In a city famous for its many icons such as the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge, Sydney also hosts some iconic and historic buildings in which there are venues which are hidden gems. From historic The Tea Room QVB, Gunners’ Barracks and Dunbar House to the more modern, but understated Sergeants’ Mess and the beachfront The Blue Room Bondi, these venues shine not only for their beautifully designed interiors, their locations and views, but also for the impeccable service, style and food which are so much a key to their popularity as wedding venues. When you as the bridal couple take centre stage in your wedding day, with venues and staff who honour the importance of this day to you, then you know that you’ve made the decision of a lifetime of great memories. Here SophieRose gives us a little peek behind the walls of these gorgeous venues.
Your wedding venues have become iconic wedding venues in Sydney. What makes them so?
Grand Pacific Group is synonymous with waterfront locations & heritage buildings, whilst offering fine dining, matched with 5 star service. These key elements have meant we create event experiences beyond comparison. More so, the exclusive hire nature of all of our venues, ensures guests have the ultimate wedding experience in private seclusion.
Delivering a ‘flawless and memorable occasion for every guest’ is fundamental to your business. How is this delivered in a practical sense?
This derives from our approach of treating every wedding like our first, ensuring service is of the highest standard. The passion of our staff to fulfill client requirements shines through in their service delivery and they take pride and enjoyment ensuring every event is flawless and one to remember for the bridal couple and their family. Our unmatched industry offering of 1 staff member to every 12-15 guests ensures everyone has a main point of contact at all times.
Image by Inlighten Photography
What makes this venue extra special?
The Victorian ceiling roof of The Tea Room QVB is adorned with custom Baccarat chandeliers, rivaled as some of the largest in the southern hemisphere! The central chandelier’s form has been specifically designed for the central entrance to the Ballroom to delight The Tea Room visitors and blow them away upon arrival. The suite of 8 chandeliers between the Entrance Foyer and the Ballroom supports a total of 372 lights and more than 15,000 finest quality crystals. These chandeliers were designed in Paris, realised in North Eastern France and will be enjoyed in Sydney for generations to come.
Do you have a team to help couples with the finer details of styling and planning their wedding?
The Tea Room QVB allocates each bridal couple a dedicated coordinator to assist in bringing together all of the finer details at the venue. This ensures every wedding is personalised to each couples tastes, preferences and requirements. The coordinator will work with the couple in recommending the best suppliers for their day from stylist to florists, bands to photographers.
Image by Muse Photography
Are a couple able to have both their ceremony and reception inside?
Yes, The Tea Room QVB allows couple to hold both their ceremony and reception onsite at the venue. Nothing quite compares to the Victorian room design and breathtaking chandeliers.
As it is a venue so rich in history, with beautiful chandeliers and window detailing, how can a bridal couple enhance those features (and not detract from them) through the décor they choose?
The fact the venue is already so highly decorated means couples need only add a little of their own personal style to enhance the room features for their special day, such as Victorian inspired floral posies to free standing crystal centerpieces.
Image by Lara Hotz Photography
You are renowned for your food and wine here. How does a couple choose the menu (the process) and do you offer food and wine matching?
The Tea Room QVB allows couples to enjoy a Menu Sampling prior to their wedding day to design a menu to their taste along with our Head Chef and experience exactly what their guests will feast on, on their special day. Our sommelier then can happily provide wine matching to these dishes if required.
How many guests do you have the capacity to accommodate for a sit down reception? What about smaller weddings?
The Tea Room QVB can accommodate 200 guests seated. We have also hosted the most divine intimate celebrations with long banquet tables running the length of the room, having guests feel like they are dining within the ballroom of a European castle!
Image by Ann Marie Yuen Photography
For couples with a smaller guest list, how do you ensure that the space feels cosy?
With the use of the furniture and ability to change the size of the dance floor we can easily setup the room to create an intimate and cozy setting.
Can you suggest some special places in the building for photo opportunities?
