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A Drink of the Gods!

16 Sep

So, last post I chatted to y’all about the food.

The spread we’re putting on gives everyone a chance to eat something we think they’d enjoy, so we’re pretty happy with our choice!

Another thing Mr Big and I needed to mull over was the beverages, and this task was a lot easier for us than the catering. At Tamburlaine, the packages include wine, sparkling wine, beer, soft drinks, and juice. They probably have water there as well (it’s just not stated on the package). We’ve also requested sparkling grape juice for the pre-teens who want something sparkly to drink during toasts (or just during the party).

The wine to be drunk will be either from the Wine Lovers Range or the Members Reserve from Tamburlaine Wines. The wines are said to be organic, and therefore, the hangover is meant to be less severe. We’ll be going for the Wine Lovers Range and over the course of the planning year-and-a-half, have sampled the wines.

Like the food, there were several things we needed to consider for our guests:

  1. My family and friends aren’t big wine drinkers. The wine I do manage to get them to drink are mostly the sweeter wines – Moscato, late harvest Rieslings, and botrytis.
  2. Mr Big is a BIG red wine drinker, which is ironic since he’s a Kiwi, and the Kiwi climate is better suited for white wines and milder reds, like the Pinot Noir. His favourite red drink is the Shiraz.
  3. I’m a white wine drinker. I love my sweeter wines, but really don’t mind anything else. I like my wines to be milder, and can drink red wines with a softer character.
  4. There will be Kiwis there, so we need to accommodate for them too. New Zealand is known for their white wines, specifically Sauvignon Blanc and Rieslings. That means we need a good range of white wines which will please the Kiwi palette.
  5. Not everyone is a wine drinker, so we needed some alcoholic beverages which weren’t wine. Enter my dad, who knows his beers
  6. There will be kids there and teenagers under 18! We needed to ensure they were happy with their drinks too. (The legal drinking age is 18 in Australia, as opposed to 21.)

With all of that said, here is what we’ll be drinking:

White Wines:

Red Wines:

Sparkling:

Light beer: Hahn Light

Standard beers: (choice of 2)

  • Tooheys New
  • Pure Blonde

Spirits: On a per consumption basis of $7 / nip

Non-alcoholic Drinks:

  • Orange juice
  • Water
  • Soft drinks
  • Sparkling grape juice

First off, let’s go through why we chose those particular wines.

Basically, these are the wines that showcased the flavours of Tamburlaine, and particularly, of Australia. I’m not patriotic (although I do like Australia), but we thought it would be pretty bad form to give Kiwis Sauv Blancs and Rieslings from an Australian winery. Hunter Valley is known for their Verdelhos, so we wanted to showcase this by using the Verdelho as a wine. The Marsanne was chosen because it was unique – it was mild, flavoursome, and easy-drinking. The Late Harvest Riesling was chosen for my family and friends – it’s not too heavy, it’s mildly sweet, and so, good to drink for those who aren’t really into wine but wanted to drink something alcoholic other than beer.

The red wines were easy to choose. Shiraz was chosen because Mr Big loves it, and it’s his wedding. He felt bad for wanting to choose it, since not everyone is a Shiraz-drinker, but I told him that, if we were going to have a wedding, the Shiraz needed to be present. The GSM is similar to the Marsanne – it’s unique, mild and easy to drink. I love drinking the GSM because it makes me feel classy, without the heaviness of the Shiraz. The Rose was again, another easy choice. It’s a red drink, but it’s not heavy like most reds. It’s a good one for my friends and family who don’t drink too much and want something mild.

Both sparkling wines were chosen simply because they’re awesome. Who doesn’t love drinking a bubbly beverage? What’s even better is Tamburlaine will be adding splashes of fruit juices to their Vintage Blanc de Blanc during cocktail hour to add some extra flavour. The Scarlett Bubbles is the closest thing Tamburlaine have to a Moscato, so I know my friends will be chugging that one down.

The rest of the drinks are pretty self-explanatory. For those who don’t drink wine, we have beer. Mr Big and I aren’t too fond of beer. He can drink it, I can barely drink it (read: get halfway through one bottle and give the rest to Mr Big). My dad, a big beer drinker, suggested those three, so we decided to go with his choices, since we trust him wholeheartedly!

The non-alcoholic drinks will be for our guests ages 0-17. My junior bridesmaid/Groom’s Homie Oddball will be of that group, so they’ll be drinking fruit juices, soft drinks, sparkling grape juices, and perhaps even water. We wanted to make sure the kids were happy with the choices of drinks, so we added the sparkling grape juice, particularly for the pre-teens like Oddball.

Spirits, unfortunately, are dished out on a per-consumption basis of $7 per nip. I’m sort of glad about this, because I don’t want (too many) shots at the wedding. If our bridesmaids or groomsmen buy a round of nips for a round of shots, well, ok, that’s their choice, but I’m not a big spirit drinker to begin with (it goes STRAIGHT to my head) so I’m sort of happy that spirits are on a per consumption basis…

And that’s our drinks folks! What do you think? Did we consider our guests? Do you think it’s good that Mr Big and I chose the Shiraz over, say, a Merlot? Do you think anyone will be bummed out that the spirits will be on a per consumption basis?

Balancing the Banquet

14 Sep

(Alternate Title: The Bighorns versus The Food)

Between my Masters work, the wedding, and Life, I began thinking about menu options. At the four-month mark of the wedding, I decided it’ll be good to knock a few things out of the way. One of those was something Mr Big and I excitedly discussed EVERY time we thought about our venue: the food.

Now Tamburlaine provides catering and drinks in a package, so that the bridegroom couple don’t have to worry about finding their own catering company. Plus side – we don’t have to do the additional searching. Not-so-much-a-plus-side, that meant we HAD to use their company. But after mulling over the menu, we concluded that they sounded delicious, and so, we settled with Tamburlaine, comfortable with the menu and the catering company they use, Wine Country Catering.

Unfortunately, we then found out (after putting a deposit down) that the catering company no longer does tastings (BALLS!!!) which completely bummed us out (we wanted to taste some food dammit!). The catering company, however, is known as one of the most prestigious catering companies for corporate, weddings, and other events, so we concluded that we weren’t worried about the quality of the food.

The most difficult for us in this foodie journey, being lovers of food ourselves, is choosing the food.

Let me just post a few pictures of the foods from Wine Country Catering to demonstrate what I mean:

Steamed asparagus with Persian feta tartlet served with honey roasted tomato and chilli jam. / Image from The Barrel Room.

Fromage Blanc tart with peanut brittle and Persian fairy floss // Image from The Barrel Room.

I don’t know what this is, but it looks good / Image taken from The Barrel Room.

Uhm, can people say, yes please!

