Tag Archives: sebel kirkton park

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!


– E

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 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:


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


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…


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.


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? 🙂