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If “wedding in paradise” is your brief, please put Coral Sea Marina Resort on your list of venues to check out. This Queensland resorts overlooks the Coral Sea and the Whitsunday Islands, and is the picture perfect place to hold a destination wedding. Combining their great range of facilities, impeccable views, amazing hospitality and dedicated team, your wedding day will be an experience like no other. Today, I chat to Anna Johnston, the resort’s Wedding Coordinator and Planner, about what makes this place so special, as well as ceremony and reception options, and their incredible accommodation.

Where exactly is Coral Sea Marina Resort situated?
Coral Sea Marina Resort is conveniently located spectacularly on the oceanfront in the enchanting seaside town of Airlie Beach, Queensland, the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef and Whitsunday Islands.

Tell us about the grounds…
The resort’s grounds are perched on the coastline overlooking the ocean with postcard backdrops at every angle! We have our own private crisp white sandy beach, a 25-metre pool, gorgeous tropical lawns, gardens and Gazebo with stunning ocean front views and, of course, our iconic private jetty!

Why do you think bridal couples are drawn to Coral Sea Marina Resort?
I think it is because we have it all! Postcard-perfect indoor and outdoor waterfront venues, exclusive boutique accommodation for our couples and their wedding guests, mouth-watering locally sourced and seasonal menus, and we can tailor a package that is perfect for each couple, from an intimate elopement to a grand 300 guest wedding.

Everything is within easy reach, from your ceremony location to your remarkable reception space, there are stunning wedding photo locations all within a few minutes’ walk within the marina resort precinct. Our couples can settle into their gorgeous hotel suite on their wedding night, then more fun, food and drink the next day for post-wedding gatherings at the best restaurant in town. There is also the option to get out and explore the Whitsundays, with multiple on water and land-based tours and activities that depart from the marina resort.

… And not forgetting, a dedicated and experienced Wedding Coordinator and Planner to bring the wedding of their dreams to life.

What’s the process of booking in a wedding at Coral Sea Marina Resort?
That is easy… Just call Anna! From the initial enquiry about their wedding they will be dealing with me, the resort’s Wedding Coordinator and Planner. I will help design and create exactly the wedding they want and be with my couples right up to and including their wedding day.

Do couples get their own wedding planner?
Absolutely, yes! From the moment we first connect until we wave goodbye at check out, we are along for the whole ride. Our couples are allocated a dedicated Wedding Coordinator and Planner who will be there throughout the entire journey and even on wedding day. I love working with couples designing and creating unique and personalised weddings and am always up for a challenge to source and provide exactly what my couples want.

How do you make sure destination weddings run smoothly when the bridal couple isn’t locally based?
You may not be local, but we are! We have a fantastic relationship with our local suppliers and can thoroughly recommend them no matter what you need for your special day. The fun of having your very own Wedding Coordinator and Planner means we can set up a real time video calls to show you our facilities and answer all your questions.

Image: Brooke Miles Photography

What location options are there for ceremonies?
Options are plentiful for ceremonies at Coral Sea Marina Resort with The Beach, The Lawn, The Gardens, The Foreshore and our iconic Jetty.

What are the most popular spots to take wedding photos on the grounds?
You are literally spoilt for choice for location photos in the beautiful Whitsundays and Coral Sea Marina Resort offering postcard backdrops at every turn! With endless blue skies, bright azure waters, swaying palms, and manicured lawns, all with unrivalled ocean and island views. Our property boasts many other unique wedding photo spots with a crispy white sandy beach, our iconic jetty, beautiful gardens, and the Gazebo; a fun swing for two is always a winner and dramatic rock walls for those artistic shots…

Just a few moments from the resort is the Airlie Beach boardwalk and the award-winning Coral Sea Marina where superyachts rendezvous as the sun sinks each day!

There are also nearby locations like the Mandalay jetty that provide beautiful beachside moments as well as, rainforests, cane fields, creeks and lookout points that showcase the Whitsunday islands in all its glory.

