So the venue was something we'd had many thoughts on.
Living in the Hunter Valley, the obvious choice was a vineyard, however vineyards come with a few restrictions we weren't keen on.
1 - Catering - most vineyards have their own caterers, the 'cheapest' one we liked was $129 per head! Now we're only having around 70 people, that's just over $7,000 alone!
2 - Alcohol - most vineyards, being vineyards, will only allow their own wine to be served. While we love several wines in the valley, not enough to be paying $20+ per bottle, as the catering packages only last 4 hours, then you pay on top.
So we soon found out we were pushing it up a hill a bit, with our list of requirements:
- able to bring in own caterer
- able to supply own alcohol
After much emailing around to vineyards and guest houses, things weren't looking good, a few guest houses said we could use their grounds, IF we hired the guesthouse for 2 nights (prices ranged from $2,500 to sleep 12 for 2 nights, to $5,000 to sleep 20 for 2 nights), and you had to bring in your own marquee, seats, toilets, etc etc.
So as a last measure I emailed the Wine Country Tourist Info, and their answer came through on Tuesday:
"Thank you for your Hunter Valley Wine Country enquire. There is not a great deal of places in the area that allow what it is that your asking for, as you can imagine being a wine country area most properties are wanting to promote their own product! There is the Hall where you can hire caters bring your own alcohol. However as for any other venue such as this we are not aware of anything. Sorry we were not able to assist further. "
I had never heard of the Hall, so after work on Tuesday, I plugged the address into TomTom and went to see the Hall.
What a revelation, it's exactly what we want, a lovely stone hall, with a view over vineyards, a grassed area in front of a big verandah, not too over the top.
As the wedding will be the first time our families have met, we want more of a party atmosphere, where everyone mingles, rather than a formal sit down dinner wedding.
And I think we've found the prefect venue in the hall.
The Hall was locked, so I could only look in the windows, I excitedly jumped back in the car, drove home, ringing Mr Mel on the way, saying 'meet me out the front in 5, lock up the house'.
I didn't tell Mr Mel where we were going, when we got there, he looked at me and smiled and said 'well Chickadee I think you've done it, its perfect'!
So on Thursday I rang the managers at Draytons Wines to see if it was available in July/August, and woohoo it was available on 23 July.
Then I held my breath as I asked the price (having just received numerous emails from other venues that averaged around $1,000 to hire ground to erect a marquee on!) and couldn't stop smiling when she said $660!
So I organised for us to pick up the key and pay a deposit.
This morning Mr Mel & I drove out to Draytons, picked up the key, and went for a walk through.
Below are some photos.
Hall - front
View from Hall
View from Hall verandah
View thru window at Hall
Hall - with a bit of love and decorations we'll transform it :)
Kitchen at Hall