Our lucky last venues. Today we wrap up our venue and menu options by looking at restaurants, private residencies and large halls or museums. All very different, but equally special, and open for you to add your own personal touches to.
You can give a restaurant a more formal feel if you’re offering a traditional à la carte menu. But what’s hot right now is tapas-style or degustation menus that give serious foodies an opportunity to experience a symphony of flavours and wines to match the food. The Mint Kitchen Catering Co has opened James Restaurant in Auckland, where they specialise in ‘small plate’ dishes. The menu features taste sensations like smoky kahawai croquettes with lemon aioli or beef cheek on carrot mash, and the ultra-modern setting is embellished with sweeping red curtains and huge glass chandeliers – urban chic at its best. Fish at the Hilton features a sharing table where guests can feast on a tipple and seafood tapas out on the deck whilst enjoying magnificent views of Auckland harbour.
Top event planners will often have access to private properties that you’d never hear about otherwise. ‘There are some majestic places on Waiheke Island with private beaches that are available exclusively to us for events,’ says Jan Vernon. ‘These appeal to people who want something different than the traditional venue.’ Private residences often lend themselves to a cocktail party-style wedding, a type of celebration that’s all the rage. At these events, guests have the opportunity to mix and mingle rather than spend hours seated at the same table, while canapés are served to them over the course of the evening.
‘You’ll still need some tables and chairs where people can rest,’ cautions Laura Larsson of Mint Events in Central Otago. ‘Also keep in mind that this style of eating can get messy. Guests leave dirty dishes on tables and they are likely to pile up if the caterers aren’t onto it.’ For smaller weddings of up to 30 guests, consider hiring a chef to cook the food – choose one with the right personality and they will entertain guests as well as tend to their culinary needs.
LARGE HALL OR MUSEUM
Inspired by the royal wedding in 2011, big-scale celebrations are making a comeback. Large ballrooms, galleries and museums are ideal for those who have to host a large number of guests and rather than a sit-down dinner, food stations offer a more dynamic option to feed them. Anne Holman says a big venue such as the Auckland Museum is ideal, as it can host up to 120 guests. ‘You can have an oyster shucking station, sushi, cocktails and gelato – with chefs at each station so everything stays fresh. It’s far more interesting if you can get up from your table and move around, plus food stations also encourage people who don’t know each other to mingle.’
If you opt for a more traditional buffet, keep it simple so guests don’t end up with plates full of clashing flavours, and make a big statement with your cake instead. Huge chandeliers grace the Great Room at Auckland’s Langham Hotel, a timelessly elegant venue that can hold up to 900 guests. If you’re an art lover check out Pah Homestead or the Auckland Art Gallery – both are perfect for swish cocktail receptions and their visually rich space means there’s no additional decoration required. After parties are the answer when your venue closes its doors or when there are restrictions on dancing. Keep the ball rolling at a nightclub or bar – just because the night ends doesn’t mean the party has to.
Now the seven venues have been covered, it's up to you on how you entertain and cater to your guests. Enjoy, and have fun. Bon appétit!