So, from those pictures above, you can see that Mr Big and I had a pretty tough choice on our hands. Luckily, there were a few things that helped us choose:

  1. Chinese weddings often serve seafood only as that is believed to bring good fortune and prosperity to the bridegroom couple
  2. Not all of our guests can have seafood only, for example, the mother-of-the-groom and the groom himself dislike eating lots of seafood, and some of our guests have a severe allergy to certain types of seafood
  3. Some of our guests are picky regarding certain meats, for example, BM Cupcakes doesn’t eat beef and lamb, Groom’s Homie Oddball doesn’t eat lamb, we have three vegetarians, and one of our photographers is vegan.
  4. Some of our guests are lactose intolerant and another is allergic to chocolate, so dessert needed to be carefully considered.
  5. We’ll have children there! So they need to be kept happy and fed.

Now, in order to ensure that point 1 could be met, to an extent, we needed some seafood options. However, we had to cater for point 2. Point 3 meant that we also had to have a meat that everyone could eat. Point 4 meant that dessert needed to be carefully considered. And so, with all of that, we decided on the following:

  • V – vegetarian
  • SF – seafood

Canapés: (choice of 4)

  • Potato rosti with roasted beef and caramelised onion
  • Spinach and pinenut filo pastry parcels (V)
  • Satay chicken skewers
  • Roma tomato and fresh basil on garlic bruschetta (V)

Entrée: (choice of 3)

  • Smoked salmon, potato and rocket salad served with horseradish cream and capers (SF)
  • Slow cooked pork belly salad with braised cabbage, sautéed bok choy and an orange soy dressing
  • Tempura battered king prawns with Asian greens and honey/chilli sauce (SF)

Mains: (choice of 3)

  • Herb-crusted perch fillet, baked with lemon and parsley beurre blanc served on creamy mashed potato (SF)
  • Corn-fed chicken supreme filled with pinenuts, spinach and feta on linguine pasta with basil pesto cream sauce
  • Roast of soy and thyme beef rib eye served with roasted chateaux potatoes, dutch carrots and seasonal vegetables

Dessert: (choice of 2)

  • Fromage blanc tart with peanut brittle and Persian fairy floss
  • White and Dark chocolate terrine with raspberry coulis and fresh seasonal berries

Tea and coffee at a station which where the cake will be plated up for our guests.

And in keeping with point 5, we chose the “party platter” for the kiddies, so they get a selection of things to eat.

Children’s Options

  • Party platter – nuggets, party pies, frankfurts, etc.

Dessert: Vanilla ice cream with chocolate toppings (other flavours available upon request)

As for the vegetarians, we got a general consensus from our vegetarian guests and settled on this:

Vegetarian Options

Entrée:

  • Steamed asparagus with Persian feta tartlet served with honey roasted tomato and chilli jam

Main:

  • Sweet potato and fresh herb gnocchi with a saffron cream sauce, fresh shaved grana padano

Hopefully our guests like the food! We’re certainly excited!

In the next post, I’ll talk about every adult’s favourite things at weddings: BOOZE (and non-alcoholic drinks).

So what do you guys think of the menu?

It starts!

7 Nov

Hey guys!

The past week has been very exciting! Wedding planning is underway (finally) and we know what two sites we want for both the ceremony and reception.

We went to the Hunter Valley last Saturday (3 November) for the Matchbox 20 concert and decided to also check out the Sebel Kirkton Park Hotel and have a guided tour around the Hunter Valley Gardens. We were supposed to head up to the Hunter Valley early morning (around 6AM), but after the late night the night before – dinner party with friends followed by my freaking out about my very last assignment – we ended up sleeping at about 1AM. We also lost our second driver because she had work, so we ended up starting the day at 9AM. By the time we got the Hunter Valley, our 10AM meeting with Kelly at Hunter Valley Gardens had passed, though I had told her earlier that we wouldn’t be able to make it. We did, however, make out 1PM meeting with Ruth at the Sebel Kirkton Park Hotel.

Ruth was a lovely girl and she showed us around the Hotel grounds. The hotel is very Colonial and has really nice views of the Brokeback Mountains. It rests on rolling green hills and a lot of the ceremony location onsite sit atop these hills, looking over the view. GP was impressed, even though he went in there just to please me. Ruth showed us both reception rooms, and to our pleasant surprise, both rooms were set up for weddings. The smaller room – the James Busby – is nice, but very small. It fits a maximum of 100 people, so we’d have too many people for the wedding. The bigger room is the Hunter-Rothbury room which fits a maximum of 150. The dancefloor is a moveable parquetry dance floor, with the room covered by carpet. There are a few smaller rooms which offshoot the bigger one which can be use as a children’s play room or a lounge area. Unfortunately, there’s only two access points outside, so you can’t really transition seamlessly from outside to inside. Overall, Sebel Kirkton was a place that we really liked. The rooms are opulent, the ceremony locations are beautiful and you get a discount on accommodation.

After our tour about Sebel Kirkton, we decided that we had time to check out the Hunter Valley Gardens. A phone call later, we were at the HVG meeting Kelly, their Wedding Coordinator. Kelly showed us around the HVG by buggy (a golf cart). We told her what we wanted – two ceremonies, one location – and she was willing to accommodate us! 🙂 We confirmed the booking and just need to put down a deposit and – voila! – ceremony location solved. We’ve decided on two locations: the Waterfall Outlook for the civil ceremony and the Oriental Pagoda for the Chinese tea ceremony. Everything seems to be provided by the HVG for the civil ceremony, but we’re not too sure what will be provided at the Oriental Pagoda. I’ve sent an email requesting this information and am waiting for a reply. Hopefully we get one in the next few days.

After touring about the HVG we decided to venture into Tamburlaine unannounced to see if a wedding was set up. Despite the fact that they were both busy planning a wedding that night, they let us into the Member’s Lodge to have a look around. It. Looked. Beautiful. GP and I have always loved Tamburlaine, but seeing it set up for a wedding was a different perspective entirely. After drilling Lou with a 1000 questions, we decided in the car on the way to the concert that Tamburlaine would be it. I’ve called today, asking for a contract to book the place, and am still waiting for it. I’m hoping we get it by tomorrow. I’m anxious! If we don’t, I’ll have to call up and remind them…

Now, I’m looking up invitations. My dad is worried that we won’t have enough people coming to the wedding, so we were initially thinking of having e-vites to weed those out who won’t be attending. After all the RSVPs from those are in, we can send the paper invites. I’m not sure if we will be doing that. I’ve gotta discuss the logistics with GP.

It also looks like the wedding website is out the window. I will request that we have a wedding email for RSVPs though. It makes it much easier than having to write down both emails on the invitations.

So yes! I am very excited. It’s almost surreal to think that a month ago, we had nothing done. Now, we have two confirmed locations for the wedding!

Yay!

– E

A Bow to Tradition

6 Nov

Hive, you may have guessed that Mr Big and I are an interracial couple. Mr Big is a Kiwi with a Dutch background. He feels a strong connection with his Dutch roots as his Oma (Mr Big’s maternal grandmother) imparted him with a love of Dutch foods. And I’m a Chinese girl whose parents migrated over to Australia from Indonesia.Our wedding, therefore, is a melange of different customs, cultures, ideologies and ideas. As such, we’ll be having two ceremonies: a Chinese tea ceremony and a civil ceremony!

