What Would They Know? Tran Nguyen of Hostco – University of Sydney

by | Food & Catering Wisdom, Venue Wisdom, Wedding Planning Wisdom, What Would They Know?, Wisdom

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Dripping with tradition, and a long history of learning reflected in the magnificent heritage buildings, the University of Sydney plays host to weddings and events with a touch of old world glamour. Situated within the precinct is HostCo the caterer for the many weddings and events held here, but far from being stuffy and uptight, the food is contemporary and above all delicious, the service impeccable and the wedding planning team second to none. HostCo can also cater weddings held anywhere in Sydney with their wedding planning service to match. Going above and beyond to deliver the perfect wedding day is a passion for Tran who tells all about HostCo and her love of wedding planning in this magnificent setting.

You are situated at the University of Sydney. Could you please explain what role Hostco plays at the University?

HostCo has worked closely with the University of Sydney for many years. We have 6 stunning boutique venues in the Holme building on the Camperdown campus, but we also cater to any location and venue in Sydney. We are lucky enough to be surrounded by the picturesque grounds of the University, which can be used as a stunning backdrop for weddings and secret spots for the perfect photos. We work closely with the University, catering for many events and even using their stunning venues on campus for weddings.

Image by Cinemotive

Do you have to be an alumnus of the University to have your wedding here?

Luckily you do not have to be an alumni to use the beautiful grounds for your wedding day. Our brides and grooms come from around the world and have used many of the unique venues around the grounds.

Do you have a dedicated wedding team to assist? How much involvement in the planning and organizing do they have?

Absolutely, we have a team of expert specialists that are here to assist our brides and grooms with event planning down to the finest detail. As a Wedding Specialist it is really important to me that our couples are aware of our full service during the planning, on the day of their wedding and after too. We provide as much guidance as possible, talking through what they need to consider for their wedding day and helping to pull together all of the finer details. On the day our dedicated team are there to ensure the ceremony and reception areas meet the couple’s expectations. We coordinate with all of the suppliers including the stylist, florist, band, DJ, MC, and any other vendor to ensure the event is perfect and runs as smoothly as possible.

Do you have preferred suppliers you can recommend?

We have a list of suppliers that HostCo have been working with for a number of years and can offer recommendations on suppliers that best suit and reflect our couple’s unique styles. From incredible stylists to artistic florists we work with amazing and boutique vendors to create magical weddings and events.

When a couple books their wedding with you, what are the steps you take with them to help them plan their wedding?

Each couple is different and we like to ensure they receive the best experience as possible with HostCo. During our initial meetings we view the venues best suited to their wedding reception style and take a tour of surrounding areas for unique ceremony and photo spots. We then talk through our packages and how we can tailor menus to suit their needs. At HostCo our Chefs pride themselves on creating unique culinary delights to tantalise tastebuds. So our couples are not locked in to the menus we have – we can create a menu specifically for our bride and groom. Once a menu is confirmed we offer our couple a private menu tasting where our Executive Chef is on hand to chat about the options and any other dietary requirements.

If the couple would like to use the grounds for their wedding photography we can help coordinate with the University, booking in the venue or area to ensure you have exclusivity for your wedding day.

When catering to an offsite venue, we coordinate hiring directly with the venue to secure the date and any other details as required by our couples. At HostCo we offer a hands on wedding planning service no matter the location.

The Refectory – Image by Anna Wang

You have several areas available for bridal couples to use. Could you please describe:

Cottage Lawns:

Surrounded by luscious greenery, the Cottage Lawns are the perfect space for garden ceremonies in the warmer months. They can then be used as a pre-drinks and canapés area where you can set lawns games and seating for guests to enjoy while waiting for official festivities to start. It is also a stunning and unique space for an intimate dinner under the stars.

Home Colonnade:

This Mediterranean style terrace is a wonderful pre-dinner area. Clients can set up food stations, cocktails and live entertainment in this versatile space. It can be used for an intimate dinner on those warm summer nights.

Courtyard:

Surrounded by Mediterranean style arches, modern furnishings and offering an abundance of natural light, Courtyard is perfect for a wedding under the stars. The space can be styled with seated long tables or as relaxed cocktail party. We love this unique, versatile venue for engagement parties or a Bridal Shower High Tea too.

Are these areas only suitable for ceremonies or can the couple have their reception take place at any of the above?

These areas are absolutely suitable for ceremonies on the grounds. We also offer other stunning indoor boutique venues for ceremonies including the Drawing Room and Sutherland Room that are intimately grand and perfect for those cooler months.

Cottage Lawns – Image by Cinemotive

What indoor spaces are you able to offer bridal couples for ceremony and reception?

Our six boutique venues are located in the historic Holme building over two levels, offering refurbished rooms with old world architecture.

The Refectory, our largest venue, was built in 1924 and has a beautiful heritage setting for our clients with stunning mural and wooden paneling that complement the space.

The Drawing room also enjoys beautiful wooden furnishings, plush surroundings and antique chandeliers along with the Chancellor’s room which is available for an elegant private dining experience or as a ceremony or reception area for brides and grooms.

Our private Courtyard is the perfect outdoor Mediterranean style setting and is a versatile space that can be transformed for any wedding or event.

