MV EPICURE Interview
The MV EPICURE I is mere months old, yet already, it’s become one of the most highly discussed reception venues throughout the country.
Built over a six month period, the luxury vessel boasts four) floors of absolute opulence: a state-of-the-art kitchen, lounge bar, dance floor, stage, glass staircases, an atrium, sky deck, and enough space to comfortable hold 300 people- to suit all of your celebratory needs. Though the boat clearly speaks for its breathtaking self, we spoke with the MV EPICURE’s Venue Manager, Vadawn Buhler, to get an insight into ethos behind the business, and the elements responsible for making each booking a once-in-a-lifetime event.
Where is your business located and how long have you been engaged in it?
We’re berthed in JonesBayWharf and operate on SydneyHarbour. I’ve personally been with MV EPICURE since February 2014.
What sparked your passion for the industry, and how did you first get into it?
When I was 18 and working in a high end hotel, I was enrolled into a management training program which exposed me to all aspects and departments of a hotel. After completing the programme and a stint as the Assistant Reservations Manager, I knew event management was where I ultimately wanted (desperately!) to end up. After spending a few years working closely with the events team as the Assistant Reservations Manager, I became a Senior Events Coordinator within an iconic hotel in Edinburgh. This was my first opportunity to play a crucial role in helping couples plan their weddings. After my first meeting with my first couple I was hooked! The couple’s excitement was absolutely infectious, and I felt naturally compelled to do everything in my power to make their wedding the most memorable day of their lives. Helping plan such a magical day is an incredible honour, and you’re guaranteed that no day or event will ever be the same!
What is your venue’s point of difference?
Our head chef Brett brings over 20 years of experience to MV EPICURE, and is supported by our menu development team based in Melbourne. Brett works with our local suppliers to ensure, where possible, all our produce is ethically and locally grown and sustainably produced. For example, we use only free range poultry and eggs, Australian farmed or wild seafood, sourcing local nuts, grains, vinegar and mineral water, and Fair Trade products wherever possible. Using our huge industrial kitchen on board the vessel, Brett prepares all our food from scratch- everything from stock to pastry is lovingly made in our one-of-a-kind kitchen. Moreover, Brett and I are happy to work with any couple to create a unique menu specifically catering to their wedding
What range of products or services does your company provide?
As a purpose-built event space, MV EPICURE I offers cutting edge design with luxury features. Our commitment to helping you create a unique and memorable day is at the centre of our service. Coupled with the spectacular view and our dedicated service team, MV EPICURE I offers a sensational venue for 100 – 300 people.
What is your point of difference?
Our huge industrial kitchen on board, preparing all our food from scratch. Additionally, we have three unique, customizable levels with 360 degree views of the Harbour, along with the bevy of facilities listed above.
What amenities differentiate your company from others?
We have a private, purpose built bridal suite with its own shower and bathroom, for your private use during the event.
In addition, we have a second green room for your guests use. This flexible space can be used as a private area for your bridal party, a kids room, an entertainers room, the options are endless.
What should couples consider most thoroughly before booking?
Our main concern is that you, as the couple, love the venue. Working aboard the vessel presents surprisingly few additional challenges- chief among which is simply getting seasick. In other words, we don’t have any issues that might cause practical problems- the venue, and all it offers should speak for itself!
The only other consideration worth mentioning would be your sense of conventionality. Holding your wedding on a boat might not be for everyone, like with any venue you must consider if its suitable for the flow of your event. A floating wedding might not mean a traditional wedding, but it will guarantee keeping all your guests together. Also, the breathtaking floor to ceiling windows that frame the Sydney Harbor View means you might choose to theme the venue a little differently to a land-based venue.
Do you offer any highly individualised or ‘one of a kind’ services?
Our dedicated service team will wow you with their discreet and friendly service. Your personal waiter for the evening will ensure you and your bridal party are never left looking for service. Together with my team’s experience in planning weddings, we can guarantee that your special day will be smooth sailing!
Does your business have a signature style? What would you consider it to be?
Modern opulence with a focus on local, ethical, sustainable and sumptuous food!
What’s the general process that you follow when a bride comes to see you?
