If you’ve ever seen the famous British Channel 4 program “Location, Location, Location“, you know that Phil Spencer and Kirstie Allsopp traipse around the UK helping confused (albeit probably filthy rich) house hunters look for the perfect new home. They search high and low, near and far; they see gems and dumps and everything in between and within the span of a mere half hour they always discover a new palace. If you’re in the market for a wedding venue, you’re on a similar journey – and not just because you’ll likely be using the equivalent of your down payment to pay for your celebration location.
It feels like there are millions of wedding venues in Toronto and quite frankly, I’m pretty sure that’s true. Finding your perfect venue can be a challenge – I mean, where do you even begin? Well, our search began on the internet, progressed into site visits, and thankfully resulted in a pretty quick decision.
For initial searches, check out Sash & Satin’s Wedding Venue Directory to get an idea of the look and feel of different locations; you can use the site’s filters to search by capacity, price point and preferences (i.e. catering, outdoor facilities). This site helped us think more about our wedding “theme” and establish some basic, obvious criteria – namely, what is the maximum capacity (for our guest list and the space)? What is the cost per person? Is our date available? Once you’ve answered those three questions, it’s time to narrow the search.
Once you’ve selected your favourite locations (save yourself the gray hairs and narrow it down to no more than 5), get in touch with venue staff to get answers to the following key questions:
- Can you send me a wedding package with cost details?
- Will there be more than one wedding per day?
- Can guests travel to/from the venue easily? Is there parking? Is there a hotel nearby? Is there a shuttle service?
- Is catering done in house? If yes, are meal selections fixed or can we create our own menu? If not, is there a list of preferred vendors or do we find our own caterer?
- Can photos be done on location?
- Do venue staff assist with “day of” setup and take down?
- How does bar service work, what is included, and when is last call?
- Is there a standard gratuity rate?
- Is there a fee for cake cutting? (Yes, this is a real thing…real ridiculous)
Here is the important part: at the end of each of those questions, ask yourself one critical thing – is this important to us? You may not care if the location is convenient for guests and that’s okay (well, I mean it’s a little weird but whatever!). All jokes aside, asking that question will add clarity to your search and will help you figure out what matters and what doesn’t.
Based on our initial thoughts, here’s where we ended up:
The Atlantis Pavilion: The location felt glamourous to me – I know some 1990’s ravers are killing themselves laughing, but it did! Their largest room was the only one we liked probably because of the floor to ceiling windows and beautiful view of the Toronto skyline. Sadly, it was way too large for our moderate sized weddings and just didn’t jive with me.
Other things to note about this venue:
- There may be multiple weddings on any given day
- You can serve the infamous Beaver Tails to your guests
- Prices were reasonable – depending on meal selections
Piper’s Heath Golf Club: The Hornby (Milton) location is a little far removed and completely different from Atlantis. The quiet and peaceful location felt more our speed and one wedding per day meant that we’d have full use of the entire space. This location was on our short list and the quote we received was very reasonable.
Other things to note:
- The bar area is gorgeous and the atmosphere is cozy
- You can have a fireworks show in the evening, for an additional fee
- The late night food options are awesome
Credit Valley Golf & Country Club (CVGC) (The Winner!)
Nestled away in a little Mississauga community the convenience of the location, the family connection, and the view (!!!) could not compare. If that’s not enough, setup and day of coordination are built into the cost! I literally boxed up and labelled all of our decor, guest favours, seating chart, candy table items, cake knife and server, extra candles etc etc etc and dropped them off to staff the Monday before the wedding – I cannot describe the overwhelming sense of relief that I felt! On the day of our wedding I arrived to a perfectly executed scene; every piece of lace, every flower, every frame, every everything was perfect.
Our guests are still talking about CVGC’s service – glasses were never empty, food was delicious, and staff really seemed to be enjoying themselves! The Catering Coordinator also connected us to a local Hilton Garden Inn that provided rooms for $114.00/night and included a shuttle service to and from the venue. And lastly, which I probably should have mentioned first, the photos…I challenge you to find a venue that has such a stunning backdrop. While the price point may be higher than you initially anticipated, you really do get a lot of bang for your buck.
Whatever wedding venue you choose, be absolutely sure before you sign anything and make sure you’ve asked all of your questions no matter how ridiculous you feel -(yes, it DOES matter to me if the toilet paper is only one ply). Here’s another tip: buyer beware of price increases on wedding packages when you book more than a year in advance – the chicken that cost $30 per person in 2015 could cost you $35.50 in 2016. This is common nowadays with the raging growth of the wedding industry but is certainly something you should consider when budgeting.
I leave you with my learned wisdom – your venue is probably going to eat up the largest part of your budget so to (partially) quote Elizabeth Gilbert in “Eat, Pray, Love” choosing your wedding venue “is like getting a tattoo on your face. You really need to be certain it’s what you want before you commit.”