Choosing a venue is one of the most important, and sometimes stressful part of planning a wedding. A venue will be the starting point for the tone you are trying to set for your day. And It will not only act to set the stage but the venue can often become somewhat of a character itself. But not all venues are created equal. Shortlisting possible locations is only the first step in a long process of research and decision making.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when starting your search:
1) Have an idea of numbers of guests:
Its a good idea to sit down early on and build a list of possible guests. It will help you save time by not visiting the venues that won’t fit your numbers.
2) Have a general idea of the format that you are thinking about. Lots of couples nowadays opt for a more casual approach to their celebration. So if a traditional sit down dinner feels a bit formal for you, then start by looking at places that can accommodate a standing dinner or lounge style reception.
3) Most venues book out anywhere from 8 months to two years if they are popular. As a rule of thumb starting to look 12 months out is typically safe to still have plenty of options.
4) Be thorough in asking questions of the venue and read the fine print before signing a contract. Venues often have strict policies around what they will allow. For example if you want to bring in your alcohol the venue may charge you corkage. Or if you want to set up the day before you may be charged an additional days rental. Hotels policies can vastly differ from a venue like a restaurant or hall, so be informed of all restrictions.
5) Ask around. Some venues have spectacular charm but lack in other ways. Talking to someone who has had experience with a venue can really save you from making assumptions about things like service standards and food quality.
And in honour of the wedding venue hunting season here are 5 unique Calgary Wedding venues that we love…..
The Upper Chamber
Who would get married there: Neil Patrick Harris & David Burtka
Inglewood was recently listed as Canada’s best neighbourhood, and nestled in its heart is the stylish new boutique venue, The Upper Chamber. Impressively grande and yet intimate in feel, guests will make their way down a twisting, iron wrought stair case, past brick encased windows looking out on panoramic views of Calgary’s downtown, to astunning, ancient looking fireplace on the main floor. Serving as an event space, or an over-nighter for guests, The Upper Chamber is a great space for the couple looking to make a statement with their venue.
Edited August 20: To our knowledge this venue is not taking bookings at this venue.
Who would get married there: Amal & George Clooney
New kid on the block, Bonterra, opened its doors to rousing approval from the Calgary foodie community. Chef Glen Manzer creates “…Italian fare with the emphasis on simple, fresh ingredients with an exciting twist”, and while the food is simply delicious, the physicality of the space itself is where this Italian eatery garners part of its ‘wow’ factor. The inner wine and dining rooms are sumptuously elegant, but it’s the breath taking quality of their Tuscan terrace that has earned Bonterra a spot on this list.
Inside Standing/Cocktail: 160
Inside Seated: 90
Terrace Standing/Cocktail: 100
Terrace Seated: 60
Who would get married there: Will & Kate
Marketed appropriately as “An elusive gem”, Azure Ridge is the perfect mix of untamed elegance, letting guests say their “I do’s” while enjoying thirteen stunning acres of natural beauty. Major selling points for this venue include the dramatic vistas that are sure to astound attendee’s, and the extraordinary personalized care you’ll experience at the hands of estate staff.
Standing/Cocktail: Up to 300
The Parlour Room, presented by The Commons
Who would get married there: Taylor Swift & … Mr. Taylor Swift (whoever he may be, bless his heart)
The feel of The Parlour Room reminds us of, in its own words, “…the sensibilities of a stylish, well-designed home”. The mix of industrial style architecture with warm touches of velvet and statement lighting make for an engaging, cozy atmosphere, without coming too close to the tired re-done-living-room look. With plenty of customizable options to help make your day truly ‘yours’, The Parlour Room is anything but Common.
Ralph Klein Park
Who would get married there: Marcus Mumford & Carey Mulligan
Perhaps one of our least-known wedding venues is Ralph Klein Park. For the couple with a sense of contemporary style, this eye-catching piece of modern architecture sits atop thirty hectares of gorgeous man-made wetland. Featuring floor to ceiling windows, a massive balcony, and an eye-catching waterfall spilling from the building floor into the wetland below, it’s particularly beautiful in the evening, lit up against the backdrop of the rolling foothills.