Firstly, we show them the venue- it’s such a big decision that photos just don’t cut it! While looking around, I have an informal chat and start bouncing around some ideas of how the couple could customise the space for their special day. I think it’s important for the bride to fall in love with the venue on her own accord, but I do pride myself in being able to pick out what is at the core of a brides decision making, be it food, theming, logistics, etc. Whatever it is, I try to ensure I cover it completely so they leave knowing we can 100% cater for their needs. .. Once she is booked in I like to stay in contact with emails and follow up visits whenever the bride wants, sometimes I see the same couple 3 or 4 weekends in a row!
Once we are a few months out we begin to meet more regularly to fill in all the finer details such as timing throughout the day, beverage selections, theme colours, etc. I like to know about the whole day, even the parts that are not happening within my venue as they are all connected. We also conduct a menu tasting to ensure every tiny culinary detail is covered. In the week before the wedding, I have a final meeting with the couple and the Operations Manager who will be running the wedding. We literally go through the whole wedding from beginning to end, covering every details of the day’s events. I think it’s vital the couple in question meet the Operations Team prior and are part of the discussions that revolve around their event’s details. This tends to help put our clients’ minds at rest. Additionally, I like to familiarize myself with the couple well enough that I become a familiar face on the day, and am someone with whom they feel comfortable voicing their feelings.
What sort of trends is your business privy to?
Being brand new and purpose built, we are lucky to have an enviable interior with some very on trend features; exposed metal with wood finishes, textured wallpaper and oversized lounge chairs to name just a few!
EPICURE has been sourcing local, sustainable and cruelty-free product for a long time before it was popular… we were ahead of the times on this one!
How much do they influence your business?
With EPICURE’s standards in food, it does mean we source top quality food, and although this can have a price implication, it also means you can expect nothing but the best!
Brett is always keen to incorporate the hottest food and presentation trends keeping our menus current and exciting.
Are they purely visual, or do they go any deeper?
We have many visual trend setting ideas, but the food standards are at the core of what MV EPICURE does.
Do you normally offer a mock-up or run through of your product or service?
We offer a complimentary menu tasting with the beverages selected for their wedding. Both the Chef and I will meet with the couple to chat about the menu and note any changes they might like to make. Sometimes something as simple as putting the sauce in a ramekin rather than on the lamb is a big deal! I also like to invite the couples to come to look at the venue when it is set up for other weddings so they can really visualise the space and see what they do or don’t like!
Which other wedding professionals do you need to coordinate with to produce the best possible results?
Stylists and florists are the keys, as the whole vibe of a wedding hinges on their interpretation of the brides dream.
What should every bride know or consider about the industry before looking into competing businesses?
Check the small print, as sometimes there are hidden costs – can start out being all inclusive but then wind up with lots of add-ons! Weddings can be expensive and every cent counts.
What do you require of a bride when she enlists your service (e.g. a strong vision of what she wants, to be open and flexible, etc)?
I only ask that the bride is confident enough to voice her opinion with me! I will do whatever is possible to make this once in a lifetime event exactly as you’d like it, but if you don’t ask I won’t know.
What is the most common misconception you have to deal with?
That floor plans are easy- working out who should sit with who is surprisingly complicated. I am always happy to offer advice and some helpful hints, after 10 years I have worked out that almost every family has some ‘political’ fun things to work around… But the good news is there is always a solution!
How, if at all, do brides need to prepare before you begin your services?
Come with an open mind and lots of ideas.
What’s been your worst ‘bridezilla’ moment?
I’ve been pretty lucky, in my 10 years of arranging weddings I never had a bride I would consider a bridezilla. Motherzillas on the other hand… I have had a few! The one who called up trying to cancel the wedding because she didn’t like the groom probably took the biscuit!
What’s been your best experience in working with brides?
Civil Ceremonies for same-sex couples became legal in the Scotland many years ago, I had the pleasure of arranging one of the first when the law changed. It was for two beautiful boys who would put almost all my brides to shame with their elegance and style. The boys were such a beautiful couple who had the whole place in both tears and stitches when they said their personalised vows. I was very honoured to be present to see them become part of history and writing the next chapter in their life together.
What can brides expect from you in the future?
The introduction of the MV EPICURE II, as well as catering for more intimate weddings- of course, with the same stunning food and mesmerising Sydney backdrop!