Fred and Chris Welsh inside the Moondance Saloon on Riverside Ranch at Yamba - a popular wedding venue.
Fred and Chris Welsh inside the Moondance Saloon on Riverside Ranch at Yamba - a popular wedding venue.

Springing back into the wedding season

WHEN wedding restrictions lift on July 1 following the coronavirus pandemic, it will be music to Fred and Chris Welsh’s ears.

The couple operates Riverside Ranch in Yamba, which over the past few years has become a popular wedding venue for locals and visitors.

And thanks to a recent addition, that sweet music doesn’t get heard by anyone else.

The couple said that they were lucky that when coronavirus restrictions came in, they only lost two weddings, with most couples choosing to postpone their dates.

GRATITUDE to our brides & grooms who responsibly chose to postpone their weddings 💒 Keep your dream alive... your...

Posted by Riverside Ranch Yamba on Wednesday, 25 March 2020

“Generally a lot of people are pushing back dates, we’ve been fortunate for that,” Mr Welsh said.

“We had a lot of emails from people at the time asking what we were doing, and we held back until we knew what was happening with the government rather than going into panic mode,” he said.

“Everything was changing so quickly.”

RELATED: How COVID-19 failed to foil Clarence brides

The NSW government announced that restrictions on numbers at weddings would lift from July 1, with the four-square metre rule applying, and Mr Welsh said it had encouraged couples to start making plans.

“It was definitely a catalyst, even in the last week we’ve got a flurry of inquiries,” he said.

“On the first day we had three inquiries, and one booked, and we’ve had consistently one or two each day.

“For the last months during the restrictions, we’ve not had a single inquiry.

“People are loosening up and coming forward, and we think we’re going to have a busy spring, with weddings pushing back into December, and a great 2021.”

The couple fell into providing a wedding venue on their horse ranch after events evolved there.

Images from the Moondance Saloon on wedding venue Riverside Ranch
Images from the Moondance Saloon on wedding venue Riverside Ranch

“Our first wedding originally they wanted to stay here, as we’d just opened as an AIRBNB,” Mr Welsh said.

“Then they asked if they could have the reception here, and we thought why not.

“And then they asked if they could have the ceremony here as well.

“And afterwards we found that everyone was really respectful, and we did a few more, and we’re really enjoying it, so we put all the approvals in.”

Part of the work done at the ranch was the conversion of their 10-horse stable into an indoor reception area.

Dubbed the Moondance saloon, the venue is full soundproofed, meaning that nearby neighbours across the river now don’t hear a sound from the celebrations.

Images from the Moondance Saloon on wedding venue Riverside Ranch
Images from the Moondance Saloon on wedding venue Riverside Ranch

“We’ve had people across at Oyster Cove ask if we were still in business, they don’t hear a thing,” Mr Welsh said.

The saloon is not only soundproofed, but fully covered inside, opening up to an inlet of the river complete with a pontoon, where married couples are brought over the water to arrive.

“The space lends itself to social distancing, with most couples setting it up cocktail style,” Mr Welsh said.

“But the enclosed area has a real indoor/outdoor feeling, so it’s the best of both worlds.”

With the phones still ringing, the couple said they were looking forward to hosting more special days.

“We’re starting to book them in,” Mr Welsh said. “We’ve got five or six already for 2022, and even one for 2024.”

Fred and Chris Welsh inside the Moondance Saloon on Riverside Ranch at Yamba - a popular wedding venue.
Fred and Chris Welsh inside the Moondance Saloon on Riverside Ranch at Yamba - a popular wedding venue.


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