On the upper level of the Holme Building, the Sutherland and Cullen rooms enjoy an abundance of natural light with their own entrance and lobby and also feature an open terrace overlooking a peaceful courtyard.

While we work within these six unique venues we also cater to any venue and location in Sydney, we have recently catered a wedding on the Bennelong Lawns with the Opera House as a stunning backdrop and at the National Art Schools Cell Block Theatre.

Bennelong Lawns – Image by Anna Wang

How private are these areas?

Our couples have exclusive use of their specific venue within the Holme Building on their day. We make sure our weddings are top priority so our brides and grooms can be confident they are able to celebrate their special day with their loved ones in the privacy of their own space.

Please describe some places in the grounds that are perfect for photos?

HostCo is lucky to have surrounding gorgeous grounds and gardens which make for stunning wedding photos. The European architecture can be found across the grounds, but the most popular area for brides and grooms is of course the Quadrangle. Photos of the sandstone building are just gorgeous and couples can also venture inside where they will find the beautifully manicured Quadrangle lawns and an abundance of the old world architecture.

Graffiti tunnel is a unique spot, just off of the Holme building. As the name suggests it is a walkway tunnel area filled with bright, striking graffiti artwork that is ever changing, created by talented artists.

Just a short walk from the Holme building our couples can venture to Victoria Park where there are endless photo opportunities around the lake, gardens and the gorgeous bridge.

There are so many secret gardens around the campus and we are happy to show these to our couples to make sure they have the perfect shot for their special day.

Charcuterie Station in Home Colonnade – Image by Cinemotive

How would you describe the food you offer?

When it comes to food, the HostCo chefs pride themselves on pushing the boundaries with food trends and textural techniques, serving up fresh, locally-sourced ingredients for palatable perfection. You can taste the passion, the love, the devotion put into each element on the plate.

Our Executive Chef, Dominique Heitz loves to showcase his impressive skills, tantalising tastebuds with customised menus bursting with premium produce and fresh contemporary flavours. A big hit with clients is the gourmet cheese station and dessert room we offer, which look stunning in our very own venues.

How flexible are your chefs when planning the menu with the bridal couple? Are the couple able to request menu variations, dietary requirements, wine matching?

Our style is all about flexibility and creating bespoke packages for individual styles. We work closely with our Brides and Grooms and liaise with our Chefs to craft a menu that suits any style and taste. We offer all our couples a tasting, once they have selected their menu, where our executive Chef is on hand to answer any questions about the food or help the couple with final choices.

Image courtesy of HostCo

You also offer several wedding packages? Could you describe these?

We offer three types of wedding packages which are our Premium, Deluxe and Superior packages. Our team have designed these as a base for couples to ensure they have all the inclusions that best suit their wedding. They can then build on these packages changing drink menus, duration of the reception and menu options to suit their style and needs. Whether you are tight on budget or want the works, we can tailor our packages to suit any requirement.

You also offer High Tea, Canape and afternoon tea packages. Would these be suitable for engagement or hen’s parties?

Absolutely! Our catering options and venues are available for all types of events and we can also cater to you. We have found that our delicious High Tea menu is really popular for Kitchen Teas and hen’s parties in the private spaces of our venues. Our High Tea is served on vintage china for an elegant touch to the festivities. The canapé menus and food stations are perfect for engagement parties and relaxed social parties, we have a variety of venues to choose from where you can hold your event no matter the size.

Please describe some fabulous reception ideas you’ve seen recently?

I’m always a fan of bringing the outdoors in and this can work no matter what the season. One bride and groom recently brought their love of New York style streets to the Refectory with beautiful autumn shades. Their stylist created rows of trees that lit up with hanging glass balls and tea light candles scattered across long wooden tables. Complementing the luscious table greenery were red and gold accents throughout including the table cloths, with a deep red hue and gorgeous red roses in petite jars surrounded by candles. Perfecting the New York style were gold and white Tiffany chairs that brightened up the space, the result was a magical event space their guests absolutely adored.

Image courtesy of HostCo

What is unique and special about having a wedding at the University of Sydney?

Our boutique venues offer a choice of spaces which present both modern and old world charm. Our uniqueness comes from our beautiful location within the University of Sydney. HostCo is lucky to have surrounding gorgeous grounds and gardens which make for stunning wedding photos and secret spots for private and unique events. We can help clients hold events anywhere on the grounds not just our own venues.

What do you love about your job? How does it continue to inspire you?

I love working with couples to make their perfect wedding day. Each couple is unique and I help them to create a day that is special to them and their story. Being a wedding specialist gives me the opportunity to meet diverse personalities and watching the love couples have for each other every step of the way, the energy of their happiness and joy when I speak them is what drives me to help create a perfect day for them. The greatest part about my job is working with couples from the beginning of their wedding planning to the day, seeing their vision and dreams come to life.

Thank you Tran for sharing your story.  With a package of beautiful food, historic buildings to add a touch of grandeur and a wedding team to fulfill your every need, you couldn’t ask for anything else.  To find out more about HostCo – University of Sydney visit the website.

Headshot courtesy of HostCo – University of Sydney.

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