What Would They Know? Expert Interview with Stephanie Haslett of Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel

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


Ms Floral

Today we take a trip to the seaside to chat with Stephanie Haslett, the senior wedding coordinator at Sydney’s iconic Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel. If you’re looking for a venue that’s overflowing with nautical luxe, has stunning ceremony and reception options, an incredible menu that will impress even the most discerning of guests, plus newly renovated accommodation (led by none other than international interior designer, Sibella Court), then this place delivers and then some. And, of course, Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel has a team of pros on hand that guides you through all the wedding prep and makes sure you have the day of your dreams. But let’s hear more from Stephanie!

Tell us about Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel…
Love is all around at Watsons. Draw a heart in the sand; hold hands beneath a stately Moreton Bay fig tree; kiss on a romantic Juliet balcony overlooking harbour panoramas; toast a glorious sunset that seems made just for you. Our beachside haven is all heart, and the perfect destination for your seaside wedding.

Stunning waterfront celebration spaces, mouth-watering menus and 32 hotel rooms and suites are made for weddings of all shapes and sizes. Everything is within easy reach, from your ceremony location to an unforgettable party space, a blissful hotel suite for your wedding night, then more fun, food and drink for next day’s post-wedding gathering.

Your celebrations flow seamlessly from one unforgettable moment to the next while our team of detail-devoted professionals brings their magic to those unbeatable surroundings.

Image: Anastasia Fuller Photography

Bridal couples are spoiled for choice for wedding venues in Sydney. What sets Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel apart from the rest?
Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel is like a weekend away from Sydney even though it is in Sydney! What I love is that you can make your wedding a real staycation and enjoy the festivities over more than one day!

Watsons Bay is a real beachside bubble that feels far away from the everyday. With its boutique hotel onsite, Beach Club drinks and dining, picnics in the parks nearby, bikes to go exploring and Sydney harbour at your doorstep, Watsons Bay is a picturesque playground for a weekend full of celebrations. With its stunning harbourside location, seaside weekends sail into sunset parties!

When booking a wedding with you, does the couple liaise with the same wedding planner throughout the whole wedding journey?
We are along for the whole wonderful ride – from the moment we first connect.

The couple certainly does liaise with the same planner throughout the whole journey and even on the day as it is very important they are there to ensure smooth set-up and coordination of all items the client has briefed them on. Our team is there to ensure the couple’s vision comes to life on the day.

We know the relationship between the bride and venue planner is very important to the couple as a lot of planning information and preferences are shared and recorded along the way. Trust is built in their planner and they don’t want to lose this with transitioning to someone else.

Images: Gui Jorge

Can you tell us about the planning process…
The planning process should be a fun and enjoyable process. You only do this once and the journey should be enjoyed as much as the day because we know how quickly the day goes! With so many inspirational tools at your fingertips like Pinterest, Instagram, online blogs etc, the direction you would like to take with your wedding can be an overwhelming decision, however I feel as soon as you lock in your venue, the style and feel of your wedding becomes clearer as the venue steers this direction for you.

Once booking the venue, it’s a good idea to look into securing your other key suppliers like your photographer and videographer, so that you don’t miss out on your preferred choices due to availability. The venue is always there for any queries and guidance along the way, but a lot of venue coordinating is done from the three months out mark when choices on menu and beverage are required.

Images: Gui Jorge

What styles of weddings do you usually host?
Literally all styles, cocktail and canapé, food experience stations, feast menus, grazing styles and alternate service. We can bespoke a menu to work to your own personal preferences and style. Food is becoming very personal and we put together foodie delights that are uniquely you.

Are there different ceremony location options?
There are a couple of beachfront ceremony locations within walking distance from the venue that have their own beautiful backdrops. Not much needs to be done to create the ceremony of your dreams at Gibsons Beach Reserve or Fig Tree in Robertson Park.

We assist in booking council permits and providing set-up of ceremony chairs and signage table, and also partner with professional styling companies that can provide bespoke ceremony styling packages. You can keep it simple and let the location speak for itself or add your own dazzling touch.

Image: Joseph Willis Photography

Nearby locations you recommend for wedding photos?
You are literally spoilt for choice for location photos in this beautiful Sydney enclave. Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel is nestled on a sandy shoreline of Sydney harbour with iconic postcard backdrops at every corner. The piers, seaside cottages, and boats that line the beachside promenade mean that you don’t have to go far at all for stunning location backdrops.

There are also nearby beach enclaves like Camp Cove, Gibsons Beach and Kutti Beach providing beautiful beachside moments as well as, sandstone cliffs, lookout points and iconic lighthouses. Your photographer will love you for the wealth of wow-factor picture opportunities.

You have different reception spaces. What are they like?
We have a couple of reception spaces that are both beautifully styled in their own way.

The Sunset Room is Hamptons inspired but its airy coastal elegance is pure Sydney too. It has a fresh white palette, dove-grey timber floors, neutral coastal touches to the panelled walls and uniquely styled lounges and furnishings. Customised wooden banquet tables and white chairs provide a beautiful canvas to build your own dining theme.

Top Deck is a unique outdoor elevated space that overlooks the million-dollar views of Sydney harbour.

Images: Amy Kate

How many people can you cater for?
We can cater for up to 200 people seated with a dance floor and up to 300 people cocktail style.

Speaking of catering, Executive Chef David Clarke designs your wedding menus. What types of food are guests treated to?
Our menus are inspired by our surrounding ocean, complimented by fresh Seafood and modern Australian cuisine. We specialise in wedding feasts, with generous portions to fill up your guests. Our team can craft a menu in your chosen style, from communal sit-down feasts to cocktail styled canapé menus and pop-up food and drink experience stations.

Do you have a favourite meal of David’s?
I love the fresh seafood platters in our feasting menus. They look so impressive on the tables as well.

Image: Gui Jorge

Your favourite or most memorable wedding?
I love when both our beautiful event spaces are used. You can hold your harbour front ceremony within Top Deck flowing straight into celebratory drinks and canapés. Your guests enjoying the ultimate enviable Harbour vantage point with drinks in hand whilst the bridal party can escape away for their location photos. Guests can then transition into Sunset room, shortly followed by the bridal party entrance making way for dinner and speeches then dancing the night away.

Any décor ideas you’ve seen lately that other couples might like to consider?
Our two unique event spaces, The Sunset Room and Top Deck, are beautiful without embellishment, so you can enjoy them just as they are or they can be inspiring canvases to fill with your own story and decorative touches.

Music options… what are they?
You can have live music, DJ, provide your own playlist or even leave it up to us and our funky in-house playlist!

Images: Gui Jorge

You also have onsite accommodation. What are your suites like?
The hotel rooms are beautiful, the kind you never want to leave. At the beginning of this year, acclaimed international interior designer, Sibella Court, was commissioned in the refurbishment all 31 rooms. The rooms have been reinvigorated in a relaxed nautical yacht club vibe. Sibella’s experience in curating hotel spaces means she has an eye for the functional details too, such as movable mirrors in our wedding suites for styling at all angles and decorative hooks for the all-important bridal dress photo moments.

Weddings are the best to work on because…
I love seeing it all come to life on the day and the enjoyment experienced by the couple alongside their friends and family. We are truly invested in their day and want nothing else than for it to play out as the day of their dreams.

Image courtesy of Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel

Thank you Stephanie for sharing with us the beauty and magic of your venue! No doubt your bridal couples adore marrying there, knowing they are in such fabulous hands. To find out more about Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel, head to their website or check them out on the Polka Dot Directory.



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