Taronga Centre Reception Venue

The Taronga Zoo Reception Centre is another one of my favourite wedding reception venues.

 

I like it because:

 

1)       Amazing view of the City of Sydney, Harbour Bridge, Opera House and Centre Point Tower!

2)       Couples have the option of not only hosting their reception at the venue but also their ceremony.  There are different options for where the ceremony can be held.  One option is under cover (a good option if concerned about the weather).

3)       Bridal party photographs throughout the zoo, is a possibility.

4)       Other great locations near the zoo for photography.  See example photographs

5)       The food and service has always been exceptional.

 

My only note on this venue is that they appear to have a regular change over of wedding coordinators (approx every 18 months).  However this is probably the average amount of time wedding coordinators will stay at a particular job.  Read my post on ‘wedding coordinators’ for more information about this subject. Also I must say I have never heard anything bad about this venue, wedding co-ordinators, service or staff, only very happy reports.

 

Enjoy the photographs taken from the Taronga Centre.

 

 


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Real Wedding Day Story in Sydney – not for the faint hearted!

Those who have been in the wedding industry as long as I would be forgiven in thinking they probably have seen it all when it comes to things that can go wrong.  I personally do not have this opinion because of an incident that occurred about eleven years ago.

 

In fact it is such a weird and unusual tale, that when I am attending a party with friends who are familiar with the story, will inevitably by the end of the night say “Oh Sarhn, tell everyone your wedding story with the duckling”.

 

So here we go……… real wedding day story number three…….the wedding and the duckling story.

 

The story starts for me at Athol Hall; a little cottage restaurant in ‘Middle Harbour Sydney’, which boasts one of the best views of Sydney harbour and the city.

 

As planned I arrived before the ceremony to photograph the groom with his family and groomsmen.  The groom asked if he could get a photograph taken with the Kookaburra he spotted sitting in the tree.  “Sarhn, Kookaburras are my favourite animal.  I just love them”.  For those who are not familiar with the Kookaburra, let me fill you in…….it is a medium size Australian native bird that makes a very loud laughing noise, as if it is mocking your every move.

 

After taking the photographs with the Kookaburra, sitting in his old gum tree (sorry… promise not to quote from any more Australian children’s songs), we headed back towards the location for the ceremony.

 

The ceremony was beautiful as was the bride as she walked down the aisle.  Once the ceremony had concluded, family photographs captured and the guests thanked, we headed down towards the beach of Athol Hall.  This spot is a little secret beach in Sydney, which generally means you will have it all to yourself.

 

On the sandy beach I was photographing the bridal party candidly as they opened the champagne and laughed while swapping stories from before the ceremony.  It was around this time, that a very small duckling waddled out towards the bride.  Upon seeing the little, fluffy, yellow duckling the bride gushed “Oh Sarhn, can you take a photograph of the duck.  I just love ducks they are my favourite animal”.

 

This really was a photographer’s dream; a very happy bride, smiling and laughing bridal party and flower girls, amazing soft light with the backdrop of Sydney’s harbour.  Everything appeared perfect as I thought “these photographs are amazing”.

 

Unawares to the bridal party, looking on directly above in another gum tree was the Kookaburra.  Then before anyone could do or say anything, the bird swooped down, grabbed the duckling by the neck then flew back to its tree perch. 

 

“I thought Kookaburra’s only eat leaves” yelled one of the groomsmen as we all listened in horror as the duckling squawked from having its head and neck trashed against the tree.  “Oh mummy what is the Kookaburra doing” screamed one of the littlest flower girls, as I was thinking “oh how horrible we need to move away from here before the girls start crying”.

 

My thoughts were not fast enough because right at that moment the duckling’s body went limp as blood and features fell like rain upon the bridal party.

 

It is usually around this time when I have been forced to share this story at a party; someone will ask “What the hell did you do then?”

 

With that I say “I did the same thing as everybody else…………..I stood frozen in time for what must have only been a couple of seconds but felt like a very long, uncomfortable amount of time”.

 

It is interesting that it wasn’t immediately apparent but many days after the wedding that I thought about the irony in the story.  Is it ironic that the groom’s favourite animal killed and consumed the bride’s favourite animal?

