Our founder sat down with Larry Dichiera, the confident, loud and colourful man behind Festival Functions for a candid chat about all things weddings. Festival Functions is an award winning, multipurpose venue located only ten minutes from the Adelaide CBD.
Tell us about your history.
We have fifty years of weddings in our family, going back four generations. I began working in the wedding industry when I was 11 years old back in 1989 with my grandfather. In 1996, we started a new catering company known today as Festival Functions. We were independent caterers going from venue to venue until a short time later, we relocated ourselves into venues and eventually into where we are located now on Findon Road.
This place is huge, I had no idea!
No, you wouldn’t think it was this big. We can hold large numbers here. Full capacity is 1540 people. It was originally built as the Oberdan Centre and was the only venue around in 1974 that could facilitate such events at the time.
How many events come through each year?
Over time we have built the business up to over 150 functions a year; between weddings, corporate events, private shows, fundraisers, gala dinners, sporting dinners, and expos. This really is a multipurpose venue.
You must be pretty flexible in what you offer?
Very flexible. We do have our set packages as a guide. But 99% of the time that package is adjusted to suit each couple individually based on ethnic backgrounds, budgets and religious requirements.
What are your set packages?
We have three general packages. Festival (standard package), Deluxe (middle tier) and Ultimate (top package). We also offer wedding expo specials and off peak packages for those looking for bargains and great offers.
What about ceremonies?
They’re very rare due to the rise in people wanting outdoor ceremonies however we definitely offer the service. We can do anything generally, hens nights, bucks nights, we’ve got a great cellar space which is great for after parties.
And you do all of your catering?
We do everything inhouse in our own kitchen with our own chefs. We have an extensive menu but again we are flexible and happy to work with couples depending on what they are looking for.
Does the venue allow for anything out of the ordinary?
We can do fireworks, pyrotechnics, cars, motorbikes; we are open to anything!
When someone rings up to have a site inspection who do they see?
They see me! If I’m not here, they see Lisa. I’m the one that’s going to be dealing with them on the day of the wedding. If I’m working with you and you’re getting married in 18 months time, I’ll still be here. Right from the start through to the end, I’ll see it through.
How does your wife feel about you working every Saturday night?
She understands, this is what we do.
What is the most memorable wedding you've had here, for positive or negative reasons?
(Followed by some laughs, Larry is politely reminded by his assistant Lisa that this interview is going online). My own wedding, that was good.
You didn’t find that it was just another night at work?
No, it was quite easy. I pretty much organised everything in one week. My wife arranged the entire decor as this is actually her line of work.
Was the pressure on for your suppliers?
I guess there was pressure on the staff. They were stressed out a bit, but they did well. We used the wedding set up and style as a way to upsell future weddings at our venue.
Do you use “I had my own wedding here” as a selling point?
I try not to. This way when I show clients the photos of the room, I get to hear all their positive and negative opinions!
Are there any trends that you’re seeing come through?
Weddings are getting much smaller. Traditionally ethnic weddings were on average 400 – 500 people, however, now we are looking more at around 200 people. On the positive, smaller weddings are spending a lot more when it comes to the look they want to achieve in the room. Couples tend to go over and above with decor, lighting, displays and floor shows to make it a memorable event.
For further details and booking enquiries, check out Festival Functions website here.