This will take a lot of research unless you’ve been pining over one specific place for ages. I had a vision in my head of exactly what I wanted. The only problem was it was not a place that could be found anywhere near Toronto. Honestly I would have died and gone to heaven if I could have been married at one of the Vanderbuilt estates – (sigh) c’est la vie.
We did however go to see twelve different venues……yes twelve. We looked all over, north Toronto, Ancaster, Cambridge…and finally Niagara on the Lake. For us, Niagara on the Lake was a perfect choice. We visit it many times during the year, have developed a love for Ontario wines, and it has always held a sort of peace for us. I felt like I couldn’t come to that conclusion though, unless I had seen everything I could possibly see. I don’t know how many brides are like that. It was as if I couldn’t have a 100% confidence in our choice unless I had seen all the options. Yes, it did take some time, but in the end I was at peace with my choice and never second guessed myself.
We decided on:
The Prince of Wales (Hampton Court Room) for the Rehearsal Dinner
Riverbend Inn & Vineyard for the ceremony and morning after brunch
And Queen’s Landing (Grand Georgian Ballroom) for the reception
Guests loved how they were able to see different places in Niagara on the Lake (yet they were all very close to one another which was quite convenient). One great thing about this was that each different event had a completely different style of food. If you stick with only one venue and one chef, you could be eating the same type of food all weekend!
The most important thing to know when choosing your venue is knowing the questions to ask the site coordinator. I went so far as to prepare a survey sheet with room for comments, answers to questions and rating certain aspects of the venue and the quality of service we could expect to receive. Having those sheets was invaluable because it made it easy to remember small details of each venue when comparing 12 different places.
Here are a number of questions you should think to ask:
1. What Dates and Times are available?
2. Do vows need to be approved? (Likely only for a church or other place of worship)
3. Is there a ceremony site fee?
4. What is your payment policy?
5. What is the cancellation policy?
6. Will other people have access to our space? (This was a question for us as our ceremony was held in the back gardens over looking the vineyards at Riverbend Inn)
7. Does the facility have liability insurance?
8. What are the min. & max. number of guests allowed? (For the reception this could vary depending on the type of setup you want. i.e. cocktails, sit down dinner, stations etc)
9. What facilities/tables/chairs/dinnerware/linens do we have access to, if any? Are they included in the venue fee?
10. Do you have restrictions for confetti/rice/flower petals?
11. Do you have any restrictions for candles?
12. What decorations are allowed? (this can sometimes be a problem for heritage sites – i.e. decor cannot be stuck to walls or pillars etc)
13. Can I use the ceremony space for my rehearsal as well?
14. When can suppliers enter the space for setup?
15. When do suppliers have to return for teardown? (Many venues require suppliers return immediately after the ceremony/reception. For late night receptions this may mean you could be charged a late night tear down fee by your suppliers)
16. Is there sufficient parking for my guests? Are there parking fees?
17. Are there any restrictions for music? (If your reception is outdoors or in a hotel you may have to turn down the music at some point during the night. For some outdoor venues you may not be able to play music at all due to prior complaints from neighbours)
18. Do you have a minimum spend? (We moved our wedding to a Friday and saved $10,000 due to the very high minimum spend our reception site had for Saturday weddings)
19. Do you have a corkage or cake-cutting fee?
20. Do you have a liquor licence?
21. Can we bring in our own liquour?
The most important thing when choosing your venue is to take your time and don’t rush your decision. Think about all of the aspects about a venue that are important to you before handing over the deposit. You don’t want a nasty surprise that will completely affect the decor or look of your wedding a month before the big day.