HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT WEDDING VENUE IN TORONTO. OUR BEST TIPS & TRICKS FROM INDUSTRY EXPERTS
If you are planning an event for the upcoming year, you are probably wondering as to how to find the best venue for your special occasion. One of the best things you can do is to sit down and write down your requirements so that when you start calling venues, you know the exact questions you should be asking in order to filter out and find the right venue for your special event.
There are thousands of wedding venues and banquet halls for you to choose from. It helps to know which city you are looking to plan your event. For example, if you want to plan your event in Toronto, you might want to go on Google Maps and type in keywords like “wedding venues Toronto” or “banquet halls in Toronto”. Google will automatically pull up a list of venues for you to choose from based on proximity, reviews and online reputation. You can also use our website as a resource to find the ideal venue for your special event. We have a list of venues that we worked with in the past, along with pictures of all the wedding flowers & decorations we provided for that specific venue.
Types of Wedding Venues in Toronto
There are several different types of venues for you to choose from and it’s important to give it some thought before you reserve your date. If you have lots of guests coming over from around the world, you may want to find a venue inside a local hotel in Toronto. Almost every single major hotel chain will have 1 floor dedicated to hosting special events, this can range from weddings, birthdays and even corporate events. Most likely they will have flexible options to accommodate your guest sizes.
This is a fantastic option and if you plan on reserving a lot of rooms along with using their event space, you may qualify for a discount for the rooms depending on the seasonality. Banquet halls are another good option because they tend to be located outside of Toronto and can easily accommodate large guest sizes at a reasonable cost. You will have lots of banquet hall options to choose from, some of them are more vintage style, while some are more contemporary.
You can always check their website and Google maps page to see pictures and decide if you like the look of the venue. If you want a castle-style venue, there are tons of good options in Toronto and the GTA, however, they do slightly cost more, if you have the budget, you will absolutely love having your wedding or special event at one of the famous castles and manors in the Greater Toronto Area. Some examples include Casa Loma, Graydon Hall Manor, Hacienda Sarria, Arlington Estate and many more, see our gallery page for more venues.
How To Save Money On Your Venue
Wedding venues in Toronto or just regular banquet halls will almost always have a higher average price for events that happen during the summer on Friday, Saturday or Sunday. One of the ways you can save some money on your wedding/event is to plan your event during slow season aka “winter”, you can also save more money by planning your event on a weekday vs weekend. We typically see Chinese couples plan their wedding on either Mondays or Wednesdays, this allows them to book the most luxurious wedding venues in the city and it also saves them money on some of their other wedding vendors who provide services, since they will almost always have those dates available in their calendars.
Questions You Should Ask Your Venue
Before you start contacting wedding venues in Toronto, you should have a list of questions ready to ask so that you can quickly figure out if this banquet hall is right for you. Here is a sample list of questions you should ask your banquet hall before booking the date.
Is your date available and are there any other couples looking to book the same date?
What is the max and min capacity of the venue?
Do they provide catering on-site or can you bring your own catering company?
Do they provide bartenders onsite?
What is their payment and deposit structure?
Can you use candles in the wedding venue?
Can you choose your own vendors or do you have to use the venues in-house company?
Do they include the use of audio services and equipment on-site or do you need to outsource your own or pay an additional fee?
Does the venue provide security personnel, accessibility for disabled guests?
Which parts of the wedding venue are available to your guests and what is off-limits?
When do you have access to the venue and what time can your vendors start working onsite?
What food servicing styles does the venue provide?
Does the venue have a licensee to serve alcohol?
Has the kitchen passed food safety inspection in your local area?
Do they have a rain back up plan for outdoor events?
Do they include tents for your outdoor event?
Can the venue accommodate a ceremony?
Does the venue have free parking or paid parking?
What is the cancellation policy?
How To Plan The Perfect Flowers & Décor For Your Space
When it comes time for you to start planning your wedding flowers and décor, one of the best things you can do is to see if your wedding décor company has done any events in that exact wedding venue or anything similar, this way you can see if you like any of their existing ideas for flowers and décor. If your wedding décor company has never done any events in that specific venue, you can still go through their portfolio and see what styles you like. Another way you can go about this is to tell your wedding decorator your total wedding floral and décor budget, and ask them what they can offer you for your specific budget. Alternatively, you can always spend some time going over Pinterest and start searching for wedding centrepieces, or wedding ceremony décor and start pinning some ideas that you would like to have for your event.
Do You Need Draping & Backdrops?
The purpose of backdrops and draping is to hide walls that don’t look good. draping’s are commonly used to hide the design of your wedding venue room so that you can decorate the space, however way you like. Backdrops, on the other hand, are mainly used to hide or decorate one wall. Backdrops are commonly used for wedding ceremonies and they are also used to decorate the wall right behind your head table.
Does Your Venue Have a Ceremony Space?
