What Would They Know? Aparna Jones of Wattle Park Chalet

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Ms Floral
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There is something so magical about historic wedding venues. The way they evoke elegance and charm. The picturesque settings that make you feel like you’ve wandered onto the pages of a storybook. We can’t get enough, and we adore Wattle Park Chalet for all these reasons. Although it’s close to Melbourne CBD, the grounds transport you to another world. Today we chat to Wattle Park Chalet’s director, Aparna Jones, about why weddings held at this venue are oh-so memorable, the styles of weddings that work well with the heritage surrounds, the incredible food on offer, and the ceremony and reception options available to bridal couples.

Where abouts is your venue?
Wattle Park Chalet is nestled within 137 acres of native parkland of Wattle Park in Surrey Hills, just 10km east of Melbourne CBD. It’s hard to imagine a more accessible but idyllic native bushland setting.

Tell us about the history of Wattle Park Chalet…
Built in1928, Wattle Park Chalet was designed by Melbourne architect Alan Monsborough as a tea house and function venue. It is one of the earliest stories of recycling with the master craftsmen using timber beams salvaged from historic public buildings, roof slates acquired from the former Yarra Bend Asylum, and bricks from cable tram engine-house chimneys.  The Chalet is listed on both the Heritage Victoria and National Trust Registers.  The Chalet has operated continuously as a function venue since it opened in 1928 and is the only recorded café, dance hall, wedding reception venue and conference venue dating from the 1920s that remains operational in its original form in Melbourne.

Image: Immerse Photography

Why are Wattle Park Chalet weddings so memorable?
Our weddings are memorable for our couples and their guests for many reasons. Couples generally start their planning journey by being daunted by the task ahead, of planning their big day. We have simplified the process and have adopted a very relaxed approach to planning. We hold their hands throughout the process and the couples are often left surprised by how simple and uncomplicated the whole process is.

Unlike many other wedding reception venues, we only do one event per day here at Wattle Park Chalet – so we are not in a rush on the day to complete the set up or turn the venue around for the next function. Couples appreciate and remember our very personalised and unhurried approach to putting their big day together. Weddings are not just a commercial transaction for us – and this approach leaves a lasting impression on our couples.

First impression for the guests generally is that they are wowed by the venue; its beautiful private garden, bushland setting and its grand, historic function space.

To top it all off, our food is top quality.

When couples choose your venue for their weddings, what’s the experience like?
We recognise that every couple has a unique vision for their wedding and at Wattle Park Chalet, our mission is to turn their vision into reality. We recognise that the wedding day will perhaps be the most important day of the couple’s lives and we treat it as such. I encourage the couples to talk to us about what inspires them and we will help to design the perfect wedding.

Images: PiXRay Photography

Does your team offer styling services?
We do provide styling services ourselves at Wattle Park Chalet as part of our function packages. If a client requires more elaborate styling than what we can provide in-house at Wattle Park Chalet, we can call upon one of our trusted friends in the styling business to help.

Do you still see bridal décor ideas that surprise and delight you – even after being a part of so many weddings?
Weddings are often a fusion of old and new traditions. After more than 12 years in this industry, I am pleased to say that yes, I am still frequently surprised at the thoughtful and unique touches that couples bring to Wattle Park Chalet.

Is there a particular style of wedding that you mostly host?
While most people associate Wattle Park Chalet with 1920s period charm, we also host garden weddings and offer both seated and cocktail styles. Weather permitting, most couples take advantage of the picture-perfect English garden for a more intimate ceremony followed by reception in the elegant Grand Hall to dance the night away.

Images: PiXRay Photography

What’s your ceremony space like?
We offer three uniquely different settings for weddings: the Grand Hall with its dark timber wood panelling and high ceilings, the English cottage style private garden, or the glorious parkland of Wattle Park which requires a permit from Parks Victoria.

Where are the most popular spots at your venue for wedding photos?
In addition to the stunning gardens within and immediately surrounding the Chalet,  we encourage couples to take advantage of the many photo opportunities in Wattle Park’s 137 acres of native parkland between ceremony and reception. Particular favourites of mine are on Wattle Park Tram, and at the entrance to the Chalet framed by the original wrought-iron gates and ivy arch.

What options are there for receptions and how many guests can you cater for?
We offer two unique settings for celebrating your special day with your loved ones. The Grand Hall and the private English cottage-style garden. The elegant Grand Hall seats up to 200 guests with round table and 150 guests with long table settings, or 320 for cocktail style weddings.  The Private Garden can also cater for cocktail receptions or seat up to 130 guests in round table format and 110 guests in a long table format.

Image: PiXRay Photography

Tell us about the food and drinks…
Our range of wedding packages offer simple yet sophisticated fare with a variety of options for cocktail, banquet and set menus.  As part of our commitment to a truly personalised service, our chefs are able to cater for different dietary traditions and accommodate the guests’ dietary requirements.

What on the menu would you recommend?
The food that our chefs produce is truly incredible. Some of our clients who have attended many weddings at various venues around Melbourne, have commented that the food we serve at the Chalet is the best in quality that they’ve ever had at any wedding they’ve attended.

I am a lover of seafood, so I love all things seafood in our menu. I particularly love the king prawns on pawpaw salad (a canapé item), the beautiful flavours of the Riesling poached salmon with saffron pearls (for entrée). As for mains, you simply cannot go past the slow cooked eye fillet – this is by far the most popular item in our mains menu. I am not much of a sweet tooth, but there are some delightful dessert items to choose from as well.

Image: PiXRay Photography

Do you offer advice on local suppliers?
We love working local! Our website provides our couples with handy hints and helpful tips as well as the details of highly recommended local suppliers.  In addition, for those particularly unique touches, we are very happy to suggest suppliers who can work to your specific requirements.

Having said this, we have no business affiliations with suppliers, so if the couple has their own contacts, they are welcome to use those suppliers.

What’s a typical day at work look like for you?
One of the things I love most about my job is that there is no typical day! Being a small business, I oversee many of the jobs that need to get done. Whether it is getting my hands dirty weeding in the garden, or working with staff decorating the Grand Hall, or sharing the excitement of when it all comes together exactly as the couple had envisioned. No day is typical.

What do you love about your job?
It sounds corny, but helping to create the perfect backdrop for a couples wedding is extremely rewarding and what has kept me in this industry for so long now.  At the end of the night knowing that we have enabled a couple to enjoy their special day without stress, and surpassing what they envisioned, is very satisfying.

Images: Immerse Photography

Favourite wedding in the past year?
It would be impossible to pick one favourite wedding, because there have been a few favourite weddings in the past 12 months. There have been some weddings that have been so much fun, that even our staff have wanted to jump on the dance floor and dance along.

What kinds of weddings would you like to see at Wattle Park Chalet going forward?
At Wattle Park Chalet, we value diversity. We proudly and passionately support marriage equality for same sex couples and are so glad the Australian people voted for love.  So, I would really like to host more weddings for LQBTQI folks at Wattle Park Chalet.

Thank you Aparna for showing off your idyllic venue and for walking us through all the fabulous options bridal couples have if they choose to host their wedding there. To find out more about Wattle Park Chalet, head on over to their website or check them out on the Polka Dot Directory!

Headshot courtesy of Wattle Park Chalet

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