Ask any couple to reminisce about their wedding day experience and somewhere, amidst the gushing words about it being 'the perfect day' and 'everything we imagined', is often the caveat 'we just wish it wasn't over so quickly!!'. With 2020 dramatically altering the social landscape, and our ability to spend time with loved ones from near and far, the 'wedding weekend' is emerging as a way to enjoy and prolong the celebrations and festivities. If you're planning the perfect wedding weekend and are looking for things to do in Toowoomba then we have you covered!
So what exactly does a 'wedding weekend' involve?:
While the name may imply it, wedding weekends are not limited to purely Friday/Saturday or Sundays. More of a colloquial term, they are designed for enjoying combined events and functions with loved ones pre and post-wedding day, significantly, with the intent of making it particularly memorable for invitees that have flown in or travelled interstate to attend the wedding.
Why stretch it out over three days, isn't one day of celebration enough?
Wedding weekends provide an excellent opportunity for couples to enjoy extended time mingling and socialising with friends and family, laughing, catching up and introducing guests to one another - a luxury they may not otherwise get if limited to the day of celebration only.
So to keep the festivities rolling, we've collated our top tips for organising a fabulous wedding weekend including key planning details, delegation pointers and the all-important budget considerations.
Let's dive into the planning and timeline details:
There are no 'hard and fast' rules for how to host a wedding weekend; rather, they can be as extravagant or as simple as you desire. Maintain a clear focus on connection, and guests will be delighted that they have had the opportunity to catch up with you both. To get your planning started, we've curated a timeline for an ideal wedding weekend:
Day 1: Evening celebration or 'Welcome Party':
Light-hearted and not too formal, welcome parties present the perfect opportunity to greet guests personally and also introduce people who haven't met before. Kicking off the celebrations, typically, whoever is hosting the wedding hosts the welcome party. Invite (both local and travelling) guests to a mid-afternoon celebration event such as cocktails and canapes at a boutique bar or tapas and drinks at a local restaurant or event host a backyard BBQ. A friend or family member can emcee and provide some minor structure to the evening, but primarily guests are encouraged to just chat, linger and enjoy each other's company in a low-key setting before the formalities of the next day begin.
Day 1: Rehearsal dinner with family and wedding party
Held straight after the welcome party, or while guests are continuing the merriment, the rehearsal dinner includes immediate family members of the bride and groom and the wedding party. Traditionally hosted by the groom's parents (especially if the bride's family is paying for the wedding) this event is all about three things: Taking the time to personally thank loved ones for their help and support in the lead up to their wedding. Making sure that everyone is 'on the same page' for the proceedings of the next day and ensuring that any last-minute nerves or unanswered questions are addressed and worked through together. Providing a chance to give thank-you gifts to the wedding party and/or parents of the bride and groom.
Day 2: The Wedding Day Morning
Firstly, as the couple, don't feel any obligation or pressure to attend any events on the wedding day itself. Guests and friends will understand your absence as you spend the day preparing for the ceremony. Instead, as a thoughtful gesture for out of town guests, share suggestions for enjoying local activities, regional highlights, destination shopping and great breakfast and brunch locations.
Day 3: Farewell Brunch
Everyone loves the opportunity to have one last 'hurrah' before departing for the weekend and the 'farewell brunch' allows travelling family members and guests a final chance to say goodbye to each other and farewell the bride and groom. Notice we didn't say 'farewell breakfast' ...making it a brunch allows guests time to check out of their accommodation and for those who may have celebrated a little harder than others some time to recover the morning after. If your group is smaller, for a more intimate gathering, consider hosting it at your accommodation or a family members place.
Communication is the key, keep guests informed and set the expectations early
Just as important as 'what' you do on your wedding weekend is 'who' you do it with and 'how' you plan on doing it.Be organised early and, along with save the date cards, let guests know that you plan on 'making a weekend' of it so they have adequate time to organise work commitments and book accommodation ahead of time at a preferred rate.
Give lots of notice and outline dress codes for the weekends festivities
On your wedding website share the full itinerary for the weekend along with the dress code for each event and what the general 'feel' of the occasion will be and make sure to ask guests to RSVP to each event. ,
Share nearby accommodation options taking into consideration a range of budgets and lean on your venue for assistance, asking to be supplied with their 'recommended accommodation' list (these will often include additional perks for guests such as discounted rates or earlier check-ins or later check-outs).
What about guests travelling with children?
For guests travelling with children be clear about which events are 'child friendly' and provide babysitting or childminding options for those that aren't. Another popular preference is to connect guests before the weekend who may wish to split costs if hiring a childminding service.
Avoid awkward conversations and misunderstandings by clearly outlining who pays for what
Setting your guests expectations early for what they will and won't have to pay for throughout the weekend will be essential for ensuring that the weekend runs smoothly. Travel, accommodation, food and extra activities can add up quickly so letting guests know early will help with budgeting and planning ahead of time.