If you are planning a wedding, one of the best things you can do is to have your reception and ceremony to be located in the same location. This makes it more convenient for your vendors and for your guests as well. If for whatever reason your wedding venue cannot provide you with a wedding ceremony space or you simply prefer to choose another location for personal reasons this could make the day feel more adventurous however you want to keep in mind the distance and travel time between your reception and your ceremony. You definitely don’t want to have your ceremony location located 1-2 hours away from your reception, since this could make things a bit inconvenient or your guests. Also, traffic and outdoor events that are happening in the city could potentially slow down the schedule of the day.
For example, if your reception is in Mississauga and your ceremony location is in Toronto, you and your guests may get stuck in traffic due to road closures or unexpected city-wide events that are happening in downtown Toronto. It only takes one festival to shut down the entire city of Toronto and make it more difficult for people to drive across town. Be sure to check your local city website to see if there are any major events happening on the day of your wedding so you can properly assess if it’s a good idea to plan anything in Toronto for that specific date.
When Should You Book Your Venue?
As soon as you find a wedding venue that checks all of your specific criteria, fits your budget and you genuinely like the place, go ahead and book your Toronto wedding venue as soon as possible. Try to have a backup option in case your desired wedding venue is not available, remember, venues get booked months in advance and sometimes years in advance. So as soon as you find a place you like, give them a small deposit to secure the date. Once you secure your wedding venue and your date, you can safely start shopping around for other wedding vendors because the first question any vendor will ask you before booking a meeting is what is your wedding date and location.
This is the most common style of a wedding reception meal, your guests are seated and they are served food at their table. Usually, your guests are served three courses such as an appetizer, entrée and dessert. The catering company or your wedding venue will work closely to craft a custom meal that is specific for you and your guests. Most wedding venues in Toronto will be able to prepare pretty much any type of menu that you want while some wedding venues don’t provide any catering and prefer you to outsource it. If you decide to take this route, you will need to have servers onsite and you will have to spend some time going back and forth making sure that your guests are properly accommodated for their dietary requirements. Another positive benefit to having a plated dinner during your reception is minimized food waste, your catering company will know exactly how much food to order and they will order just enough to feed a specific number of guests.
If you are planning to have a very casual style wedding then buffet style catering might be a good fit for you. Instead of spending endless hours planning a menu and getting everyone’s dietary requirements, going through all that hassle, you just have a buffet-style setup and people can just walk up and grab whatever they want. The only slight downside is that people will wait in line and people tend to overeat and not actually finish their plate, which means lots of food waste.
This style of catering has become popular in the recent years, basically, this is a much more affordable option for brides on a budget, instead of serving your guests a full meal, your guests will be served hors d’oeuvres which are either hot or cold. These are usually passed around by the servers at the venue or you can have them be placed at a single table or tables and guests can help themselves.
Cocktail style catering is typically used for smaller Venues or even backyard weddings. To be on the safe side most guests will expect a full meal at a wedding, so it’s a good idea to let them know ahead of time so they can prepare themselves. Since there will be less food, people will usually end up drinking more at your wedding.
A food truck is another great option for casual weddings & events, you can find lots of different food trucks in Toronto that cater to all types of cuisines. If you want Asian, American or Arabic, you can find the right style that will fit your wedding. Be sure to talk to your food truck vendor beforehand to make specific changes in case your guests have specific allergies, most food truck vendors will be able to accommodate, since they will be at your event for a good chunk of the day, they can buy and prepare meals accordingly, make sure you give them your guest count as well.
Bar Options for Your Wedding
When it comes to finding a wedding venue in Toronto, you and your husband to be will most likely talk about bar options at some point of the conversation. Depending on your guest size and your budget, you will have a variety of bar options to choose from and it really comes down to how much you and your guests like drinking. Most weddings will have lots of people that enjoy drinking, while in some cultures, drinking really isn’t that popular. This is especially true if you are having a family-style wedding and the majority of your guests are older relatives. If you are a younger couple and all your friends are in their 20s and 30s then having an open bar might be a good fit for you.
When you start discussing options for your bar, here are some words and definitions that you might want to be familiar with.
Open Bar: This means that you pre-pay a fixed amount and your guests will be provided with unlimited drinks for the evening at no cost to them.
Consumption Bar: This typically means that your guests can drink as much as they want and in the end, you get charged for the amount they drank. This is a good option if you have a smaller guest count, but if you have 500 people, it might get a bit expensive, make sure you know what each drink costs ahead of time so that there are no last-minute surprises.
Soft Bar: This means that your drink options will have no hard liquor, usually the most common drinks offered are white wines, some champagne and beer options as well. This could be a good option for your wedding while being on the affordable side. Your guests won’t get too drunk and depending on how much they drink they may or may not be able to drive at the end of the night. Be sure to ask the DJ to remind everyone at the end of the night to not drink and drive and to always have a designated driver with each family member.
