rodgers of The Pumphouse Hotel

Image courtesy of The Pumphouse Hotel

How would you describe the food you serve at weddings?
Modern Australian and plentiful!

Can you cater to individual dietary requirements?
We can cater to virtually any type or requirement of food preference.   Having the full bistro menu available in our restaurant makes it easy for us to offer alternative dishes to those who have specific requirements.  Also, as we serve a la carte menu, and cook to order, this enables us to handle any dietary requirement or preference quickly and effortlessly.

Would you describe a sample menu for winter and how the food is served?
Our seated weddings include a full a la carte service.  Couples choose their own three course menu from a variety of options, and guests then order individually.  This allows people to cater for their own tastes and sometimes even experiment with different and exciting things. My favourite winter dishes at the moment on our wedding menu are:
Tasmanian smoked salmon, goats cheese and crab meat roulade with chunky avocado salsa and saffron infused oil

Followed by either:
Orange & soy roasted duck with garlic and sage kipfler potatoes, enoki mushrooms, baby spinach and maple glaze;

or the Roasted lamb rump on warm salad of caramelised pumpkin, cherry tomatoes and spinach with rosemary and red currant sauce.

the pumphouse2 What Would They Know? Susan Rodgers of The Pumphouse Hotel

Image by Milk Photography

Do you have a wedding planner on staff?
Currently we are just focusing on the reception part of weddings, however we do hope to expand on this in the future.

What sort of services may brides bring in to the Hotel to help them with the wedding day – cake, wedding stylist, florist etc?
Brides have pretty much no limits on what they can bring into the Conservatory. We love when couples get creative and style the room with their own visions!

Couples are more than welcome to outsource florists and stylists to create something that reflects their individual style, however we do offer an in-house styling service for couples who would prefer the convenience of having everything in one place!

Are bridal couples able to have their ceremony as well as their reception in St Andrews Conservatory?
Recently we’ve seen a huge surge in couples wanting to utilize the space in the Conservatory for their ceremony as well as the reception.  And why not?! We are all familiar with the unpredictability of Melbourne weather, and with the Conservatory being such an open bight space, it gives you the feeling of being outdoors even though you’re safely inside!
We now offer a few different options for couples who wish to also hold their ceremony in the Conservatory.

Is there accommodation nearby for out of town guests?
The Nunnery Guesthouse is literally 2 doors’ up from us on Nicholson St.  It was an old convent built in the 1860’s, that has been converted into a private hotel, complete with open marble fireplaces(!). Some of our bridal couples have actually rented the whole guesthouse for their interstate guests or family.  The Quest Royal Garden Apartments are also within a 5 minute walk.  Both places are very convenient to get to, after you’ve celebrated a wedding to remember.

The Pumphouse4 What Would They Know? Susan Rodgers of The Pumphouse Hotel

Image by Fi Mims Photography

Are there attractions locally, that guests can see and do, pre or post wedding?
The Carlton Gardens are absolutely stunning to walk through! Grab a coffee and have a wander around the many fountains and statues! Autumn is my favourite time, I love looking across at all the leaves blowing off the trees, and swirling around! It’s an incredibly beautiful sight – just like the movies!

Brunswick Street is also a must for anyone staying around the area! There is no better place in Melbourne for a pre, or post wedding (de-brief) breakfast than one of the bustling Brunswick St cafes! And after that, just take a stroll through the many lane ways filled with street art around the Fitzroy area.  You’ll be almost guaranteed to stumble upon a hidden bar, pub or café and these are often the little gems that make the whole “wedding weekend” all that more special.

the pumphouse5 What Would They Know? Susan Rodgers of The Pumphouse Hotel

Image courtesy of The Pumphouse Hotel

There’s something about Melbourne…….
That you just can’t explain.  The atmosphere, the weather, the culture, the options … it just goes on! I have a lot of interstate and overseas friends, and I just cannot find the words to describe to them why I love living here so much … it’s just THAT great!

Your favourite café for breakfast?
Would hands down be Babka Bakery Cafe on Brunswick Street. Unpretentious, cozy and most importantly, great coffee! They bake everything on site, so make sure you take home some of their utterly to die for almond croissants, and fresh sourdough bread!!

Thank you Susan for telling us about The Pumphouse Hotel. To find out more about St Andrews Conservatory at the Pumphouse Hotel visit the website.