The Queen Victoria Building presents one of the best photo locations in Sydney and the best bit is – you can use it year round in all types of weather. The central atrium provides the best photo options from the large dome roof to the grand staircase framed by stained glass windows.
Image by Mark Jay Photography
Does Gunners’ Barracks have a historical connection?
The natural and cultural heritage of this former defence site is a tangible thread tracing the forces that shaped the history of Sydney city. Gunners’ Barracks at Georges Head forms an extremely important historic precinct; in particular the Officers’ Mess Precinct is culturally significant for the important role it played in the strategic defence of Sydney. The site is part of the network of fortifications that were established to protect Sydney Harbour from attack. The Gunners’ Barracks was constructed in 1873. It is of national significance as one of the finest examples in Sydney of a nineteenth-century-fortified building with its stone quarried locally. It was also the last building on this scale built for Sydney’s Defences.
Image by Olguin Photography
What are some special features about this venue? How would you describe the style/ambience?
Gunners’ Barracks provides the ultimate wedding venue solution as it has the most magnificent onsite ceremony options, along with unique photo locations. Guests are treated to a dance floor under the stars later in the night and this shows off the style of the venue, with its magnificent sandstone features.
Image by We Are Origami Photography
Please describe the ceremony and reception spaces available?
Gunners’ Barracks has three onsite ceremony location options – the onsite Sandstone Courtyard or Harbour View Lawn – with 180 degree panoramic views of Sydney Harbour or Georges Heights lookout with views through to Sydney city overlooking the venue itself.
Gunners’ Barracks provides different spaces for couples receptions ensuring there is a nice flow throughout the evening and ensuring there is atmosphere throughout the night. Guests are welcomed on to the Harbour Terrace for pre-dinner drinks and canapes, watching the sun set over the Harbour, before being welcomed into the Main Dining Room, adorned with Waterford crystal chandeliers and candle light, for dancing guests join the bridal couple for their first dance beneath a fairy light canopy in the sandstone courtyard.
Image by We Are Origami Photography
How can the couple make the most of the magnificent Harbour views and gardens?
Couples use the magnificent Harbour Views and surrounding bushland for their photos. The diversity of locations means couples photo portfolios are filled with variety.
Image by Weddings by Morris
Is the menu planned to include seasonal produce?
Our menu is planned around the seasons and uses only fresh ingredients, which are sourced mainly from local suppliers, which our chefs visit regularly.
What’s on the menu this winter that the chef loves?
Crispy Zucchini Flowers, ricotta, heirloom tomatoes, basil, olive crumb and twice cooked Pork Belly, celeriac and apple puree, pancetta, green beans, balsamic jus continue to be crowd favorites, and both dishes are a joy to cook!
Image by Alex Carlyle
Do you offer Winter wedding packages?
Winter brings couples’ dream weddings within reach! We happily offering reduced package prices and additional inclusions for weddings held between May to August.
Image by Scott Surplice Photography
How do your team ensure that they deliver “the best day of a couple’s life” – what little unseen things do they do that sets them apart?
Our team ensures that they approach each wedding as their first and focuses on the personal touches to make the occasion a memorable one – from sending the couple off with the cork of the first champagne bottle popped at their wedding, to having their favourite drink on hand upon arrival. Attention to detail is key!
Please describe Dunbar House.
Located on the shores of Sydney Harbour, in the expansive grounds of Robertson Park, Watsons Bay, Dunbar House is a truly spectacular setting for your wedding day. The house was built circa 1837 by Mortliner Lewis, Colonial Architect. Re-opened in February 2011, the venue underwent a total refurbishment being revitalised to pay homage to the 1830’s. Interiors consist of a sophisticated colour palette of greys and silvers, beautiful lower wood panelling on the walls, William Morris wallpaper, Catherine Martin carpets and hand crafted crystal lighting. The exterior has been restored to its former glory with a contemporary Georgian colour palette.
Image by Studio Something Photography
The bridal couple and guests can arrive and depart by charter boat. Are you able to help the couple arrange this?
