Your Ultimate Wedding Planning Checklist

Time to get organised!

From venue to transport to flowers to reception woes, here’s some tips to make the planning process a smoother, more enjoyable experience.

TO-DO Timeline

One Year Away–  

Ask friends for venue ideas, flip through bridal magazines and start calling venues for information kits.

Draft a list of what your ideal venue should have – on-site caterers, audio equipment, a licensed bar or a good, all-inclusive package deal. A clear idea of how many guests you plan to invite will help determine costs 

Compare quotes, considering package deals, menus, hire costs, corkage and per-head prices. When you’ve narrowed down your options to three or four favourites, meet with the reception manager or on-site wedding coordinator of each 

Choose your favourite venue and place a deposit as soon as you can. Ask for written confirmation of all the details discussed. Also, finalise your choices for the wine list 

Six Months – 

Organise decorations and entertainment – these may not be included in your package deal 

Three Months – 

Once your guests have replied, draft your seating plan

Create a running order for the day. Make copies for yourself, the reception manager and the DJ or entertainers 

One Week – 

Call and confirm details with your venue coordinator and suppliers 

Your Legalities

Our Expert: Amanda Ianna, Registrar (

Completing the legal requirements before, and after, your big day can seem a little overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be. The first step, which is registering the marriage with the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages (BDM), is the responsibility of your celebrant. ‘Celebrants have 14 days to lodge all the paperwork with BDM for the registration of the marriage,’ says Amanda Ianna, Registrar at BDM. ‘By law, marriages can be performed by a Religious celebrant, a civil celebrant, staff in some local courts, or a marriage officer working in the BDM.’

With that first step taken care of, completing the paperwork after you’ve said your vows falls to you and your new spouse. Your celebrant will give you a Commonwealth Marriage Ceremony certificate on your wedding day to show the marriage has taken place. ‘You will also need to apply for a standard marriage certificate which helps you establish identity for legal and financial matters. It is usually required for such things as passports, citizenship, bank home-loans, change of name via marriage, taxation matters, next of kin life decisions, and the execution of probate,’ says Amanda. ‘Your celebrant can assist you in applying for this certificate at the time of your wedding.’

‘In NSW, options to apply for the certificate include online, via post or in person at the Registry or Service NSW venues,’ Amanda explains. ‘Requirements are listed on the Marriage Certificate Application. You will need three forms of current identification, currently in NSW the Standard Marriage certificate is $51, and additional charges apply for international postage outside Australia.’ You can, for an additional charge of $23, purchase a commemorative certificate, which many people like to have framed as a memento. However, Amanda points out, ‘these are only sold as part of the package and organisations may not accept them as a proof of identity document.’

When it comes to changing your name – whether you double-barrel, hyphenate, or simply take your partner’s surname – you need to provide your standard marriage certificate to complete the relevant documentation. ‘For other types of name changes you will need to apply for a change of name process with the BDM,’ says Amanda. This is also the case if your legal marriage took place overseas.

‘The broad strokes are much the same state to state, for example identification is required. The marriage registration exists in the State or Territory where the event occurred. You can’t get your Queensland birth certificate or your South Australian marriage certificate in any Registry other than where the event was registered. So if someone was born in NSW, married in SA and died in WA, then their next of kin would contact three BDMs.’


It’s the case with all marriages that you need to be organised and turn up on time. If your parents are involved, they are the right people to ensure you have all the bits and pieces sorted out well ahead of time.

Make sure your witnesses are reliable and turn up on time, as they need to sign the paperwork declaring they were a witness to your ceremony.

Apart from the legalities, how are you going to make your special day memorable? Discuss ideas with your partner, which fit within your budget, to add extra excitement to your day.

Your Venue

Our Expert: Katie Notley, Weddings Coordinator

The Sebel Kirkton Park Hunter Valley (


The Sebel Kirkton Park Hunter Valley is not just a reception space, it’s a wedding venue that can arrange your dream ceremony, accommodation and everything in between. Located in Pokolbin in the heart of wine country, this historic venue has scenic surrounds that make it a relaxing weekend away for guests and couples alike.

‘Situated on 70 acres, The Sebel Kirkton Park offers sensational Hunter Valley vistas, making it one of the region’s most popular resorts,’ says Katie Notley, Weddings Coordinator. As well as the views, guests can enjoy walking trails, tennis courts, a billiards room and a Grecian-style pool house with indoor heated pool, sauna and spa during their visit.

Kirkton Park is named after the first vines established in the area, in the mid-1800’s by James Busby, and perfectly blends its history with a fresh, new feel thanks to a multi-million dollar refurbishment of all 70 rooms – under the eye of lauded interior designer Greg Natale – plus a new restaurant, wine lounge, bar and lobby.

With the capacity to cater to weddings of 150 guests for a sit-down meal, and 300 cocktail-style, couples are able to choose the ceremony and reception space that’s perfect for them. If you want to marry outside, the Sebel Kirkton Park Hunter Valley offers the choice of three garden ceremony locations with stunning views. Packages include a wet weather back-up, white chairs, signing table and chairs, plus extras such as an easel and frame with signage. The reception rooms have something for both small and grand celebrations.

‘From intimate affairs in the formal manor garden to event extravaganzas in the Hunter Rothbury Room, we will help to create your perfect day,’ says Katie. ‘The James Busby Room is ideal for couples looking for an intimate reception space for 40-100 guests, complete with beautiful features such as French doors, chandeliers and a private courtyard,’ she adds. ‘For those looking for a solution that is a little larger, The Hunter Rothbury Room caters to 150 guests, with the option of using an adjoining room for a photo booth.’

