Following on from my recent blog post giving my opinions on the best wedding photography locations in Sydney, a few of my upcoming Melbourne brides wanted my take on what Melbourne had to offer in terms of locations. So, here’s my take on the best wedding photography locations in the city that also serves the best coffee in Australia…
Columns really are my thing. Parliament House of Victoria is my favourite place to shoot in Melbourne for its enviable, white, stone columns and sweeping stairs that any Sydney bride (and her photographer) would die for. It really is a magnificent and classically designed building suited to the most breathtaking and glamourous weddings. There is also some great photo opportunities outside Hotel Windsor, and down a few of the side streets close by (pictured below) and if you're peckish, stop by for the best pasta in town at Pellegrini's.
Parliment House is conveniently located on the corner of Spring and Bourke streets which is great if your reception is nearby, but being in the centre of town, parking can be hard. If at all possible, get your photographer to travel with you. This spot can also be busy with lots of foot traffic, but the wait is worth it for key images.
Victoria Barracks is a beautiful bluestone building conveniently located on St Kilda Road just south of the National Gallery of Victoria. If you’re planning an autumn or early winter wedding, the vines that stretch along the bluestone walls will have turned an amazing gold and red which will really add some warmth to your images (as well as bringing luck and warding off evil spirits if you’re into that kind of thing). Traffic here is easier than CBD locations such as Parliament House so you should be able to get a carpark out front. It is also close to inner southern suburb wedding venues like Metropolis.
To use this venue, apply for a free permit (through the Department of Defence) which involves getting the names and addresses of everyone attending, but it’s easy enough and worth the effort to not risk a fine. This is a great option for greenery, especially if paired with the Shrine of Remembrance.
Contact: 1300 333 362
Shrine of Remembrance
Just across the road from the Victoria Barracks is the Shrine of Remembrance. Pairing these two great locations will give your wedding images a great mix of bluestone buildings and manicured tree lined avenues. The Shrine of Remembrance also allows for a great wedding car image – a very regal option.
When everyone thinks of laneways in Melbourne they think of Hosier Lane in the heart of Melbourne CBD, but we find it too overbearing, bright and always full of people. Instead we love Niagara Lane. It is a cobbled laneway that boasts early nineteenth century warehouses and colourful street art in the offshoot lanes. The beautiful heritage redbrick buildings, complete with original pulleys and hooks add character to your wedding images without the crowds of Hosier Lane. Also just a short walk away you’ll come across Melbourne GPO, which has beautiful white stone arched walkways.Definitely get your photographer to travel with you for this spot.
University of Melbourne (Quad)
The picturesque grounds and period
Labassa is an outstanding Victorian era mansion with opulent architectural features. Listed as one of the national trusts, the Labassa is regarded as a must visit spot in Caulfield, but apart from that, it is also one of the most sought-after wedding photo locations in Melbourne. The grand mansion features a central staircase which is excellent for wedding photos. However, being a National Trust with high popularity, the permit fee is about $800 for one hour.
Contact: (03) 9527 6295
Australian Centre for Contemporary Art
If you want a big focus on your bridal cars, you can’t go past the ACCA. It is well located just minutes from the CBD in Melbourne’s Arts Precinct in Southbank and is very close to Victoria Barracks.
That's some of our fav locations that are realistic within most wedding timeframes in Melbourne, but for couples sessions, we offer out-of-Melbourne locations too.
If you would like to chat further about planning your photography locations or have any questions, please contact us firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wedding planning is exciting, new territory but there is a lot to consider. It is probably the first time you will think about the photography value of a location. The task of selecting wedding photography locations is important and can be daunting, so here is my take…
The University of Sydney
For a traditional and regal wedding shoot, visit the University of Sydney. This location has so many stately shoot options, not just the Quadrangle. We capture images from outside The Great Hall, and on the steps. As well as inside near the vined doorways and on the grass in the Quadrangle. You can also book the opening to the Quadrangle and get a car shot there too. The popularity of this venue means you need to book in a time slot (details below), so keep that in mind when planning. It will be busy and there will be a lot of foot traffic, but it is worth persevering.
To book contact: Nina McIntosh (University Venues Officer) via email@example.com or 02 8627 4667.
The Great Hall at the University of Sydney is one of our favourite wedding reception locations to shoot. See Images Above & below.