Watsons Bay wharf is a stones throw from the venue, making arrival and departure by water accessible and alluring. Dunbar House can happily assist in arranging arrival and departure via water. We work closely with Rosman Ferries who provide meticulously restored heritage vessels, in keeping with Dunbar House and its heritage.
Image by Zee & Cee
Being close to the water, how can a couple make the most of this beautiful aspect of Dunbar House?
The water appears in all wedding images captured at Dunbar House and provides the perfect setting for couples to say their i-dos under the magnificent Fig tree on the foreshore of Watson’s Bay. A Sydney wedding isn’t really complete without some connection to our famous Harbour!
Are the couple able to progress throughout their day from the shore to the House with different aspects of the day hosted in different areas?
Civil ceremonies can be held on the Lower Lawn under the magnificent fig tree followed by pre reception drinks on the Harbour Terrace with the superb back drop of Sydney Harbour, for guests to enjoy whilst the bridal couple take formal photos within the surrounding area. The reception then follows within the Main Dining Room, with dance floor positioned next to the eye catching silver leafed bar.
Image by She Designs
Do you have a group of trusted wedding vendors you work with to execute the couple’s vision?
The vendors who we work with, have established a strong relationship with Grand Pacific Group over a number of years and thus thousands of wedding. Their quality of work, service and reliability aligns directly with that of our brand.
Image by MM Photos
What are some of the loveliest décor elements you’ve seen that enhances this space?
Décor can be used to really enhance and transform the room. She Designs approach of bringing the outside in, created the most beautiful & lush bohemian setting for one of our recent couples.
Image by Andrew Szopory Photography
How do you keep your styling and planning ideas fresh for each wedding?
Wedding trends and styling focus changes as often as the seasons! Most are influenced by current happenings in the fashion and pop-culture worlds. Bringing in items significant and personal to each couple, means no two weddings ever look the same!
How would you describe the style and ambience of Sergeants’ Mess? Does it have some standout luxury features?
Sergeants’ Mess is truly a sparkling waterfront venue – the view is unrivaled and provides the perfect backdrop. The neutral palate of the space, means couples can transform the space to suit their wedding.
Image by gm photographics
Is this the most modern of your venues?
Yes! Sergeants’ Mess has been revitalised in a style that pays subtle homage to the simple glamour of the 1960’s. It is understated and contemporary in its appearance, with quality materials and finishes framing the magnificent views.
Image by Blumenthal Photorgraphy
Please describe the areas available for ceremony and reception?
Ceremonies can be held on site in the beautifully landscaped area next to the venue followed by magnificent photo opportunities throughout Chowder Bay. This is available for hire exclusively for Sergeants’ Mess couples, with the wet weather option being inside the venue. Guests will then be treated to canapés and cocktails on the expansive foreshore deck, adjacent to the grand bar. The reception continues as you enter the main dining room – which focuses ones attention to the Harbor, only a stones throw away.
Image by Blumenthal Photorgraphy
How may a couple make the most of this venue in terms of the different spaces available to them and the styling?
Sergeants’ Mess truly provides the perfect foundation to create a unique indoor environment – from hanging florals to cake swings – the venue design welcomes creativity. When the Main Dining Room doors are opened guests are always mesmerized with what lays beyond them.
Does the chef have a signature or favourite dish that is popular with couples?
Sergeants Mess’ squid ink prawn tortellini, grilled octopus, harissa & lemon dressing is world renowned and has guests returning to enjoy this menu item!
How would you describe style of the food/menus?