The menus – created by Executive Chef Trent Webber – and wine options pay homage to the top quality produce this region is renowned for, and the cuisine showcases ingredients that are handpicked from the venue’s very own garden. ‘The kitchen team select freshly grown produce from the garden daily and incorporate everything from tomatoes and pumpkins to strawberries and olives in the menus,’ says Katie. ‘Trent and his team love to work with couples to create menus that their guests will remember.’


You should both ‘fall in love’ with the idea of your perfect wedding location.

Choose a venue with an on-site coordinator to help you plan your day.

Consider the cost to your guests, who may be travelling to celebrate with you.

Your Transport

Our expert: Kitty Spry, Director (

‘From the moment you board this vintage beauty, you will be swept away by her curvaceous lines and stunning teak features,’ says Kitty Spry of her company’s Sydney-built 1950 Halvorsen Bridgedecker, MV Kalinda. ‘As well as being intimate and allowing some relaxed quality time during what can be a full-on day, this boat is totally unique to anything else for charter – it provides a much sought-after photo opportunity, with all the comforts, service and style a couple deserves on their special day.’

Sydney Classic Boat Charters launched in October 2015, and have been in hot demand from the get-go. ‘We had a very busy summer season on Sydney Harbour with fashion shoots, corporate launches, vintage high tea, weddings and transfers,’ says Kitty, the company’s Director. ‘Halvorsen boats are like the Rolls Royce of the boating world, so she has been very sought after.’

Couples – particularly those planning vintage-themed affairs – are incorporating the vessel on their big day in all sorts of ways, ‘whether it be for the actual ceremony, a photo shoot, an arrive-in-style transfer between ceremony and reception, or a bridal chill-out session before, during, or after the wedding,’ says Kitty. MV Kalinda is popular with couples as a recovery day activity for close family and friends.

Whilst the boat can host up to 22 people, it is the perfect size for a bridal party and photographer. There are four separate areas for guests to mingle, as well as wet weather awnings for the main outside area. ‘There is plenty of room – and mirrors – for the girls to freshen up, as well as comfortable toilet and shower facilities,’ says Kitty. ‘And the boys seem to gravitate to the back cockpit, with beers, for the wind-in-the-hair appeal.’

Based in Cottage Point, Sydney Classic Boat Charters services the Hawkesbury River area, as well as Pittwater – from Palm Beach down to Newport and Church Point. Whilst the Northern Beaches are popular wedding spots at the moment, the boat is also available on Sydney Harbour at various times of the year.

‘Couples just seem to unwind as soon as they get on board – it’s impossible not to. Particularly for bridal party transfers and photo shoots, where the ceremony has been quite formal,’ says Kitty. ‘Once they get out on the water with a glass of Champagne in hand, and a bit of quality time with the bridal party, they really start enjoying the day.’


‘Use the boat to it’s full potential and get your money’s worth,’ says Kitty. ‘Arrive in style at your wedding venue whilst having a celebratory Champagne with the bridal party, and create the perfect photo shoot on board.’

‘If the venue doesn’t lend itself to a boat on the big day, create a photo shoot before or after the wedding. Or, have a recovery cruise the following day with close family or out-of-towners.’

‘Once the formalities are over, take time to relax, smell the roses and really enjoy your special day. A boat is the perfect way to do this,’ adds Kitty.

Your Reception

Our expert: Ann-Marie Palmiotto, View By Sydney (

‘View By Sydney has that impressive “wow” factor that will leave your guests envious,’ says Ann-Marie Palmiotto, Senior Events Manager at the waterfront venue. ‘With breathtaking views of Sydney Harbour, and flexible spaces to suit every bride and groom’s needs, it is convenient and inspiring.’

The view is one thing – the menu another. Known for its modern Australian cuisine, with an emphasis on seafood, couples can choose from several options when it comes to feeding their friends and family. ‘Our seasonal menu showcases the finest produce the venue can source and prepare,’ says Ann-Marie. ‘We have a range of choices that will suit the majority of guests. A wedding is a special time for family and friends to celebrate and you should speak with your wedding coordinator to assist you in preparing a customised menu for the day.’

Each couple has a dedicated coordinator to help plan every facet of their reception and the venue can accommodate up to 180 guests for a traditional sit-down meal, or 400 for a canapé-style affair. Packages can be tailored to each individual couple, but View By Sydney also offers seasonal specials. On Fridays, from January to October, couples can receive a complimentary upgrade of their food and beverage package; and the Sunday wedding special starts at $145pp for an all-inclusive package.

View By Sydney’s coordinators will handle the logistics, as well as connecting each bride and groom with their reliable preferred suppliers, including event stylists Decorative Events, Faye Cahill Cake Design, MM Photos and florist My Violet. ‘Opportunities to decorate are endless,’ says Ann-Marie. ‘View by Sydney’s rustic charm and luxurious finish offer the perfect backdrop for couples to theme and style their special day in their own unique way. The venue lends itself to a range of styles.’

Your ceremony can be arranged nearby so guests won’t have to travel too far to the reception. ‘For couples looking for something a little different, the newly-developed Barangaroo Reserve offers views of Sydney Harbour – it is walking distance to their reception with fantastic photo opportunities along the way. We also offer in-house ceremonies on the historic finger wharf in Walsh Bay, with spectacular views of Sydney Harbour Bridge and Luna Park,’ says Ann-Marie.

Once the festivities are over, View By Sydney is only ten minutes’ walk from the CBD or Circular Quay, allowing you and your guests easy access to overnight accommodation. It couldn’t be easier.


‘I would have to say staying true to one’s personal style will make it a night to remember,’ says Ann-Marie.

Pick a reception venue that offers an exceptional package. ‘The Dedes Waterfront Group is built on traditional principles of great service and food,’ says Ann-Marie. ‘Exceeding guest expectations is our aim, and where better to do so than on one of the world’s most beautiful harbours.’

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