Image via Liz Jorquera Photography

So what happens after those delightful “I Do’s” and the confetti falls? Often the big finale is accompanied by the couple’s party-vibe exit song and extensive crowd cheering all around. But then what? The mood is being taken to such a height, but it’s time for personal congratulations, one-to-one or small-group mingling. Your guests start feeling peckish, and the bar is opened for cocktails and more. The sun sets golden like honey and the mood mellows. It’s crucial to keep the ambience and positive vibes going.
So, the live band or DJ spins some music. It is warm and lively, subtle but has a definite presence. The crowd’s chatter continues without anyone having to speak above anyone else’s volume. When it gets quiet, the music magically gets interesting. There’s entertainment, people may even sway to the music. Anticipation for the reception is definitely building.

Image via The Barefoot Photographer

A great band or DJ will be observing the guests and assessing their mood (Are they chatty? Are they serious? Do they need a pick me up?) as well as considering the demographic, the culture and languages being spoken. They then “spin” the music to cater, and in no time, the guests are smiling, feeling comfortable, having a wonderful time.

So what are the ingredients to spinning the perfect playlist, whether it is a live band or a DJ for your pre-dinner, cocktail and canapé set?

Here are our top tips and tricks to discuss with your musicians:

  1. Play an instrumental with minimum to light vocals only and keep the volume medium-low if it’s a conversation-heavy group. Don’t clutter and overwhelm
  2. Throw in light vocals if the conversation is consistent, but the audience is calm but welcoming some entertainment
  3. Vary the song tempos and styles to keep it vibin’
  4. Don’t hesitate to throw in some entertainment like cheeky duets, classic show tunes, or even the ever-popular Disney classic. We promise it never fails to bring a smile to the young and younger, whether sung or played as an instrumental
  5. Consider welcoming some family participation​ if you have a very fun and sporting couple/group, or in the unlikely situation that the guests appear to be falling asleep!
  6. If you have guests from various countries, play or spin music that speaks to them. Engage them with a classic, movie theme, or chart-topper from their country that everyone including them, could relate to.
  7. Bring the pace of tunes, the energy and volume down towards to end if you plan to usher the audience into a different reception area. This will help re-settle the guests as they find their seats.

Image via The Barefoot Photographer

Polkadot + Moonbeam​ was formed in 2010 in Sydney, when vocalist and songwriter Juliet Pang met Sydney-based wandering musician Didi Mudigdo. Discovering their unique musical synergy when they first met in Sydney, they formed Polkadot + Moonbeam, and went on to perform acclaimed shows at jazz venues and festivals in Australia, Japan, Singapore and Malaysia.

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!

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.

Image by Acorn Photography via Jordy & Ben’s Black Tie New Zealand Winter Wedding

If you’re like most people, choosing your wedding beverages for your special day is one of the LAST items on the seemingly never-ending list of things to organise. I get it! When you’re planning a wedding (especially a DIY wedding), there are so many things to order by a particular date and lock in or you will miss out. So when it comes to beverages there’s less rush and panic. You’ll just hit up the bottle-o the week before and she’ll be apples. Right?!

Image by Tennille Fink via Astrid & Nick’s Dreamy Destination Wedding In Capri

Interestingly, the priorities don’t match up with those of your guests who place a very high priority on “the drinks”. Aside from the fact they love a free drink, the beverage quality and selection says a lot about how you value them, and they’ll be talking about it loooong after the day itself.

So, when I sit down with my clients at a personalised wine tasting, one of the questions I ask is, who they are as a couple, what do they like to drink and why? Most people I find, have favourites – they love a French rosé, or a dry Riesling. Some are influenced by parents, or grandparents who have a fondness for a particular Barossa Shiraz, or Hunter Chardy. Mostly, couples know bits and pieces but not the full picture of all their guests drinking habits (fairly understandable considering the very nature of drinking doesn’t aid attention to detail…)

Image by Sophie Thompson Photography via Emma & Patrick’s Simple Classic Palm Beach Wedding

Throw into the mix that wines themselves are so incredibly varied these days, even within the same grape variety, which means that unless you’re trained in wine, or always trying out new varieties, it’s tricky to get a sense of what you really like about specific wines.

Image by Milina Opsenica Photography via Angela & Jeremy’s Modern Melbourne Flower Filled Wedding

So, when you’re standing at Dan’s trying to work out what on earth you’re going to drink on one of the most important days of your life, here are a couple of tips:

  • Avoid love/hate varieties like Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Merlot, and stick to varieties like Pinot Gris/Grigio, Rosé, Pinot Noir & Shiraz (sometimes a Chardy and a Cab can work, depending on the group).
  • You don’t need to have something for everyone! Choose your wines wisely (and with advice if you need).
  • When it comes to beer, don’t overthink it. Choose 2 or 3 different varieties and order even numbers of each, or get creative and have one case each of all your favourites (20 – if you must…!)
  • Working out how much you need is the crystal-ball question, but my advice is ‘less-is-more’. I see so many couples walk away the day after the wedding, with the amount they should’ve had to start with.
  • I always like to find the best wine for the lowest price, and this is particularly valuable when it comes to bubbles. Obviously French Champagne is luxe, but it’s also between $70 – $700 per bottle. You can get a French Sparkling (ie. not grown & produced in the Champagne region of France, but possibly just down the road and over the hedge), for $17 – $35 per bottle, way better price point when you’re buying 80 bottles of it, and the taste, well needless to say, it’s delicious!
  • Think about the season, is it warm? Then up the quantities of bubbles, whites & rosés, with less reds. Also, think about adding in a cocktail quencher for post-ceremony. This gives you a nice opportunity to add a personal touch. Similarly if it’s cooler, change up the quantities, maybe an espresso martini for that 10pm after dinner dance is in order?

Image by House Of Lucie via Krista & Bradley’s Rustic & Chic Country Wedding

Otherwise if all else fails, book in a personalised wine tasting with a sommelier (I happen to know a good one). Bring your fiancé, parents, bridal party, and enjoy trying 15-25 different wines selected for their suitability to YOU and your group specifically, and most importantly, your budget! Not only will engaging a service like this you make an otherwise time-consuming and anxiety-inducing activity way more easy and enjoyable, you’ll learn something about your palette, different wine varieties, and you’ll show your guests how much they mean to you!

 Hi, I’m Amelia Birch. Your Personal Sommelier. I currently oversee the business operations of ‘Merribee’ an ornate garden wedding venue on the South Coast, which prompted me to start Your P.S., as a result of seeing couples drinking ubiquitous wines for their weddings, ordering too much or not enough, and spending lots of money in the process! I love helping people and solving problems, thus making life more efficient. I also quite like wine. Why should you use Your P.S.? Find out here.