Nathan Darling head chef at Sergeants’ Mess was born and raised in Surrey – United Kingdom. It was there in his home town that his career as a chef began. First working at Partners and then onto Dorking, the Dining Room, Reigate, South Lodge Hotel and Lower Beeding, Nathan learned the intricacies and skills of classical French techniques giving him the passion and knowledge he needed for a promising career. In 1999 Nathan made the big decision to move to Sydney, Australia! The idea of celebrating the new millennium and experiencing the excitement and buzz of the 2000 Olympic Games fuelled the adventure. On his arrival he headed to Otto Ristorante, Woolloomooloo where he joined the team as sous chef to James Kidman. Spending four amazing years here, Nathan enhanced his skills more so improving on his Italian techniques. In 2005 Nathan was presented with an opportunity at Bannisters, Mollymook. Relocating his young family and accepting the position he became the executive chef where he spent two very busy years putting Bannisters back on the map and winning great recitation for the business. A highlight here, was working alongside Rick Stein hosting charity dinners. The decision was made to move back to Sydney and head up the team as head chef at Balmoral’s Watermark while the restaurant made its transition into the Public Dining Room. Following this Nathan moved to Sydney’s iconic and long standing restaurant Sails on Lavender Bay. His fresh and inspiring food gave the establishment a new direction, creating an amazing dining experience.
In 2016 Nathan joined Grand Pacific Group accepting the Head Chef position. His passion and know-how, has enhanced the menu offering. Focusing on using the freshest ingredients possible the menus classic flavours and combinations appeal to all guests, young and old.
Nathan happily customizes his menus to suit couples ethic & cultural backgrounds and the favorite dishes they want incorporated into their special day to make it a truly memorable experience.
Image by Inlighten Photography
To make the most of the surrounds what is the best time of the day to have a wedding here?
Sergeants’ Mess’ lunch offering is one of the most popular! Truly showcasing the stunning sparkling waterfront location, with 180 degree water views, whilst enjoying the boat races and passing marine traffic which dances over the Harbour of a weekend!
Surf lifesaving clubs are an iconic part of Australia’s beach scene. What makes The Blue Room Bondi extra special?
No other venue presents more of an Iconic location, then the middle of the foreshore of Bondi Beach within the world’s oldest surf life saving club!
Image by gm photographics
How would you describe the style of the décor?
The room has been reinvented by acclaimed stylist Sibella Court; picture a roof encased with white lanterns, exposed timber, beach blue hues and endless festoon lighting, under which to dance the night away! The venue style encapsulates an understated elegance with relaxed coastal tone!
Image by gm photographics
Does its more casual style appeal to brides who are looking for a wedding to be a less formal occasion?
The venue is perfect for couples, who are looking for a more relaxed, laid back wedding with close family and friends who wish to celebrant barefoot on one of Sydney’s most famous beaches!
Image by Zoe Morley Photography
Are couples able to utilize the beach for their ceremony and post ceremony drinks?
The majority of couples host their ceremonies onsite on our open air, alfresco terrace. This becomes the perfect space for the post ceremony drinks, whilst the couple walk the beach for sunset shots!
Image by Mitch Pohl Photography
Although it’s a beachside venue, is the food, wine and service as exceptional as at your other venues?
The service and menus presented by Grand Pacific Group do not waiver at The Blue Room Bondi. Guests are blown away by the quality they receive!
Can a couple work with your team to plan a signature cocktail or food ideas that incorporate their heritage or particular style?
We love working with couples to add personal touches to their special day and our entire team is available to create signature drinks and menu offerings to suit, especially in keeping with the beah side locale.
Image by Mitch Pohl Photography
Is there flexibility in terms of ideas such as food stations, dessert tables, cheese tables etc?
We found the majority of weddings hosted at The Blue Room Bondi are cocktail style to suit the relaxed and engaging setting of the venue. These events incorporate the use of our unique food and dessert stations!
What fresh ideas can your team suggest in terms of styling elements for a wedding?
We love the incorporation of food into styling at The Blue Room especially on our food stations, from large French baguettes to whole coconuts and fresh artichokes, it creates such interesting textures and allows each event to pay homage to their custom designed menu.
Thank you Sophie for sharing the story of these wonderful venues. From stately and elegant, to seaside or modern, Grand Pacific Group have a venue that will be perfect for you! To find out more about these venues visit the websites – The Tea Room QVB, Dunbar House, Sergeants’ Mess, Gunners’ Barracks, and The Blue Room Bondi.
Headshot courtesy of SophieRose Noble.