Are there different options for receptions too?
Absolutely, The Jetty is one of our most popular reception venues giving our wedding parties that outdoor venue that also offers some protection from the elements. The Elbow Room and The Lookout can cater for wedding parties of up to 230 people, or for our couples who are wanting a gorgeous garden setting with stunning views over the Marina and out to the Whitsunday Islands a Teepee or Sperry Tent at The Gardens.

Tell us about the menu! How much input do couples have?
We can tailor menus specific to your tastes and requirements or you can choose from the various package menu suggestions. Being a boutique resort with amazing chefs and an outstanding network of suppliers, we love being able to offer local and regional produce, we believe we can deliver. Just try us!

Image: The White Tree

Do you work with specific suppliers and/or can couples user their own?
Yes, we have a network of amazing suppliers who will look after our couples every need, from the styling and theme of your choice, stunning cakes and flowers to a pet chauffeur that ensures your furry friend can be part of the day too!

What’s your favourite item on the menu?
Did I mention I trained and worked around the globe as a chef for a decade before falling in love with weddings and events? The truth of the matter is I don’t think I could call myself a chef anymore, even though I’m still obsessed with beautiful, magical, delicious (get in my belly) amazing food!  So, this question is fun… The pork belly with seared scallops is absolutely drool worthy, it is served with a curried cauliflower puree that is pure witchcraft! And the Coral Coast Barramundi or grass-fed eye fillet or maybe the Whitsunday prawns with Marie Rose sauce are also up there with some of the best tastes for 2020 for me!

Our menus are all prepared using local and regional produce, much of which comes from the sea to me, the paddock to the plate, the garden to…  you get me, right?!

Being a resort, you obviously also offer accommodation! Can you describe what the accommodation is like?
Soak up the views from a hammock on the balcony, or relax under the stars in your outdoor spa, or simply enjoy the comfort and convenience of a self-contained apartment. Whether you are travelling as a family, a couple, or a group of friends, there are is an array of room options available. Varying in taste, size and budget, there is sure to be a room to suit everyone’s needs during their adventure of paradise.

What accommodation do you recommend for bridal couples?
Our One Bedroom Penthouse Apartments are most popular with our couples, they offer a separate living area so are spacious enough for wedding parties to get ready in together. They feature floor to ceiling views out across the Coral Sea, with the addition of a private spa bath for that additional indulgence.

Do they get a special discount?
Yes! All our wedding couples and their guests are issued with a unique accommodation booking code which will provide discounts off our best available rate. The booking page is personalised with a happy snap of the bride and groom.

Favourite or most memorable wedding you’ve held at Coral Sea Marina Resort in the last year?
It would have to be our first wedding in the newly refurbished resort on New Year’s Eve, it was breathtaking and such a pleasure and honour for me to plan and coordinate too.  The couple were married on The Lawn and finished the night with a spectacular firework display by The Jetty. Every little detail was considered, from specialised catering for their photos, to a memorial keychain on the bride’s bouquet, to LED lit up balloons floating in the pool for guest arrival at the reception.  I am pretty sure the entire staff were laughing and crying alongside the couple.  We loved it!

What kinds of trends and themes have you been noticing at weddings held there?
Small and intimate weddings and elopements. Think 30 people or less, but like any exclusive party. The budget per guest is higher, which means the couples nearest and dearest are treated to bespoke touches, elaborate meals, and tons of personalisation.

What do you love most about your job?
This is my dream job! I love a good wedding and I am so fortunate to say I have had a hand in creating hundreds and hundreds of them over the years. Some days have me signing the marriage certificate as witness for my beautiful couples who have eloped, to lacing the wedding dress up for a bride, to a musician serenading me at sound check. I have been known to blubber like a baby as I send my brides down the aisle to get married, and hearing vows renewed at a 50th wedding anniversary. I’ve been the MC, the DJ and I have even found myself driving the ‘selfie stick’ for an Instagram or Facebook live for my couples whose dream wedding meant family and friends from across the globe couldn’t be there in person to celebrate.

Every wedding is special, new, creative, and fun for me, and I cannot see myself doing anything else.

