Wedding Planner’s Guide to Wedding Venues
You’re engaged! And now, you’re planning your own wedding. A dream wedding doesn’t just happen overnight, in fact it can take hours of sifting through bridal magazines and wedding sites, and then once you’ve researched, there’s all the planning… That is, unless you’re working with one of the world’s top destination wedding planners. We’ve talked to some of the World’s top wedding planners to get the inside scoop on their favourite wedding venues around the globe.
Kathy Apostolidis, Nightingales, Australia
With more than 15 years of experience, Kathy eats, sleeps and breathes weddings. Dubbed ‘The Wedding Guru’ for her efforts in creating Wedding Workshops for Brides and co-developing Australia’s first software dedicated to Wedding and Event Co-ordinators, nothing seems impossible for Kathy and her team at Nightingales.
Kathy’s Favourite Venues:
Four Seasons Hotel, Sydney, Australia: This glittering hotel boasts its own beautiful wedding experience, but is also a great spot to stay for your first night together as a married couple. Kathy recommends checking in to the hotel but having your wedding across the road at The Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) at Circular Quay.
The MCA is perfect for art-loving couples and its impressive marble columns and double volume glass windows will perfectly frame your wedding masterpiece. Alternatively, pull up in a horse drawn carriage to your fairy-tale wedding at The Great Hall inside Sydney University or ooze elegance and sophistication under the sails of the iconic Sydney Opera House.
Eliska Lam, Ruffles and Bells, Australia
With a canny eye for detail and a modus operandi that’s all about romantic style and contemporary flair, it’s no surprise Eliska has been featured in several bridal magazines for her excellent work. The self-confessed chocoholic is Melbourne based, where she crafts many memorable events for satisfied clients using her innate sense of style, unique insights, and strong industry connections.
Eliska’s Favourite Venues:
The Werribee Mansion: With its Italian architecture and 10 acres of landscaped gardens, the 1870s-era Werribee Mansion is the ideal backdrop for a spectacular wedding. Whether an intimate or grand affair is planned, the iconic country house is just 30 minutes from Melbourne and home to an array of stylish venues, from the pavilion, library or theatre, that can fit up to 140 guests. For brides and grooms looking for more space, the permanent marquee located in the property’s pristine gardens can hold 280 people. After the party is over, guests can rest their weary dancing feet upstairs at the Mansion Hotel & Spa’s plush suites (ending the evening with a soak in spa bath or a nightcap on the private balconies).
The Stones of the Yarra Valley: A countryside complex catering to your entire wedding needs, with a stunning chapel, dairy, barn, and stables all available for use on your big day. Set within landscaped European-style gardens, the chapel’s stained-glass windows, ornate chandelier and sublime countryside views make it an idyllic setting for exchanging vows. After the ceremony guests can move on to The Dairy, an elegant stone-walled structure, for elegantly mixed cocktails like peach bellinis or barrel-aged old fashions, before the reception.
The Stones of the Yarra Valley accommodation is just as impressive as the heritage buildings that have served as the starting point for countless happy marriages. Just next door, The Farmhouse at Meletos is an upscale boutique hotel mired within a structure that’s reminiscent of a Tuscan villa.
Mark Niemierko, London, UK
There’s neither detail too small, nor task too gigantic for Mark’s extensive experience and British military-style precision. Hand over your ‘must-haves’ list to Mark and relax, knowing he’ll leave no napkin unfurled, no bridesmaid unchecked and no cufflink undone on your big day.
Mark’s Favourite Venues:
Claridge’s Mayfair, London, UK: A firm favourite venue for Niemierko’s couples, this hotel’s timeless appearance and historical setting creates the perfect backdrop for a relaxed, family-friendly celebration; from the moment the doorman greets you to when you collect your car keys back from the valet, luxurious London weddings don’t come much better. Pip Pip!
Mandarin Oriental, Marrakech, Morocco: Sitting on 20 hectares of lush gardens and olive groves, this oasis of luxury is Niemierko’s top venue for destination weddings. Make this five-star resort entirely your own and have your ceremony centred around the entrance’s captivating water feature then host your grand reception in the gardens overlooking the Atlas Mountains.
Steven Duggan, Steven Duggan Events, UK
He’s a diva’s best friend! Considering the likes of Sir Elton John, Adele, Simon Cowell, and Leona Lewis have entrusted him with their big days, then you probably should too. Never settling for anything but out of this world, Steven and his team will wow any bride.
Steven’s Favourite Venue:
Four Seasons Hotel, Hampshire, UK: Picture rolling hills with horseback riders trotting in the distance, a pair of brilliantly wrought iron gates opening onto a magnificent brick manor. The Four Seasons Hotel is a regal country escape in the bustling city of London and also Steven’s personal favourite. Play Lord and Lady as you take a turn around the lush gardens and orchards as newlyweds. Not only can you have your reception in the grand ballroom but when the party is over, you can retire in style to your luxurious manor suite.
Kristin Banta, California, USA
There really isn’t anything this Los Angeles event producer can’t do. She’s worked with some of the world’s biggest influencers including Fortune 500’s bigwigs and multi-platinum artists, she’s had her own television show for Bravo, and has won countless awards for her designs. It’s no wonder she’s one the USA’s most sought-after wedding planners.