Add The Rocks to your list if you like aged concrete backdrops with a European vibe and tree lined shots. Easy parking and minimal foot traffic here means more time for taking photos and less time providing crowd control. We often take extra time to do some solo portraits with the Bride here, and sometimes the Bridal Party can enjoy a few drinks across the road and watch on if time permits. There is also a great spot under the Harbour Bridge for a car shot, or at the end of the road it can cater for multiple car shots overlooking the water and Harbour Bridge.
The Rocks is one of our favourites, See Images below.
For great sunsets, schedule time at Observatory Hill. In fact, pair Observatory Hill with The Rocks to give your shots a mix of architecture and nature finishing with a sunset on the hill – it is only a five-minute walk between the two under the Harbour Bridge. There is a place at the end of the road that can cater for multiple cars in shot here too.
See some of our images below shot at Observatory Hill.
Sydney Opera House
If some light rain is forecast for your wedding day, think about heading to the Sydney Opera House. Cloudy skies mean less tourists, so you’ll be able to get some epic shots of a clean Opera House. Even on a sunny day it’s perfect, if there are people around, our team will ask them to move, and they are normally more than happy to do so for weddings. We also love using the textured walls of the Opera House up close too, so your shots will not be all about the iconic building but also about the textures. Parking is hard here, so your photographer should ride along with you. We can take wedding photos on-site without prior a fee here, but keep in mind that we will need to seek approval for wedding cars to be taken on site.
The Sydney Opera House also houses one of our favourite wedding reception locations to photograph. I'll be posting a Sydney Venues post soon.
For a lovely relaxed spot to shoot, with low traffic generally, choose Paddington Reservoir. With a bit of extra space, you will really have time to relax and settle into the shoot. You may end up being in the company of a few other weddings but don’t let this worry you, we can take turns. We particularly like to use the metal chairs and the form-set modern concrete as props. It is a more modern and minimal version of The Rocks in terms of aesthetics. From a photographer’s point of view, it is best used on days that are not too dark as it is below ground level. But we can always change locations at the last moment while we watch the weather for you on the day.
More images below shot at Paddington Reservoir.
Art Gallery of New South Wales
If you’re after columns, the Art Gallery of NSW and the State Library have the best in Sydney. Parking is easier at the Gallery than at the Library, and the Gallery also has the paragon out the front. The Art Gallery can be busy with lots of foot traffic, but the wait is worth it for a few key images through the columns overlooking the park. See below.
At the very centre of the city, Martin Place offers some really versatile options for your wedding photography. It features lovely columns and less foot traffic than the
Art Gallery but also offers more modern architecture among the nearby laneways and shopfronts. The open mall, shaded areas and undercover archways mean we can easily shoot here in any type of weather and at any time of the day. Additionally, the fact that it is nearby many other great photography locations, and that we don’t need a permit, means we can keep this option up our sleeve to work with the weather on the day. Parking is hard here, so it's best to let your photographer travel with you. More images below.
If your wedding is on the North Shore, or if you have time to spare, Bradley’s Head is unbeatable for the sunset and is one of our favourites. From here you can see the city skyline while perched above the water with a beautiful rocky outlook. Parking can be hard at Bradley’s Head, so get your photographer to travel with you for this location. The beauty of this spot means it can be hard to secure, and you’ll need to book well ahead (details below), but it is worth it.
To book contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or (02) 9585 6570
That's some of our fav locations that are realistic within most wedding timeframes in Sydney, but for couples sessions, we offer out-of-sydney locations too.
If you would like to chat further about planning your photography locations or have any questions, please contact us email@example.com.
Bride & Groom: Maria & Nick Zervos
Venue: Hyatt Regency
Gown: Leah de Gloria
Styling: Bling Events
Floral: Bling Events
Bride’s shoes: Gucci
Groom’s suit: Zimma Tailors
Bridesmaid dresses: WhiteRunway
Groomsmen suits: Politix
How did you and your husband meet?
Nick and I met through my best friend and his sister, we had all met at university. It wasn’t until a few years later on vacation in Europe that we sparked as a couple.
How did he propose?
I was actually away for six weeks in Western Australia on a work secondment, on the seventh week Nick joined me for a mini holiday around WA. On our second night of being in Fremantle we went out to dinner and upon returning to our hotel, the room was filled with roses, rose petals and a book on the bed and on the last page it said “Will you marry me” and Nick got down on one knee. I guess it’s right when they say - distance makes the heart grow fonder.