Thank you Anna for walking us through your beautiful resort and how you create the most spectacular weddings! What a dream location. Wanna know more? Head to the Coral Sea Marina Resort website or check them out on the Polka Dot Directory.

Images and headshot via Coral Sea Marina Resort

Polka Dot Dream Team...

The below wedding vendors made this magic happen and are an approved part of the Polka Dot Directory. Visit their portfolios to learn more and enquire about their services!

Polka Dot Bride Shop

Whether you’re planning a wedding that’s in winter or warm weather, on a farm, in the city or by the sea, the first place to start when selecting a suit is Australian Merino wool. For centuries wool has been the fibre of choice for suiting, and while superb suits can be crafted from alternatives like linen, silk or cotton, nothing can compete with the unique properties of wool. And among the wool grown around the world, Australian Merino wool boasts an unrivalled reputation for quality, versatility and durability. Here are some of the many, many reasons why Australian Merino wool is, and always will be, the most suitable suiting fibre for weddings.

Wrinkle Killer: without going into too much detail, the fibres of Merino wool are like a coiled spring that bounce back into shape after bending. This means that on your big day, your suit is more likely to stay wrinkle free (and photograph-ready) until the wee hours. This is in contrast to linen and cotton, which can expect to start showing creases in the suit almost as soon as you take it off the hanger (in truth, it’s part of the laid-back attraction.)

Image: Samuel Jacob Weddings

Dance Floor Heat: Australian Merino wool is one of the most breathable fibres on the planet, meaning you can dance all night and get plenty of airflow.

Mad Scientist: while Australian Merino wool is the world’s greatest raw fibre, it can be treated and finished in an array of different ways, meaning it can appear in many colours, weights and patterns. When it comes to choosing a wedding suit, there is guaranteed to be a style of wool to hit your mark.

Hot & Cold: as a natural fibre, Merino wool is thermoregulating and reacts to the temperature of your body. This means it keeps you warm in the cool, and cool in the heat. Regardless of the temperature (and your nerves) on your wedding day, you can rest assured you’ll be sweat-free and yet toasty warm.

Natural Born Killer: it’s 100% natural, biodegradable and renewable. There’s something nice about knowing you’re dressed in something natural on the biggest day of your life.

Images: Jac & Heath Photography and Dom Cherry

Snuggle Up: despite the dated perception that it is rough and coarse, modern Australian Merino wool is incredibly soft. As well as feeling lovely against your own body on your big day, you can be confident you’ll get more cuddles from your partner!

Splitsville: Merino wool is an elastic fibre, meaning there’s more give and take in your wedding suit. As well as reacting to sudden changes in your weight, a suit crafted from Merino wool will be more comfortable and more forgiving on the dance floor, meaning you can hit the big end-of-night moves without worrying about splitting your trousers.

Smell & Stain Resistant: wool is both stain and odour resistant. Regardless of how much you sweat, and how much dinner you drop on your lap, you can rest assured that your suit will survive better than most.

Ms Floral Says: Thanks so much for singing the praises of Merino wool. What a winner!
About InStitchu: We believe that every man should be able to afford high quality tailored suits and shirts. Our customers order by designing their own tailored suit or shirt from scratch or can use an existing design from our collections page. With a guaranteed fit policy, we have strict quality control procedures to ensure our tailored suits and shirts meet the highest quality standards expected by our customers. You can book in for an appointment at InStitchu to discuss your options with an expert Stylist at one of their many Showrooms, or dive in and design your dream suit online right now.

Polka Dot Dream Team...

The below wedding vendors made this magic happen and are an approved part of the Polka Dot Directory. Visit their portfolios to learn more and enquire about their services!

Owner Annie O’Keeffe of The Perfect Piece Homewares Store in the Snowy Mountains

It’s been a difficult time for many engaged couples during the COVID-19 pandemic, with restrictions forcing many to cancel the day they’d be waiting so long for. Yet despite health pandemics, droughts, floods and bushfires, it seems more Australians are wanting to support regional and rural businesses, and you can now do this through your wedding gift registry, bringing a much-needed financial injection into their local economy.

