Sydney is arguably the most beautiful city in Australia, and some say the most beautiful harbour city in the world with some of the best small wedding venues in Sydney. It is Australia’s largest city and it also hosts the most weddings per year compared to any other state in Australia. And it is a simply beautiful city to have an elopement or a small intimate wedding.
Most major wedding venues in Sydney will have a minimum guest number to have a wedding there. Many don’t cater to intimate or small weddings. Often minimum numbers are 80 to 100 people.
I also wanted to mix in some beautiful outdoor wedding ceremony locations in Sydney. These locations may not have a reception option, but you can always do the reception at another venue. But the beauty of Sydney Harbour is what these locations have and as that is what Sydney is famous for. But you also naturally can get married in one of Sydney’s many historic churches. Or you could have your ceremony in one of Sydney’s many surrounding suburbs with their beautiful beaches and parks. But if you are wanting to elope in Sydney, and you are not a local, then chances are you are wanting something around the harbour.
Just a quick note about permits. If you are wanting to have your wedding ceremony in a popular location, you will definitely need to organise a permit well in advance. You can’t just go to any location and have a wedding ceremony. Without a permit, you risk your ceremony being stopped by a council ranger or security and being issued with a fine. Which is not a way you want to remember your elopement.
Here is a list of some wonderful Sydney elopement wedding venues that actually cater to smaller and more intimate wedding of 20 people or less.
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Here are 50 wonderful elopement and intimate wedding venues in Sydney that will ensure you have the most amazing day!
1. Park Hyatt Sydney
Location: 7 Hickson Rd, The Rocks NSW 2000
Located right on Sydney Harbour, Park Hyatt Sydney has arguably the best location on the harbour for a hotel and an intimate wedding venue. This is one of Sydney’s best hotels and its location on the waterfront, combined with the modern contemporary cuisine make it an ideal location for a smaller wedding or elopement.
The Park Hyatt Sydney can cater to intimate wedding receptions of less than 20 guests, so it is perfect for elopements. They have to a private room called “The Study” which has an elegant boardroom design that also features old wines from all over the world. It also features a stunning floor-to-ceiling glass wall that is actually a glass wine cellar wall that has amazing views directly to the Sydney Opera House
2. Gunners Barracks
Location: End of Suakin Drive, Mosman NSW 2088
Gunners Barracks has been one of my favourite smaller wedding venues for many years. It is located at Georges Head in Mosman and has some beautiful views over the harbour. It is owned by the same group that owns Dunbar House, the QVB Team Room and Sergeants Mess.
Built-in 1873, Gunners Barracks is of national significance as one of Sydney’s best examples of a defensive building dating from the nineteenth century, with its stone quarried locally. The site was initially composed of two adjacent structures. In 1891, the second storey was added to the rear block, and the two buildings were also later connected. The barracks were excavated into the side of the cliff and connected by tunnels to the adjacent fortifications forming part of a network of fortifications created to protect Sydney Harbour from invasion.
This former defence site’s natural and cultural heritage offers a variety of rare scenic opportunities with historic backdrops of sandstone or stunning harbour scenery.
You can have your wedding ceremony out in the sandstone courtyard or down on the lawn below the main building overlooking the harbour. There is even a nice wet-weather option if it does rain.
What I love about this venue is its intimate and historic setting. It can fit over 100 guests, but the main room would also be lovely for a smaller wedding of 20 people. The room wouldn’t feel too big and they do events of this size. Gunners Barracks is a beautiful smaller wedding venue that works well for elopements.
3. Elizabeth Bay House
Location: 7 Onslow Ave, Elizabeth Bay NSW 2011
Elope in a historic Australian house in the Eastern Suburbs. Elizabeth Bay House is a stunning historic, heritage-listed Colonial Regency style property with majestic views over Sydney Harbour. Elizabeth Bay House, constructed between 1835 and 1839, was regarded as’ the colony’s finest house.’ Designed for the Colonial Secretary, Alexander Macleay and his family by the most stylish and talented architect of the day, John Verge, Elizabeth Bay House is a magnificent example of colonial architecture in a splendid setting overlooking Sydney Harbour.
After a chequered history, in 1977 the house was fully restored to its former glory and it reopened as a museum. It is one part museum and one parts an event space. They use it for weddings and events to help pay for the upkeep and maintenance to the hose. It can also be used as an intimate wedding venue that most people aren’t aware of. It is an awesome choice for an elopement for those couples looking for something elegant with some old-world charm.
There is three main space to choose from the Hall and Saloon. And the Dining Room and the Cellar. What I love about this venue is that you can have the ceremony in one space and have an intimate reception dinner in another space. All the spaces are very unique and historic.
