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.

wedding reception venue Intercontinental Double Bay styled by Upside Down Events | photographed by

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:

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 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:

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:

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:

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.

bride at head table as father of the groom gives a speech at Epicure, Taronga Zoo | photographed by angusporter.commother of the groom cannot contain her laughter during wedding reception at Zest Waterfront Venues, Mosman | photographed by Angus Porter Photographybridesmaids give a combined speech at Angelos By The Bay | photographed by Angus Porter Photography Chinese husband and wife dance at Sergeants Mess 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.

gunners barracks is a wedding reception venue with a stunning view of Sydney harbour | styled by Francis Floristry | photographed by Angus Porter Photography Pictured above: Gunners Barracks, Mosman

Vendor credits: Francis Floristry, Upside Down Events, Robyn Pattison, Pandanus Design, Sophie Lau, Events Florist, Best Buds, Form over Function.

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