We’ve decided we’re going to shun tradition and kind of elope to Koh Samui, Thailand with family – and close friends who want to join us. It will be fun! Anyway, this decision means our engagement party is going to be the big hoohaa.
A party at our house was out of the question. We’ve had so many parties there, and this one is more than special – besides we don’t want the stress and really, who wants to clean up whilst nursing a rough hangover?
I did hours and hours of research, trying to find a nice venue that wouldn’t cost us the earth (I didn’t want it in a crappy hall either). It really came down to finding somewhere suitable that offered self catering and the place we chose in the end is the WA Rowing Club, on Riverside Drive (near the Bell Tower). It looks small-ish from the outside so I didn’t get my hopes up, but as soon as I stepped inside I fell head over heels! It’s gorgeous, and more spacious than I thought – it fits 140 people standing. You know when you’ve found the right place, like the feeling you get when you walk into a house you love!
The heritage-listed building has polished wooden floor boards, cute little windows, exposed wooden beams and a rear deck perched over the river, looking out to South Perth. If this wasn’t enough to sell me already, the venue allows self catering (but is licensed). Our neighbour is a chef with a catering business on the side, and he’s kindly offered to do our catering for us!
The venue hire is $650, and this covers the social club membership and the use of chairs, tables, trestle tables and entertainment centre. (You do need to be a member to use the rowing and sailing clubs in Perth). So the last clincher was the availability and I was amazed to hear that the 2 dates we had in mind (in March) were the only 2 dates left available! Meant to be?
Here are the other venues I researched. Admittedly, some are more wedding venues but it doesn’t hurt to ask! (Note the prices quoted are 2009):
Heathcote, Applecross. They have a couple of rooms (like big classrooms) that you can hire and it’s all BYO, which appealed to us (not to mention the stunning location!). The Kitchen Building is the largest and fits 70 people standing or 60 people seated, costing about $260 for 6 hours with kitchen facilities. It would be nice for a birthday party, but it was not quite big enough for our engagement party. You also can’t enjoy the views unless you physically leave the party as the buildings are tucked away from the river.
If you’re still in love with the location, there is the full-blown catered option available from nearby restaurant, Bluewater Grill.
Mosman Park Bowling Club. Now this would have been fun! We almost booked it. It’s gotta be the most impressive bowling club I’ve ever stepped foot in – unreal views of the river and city from the green, a shit hot dance floor, self catering facilities and 1980 bar prices (sort of). The cost to hire is $600… including bar staff, bowls for everyone and a bowling coach (though my dad would have put up his hand – being a bowler from way back and all).
Burswood on Swan. Fab location and the perfect set up… for a big wedding. Catering is done in-house and was waaay out of our price range, plus it’s so damn popular! You’ll have to get in quick to nab your desired date. The Swan Room holds 200 people standing or 120 seated and costs $550 to hire. The smaller River Room holds 85 people standing and 60 seated and costs $350 to hire. It would set you back $750 to hire both. I think there was also an additional fee to hire a dance floor. We didn’t go inside but we had a look around the perimeter of the place (you can see in through the windows). I hope someone I know has a wedding there one day!
Burswood Park Golf Course. I was referred to these guys from Burswood on Swan. Slightly cheaper than popular sister, and more availability, but still out of our price range. From memory the place holds 150 for cocktail standing, 100 seated or 90 with a dance floor. $850 for room hire and $8800 minimum spend on Saturday nights Oct – Apr.
Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club, Peppermint Grove. This place sounded lovely. The Athol Hobbs room, located on the top storey of the club overlooking the river is $350 to hire, which includes linen, cutlery, crockery and staff. The downside was the in-house catering… blew the price right out of the water for us.
Salt on the Beach, North Fremantle. I loved the location of this venue – right on the beach. Though we didn’t actually get around to seeing it in person, we’ve driven past it before, and their website has loads of images and all the information you need to determine whether you can afford to have your party there. It wasn’t too expensive to hire a section of an area, but if you’re looking to take out the entire area, it gets pretty pricey (well, was out of our budget!). That said, the food prices were a lot cheaper than others I’d seen. Would be amazing for a beach wedding reception.
Tranby House, Maylands. The old-school romantic in me loved the thought of a garden party in the grounds of Tranby House, by the river. I found a video on YouTube of a wedding that was held there – they had a marquee set up, and I got all excited about the prospect of us doing the same. Not sure when that wedding actually took place, but it must have been years ago. It seems these days it’s too ‘hard’ to arrange something like this. They do cater for small 20 or so person functions at the tearoom though…
Cottesloe Surf Life Saving Club. I liked the idea of a beach theme for our engagement party, so I looked into holding a function here. The room hire was out of our budget though, at a cost of $1100 – but it is a self catering venue which helps. For smaller, more casual functions you could hire out the bottom courtyard at a cost of $275 for a Sat/Sun, but it’s not available for night functions.
Mosman Park Memorial Hall. I love art deco buildings. This one, built in 1921, has been beautifully restored to its former glory and sits between river and sea. I got really excited about the outdoor courtyard space – it has a touch of Tuscany feel to it and would be perfect for a function on a balmy summer’s evening. Unfortunately, those balmy nights are blocked out for the Camelot Outdoor Cinema season, so I was unable to secure any dates in March. Oh well. Maybe another time.
I’m really happy with our venue choice. The event coordinator is lovely too. Just need to finish the invitations and organise the DJ, food and decorations.