In 1982 I got married and had my wedding reception at The Cockpit. People can’t believe I got married there. 40 years later and I still have fond memories of Essendon Airport!

It was 1982, we had the task of finding somewhere different for our wedding reception. Coming from an Italian family I was over the normal venues, I wanted something exciting with a little wow factor!

I would sometimes go to the Essendon Airport Cockpit nightclub, and would often look out those magnificent windows and watch the planes come in and go out. At night it had a simply majestic feel to it.

I wondered if this place did weddings. I contacted the Manager and just asked the question – what did I have to lose. He said we don’t but it’s something we have been thinking about. I asked if they would do my wedding. I think they lived to regret the decision of their first wedding being an Italian one – I think the food is almost more important than the wedding itself in my culture!

I was very nervous being their first wedding, let alone their first Italian wedding. We met several times in the lead up and each time I went to Essendon Airport I began to get more and more excited for the Cockpit to be my wedding venue.

They did not disappoint. On Saturday 13 November in 1982 on a 40 degree day. I had 300 guests and the room was transformed from a disco/nightclub into the most perfect wedding venue I could have ever imagined. The tables were beautiful. The room was just the right temperature. The food was outstanding. On arrival my guests were treated to the typical entrée of Italian antipasto, but there was nothing typical about it! The antipasto was in abundance with fresh crusty rolls and the meats and delicacies incredible.

From that moment I knew we were in for a treat. Then came out the next dish – a 50/50 split of lasagne and fish with rice. Well cooked and every plate served steaming with a pot of parmesan cheese and an endless supply of dinner rolls on each table. Then the mains, again with a 50/50 split of succulent roast beef or roast chicken with all the trimmings. Supper incorporated Italian pork sausages, pizza and fresh prawns with lemon wedges. The food just kept coming! At the very end Cassata ice cream and wedding cake for dessert.

I think we sent them broke…

There was dancing and partying. Big curtains were drawn back to show the Airport at night which was just beautiful. At the end of the night we did the traditional change of clothes (well it was a tradition back then) and off we went to start our lives as husband and wife!

Wow what a night! The staff couldn’t have been more accommodating and people still talk about the venue and the food to this day.

When I tell people now my wedding reception was in a place called the Cockpit they chuckle, but back then it was the place to be. This was where people would end their evenings at. You’d go out to dinner or clubbing, then back to the Cockpit for coffee or last drinks. It had everything going for it – lots of parking and majestic views.

I now only live a stones throw away from Essendon Fields and every time I go there it brings back beautiful memories.

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