 

Some may say it was a bad omen; others bad misfortune but I think the bride and groom looked at it as a really entertaining story to tell the grand kids (with the blood and guts taken out of course).  J

 

Beach at Athol Hall Sydney

These photographs were taken around Athol Hall but were not from the wedding ducking day story.    🙂

 

 

 

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Finding A Good Wedding Reception Venue

On Friday, I travelled north along the Northern Beaches Peninsular to photograph a wedding at Whale Beach.  The reception was at Moby’s Beach House, which is one of my favourite wedding venues.  Yes the venue has an amazing view of Whale Beach and yes the food is exceptional but the service is what I love the most about Moby’s.

 

After each wedding, many bride and grooms will often share details with me about their wedding.  What they loved, the highlights and even anything about their wedding that they were disappointed in.

 

On the drive home from photographing Friday’s wedding, I started thinking about how I have never heard any bad reports about Moby’s – only flourishing and glowing testimonies.

 

To be honest, I am not surprised.  The reason is I have long since believed that a way to tell how a wedding couple will be treated by the venue’s staff and mangers can be gadged by how the ‘hired hands’ are treated.  By ‘hired hands’ I mean the photographers, videographers, musicians and DJ etc. 

 

Moby’s staff, owners and managers have always treated me as the photographer with courtesy and respect therefore I am not surprised that they would be even more supportive and caring of their wedding couples and guests.

 

The best tip I can offer any couple in deciding which wedding reception venue to book is to ask the ‘hired hands’ on their experiences of the possible venues.  You may be surprised on what information you will find out.

 


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Family Members Behaving Badly at Weddings

I can still recall many years ago, one of my very first weddings as a photographer.  The bride and groom were excited to have me photograph their wedding however they neglected to share that the bride’s mother was not.

 

Actually it wasn’t until their wedding day that the couple revelled their fears to me.  Apparently the bride’s mother wanted her brother (keen amateur photographer) to photograph the wedding and not a stranger.

 

Talk about feeling unwanted!  From the moment I arrived, there was no doubt in my mind the mother was unhappy with my presence.  Figuring it was too late to problem solve this with the happy couple, I decided to do my best to avoid any confrontation with the mother.

 

With five minutes before the bride was due to arrive at the church, I walked outside to find a good vantage spot from where I would photograph the cars as they drove down the road.  In finding my spot I crouched down ready for the cars arrival.  Not long had I squatted did I feel a hard thump on the back of my head.  I span around quickly to find the mother standing behind me yelling “move away, I want to take a photograph from this spot”.

 

Nursing my head with one hand while holding my camera in the other, I responded relatively calmly “Mrs Robinson that is assault and if you do that again I will have no other option than to call the police after this wedding is over”.

 

I don’t remember ever hearing or seeing the bride’s mother for the rest of the wedding and the bride and groom never mentioned the incident to me after the wedding.  I assumed the mother realised she was being a bit neurotic and thought it best not to mention the incident to anyone so not to increase the already strained relationship she had with her daughter.

 

Weddings bring out the very best and the absolute worst behaviour in people.  I think after 17 years of being a wedding photographer, that family are the worst offenders in regards to bad behaviour.

 

I will write a lot more about dealing with problem family members (and sometimes friends) in future posts.

 

For now I think you may enjoy a little lighter side of this topic.  This video captures a family celebrating a wedding in Russia.

 

Enjoy with the knowledge your family is not this bad

 

 

 

  


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Things to Remember to take with you on your Wedding Day!

I write this post from my sunny balcony overlooking the ocean in Thailand (enjoying some time out).  Back in Sydney soon……..

 

 

8 Things to Remember to take with you on your Wedding Day – for the girls:

 

 

1)     Lipstick for touch up’s during the day.

2)     Hankie or tissues (there may be tears).

3)     Your speech notes for the reception.

4)     Bobby hairpins.  This is especially a good idea if it is a windy day, as your hair and veil my give you some issues.

5)     Needle and thread.  I don’t see bride’s doing this much anymore but from time to time a button will come off or a hem comes down.

6)     Band-aids for the back of your shoes when you can’t take it anymore.

