Hello all! It has been a busy past few weeks but some of what made me busy was being lucky enough to visit some amazing local venues that we feel could be great candidates for our wedding reception location. Although we are still waiting to hear back from one of our dream locations, we definitely saw a few amazing ones that would fit our needs perfectly, so regardless I am excited at the prospect of finding something unique and special for Dillon and I.

This is one of the first things you should take care of after getting engaged– because once you have figured out the right location and booked yourselves a wedding date, everything else can fall into place.

Here are a few tips for my fellow brides, grooms, and their families when hunting for the perfect wedding reception locale:

  1. Think about your desired look and feel. I visited a lot of wedding venues in the last few weeks and every single one of them was awesome in its own way. However Dillon and I will definitely consider and choose our final venue based on our own desired look and feel. If you are a modern and edgy couple, the Chateau Laurier (with its regal elegance) may not make sense for you, same goes for a barn wedding if you are an elegant and bedazzled type of couple. Think about your end goal and find a space that not only makes logistical sense but also makes sense for the type of look and feel you are going for (it will cost less in the end because you won’t spend money trying to make the space look like something it isn’t)
  1. Don’t be quick to think you can save a buck if you do it at a typically ‘non-wedding’ venue. I have heard this time and time again from so many people; “I think we’ll do it at the family backyard/cottage/barn or maybe the local community centre because it will be so much cheaper than doing it at a wedding hall/hotel/venue.” Although these can be AMAZINGLY unique and very special locations, they usually don’t cost any less, and can very often cost much more. Think about it—typical wedding venues already have tables, chairs, linens, and AV equipment, maybe they even have catering, staff, and dishware. If you are doing at a typically ‘non-wedding’ venue you have to bring all of these elements in and this can also bring with it out-of-town vendor costs. I am by no means telling you not to do a location like this, it can be seriously epic, but just be aware of the associated extra costs before you head down a rabbit hole you weren’t prepared for.
  1. Check out the space with a keen wedding eye and ask important questions. Be sure to check out the location and its areas with your wedding in mind– Of course the hall looks cool, but be sure to think about a potential cocktail reception area (i.e. is there space for this right outside the hall? Is it on another floor completely? do they even have space for a cocktail reception?), also check out the bathrooms, coat check areas, parking, and general space both inside and outside the venue. Everything could look amazing, but the place has dingy bathrooms or is poorly groomed outside, or doesn’t have enough parking for all of your guests. Ask questions to the venue host when you visit about a wide array of items—like: could we have to share the cocktail space with another event or wedding? Is parking included? Do you have AV equipment? Do you allow us to work with any catering company? Do you have linens? What time will we get access to the space to set-up? Etc.
  1. Outdoor venues. Obviously outdoor wedding venues have and will probably always continue to be popular for many obvious reasons. But we also know (especially if you live in Ottawa where the weather is sometimes pretty eccentric) that Mother Nature can be an interesting lady to work with. Be sure to think about rain/weather plans—I know you don’t even want to think about the possibility, but if there isn’t any plan, that’s probably just when everything will go awry—ask about your Plan B options, be conscious that a tent may be ridiculously hot in the summer months, and think about what you would do if your dream area isn’t available on the day of. Better to know ahead of time than be bothered with it on your big day.
  1. Compare and contrast. Once you have visited a few venues, narrow down your list to your top three contenders and sit down to battle them out. Take pen to paper and list all the perks (i.e. free hotel suite for you on your wedding night, complimentary parking, open cocktail reception area that you don’t have to share) as well as any disadvantages (i.e. expensive parking, far away from town, ugly bathrooms). Also take the time to compare the pricing of the three locations—and remember to consider any venue add ins—one location may cost more per person off the bat but perhaps they include linens, chair covers, and wine on the tables where the other venues don’t. Once you rent all these items separately, it could end up costing much more than it would have if you went the venue that had it all included in its original price.
  1. Bring a professional. Hiring a wedding coordinator (even just as a consultant during this phase) can be super beneficial; Wedding professionals can help you and your families see the space(s) in a different light. With untrained eyes you may just see a big, empty, poorly lit ballroom and be quick to write it off—but with the proper inspiration and creative vision of someone who spends a whole lot of their time setting up amazing wedding venues and décor elements, it can be helpful to hear their ideas right from the get go to help you make the best choice! Per usual… I know a great one—so give me a call 😉

Venue hunting is super fun and can get you excited for your impending wedding very quickly… I can’t wait to settle on our venue and move forward with the planning process! So, with that said, have a great rest of your week and enjoy this process!

As always, I will keep you posted on my wedding adventures as they happen—until then, all my best!

Courtney

p.s. Here are some venues I was able to check out for myself and a few of my clients, and I highly recommend all of them depending on the look and feel you are going for.

**These images are not mine. They come directly from the venue websites themselves**

Photo cred: Canadian Aviation and Space Museum
Photo cred: Canadian Aviation and Space Museum
Photo cred: Shaw Centre
Photo cred: Shaw Centre
Photo cred: Brookstreet Hotel
Photo cred: Brookstreet Hotel
Photo cred: Sala San Marco
Photo cred: Sala San Marco
Photo cred: Westin Ottawa
Photo cred: Westin Ottawa
Photo cred: Château Laurier
Photo cred: Château Laurier