Situated only an hour and a half south of Sydney, this picturesque part of NSW has an abundance of beautiful wedding venues, luxury estates, boutique hotels, wineries, and lush green backdrops that would be perfect for your wedding photos. In this post I am going to highlight my 5 favourite wedding venues that I consider to be the most beautiful that the Southern Highlands has to offer.
1. The Rift Estate
The Rift Estate in Bowral is the ultimate garden wedding venue in NSW. In my opinion as a wedding photographer this historic Victorian Estate is one of the best Southern Highlands wedding venues.
The property consists of a grand mansion, luxury accommodation for the wedding couple and bridal party or family in the ‘Coach House’, with lush, rambling gardens that provide an incredibly beautiful backdrop for your wedding photography.
When it comes to your ‘getting ready’ photos, you won’t be disappointed by the Coach House which provides an abundance of natural light, white walls and elegant styling to set the stage for your magical day.
There are multiple areas around the enormous lush gardens to set up your ceremony, including a wet weather option under the huge barn doors of the Coach House. The grounds outside the Coach House also provide the perfect setting to host your cocktail hour and elegant alfresco reception.
The Rift Estate takes country charm to the next level. This magical country style getaway has a tranquil feel that will make you feel like you’ve been transported elsewhere.
If you decide to get married here, or anywhere in the Southern Highlands, I highly recommend local wedding florist and stylist Botanica Style Co. Jess not only designs beautiful floral creations and table styling but is also a joy to work with.
Want more of an inside look at the Rift Estate? View our recent bridal editorial at Rift Estate here.
2. Hopewood House
For an even more exclusive garden wedding venue, Hopewood House in Bowral is truly one of the best wedding destinations that the Southern Highlands has to offer. This luxurious and impressive estate will take your breath away from the moment you enter the iron gates and drive up the gravel driveway.
The timeless architecture and sprawling grounds create a unique space to host your wedding ceremony and reception while treating your guests to an unforgettable experience.
This luxury Southern Highlands wedding venue includes full service wedding planning with your own personal ‘Concierge’ to assist you in bringing your wedding vision to life. It also includes luxurious on site accommodation for the wedding couple and family or guests.
Your wedding prep, ceremony, cocktail hour, reception and bride and groom photo session can all be hosted within this one immaculate location. It has an abundance of picturesque spaces to offer for every stage of your day and especially for your wedding photography, plus it can host up to 150 guests.
For a sophisticated country feel look no further than Hopewood House!
3. Somerley House
A romantic garden wedding paradise comes to mind when I picture beautiful Somerley House. This historic Sutton Forest wedding venue offers a luxurious country guest house and enchanting gardens to hold your celebration. It’s easy to see why it has hosted plenty of grand parties and royalty over the years!
You’ll be spoiled for choice as your ceremony can be held in the woodlands, the forest, on the lawn or in the meadow. And with its impressive chandeliers, white walls and natural light, the Garden Room serves as the perfect canvas to style for your reception space or as a back up wet weather ceremony option.
Somerleys now also offer Marquee tent receptions on the lawn for those who prefer an outdoor soiree under the stars. As a photographer I should add that Marquees are a small obsession of mine!
Tent wedding receptions create such an elegant feel, can be styled beautifully and allow you to make the most of the outdoors in the warmer months. Who doesn’t love alfresco dining on a balmy night and dancing the night away under the stars!
For nature lovers, the enchanting gardens and lush greenery are the perfect backdrop for your wedding photos. And the poolside area adds another touch of class that your guests will enjoy during cocktail hour. Without a doubt put this one on your dream wedding venue list!
4. Milton Park Hotel & Spa
Milton Park is a boutique hotel and spa resort located in Bowral. I’ve probably been saying this a ton throughout this post, but again, this is one of the most gorgeous garden wedding venues that the Southern Highlands has to offer!
The hotel itself is 5 star and offers beautiful accommodations and a luxury wellness spa. There is no shortage of opportunities for your wedding photography around the perfectly manicured, sprawling gardens which include pools, waterfalls, pergolas and stone walks. As a newly married couple you’ll get to explore these enchanting grounds together and create the most natural, elegant wedding photos while doing so.
It’s also worth considering the season that you are getting married in. Milton Park looks beautiful in every season, however it is known for its signature foliage on the walls of the Wellness Spa. It’s an impressive sight! Spring and Summer offer the most lush green foliage while Autumn provides beautiful earthy colours too. It all comes down to what aligns best with your personal aesthetic.
When it comes to your wedding reception, you can’t go wrong with the Ballroom (up to 180 guests), the Conservatory (up to 75 guests) or the Orangerie (up to 130 guests), which all have abundant natural light and a classic interior with a welcoming ambience. Each of these rooms photograph well and serve as the perfect canvas to create the reception decor of your dreams. I would highly recommend working with a florist or wedding stylist to help bring your vision to life.
5. Mona Farm
This 124 acre private property is tucked away in the Southern Highlands in the sleepy heritage listed town of Braidwood. It’s a little further from Sydney being a 3 hour drive away, and only a short 1 hour hop, skip and jump away from Canberra. The extra miles from Sydney however are well worth it.
The historic buildings, pastel pink walls of the Coach House, enormous award winning gardens, and purpose built spaces of Mona Farm will create a fairytale-like, romantic setting for your destination wedding.
The English inspired gardens and buildings are dotted with art and sculpture at every turn. There is also a forest, tennis court, fountain, lake, and working farm. Mona Farm is a unique venue that really does have it all.
There are 6 locations around the property to have your ceremony and two indoor options for your reception space, as well as an alfresco dining option. You and your guests will be treated to delicious on site catering, breathtaking views and an unforgettable experience every step of the way.
Mona Farm can host up to 150 wedding guests and provide accommodation for up to 53 guests. It’s bespoke accommodation however does extend beyond the grounds of the farm.
For the nature lovers, if you’re envisioning a luxurious experience with lush green scenery, romantic fields and an enchanting forest backdrop for your wedding photos, (and even more), then this ones for you!
If you’re looking for the perfect refined yet relaxed country style or garden wedding venue to get married at, you should absolutely consider the Southern Highlands and these 5 top breathtaking venues that it has to offer.
When considering your wedding venue remember that unless you plan to elope, your wedding is an experience for both you and your guests.
The best wedding venue is one that not only fits with the personal aesthetic of you as a couple and your vision for the day, but one that can also comfortably host your desired number of guests, and also works with your wedding budget.
With wedding receptions and catering easily accounting for the most expensive part of a wedding, you want to be sure you’ve done your research and feel really excited about your choice!
So now that you’re engaged and you have some exciting wedding planning ahead of you, you also have some important decisions to make about what type of wedding experience you’d like to have and which venue would best suit your vision.
Wedding venues, wedding planners and wedding photographers all book out fairly far in advance, so they are the first three things I’d advise locking in and checking off your list. From there, your venue, planner and your photographer can all recommend other top vendors to you such as wedding stylists, florists, musicians, cake artists etc., so don’t hesitate to ask them.
If you have any questions about this blog post, or your wedding photography in the beautiful Southern Highlands, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me here.