Kristin’s Favourite Venues:
Fairmont Le Château Frontenac, Quebec, Canada: Rather that ‘till death do us part, a wedding at Fairmont Le Château Frontenac is simply to die for. This luxurious renaissance hotel is dripping with ‘Loire’ style elegance and is decked out with all the fairy-tale castle trimmings. Think sparkling chandeliers and a majestic staircase to descend together as newlyweds.
Four Seasons Bora Bora, French Polynesia: Four reasons for Four Seasons; pristine white beaches, crystal clear waters, unparalleled service and five-star luxury. If you’ve ever dreamed of having a beach wedding, it doesn’t get any better than this, in fact extend your stay and kick off your honeymoon immediately!
Montage Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, USA: Browse through the Montage’s spectacular gallery of photos and you’ll be saying “I do!” to the venue long before you get to the altar. Just steps away from famous Rodeo Drive, this stunning spot provides guests with a luxurious stay in rooms that blend European charm and Hollywood glamour. Kristin’s go-to happy place, this five-star gem will surely make any couple feel like Hollywood superstars on their special day.
Tara Guérard, Tara Guérard Soirée, USA
In the 20 years she’s been in the industry, her event planning company, Tara Guérard Soirée, has received numerous awards and been featured countless times in renowned publications, she’s published two best-selling books and is also a mother-of-three!
Tara’s Favourite Venues:
Montage Palmetto Bluff, South Carolina, USA: Overlooking pristine May River, couples and guests can expect to find gracious hospitality, excellent gastronomy and luxury lodging spacious enough to host your entire guest list. Say your vows inside the beautiful white chapel and either waltz the night away in the romantic grand ballroom or party alfresco on the oversized River House verandas.
Hotel Jerome, Colorado, USA: If a winter wonderland wedding is at the top of your list, let Tara and her team bring this to life surrounded by the glorious powder white snow Aspen is famous for. The Hotel Jerome boasts an elegant and authentic mountain spirit with its antler chandeliers, roaring open fires and a patio that opens up to the majestic Rocky Mountains. Spend your wedding night in one of their sophisticated alpine suites then head off in the morning for a skiing honeymoon!
Marcy Blum, Marcy Blum Associates, USA
She’s a world-renowned event planner and winner of New York Magazine’s ‘Best Wedding Planner’. The secret to Marcy’s success is finding a signature style for her clients that they absolutely love. Even with a clientele of A-list celebrities, she’s never failed to leave guests in complete awe.
Marcy’s Favourite Venues:
Hotel Excelsior, Dubrovnik, Croatia: To the Romeos and Juliets of this world, there’s no better place to have your wedding. The ancient European medieval fortresses, tranquil gardens and private beach indulges lovers with cinematic views of the crystal blue Adriatic as they stand beneath the altar or dance for the first time together under a sky full of stars.
Rosewood Castiglion Del Bosco, Montalcino, Italy: Home to poets, artists and hopeless romantics, this is a haven for couples looking to have a spacious matrimonio. With 5,000-acres of estate and Old World charm, pamper you and your guests with its many suites and villas as you take in the breathtaking views of Tuscany’s beautiful countryside. Molto magnifico!
Shawn Rabideau, Shawn Rabideau Events & Design, USA
Shawn believes a wedding day should revolve around the happy couple’s personal style. He takes the time to get to know your taste and personality and his innovative ideas, elegant designs and forward thinking are invaluable assets when it comes to wedding planning.
Shawn’s Favourite Venues:
W Union Square Hotel, New York, USA: This is where New York wedding dreams come true – there’s really nothing you can’t do now you’re in New York. The hotel’s beautiful ballroom with high coffered ceilings in blue and gold, marble columns and near floor-to-ceiling windows make it a perfect location for an intimate wedding. We wouldn’t be surprised if the W in W Union Square Hotel didn’t secretly stand for weddings.
Hotel Marqués de Riscal, Elciego, Spain: If saying your vows beneath the architectural brilliance and mind bending designs of Frank Gehry, surrounded by rolling hills and bountiful Spanish vineyards, doesn’t blow you away, then knowing this venue only holds one event daily will. Available to accommodate weddings of up to 400 people and with over 100 culinary options to create your own menu from, the Hotel Marqués de Riscal will leave a couple and their guests feeling completely encantados.
Steve Kemble, Texas, USA
Nothing’s too big or too small for this celebrity wedding planner. From intimate soirées to weddings with their very own personal billboard, Steve’s done it all! Crowned ‘America’s Sassiest Lifestyle Guru’, Steve will take your wedding dreams from zero to fabulous with just a snap of his fingers. And if you can’t bear to part with him post wedding, he’s also available for corporate events!
Steve’s Favourite Venue:
Rosewood Crescent Hotel, Texas, USA: Magical is the only way to describe getting married at this glamorous venue. Start your ceremony at the 17th floor with beautiful Dallas as your backdrop, before making your way down into a garden courtyard sprinkled with fairy lights for champagne and canapés. A reception in the Grand Ballroom is guaranteed to have plenty of flare and lots of Southern hospitality.