[do_widget "Search"]

Our very own Willoughby Bowling Club became the venue for a spectacular wedding reception recently when the bushfires wiped out the plans in place for a New York bride and groom.

Organising your wedding can be a stressful time. Jess Flood, a Middle Cove woman now living in New York, and her partner David Webber wanted to have their wedding in an Australian bush location. Everything was ready but then the bushfires came, threatening the venue, Melross, located in Kangaroo Valley. Jess and David followed the fire reports carefully and finally made the call to relocate the reception five days before the event. Whilst moving your wedding venue pales in significance to the loss of life and property that has occurred in these bushfires, it is nonetheless a big day for the couple as well as for their family and friends. Cancelling would also have had a detrimental flow-on effect for the country businesses they had engaged other than the venue. But where do you find a wedding reception venue at the last minute?

Jess’s mum had previously organised her birthday party at Willoughby Park Bowling Club and approached the Club about hosting the reception. Despite the short notice the Club was happy to help by accommodating them. Jess and David had locked in an event organiser, caterer, florist, band and DJ, all from the South Coast and Southern Tablelands, and all of whom were happy to honour their commitment at the new location.


The Club’s members helped in moving furniture which gave event planner, Rhianna Smith, a blank canvas to decorate for the night. The club’s new caterer, Manjits, graciously agreed to stand down for the night to allow Jess and David’s caterer, Moonacres from Fitzroy Falls, to use the kitchen. Manjits managing director, Varun Gujral said “We were happy to support this local business from the Southern Highlands in these desperate times, as well as support the couple on their big day.”

Come Saturday evening the club was ready as the guests arrived. Some guests played barefoot bowling as they waited for the bride and groom to arrive. The guests enjoyed cocktails before a 4-course meal was served followed by entertainment from the Vic Janko Orkestar band and Byron Bay DJ, Jeremy Dotch.

The night was a resounding success despite the many challenges of relocating a wedding reception at such short notice. There are many ways to help others in times of natural disasters. Enabling businesses from affected areas to continue trading and providing alternative venues for affected functions are but two of many. Additionally Jess & David encouraged their guests, friends and family all over the globe to donate to the bush fire appeal on their behalf.