A civil ceremony, as most of you may know, is the typical ceremony without the religious overtones. Mr Big is an atheist, and I’m a Buddhist, so we believed it fit with us best. As for the Chinese tea ceremony, that may take a bit more explanation. For those of the hive who have followed past Bee blogger, Mrs Peony and Mrs Toucan, you may recall them having a Chinese tea ceremony as a part of their wedding day. They each explained the tea ceremony in great detail, with pretty pictures too!

Unfortunately, for the Bighorns, our tea ceremony won’t exactly be the usual.

As previously mentioned, we took one look at the Oriental Garden and did this:

This never gets old. Taken from College Times.

We wanted, nay, needed to have the tea ceremony at the Oriental Pagoda. It was perfect. And hence, we had to change our plans!

Now traditionally, in Chinese cultures, the tea ceremony was essentially the ‘civil ceremony’. Elders would be served tea by the soon-to-be husband and wife to honour and respect the family. Because Chinese society was very patriarchal, the ‘true’ tea ceremony only included the groom’s family being served tea, as the bride needed to please her future husband’s family in order to be accepted. She would serve tea to her family in the privacy of her parents’ home, as a ‘thankyou’ for raising her.

To me, however, a modern-day girl with a fairly traditional upbringing, the Chinese tea ceremony is about respecting my elders and honouring the families on both sides. To me, it’s beautiful. I love my parents; they raised me to be the person I am today. Mr Big shows the same love for his. And this tradition allows him and I to physically show them the respect and love we have for our parents. I also get to show some of Mr Big’s family my culture and they get to experience something new and exciting!

Most of the Kiwi (and Australian!) guests have commented on how excited they are to see the tradition.

In a typical, modern-day Chinese tea ceremony, the bride is picked up by the groom at her parents’ house. During this time, a Chinese tea ceremony takes place in which the bride’s parents and elders (great-grandparents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, married siblings and cousins) are served tea. The groom then takes the bride from her parents’ house to the groom’s parents’ house where another Chinese tea ceremony takes place to respect the groom’s family (parents, great-grandparents, grandparents, etc.).

led out of house

A bride being taken from her parents’ house to her in-laws’ house by her groom. Image & Photography via Kellee Walsh.

Unfortunately for the Bighorns, the Chinese tea ceremony could not be performed in “typical” fashion, even before we saw the Oriental Garden. This was because of several problems:

  • Mr Big’s parents’ house is in Christchurch, New Zealand, located two hours flight from Sydney.
  • My parents’ house is located in the greater area of Sydney, Australia, two hours’ drive from the Hunter Valley.
  • Our wedding is in the Hunter Valley

Normally, these sorts of problems are resolved by either, (a) having the Chinese tea ceremony performed “properly” either the day before or the day after the wedding, (b) having the Chinese tea ceremony at the bride’s parents’ (or, if the case may be, groom’s parents’) house, depending on accessibility and location of the wedding, or (c) having the Chinese tea ceremony at the hotel on the day (a la Mrs Peony) before the greater parts of the wedding take place.

We Bighorns, however, really wanted to get the Chinese tea ceremony ‘recorded’ through professional photography (Mr Big loved the photos I showed him of past Chinese tea ceremonies), so option (a) was out. Option (b) wasn’t viable unless we did it in conjunction with option (a), so that was also out. That left option (c) which was going to be the plan until our venue-hunting threw this beauty at us:

oriental_pagoda_sunset

The Oriental Garden and Pagoda at sunset. Image & Photography via DC Images.

So, with the decision made that we would have the Chinese tea ceremony at the Oriental Pagoda, we decided that the Chinese tea ceremony will follow the civil ceremony. Because the tea ceremony will be in one location, Mr Big doesn’t need to ‘take me away’ from my family home and to his.

Instead, we’ll be serving our elders all at once during the ceremony. For those interested, I’ll give you a basic rundown!

The Order of Service

In typical Chinese tea ceremonies, the groom’s family is served first. However, as Mr Big’s parents and family aren’t well rehearsed in the way of the tea ceremony, my family will be going first.

The first in the order of service is always the parents of the couple. Therefore, in our ceremony, this will be:

Miss Big’s Parents

  • Papa Bighorn & Mama Bighorn

Mr Big’s Parents:

  • De Papa Big & Mumma Bighorn

Following the parents is usually the elders from the groom’s side starting with the paternal family and then moving on to the maternal side. “Elders” comprise of grandparents, uncles and aunties, and married siblings and cousins. Again, due to the nature of our tea ceremony, my family will be going first, and as I have a rather large family, the order of service will be:

Papa Bighorn’s family:

  • Uncle B and Auntie D
  • Uncle L and Auntie C
  • Uncle D and Auntie S
  • Cousin D and Cousin D’s Wife Y
  • Cousin L and Cousin L’s Husband P

Mama Bighorn’s family:

  • Mami & Papi (my godparents!)
  • Uncle Fung & Auntie Pin
  • Auntie Soo

Followed by Mr Big’s side of the family:

De Papa Big’s family:

  • Auntie Pen

Mumma Bighorn’s family:

  • Ado Big (Mr Big’s only uncle from his mumma’s side!)

My family is pretty big in comparison to Mr Big’s! Normally grandparents on both bride and groom’s sides of the family go before the aunts and uncles and after the parents, however, Mr Big and I have grandparents who are either deceased or unable to make it to the wedding. We will, however, commemorate them in our civil ceremony.

 

How to Serve Tea

Just like in a civil ceremony, the groom stands on the right and the bride on the left. When serving tea, the bride and groom usually kneel in front of their elders and offer the tea cups with two hands, a sign of respect. However, some couples just bow upon giving the tea to their elders. The elders sit in chairs facing the couple, and when receiving the tea, take the tea cup with both hands to reciprocate that respect.

After each elder receives and drinks their tea, it is typical to gift the couple with either monetary or non-fiscal possessions like jewellery. Monetary gifts are often received in ‘red envelopes’ or ‘angpao’. The red envelope is always offered with two hands and received with two hands as a sign of respect. Often times, gifts of jewellery received by the elders are adorned on the couple immediately upon gifting.

gifting the couple

The newlyweds accepting gifts from their elders. The top two images depict gifts of jewellery. And the bottom image depicts the gifting of what is commonly called a “red envelope”, or “angpao”. Image & Photography by Kellee Walsh.

Decorative Elements

The Chinese tea ceremony has a few bare essentials such as the Chinese tea set, and an altar or table to display photos or candles in recognition of the two families.

praying to ancestors

Top left, the altar to worship the ancestors; top right, praying to the ancestors; and bottom, the tea set for the Chinese tea ceremony. Image & Photography via Kellee Walsh.

This recognition can come in the form of family photos or a ‘unity candle’ with the dragon and phoenix, the symbol of the male and female in Chinese culture, respectively. Other things that can be placed on the altar are: white flowers, fruit and wine offerings, and burning incense.

The tea set is usually gifted to the couple by the parents of the bride as part of the “dowry”. In the case of the Bighorn wedding, my parents didn’t know about this tidbit, but Mama Bighorn was more than happy to purchase a tea set for Mr Big and myself. When we went looking, Mama Bighorn and I found ourselves in a shop that sold Chinese wares, from incense pots to statues, scrolls to tea seats. We eventually found some a few tea sets lying haphazardly near the door.