To add to the story - I knew something fishy was going on... at the airport he wouldn’t let me hold his backpack, I later found out the ring was in there, he also “ forgot his wallet” on our way out to dinner. Nick didn’t know at which point in the holiday he would propose so our next hotel also had roses and rose petals everywhere!
What was your wedding planning journey like for you? How far out did you start planning?
Ahh where to start? I didn’t really have my heart set on a particular location I just knew i wanted it to feel glam and contemporary with some traditional touches. For us it all really started after we locked in our guest numbers, we had over 400 guests so it narrowed down our reception choices. After locking in our venue, we went straight out to key suppliers that we knew we wanted to have part of our special day including photographer, videographer and stylist. Nick and I really tackled the preparation together, he kept me level-headed and we made the effort to attend every appointment as a couple. We also had amazing support from our family and friends, especially the bride squad - that made it extra special for us.
Also buy lots of bridal magazines - cause well... when else will you?
What does marriage mean to you?
Marriage for us meant finding that one person you couldn’t live without.
I feel so lucky and blessed to have married my best friend and soul mate. Finding that person that brings out the best in you, sees the best in you and keeps you balanced. For us marriage was a way to symbolise our love and commitment to each other and the next chapter of our lives together, as one.
Is there one thing you wish you knew before you started your wedding plans?
I guess in some sense you know ‘everything’ but once you’re caught up in the moment you can forget to ask the important questions or any questions (ensuring you have clarity on everything is important), look at the fine print, make sure you feel in control and balanced. Planning a wedding can be stressful, especially if you are juggling work and other family commitments. Be open with your partner and communicate to each other - you will need to comprise on something at some point, so be prepared for that as you might need to sleep on it, trust me.
If you could give other brides-to-be one piece of advice, what would it be?
If you have a budget stick to it - I’m sure anyone reading this who knows me is laughing but honestly do your best to stick to your budget and remember you may want to go on a honeymoon, buy a house or whatever is next for you.. there is life after the wedding day (.. I know shocking). Speaking of investments, look at your budget and think about what you want to invest your money on for your big day, think of things that you're left with like photos and videos and make sure you are content with your decisions.
Try and stay present on the big day and don’t get stressed about things you can’t control - it’s not always easy (trust me I know) and have a contact person who can answer anyones questions or deal with issues - my wonderful maid of honour did all that for me.
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.
This was our last wedding we shot, during Covid-19. Our team (photo + video) had to drop everything, change flights and fly the next morning to NZ, 2 days early to avoid the instant 2 week mandatory isloation laws, the wedding had big issues on the day, even the wedding car company cancelled on the morning of the wedding, and the bus was pulled over.. But.. even after all of that nothing phased Alexandra & Brennan, and the wedding was celebrated beautifully and everyone had fun. See the images & a Q&A with the bride below... We love this wedding inside & out!
How did you both meet
Brennan and I met through a mutual friend. They grew up together and I was sharing an apartment with his friend at the time. After some persistent DM'ing by Brennan, we went out on a date and have never looked back.
What’s your Engagement Story
The proposal is quite a funny story. I actually saw the ring before Brennan proposed! The night before, Brennan was on the phone to his parents excitedly telling them he had just picked up the engagement ring. Of course, Brennan’s parents asked to see a photo of the ring and he send the photo to me instead! Brennan tried to delete the message, turn the wifi off, turn his phone off, but the message went through. Brennan got a text back from me saying, “Um, was this meant for me?” “Yes, it’s off Instagram, I was just sending it to see if that’s the one you liked”. Please note the image was a very obvious photo of Brennan’s hand in our bedroom.
The next day he proposed in front of all my close friends and family at my 30th birthday lunch at North Bondi Fish. Everyone in the restaurant paused to watch the proposal, with one lady actually being so moved she cried.
I started planning my wedding the day after our engagement. I contacted all the important wedding suppliers that I knew I really wanted and locked them in. What that meant is that I could get all the big-ticket items out of the way and then work on all the other things as I had time leading up to the wedding.
There will be weeks where you don’t want to think about the wedding, so it’s best to get the time-sensitive things out of the way while you still have all that excited “just engaged” energy.
