Who are you, what is your business and where are you based?
We are Steve and Vonnie Frazer and we have a wedding and events business in the Yarra Valley.
How long have you been running Stones and what was your path leading to running events at Stones like?
We opened Stones of the Yarra Valley in August six years ago, after renovating The Old Barn and Dairy. We built the Chapel from scratch, and all up it took us 9 months to do the lot. Steve has been in management and events nearly all his life. He began as a tour manager for the likes of Bette Midler and Boz Scaggs and moved across to start a sports management company with Glenn Wheatley. This company later became Octagon where they were responsible for the running of many sports events and management of elite athletes. While our boys were growing up I ran self-contained bed and breakfast accommodation on our 25 acres. Our market was the romantic weekend for two, and I knew that the Yarra Valley was short of chapels, and so we started looking for land to build a chapel and perhaps some accommodation. We stumbled on this amazing land, found the run down barn and the rest is history! We have both never worked in hospitality, but we believe that the running of a restaurant and wedding venue is really no different to the running of any event. There has to be complete organisation behind the scenes and Steve is a very good organiser, and I do the creatives!
Favourite kind of bride/groom wedding?
The couples who understand that their wedding day is just the beginning! It is not just about the day.
Best career moment?
There is absolutely no question – it is having my beautiful three sons. By far the cleverest thing I have ever done!
Worst career moment?
Being convinced by Steve to take a wedding booking for January in The Stables, while still renovating The Stables! Renovating any building coming up to Christmas has delays, and The Stables was no exception. I ended up hiring a sanding machine with a broken suction bag so you can imagine the dust – I literally could not see in front of myself. The garden could not of course be put in until we got rid of all the mess, so we were laying instant turf in the dark the night before the morning wedding. Our very first wedding in The Stables was a huge success and no one was the wiser – I did have to hide my tradie hands from guests though!
Favourite season in the Yarra Valley, and what unique things does each season bring to a wedding in the Yarra Valley?
My favourite season is autumn with all the vines changing colour. The Barn looks amazing with large vases of autumn foliage everywhere. Bud burst in September is also a beautiful time when all the vines are just opening and Spring is in the air. The seasons are very much shown in the flowers that brides use for their weddings with November being the month for the stunning peonie roses. I have some brides who want to get married in November purely for the peonies!
Favourite place when you’re not working?
We are lucky enough to live on 25 acres with an olive grove in Kangaroo Ground, and this is pretty special! I have been promised two little pigs for Christmas….
What do people think running a wedding is like versus what it is really like?
A wedding is one of the most important, if not the most important day in a couple’s lives, and we must always remember this. The joining of families and friends at a wedding needs to have every element covered. We can provide the setting and the ambience, the food and wine but our couples also have to provide the right families and friends to complete the circle. Nothing is worse than drunken guests at the end of the night.
Any other projects that are close to your heart at the moment outside of Stones?
We have a holiday house down at Lorne with the most gorgeous view which we are madly renovating and trying to get finished for Christmas. The only difference with this renovation is that it is ok if we don’t get it finished in time. I will put a lovely big table cloth over some boxes if we have to, and we can sit around this with some lovely bottles of wine… As long as the oven is in for the turkey, and my Ryan is home from London for Christmas.
Vonnie Frazer was photographed by Katie on her stunning property at Kangaroo Ground (whilst Steve was busy working the day away at Stones!). They are two of the most committed people we have met in the wedding industry, and we simply couldn’t wait to tell you their story. For more information on Stones, you can find their website HERE. Not only is it the perfect setting for a wedding, but an amazing venue for a weekend lunch or concert in the vineyards…