One of Canterbury’s busiest boutique rural wedding and events venue businesses has been put up for sale – complete with a high-quality owner’s/manager’s homestead.
Set among charming park-like gardens in the central Canterbury township of Geraldine, the Stonebridge Wedding and Event Venue is booked until May 2024 with enquiries starting to come in for the following wedding season.
It sits on some 3.7 hectares of flat land and has been operating for 17 years – most recently since 2017 under the management of sisters Justine Smyth and Adelle Wrigley whose two families live onsite.
Supporting the purpose-built Stonebridge venue is a 163-square-metre, 3-4 bedroom/two-bathroom, two-storey home with an attached separate second lounge which can be used for the bridal party to get ready in. The family home sits within the venue’s grounds yet is discreetly positioned away from the main gardens and lawn. Adjacent to the home is a smaller, fully self-contained cottage which is included as part of the wedding package for the couple to use on the night of their nuptials.
The land, buildings, and going concern hospitality business sustaining the Stonebridge Wedding and Event Venue, located at 842 Winchester-Geraldine Road, Geraldine, are being marketed for sale for $2,515,000 through Bayleys Canterbury.
Stonebridge is located within good driving distance of Christchurch, Ashburton, Timaru, Oamaru and the greater Canterbury and North Otago areas. The venue has been a part of the appeal and steady growth enjoyed by the Geraldine area as a tourist destination and many couples who book Stonebridge for their wedding see Geraldine as the perfect destination to bring together friends and family.
Bayleys salespeople Geoff Smart and Kate Mullins said the venue was well known as one of rural Canterbury’s foremost wedding venues, capitalising on its beautiful gardens and grounds in conjunction with high-quality food and beverage served in a stylish setting.
“Stonebridge is an example of an extended family working together with a great lifestyle on a part-time business – set in a garden wonderland with large pond, extensive gardens bordering the Waihi River and land for livestock or further development,” Smart said.
“The two families have run the business as a lifestyle that fits around the demands of raising young children, focusing mainly on weddings, which is their passion. The wedding season runs from spring until early autumn, which leaves the rest of the year for the families to spend time together and enjoy the property and all it has to offer.
“However, there is huge potential for a new owner to further develop the business if wanted with demand in the area for events, conferences, corporate functions and funerals.
“For example, currently the business prefers to host just one wedding a week to maintain the lifestyle aspect and essentially close for the winter. The opportunity is clearly there to take on more weddings and events each week or remain open over winter. Or a new owner could look at living in the homestead and leasing out the wedding and events venue to a specialist hospitality or food-and-beverage operator,” said Smart.
Foodservice chattels included in the Stonebridge business sale include a full commercial kitchen fit out with stainless steel benching, fridge and freezer units, walk-in chiller, extraction hoods and all front-of-house furniture and décor, along with high-quality crockery, cutlery, glassware and service implements. The business is also being sold with a comprehensive user manual, food safety systems and health-and-safety procedures. Justine and Adelle are happy to work closely with the new owners to ensure a smooth handover.
Mullins said the photogenic Stonebridge venue was licenced to serve up to 250 guests – with comfortable seating for 130-140 inside.
“Part-time front-of-house and kitchen staff are employed on a casual basis during wedding season, which fits perfectly with the school and university holidays. Justine and Adelle’s husbands are also utilised as front-of-house personnel, while working offsite in their own professions during the week,” Mullins said.
Stonebridge’s light-filled reception foyer leads into the immaculate main function space which has large glass windows and doors overlooking the impressive grounds and pond. Guests are seated at stylish, long rustic wooden tables on a hard-wearing polished concrete floor. A large stone open fireplace provides ambience and a well-stocked bar completes the space.
The venue is fully wheelchair accessible and has a dedicated parents’ room. The main venue then sprawls onto a substantial alfresco courtyard area complete with standalone bar and gas fireplace for outdoor socialising. The courtyard overlooks a beautiful lawn area and meandering pond with a bridge leading to established gardens with large specimen trees which create a magical backdrop for multiple ceremony sites and photo opportunities.
Entrance to the venue is from underneath a high-stud portico allowing for bridal cars to park immediately outside the imposing double-height wooden front doors. There is extensive guest parking immediately in front of the main building with overflow parking in the field adjacent to the main carpark. The property also features a grass helicopter pad.
Stonebridge has its own website and social media pages which are used for marketing, but Mullins said the biggest form of advertising had been word of mouth.
“This business is well known and highly regarded in the wedding industry and among other vendors, and new owners can capitalise on this reputation and grow the business even further.
“Geraldine is home to many amazing food and produce suppliers as well as other wedding-related vendors whom Stonebridge loves to support and work closely with. The new owners would feel an instant sense of community and support if they were to continue these relationships.
“Stonebridge is also an integral component within Geraldine’s tourism and hospitality sector which has many accommodation providers and Airbnb sites nearby (including one next-door) which are regularly used by guests attending weddings and events.
“Stonebridge is a truly remarkable property and business. The security of confirmed bookings with deposits held ensures the new owners’ peace of mind while they put their own mark on what is already a successful, highly regarded property and business. New owners can keep it as it is and enjoy the lifestyle or take advantage of the huge potential and take the business to the next level. The opportunities are endless,” Mullins said.