They were in different colours: blue, black, white, and red. After rummaging through, I saw a red and gold tea set with pretty patterns and good-sized cups. They were $AU30 each but Mama Bighorn managed to get it down to $AU25.

Want to see the pretty?

Chinese tea set!

Personal photo.

As for the tea itself, it can be served as either a sweet tea (for example, longan tea) or a standard tea (such as traditional green tea or jasmine tea).

lotus and date tea

Tea served with lotus seeds and red dates, symbolic of the newlyweds bearing children quickly and often. The sweetness of the tea is also supposed to invoke “sweet relations” between the families. Image via Are You Gonna Eat That?. Photography via Pelaez Photography (out of business).

Other things that can be used to decorate the Chinese tea ceremony are the ‘double happiness’ symbol, the dragon and phoenix motif, decorative firecrackers, and lots of red and gold which symbolise luck and happiness.

double-happiness

The Double Happiness Symbol. Image via Tumblr.

Some people even do lion dances (a la Mrs Toucan!).

lion dancing

Two lions holding a banner which, according to Mrs Toucan, reads “100 years of happiness together”. Photography via Robert Mirani Photography.

What to Wear

Traditionally, the bride wears a qipao, qua or a cheongsam, traditional Chinese dresses. Oftentimes these are decorated with embroidery of the dragon and phoenix or flowers.

the qua

Mrs Toucan in her qua. Photography via Robert Mirani Photography.

Grooms also have traditional formal attire, which consists of a Mandarin jacket and matching patterned pants. Although some grooms have updated that look:

traditional clothing

A groom in a traditional Mandarin jacket with knot-buttons and a classic mandarin collar but with black slacks. Image via Alante Photography.

However, in this modern age, some brides have taken to wearing the white dress to the tea ceremony and many grooms have taken to wearing the tuxedo or suit that they’ll be in all day.

Originally, I wanted to wear the traditional Chinese dress as I’ve never ever worn one, but alas, it wasn’t meant to be. This is because, 1) it’s difficult to find an off-the-rack Chinese gown in my size (I’m petite but curvy with a little bit of chub – read: not “standard Asian size”), and 2) it would’ve been difficult to change from my white gown into a traditional red dress with the Chinese tea ceremony after the civil ceremony and at the same location. Therefore, I’ll be wearing my white wedding dress, but have incorporated some red into it to honour my Chinese heritage.

As for Mr Big, he’ll be wearing his suit, although he’s keen to wear his schmick silk black Chinese brocade jacket he bought in China. We’ll have to see what happens on the day!

All-in-all, I’m excited to have this as a part of my wedding. It’s a good nod to tradition and I love the meaning behind it. I’m super bummed that I won’t be able to wear a traditional Chinese dress, but honestly, I have no idea where to get one in Australia that isn’t mini-sized!

What do you guys think about the tea ceremony? Does anyone know where to get Chinese dresses in Australia!?

A Place to be Married

5 Nov

I’ve gone through the search for our reception, but I haven’t talked to you guys about our ceremony!

Mr Big isn’t religious at all and I’m of the Buddhist-persuasion. As such, our ceremony won’t be held at a church or a place of religion, but it’ll be a civil ceremony. Furthermore, due to cultural and traditional purposes, we’ll be having two ceremonies at our wedding: a traditional Chinese tea ceremony and a secular civil ceremony.

Our initial plan was to have the tea ceremony at the hotel, before we got ready for the big day, and the civil ceremony would then be held in a nice vineyard somewhere. It sounded simple enough, but alas, things did not go according to our initial plan.

And here’s why:

oriental_pagoda_sunset

The Oriental Garden at sunset. Image & Photography via DC Images

The Oriental Garden: an absolutely stunning location for a ceremony located at the Hunter Valley Gardens, or HVG.

In my previous post, I talked about the HVG and how it didn’t really make the cut for the reception space, despite the fact that it was a beautiful location. However, Mr Big and I just couldn’t let go of it as a place for our ceremony. The grounds of the HVG are stunning, and it’s really no wonder.

hvg_cavanagh

Absolutely stunning. Image & Photography via Cavanagh Photography.

Bonus? When you have your ceremony at the HVG, you get to have a 2-hour photography session. Which is great! The HVG itself has about 10 different mini-gardens to explore. They’re great for photography purposes, such as the Storybook Garden:

hvg_storybook

Image & Photography via Creek Street Photography.

As for the ceremonies themselves, of the 10 mini-gardens, four of them can hold ceremonies:

The Formal Gardens:

formal gardens

An aerial view of the formal gardens. Image via the Hunter Valley Gardens official website.

The Sunken Garden:

sunken garden

A shot of the gardens in front of the waterfall. Image via the Hunter Valley Gardens official website

The Oriental Garden:

oriental garden

The Oriental Pagoda at the Oriental Garden, where ceremonies are usually held. Image via the Hunter Valley Garden official website.

And the Lakes Walk:

lakes walk

The Lakes Rotunda at the Lakes Walk, where the ceremonies are usually held. Image via the Hunter Valley Garden official website.

Each of the four gardens has specific places which the HVG wedding coordinator recommends for the ceremony. The Sunken Garden itself has two places – the bottom of the waterfall and the top of the waterfall. When we first toured around the HVG, we were allowed to enter for free (yay for being the engaged couple!) and were toured around on a golf buggy. We were basically treated like stars for the day! It was awesome.

During our tour, our guide, the then-wedding coordinator Kelly, showed us around. Kelly was so fantastic and was able to answer all of our questions! She gave us the lowdown about what each bridegroom couple received when booking their ceremonies with the HVG. There was a fee attached (we knew that beforehand), but with the fee the couple also received:

  • A set number of seats and a PA system for the ceremony
  • A wedding coordinator on-hand to assist in all questions, queries, details and problems
  • Two hours photography with all-access around the HVG
  • A golf buggy to take the bridal party around the HVG on-the-day (girls in heels with no sore feet? Score!)
  • A wet-weather option inside their onsite Chapel (which, if this Spring has been anything, we won’t need)
hvg_chapel

The HVG Chapel from the entrance. Image & Photography via the Vincent Lai Photography.

She then gave us the grand tour!

The first stop was the Formal Gardens. We took a look and, though beautiful, it was much too… well, formal. It would be a great place for formal wedding, but our wedding was a little less formal, and a little more semi-formal. So, off we went to the Sunken Garden.

We took a look at the base of the waterfall, and it was gorgeous… but loud. The sound of the water hitting the base of the falls is soothing when you want some time to marvel in its splendour, but saying our vows over the din? No thanks. Despite its beauty, we had to give this one a pass.

Kelly then drove us to the top of the falls, called the “Waterfall Outlook”.

hvg_waterfall outlook

Image & Photography via Cavanagh Photography.

It. Was. Stunning, hive. That picture above does not even do it any justice.

