Sorry Ladies! Just noticed that everything didn’t show up in my last post. Here’s the review:
So, on a hunt to have a fabulous wedding reception venue of between 120-140 guests in Ottawa for under $21,000 proved to be quite the challenge. We got engaged in November, 2010 and our wedding date was set for our 5th year anniversary on September 3rd, 2011.
I noticed that my budget and guest count was considered the average, so I thought that I’d share my experiences and hopefully save a bunch of time for other Ottawa brides-to-be!
I looked at a ton of places and found that it could be a challenge to get concrete info, so here a quick review of some of the venues I looked into. Some have lots of info, some don’t.:
Style: Royal extravagance
Maximum guests: >250
The Chateau Laurier has 2 large rooms and a couple of smaller ones. There’s one fabulous room that has access to a private patio where you can do your tented or untented ceremony with a nice backdrop of the river.
They didn’t seem to have a great wine list though but had a lovely menu.
A big drawback with the C.L. was that their minimum room rental cost were for food only (not including alcohol). Their second best room was a minimum of $12,000 for food before gratuities and tax. So, that’s over $15,000 for just the food and there was an addition room rental fee. We also wanted to bring in our own wine, but they don’t allow external wines or offer corkage fees.
But, the rooms were just stunning! The chateau is one of Canada’s few actual castles and their facilities are truly designed for royalty.
The staff was very prompt and friendly. They answered all of our questions honestly and curiously.
We didn’t choose this venue because of the lack of corkage-fee options and the price being out of our budget.
Style: Rustic weekend wedding
Maximum guests: 90
The Econiche is lovely cottage-like house in the Gatineau hills (Cantley). They are a great option if you want a whole weekend event with a small group of family and friends. The Econiche can sleep 60 people and seat 90 for dinner, but really only 75-80 in the same room. The are on the homely, rustic side on a massive expanse of land.
They offered us the full rental of their venue, plus all the rooms for the whole weekend, a basic dinner for 80 on your wedding night and a breakfast for all 60 guests that stay the night for just over $11,000. So, if your relatives and friends pay for their own rooms, your wedding price drops to under $6000-$7000 for the weekend.
The grounds could use some renos, such as new carpet and fresh wallpaper, but I could see how some people could view the homely feelings as charming.
The staff were really wonderful and they all came out to meet us and give us a big tour.
We didn’t choose this venue because it wouldn’t fit everyone on our list and they don’t offer any tastings or advanced menu options.
STANLEY’S OLD MAPLE FARM
Style Comfy/Classy County wedding
Maximum guests: >200 (140 in the tent)
Ok….so went to Stanley’s farm and met with Earl (the owner). Was a little nervous because of some of the feedback I read on other blogs.
The farm is about 30 minutes outside of Ottawa, so it only really makes sense to have a ceremony and reception out there.
There’s nice manicured landscapes and a choice of the rental of one big hall or a big permanent marquee tent. They also have a petting zoo in the corner.
He quoted us at around $18,000 after taxes for the tent. That included (for 120 guests) minister, chicken meals, 400 alcoholic drinks (twonie bar), carriage, ceremony, chairs, linens, table settings, bus to bring guests back to the city, personal bridal attendant, servers, hors d’oevres and coffee/tea/cake. This price was before tax and gratuities.
Necessary purchases were about $3850 (including tent, grounds, ceremony grounds, bridal attendants, tables, chairs. You need to rent the chairs once for the ceremony and then pay again for the chair rentals at the reception. I guess it’s understandable, sort of. They do allow you to bring in your own caterer if your want, which is also a nice plus
We actually went to book this venue, and then were confronted with some concerns.
Earl, the owner, booked our wedding ceremony at the same place and time as when the guests of the other wedding taking place that day were going to show up. So, during our vows, over 100 people were going to walk right through the ceremony…and I mean, within 20 metres.
Our only other option was to have the ceremony 4 Â½ hours before the dinner and feed our guests alcohol and entertain them with the petting zoo.
For the price we were going to pay, we decided to bail. It would have been out of budget at the end of the day anyway, right?
MUSEUM OF NATURE
Style Modern elegance meets museum charm
Maximum guests: >150
Went to the Museum of Nature and spoke to a woman named Diane. She seemed annoyed from the moment we got there and getting any pertinent information from her was like pulling teeth. I think she was just having a bad day.
The museum has 3 spaces for wedding receptions: a 2-room white and concrete area that is a whole wing of a floor of the museum, a smaller room on the main floor and a lovely big wood room with 2-floor high ceilings. You can also rent a gorgeous area for a ceremony in the middle of the museum.
These spaces could make dream weddings come true.
The white and concrete, double-room was available.
She didn’t write down any prices or information for us to take home or get via email and sped through a dozen numbers for us to memorize before I had a chance to even grab a pen. She didn’t repeat the numbers so we could write them down ourselves. I don’t know if she was just having a horrible day or is always like that, but we tried to laugh it off.
You needed to get insurance for the hall (I think it was between $300-$500) and only work with their approved list of suppliers. There was a bunch of other things that you only find out about by asking specific questions, so if you love the venue, really probe to get the right info.
From the little bits of verbal info we received from Diane, and quotes from Tulips and Maple and Thyme and Again (two of their suppliers and a FABULOUS caterers!), we guestimated the cost for 140 people for a sit-down dinner was roughly $16,000-$22,000 before decor and taxes.
We were really feeling the venue like we should for some reason. We also decided that the concrete and white rooms were a little too modern for us.
Style Luxurious forest and spa getaway
Maximum guests: 80
LOVE!!!! There’s never been a person I’ve met that went to le nordik and didn’t fall in love right away. Bathing in waterfalls! Delicious wines and food! They also have large cabin your can rent for the week.