Headshot of Susan by Snap Above

What Would They Know? Megan Reeve of Melbourne Harp Music

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


Polka Dot Bride

Melbourne Harp Music What Would They Know? Megan Reeve of Melbourne Harp Music

The sounds of a harp playing as your guests are waiting for your ceremony to start, and as you walk down the aisle, creates one of the first memories of your wedding day. Megan from Melbourne Harp Music plays everything from classical music to your favourite love songs – whatever you choose, the lilting sounds of the harp will uplift and inspire emotion on this most important of days.

Please tell us about your musical background.

I started on piano when I was about 3 but always wanted to play the harp. My parents were extremely sensible about this and said ‘No’. They then tried to distract me with other instruments like the violin and baroque recorder. It was when I took up the drums they decided the harp wasn’t such a bad idea after all.

I was 15 by this stage so hit the ground running and did LOADS of practice! Two years after starting I auditioned for the Conservatorium at the University of Melbourne, where I completed a Bachelor of Music with Honours. I then went to the Victorian College of the Arts and graduated with a Masters of Music Performance and a husband. I also studied at the Mozarteum in Salzberg and completed a Master of Arts in Music, Culture and Politics at Cardiff University in the UK. After that I needed a good lie down.

credit M. Reeve 2rs What Would They Know? Megan Reeve of Melbourne Harp Music

Image by Megan Reeve of Melbourne Harp Music

Why the harp and not another musical instrument?

Insanity. Why else would you play something that weighs 40 kilograms and determines the clothes I wear, the shoes I wear, the car I drive and the house I live in. Not to mention the bank balance.

How do you keep your musical skills honed? 

Practice! And doing all sorts of gigs from full symphony orchestras to TV work, recording sessions and of course weddings!

How many weddings have you now performed at?

I lost track after about 1500.

credit Allison Sharma 3rs1 What Would They Know? Megan Reeve of Melbourne Harp Music

Image by Alison Sharma Photography

At what stage in the wedding are you most often asked to play? 

The ceremony itself is the most common, with pre-dinner drinks the next most frequent after that. And often both if they’re at the same venue.

Where are some of the more interesting places you’ve played at (for weddings)?

I’ve been to every major venue in town, but the thing that I remember most is actually the people (does that sound corny?) I’ve played at some pretty interesting functions as well though – like directly under the scaffold at the old Melbourne Gaol. That was interesting.

Do bridal couples tend to book you with a singer, or other instruments, or do they tend to love to hear you solo?

I often suspect all the brides in Melbourne get together for a coffee and collude on their wedding plans as there are definite trends in what gets booked. Harp and violin seems to be the thing at the moment.

credit M. Reeve 2RS What Would They Know? Megan Reeve of Melbourne Harp Music

Image by Megan of  Melbourne Harp Music

What packages do you offer?

Pretty much anything with harp. Solo harp of course is always popular, but otherwise any combination of singer, flute, violin and cello with harp is also possible. My husband is a professional trumpeter, but I really wouldn’t recommend that with harp. We’ve tried. Really.

Does the harp sound best performing classical music? 

The harp is actually a far more versatile instrument than most people imagine. One of my most popular requests is Nothing Else Matters by Metallica.

You also performed with the U2 Vertigo tour – so I can see your skills and tastes don’t only lie with classical music. What other sorts of music do you enjoy?

While I’m classically trained and love cranking up the opera I’m also currently driving myself nuts by constantly humming Justice Crew’s Que Sera. So I will pretty much listen to and play anything.

credit M.Reeve5 What Would They Know? Megan Reeve of Melbourne Harp Music

Image by Megan of Melbourne Harp Music

What pieces would you suggest for the harp for ceremony music?

You really can’t beat the traditionals – Wagner’s Bridal Chorus, Mendelsohn’s Wedding March, and the perennial Pachelbel’s Canon in D. And a fave love song of course!

And for dinner music?

A great chance to mix it up! I’m always changing the music in my folders. (I collect sheet music like some people collect shoes and have over 1000 titles in my collection. Don’t ask me for a song list – it reads like the phone book.) At the moment I’m loving the theme from Love Actually, Something by the Beatles, some brilliant jazz inspired works by French composer Bernard Andres, and you can never beat Bach.

Where can we hear your next public performance? 

I’ve got a great programme coming up on November 23rd at Montsalvat with voxArpa (me and singer Sarah Cole). There’s bound to be something between now and then, so checking out the Melbourne Harp Music Facebook page is the way to go.

credit Allison Sharmars What Would They Know? Megan Reeve of Melbourne Harp Music

Image by Alison Sharma Photography

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I’ve actually just launched a wedding blog to put all my knowledge of the wedding industry to some use, so that’s taking up a bit of time ( if you’re interested). Plus I’m presenting a paper at the World Harp Congress which means I have to look like I know what I’m talking about. And I teach harp as well. Spare time? Well, occasionally I’ll sit down and have a cup of tea.

credit unknown What Would They Know? Megan Reeve of Melbourne Harp Music

Image given to Melbourne Harp Music by the bride with full rights to use

What do you love about living in Melbourne?