The aisle, which you can see above, is lined with columns and arched with branches and wisteria. It ends at a balcony that overlooks the HVG. The waterfall isn’t loud at all from above so it makes the perfect ceremony location. Plus? It’s shaded, so we won’t have any of the Kiwis fainting in the summer heat.

It was the perfect place for us.

Get engaged at the base of a waterfall, and get married at the top of one!

Kelly then golf buggy’d us down to the Oriental Garden. We arrived, walked towards the Oriental Pagoda and Mr Big turned to me and said:

“We’re having the tea ceremony here.”

Now hive, I was of two minds. The first was stating that we had to be reasonable, that we had a plan in mind and we needed to stick to it.

The second was this:

Like – exactly my reaction. Taken from College Times.

I caved.

He was right, though! It was magnificent. But as I had said before, it completely changed our plans! So what do we do?

Well, it’s safe to say that we booked the ceremony venue a few days later (no suspense here!). We asked question after question about the ceremony and ensured we got everything in writing too (we’re paranoid) and the wedding coordinators (Kelly changed roles, and now our current wedding coordinator is Kylie!) have been nothing but extremely helpful!

They agreed to provide us with hot water, tables and chairs for the tea ceremony, and were more than happy to give us two ceremonies for the fee of one! Kylie has been great and has answered all of our questions. They’ve also opted to provide us with snacks and drinks (for a price unfortunately) for our bridal party!

All-in-all we think we’ve chosen a great place to be officially announced as husband and wife and to celebrate the elders of our family.

It’s making me excited just thinking about!

Has anyone else gone to a venue looking for a reception and leaving with an idea about their ceremony? What do you guys think about our choices?

A Place to Party: Venue-hunting

1 Nov

When Mr Big and I began our search for venues in the Hunter Valley, we had absolutely no idea where to look! Our initial jaunts up to the Hunter had us loving a specific place, Bimbadgen Estate, as their wines are delicious, their service is amazing, and the venue is stunning!

bimbadgen_something blue

SO BEAUTIFUL. Looking at the Bimbadgen Tower from the Vines. Something Blue Photography.

Unfortunately, they only catered for a maximum 110 guests, and it meant that half the guests would be sitting outside of the venue while the other half would be inside the venue. They also couldn’t fit a live band, an option that Mr Big and I wanted.

We were pretty upset! It was our dream venue, but we just couldn’t budge on the number of guests we needed and wanted to invite and sacrificing the potentiality of a live band. So, forlorn, we moved on. Before we did, however, we assembled a list of specific criteria that the venue needed to have:

  • It needed to comfortably fit approximately 120-150 guests and still have room for a dance floor and a live band.
  • It allowed guests to moves around freely inside and outside (the scenery in the Hunter Valley is gorgeous, if the picture above says anything)
  • It had good wine and food, with a good selection of seafood, red, and white meats (a must!)

So with our criteria, we decided to start out search.

Our first stop was at our good friend, Mr Google, and his missus, the search bar. Mr Google found us two useful websites: the Official Hunter Valley website and Weddings in the Vines. Both of them had a bountiful amount of information on the types of venues you can find in the Hunter Valley for both reception and ceremony venues. Weddings in the Vines even gives venue reviews, including features, history, pros and cons, as well as pictures!

The official Hunter Valley website was, more or less, filled with general information on things to do, eat, see, and stay in the Hunter. They also have a wedding-specific tab which points you out to different vendors located in the Hunter. They also has a magazine which gives you a good idea on where to go and what to do while planning a wedding (either locally or in Sydney) which you can download.

We listed all venues which could fit approximately 120 to 150 guests and whittled it down to a few. We then set a date to drive up to the Hunter and then started emailing out. Coincidentally, our two friends, the Docs Fantastic (a married couple with postdocs in Science!), were visiting before their move to Missouri. We took the day to tour them around the Hunter as well as visit some venues.

I don’t remember the exact order, but I do remember where we went!

Mount Pleasant Wines (A.K.A. McWilliam’s Family Winemakers)

Mount Pleasant Wines is a smaller vineyard. Mr Big and I’s favourite wine from them is the Fruit Wood. Its $6 a bottle, I shit you not! But getting past that. When we got there, we met up with their friendly wedding consultant, Rebecca where she toured us around and showed us where their weddings normally take place.

(Unfortunately, I can’t find credible images for this vineyard. But visit their website for some pretty pictures.)

The Yays!

  • Beautiful grounds with sprawling vineyards!
  • When the room is set up, it’s purty.
  • It fits 120 guests in the biggest room!
  • The reception space is also the cellar where all the yummy wine is kept.

The Boos!

  • It fits 120 guests (our minimum).
  • A ceremony on-location would be held on a slope in an area that didn’t particularly look romantic
  • We weren’t too sure if it could fit a live band
  • Because the reception space is the cellar where public wine-tastings are done, the room couldn’t be set up until after service was finished.

The Bighorn Conclusion: We really we’re comfortable with the boos, so we had to pass on this one.

Lindemans

Lindemans is quite a popular wine brand in the Hunter and, I think, in Australia (or maybe just New South Wales?). The vineyard itself is historical and well-renown throughout the Hunter Valley.

somethingblue photography_lindemans

Image on the left, a band playing in the courtyard; image on the right, the courtyard. Look how BIG it looks! Image via Something Blue Photography.

The Yays!

  • It’s a historical landmark. I’m a historical-whore (that didn’t sound weird at all).
  • I love exposed rafters and beams and they’re everywhere at Lindemans (see the photo above- right)
  • It fits 450 people.
  • It’s a magnificent blank slate.
somethingblue photography_lindemans2

Image on the left, playing “the shoe game” at Lindemans courtyard. Can you see how empty it looks? Also, I want to play that game at the wedding. Image on the right of the lovely couple dancing. Image via Something Blue Photography.

The Boos!

  • The indoor reception space which fits just the right amount of people for our wedding has pillars everywhere which interrupts the space quite a lot.
  • The space is maybe too big for us. See how much space is in that photo above-left? It’s cavernous.
  • It’s too blank a slate and Mr Big and I are incredibly uncreative (how did I get on the Bee again?).

The Bighorn Conclusion: Alas, despite my love of the courtyard, Mr Big didn’t like that our choices were limited to having pillars interrupt the space, or having too big a reception space. We (sadly, on my part) moved on.

Mercure Resort Hunter Valley

The Mercure Resort in the Hunter Valley is a hotel located right next to the stunning Hunter Valley Gardens. When we got there, we met with the wedding coordinator, Kristy, who greeted me upon arrival.

We chatted about the usual: our wedding date (we didn’t have one back then, more on that later!), our ‘theme’, and the number of guests. She then toured us around the Mercure Resort’s venues.

old word_mercure

One of the many old-world looking parlours in the Mercure Resort Hunter Valley. Image via Bella Photo Art, Photography by Bella.

The Yays!

  • The ambience of the actual rooms in the hotels are magnificent and very old world.
  • Guests get discounted accommodation!
  • One of their receptions spaces, their Shiraz Room, had an adjoining room that could be used for a photo booth, lounge areas, or even a “kid’s” section.
  • The Shiraz Room had a stage to display the newlyweds “like royalty”. (Insert Mr Big talking like Thor for a little bit)
semillon ballroom_mercure

The Semillon Ballroom, set up for a business meeting/conference/presentation. It’s huge in there. Image via Mercure Resort Hunter Valley.

