Favourite wedding venues Hunter Valley, written by a Hunter Valley wedding photographer who has shot well over 400 weddings!
The Hunter Valley is famous for its wine, its food and it is now one of the most popular places to have a wedding. The Hunter Valley is my backyard and I am there most weekends. Having shot well over 400 weddings, I have seen a lot of wedding venues. And the Hunter Valley has some of the best!
There are so many wedding venues options for couples to choose from. Every time I go to the Hunter Valley I see another place has starting to do weddings. But the Hunter Valley is not just Pokolbin. The Hunter Region is a huge area.
If you asked me what my favourite wedding venue is, I would probably say “anywhere I haven’t shot before.” I love the variety and exploring new places. Photographically it is always exciting to be in new surroundings and environment. But there are definitely some criteria that I personally prefer in a wedding venue.
In this article, I really want to tell you my favourite wedding venues in the Hunter Valley from a wedding photographers point of view. The venues I have chosen are more for weddings of 50-150 people. If you are having a small wedding or elopement, some of these venues may not work for you, as there may be minimum numbers, min spends etc.
What I look for in a wedding venue
There are a number of factors I consider when looking at a wedding venue. As a photographer, sometimes you look at the venue and just can’t wait to shoot there again. Other times you think that it’s going to be a challenging day. Having said this, my favourite Hunter Valley wedding venues all have a couple of things in common. They are all in a beautiful location, have amazingly friendly venue staff, and most have the ability to have everything on site. Where the start of the day, to the end of the night can be done at the one location.
The beauty of the Hunter Valley is that there is a lot of accommodation available on places like Stays & Airbnb and even some larger hotel chains. But I think it is even better if there is good onsite accommodation available. Firstly for the wedding couple, and secondly for their guests. Everyone can just walk back to their rooms at the end of the night.
Having onsite accommodation for the wedding couple, really takes away any travel stress or time pressures on a wedding day. Knowing that you can walk to the ceremony can definitely ease your mind.
I personally love it when couples both get ready at the same property. They usually just get ready in different rooms on different floors and I’ve never had a couple accidentally see each other unless they want to. What is great about it, from a photographers point of view, is that I can just walk between both of you during the preparations. It makes preparation photos much easier and more relaxed for everyone.
Being able to have the ceremony at the same place as the reception is another major factor that I love. It makes it much easier for yourselves and for your guests. Have your ceremony, mingle with your guests, have drinks & canapes, do some photos, then walk into the reception. Easy! No travel involved for anyone.
Some Hunter Valley venues don’t do that many weddings and don’t necessarily have the best locations for wedding ceremonies. There might be ugly backgrounds, bad light, no shade, too tight a space etc. As a professional wedding photographer, you learn how to work around them, but in the back of your mind, you know things could be better. If you are planning an outdoor ceremony check out my outdoor wedding ceremony tips.
A decent wet weather option is also a plus. Prepare for the worst and hope for the best. I shot a wedding ceremony in a carport because of the rain. There was no other alternative on the day, so it wasn’t ideal.
So look for a place with a great ceremony location and a decent wet weather alternative.
Being able to do photos on site is another factor that I look for. Some venues have stunning landscapes and scenery, which means there is no need to leave the property to get some beautiful photos. I also love a venue that has a fairly large property so that you can get a nice variety of locations and looks. Ideally, there should be some trees and shade, because the Hunter Valley can be an extremely hot place, particularly in the summer months where it can crack the forties!
The Reception Venue
This is very much a personal choice. But if you are getting married in the Hunter Valley, I prefer the setting to be individual and unique to the property and the landscape. From a rustic barn-like property to an elegant restaurant. What I hate the most is when a room looks like a generic function room that could be anywhere in the world.
If you’re getting married in summer, then you should also look for a venue with air-conditioning or with lots of outdoor space so guests can get fresh air and a breeze. And in winter a fireplace or firepit is a bonus.
The venue staff & management
I have been to a lot of wedding venues, and I can tell by the way the staff and management interact with themselves and with other wedding vendors, how the service will be.
For example, there are a couple of very popular Sydney wedding venues that used to work at a lot… I like to call them ‘wedding factories’… and the staff just looked depressed and overworked. They never smiled and barely interacted with guests. Then you look at the supervisors/managers and you can see that they looked stressed and also barely smile. I am a firm believer that the way owners & management treat their staff, will reflect on the service given.
So when you are talking to coordinators or property owners, if they are not particularly friendly, helpful & accommodating when you first meet them, just imagine what they will be like on the day, when the pressure of a wedding is on them.
My favourite wedding venues Hunter Valley
So this is a list of my favourite wedding venues in the Hunter Valley, They really reflect the style of weddings I like to shoot and cover the points I have listed above. You can’t go wrong going with any of these places. It will basically come down to your personal preferences.
There are in no particular order… they are all awesome!