If “wedding in paradise” is your brief, please put Coral Sea Marina Resort on your list of venues to check out. This Queensland resorts overlooks the Coral Sea and the Whitsunday Islands, and is the picture perfect place to hold a destination wedding. Combining their great range of facilities, impeccable views, amazing hospitality and dedicated team, your wedding day will be an experience like no other. Today, I chat to Anna Johnston, the resort’s Wedding Coordinator and Planner, about what makes this place so special, as well as ceremony and reception options, and their incredible accommodation.

Where exactly is Coral Sea Marina Resort situated?
Coral Sea Marina Resort is conveniently located spectacularly on the oceanfront in the enchanting seaside town of Airlie Beach, Queensland, the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef and Whitsunday Islands.

Tell us about the grounds…
The resort’s grounds are perched on the coastline overlooking the ocean with postcard backdrops at every angle! We have our own private crisp white sandy beach, a 25-metre pool, gorgeous tropical lawns, gardens and Gazebo with stunning ocean front views and, of course, our iconic private jetty!

Why do you think bridal couples are drawn to Coral Sea Marina Resort?
I think it is because we have it all! Postcard-perfect indoor and outdoor waterfront venues, exclusive boutique accommodation for our couples and their wedding guests, mouth-watering locally sourced and seasonal menus, and we can tailor a package that is perfect for each couple, from an intimate elopement to a grand 300 guest wedding.

Everything is within easy reach, from your ceremony location to your remarkable reception space, there are stunning wedding photo locations all within a few minutes’ walk within the marina resort precinct. Our couples can settle into their gorgeous hotel suite on their wedding night, then more fun, food and drink the next day for post-wedding gatherings at the best restaurant in town. There is also the option to get out and explore the Whitsundays, with multiple on water and land-based tours and activities that depart from the marina resort.

… And not forgetting, a dedicated and experienced Wedding Coordinator and Planner to bring the wedding of their dreams to life.

What’s the process of booking in a wedding at Coral Sea Marina Resort?
That is easy… Just call Anna! From the initial enquiry about their wedding they will be dealing with me, the resort’s Wedding Coordinator and Planner. I will help design and create exactly the wedding they want and be with my couples right up to and including their wedding day.

Do couples get their own wedding planner?
Absolutely, yes! From the moment we first connect until we wave goodbye at check out, we are along for the whole ride. Our couples are allocated a dedicated Wedding Coordinator and Planner who will be there throughout the entire journey and even on wedding day. I love working with couples designing and creating unique and personalised weddings and am always up for a challenge to source and provide exactly what my couples want.

How do you make sure destination weddings run smoothly when the bridal couple isn’t locally based?
You may not be local, but we are! We have a fantastic relationship with our local suppliers and can thoroughly recommend them no matter what you need for your special day. The fun of having your very own Wedding Coordinator and Planner means we can set up a real time video calls to show you our facilities and answer all your questions.

Image: Brooke Miles Photography

What location options are there for ceremonies?
Options are plentiful for ceremonies at Coral Sea Marina Resort with The Beach, The Lawn, The Gardens, The Foreshore and our iconic Jetty.

What are the most popular spots to take wedding photos on the grounds?
You are literally spoilt for choice for location photos in the beautiful Whitsundays and Coral Sea Marina Resort offering postcard backdrops at every turn! With endless blue skies, bright azure waters, swaying palms, and manicured lawns, all with unrivalled ocean and island views. Our property boasts many other unique wedding photo spots with a crispy white sandy beach, our iconic jetty, beautiful gardens, and the Gazebo; a fun swing for two is always a winner and dramatic rock walls for those artistic shots…

Just a few moments from the resort is the Airlie Beach boardwalk and the award-winning Coral Sea Marina where superyachts rendezvous as the sun sinks each day!

There are also nearby locations like the Mandalay jetty that provide beautiful beachside moments as well as, rainforests, cane fields, creeks and lookout points that showcase the Whitsunday islands in all its glory.