I often play at functions where you’d think there was a strict dress code of stylish black. But no. We just do stylish black. And I really like that.

Thank you Megan for sharing your story with us. To find out more about Melbourne Harp Music visit the website.

Headshot courtesy of Alison Sharma Photography

Your Wedding Chef Can Help You Build a Fabulous Wedding Registry

by | Wedding Planning Wisdom, Wisdom



When you’re chatting with your wedding chef or caterer, you’ll of course get fabulous ideas for creating your cocktail party and reception menus, but there’s something else that wedding chefs ‘bring to the table’ if you just ask: ideas on chef-worthy wedding registry items to turn your kitchen into a Top Chef kitchen. Chefs, after all, know the best kitchen gadgets and appliances that turn your meals and party fare into spectacular dishes, and they’re happy to suggest some of their favorite kitchen items to add to your gift registry list now.

Executive Chef Bill Zucosky of Westminster Hotel Weddings suggests Attachments to your kitchen stand mixer. Every wedding couple, it seems, loves to put that pricy stand mixer on their registry, but the top brands in stand mixers only come with a few basic attachments. Looking at the KitchenAid® stand mixer, you’ll see that it comes with a flat beater, dough hook, wire whip, and pouring shield. That’s a good start, and fine if you plan to make a lot of bread dough and whipped cream all the time. But a healthy and impressive home kitchen turns out far more than that!

Chef Zucosky says, “My favorites are the pasta attachment, which helps making pasta at home a breeze, and the meat grinder attachment to make your own burgers out of any type of protein you desire! Or tofu!”

polka grinder 550x550 Your Wedding Chef Can Help You Build a Fabulous Wedding Registry

Now, you’re cooking! Homemade pasta and your own special blend of meats for tastier, fresher, juicier burgers? Good food is a cornerstone of your happily-ever-after dreams, and you’ll spend lots of time together in the kitchen, whipping up delectable culinary dishes for your own enjoyment, and also to make those parties and family holidays truly stand out.

Here are some other stand mixer attachments to add to your wedding gift registry:

  • Specialty pasta attachment set to make angel hair, thick noodle, fettuccine and spaghetti via rollers and cutters, plus a ravioli maker

polka pasta 550x550 Your Wedding Chef Can Help You Build a Fabulous Wedding Registry

  • Citrus juicer
  • Fruit and vegetable strainer/grinder
  • Slicer and shredder discs
  • Grain mill, Perfect for making your own flour from grains for fresh bread, tortillas and pitas

polka grain mill 550x550 Your Wedding Chef Can Help You Build a Fabulous Wedding Registry

  • Sausage stuffer
  • Blending rod for soups and liquids
  • Ice cream maker bowl

And don’t forget other accessories that will make your new gourmet capabilities even easier:

  • Pasta drying rack
  • Extra bowls
  • Extra beaters and whisks

In addition to turning your kitchen into a chef’s kitchen, adding these items to your registry is a huge favor to your wedding guests, since the prices are often quite affordable, and since guests love to give kitchen-centric gifts to enhance your married lifestyle.

west apps1 550x366 Your Wedding Chef Can Help You Build a Fabulous Wedding Registry

west apps2 550x825 Your Wedding Chef Can Help You Build a Fabulous Wedding Registry

Photos courtesy of Westminster Hotel Weddings

Talk to your wedding chef to get suggestions on attachments, and also ask for suggestions on cutlery, since chefs know their knives. Every time you use your kitchen gear, you’ll be reminded of your exciting wedding planning season, and how fabulous it was to work with your chef on your perfect wedding menu.

Swirl divider10 Your Wedding Chef Can Help You Build a Fabulous Wedding Registry

Ms Gingham says: Great idea!

About Sharon: Sharon Naylor is the author of over 35 wedding books, including her newest: “The Bride’s Guide to Freebies” and “Bridesmaid on a Budget.” Her two books for the mothers of the bride and groom are bestsellers, and she has appeared on such top shows as Good Morning America, ABC News, Lifetime, Inside Edition and more – sharing tips and insider secrets to help you plan your dream wedding on a budget, personalized to your love story. Visit her site Sharon Naylor for more on her books, free worksheets and appearances. She lives in Morristown, NJ with her husband Joe and is at work on her next two wedding books.


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