Planning a wedding reception and Tawarri Reception Centre review

Having recently executed a very successful wedding reception, I thought I would share my experience, and also provide a thorough review of Tawarri Reception Centre.

It all started September 2010, we got married and decided we must have a reception next year.  We browsed through a number of well known venue brochures, Matilda Bay Restaurant, Fraser’s Restaurant, Old Brewery and off course Tawarri.

They were all in nice locations, overlooking the Swan River, but what drew us to Tawarri was the classic venue that our parents had at least once been to, but even more so, the price.

At the time, Tawarri advertised a three course sit-down meal for $79 per person off-peak, which included a five hour beverage package of wine and spirits, it all sounded too good to be true. We checked out the venue, met with Malcolm Fernandez, who was already keen on sharing his wedding ideas, and paid the $1000 deposit.

We didn’t do too much till early next year, where the missus and I started bouncing ideas for the general ‘theme’, invitations and guest list. We decided that the invitations should tie-in with the final reception.

Invitations

Having decided on the invitation font, design and wording, time to purchase the materials;

  • 100x 6” square white envelopes $20 AUD
  • 100x 12” square Bazzill embossed cardstock $120 USD

By late May material had arrived, and by June approximately 80 invitations posted.

I also made a simple online paperless invitation, which mimicked the real invitations.

Wedding Website and Online RSVP

In parallel to the invitations, an Online RSVP form was made and a basic Wedding Website.

Package Update

On May 2011, Lee-ann from Tawarri sent through an update reception package brochure, our original sit-down meal for off-peak had increased from $79 per person to $84 per person, a 6.33% increase. Note; the Australia consumer price index (CPI) from September 2010 to June 2011 was only 3%.

From May 2011 was when the real reception planning started, it was amazing how little information Tawarri provided in their reception package brochure, we asked many questions, here are a list of key items that were discussed leading up to the reception, most are relevant to Tawarri, but for completeness, I have still shared those that are not.

Chair Covers

Tawarri was able to provide chair covers with sashes for $5.50 per person plus a $1.00 per person set up fee. The least expensive I could find chair cover only in Perth was $4.50 per person. Looking at other options, there is a “universal’ chair cover available that fits on all chairs and ties neatly behind the back of the chair, so no sash is required. I managed to located satin universal chair covers for $3.60 (including postage) to purchase from a seller on Alibaba (contact Jean Zhu; [email protected])

Bottled Beers

Tawarri’s standard beverage consumption was jugs of Carlton Draft and Carlton Mid-Strength, now when I think of beer jugs, I think of my university days, not something I want at a wedding reception, so I thought bottled beers were the way to go. Tawarri do offer a bottled beer package for an extra $15 per person, with “conditions apply”. In a separate document which you have to request, the first paragraph states the following;

“our experience with alcohol service has indicated a dangerous trend of binge drinking at functions resulting in unsavoury behaviour and incidents that jeopardise the safety of staff and guests. Bottled beers will not entirely replace jugs of draught beer and will be served in addition to the standard option”

Here’s an interesting fact Carlton Draft contains 4.6% alcohol content, Corona also contains 4.6% alcohol content, the difference is one is served in a 1136mL jug, the other in a 330mL bottle.

Wedding Cake Service

At our first meeting with Malcolm, he informed us of Tawarri complimentary wedding cake service, on questioning later, it turned out it was merely cutting the cake up to finger size pieces and serving it on a platter in the middle of the table. This was still nicer then what some of the other venues would charge for this service, and we decide to go with this option.

Beverages

Included in the standard package were Hardy’s Cabernet Merlot and Hardy’s Chardonnay  wine, Carlton Drought and Carlton Midstrength beer and soft drinks.

I was against having jugs of beer at our tables, I didn’t think they were appropriate for a wedding. Unfortunately, there was no option to remove them, and the bottle beer package wasn’t a substitute, but added more to the table.

Bar Tab

It is common for venues to have a bar with can either be guest paid or prepaid for the night. Tawarri had this, on May they provided us with current bar prices, again in a separate document. On July they informed us of revised prices for spirits and bottled beers, a slight fifty cents increase.

