Wedding Location Ideas: Waterfront Venues

Article Collaborators : Port Douglas Photography

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Collaborators Port Douglas Photography

There’s something about being beside the water that makes a wedding all the more magical. Here’s how to make the most of your waterfront wedding location

Whether harbourside, on the beach, or by the river, wedding venues that front the water give celebrations an extra sense of the spectacular. The symbolism of an endless sea stretching out to the horizon, the calming effect of waves lapping the sand, and the glittering of lights on rippling rivers are nothing short of magical.

But water on its own doesn’t bring beauty to a wedding. It’s the way couples showcase it during the day that brings its magic to the surface.


When Nadine di Maio and her husband Peter were researching wedding venues in the city, their main criterion was that it be extra-special.

On their wedding day, Nadine and Peter made every effort to maximise the venue’s waterfront position. While waiting for the bridal party to arrive at the reception, guests were served canapés on the verandah overlooking the harbour. During the wedding the bridal table was set up in a way that enabled guests to see the water and the city lights on the harbour.

“It was beautiful being on the harbour. It was such nice scenery,” says Nadine. “It’s also a pleasant feeling being near the water. It has therapeutic properties, which can help calm you down on a stressful day.”


Not all waterfront venues are created equal. Owner of Angelo’s on the Bay in Cabarita, Guy Piccin, says that while water provides that “something special” that most couples look for in their wedding location, a really good venue will go the extra mile to make the water a feature. “Couples should be looking for that special feel for the right establishment that comes from a professional approach, the right setting, the food and service, and of course — the view,” says Guy.

At Angelo’s on the Bay, an inside-outside feel is created by opening up the wraparound verandah doors, while the menu offers ample seafood choices to continue the “by the bay” theme. Guy says table centrepieces with a waterside slant — such as glass bowl vases fi lled with pebbles or flower candles floating in water — can also enhance the atmosphere.

Using the waterside setting as a backdrop for wedding photography is also a great way to tie in the location and the
water can be used for impressive arrivals and farewells. “We’ve had many bridal parties come and leave by water on a private boat or even water taxi,” says Guy. As with any venue, the only risk associated with waterfront venues is if couples choose to have an open-air ceremony or reception. “You need to be sure the establishment can help with a plan B for inclement weather,” says Guy. “We have a fantastic verandah overlooking the water that has been used many times when the weather is not kind.”

Sydney waterfront wedding venues

With its many spectacular waterways, Sydney couples are spoilt for choice when choosing a waterfront wedding venue. 

Angelo’s on the Bay, Cabarita -
Deckhouse, Woolwich -
Dockside, Cockle Bay Wharf -
Le Montage, Iron Cove Bay -
Novotel Manly Pacific, Manly -



Getting married by the water was also a priority for Kylie and Ryan Ostle, who wed in Port Douglas in late 2010. Not only was water a theme throughout their romance (Ryan proposed on a gondola in Venice, and the couple had been holidaying in Port Douglas since they met) but Kylie distinctly remembers being smitten with the idea of a waterfront wedding from an early age.

In the tropical setting of Port Douglas there were some other considerations Kylie had to consider. Number one: the weather. Having an open-air wedding was a risk (torrential rain had torn though the town the week before the wedding) but the couple kept an eye on the sky and the weather forecast and had contact details for marquee suppliers on hand just in case. Thankfully, rain spared them and their 45 guests.

Also, due to the humidity, Kylie took extra care to make guests feel comfortable by providing a care pack in the bathrooms filled with deodorants, perfumes, bobby pins, insect repellent, facial wipes, and other pamper products — “little things people could use to freshen up during the night,” reflects Kylie.

Water view styling tips Alexandra Oatley from A Love Affair Floral & Event Design shares her styling
tips for a waterfront wedding:

  • You don’t need to go for the obvious seaside and oceanic theming; it comes down to choosing a colour and
    style that suits you and the particular venue and couple.
  • Flowers and lighting are effective ways to transform a space into a lively, ambient, and welcoming environment. Try using coloured LED spotlights and lots of mood lighting with lanterns, votives, and candles to create a warm and inviting space.
  • For a soft look, a warm amber light works well or to create more of a splash of colour, fuchsia or purple will
    create a dramatic backdrop.
  • For a rustic look you could introduce some unusual pieces such as wooden tables and metal containers
    and fill them with interesting pods and driftwood mixed in with spectacular seasonal floral. With a bit of imagination and creativity, the possibilities are endless.

By Jodie McLeod


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