The Boos!

  • The Shiraz Room has a parquetry dance floor (more on this below!) and ugly carpet.
  • The room a step up from the Shiraz Room, the Semillon Ballroom, had no windows or any form of natural light.

Now, before I conclude, you may be wondering, why was the parquetry dance floor a problem? Well, for those who don’t know what a parquetry dance floor is, it’s this:

parquetry dance floor

Parquet Dance Floor with ‘Wood Effect’. Image via Tops Marquees.

Usually, I don’t have a problem with it, but Mr Big took one look at it, turned to me, and gave me the ‘hella-no-scared-face’. You know, this one:

buffy_heck no_scared

It’s Buffy! Image via List of Reactions.

He later told me that he’s very un-co, and therefore, a parquetry dance floor? Not a good thing.

The Bighorn Conclusion: Unfortunately, the Shiraz Room didn’t fit the bill and the Semillon Ballroom was too “indoors”. Alas, we had to move on.

The Sebel Kirkton Park

Ah, the Sebel! This one got into our top-three, as the photos were stunning. We didn’t actually visit this one at the same time as the above venues, but later on. It was just Mr Big and I leisurely roaming around the Hunter. When we got there we were greeted by their wedding coordinator Ruth, who took us to all three ceremony and both reception spots.

The Yays!

  • A beautiful location! Absolutely stunning.
  • Guests get discounted accommodation.
  • The Hunter-Rothbury room, the reception space we were looking at, had extra rooms for potential use.
  • It’s an all-inclusive wedding space – accommodation, ceremony, and reception all in the one place. They also have a wedding coordinator with you throughout the whole day.

Now before I go on to the Boos and the conclusion, let me show you just how stunning this place is. Miss Big is a bad blogger, however, and didn’t get any personal photos, but there’s no lack of them. So with that being said, let me whet your appetite:

sebel_wisteria

At the Wisteria Walk, one of the ceremony locations. Image via Vibrant Photography.

sebel_entrance

At the entrance to the Sebel Kirkton Park Hotel. Image via Beautiful Moments, Photography by Cathy Crawley.

Now, with all that being said, you may think, ‘So, Miss Big, this is the one you chose, right?’. Well, hive, that wasn’t the case.

The Boos!

  • The reception space went against one of our major criteria: seamless entry and exit of guests inside and outside
  • No courtyard or sitting area for guests to enjoy the views
  • A parquetry dance floor (but it didn’t bother us as much as it was much bigger)
  • They didn’t seem to allay our problems when we inquired about a potential bug problem.

The Bighorn Conclusion: It was almost perfect and Mr Big and I were giving it some serious thought. That was until we got to the two in our top-three.

But for now, this post has gone on for far too long! I don’t want you guys getting bored of me!

Did anyone else find themselves almost swayed by a reception venue? Does anyone else think exposed beams and rafters are awesome?

So I’ve been thinking…

25 Oct

Hello there!

As you all may know from my last post, we only recently got a date for our wedding. Which is awesome. We have more than a year to plan and hopefully by early November, we’ll have both reception and ceremony receptions booked. From my constant emails, I’ve pretty much smoothed out who we can have our wedding with. The three options are:

  1. Tamburlaine Organic Winery
  2. HVG (Hunter Valley Garden)
  3. Sebel Kirkton Park Hotel

We can’t do it at the Audrey Wilkinson vineyard because – even though they told us they did when we we’re there – they don’t do wedding ceremonies. 😦 They do have accommodation though, and I’m sure we can ask to have wedding photos there. Though the last time we were there, one of my bridesmaids got bitten so many times by bugs it wasn’t funny. So there will be a bug issue…

Anyway, the HVG came back to us with a reply staying that two ceremonies wasn’t an issue and they could accommodate for it. This made me extremely happy because I really want both ceremonies there. Unfortunately, I’m not sure if this means we have 1 hour to do both ceremonies, or we get to choose two time slots… hopefully it’s the latter, because 1 hour for two ceremonies (especially the Chinese tea ceremony) will be hard to squeeze into that sort of time.

As for Tamburlaine and Sebel Kirkton, it’ll all depend on which one ‘captures’ us more with the venue. The Member’s Lodge is a beautiful venue – one we’ve seen 2-3 times. The Hunter-Rothbury room (the reception venue at Sebel that we’re likely to use) looks good in photographs, but we’ll see once we’re there in person.

Anyway – with the venues almost settled, my mind has turned to other things, mainly the “dress” and its accessories…

WARNING: MR. GP – THIS POST IS VERY WEDDING ACCESSORIES AND DRESS-CENTRIC. DO NOT READ IT UNLESS YOU WANT TO RUIN THE SURPRISE.

Did that work?

Is he gone?

Okay, so… I will be wearing a white dress and I won’t be changing three times during the wedding ceremony (that’s mostly a Hong Kong thing… my family are Indonesian Chinese). There’s (apparently) a cultural taboo with Chinese people and wedding dresses though – “if you take off the white dress, you can NEVER PUT IT ON AGAIN“. A fact which my mum has metaphorically PUMMELLED into my head. In fact, every argument stems from that one tradition, even though half the time, I don’t bring it up (She does, so she can pummel it into my head s’more…). I love my mum, but… that is the one tradition that pisses me off.

Anyway.

Because of said tradition, I can’t re-wear my dress if I take it off during the day of the wedding (Shouldn’t there be some clause stating: “Unless it’s your wedding day – take it off or on as you please!”?). This means that, for the Chinese tea ceremony, I won’t be able to wear a full-length traditional red Chinese dress because we’ll be having it after the civil ceremony (when GP sees me in my dress for the first time). My mum really wanted me to wear the cheongsam, so she got quite annoyed when I was ‘fine’ with just not wearing one. So we compromised. Now, I will be wearing something akin to this over my wedding dress:

Chinese bridal jacket, taken from http://www.efushop.com (yes… I know the name of the shop sounds strange)

For a better picture (because this one is tiny) go here: http://www.efushop.com/product_pages/WDH/wdh20.html.

Basically, I’ll be ‘wearing’ the traditional Chinese ‘dress’ over my wedding gown. This makes my mother happy (I’m wearing the red dress), my father happy (I’m not all in white for the tea ceremony) and, kinda me happy too (I get to wear the red dress). Because it’ll be the height of summer, I want the sleeves shorter. Also, the ‘arrow’ thing in the middle of the jacket looks strange, so that’ll go too. I’m not too sure how I’m going to get the jacket (I probably won’t buy it off the shop I’ve directed you guys to), but my mum was talking about getting it custom-made. I’ve had suggestions from others to go to Hong Kong to get things made for the wedding, but… well… even though the ‘labour’ is cheap, the flights aren’t…

On a cuter note, GP wants to wear his Mandarin silk jacket he bought in China for the Chinese tea ceremony. He’ll look awesome 😀

Apart from the wedding dress/Chinese dress debacle, other things I’ve been musing about are the veil, to glove or not to glove, and various other accessories. The veil, I’ve already mentioned (I’m sure) will be a drop or mantilla veil. I love lace, so the mantilla veil is beautiful. I’d be wearing it like a drop veil though (pulled over the face). It’ll need to be fastened with something, so I was thinking of getting a pretty brooch, but I need to find one that’s not too mega-expensive (bridal = expensive…).