I decided to go with an unadvertised open bar, except for three drinks on the menus, Coronas, Johnny Walker Black and Gin and Tonic. One of the ideas was a Vodka and Cranberry juice in a Martini glass, which Tawarri was very obliging to provide.

I provided the Moet & Chandon for dinner only, so also decided to allow Hardy’s Champaign during the 30 minute pre-dinner drinks.

I initially prepaid $1000 on the tab, the tab ended up as $1400, with totals as;

  • 77x Johnny Walker Black
  • 8x Corona
  • 48x Gin and Tonic
  • 8x Hardy’s Champaign

The Gin and Tonic quantity also included any other drinks guests ordered. I was surprised in 30 minutes, 100 guests could consume 8 bottles of Champaign.

Sound System

Tawarri only provides a basic PA system (single microphone and single powered speaker), we used Matrix Productions to hire two self powered speakers which we connected to a mixer and wireless microphones.

Music

I decided to go with self mixing a pre-recorded ‘set’ and playing that on the night. Mixing software called MixMeister made it extremely easy.

Download the wedding music here (170mb).

Child meals

A baby under two years old was not charged and provided a high chair. A kids meal (under twelve years old) was available for $50 per child, teenagers where discounted to $70 per head, due to non-consumption of alcoholic beverages.

Venue Hire Extension

Tawarri allowed for the extension of the venue hire by one hour for $250 extra. This was a great deal, the issue with extending the hire (for all venues) was what to do with the beverages. Tawarri happily gave us many choices,

  • 1 hour venue extension only for an additional $250
  • 1 hour venue and standard beverage package extension for an additional $250 and $10 per person.
  • 1 hour venue, standard and bottled beverage package extension for an additional $250 and $25 per person.

We happily chose the venue extension only, unfortunately, due to licensing we couldn’t keep the bar open past 11pm.

Tables and Settings

Tawarri provided 10 person round tables, two 12 person round tables, a cake table and gift table. All linen was provided. They even offered to help with the table settings.

Champagne

Tawarri offers a number of options for Champagne,

  • $2.50 per person for toasting only, or
  • $2.50 per person for pre-dinner only, or
  • $6.00 per person through out the night

They surprised us and even allowed us to supply our pre-purchased Moet & Chandon for a minimal $5 corkage fee per bottle (which even included ice-buckets). We had two toasting sessions through out the night and Tawarri even refilled the glasses both times.

Pre-reception setup

As long as there is no other functions prior to yours during the day, Tawarri will allow for setup on the prior day. This was really a blessing, on the Friday prior we managed to setup the chair covers, cake, audio system and table settings in three hours.

Payment with cash

Tawarri offers a 2.5% discount if payment is made in cash, which was also a nice surprise.

Flowers

We decided to arrange the flower centrepieces ourselves, we sourced white Ranunculus from the florists in Mt Lawley, Perth. Bunches of approximately 10 stems were $6, we picked up 40 bunches for our 13 tables. Plain white vases were purchased from IKEA.

Cake

After a successful cake the previous year at our ceremony, we decided to again go with Perth’s Sugar and Spice Patisserie. And again we weren’t disappointed. We added Ranunculus onto the cake ourselves.

Bonbonnieres

After much thought, we found a lovely four-piece chocolate Bianca Boxes from Bateel. Mohammad Bagher Pashmi from the Bateel Dubai Mall was very helpful and professional placing the order via email. Unfortunately, discounts aren’t available for orders less than 5000 AED (approximately $1300 USD).

Food

The pre-dinner drinks appetiser was a let down, advertised as “Chef’s choice of cocktail items”, was only fried finger food.

Tawarri made available a vegetarian meal at no additional charge.

Tawarri offered a ‘chose two’ for the mains as part of the standard package. Orders were not taken throughout the night, but instead both dishes brought to the guests to chose. Whilst this isn’t dining etiquette, it didn’t make it easier for our non-English speaking relatives to chose.

Tea and Coffee

Tawarri’s advertised tea and coffee was a self-service table located outside the main room in the foyer.