It’s in old Chelsea, which is about 15 min from Ottawa. We would have loved this venue, but their max cap in the banquet room is 80 for dinner. We’ve had the food there before and it was exceptional on a regular basis, so I would imagine their catering would be pretty good too!
Style Traditional Hotel
Maximum guests: 175
We found the the staff were attentive and professional here. The chateau is a run-of-the-mill higher class hotel and golf club right on the river in Aylmer.
The facilities were classy yet comfortable and their banquet rooms were pretty standard for a nice wedding. The have a really neat Brazilian style roasted meat, open-style restaurant in the building too, which you can rent out for a 100-120 person dinner on any day other than Saturday (our wedding’s on a Saturday, so we were out of luck).
They also have a marquee tent that they set up during the summer for up to 150 guests.
Unfortunately, the Chateau Cartier will be building several condo buildings on their property over the next couple of years. This means that there may be a chance that your view will be of a construction zone. The staff aren’t privileged to exact construction schedules, so they can’t say when â€œsafeâ€ dates are. The staff also don’t mention that construction will happen at all until you bring it up.
The management are not willing to give discounts or extra incentives even though major construction will be going on. Well, at least when we asked. So, their regular rates apply.
For wine, 4 drinks, 3 course chicken meal, hors d’oevres and room rental of the standard hall, we were quoted at just over $18,000 after taxes for 140 people.
BRITANNIA YACHT CLUB
Style: Comfortable water front, nautical
Maximum guests: 140
We met with Paul and really liked his professional and informative style. The venue was lovely, with a touch of quaintness. The room for weddings is on the second floor and is thematic with wood and local nautical decor. They also have a really lovely wood beam ceiling where you can drape decor.
Paul was flexible to our needs and we found ways to negotiate services to fit our budget and interests. They also offer a tasting after booking, which to us is a huge plus (who wants to serve crappy food to their guests?).
They offer a lovely ceremony tent right on the water too, which was a really reasonable price.
I’ve seen pics of people’s wedding there which were really nice.
For canapes, 3 course meal for 140, late night snacks, cocktails, Â½ bottle wine per person and more, it came to just over $12,000 before taxes.
We decided not to go with the BYC because we’d want to buy a sailboat instead of a honeymoon and neither of us can remember how to sail 🙂
Style: Rustic retreat ??
Maximum guests: 70
Where do I even begin with this one.
We saw this venue in the wintertime when you couldn’t see the landscape because of snow. The manager, John, showed us pictures of how the facilities could be dresses up. We were especially excited when we found out there was not corkage fee for drinks we bring in AND they provide tastings after booking.
We had settled with 110 for dinner and 30 guests extra for the dance afterwards. John told us that 110 people would comfortably fit in the hall or the lawn. He said that the river came right up to the lawn, which would be just stunning.
We were concerned that John wouldn’t give us any final numbers on paper. He also admitted that he doesn’t know how to use word or excel very well, but only after saying that we sent a bad file for days before that.
He also wouldn’t clarify how many parking spots there were, how many weddings of over 100 they had done before and a half dozen other things.
â€œWell, it’s 110 people for dinner, we bring our own alcohol and it’s a little venue that runs partially as a not-for-profit organization. It couldn’t amount to over $11,000 even with decor and we get a lovely outdoor wedding.â€
So, we put down our deposit and were so happy to put a conclusion to our venue hunt. We were so happy, that we didn’t think much about the fact that John still had not given us a final quote or contract.. We verbally agreed to some individual numbers and quantities.
Then, 5 months before the wedding, we went back for the tasting and to measure the area. To our horror, the lawn could only fit 75 people, the hall could only fit 85-90 properly . The lawn was at a severe incline with a sudden drop steps away from where some guests were to sit. The lawn also had a 2 foot drop in the middle of it. The river was not very visible from the lawn. There was really no parking available.
We also had issues with the tasting consisting of the wrong menu items, which they didn’t offer to fix or redo.
So, we took all of our notes of the prices and quantities that John mentioned throughout our meetings and did the final cost calculation ourselves. We added his verbally quoted prices for servers, bartenders, facility rental (which was $20 a person), food, etc. It ended up being roughly $17,000 after taxes.
So, we decided to find somewhere new.
A couple of other places that we didn’t end up seeing in person or getting at the details:
Monterey Inn, comfy classic, max 180
NAC – FAB and posh rooms that everyone loves, but the rooftop is most sought after and books quickly, sometimes years in advance.
Tabaret Hall, classy extravagance, cannot rent in September, can be tricky to organize because it’s owned by the University of Ottawa, max 200
Temples Sugar Bush, a two-story wood building outside of Ottawa, will fit 120-160
The Herb Garden, pretty and rustic outdoorsy, their barn Â has about +80 Â seats Â Holds 100 for dancing. Â
Stonefieds, rustic classy, beautiful farmland wedding venue
Art Gallery of Canada â€“ modern luxury. Holds over 200 in main area, gorgeous glass walls and ceilings with Ottawa’s best urban view.
Juniper’s â€“ high class westboro restaurant – 100 max seated
Capital Cruises â€“ Dinner cruise yacht in downtown ottawa â€“ 90 max seated
Sala San Marco â€“ They divide their grand ballroom into two, one that fits 250 and one that fits 150. We were told that have great food put you can sometimes hear the other wedding happening on the other side of the divider if 2 weddings are held at the same time.
Montebello, the premium in rustic weddings, 1 hour from ottawa, gorgeous and about the same price and the Chateau Laurier. Famous grande octagon fireplace in lobby. The have a classic log ballroom (so nice) and a typical banquet hall. We were told that all guests would need to book two nights minimum on any holiday or long weekend, which made it impossible for us to pursue concrete prices and details.