12 Oct 2020
Bannisters - Port Stephens

Bannisters Port Stephens – Your new wedding destination

Just as the large billboard along Nelson Bay Road promised that Change is Coming to Port Stephens, a year later change has definitely arrived and everyone is excited.


Bannisters Port Stephens


Perched on the hill overlooking the waters of what the locals call ‘The Bay’, with views of Yacaabaa and Tomaree mountains on one side and bush outlooks on the other, the recently opened Bannisters Port Stephens has already created a much anticipated buzz in this northern part of New South Wales.

Often confused with another and a much bigger town with also a ‘Port’ in its name, Port Stephens will no longer be mistaken for any other. Already a much loved destination for family holidays and couple getaways, Bannisters PS is set to further secure Port Stephens’ position on the wedding map.

With its natural beauty and abundance of fresh local seafood, Port Stephens is an obvious continuation of the Bannisters’ story that began in Mollymook. As much as Bannisters is known for luxury accommodation and celebrated for its signature restaurant by the British celebrity chef, Rick Stein, Bannisters have also created memorable wedding experience for countless of couples.

Gemma Turton, events manager and wedding coordinator at Bannisters PS, welcomed us and gave us a tour of the hotel. Describing itself as ‘Barefoot Luxury’ – a quick Google search explains exactly what this term means. It’s a destination where you come to “unplug, chill out and remember what it’s all about.”

Walking into the hotel’s lobby, your eyes are immediately drawn to the effortless transition of indoor/outdoor settings with its glass floor to ceiling windows and open spaces, a Terrace Bar with an infinity pool and the calming water views beyond. 

It feels luxurious without being intimidating. 


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Bannisters Port Stephens


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Gemma’s personality fits perfectly well with this setting. She’s professional yet open and warm, and with an infectious enthusiasm about the hotel’s future in the wedding arena. When we met, Bannisters PS had only been open for two weeks and they’ve already held their first wedding! And the phones have not stopped ringing.

Having recently moved from Mollymook, Gemma tells us what she’s loving about Port Stephens.

“The sea change is nice! I love the fact that Port Stephens has similarities to Mollymook with the beaches and seaside towns, but there’s a bit more going on with places like Newcastle and the Hunter Valley just on the doorstep, although dangerous having so many great wineries so close!”

Gemma is also one of the staff members of Bannisters Mollymook who are now working in Bannisters PS. She describes it like working with old family and meeting new ones. “I like to think of this hotel as the best of both Bannisters by the Sea and Bannisters Pavilion in Mollymook.” 

For Gemma the biggest advantage that Bannisters PS have is its proximity to Sydney and Newscatle airport. This advantage may just be the extra drawing card for couples when choosing a wedding destination. Not only couples and their guests can easily get to Port Stephens wherever they may be in Australia or the world, but as Gemma pointed out, it means that they can also stay and explore this beautiful part of New South Wales a bit more.

“The couples that have been most interested are those who are looking for something a little more relaxed with touches of elegance…”

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Bannisters Port Stephens

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But just what type couples would choose Bannisters PS for their wedding venue? 

“The couples that have been most interested are those who are looking for something a little more relaxed with touches of elegance. With the water being so close it means that all of our restaurants and most of our rooms within the hotel have great water views, which is a real wow factor. When you take guests up to The Deck, which as you’ve seen has almost 360 degrees uninterrupted views, I think that’s what really sells it!”

Add to this the amazing food that Bannisters have become synonymous with, couples can expect a full wedding sensory experience.

“We have two food outlets; Ricks Stein at Bannisters which is our more formal seafood restaurant and the more relaxed Terrace bar, serving modern-Australian dishes from a share-style menu. In both restaurants we can cater for sit down meals or there is the option of a Terrace BBQ, for those who want to keep things a little more casual.

Rick is all about fresh seafood, simply cooked, so our couples could go for something like the marinated tuna with coriander, chilli and lime as an entree, with a main of steamed snapper fillet with black beans, and shaoxing wine.” Of course, vegetarians and non-seafood are also catered for in their delicious menu.

Perhaps one of the most exciting parts of picking a wedding reception is the menu tasting! True to Bannisters principle of serving only fresh and what’s on season, they base the function menu to what they are currently serving. “I also think it’s really beneficial for couples to dine at Rick’s or the Terrace Bar to get a good feel for the space, and an idea of what they would like to do with it,” recommends Gemma.

Often our own experience gives us an insight into helping others how to handle a similar situation. In Gemma’s case, she got married in the UK over a year ago while planning everything from the other side of the world. 

Aware that couples who get married in Port Stephens are most likely having a destination wedding, she wishes to use her recent wedding planning experience to make it less stressful for Bannisters couples.

“I think the most difficult part for me was having to search for every little thing and with the internet as my only tool. It was a lot of not knowing whether the sources I was using were reliable or not. To help my out-of-town brides I’m in the process of putting together a bible of local providers from florists, cake-makers, photographers, celebrants, babysitters all the way to local seamstress for the last minute fixes. I’ll be able to share this with them so they’re able to get in contact with the right people that we know won’t let them down.”

With the hotel being so new, Gemma and the rest of Bannisters team are still putting together packages for couples to enjoy. But she’s excited to share a few that are on the cards, “We plan to have an all inclusive deal, which will include all rooms, the ceremony on the grass with the reception at Ricks Stein at Bannisters and a pre or post wedding BBQ in the Terrace bar. We will also be partnering up with some local business like yourself to get some great deals for couples getting married at Bannisters Port Stephens.”


“Savour every moment from the planning to the actual day, it all goes so fast so don’t forget to take a step back and take it all in.”


Bannisters Port Stephens

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As much as it’s exciting planning a wedding, there are times when it can also be overwhelming. Couples can easily get lost amongst the wedding details and forget that in the centre of all these are two people making a lifetime commitment. 

Gemma gives this advice to couples who are about to embark on a wedding journey. “Have fun with it! Make sure you do things the way you want them done, don’t let too many people’s opinions cloud yours.

Savour every moment from the planning to the actual day, it all goes so fast so don’t forget to take a step back and take it all in.

Oh and don’t leave all the planning down to just one person!”

Gemma clearly knows what she’s talking about. After all, she’s been there before

{Would love to know more about celebrating your wedding at Bannisters Port Stephens? For more information please visit their website and contact Gemma.}