With marbled floors and golden arches, it makes sense that the InterContinental Sydney, a restored 1851 Treasury Building, is one of Australia’s leading reception venues. We sat down with Gemma, a Meeting and Events Executive at The Intercontinental, to see what’s trending in wedding receptions right now.

The authenticity of a wedding is largely carried by relationships, not only the romantic relationship fostered between the couple, but the more platonic relationships between guests as well.

Instead of having to scale things back a bit for a large-scale wedding, couples are going for smaller, more intimate weddings. “I think that most people are looking for a more personal connection on their wedding day, compared to having a larger scale wedding. Couples are looking for 5-star food and beverage options- something amazing, something luxurious- that they’d prefer to put their money towards.”

This authenticity and intimacy can be expressed in a number of ways on the wedding day. The influx of grazing tables and share places are a testament to this, as they create a more social atmosphere for the guests. “Grazing tables help people interact”, Gemma tells us.

As a wedding guest, there’s nothing worse than going to a wedding and knowing nobody. Grazing tables help people come together, and (lovingly) forces them to mingle over a delicious spread. This ensures everyone has a good time at your wedding. They also look great in photos, right?

“Specialty cocktails are also really on trend at the moment,’‘ Gemma continues.

“So if the bride has a pink theme, we can offer a pink cocktail on arrival. We try to make it as authentic as possible.”

Unique lighting and a variety of entertainment- from bands to DJs to performances- are also becoming increasingly popular. “Some might start with a band- to make it more intimate, and then switch to a DJ”. This is a great way to create an atmosphere and transition the guests from a sit-down meal to a fun and lively dance floor.

The Green Bride Guide states that the average wedding produces over 400kg of garbage, contributing to over 450 million kilograms of wedding garbage per year (and that’s just in the United States!). The average wedding also uses as many emissions as 4-5 people would produce in an entire year. In just one day!

Gemma tells us that couples are taking the time to select their venue based on sustainability and that they, at the InterContinental Sydney, are making “a conscious effort to reduce our plastic… so we can tell our couples that we are trying to make our venues more sustainable for them.” Luxury weddings do not have to compromise to become more eco-friendly, and many venues, like the InterContinental have a number of programs in place to help couples reduce their waste.

Knowing which venue to book can be tricky, so we asked Gemma what are the three things that couples should address with a reception venue before they sign on the dotted line. These are things that the InterContinental strive to perfect with couples nice and early, however industry horror stories mean that these need reiterating:

  1. “Always look into the suites and accommodation that is available on the night of the wedding. It is overlooked often by couples. Always ask if it is included in the package if you get married in a hotel.”
  2. “Couples should always ask about catering options, especially if they have specific needs- a cultural need or certain preferences, just to ensure the venue can cater for them before they proceed. There’s nothing worse than signing a contract and finding out the venue can’t cater to your needs.”
  3. “Theming requirements is also a massive thing that couples should ask about before securing a venue. Theming restrictions may be limited, and couples may not know until they book. The image of their dream wedding may not be possible in the space.”

A smooth wedding is something couples dream about. No ripped dresses, no meltdowns, no disappearing celebrants. But what about the reception? How can you make your reception go as smoothly as possible?

Gemma says it’s important to build a “unique relationship with your reception’s wedding planner. Be really open, honest and keep in contact with them on the day and leading up to.”

For Gemma, this is the most rewarding part of the industry. “I love the relationships and personal connections you make with every couple. When you see the couple on the day of their wedding, and they walk into the reception room – that initial smile when they walk in – all of the hard work and all of the planning that has gone in from all of us, it’s a priceless thing. Just to see their happiness.”

Ruby – Australian Bridal Service
Interviewer & Writer

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