An insider’s guide to Sydney’s best outdoor wedding locations
We’re spoilt for choice when it comes to outdoor wedding venues in Sydney. In fact, in a harbour city as photogenic as ours, it’s a crime not to take advantage of the stunning scenery, natural light and versatile backdrops. Plus there’s something about saying “I do” in the eternal presence of Mother Nature that seems like a perfect match.
But finding the right spot can be tricky. Especially when you want your wedding day to represent your unique personalities, values and story - and to go off without a hitch. At Bentwood Events, we specialise in outdoor weddings, and we know how important your day is to you. We also know how stressful it can be. So we’ve taken the footwork out of it, and put together this two-part insider’s guide on some of the best wedding real estate Sydney has to offer.
ROYAL BOTANIC GARDENS
Lovers & Dreamers
One of Sydney’s most iconic wedding venues, the Royal Botanic Gardens weave fairytale romance with stately glamour. Nestled on the harbour between the Opera House and the city skyline, it’s a drop of serenity within the bustle of the CBD, and out-of-town guests will delight in spotting some of Sydney’s signature landmarks. While there are 12 different locations available for your special day - many with spectacular harbour views - our picks for outdoor ceremonies are The Rose Garden and Lion Gate Lodge.
The Rose Garden & Pavilion
The Rose Garden & Pavilion is one of the most popular wedding spots in the Gardens, and hopeless romantics will swoon at the sight of the lush tea roses, climbing blooms and the grand sandstone pavilion. Add in the expansive views across to the Conservatorium of Music and down towards the harbour, and The Bachelor’s Rose Ceremony pales in comparison.
The Rose Garden is in bloom September to May, and can accommodate 200 people in the garden, with a maximum of 80 in The Pavilion (and bench seating for 40 people). Access is easiest via Macquarie Street, and private toilets and catering facilities are available as part of your booking.
Lion Gate Lodge
For a more intimate gathering, Lion Gate Lodge is the stuff Pinterest boards are made of. Set apart from the rest of the gardens, and fiercely guarded by two lion statues, the grounds of the Victorian sandstone lodge feel like your own secret oasis.
The space offers versatile staging options, with small steps creating a natural altar, and the cottage’s awning offering year-round protection from the elements. Bookings for Lion Gate Lodge are available a maximum of 8 weeks prior to your ceremony, and can accommodate up to 80 guests.
Both venues are available for a maximum four hour booking, and public transport is recommended, as parking is limited - especially on weekends.
GOOD TO KNOW: You must arrange vehicular access for any suppliers needing to drive into the gardens to set up for your wedding - get in touch with the booking office.
THE COAL LOADER
Past, Present, Future
One of Sydney’s largest public green roof spaces, The Coal Loader Platform in Waverton is relatively new to the wedding scene, opening in March 2018. It’s an ideal choice for couples who want to bring an original take to their nuptials.
Blending its rich heritage with a focus on sustainability, The Coal Loader’s award-winning community gardens provide an ideal spot for modern weddings with a nod to history. In fact, its past extends far beyond the early 1900s when it functioned as a coal transport depot: the Cammeraygal people lived on the peninsula for thousands of years, and a large rock carving is still visible on the grounds today.
An entrance ramp leads to level access with stunning views across the water, and solar-tracking panels are dotted throughout, providing shade and power for The Platform, transforming into a mesmerising lighting feature at dusk. Sunset cocktails, anyone?
GOOD TO KNOW: Weddings of less than 60 people don’t require a permit. Rice, confetti and balloons aren’t permitted.
A Destination Wedding Without the Jet lag
If you’ve dreamt of getting married on a private island, but don’t want the logistical nightmare (and family politics) of planning an overseas wedding, Shark Island is the perfect local luxury escape.
In a James Bond-meets-Richard Branson vibe, island access is only via boat, and the entire island is available for your exclusive use. After the ceremony, guests can explore the vibrant greenery, rocky outcrops, foreshore and hidden grottos while enjoying stunning 360 degree views of Sydney Harbour.
Shark Island offers picnic tables, drinking water, toilets and electric power on site, plus a spacious gazebo for your ceremony. It’s situated 1 km from Rose Bay wharf, and can hold a maximum of 800 people. Available for hire 7 days a week, except 22nd December-2nd January and 26th January.
GOOD TO KNOW: You’ll need to make provisions for your suppliers to access the island through a NPWS-licensed transport operator.
Film Star Good Looks
Located just 7 kms from the CBD and easily accessible via public transport, the 470-acre Centennial Park plays host to a number of versatile and visually stunning locations. International films, photo shoots and music videos have all taken advantage of the sprawling lawns, wild fields, and ancient trees. Tying the knot never looked so good.
Pine Grove holds an ethereal woodland quality, with its towering pines creating an organic frame for your ceremony, and the soft, dappled light nature’s own photo filter. A few personal styling touches will bring your magical forest to life.
Pine Grove is located just metres from the Wisteria Room, so hangry guests can easily make their way to the reception on foot while you’re making your forever memories.
Built in 1892, the heritage-listed Superintendent’s Residence is quarried from local sandstone, and offers a large wrought iron veranda, sweeping lawns and even a white picket fence to create your very own happily ever after.
The private parkland is enclosed, meaning there’s no risk of stickybeaks photo-bombing your first kiss, and the grounds provide the perfect blank canvas for a marquee, tepee or lawn games.
GOOD TO KNOW: If you book your ceremony with Centennial Parklands, you can also take your wedding photos inside the park - no additional permit or fee required.
PADDINGTON RESERVOIR GARDENS
Something Old, Something New
Sunken beneath the busy Oxford Street shopping strip, the heritage-listed Paddington Reservoir Gardens offer an enchanting oasis for couples looking to tie the knot in unique style.
Originally built to house water for 19th century Sydneysiders, the site went through several incarnations, including as a garage and petrol station, before being reinvigorated in 2009 to become an award-winning community space.
The original brick, timber and iron fixtures blend with contemporary elements and lush greenery, creating a magical wonderland of pathways, arches, viaducts and hanging gardens. As the sun changes the light throughout the day, the space is transformed - offering a variety of insta-worthy backdrops.
It’s the perfect spot for intimate weddings, with a maximum of 50 people, and is accessible via public transport. Lift access is also available.
GOOD TO KNOW: The City of Sydney allows a maximum of 30 chairs, one carpet and one table for weddings in the gardens.
HAVE QUESTIONS OR WANT TO CHAT ABOUT YOUR UPCOMING EVENT? BENTWOOD EVENTS ARE SYDNEY WEDDING HIRE SPECIALISTS