The wedding website again provides the perfect platform for sharing this information, remember, the more you communicate early and clearly the fewer questions you will have to field closer to the events.
Hosting as opposed to attending, an important distinction to make
When family members or the couple intend to pay for an event, to avoid confusion use the wording 'the event will be hosted by....' When guests are required to pay include a link for the venue/restaurant and have their menu and drinks listed with pricing. Multiple celebrations over a weekend are wonderful, in that they allow the opportunity for both sides of the family to be able to host an event for the couple,especially if the bride's family is paying for the wedding or vice-versa.
How to host the perfect wedding weekend on the Darling Downs
Less than two hours drive west of Brisbane (with direct flights available from Melbourne and Sydney) and nestled on the edge of the Great Dividing Range, Toowoomba provides the perfect location for a destination wedding weekend. Toowoomba tempts the taste buds with a vibrant cafe scene, craft breweries, bespoke wineries and an array of restaurants focusing on local and micro region cuisine. Combined with historical architecture, dynamic street art, expansive park and garden spaces and a vibrant live music scene this culinary destination is quickly gaining popularity as a 'must-see' in South East Queensland.
The all-important Friday evening 'welcome party'
This decadent hidden cocktail den in the Duggan street laneway whisks you away into a moody retreat where you can sip on carefully crafted cocktails with creative takes on your favourites and some entirely new creations. A perfect fusion of intimate spaces and outdoor terrace seating, unwind and welcome guests to the weekend's festivities with a clink of your sugar-crusted glass and a friendly 'cheers,' or as the French say, 'Sante.'
Signature Drink: Delightfully diverse, the menu is seasonal and constantly changing
Must try: Croque Monsieur
More than just a bar, 'the rock' boasts three separate function spaces; the restaurant, an all-weather beer garden and the 'top bar' with commanding views over the cityscape. With an elevated modern take on traditional pub cuisine, its modern vista, and spacious setting makes it the ideal location for your evenings soiree. With relaxed vibes and an inviting atmosphere, guests can continue to enjoy their evening while you retreat to the 'top bar' for shared platters and hand-stretched pizzas if you’re seeking a more laissez-faire and casual rehearsal dinner.
Signature drink: Old Geoffrey - macallan 12yo sherry oak whisky, house made vanilla butter syrup, smoked cinnamon, orange & aromatic bitters
Must try: Buttermilk marinated lamb rump, baked pumpkin, harissa sauce, almond tarator and puffed rice with baby leek) and an extensive wine and cocktail menu
Toowoomba's first and original open-air rooftop bar, Muller Brothers is made of two parts; a top-notch Brazilian BBQ Churrasco restaurant downstairs and a gorgeous all-weather bar up top where you can enjoy share plates, platters and delicious drinks. Kick-off your weekend by enjoying some of the best live tunes in town, and don't even hesitate to sample the tasty jugs of cocktails! With a clear roof overhead, even the cloudiest of days won't dampen your mood hereor hinder your opportunity to welcome your guests to your fabulous wedding weekend on the Darling Downs.
Signature Drink: Cocktail jugs
Craft beer and whisky are the order of the day at this bespoke and inviting bar which offers the perfect balance of comfort and class. The chesterfield lounges, warm light from low-hanging pendants and tile inlay parquetry floors command relaxation and set the scene for flowing conversation. With the award-winning 'Fitzy's on Church' restaurant adjoined and offering an exceptional dining experience, friends and foodies alike will appreciate the opportunity to move between the two spaces.
Signature drink: Pavan Pink Lady - Pavan Muscat Liqueur, Elderflower Liqueur,cranberry juice, pineapple juice & a touch of fresh lime
Must try: Mushroom Arancini with truffle oil and parmesan crumb
Rehearsal Dinner locations for celebrations with loved ones
Enjoy old-world ambience combined with contemporary service and cuisine at Gip's restaurant, or for a more grandiose get-together, opt to book the James Taylor Room in Clifford House with its elegant arched French windows and opulent chandelier. With beautiful shady surrounds in summer - think Jacaranda flower carpets and cool breezes - and a garden courtyard which can be heated in winter, this casual yet sophisticated space is a Toowoomba icon and sure to impress. With a focus on offering exquisite dining options ranging from booking a table at the restaurant to customising an evening experience with house-made canapes, entree' and main (with accompanying French bubbles and wine of course), enjoy an evening in one of Toowoomba's most historic and architecturally beautiful buildings.
Signature Drink: French bubbles under the evening festoon lights
Must try: Moreton Bay Bug Ravioli - house-m
Nestled alongside the iconic and historic Empire Theatre, Encores restaurant offers contemporary dining for the elevated palette. Championing modern Australian cuisine with a focus on seasonal accompaniments and local influences the restaurant can open its large bi-fold doors to overlook the garden courtyard in the cool of the evening and the stunning old church theatre by night.
