What Would They Know? Donna Hescott of Sylvan Glen Country Estate

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

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The beautiful Southern Highlands region of NSW is host to a number of historic properties, not the least of which is Sylvan Glen Country Estate. Set on 60 private acres of woodland and gardens with a vineyard, Sylvan Glen has everything you could be looking for in a wedding venue. With Donna as your wedding planner, Sylvan Glen offers all the charm of the country with the amenities of a luxury weekend retreat. Only a short drive from Sydney and Canberra you will be as enthralled by the kangaroos hopping across the lawn, as you will the cosy rooms with fireplaces, the delicious food and the country style hospitality. Let’s join Donna as she tells us her story.

Expert Interview with Donna Hescott of Sylvan Glen

Where is Sylvan Glen?

Sylvan Glen Country Estate is located in the southern half of the Southern Highlands of NSW, with a direct drive only 1 ½ hours south of Sydney or North of Canberra. It lies just outside the town of Bundanoon, on the edge of Morton National Park and Bowral is 30 minutes away if you drive the tourist route through the villages.

What makes your property a special place for weddings?

The Estate sits in a lush valley of over 60 acres and has a rich and varied history including being an orchard, a farm, a golf course and the oldest operating guesthouse in the region, dating back to 1870. Its first wedding celebration was held in 1903! It was used after both world wars to help soldiers recover, most likely because it has such a natural calm energy and is so beautiful.

Today, it is a multi award winning wedding venue, offering couples a unique opportunity to host family and friends for the weekend, getting married on site, holding a reception and having accommodation (for up to 40 guests) on site too. It’s a blend of indoor and outdoor celebrations and over the last 16 years we have worked hard to create weekends that are flexible to individual requirements while using our experience of what works best to help offer advice and plan the event together.

Image by The Evoke Company

What facilities are available to bridal couples at Sylvan Glen?

Our bridal suite is the old green keeper’s shed with heritage bull nose verandah, which is privately situated next to the main house overlooking the valley, complete with our very own “shepherds hut”, an Australian made hut on cast iron wheels with French doors, curved roof and oodles of charm that we use for your hair and make up to be done, champagne glasses ready to go!

For the boys – there’s even a groom room for the boys to get ready in, complete with pool table, Foxtel, X-Box and crystal whiskey decanter and glasses (outside for cigars though boys!).

Is there accommodation on the property or nearby?

The main guesthouse contains 14 bedrooms, each en-suite and with several configurations for couples, families or friends. It has large covered decks looking out to the golf course and has several living areas with log fires.

Guests staying off site for the weekend are wonderfully accommodated in nearby Bundanoon, where a range of options exist from single night stays in Motels and hotels, to special B&B’s and self contained houses.

Image by The Evoke Company

Do you offer transport to get off site guests to the venue?

We have our own coach and can pick up and drop off your guests no problem, coordinating everything so you don’t need to worry about a thing.

Please describe some favourite ceremony options, inside or in the garden?

For ceremonies on site, my favourite would probably be the orchard – it’s over 120 years old and offers something different throughout the year, whether its fruit laden (we don’t pick the fruit so no nets and we love all the colourful birds!), in blossom in spring or all the reds, browns and oranges of autumn. It has a long country path style aisle down the middle and ends with an ivy covered arbour that is beautiful decorated or left alone.

And reception options? Are couples able to dine in the garden with their guests?

Our main function room is an old barn, created over time to make for a good party atmosphere. It has a large L shaped footprint with capacity for up to 140 guests, a separate dance floor big enough for everyone and a band or DJ, a cool bar area where you provide the alcohol and we serve it, and a chill out lounge, all in white.

We keep a twin peaked marquee there on a patio for shade or to use in case of a shower and while we are committed to wanting an outdoor wedding for our couples, our indoor option for bad weather is always made ready. It is a 6m by 15m marquee with clear walls overlooking the canape area, with wooden floor, roof lining and fabulous lighting. At the end of the red carpet we have a flower wall backdrop that looks stunning in photos.

