Our hunt for seaside wedding venues in Hong Kong continued. It was not easy to bid farewell to Jumbo’s impressive Top Deck, but we needed to be realistic with our budget and so began exploring our options at the other end of the spectrum.
Through a friend’s recommendation, we looked into ClubOne (會所一號) – an event management company that owns a number of stylish private wedding venues throughout Hong Kong available for hire at very affordable prices.
Each venue is uniquely designed and thematically decorated. A prime example is its award-winning The Grand Stage, located inside the Edwardian-style Western Market which operated as a food market in Hong Kong’s colonial days. Its red-brick exterior and chandelier-lit dining hall offers a sense of romantic nostalgia that is sometimes hard to find in a city always hungry for everything new and hip.
ClubOne now has two beach-facing venues, but at the time of our planning, Waterfront was the only venue available and it remains the only one that invites a stunning view of the Tsing Ma Bridge. By day, the double-decked suspension bridge inaugurated by Baroness Thatcher is a humbling backdrop for beachgoers. By night, it lights up and challenges Victoria Harbour and the Big Buddha as the long-standing famous sights in Hong Kong.
For us, the scenic view and beachside setting were the biggest appeal of ClubOne’s Waterfront. We wanted an out-of-city location with an ocean view, which is still accessible by public transport, so that our guests can steer away from the manic pace of the city and fully enjoy our wedding celebration. Waterfront fit our criteria perfectly – its affordable price was just icing on the cake.
Here comes the ‘but’. Firstly, it had a low ceiling which we thought was hard to be photographed well with people in it, especially if the room itself was not very big.
Secondly, there was a rather strict finishing time. Not that we were planning on having an after-party, but we certainly would not want to rush our guests through a 12-course Chinese banquet!
Thirdly, we were informed that the only bathroom facility available for guest use was the beach toilet, although the floor plan indicated there were some behind the ceremony room. Considering most of our guests were elder family members and relatives, this would be a major hassle.
Venue – newly built and decorated
Travel – easy to reach by MTR, bus and ferry
Scenery – beachside setting and view of the Tsing Ma Bridge
Price – $5,688-8,288 (£450-660) per table of 12 (current); monthly special offers up to 50% off
Drinks – $500-880 (£40-70) per table of 12 (choices include beer, soft drinks, fresh juice and red wine); unlimited corkage for self-brought liquor
Decoration – centrepiece included
Venue – low ceiling in dining hall, shared toilets with beach
Time – strict finishing time at 10.30pm
Shuttle bus – paid service
Britain is not short of famous bridges. Some have gained an iconic status – like Tower Bridge, which is often mistaken for London Bridge that we know all too well from the nursery rhyme.
Some are cleverly and uniquely designed, like the Gateshead Millennium Bridge in London. And some serve as reminders of the Industrial Revolution, symbolised by the Iron Bridge in Shropshire.
However, the search for a British counterpart to ClubOne’s Waterfront (beach + bridge) only brings up a handful of options.
The Victoria Hotel and the Anglesey Arms in Anglesey are both within a 10-minute walk from Menai Bridge rocky beach and the awe-inspiring Menai Suspension Bridge – crossing the Menai Strait into the Irish Sea and looking up to the summits of Snowdonia.
The prime location of both hotels provides a picturesque backdrop for wedding photos. The Victoria Hotel offers an attractive price at £17.95-23.95 ($220-299) per head (quoted in 2011), but its décor seems slightly outdated.
The Anglesey Arms has undergone major refurbishment in 2011 and upgraded its amenities, so a stay-over wedding at the historic building should not disappoint.
The venue that comes closest to rivalling Waterfront is Orocco Pier, a boutique hotel outside Edinburgh city centre.
Prices may be steeper at £48-150 ($600-1,875) per head and all-inclusive packages available from £4,395 ($55,000), but its enticing menu, dashing interior and photographic setting will be worth every penny.
Weddings can be accommodated in a number of events room. Whether you fancy the stylish and intimate Fuchsia or the marble-white marquee at the deck, magnificent view of the Forth Rail Bridge and Road Bridge promises to stun and seduce.
Check out this alluring duet by Michael Bublé and Nelly Furtado, which was regretfully missed on my wedding playlist…