Arriving at family-run Weddings at Tiffany’s in Maleny, you can see this is somewhere special. A stunning panoramic view of the Glasshouse Mountains, offset by the manicured sloping lawn with viewing deck and wooden swing. Topiary, wild jasmine, elegant statues and gently cascading water features…. the attention to detail is second-to-none. Victoria McGuin paid a visit to find out what goes on behind the scenes.
After appreciating the landscaped beauty upon my arrival, I see the chapel perched above the view…. White wood, large windows, chandeliers, glass and silver candelabras. Classic, understated and perfect as it is, or easily adaptable for splashes of colour or flowers to change the tone. The neutrality of this peaceful space means anyone can be married here, whether by a celebrant, minister, priest or friend.
I head into the main house, sit in a comfy armchair with a cup of tea and notice a cork board covered with ‘thank you’ cards from happy couples. Words jump out at me: special, perfect, incredible, amazing, wonderful setting, cannot thank you enough. This family-run business is clearly doing a superb job at making people thrilled with their special day.
Kelly Tilse owns Weddings at Tiffany’s, alongside her husband David and her parents, Colleen and David. As she sits down for a chat, I comment on the black and white framed photographs of Audrey Hepburn in the bar area, on the coasters and in the hall.
“Breakfast at Tiffany’s is one of my favourite films,” she smiles. “I was watching it one afternoon when we’d just acquired this venue and thought, why not, ‘Weddings at Tiffany’s’? The film is classic and timeless, and we will be too.”
The building itself was originally an art gallery and tea house, called ‘Malcolm’s of Maleny,’ before becoming a restaurant. By the time Kelly and her family found it, it was pretty run down. “We revamped the garden, built the chapel and decks. Basically gave it a massive overhaul to return it to its original splendour.”
Kelly was a wedding floral designer, who had been in Maleny since 2007. She realised, just from listening to couples, that they wanted a venue that “ticked all the boxes”. With her passion for flowers, Kelly first and foremost decided to create an exclusive floral design studio, Tiffany’s Flowers, along with dedicated stylists to ensure couples had everything at their fingertips.
She also knew that people were looking for a beautiful place that could be used in all weather. Somewhere neutral, with excellent food, amazing views, the ability to have the ceremony and reception on site, and where they could put their own stamp on the wedding theme.
Realising they had found the perfect location for this, the family stepped up to the challenge, and it has clearly paid off. Since they began, the venue has catered for over 25,000 guests, with over 10,000 booked for 2015-16 already. “We generally have four weddings a week here, so it is busy.”
Although Tiffany’s occasionally advertise, word-of-mouth has been a huge factor in their popularity. In fact, the reason Kelly and her family are now advertising in the Hinterland Times is, “really to say hello and Merry Christmas to the local community, and to thank all our staff, suppliers and supporters for the last three & a half years.”
It is clear that the success of the business is in no small part down to the family’s attitude to the staff and the community. “Many of our staff have been with us since the beginning and there are over 30 of them. Most of them live in Maleny. We want to make sure we are supporting the locals.”
Not only that, but all the food suppliers, photographers, gardeners, hairdressers and virtually everyone else they use is from the surrounding area. It is quite an achievement that since their business began, over $6.5 million has been directly injected by Tiffany’s into the local economy.
Kelly tells me that over 70% of Tiffany’s couples who book come from outside of the region, traveling not only from Brisbane & the greater part of Qld, but also interstate & internationally to be married in our magic part of the world. This brings welcome support for the wider community, with accommodation houses, restaurants, and many other local industries benefiting financially.
I notice framed certificates on the wall stating this is a ‘cage-free workplace’ and they make ‘a world without factory farming possible.’ Kelly is passionate about this subject. “We can’t understand why other venues & restaurants are still using caged eggs, and the way as a country we farm animals makes me really sad,” she says shaking her head. “We won’t support businesses who don’t farm in the right way. We want to know where the food comes from right until it gets on our guests’ plates.”
This care and attention continues in other areas. A bus service with Mystic Mountain Tours is built into the package, so neighbours don’t have the stress of car parking issues from the guests. And noise pollution is also addressed. “I’m not sure if I should say this,” Kelly laughs, “but there are no fireworks out of respect for nearby Mary Cairncross Park, and our nearby local farmers who have livestock. And we don’t let lanterns off as they’re a fire hazard.”
In addition to consideration for their surroundings, there is clearly a great camaraderie here. Kelly’s mother is affectionately known as ‘Shu Shu’ (Swahili for Grandmother) and, despite approaching 70, she still supervises the gardening & landscaping teams.
“All our beautiful manicured gardens are thanks to my mum,” Kelly says with a smile. “She also comes in every evening to cover the functions and oversees everything. The staff call her Mama Bear, because she affectionately looks after everyone.”
It’s a team effort. Father David looks after the administration & finance departments, whilst husband David manages the maintenance & beverage teams. Kelly coordinates the weddings and the flowers and the two youngest members of the family, Jack and Harry, like to help sometimes. “One day this will go to them,” Kelly says. “If they want it of course…which I hope they do!”
I ask if Kelly has any special memories and she struggles to answer, “Because there are so many! We’ve been on a journey with these couples, often for over a year. We have a connection with them and it’s very emotional. Many of them still keep in touch and I love that.”
As we finish chatting, Kelly takes me through the breezy, light dining area with its huge fireplace and large wooden deck; then says, “You must see the ladies’ powder room!” A large, long window shows far-reaching views and nestled at the end is a private corner with a large armchair and footstool.
“That’s for breastfeeding mothers, so they have somewhere private and comfy to sit.” It’s the final example of how Tiffany’s is much more than just a wedding venue – these people really look after everyone who come through their doors.