A few weeks ago, Blair and I celebrated a month of marriage with a road-trip North for one of our favourite weekend retreats, Matakana Village. We popped the Champagne at Ascension Wine Estate which is both a beautiful restaurant and a versatile venue perfect for weddings.
A walk around the buildings reveals spaces each more beautiful than the last: the Belfry Chapel; the Winery; the Bell Tower; Fountain Garden; Vineyard Arbor and the Bridge Garden. If you’re looking for a completely unique venue, or have any fear of a popular wedding venue losing its uniqueness (same ceremony, same reception space, same photos), Ascension Wine Estate is worth a second look.
We were attending a wedding later in the afternoon which was sure to turn into a big night, so we sensibly sat down for a proper lunch (and bottle of Champagne, to start the afternoon as it was to continue). Though the restaurant is large and grand, the space still manages to remain cosy, and the staff soon put you at ease – there’s no pretence here, though the food is as good as you’d find in any of Auckland’s fine-dining restaurants. Perhaps its the Matakana influence, but you feel like you’d be just as welcome in Jandals as you would in Jimmys. I spoke to some of the staff there, and it’s abundantly clear how well organised they are for weddings, and events in general. Professional, helpful and also passionate about their space, I felt like a bride to be would feel in safe, experienced hands with the team.
Ascension is truly beautiful and romantic. It has a European feel, akin to the venue we chose for our own wedding, with a Sonoma valley wine-region feel that’s uncommon this close to Auckland. The grounds are pristine, yet really homely. Amazingly, it offers full wedding packages for up to 220 guests, though the setting and hospitality is also so intimate and inviting that a small wedding would feel comfortable too. Personally, with my 75 guests I’d have a ceremony among the vines, and the reception in the restaurant, opening out to the Courtyard for cocktails in the afternoon. If you have guests coming from out of Auckland or overseas, this venue is guaranteed to impress, and equally as someone who has seen my fair share of Auckland venues, Ascension Wine Estate offers something really special.
[right]Ascension has almost a dozen different spaces for ceremonies and celebrations, but it never has more than one wedding at a time, so couples have exclusive use of the venue and all its stunning spots for photography. Recently, cocktail packages have become more popular, which offers a more relaxed, informal (and affordable) afternoon or evening, while still boasting all the benefits of the traditional ceremony and evening reception.
I planned half my wedding last year by attending wedding fairs, and was pleased to hear that Ascension actually hosts its very own boutique wedding fair each year (this year on 15 May), so if you’re interested in a Matakana wedding, or exploring Ascension, it’s the perfect day to meet all the local suppliers (and indulge in a long lunch, perhaps).[/right]
[left]I’ll be attending its “Bridal & Bliss” wedding fair, and would encourage you to come along – there’s an incredible prize of a cocktail wedding for 50 guests which will actually be drawn on the day, 15 May 2016… Can I enter for my renewal..? Follow Ascension on Facebook for updates[/left]
I just loved every angle of Ascension, and while I’m yet to be invited to a wedding there, I’ve browsed plenty of beautiful weddings shot by Perspectives Photo and Video to know that any wedding guest would be lucky to attend. Here are some of my favourite by Perspectives.