Kate’s Wedding: The Venue

by | Australia - ACT, Bride, Wedding Inspiration


Our guest bride Kate introduced herself last month and this month she talks Polka Dot Bride readers through how she found her venue.


Photo by Ben McCarthy

“I looked at approximately every venue in town – either online or in person. Where possible, I’d get the venue info first, either from the website or by e-mail. Then I’d write it off immediately because it was too expensive.

There were a few that managed to scrape through though, so I visited those in person and checked out the room and the facilities. I was hoping for the ceremony and reception either at the same venue or very close to each other,  as I don’t want to rent cars and don’t want to leave the interstate visitors in the lurch – unfortunately Canberra cabs don’t give the greatest service!

So the grand shortlist:

Rose Cottage – With wedding packages from about $25, this venue was seriously tempting! Cute room for the function (with a log fire if you’re chilly!) and as the name suggests, a bit of a rose garden. It’s far from central though and the highway was a bit more visible from the ceremony venue than I would have liked.

Olims Hotel – Olims had a gorgeous garden for the ceremony, unfortunately the reception room was not my kind of place. I’m sure it would be gorgeous if you decorated it a bit, but I’m hoping to keep the decorations simple.

Hotel Kurrajong – So nice! So very very nice. Really lovely. Unfortunately there’s a minimum of 80 guests and that’s at least 20 more than we’re expecting. Bummer.

University House – It’s basically a hotel for visiting academics, with the rooms arranged around a courtyard garden. With a koi pond all the way down one side of the courtyard. It has a kind of sweet retro vibe. Plus this ridiculously good restaurant at the site. And the reception room has got a lovely atmosphere, is kind of minimalist and would only need a little bit of decoration.

We chose University House, such an easy choice after all that searching! Their website doesn’t give a good indication so if you’re in Canberra, go check it out in person.

I’m planning to keep the decorations pretty low-key, there’s already a beautiful garden for the ceremony so we’ll just set some chairs out and maybe rose petals to indicate the aisle.

The reception room looks out on the garden, so I’d like to mirror that with some flowers on each of the tables. I’m collecting glass vases from op shops and garage sales, and plan to fill them with one type of flower in each (so no complicated arrangements to stress over).

Now that’s sorted, the main thing I’m focused on is bridesmaid dresses. I don’t want them to match, but it’s difficult to find non-matching but similar dresses without getting them made (which I’m avoiding because it’s so expensive!!)”

What tips do you have for Kate’s great bridesmaid dress search? How did you find your venue? How should Kate decorate a venue to keep in with her retro vibe she’s going for?

  • Jocelyn says:
    May 8, 2008 at 4:10 pm

    I had the exact same stress with bridesmaid dresses. My bridesmaids paid for their own dresses, so they have quite a large say to what they are ok with. After contemplating of going to a professional dress maker (who was quite lovely and quoted around $350 per dress… eep!)or to just gamble it and order through ebay, we finally went back to Myer. There was a section called ‘Evening dresses’ section (in Myer Sydney CBD, not sure if Canberra has the same sort of layout), and there were rows of wonderful evening gowns made by goodness knows who, some with quite affordable prices.
    In the end we got a really lovely duchess satin, champagne coloured cocktail dress that both bridesmaids love (thank goodness!) and cost $100 each.

    So I suggest try going there. Other retail chain stores are great as well, especially if you want the dresses to be different. My suggestion is to stick with one designer or one brand because they’re bound to have different versions of one dress, or one dress in different colours. Keep it in theme by using the same fabric and colour family (like pink and fuschia or even orange).
    I especially like Review (they have an outlet in Market City, Sydney) and they range to $150 in the outlets.

    Weekend markets are also great. There was a stall near the main entrance of Glebe Market (Sydneysiders should know where this is) and they stock heaps of cocktail dresses (I think mostly last season’s) from brands such as Wish. I recommend going there around 4 pm, when the market is about to close (around 5), and I find that you get more bargaining power that way (yes, you can haggle). I got a beautiful gun metal chiffon coctail dress there for $40. Complete with beads etc and with a beautiful line.

    On another note, congratulations on finding a venue! The garden looks beautiful! In my case, I completely relied on emails, websites, and wedding mags to look for wedding reception venues. Thankfully, I know straight away that it has to be around the CBD, as most of our wedding guests will be from overseas and interstate, so that narrows down my list instantly. Unfortunately, places around the CBD can cost quite a bomb. Not to mention the fact that I also don’t have a car. So we have to rely heavily on public transport and simply walk on foot a lot. Eventually we settled on Star Room, which is on the top level of Imax Theatre in Darling Harbour. Wonderful views, as it oversees the whole Darling Harbour, and they provide great packages at affordable prices. They are very flexible with a lot of things too, one being able to BYO champagne but still have their waiters keep them chilled AND serving it to your guests, at no extra cost!

  • tenith says:
    June 30, 2008 at 8:09 pm

    Nice venue, I work in the area so know it well and would have chose the location myself but I eat there at least once a week- reminds me too much of work!



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