If there’s one thing that really sets the scene for your big day, it’s your choice of ceremony and reception venue. Whether eloping or embracing the whole big, white destination wedding thing, tropical destinations are popular for obvious reasons (hello, sunshine!). But a toes-in-the-sand wedding is certainly not your only option. On arriving at a place like Port Douglas Daintree, you’ll find a myriad of memorable venues beyond the beach. From sophisticated to super chilled-out spaces, there are locations to suit whatever your wedding day style may be. We’ve rounded up 8 memorable places in which to get married around the Port Douglas Daintree region to help with your dream wedding venue hunt.
1. You + Me Upon the Sea
Your something blue? The ocean will certainly do! We know that sailing off into the sunset together is meant to happen at the end of your wedding, but why not make it the wedding itself? Sailaway‘s French-built luxury catamarans can host up to 40 guests on private charters. You can stop off on a deserted island to exchange your vows or simply keep on sailing. Plus, once you’ve taken the figurative plunge, you could literally take the plunge and have a lovely swim. Champagne, sunsets and the deep blue sea sound like the making of a pretty sweet wedding to us.
2. Goin’ to the Chapel and we’re…you know how this one goes.
If you’re travelling to a tropical destination to get married, you don’t want to waste it by saying “I do” amid any old church or chapel. St Mary’s by the Sea is not your average chapel. It’s heritage listed, non-denominational and inclusive. And – frankly – it’s adorable with its rainbow stained-glass windows, beachy visage and altar with view out to the Coral Sea. After the ceremony, you could sit down to a breezy reception feast at Salsa Bar and Grill just across the road or dine on a romantic seafood banquet with cocktails at Zinc, just a short stroll away.
3. Gimme a little Sugar
It’s easy to see why the Sugar Wharf is one of Port Douglas’ most popular wedding venues. It’s as close to the water as you can get with out getting wet. It has a rustic industrial vibe that can be played up or dressed up for hundreds of guests or smaller occasions. It has indoor and outdoor options and sunset views. Plus it just looks darn cool. Built in the early 1900s, Sugar Wharf was once an active dock and storage shed, then it became a shipwreck museum, now it’s a community venue.
4. Love Shack, Baby
Herbie’s Beach Shack – while not an actual venue as such – makes a fitting backdrop for weddings on Thala Beach Nature Reserve. The rusty corrugated shack acts as a charming bar to keep your guests happy with refreshments – straight from the coconut if you so wish. Offering serious castaway vibes, the private beachfront is dotted with palms and hammocks. Envision walking down a sandy aisle defined with coconut husks! As a happy bonus, the Thala Beach eco-resort’s lofty honeymoon suite ‘Sandpiper’ is mere steps away.
5. In Love with Luxe
Niramaya Villas & Spa is a luxury, Balinese-style resort accented by soothing waters and tropical greenery. Tie the knot on their manicured lawns surrounded by lush, jungle-esque gardens. Or, there are also pool-side cocktails and classic receptions to indulge in at the Chapter One restaurant on-site. But we especially like the idea of a super-intimate ceremony and reception within your own villa for just your nearest and dearest (or perhaps just the two of you and your witnesses). Each villa boasts its own kitchen, pool and bbq so you can make the occasion just as cosy, relaxed or indulgent as you wish.
6. A Toast to the Happy Couple
Every celebration deserves bubbles. But those bubbles don’t have to be Champagne! If your style runs more towards craft beer, Hemingway’s may be just the place for your wedding. A working brewery and gastropub, Hemingway’s can host up to 600 people across the entire venue, if sprawling onto the marina deck out front. If you don’t want to invite quite that many people, they also have a function space upstairs with a private bar and balcony offering fab views of the yachts and boats floating just outside.
7. Sky High Romance
Want something really different for your wedding ceremony? This one’s for couples who like either a little thrill in their relationship or like to get back to nature. Or perhaps you just want a good excuse to not wear a fluffy dress or stuffy tux? Jungle Surfing takes you on zip-lining tours of the Daintree Rainforest. Basically you’re taking a flying-fox tour through the canopy. They have a new platform that’s a bit more spacious than the rest. You’ll unclip from the line and enjoy stunning views of ancient trees right through to the sparkling ocean in the distance. The only thing is, you’ll need to convince your celebrant and witnesses at least to come with you (it’s more fun if you don’t tell them they could simply climb up).
Alternatively, Thala Beach Nature Reserve‘s Curlews Lounge has similar panoramic views with no safety checks required: it feels a bit like an upscale treehouse peeking through the canopy to Cairns and beyond.
Photo by Matthew Evans
8. Home is where the Heart is
For the ultimate in privacy at your wedding, you simply can’t go past a private residence. Executive Retreats has more than a dozen properties scattered from Port Douglas to the Daintree available to hire for weddings and associated accommodation. One of their properties, Renewell at Newell is set on the beach and opens right up to feel like a natural part of the great outdoors. You’ll need a private chef or two like Port Douglas Catering to take the task of feeding everyone off your mind. They’ll come to you to create a gourmet family feast tailored to your exacting tastes. Now the only thing to decide is whether to kick off your reception on the deck or by the pool.
Photography: Port Douglas Weddings (header), Strategic PR (Sugar Wharf, Hemingway’s), Matthew Evans (Renewell), Queensland Tourism & Events (footer). All others images by Polka Dot Bride or supplied by respective vendors.
Ms Zebra Says: What better destination than a tropical paradise such as Port Douglas to say ‘I do’?! From sandy beaches to seaside wharves, there is truly something for every couple. Thanks Ms Fleur de Lys for these great venues and ideas!
About Ms Fleur de Lys: Aside from being Ms Polka’s Editorial Assistant, Ms Fleur de Lys is also Polka Dot Bride’s Melbourne correspondent so you’ll see her running all over town finding wedding inspiration. As both a lifestyle journalist and cocktail aficionado, Fleur appreciates the power of words whipped up as deftly as a good martini.