If you are looking for an outdoor ceremony, Elizabeth Bay House can also be hired in conjunction with a ceremony booking made at Arthur McElhone Reserve (booked via City of Sydney). When you do this, they offer the Saloon as a wet weather back‐up, with access to the house for toilets and wedding photography during your ceremony hire time.
Elizabeth Bay House is perfect for wedding and elopement photos and there are lots of little locations all over the property. The inside has many modern and rustic elements, but one of my favourite features is the huge grand staircase.
It is a really good venue for elopements and intimate weddings.
4. Public Dining Room
Location: 2A The Esplanade, Mosman NSW 2088
Public Dining Room is a modern and casual fine dining restaurant, located at the iconic beach of Balmoral Beach. Its name was inspired by the local swimming baths located directly in front of the Restaurant. The Restaurant was originally the turnstile area to access the baths back in 1898. So it is steeped in local history and the restaurant is a modern reflection of this.
There is the option of doing your wedding ceremony onsite in their Terrace area. This is an undercover area so you have the peace of mind in knowing that your ceremony can happen no matter what the weather is. Otherwise, you can hold the ceremony on Balmoral Beach, which you would need to book through the council. You could have the ceremony in Balmoral Beaches beautiful white rotunda or on Rocky Point Island, which is just a short stroll over a bridge to get to.
There are three main options for a small wedding reception at Public Dining Room:
- The Private Dining Room – This room would be perfect for elopements and small intimate weddings. It fits one long table of 23 guests or 3 tables of 33 guests. It’s a private room with floor to ceiling windows that look onto Balmoral Beach and the baths area. It can also be booked for breakfast, lunch or dinner elopements.
- The Terrace – This is a slightly bigger area, situated outdoor but undercover. It can fit up to 58 people seated. But it is only available for breakfast or lunch wedding receptions.
- A table in the Restaurant – This is a nice idea if you are not having speeches and don’t require a private area.
- You can also book the whole restaurant out for a larger wedding of up to 110 people.
5. Viewing Cube at Museum of Sydney
Location: Bridge St &, Phillip St, Sydney NSW 2000
If you are looking for a small wedding venue that is artistic, modern and elegant, then the Viewing Cube at Museum of Sydney just might be for you.
Viewing Cube is located inside the Museum of Sydney, which is a historical collection and exhibition that has been built on the actual ruins of the house of the first Governor of New South Wales. Governor Arthur Philip. And it is located on the corner of Philip and Bridge Street right in the heart of Sydney and Circular Quay.
You dine in this magnificent cantilevered glass structure with stunning views of Phillip Street and the surrounding city. It is an intimate space for an elopement or small dinner reception. With its entry through the Museum’s History of Sydney exhibit on level 2, the Viewing Cube is a remarkable venue that can accommodate 20 guests for dinner.
6. Observatory Hill
Address: 1001 Upper Fort St, Millers Point
Observatory Hill is one of the best and most popular public park locations for a wedding or elopement ceremony in Sydney. The park sits on top of a hill with sweeping panoramic views of Sydney. The historic Rocks area is located below the park. And there is a tunnel near the park where you can access the entrance to walk across the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Most people use the large Rotunda located at the park to hold their wedding ceremony. But photographically speaking, I think it is much better to have the ceremony under one of the huge trees around the park which overlook the Sydney Harbour Bridge. As the handrail, the roof and the shade of the rotunda will restrict the views for photos.
You will definitely need to book the park and pay a fee, with the City of Sydney Council, to have a wedding or elopement ceremony. It is a very popular location and you can guarantee there will be a wedding ceremony there most Saturdays.
Observatory Hill is a public park and the City of Sydney allows couples to take their wedding photos without charging a fee, even if you are not having a ceremony there. They do charge a fee for other commercial photography. There is quite a good variety of looks and locations within this small park. And it is a great place for photos.
A quick word about photo etiquette. If someone had booked the area for a wedding ceremony it is very bad etiquette for another wedding couple to walk around them and take photos near them while they are having their ceremony. Take photos in other parts of the park away from their ceremony. It is common sense, but it sometimes needs to be said.
Pros of location:
- It is located in a beautiful part of Sydney with lots of local and photographic attractions within walking distance.
- Huge big trees, which are great for photos and for shade from the harsh Australian sun.
- Fantastic views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Cons of location:
- It is a very popular spot for locals and tourists on weekends. You may find families with picnic blankets in some of the prime places.
- It is an extremely popular location for wedding photos, particularly on a Saturday afternoon. But also on Friday or Sunday afternoons. It is not unusual to have five or more wedding couples walking around the park getting photos.
- The Sydney Opera House can’t be seen from this park.
7. Hickson Road Reserve
Address: Hickson Rd, The Rocks
Hickson Road Reserve is a small park on Hickson Road which has some of the most spectacular views of Sydney Harbour. It is a small park between a hotel and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. So on one side, you have The Bridge and behind you, over the water, you have the Sydney Opera House.
