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HUNTER VALLEY BLOG

With more than 150 wineries and cellar doors, 65 restaurants and 180 comfy accommodation places to stay, where do you start?

Follow our insider tips by the people who know best… the locals. We ask talented winemakers, chefs, farmers, brewers and journalists to blog about their favourite places and experiences in this fertile wine region.

Want a Wine Country wedding with wow factor? Here’s some inspo for you

​GABRIELLE HEANEY AND JOEL STIG
STONEHURST CEDAR CREEK

Gabrielle Heaney and Joel Stig both grew up in rural areas and always knew they wanted to get married in the country. What they didn't expect was some hilarious locals ambushing the wedding photos!

"Having the Stonehurst horses photobomb our shoot and try to eat my epic bouquet from Jade McIntosh Flowers really was a highlight of the day," Gabby laughs.

The couple met 10 years ago at the University of New England in Armidale and now live in Canberra, but they wanted a destination wedding with a scenic setting.

"A winery made sense to us as a wedding location, as it had the ability to hold a party that would be out in the open, and serve great food and wine. The Hunter Valley ended up being the most convenient, especially for our guests who travelled from Sydney and the mid North Coast with most people making a long weekend out of it," she explains. "

"Stonehurst Cedar Creek was actually the first and only wedding venue we visited, expecting it to be the first of many. When we got there, Maddy took us on a tour of the property, which included visiting the many different options for ceremony and reception locations. During the tour, we both instantly pictured our friends and family amongst the poplar groves, and felt safe knowing we had the newly renovated wine cellar as a wet weather option. We knew at that point we had found our wedding venue. To top it all off, the inclusion of the cabins and the ability for guests to camp on the property meant that they could spend the weekend there."

What was the most memorable moment on the day?

"Definitely our ceremony amongst the vines although the horse photobombing was up there too," says Joel. ""Gabby and the bridesmaids were driven to the ceremony by Gabby's dad, Ean on the back of his ute stacked with hay bales. They even managed to climb down from the ute in heels safely! Despite the heat – our wedding was in January and the weather forecast was for 40C+ – having our friends and family with us in that amazing location with rolling hills in the background was incredibly special.

"Making our entrance to the reception and seeing everyone sitting at one long table among the poplar trees was another amazing moment," Gabby adds. "And breaking in the new dancefloor by the wine cellar, which included some impromptu limbo with nightcaps of Stonehurst's Golden Dessert Semillon was terrific too.

"Working with local vendors helped make our day perfect. Our photographer Caitlin Sims [from Curly Tree Photography] was familiar with the Stonehurst property, which meant she could guide us to the places she knew had the best lighting at any given time of day."

Which meant a collection of unique photos of the couple getting hitched Hunter Valley style – with the epic horse photobombing at no extra charge! Click here to see more hilarious horse snaps.

Photographer: Curly Tree Photography

​REBECCA JONES AND HAYDN WRIGHT
PETERSON HOUSE

Rebecca Jones and Haydn Wright wanted a stylish soiree with a rural backdrop and while they didn't have any horses wanting to be the centre of attention, they did have some unexpected hurdles.

"A big highlight of the day was that we pulled off a great first dance, despite the fact that Haydn should have been in a moon boot as he broke his foot about six weeks before the wedding and had to have surgery! We modified the dance slightly and he did such a great job to push through and still produce something special for us to remember."

The couple are both originally from Newcastle but were living in Darwin, and when it came to wedding destinations they wanted a location that was close to family and friends.

"We really didn't want a 'sterile' function room. We were after a venue with a bit more of a natural vibe with nature-based photo locations," says Rebecca. "We knew the Hunter Valley had many places that could suit and we looked at a fair few venues. It was also appealing as it was still close to home as most of our family and friends are in the Newcastle/Lake Macquarie area.

"We chose Peterson House as it fit our vision straight away. It was so pretty, natural and lots of great photo options. It has such great flow into the different areas for all stages of the wedding ie ceremony, canapes, dinner and dance floor. We liked the idea of an outdoor ceremony but Peterson House also had a really nice wet weather option that we were happy with (that was a reason we were deterred from some others)."

And what about the logistics of organising a wedding while living interstate?

"It all went smoothly, we had lots of family helping out, which was great, but all the vendors were also great. Prompt email communication and the online resources ie photos, menus etc were a great help.

As it was a wedding in the country, we also had to consider accommodation for guests and transport to and from the venue. That was easy as Crown Plaza had a great partnership with Peterson House for accommodation, it wasn't too far away and my father-in-law organised a bus in no time."

Every wedding is unique but one of the things that made Rebecca and Haydn's nuptials distinctive was that they wanted to see each other for the first time without all the peering eyes.

"We decided to have a 'reveal' before the ceremony. We wanted to see each other for the first time with just our immediate family watching and then have the majority of the photos complete so everyone could just party after the ceremony. Our photographer Chris Elfes [from Photography on Hermitage] took us to a grove near a lake and a vineyard and captured that intimate moment. It was very special.

"Throughout the night we didn't even know Chris was there, but he captured lots of those candid unsuspecting shots, which is really what we wanted, that really showed our personality as a couple."

Photos: Photography on Hermitage

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