My mum has been suggesting that I put my hair up, but I’m more partial to the half-up do. I like a little bit of hair around my shoulders and face (and I don’t look very good with my hair up anyway). To make the half-up do more ‘bridal’ though, I was thinking of getting a hair accessory. I’ve found some relatively inexpensive ones (and pretty to boot), but maybe what I should do is get a bridal accessory that can act as a brooch and hair piece in one. That way when I take off my veil (which I’ll most likely do at the reception), I can just wear the brooch as a hair piece (also, it cuts down the cost of buying a brooch and a hair piece). I’ll be wearing jewellery I already own. Our colours are yellow, red, with hints of blue, and I’ve got heaps of yellow gold and red-coloured jewellery. I’m in no rush to buy any more than what I have and I should be able to pull something off with the jewellery I do have. My shoes are already bought, but not yet broken into. I have to ask one of my bridesmaids if they’ll lend me their shoe-stretchers (it’s a little tight in the toe, but perfect overall).

As for the gloves argument, I saw this:

Delicate lace  gloves cream lace cuffs

They’re stunning! I was a glove-lover when I was younger (and still do love them) but I haven’t worn some in so long. The look of these gloves though are sooo pretty. I am enamoured by them. I want them, but I don’t know if I should be using them. It’ll be the height of summer when we have our wedding, but these are delicate lace gloves, breathable and dainty. AND SO PRETTY. So… yes. Should I or should I not wear gloves? Tricky question…

What do you guys think? Any suggestions, tips, tricks or advice? 🙂

Talking venues! and we have a date!

23 Oct

Hello readers,

How long has it been!? Sorry for the long, long absence guys. It’s been a quiet few months ’cause the fiance and I have been waiting and waiting on a date. We FINALLY have one! YAAAAAY! (It only took 6-and-a-bit months…). Now the wedding ride really starts. As the title suggests, I will be talking about different venues we’ve been thinking about (though the title could also suggest that the venues themselves can talk… but seriously, what kind of venue can talk?).

We’ve been looking at different places to have the reception and ceremonies, but we’re pretty sure we’ll be having our reception at Tamburlaine Organic Winery. We haven’t booked anything yet (a fact that completely confuses my parents) but we’re having serious conversations on places to have the ceremonies. We have about four scenarios with which to do the wedding which I’ve got written down in a Word file:

Scenario 1:

Civil Ceremony: Hunter Valley Gardens

Tea Ceremony: Hunter Valley Gardens

Reception: Tamburlaine Organic Winery

Scenario 2:

Civil Ceremony: Hunter Valley Gardens

Tea Ceremony: Tamburlaine Organic Winery

Reception: Tamburlaine Organic Winery

Scenario 3:

Civil Ceremony: Hunter Valley Gardens

Tea Ceremony: Place of accomodation (where we’re staying)

Reception: Tamburlaine Organic Winery

Scenario 4:

Wedding at the Sebel Kirkton Park Hotel

Scenario 5:

Wedding at the Hunter Valley Gardens

As you all may know (if you’ve been following the blog so far), we’ll be having two ceremonies: the ‘Western’ civil ceremony and the ‘Eastern’ tea ceremony. My mother was a little bit confused about the whole thing (even though I’ve been trying to explain it to her over the past six months) but I think we’ve settled that issue. Anyway, we’ve finalised that the civil ceremony needs to be performed between 11AM-12PM because of some cultural thing that states that I (eichanist) have to be handed over by my family to GP’s family between that time (otherwise known as the “Giving Away” portion of the civil ceremony). In Chinese tradition this means the groom drives over to the bride’s house, plucks her out of her family home, and drives to his parents’ house (where the tea ceremony will take place).

Of course, this is impossible if you’re having a mini-destination wedding like GP and me. Not only that, but GP’s parents live in Christchurch, New Zealand, so having the tea ceremony there isn’t really an option. So we figured that we can incorporate this Chinese tradition into the civil ceremony. When my dad ‘gives’ me to GP, I’m being relinquished from my family and being accepted into his. Or something like that. Now the only problem is where do we have the ceremonies?

Enter the five scenarios listed above.

All five scenarios have their pros and cons. We’re trying to keep the wedding within a localised ‘suburb’ of the Hunter Valley called Pokolbin (all locations are within this area) which makes travelling a lot easier for everyone. Tamburlaine and the Hunter Valley Gardens (HVG, for short) are about 5-10 minutes apart from each other. The Sebel Kirkton Park Hotel is located a little further away, but the distance isn’t huge. If we do use the Sebel Kirkton though, we’ll be using the hotel for all of the day’s activities. To make it more transparent, I’ll break down each venue/location and make note of their pros and cons.

The Hunter Valley Gardens (HVG)

The Ceremony:

As far as we can see, when using the HVG for a reception, you get to use the Gardens at a discounted rate for ceremonies. You also get the Gardens for 2 hours for photography (including a buggy to ride around in) and there’s a wet-weather option included (which is the onsite non-denomination Chapel). The photography and the wet-weather option is included regardless of the use of the HVG as the reception, but the discounted rate on the ceremonies is a bonus, especially because we’re keen to have both the civil and the tea ceremony there.

The Garden itself has five ceremony locations:

  1. The European Formal Gardens
  2. The Sunken Garden
  3. The Waterfall Outlook
  4. The Oriental Garden
  5. The Lakes Walk Rotunda

GP and I really liked the look of the Waterfall Outlook for the civil ceremony and the Oriental Garden for the tea ceremony. Because the Oriental Garden only sits a maximum of 70 guests, we’ll only be inviting family and close friends to this one. The Waterfall Outlook is in a shaded area, so guests won’t overheat in the sun (since we’ll be getting married at about the height of January). We’re also trying to think of what to do with the bugs, since there’ll be a lot of mosquitoes and flies about.

The Reception

There are two locations: the Tempus Two Barrel Room and the Garden Terrace. GP and I like the look of the Garden Terrace if we did the wedding at the HVG. It’s basically their restaurant in the morning. We haven’t been inside, but from what I’ve seen there’s a deck with rolling doors which open up completely to create a seamless inside-outside atmosphere. The deck itself overlooks the Oriental Garden, so it’ll be perfect if we have the tea ceremony there (guests could perhaps watch while drinking pre-dinner drinks).

The venue sits approximately 110 guests on round tables and 140 on long tables. Because we’re estimating about 120 people, we’ll have to use the long table option if we use this place. The dance floor itself is outside in an amphitheatre they have there, so a live band could be set up outside. It really is a pretty venue, though there are some flaws.