Bookings are essential through the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority for all wedding ceremonies. The ceremony is generally held on the grass with the Opera House in the background.
Hickson Rd Reserve is a very small park managed by the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority. And it is a prime location for beautiful photos of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. They allow couples to take their wedding photos at this location without charging a fee, even if you are not having a ceremony there. They do charge a fee for other commercial photography.
Because it is located in The Rocks area of Sydney, there are a lot of other photographic locations within walking distance.
Just be aware that there is no wet weather alternative or shelter at this location for your wedding ceremony. And it is a very busy location. There is a footpath, in front of the grass, along the foreshore and it is a fairly busy thoroughfare. So there may be people walking behind you as you say your wedding vows, but it not too much of an issue.
8. Sydney Harbour Bridge (Bridge Climb)
Location: 3 Cumberland St, The Rocks
Most people would get married somewhere around Sydney Harbour with the Sydney Harbour Bridge in the background. But, you can actually get married at the top of Sydney Harbour Bridge.
The wedding ceremony takes place on top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge with your celebrant and you must book well in advance. Climbing the Harbour Bridge is run by a private company called Bridge Climb. You would need to go through all their safety briefings and get changed into their safety gear. Climbing the Harbour Bridge takes much longer than you think. It is about a two hour round trip.
You can bring your own wedding photographer, they will just be limited in their equipment and it will need to be safely secured to them.
There aren’t too many negative aspects of this location. But the main one would be that you can’t wear a big long wedding dress. You have to wear their gorgeous grey and blue jumpsuit with safety ropes attached.
But if you are not into big long, white wedding dresses, then you will have a totally unique experience and you will have an amazing story to tell your kids.
9. Sydney Opera House
Location: Bennelong Point, Sydney
The Sydney Opera House is one of the worlds most famous buildings and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It was designed by Danish architect Jorn Utzon and opened in October 1973. It’s a multi-venue performing art centre and not only shows opera but also ballet, concerts, comedy shows, play and theatre. It is the pride and joy of Sydney Harbour and yes you can actually get married there!
The Sydney Opera House has a number of venues where you can have your wedding ceremony. They are more set up for weddings as opposed to elopements. But I am sure if you contact them, you can arrange an outdoor elopement ceremony on their forecourt.
There is also a restaurant in the front sail at the Opera House which is currently called Bennelong. In the past, for elopements and intimate weddings, they have had a small ceremony on the forecourt. Which they section off to keep to the general public out. And then you would enter the restaurant for an amazing culinary delight.
It doesn’t get much more ‘Sydney’ than having your wedding/elopement photos around the Opera House. There is currently no permit required to take wedding or elopement photos around the Sydney Opera House. So even if you are not having your wedding ceremony there, you can drop by to take photos.
Just be aware that there will be a lot of tourists everywhere. So if you wanted a photo of the two of you, on the steps, with the whole of the Opera House, without any tourists in the photo, you are sure to be disappointed. So it is worth just accepting that fact. After the sun has set there are fewer tourists around, so you can potentially get some beautiful night shots without people in it. Or you ask your wedding photographer really nicely to photoshop them out.
10. Vaucluse House
11. Mona Vale Golf Club
12. Bathers Pavilion, Mosman
13. View By Sydney
14. Deckhouse, Woolwich
15. Sydney Aquarium
16. Catalina Restaurant, Rose Bay
17. Jonah’s, Whale Beach
18. Avondale Golf Club
19. Botanic House, Royal Botanic Gardens
20. Foys Kirribilli, Sydney Flying Squadron
21. Three Williams Cafe, Redfern
22. Ovolo Woolloomooloo
23. InterContinental Sydney
24. Quay Restaurant, The Rocks
25. Longreef Golf Club
26. Banjo Paterson Cottage Restaurant, Gladesville
27. The Boathouse Palm Beach
28. The Mint Sydney
29. The Boathouse Shelly Beach
30. Icebergs, Bondi
31. Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour
32. Amora Jamison Hotel
33. Centennial Parklands
34. Dunbar House
35. Sheraton Grand Sydney Hyde Park
36. Sofitel Sydney Wentworth
37. Watsons Bay Hotel
38. Novotel Sydney Manly Pacific
39. Zest Point Pipers
40. Aqua Dining, Milsons Point
41. Sails Lavender Bay
42. Cafe Morso, Pyrmont
43. Moby Dicks, Whale Beach
44. Ripples Milson Point
45. The Gili Rooftop at Taronga Zoo
46. Sydney Harbour Marriott Hotel, Circular Quay
47. Fort Denison
48. Q Station Manly
49. Wylie Baths, Coogee
50. Ground of Alexandria
Get your venue listed!
Do you have a venue that can cater to elopements and intimate small weddings…
and you think it should be on this list?