Marriage To you means…
Being in a committed relationship with the person I know I am going to spend the rest of life with. I am so lucky to be married to my soul mate and my best friend. It's so great to find that one special person you get to annoy for the rest of your life 🙂
One Thing you wish you Knew Before you started your Wedding Plans
Before locking in a supplier, look around and get a few quotes to compare. Knowing the different prices and quality of product will help you be better equipped to make the right decision and know that you are getting a good deal. It is also important to look at the finer details to make sure there are no hidden expenses before you commit to locking in a supplier. You do not want to book a supplier and later find you haven’t factored in costs that have not been covered in the initial quote.
If you could give other Brides-To-Be one piece of Advice
Just be prepared for at least one thing to go wrong. In our case, we had about 20 things go wrong – who could have ever envisaged COVID-19!! Prepare yourself in advance for this and approach your big day with the attitude that anything that goes wrong won’t phase you. If something does go wrong (and it will), don’t sweat it. There is only so much that you can control and most of the time only you will know it is wrong. Do what you can leading up to your wedding and then place all your trust in the day being wonderful, with all the work you, your planner and your loved ones have done to make it an amazing celebration. Focus on being present and having fun on your big day.
Also, if you don’t have a wedding planner, get a day-of wedding coordinator. Your wedding is one of the most memorable days of your life, but it can also be stressful. You want everyone to have a great time and you want things to run smoothly. Sam from Tregold was our saviour! When things started to go wrong, she was there to come up with a solution, shielding us from the drama. You don’t want to be dealing with problems on your big day as it will definitely spoil the magic..
Photography / ImageHaus
Videography / ImageHaus
Bride’s Dress / Pallas Couture
Bride’s Shoes / Badgley Mischka
Reception dress / Custom
Groom’s Formal Wear / Brent Wilson
Wedding Stylist / NA
Florist / The Green Room Flower Company
Wedding Venue / Rippon Winery, Wanaka, NZ
Bride & Groom: Annabelle & Kieran McCaffrey
Venue: Clifton - 7 Woolwich Road Hunters Hill
Gown: Inbal Dror from Helen Rodrigues Bridal
Photography: Image Haus
Videography: Soda Films
Styling: Jo Powell
Floral: Poho Flowers
How did you and your husband meet?
On June 17th 2017, my birthday wish came true and I met the man of my dreams on the dancefloor at Darlo country club.
How did he propose?
We were down at his family’s place in Lake Crackenback on a morning walk through the national park. He got down on one knee and before he even opened his mouth I was in tears. He had organised a beautiful dinner with both our families at Apollo that night to celebrate.
What was your vision for your wedding day?
A beautiful ceremony from our dearest friend Father Pio, followed by a backyard wedding with all of our family and closest friends. We are both fortunate enough to be blessed with incredible families and couldn’t wait for our extend families to meet and enjoy the night with good wine and food -almost like a Sunday night family roast combined with a dancefloor that had more energy than a Beyoncé concert.
Where did you look for your wedding inspiration?
We have a very similar eye for design and wanted to create a romantic rustic atmosphere that emulated with the McCaffrey family home. We drew inspiration from the sandstone and flowers from the garden, as well as images from Instagram to bring the theme to life.
What was your wedding planning journey like for you? How far out did you start planning?
We started planning about 8months out before the wedding. I was fortunate enough to have two people with great taste by my side. Mum was my wedding rock. She did an amazing amount of research and has a gift when it comes to talking to people. She attended all supplier meetings and knew everyone we hired very well by the time of the wedding day. Similarly, Kieran put most husbands out there to shame. He found the most incredible Saxophone player and DJ and created the best dancefloor you could imagine by moving the heaviest pots and balancing out of windows to put up lights. We were very fortunate to have the helping hands of our family around us in the lead up to the big day.
What was the highlight of your wedding day for you?
It was a magical moment walking down the aisle with dad, surrounded by everyone I love, while starring down at the alter to the man I was about to commit the rest of my life to. Kieran and I put a lot of time into the preparation of the ceremony with Father Pio, and during the lead up he spent a lot of time with our families. After attending Kincoppal for 15 years, the Chapel holds many special memories for me so we felt very lucky to blessed by a Priest we love dearly in a place that will forever be sacred to the both of us.
Is there anything you would do differently?
I wouldn’t change a thing! We couldn’t have asked for a more magical day.