Updated: Sep 26
The Coonawarra wine region is becoming a popular wedding destination for brides not only locally, but also from Melbourne and Adelaide. The appeal of Coonawarra reaches beyond its sprawling vineyards and temperate climate - getting here is easy. Positioned half way between the two cities, Coonawarra is easy to access for your guests without the need for a plane ticket.
Planning a destination wedding (yes, Coonawarra counts as a destination) comes with its own challenges. From virtual planning and unfamiliarity with the region and local vendors. But don't let this stop you! Creating a unique experience for you and your guests will give you memories to cherish for a lifetime.
To get you started, here is some advice for planning a Coonawarra destination wedding.
Plan your accommodation in advance
In smaller towns such as Coonawarra and Penola it can be good to reserve accommodation in advance.
For the Bridal Party
Think about where the bridal party will be getting ready, this is often also the location of photoshoots. You want to chose a picturesque location that has all the amenities and features you need (think natural light for makeup!) Coonawarra has beautiful accomodation such as Punters Retreat and Yalumba Menzies retreat which are perfect for this.
For your guests
If you are having a large wedding with many guests travelling, you will want to ensure there is enough accomodation locally to prevent guests travelling back to another town after the reception. This will also help with coordinating buses or shuttles to get guests to and from the wedding. Call accomodation providers ahead and ask to reserve rooms for the date of your wedding. These rooms may then show as unavailable online, but guests can call and quote the name of your wedding to book. This can also help in securing a good rate for your guests. Here are some local accomodation providers we recommend: Alexander Cameron Suites, Must@Coonawarra, Coonawarra Motor Lodge.
Embrace the setting & save
You have chosen a destination wedding in Coonawarra for a reason; It is a beautiful region full of vineyards, heritage buildings, and landscaped backdrops. The benefits of a country wedding are that decorations can be minimal - let nature do the talking. Here are some of our recommendations to save.
Use Native, Seasonal Flowers
Use a local florist and ask what flowers and foliage will be in season. There is an abundance of native varieties that can be used. This will not only save you money - but will add to the local experience you are creating for your wedding day. Penola and Mount Gambier have many florists who can provide this advice. Some florists we love are,
Embrace Local Produce
Serve food that can be easily sourced on the limestone coast.
Use Local Vendors
Using local vendors will not only save you money (City vendors may charge a travel fee) but comes with the added benefit of local and venue knowledge. Photographers will have tips on hidden gem locations for wedding photos, florists and event stylists will know how decorate your venue to get the best result.
Think of your guests
The bride and groom may be the most important part of the wedding, but your nearest and dearest have travelled from far and wide to share in this moment with you.
Notify your guests well in advance & provide plenty of information
Make sure your guests have plenty of information - whether this is through a wedding website (there are many free/easy to use online sites such as theknot.com) or send an informative invitation to guests who may want advice on how to get here, things to do and where to stay.
Make it a weekend!
The wedding day can pass by so quickly, create opportunities to spend more time with your friends and family. A benefit of a destination wedding is that If your wedding is most of your guests will be staying for a few days. Plan an afternoon event at a local Coonawarra winery or keep it traditional and plan a rehearsal dinner at Pipers of Penola or Upstairs at Hollick. Maximise the day after and plan a recovery brunch, you can organise catering at a local winery and enjoy the outdoors, or add a bit of adventure and head to the Penola lawn Bowls Club, The Penola Croquet club or the Coonawarra Petanque club. Regional towns are charming and guests will remember the experience.
We hope you have found this advice useful and that it makes planning your destination wedding a little easier.
Whistle Post Estate is a boutique cellar door and winery located on the outskirts of Penola, in the Coonawarra wine region. We are here to make your event as easy and memorable as possible, whether you are a local bride or travelling from afar. Learn more about our wedding packages here or contact us at email@example.com for more information.