There is a lot to take on board when choosing a wedding reception venue. Size, location and cost are big considerations. With any reception venue choice, timing is crucial. The ‘golden hour’ in the late afternoon is when most couples will choose to be outside taking their wedding photos, perhaps with the sunset as a backdrop. This
leaves little time to capture the finer details of reception styling. I recommend booking two photographers so the reception venue can be captured before guests arrive, in the same magic light as your wedding photos.
To help make a very difficult decision slightly easier, here are some of my thoughts on the photography value of a few of Sydney’s best wedding venues.
The Great Hall at the University of Sydney
The grandeur and awe of the Great Hall is hard to go by, it really is a dream venue within a dream wedding photography destination, all in one. Think Hogwarts and you’ve nailed it. Statues, sandstone walls lined with hanging artwork and the grounds really make it a majestic aesthetic option. When you book, you are given a section of the Quadrangle to use for photos and for your guests to enjoy canapes. You also get priority shooting around the grounds. This venue caters for large weddings in the Great Hall (capacity for 100 to 400 guests) or there is a smaller room upstairs too.
If you are considering taking your wedding photos around the University of Sydney, we’ve put together some more information here. Images below here too.
Intercontinental Sydney Double Bay
Aesthetically, it is hard to go past the Intercontinental Sydney Double Bay. They have a beautiful, enclosed courtyard where we can shoot simultaneously from above and below. As well as shooting on the marble stairs and with the other interiors. We recommend using the rooms facing the Harbour for shots while getting ready (if you don’t get ready at home). Their main reception room isn’t the biggest on offer, but it is one of my favourites to shoot. It is all white, with amazing cornices and interior details that come up beautifully in photos. It is perfect for an intimate and private wedding reception and has capacity for 250 guests.
In a city blessed with more than its fair share of iconic dining locations it is hard to go past Bennelong and Catalina. Housed within the World Heritage listed Sydney Opera House, Bennelong is arguably one of the most impressive Sydney wedding venues in the country. This location offers views spanning the extraordinary Opera House architecture, and across Circular Quay to the Royal Botanic Gardens which are all idealic wedding photography locations for you, too. Bennelong offers one of Sydney’s most spectacular dining rooms, but it isn’t a huge space, so it is best suited for smaller numbers (capacity for 100 seated guests or 300 cocktail).
For a bit more detail about wedding photography around the Sydney Opera House, we’ve put together some more information here.
The stately rooms and photogenic backdrops at The Langham shoot beautifully. If you have the opportunity to book it, we always recommend The Presidential Suite for your shots while getting ready- even if you're not having your reception here.. we still recommend it. We find this really elevates the photos in the morning and adds a whole new level to your wedding art book. We also love to shoot in the bar area. Its Harbourside location also means it is close to some of the best wedding photography options in Sydney including The Rocks, Observatory Hill and the Sydney Opera House. The reception room has capacity for 120-200 guests but we recommend it for a more intimate affair.
Thinking about wedding photography around The Rocks, Observatory Hill and the Sydney Opera House? We’ve put together some more information here.
The Hyatt Regency has a huge reception room (capacity for between 200 and 550 guests) and the sky is the limit on how you choose to decorate it. From our lens, the high and open ceilings shoot very well. The room can be hard to find from the street for a first-time visitor but once it is decorated, it is an exceptional option. Also, the inner-city location of the Hyatt Regency makes parking and other logistics very easy and they offer guest discounts on rooms and parking. It's a great option for a larger guest list.
Doltone House has so many stunning venues, it has so many options. Generally, we shoot at their Jones Bay Wharf location for its elevated viewpoints where you can capture a great sunset while the last pre-reception cocktail is going down with the sun. The reception rooms are large (capacity from 100 to 800 guests), opulent and moody. They can be dark as a lot of black is used within the rooms, but as photographers, we can work with this. Doltone House Hyde Park (capacity from 100 to 500 guests) is right on the park and, like Jones Bay Wharf, shoots beautifully pre-sunset. But here, we find the guests are generally seated once the sun goes down as the sun sets the other way. It has a beautiful staircase leading up to a great bar area outside the reception room. Both are truly wonderful venues, with teams very experienced at hosting weddings who provide great service.
Catalina, Rose Bay
Aside from Catalina’s award-winning food, they have executed countless wedding receptions (capacity for 120 to 150 guests) and private parties so you can be assured that your wedding reception will have fine food to match the awe-inspiring location. With panoramic views of Sydney Harbour, Rose Bay, Shark Island and the peninsula of Point Piper, they have also recently completed an extensive renovation. Their floor to ceiling glass sliding doors spanning the entire length of the dining room, open out onto a spectacular balcony to provide a beautiful setting for your reception cocktails. If you haven’t already, make sure you try their prawn entrees, they are simply amazing.
The Grounds of Alexandria
The Grounds is a stunning venue with amazing indoor and outdoor options for both ceremony and reception. Their popularity means they are fully booked at least 12 months in advance, so keep this in mind with your planning. They have recently added a new room, The Linseed House, which is slightly bigger (capacity for 600 cocktail or 350 seated guests) than their alfresco option, The Garden (capacity for 350 cocktail or 160 seated guests). From a photographer’s point of view, both options are great. The Garden is dark once the sun goes down, so it is best to let your guests enjoy it (and the farm animals and changing displays) before sunset but the fairy lights are a must if you choose the garden venue.
Wait till you see these gardens! Based in Terrey Hills, it's not the closest location to Sydney, however it has you completely covered as a special events wedding venue.
In their manicured gardens you can have a beautiful outdoor ceremony, and use it to take your photos afterwards. Miramare is freshly renovated and it can cater for upto 2000 guests, yes, 2000! (with an indoor or outdoor reception option too). They also have a hotel attached with a beautiful bridal suite, so no driving is necessary after your big day.
Something you'll need to consider is the distance from other great photography locations if you're after variety, (see locations post here) for this venue, we definitely recommend staying on site for photos, but the plus side is you'll have extra time to enjoy with your guests!
There are so many other great Sydney Wedding venues! If you would like to chat further contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org we would love to start a conversation about your weddding day.