White Bar: This bar option usually means that your bar will serve vodka, gin, white wine and rum.
Dry Bar: This might be a good option for weddings that are trying to stay on the family-friendly side. Although no alcohol is served at the bar, instead you are served coffee & tea, and a large variety of juices and maybe even lemonade.
Benefits of A Dry Wedding Day
There are many pros and cons to having a wedding with no alcohol, one of the major benefits is that it is almost impossible for any of your guests to leave the venue drunk because you aren’t serving any alcohol. Years ago, we had a wedding at the Doctors House and at the end of the night, one of the guests ended up crashing their car near the exit of the venue. While this is very rare, it can still happen. The worst thing the bride and groom can hear is that one of their guests left the venue drunk and got into an accident. One of the main benefits of a no alcohol wedding is that you can sleep peacefully at night knowing that all of your guests will arrive home safely. Another added benefit of a dry bar is that you will save a ton of money on your venue by not having a bar. This is a great option for brides on a budget who want to save that money or spend it elsewhere.
We have heard or stories in the past where guests would get drunk and start drama with each other or having your guests throw up inside the venue. It really depends on how well you know your friends and family members. If any of your guests get into a fight while drink, it’s going to be a very sad scene having the cops at your wedding and arresting some of the guests for drunk and disorderly. This is very rare and only about 1% of weddings end up with drunken fights, so the chances of this happening are quite rare. The majority of the time people have drinks, have fun and call it a night.
The downsides of not having any alcohol at your wedding is people might not feel like dancing as much, usually, people will need a few sips before they are ready to hit the dancefloor, if you are planning on having live entertainment with great music and maybe even a band, it might be a good idea to have some alcohol at your wedding. Maybe some win at the dinner table, one or two bottles max.
Should You Have an Unplugged Wedding
You know what makes the job harder for a wedding photographer on your wedding day? Having to dodge 500 of your close family members with DSLR cameras and iPhones getting in the way of photographers taking photos of you and your fiancé. Now we all know the intention behind this is positive. All of your friends and family members are super excited for you and they simply want to snap a few pics of your special day. However, your ceremony is on a tight schedule along with the rest of the day. It can be distracting for wedding photographers to constantly have to ask or go around guests just so they can snap the perfect picture of you and your significant other.
Typically from most weddings we see, guests with cellphones aren’t that big of a problem, guests are usually respectful and avoid getting in the way of photographers while they are doing their pictures, there are however some rare occasions that it’s harder for your photographers to take a good shot with no interruptions of people walking into the shot, blocking the photographer or trying to take a photo and a guest just walks into the frame, interrupting the photographers shot. Depending on you and your preferences, you may want to politely have a wedding planner or your DJ to kindly ask the audience to avoid taking pictures during key moments so that it’s easier for your wedding photographers to navigate around the space.
Should You Hire A Wedding & Event Planner
When it comes to finding a wedding venue in Toronto, one of the things you are going to have to decide is if you want to have a wedding planner to plan your entire event, or would you prefer to plan the entire wedding all on your own. It is certainly possible to plan your entire wedding by yourself, Google search and your referrals will give you plenty of options to choose from. Simply go on Google and search for the exact service you are looking for and Google will find some amazing options for you to choose from. Before you book any vendors that you find all on your own, try to interview at least 2-3 vendors from each category and make sure you check their Google Reviews.
You can fully trust the authenticity of the reviews you find on Google because they are very hard to fake. The reviews you find will most likely be genuine, however, it’s always good to read them and double-check just to be on the safe side.
Hiring a wedding planner is certainly a good option for busy couples that have full-time jobs and don’t necessarily want to spend their off-hours shopping around for wedding vendors. Your wedding planner will take care of everything for you and all you have to do is to show up at the final stages of meetings and sign a few contracts for the services that you want.
If you do have the time and energy, planning a wedding can certainly be a fun experience for new couples, you will get to learn so much about the wedding planning process, meet some amazing vendors and company owners and learn a lot about an exciting new industry. However, if you are fully focused on your career and super short on time, you can just hire a wedding planner and have everything taken care of right away.
How To Save Money On Your Wedding Flowers
As you go about shopping for wedding venues in Toronto, you are probably thinking of all the different ways you can decorate the room with flowers and décor. One of the best sources of inspiration is going to be using Google images, that’s right, simply type in the name of your venue + wedding flowers or wedding décor. You’ll get a chance to see all the different ideas that have already been applied to that room and you can pick the ideas and inspirations that you like best. Feel free to use our website as a resource and check our gallery section, most likely you will find tons of weddings we did at some of the top-rated wedding venues in Toronto. You can see real works from our own portfolio in your actual venue.