7)     Maybe a sugar lolly or two, which you may need especially if you suffer, low blood pressure (it can be awhile till dinner).

8)     Along the lines of the band-aids, you may consider taking some comfortable slip on shoes when you are ready to ditch your high heels.

 

8 Things to Remember to take with you on your Wedding Day – for the boys:

 

1)     Your speech notes for the reception.

2)     Safety pins because often the florist doesn’t supply enough or strong enough pins to secure the boys flowers to their jackets.

3)     The rings (don’t laugh as forgetting the ring happens more often than you think).

4)     Refreshments for after the ceremony.  Sometimes the hire cars will offer this as part of their service.  You will appreciate been given a drink of wine, water or soft drink along with crackers and cheese as soon as you arrive at the photography location.

5)     Wedding day schedule.  Everyone has some kind of list or timetable for the running of the day.  If you do, don’t leave it at home.

6)     Mobile phone numbers of the photographer, wedding hire cars, videographer, minister/celebrant, ceremony musicians and reception venue.

7)     Are you walking down or up the aisle to your own favourite music?  Don’t forget the CD!

8)     If for some reason you go over your allocated time for the hire cars (e.g. the bride was running late, photographer took longer than they should etc), they may ask you to pay the extra amount when you arrive at the reception.  Make sure you leave with some cash in your wallet for these unexpected expenses.


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Wedding Coordinators

 

Don’t be surprised once you have announced your engagement that amongst the congratulations you will start to hear the horror wedding stories.

 

You know the stories I am talking about; ‘the photographer left the lense cap on’, ‘the best man lost the rings down the toliet’ etc etc etc.

 

Personally, I have lost count of the number of times over the years bride and grooms have rung me weeks before the wedding, sharing their issues with the reception.

 

On reflection, I think many of these reception issues come about because the reception function coordinators regulary change their jobs. I don’t have statistics on this but I bet the average time would be around 18 months.

 

This means if you have establised a realationship with the function coordinator at the time of booking, by the time your wedding comes around don’t be surprised if someone new is looking after your wedding now.

 

It isn’t the change of a new coordintor that is exactly the problem but the change over of information.  Anything written down of course is as they say ‘in writing’ but it is the ‘little verbal notes’ that are forgotten.

 

For example at the time of inspecting the reception before booking, you ask “are our guests allowed to mingle in the courtyard before we arrive”.  The response is “guests usually mingle in the foyer beforehand but if you prefer we can make the courtyard available”.

 

This is one of those ‘little verbal agreements’ that if not written down is easily forgotten or lost if the coordinator leaves.

 

A very simple suggestion is to send an email to confirm any of those ‘little verbal conversations’ and ask for them to respond.  Then you will be able to prove later, all your past agreed conversations.

 

Not a bad idea to use this strategy with all your wedding suppliers.


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Travelling for your Wedding

 

A Wedding in Bergen NorwayI feel very privileged that couples often fly me to romantic overseas locations to photograph their wedding. Here  are four simple rules that I try to stick to, when booking  my flight and accommodation when travelling for work (and pleasure).  Hope my rules help if you or your family or friends are flying to attend your wedding. 

 

 Firstly, take advantage of ‘early bird specials’. If you can travel outside a country’s peak season you will not only save money but also avoid the queues at all the tourist attractions (that’s if you have time on a wedding to visit a tourist attraction).

 

Secondly, use a travel professional when planning your trip. Travel agents provide expertise, special holiday packages and an “in” to the best deals in the travel industry.  Whether it’s a honeymoon to the tropics, a cruise, or a week in Paris nothing equals the experience of a professional travel agent who specialises in romantic travel.

 

Thirdly, remember you get what you pay for!  When you come across a special package deal, be careful that you check the standard of the accommodation. Special deals are based on the ‘lead in’ accommodation which is the hotel’s most standard accommodation.

 

Finally, let everyone know it is your wedding and or honeymoon. Make sure you tell your travel agent to advise the hotel that you are honeymooners. Many hotels (subject to availability) will upgrade your room type and may even throw in some flowers or chocolates!!

 

 

Bon Voyage!

 

 


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