Image by The Evoke Company

For an indoor reception what décor items do you supply? Is there a dance area?

We include so many décor options to fit your theme but you could bring in what you want of course. We have fairy light ceilings, our own photo booth area, love candles and the room is air conditioned. Outside, it is surrounded by garden but it’s easy for suppliers like florists or entertainment to bump in and out. By the way, we know all the best people to use and happily give you a list if that helps.

Do you provide a wedding coordinator as part of your packages?

I am your wedding coordinator from start to finish and include my services to our wedding couples free of charge.

Image by Sylvan Glen

What do the bridal couple need to supply themselves? Are you able to co-ordinate their chosen suppliers?

Most of my couples choose local recommended suppliers, and we all work really well together after many years of experience as we know each other really well.

Are guests able to make a wedding weekend of it?

Yes that’s exactly what Sylvan Glen is – a whole weekend event. Guests check-in Friday afternoon and they have lots of time fine-tuning their chosen function space. They then spend the pre-wedding evening together with a lovely BBQ all prepared.

What activities do you offer to entertain guests?

Guests can play golf and tennis, take one of the lovely walks or alternatively they can book in a relaxing massage or beauty treatment. I find most just enjoy the atmosphere and the excitement of being together in the house all getting ready for the big day.

Image by The Evoke Company

How would you describe the food you offer?

Our dining options range from buffet, sit down 3 course or cocktail plus canapes before sitting down and we can cut the cake for supper if you have one. Our food is possibly one of our most commented on and appreciated aspects of what we do.

Do you make use of local produce and wines in your menu?

We use local produce as often as possible for a country style menu. We use the best cuts of meat only, fresh vegetables and with an emphasis on taste, while keeping an attractive looking plate. Entrée might be pork belly with burnt butter spinach and truffle oil, followed by pan fried chicken breast wrapped in prosciutto with potato gratin, honey glazed carrots and snow peas for example. For dessert, we love to put on a buffet with lots of options and everyone self serves – it looks great and breaks up the formal side of dining which helps with atmosphere.

Are bridal couples able to nominate how they want the food served?

Yes they can choose buffet, even with the sit down option. Our dessert buffet as become quiet famous with 12 different types of desserts to choose from. This has a big wow factor and does not last too long. However we arrange the dining, it’s your choice with our advice at the end of the day.

What extras do you offer to the bride and groom, and bridal party?

We give them a 4 seater white golf cart for the weekend which is great for those bush shoots at the far side of the golf course. We also always make sure the bridal party do not miss out on canapes and we send across a basket of goodies just for them.

You have a cute restored caravan called the ‘Champervan’. How can a couple use the van at their wedding?

This is one of the many photo props we have around the property – the girls can sit in this with champagne. It’s a lovely fun experience.

Image by The Evoke Company

What do you love about your profession?

After 16 years, I am still just as passionate about what I do. Every wedding truly is different, the people I meet, always new ideas. I love my staff so much and getting a cuddle on Sunday from the couple or a card from the parents thanking me, is the reason I do it.

What do you do in your leisure time?

Haha what leisure time?? I love live music and going to concerts so every time there is a midweek show I’m there.

What is there to love about the Southern Highlands?

I live in the Southern Highlands which is easily the prettiest region in NSW and such awesome people too! The trees, the wide open spaces and the buildings will give your guests the best experience; so many people who come here for weddings haven’t been before, and I even know of a few who moved down here after coming to a wedding!

I love that I can drive around the highlands through stunning views and not pass too many other cars or people!! The 4 seasons we have are also amazing.

Thank you Donna for sharing your story.  All the beauty of the country with the elegance of charming surrounds and great service – what more could you want!   To find out more about Sylvan Glen Country Estate visit the website.

Headshot courtesy of Sylvan Glen Country Estate.

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