Must try: Queensland Barramundi fillet, grilled peach, currant, macadamia salsa and mango coconut sauce
Delightful Saturday morning activities for guests to indulge in
Explore the farmers market and enjoy a picnic at the botanic gardens
Family-friendly, the thriving and vibrant farmers market held under the iconic windmills at the Cobb & Co Museum operates from 7am-12pm every Saturday. Providing an opportunity to buy direct from farmers and to support local food artisans you can sample award-winning local produce including local cured meats, hand-made pasta, breads, cheeses and pastries. Pack a picnic blanket, grab a coffee from the markets and retire to the botanic gardens opposite for a relaxed picnic experience with your freshly acquired produce and treats.
Shopping at Harolds Finishing Touches
Collected, masculine and whimsical - what's not to love about this effortlessly styled boutique lifestyle store, which showcases carefully acquired pieces from near and far. Oversized provincial pots, tobacco and rose plaid cushions, vintage Turkish rugs and a thoughtfully curated selection of books are some of the offerings from the Creative Director Aaron Bourne. With an online shopping presence and an accompanying Insta account that will inspire even the most discerning lifestyle connoisseur this is a MUST shopping experience - especially if you need a last-minute wedding gift.
For the golf enthusiasts, the Toowoomba Driving Range and Mini Golf
If looking to expend some energy - or shake some pre-wedding nerves - even the most ardent golf fan can unwind while enjoying the Toowoomba City Mini Golf and Driving Range which offers 18 adventurous themes holes with challenging landscapes including ponds, bridges and grass mounds. Enjoy a cool beverage while you play and don’t forget to allow approximately 45mins for the mini golf.
Name a more iconic trio than gorgeous bespoke florals arrangements, organic and locally sourced ingredients (which transform into tantalising pastries) and killer coffee! Walk through the large wooden door of the Baker's Buck and be met with a fusion of minimal industrial design, natural light, concrete floors, exposed rafters and friendly staff who delight in creating and serving the best pastries in town. With the addition of Belmont Botanicals captivating flora displays this is the place to be on a Saturday morning! The vibrant hub provides inside and outdoor dining or the perfect selection of treats for a picnic at the nearby Queens Park.
Coffe blend: Blackboard Coffee Roasters
Savoury offerings: 'Snake bite' starring prosciutto and jalapeno wrapped in buttery, crispy pastry
Sweet tempters: Everything!! It's all incredible!!!
Colourful, creative and inviting. You'll want to welcome the day with breakfast at Burrow featuring eclectically composed decor, colourful accents and an incredible breakfast menu with excellence as the benchmark. Pooch friendly (in the alfresco front area), this happening place is a favourite of locals and a staple in the Toowoomba cafe scene.
Coffee blend: AllPress
Savoury offerings: La Galette - Buckwheat crepe, shaved leg ham, gruyere, bechamel, saute mushrooms, fried egg, parmesan, greens w dijon dressing
Sweet tempters: Cassata - Glace fruit & orange blossom ricotta, flaky puff, strawberry, cherry & almond liqueur syrup, chocolate' ice-cream, almonds and chocolate floss
For the serious coffee devotees, this laneway cafe is the place to go, it’s tucked away, but just follow the crowd heading past the street art towards the hole in the window where their takeaway coffee is served. Setting its own course, delivering alternative vibes and mixing up the regular cafe fare, expect something different and exciting from their menu, and of course...one of the best brews of coffee in town.
Coffee blend: Blackboard Coffee Roasters
Savoury offerings: Lady Gaga - Bacon, zucchini & garlic loaded potato skins, topped with avo, poached eggs, hollandaise and basil pesto.
Sweet tempters: Changes daily
All good things must come to an end....Sunday morning's farewell brunch
Located a short drive from Toowoomba in the panoramic Lilyvale Valley, picturesque Rosalie House and winery is the perfect location to farewell guests with a relaxed Sunday morning brunch. Enjoy delectable brunch boards and morning tapas whilst overlooking the vineyard, and if you’re feeling up to it, complete the experience by sampling the house wine. For those wanting to make a day of it, join local musicians and artists for a 'Sunday Session in the vines' from 2pm onwards. Family-owned and rich in heritage, this boutique winery with its manicured vines and old-style country charm is the perfect location to wind up a wedding weekend well spent on the Darling Downs.
If you are craving creative flavours that aren't on the stock standard cafe menu, and you’re looking for somewhere a little more central to wind up and tease out the last few hours together ,then look no further than Sweet Talk. With a feel that is fresh and relaxed, this cafe doesn't hold back in the styling stakes with exposed brick walls, contemporary art, warm wood tones and the most exquisite crisp white tin pressed ceiling (make sure those eyes keep travelling above the cleverly elevated wall of greenery). Located in the beautifully curated Longs Quarter and redefining our expectations of what the humble Sunday brunch can offer, book their Boozy Brunch to enjoy their fresh and seasonal all day menu and 90mins of bottomless Prosecco, Mimosa's, Spritzer's, Rose and Balter Beer.