As one of Sydney’s top wedding photography and videography boutiques, we have come across a fair number of reception venues so to help you spend less time looking for your wedding reception we have put together this ultimate list
Wedding receptions come in all sorts of shapes, sizes and flavours – just like you. And contrary to what you will see in the majority of wedding photos, you will spend most of your wedding day at your wedding reception venue.
Cultural traditions play a significant role in determining how many guests you are obligated to invite (as much as you may want to have a small guest list, your parents may say otherwise).
With half of our population of 25 million either born overseas or has at least one parent who was, I wouldn’t be surprised if your parents had some say in the wedding reception venue you end up in. This is because if you’re from a Chinese, Vietnamese, Cambodian, Italian, Macedonian, Greek, Indian, or Lebanese background, I know exactly how difficult it is to do things your own way.
Where most list-style blog posts fail is that they end up being way too general.
“Top 10 wedding receptions in Sydney” definitely gets the eyeballs but they tend to fall short by offering irrelevant suggestions.
For this reason, I spent a few days researching the different types of wedding reception venues available in Sydney to give you something useful.
By the way, you may want to use this spreadsheet to help make comparing wedding venues easier.
The best hotel wedding reception venues in Sydney
They’re not usually the first choice for the modern Australian couple but hotel wedding receptions are more common than you think. Plus, they’re all-inclusive and customer service for both you and your guests tend to be top-notch.
Pictured above: InterContinental Double Bay
A benefit of having a hotel wedding reception is that you may have more generous bump-in times for your wedding stylist compared to a busy venue that also does a lunch service. When your wedding stylist and/or wedding florist get early access to your venue, they can do more amazing things.
These are the best hotels in Sydney to have your wedding reception:
The best reception venues for large ethnic weddings
Sometimes, you just cannot avoid a large and loud wedding reception. A ‘small’ wedding for certain cultures can start from 200 pax and I know from experience that having 600 guests is quite the norm for some cultures. For this reason, I’ve found a list of wedding reception venues that can cater for more than 250+ pax:
- Doltone House, Jones Bay Wharf
- Villa Capri, Cabramatta
- Hyatt Regency, Sydney
- InterContinental Hotel, Double Bay
- The Westin, Sydney
- The HIGHLINE, Bankstown
- The William Inglis Hotel, Warwick Farm
- Doltone House, Australian Technology Park
- Grand Royale, Granville
- Le Montage, Lilyfield
- Doltone House, Sylvania Waters
- Four Seasons Hotel, Sydney
The best rustic wedding reception venues in Sydney
Rustic weddings have a strong country, garden or farm-like influence and if you don’t want an overly modern and minimal look to your wedding reception, most rustic wedding reception venues are well and truly outside of Sydney. But not all as you will see:
- The Grounds of Alexandria, The Garden, Alexandria
- Athol Hall, Mosman
- Banjo Paterson Cottage & Restaurant, Gladesville
- Q Station, Manly
The best wedding reception venues in Sydney with high ceilings
Part of the appeal of high ceilings is related to a general preference for space but behavioural and brand evidence suggests that there’s more to it than that. Research has shown that high ceilings promote a sense of freedom, creativity, and abstraction. Personally, I love high ceilings because there is something grand about having all that headroom (I hate feeling cramped).
Pictured above: Doltone House (Heritage Wharf), Jones Bay Wharf
So here are the best wedding reception venues in Sydney that offer high ceilings:
- Hyatt Regency, Sydney
- Doltone House, Heritage Wharf @Jones Bay Wharf
- The HIGHLINE, Bankstown
- Beta Bar, Sydney
- Sergeants Mess, Chowder Bay
The best reception venues for Chinese wedding banquets
Pictured above: Sky Pheonix, Westfield Sydney
If your parents (or in-laws) are dead set on having their 10-course Chinese banquet (complete with lobster, mock shark fin soup, crispy skin chicken) and nothing else, the cold hard truth is that you will have a difficult decision to make.
Do you choose the deliciousness of food or do you make the ambience of the venue as a priority?
For many of you in this predicament, it is okay to choose the former – after all, the wedding reception is usually the biggest wedding expenditure and most people do remember the menu (especially the older folks).
Some large reception venues partner with Zilver (a Cantonese/Chinese restaurant) to bring in caterers to provide a Chinese banquet experience. But to be completely honest – they’re nowhere near the same. So for this reason, the following recommendations use in-house chefs.
The best wedding reception venues with waterfront views in Sydney
Being a coastal city, Sydney is spoiled for choice when it comes to wedding reception venues with waterfront views. You can pretty much point your finger anywhere along the coastline and find a suitable venue.
So to make the choice easier for you, I’ve put together a few of our favourites:
- Jonah’s Restaurant, Palm Beach
- The Bather’s Pavilion, Balmoral
- Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel, Watsons Bay
- The Blue Room, Bondi
- The Boathouse, Palm Beach
- 12-Micron, Barangaroo
- Catalina, Rose Bay
- Cafe Sydney, Circular Quay
- The Boathouse At The Spit, Mosman
- Beachside Dojo, Manly
- Sergeant’s Mess, Chowder Bay
- Gunners Barracks, Mosman
The best industrial wedding reception venues (also known as blank canvases)
For the couple who wants an edgy backdrop – think converted warehouse and exposed bricks – these are our top picks in Sydney:
- Carriageworks, Redfern
- Cell Block Theatre, Darlinghurst
- Beta Bar, Sydney
- Simmer On The Bay, Walsh Bay
- Three Blue Ducks, Rosebery
- Turbine Shop, Cockatoo Island
Some tips on getting the best wedding reception photos
Your wedding reception can produce the most meaningful moments.
Whilst most wedding photographers focus on the wedding ceremony and the bridal portraits, I instruct my team to work even harder during the reception because this is where the magic happens. Therefore, it is important to ask a wedding photographer to see examples of their wedding reception portfolio. This is because wedding receptions tend to be much more difficult to photograph well.
Venues pictured above: Epicure, Taronga zoo | The Boathouse At The Spit | Angelos By The Bay | Sergeants Mess
Fact: the venue that you choose for your wedding reception will have a direct impact on how your wedding photos will turn out. And, if you want your wedding reception photos to shine, you need to invest in a wedding stylist, preferably before you even decide on which venue you want to for your wedding reception. Or at the very least, hire a wedding florist with a decent budget.
Pictured above: Gunners Barracks, Mosman
Most wedding reception venues charge per head. For smaller guest list sizes, most venues will have a minimum spend that you will need to meet in order to reserve the date.
Every wedding reception venue will have their own pricing, inclusions and terms & conditions. You will have to ask the venue manager of the exact food and beverage options. However, as a guideline, you should budget $160 per pax.
Your reception venue will be the biggest decision that you will probably make in your wedding planning. Some Sydney reception venues can book out 12 to 18 months in advance, especially if you’re having a Saturday during the popular months of the year.
Hi, I’m Dan – founder of Angus Porter Photos & Video and the guy who edits every single frame and wedding film that we deliver to our couples.
We offer wedding photography and videography across Sydney, New South Wales and Australia.
Stick around and check out our portfolio, we’d love to have a chat about your wedding plans.
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