Images via  Salubrious-Living & Cedar Cicada

A “COVID bride” myself, I embraced this time in lockdown to launch a new gift registry service exclusively featuring over 1,200 products from 43 (and counting!) regional and rural businesses in NSW and QLD offering local homewares, art, furniture, luxury accommodation, experiences and even rural charities. Now your guests’ gift giving can be a meaningful experience knowing they are supporting businesses in the bush that rely predominately on farming. It’s also a chance for Australians to purchase beautiful bespoke products, that you just can’t get from the major retailers.

Image via Bush Registry

Here are just some of the incredible local vendors you can support through your gift registry:

LOCAL HOMEWARES

Harry and Kit

Image via Harry and Kit 

Harry and Kit offers a “coastal style with a country take” situated in Goondiwindi, Southern Queensland. The store brings one-of-a-kind furniture and homewares pieces from Asia to the rural community of Goondiwindi and beyond. Each piece you find at Harry and Kit is personally sourced by owner Lillie and brought over by shipping container to Australia and out to Goondiwindi, Queensland.

Merv & Me Boutique

Merv & Me is a small online boutique in Taroom, South-West Queensland. They stock a beautiful collection of high-quality gifts for new mamas and bubs from the owners cattle property.

Textile & Twig in Corowa

Image via Textile & Twig

From her country home on the banks of the Murray River in the Eastern Riverina, the owner of Textile & Twig selects & hand crafts with care a range of practical and unique items to offer for your home and family.

Long Lunch Linen

Image via Long Lunch Linen 

Owner of Long Lunch Linen, Carina Chambers, creates unique, hand-painted tablecloths and napkins that will add a splash of pizzazz to your next luncheon or special occasion. With a luxuriously soft feel that only pre-washed 100% European flax linen can afford, Long Lunch Linen strives to provide you with heirloom quality products at your family will treasure for generations to come.

LOCAL ACCOMODATION

Faraway Domes

Faraway Domes, Warialda. Image by Krista Eppelstun

Faraway Domes is an ideal destination for those wanting their own exclusive get-away in Northern NSW. Boutique in size and luxurious in style, the Faraway Dome is an exclusive adults only escape for two, offering guests a unique experience of privacy and solitude.

LOCAL ARTWORK

The Moree Gallery

Image via The Moree Gallery

The Moree Gallery is a leading, regional art gallery located in Moree, Northern NSW. Established for over 22 years, the gallery prides itself in the discovery and representation of significant Australian emerging artists.

Kate Owen Art, in North Star

This North Star artist is hard at work in her new studio splashing paint on a canvas and combining line and shape through scratching back or drawing with graphite or oil sticks. Kate is greatly influenced by nature and its patterns, shapes and colours. Her work is an expression of her emotions and memories of things she sees in the landscape around her on a daily basis.

Image by Ken Bass & Kate Cobb via Kate Owen Artwork 

LOCAL DONATION

Rural Aid

One of Australia’s largest rural charities Rural Aid, well-known for its Buy a Bale campaign, has partnered with Bush Registry, allowing gift-givers to give a charity donation in lieu of a physical gift. The donation items on Bush Registry include counselling for farmers and farmer gift cards. These programs not only benefit the farming family that receives the donation, but the money that they spend in their local town helps to boost the entire economy and has a ripple effect in the community.

Bush Registry founder Kate Munsie

Now is the perfect time to give back to the locals who need us most. With our help and support, I see a bright future for regional and rural businesses.

Ms Floral Says: This is such a fantastic idea and service that I hope more brides and grooms around Australia will embrace!

CEO and founder Kate Munsie saw an opportunity for Bush Registry after wanting to support bush businesses for her own wedding gift registry. She is continually blown away by the amount of beautiful and bespoke homewares, furniture, art, accommodation and experiences provided by regional and rural retailers and saw an opportunity to connect these retailers to the booming gifting market. So if you, or anyone you know are looking to create a gift registry for an upcoming wedding, baby-shower or any other special event, support regional and rural businesses by visiting bushregistry.com.au