The HVG doesn’t have much in the way of seafood (which is a big cultural thing during Chinese weddings). I’m not too fussy about having seafood at the wedding ’cause I’m not a big fan of seafood. Another thing about the HVG is the cost per-head. The venue hire isn’t too bad, and on Sunday (which is when we’re planning on having the wedding) there’s a 50% discount. Unfortunately, the price-per-head for HVG for the Premium package (the best one they have) stands at about $20 more than the best packages of all the other venues we’re looking at. The Deluxe package (the next one down) is about the average price of the more expensive packages in other venues. GP also didn’t like the fact that the names of their foods sound too snobbish (e.g. “rabbit ragout on a bed of…”) though they do have more humble (and yummy-sounding!) offerings.

I also have a feeling that centrepieces and decorations are all “taken care of” by the venue, which takes the decisions away from us (the bridal couple). I would like a say on what goes where and how things are presented. I know GP doesn’t really have a head for decorations, but I’m sure he wouldn’t like the control taken away. It is our wedding after all. Need to remember to bring this up when we see them (hopefully I get a reply tomorrow).

Tamburlaine Organic Winery

The Ceremony

Tamburlaine do ceremonies on the lawn just outside the venue. There’s a little seating area with French-style chairs and tables and I’ve seen the pews they use to set up for seating. The setup is simple – 4 pews with satin sashes, rose-lined aisle, a wine barrel for signing of the Marraige certificate, and a garden arch. The lawn is not as pretty as the HVG, mostly just grass and Eucalyptus trees (very Australian). Some couples have gotten married in front of the manmade lake they have there, but that lake is mostly covered by reeds from the lawn (though looks stunning on the verandah at the back of the venue). We’re not too keen to have our ceremony here, but it is an option we should think about.

The Venue

Tamburlaine’s venue is called the ‘Member’s Lodge’ and juts out onto a manmade lake (the verandah I mentioned above) surrounded by reeds. It’s really pretty. Tea lights spatter the inside and outside of the venue and the venue itself is huge. It easily fits 150 people, so fits our guest list criteria. Like the Garden Terrace at HVG, doors can be opened to go out onto the deck outside, causing a seamless inside-outside environment. This is important for GP, as that was his one major ‘want’ in regards to the venue.

Decorated, Tamburlaine looks very pretty. My parents (especially my father) has an issue with the excessive use of white because of its symbolic interpretations to death in Chinese culture, but decorators should be able to change the colours (or spatter coloured tealights throughout). Also something I have to make mention of. The interior of Tamburlaine is a dark blue, so ‘wedding colours’ might be a little difficult to incorporate. Luckily we’ve picked out two major colours: red and yellow. Add blue and what do you get?

Beauty and the Beast colours.

I’m lame, I know…

Which brings me to the next topic, Tamburlaine gives you an enormous amount of flexibility when planning the wedding. They have a ‘make your own package’ deal where you can pick and choose what you like (and don’t like) to alter the per-head cost. This means you can tailor it to your budget. Food is also extremely varied: heaps of seafood, beef, chicken, lamb, duck, etc. The down side to Tamburlaine is the fact that you can only use their wines, but having tasted their wines, it’s not too bad. The sweeter wines are very nice, a fact which you need when tailoring to my side of the family (and my friends).

Sebel Kirkton Park Hotel

The Ceremony

GP and I haven’t been to the Sebel yet, so there’s not much I can say about it. The packages look okay, so do the pictures of the locations, but GP has some reservations against it. We’ll be checking the place out 3 November and I can give a more comprehensive rundown. All’s I can tell you is the Sebel Kirkton Park has three locations to choose from for the ceremony:

  1. The Manor Garden
  2. Between the Urns
  3. Wisteria Walk

Ceremony packages are only available when the reception has been booked with the Sebel.

The Reception

As above, we haven’t checked the place out. But from pictures I’ve seen, both venues – the James Busby room and the Hunter Rothbury room – have a courtyard which you can go out too. I’m not too sure if it’s as seamless as the HVG and Tamburlaine, but the interior (from picture) looks really good. The packages are well-priced too. Unfortunately, the cheapest one is only a ‘cocktail’ function, which forces GP and I into the next package up (we want a dinner-wedding). After our visit here, I’m sure I can give more information about the place.

 

That’s all for the venues. Not much of a segue, I know. In other news, I’ll be going shopping with my bridesmaids in about… a month from now. 😀

A hectic weekend!

15 Aug

Hey all!

So, the in-laws have left for Brisbane yesterday, which means life resumes back to its normal routine. The weekend was hectic but awesome. On Friday we ate at an Italian restaurant, “Gemelle Ristorante“. To all those who live in Australia, specifically NSW, I recommend you visit the place. The food is DIVINE. The dessert is DIVINE. The service is excellent and the ambience is beautiful. Parking isn’t too hard to find (there’s parking just down the road and a parking lot right next door).

On Saturday, GP, the in-laws and I went out shopping, first going to the Liverpool markets. After eating a bunch of awesome stuff we then jetted off to Cabramatta to pick up the cake (this will come in later!) and show the in-laws around. I took GP’s momma to look at flowers and was glad to find she loved them. Both papa-P and momma-P enjoyed the ‘Pappa Roti’ buns and milkshakes too. We then jetted off to my parent’s place for the *insert fanfare* ENGAGAMENT PARTY!

The engagement part was a success, something which made me extremely happy. The food was awesome, the entertainment was awesome, the drinks kept flowing and I got to see friends who I hadn’t seen in so long. I was also extremely happy to find that everyone enjoyed the cake my ma and I picked out. It was a white sponge cake with taro filling and fresh fruit on top. They all enjoyed it, even those who don’t normally eat Asian-flavoured cakes. I don’t have many photos from the night but it was a great night and I wouldn’t have changed it any other way.

That brings us to Sunday. My parents, GP’s parents, GP and I headed up to the Hunter Valley. That’s where we want to hold our wedding and we had a look around at different venues. We also bought some bottles of wine, cheese and visited the Hunter Valley Chocolate shop to ask about chocolate favours! Overall it was an awesome day and the weather stayed nice and warm throughout most of the day (with some wind, but not much). We’ve wittled down our venue choices to the Tamburlaine Organic Winery and Mercure Hunter Valley Resort. Both are absolutely stunning! That night we went to a Chinese restaurant known as “The Eight“. Their steak with foie gras is SO GOOD. They also do an ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS Peking duck. It was the parent-in-laws’ (elect) first time eating Peking duck and they loved it, which made my papa really happy.

On Monday, I worked in the morning so I didn’t get to hang out with GP and his parents at the Parramatta shopping centre, but I met them there and we headed off to my parents’ place for some traditional Indonesian sate (satay). It was a relaxing, awesome post-engagement lunch. After spending a few hours there we headed back home for a movie (John Carter – a must watch!) and then headed off to dinner at Top Ryde – an awesome steak bistro called Hurricane’s. After a huge dinner (I was so incredibly full!) we headed back home and went to bed.

Finally, on Tuesday, papa-P and momma-P left for Brisbane for the rest of their holiday. Unfortunately, GP left for Adelaide that night, so I’ve been staying with my parents for the meantime. But the weekend was awesome! 🙂