Are there different options for receptions too?
Absolutely, The Jetty is one of our most popular reception venues giving our wedding parties that outdoor venue that also offers some protection from the elements. The Elbow Room and The Lookout can cater for wedding parties of up to 230 people, or for our couples who are wanting a gorgeous garden setting with stunning views over the Marina and out to the Whitsunday Islands a Teepee or Sperry Tent at The Gardens.

Tell us about the menu! How much input do couples have?
We can tailor menus specific to your tastes and requirements or you can choose from the various package menu suggestions. Being a boutique resort with amazing chefs and an outstanding network of suppliers, we love being able to offer local and regional produce, we believe we can deliver. Just try us!

Image: The White Tree

Do you work with specific suppliers and/or can couples user their own?
Yes, we have a network of amazing suppliers who will look after our couples every need, from the styling and theme of your choice, stunning cakes and flowers to a pet chauffeur that ensures your furry friend can be part of the day too!

What’s your favourite item on the menu?
Did I mention I trained and worked around the globe as a chef for a decade before falling in love with weddings and events? The truth of the matter is I don’t think I could call myself a chef anymore, even though I’m still obsessed with beautiful, magical, delicious (get in my belly) amazing food!  So, this question is fun… The pork belly with seared scallops is absolutely drool worthy, it is served with a curried cauliflower puree that is pure witchcraft! And the Coral Coast Barramundi or grass-fed eye fillet or maybe the Whitsunday prawns with Marie Rose sauce are also up there with some of the best tastes for 2020 for me!

Our menus are all prepared using local and regional produce, much of which comes from the sea to me, the paddock to the plate, the garden to…  you get me, right?!

Being a resort, you obviously also offer accommodation! Can you describe what the accommodation is like?
Soak up the views from a hammock on the balcony, or relax under the stars in your outdoor spa, or simply enjoy the comfort and convenience of a self-contained apartment. Whether you are travelling as a family, a couple, or a group of friends, there are is an array of room options available. Varying in taste, size and budget, there is sure to be a room to suit everyone’s needs during their adventure of paradise.

What accommodation do you recommend for bridal couples?
Our One Bedroom Penthouse Apartments are most popular with our couples, they offer a separate living area so are spacious enough for wedding parties to get ready in together. They feature floor to ceiling views out across the Coral Sea, with the addition of a private spa bath for that additional indulgence.

Do they get a special discount?
Yes! All our wedding couples and their guests are issued with a unique accommodation booking code which will provide discounts off our best available rate. The booking page is personalised with a happy snap of the bride and groom.

Favourite or most memorable wedding you’ve held at Coral Sea Marina Resort in the last year?
It would have to be our first wedding in the newly refurbished resort on New Year’s Eve, it was breathtaking and such a pleasure and honour for me to plan and coordinate too.  The couple were married on The Lawn and finished the night with a spectacular firework display by The Jetty. Every little detail was considered, from specialised catering for their photos, to a memorial keychain on the bride’s bouquet, to LED lit up balloons floating in the pool for guest arrival at the reception.  I am pretty sure the entire staff were laughing and crying alongside the couple.  We loved it!

What kinds of trends and themes have you been noticing at weddings held there?
Small and intimate weddings and elopements. Think 30 people or less, but like any exclusive party. The budget per guest is higher, which means the couples nearest and dearest are treated to bespoke touches, elaborate meals, and tons of personalisation.

What do you love most about your job?
This is my dream job! I love a good wedding and I am so fortunate to say I have had a hand in creating hundreds and hundreds of them over the years. Some days have me signing the marriage certificate as witness for my beautiful couples who have eloped, to lacing the wedding dress up for a bride, to a musician serenading me at sound check. I have been known to blubber like a baby as I send my brides down the aisle to get married, and hearing vows renewed at a 50th wedding anniversary. I’ve been the MC, the DJ and I have even found myself driving the ‘selfie stick’ for an Instagram or Facebook live for my couples whose dream wedding meant family and friends from across the globe couldn’t be there in person to celebrate.

Every wedding is special, new, creative, and fun for me, and I cannot see myself doing anything else.

Thank you Anna for walking us through your beautiful resort and how you create the most spectacular weddings! What a dream location. Wanna know more? Head to the Coral Sea Marina Resort website or check them out on the Polka Dot Directory.

Images and headshot via Coral Sea Marina Resort