So you’re getting married. Congratulations! The first decision you’ll likely need to make is choosing your wedding ceremony and reception venue. You can break the choices down into two separate categories, traditional wedding venues and alternative wedding venues. Usually you’ll find that a traditional wedding ceremony and reception venue caters for weddings most weekends of the year, and therefore they’ve got you covered with everything you might need. An alternative wedding venue might also function as a cafe, someone’s farm or a historic building, and usually a wedding ceremony or reception venue isn’t the primary reason it’s there.

Pros of an alternative wedding venue:

– You generally have more freedom with one or more of the following compared with a traditional venue; you can choose your own caterer, minimal late night noise restrictions, BYO alcohol etc.
– Your wedding will be unique and different to any other wedding that your guests have been to.

Cons of an alternative wedding venue:

– Generally you’re responsible for supplying most things yourselves. Scroll to the bottom of this article to see a fully comprehensive list of everything we brought for our wedding at an alternative venue.
– They usually end up being more expensive (WedShed wrote an excellent article on the average cost of hire items over here)
– You need to hire people for jobs that a traditional venue would do for you; re-filling ice buckets, packing up chairs and tables at the end of the night, clearing rubbish etc.

In summary, it’s generally more expensive, more complicated and a whole lot more work to get married at an alternative venue. Personally though, we couldn’t resist the tradeoff of those challenges, which was the freedom to do literally whatever we wanted for our own wedding. You can see how that turned out in the photos below. We also had the advantage of access to the campground that we hired, and we highly recommend considering a destination wedding over a weekend or even a whole week. It’s the best option if you want more time with your friends and family than a 5 hour reception at a traditional venue will allow.



Alternative Canberra Wedding Venues

Alternative wedding venues in Canberra include Elm Grove, the Yarralumla Woolshed, Tuggeranong Homestead, Lanyon Homestead, the Fitters Workshop, Albert Hall, Gold Creek Station, and the Yale Colombia Dome at Mt Stromlo.

Traditional Canberra Wedding Venues

If you’re looking for a more traditional venue where they supply most things, but you still want a space with a bit of character, we’d suggest checking out places like The Old Coach Stables in Gunning, Pialligo Estate, Grazing Gundaroo, Poachers Pantry. There are also great options for spaces that fall somewhere in between a ‘traditional’ and an ‘alternative’ wedding venue. Places like Parlour Wine Room or Ivy and the Fox supply all the essentials like tables, chairs, lighting and bathrooms, without the classic feel of a ‘wedding’ venue.

Your choice of venue dictates what you need to supply – don’t be fooled into thinking that having a wedding in a non-traditional space means less $$$. It often means more, as you’ll need to supply everything that would usually be included with the hire of a wedding venue. No matter where you hold your wedding we always recommend having an undercover area in case of wet weather. There are lots of options – katas or tipis, and marquees that come in all shapes and sizes with clear walls or white walls or no walls at all! We chose to hire two tipis from Kata Lane for our wedding. We can also highly recommend South Coast Party Hire for marquees as they were super helpful when we were researching for reception spaces.

You need to be realistic with cost of hiring a structure that seats 100+ people with table and chairs, flooring, lighting, delivery and man/woman power to spend two whole days setting up and packing down. We found that $12,000 was the average cost for a structure that doesn’t look like something that you could pick up from Vinnies for 100 bucks. See what we were saying now about how a non-traditional wedding space can often mean more dollars? Our message though is that it all comes down to your priorities. If yours (like ours) is celebrating over multiple days with our guests and doing it exactly how we want, then an alternative wedding venue could be the go. The advantage of choosing a traditional wedding venue is that most things are provided for you, and you don’t need to worry about hiring a dedicated reception structure or caterers.

Non-traditional wedding venues can be difficult to find, so we recommend searching on the amazing resource that is WedShed. They sum up their mission pretty well on their website: “WedShed is an online platform that brings together a collection of unique Australian venues to hire for weddings. We use the word ‘venue’ loosely – our spaces range from woolsheds and warehouses to wineries and airplane hangars. What’s consistent is that all our venue-partners allow couples to create personal celebrations that reflect what they’re all about. Less bridezilla, more bridechilla.”


Wedding Checklist

Supplies for the property:
Portable toilets
Toilet paper
Hand towels
Paper towel
Bin liners
Lighters or matches

Wire cutters
Big ladder
Watering can
Permanent marker
Paper and pen
Cable ties assorted sizes
Fishing wire
Small sledge hammer
Battery screwdriver
Duct tape
Florist tape

Music list for dj + backup playlist on ipod and iphone
Rings and ring box
Signing table + 2 chairs

Directions to property
Unplugged ceremony
Seating arrangement

Canapes area:
Large umbrellas for shade
Bar tables

Reception area:
Reception tables
Reception seating
Place names (including spares)
Table numbers
Thank you gifts

Fairy lights and festoon lights
Multiple long power leads and powerboards
Wood logs
Blankets and pillows
Cake table and gift table

Multiple printed copies of run sheet with contact info for all vendors and MC
Back up sound system and microphone
Speeches (already written)
Spotify playlist for after midnight downloaded to device + backup on other device
Crayons, textas, pencils
Colouring in books
Board games
Kids DVDs

New Years day breakfast
Coffee and tea
Hired bowls and spoons for dessert
Bottled water
Canned soft drinks
Bottled/canned beer
Bottled/canned ciders
120 wine glasses
100 paper cups for breakfast
100 paper plates for breakfast
Napkins for breakfast
Cloth napkins for dinner
Print out of table/seating arrangement with dietary requirements (and bring back up on usb)