Once you find some ideas that you want to incorporate for your Toronto wedding venue, here are some tips that can help you save on your wedding flowers.
The first thing is trying to keep your guest count tight. Having a guest count of 500-1000 people means there are more tables and more centrepieces to add to your wedding décor list. By having fewer tables, you can actually spend less and have much better-looking centrepieces at your wedding. Having 10-15 tables at your wedding gives you the freedom in your wedding budget to get luxury looking wedding centrepieces and more premium wedding flowers, which help make your wedding look more luxurious.
This can also help you choose a much better venue and both combined together will give your wedding image a more luxurious look for a lower cost. A lot of Asian couples book high-end venues and order luxurious centrepieces for their weddings and one of the main reasons they are able to do this is because they have shorter guest sizes. Their wedding guest count tends to be around the 50-100 people range, this gives them plenty of financial room to splurge on other things that they really want. Having a fancier dress, better florals, better venue, better food menu and much more. If you have to plan a wedding for 1000 people, it's going to eat up more of your wedding budget.
Another great way to save money on your wedding is to go for hybrid centrepieces and arrangements, for example, simply renting your flowers can save you a lot of money on your wedding budget and let you have more luxurious looking flowers for a lower cost. The luxury silk flowers that we use for our weddings are all handmade wit extremely realistic textures and colours. The shapes of the flowers are 100% identical to the real thing and are almost impossible to tell apart in person and in your wedding photos. From a distance, not too many people will be able to tell the difference.
Why Are Flowers So Expensive
One of the most common questions we get is why are wedding flowers so expensive, the truth is that majority of flowers come from South America and Europe, the currencies used to purchase are either going to be USD or the EURO, since the Canadian dollar is weaker, we have less buying power in the Canadian wedding market. If you were to have your wedding in America or Europe, you would be able to get more flowers for the same money.
The difference isn't really that big but when you are ordering thousands of stems of flowers, the costs can certainly add up. One of the best ways to cut down on your wedding flower cost and still have luxury looking wedding flowers is to simply have a lower guest count. If you are looking to save money on your wedding décor and flowers, try to keep your guest count to close family members and friends. It’s nice to invite all 1000 people that you know on FaceBook to your wedding but it will cost you a lot of money upfront.
The good thing is that at the end of the night, the majority of your guests will give you cash gifts in your money box, so you will most likely end up covering the majority of the cost of your wedding. Typically, your guests will bring around $100 per person or sometimes more, really depends on the crowd you have coming into your wedding.
Wedding Favours & Bombonieres
When you choose a wedding venue in Toronto, one of the most popular things we see is couples having wedding gifts for their guests, either on their tables or at a separate table nearby. Even though you are looking to give a small gift of appreciation to every single guest that attended your wedding, it helps to be mindful of the type of gift you are going to give away. Try to gift something that has a lower probability of ending up in the garbage. The last thing you want is all 500 of your guests leaving your wedding favours behind or just throwing it in the trash because they keep getting the same thing at other weddings. Small chocolates are a good option, bottle openers are very popular as well, we’ve seen small containers of tea as a wedding favours.
Should You Have A Photo Booth at Your Wedding
If you decide that you don’t want to have wedding favours at your wedding, an alternative idea is to have a wedding photo booth. This is a fun way to keep your guests entertained at your wedding and allows them to take home a few shots of them having a great time at your wedding.
Our wedding photo booths are custom made and use real professional-grade DSLR cameras built-in, that take high-quality images of your guests. We also use professional-grade lighting which means regardless of what the lighting conditions are at your Toronto wedding venue, the lighting will be just right.
How to Hire the Best Photographer
When it comes to hiring a wedding photographer, you want to take the time and research a few options because not all photographers are the same. You really want to take a moment to figure out which style of wedding photography you like best. Go through our wedding gallery section, take a look at some of the weddings we have worked on and you can see the different styles of wedding photography just by looking at some of our portfolios. We attached the names of the specific wedding photographers that were involved for that specific wedding, just to make your wedding vendor search a lot easier.
Apart from that, it’s good to take a moment to look at the wedding photographer’s website and portfolio to see if their work is consistently good. Keep in mind that not all of their weddings will be luxurious, this largely depends on the types of customers they get. The next best thing to do is to check their reviews on Google to see if they have a majority of positive feedback from their previous customers. If they only have 5-10 reviews, it might be harder to figure that out ahead of time, so your judgment will largely depend on the vibe you get from them during your consultation.
Choosing a wedding photographer with 50-100 reviews on Google will be a bit easier since you have more proof if they are trustworthy and reliable. If they have tons of positive reviews from every single review website, then it’s a safe bet that they are pretty reliable. Most wedding photographers use super expensive equipment and years of training to be good wedding photographers, so the services can be pricey. However, if you decide to go with a premium wedding photographer, you will most likely be happy with what you get at the end.
You can always try and find the next up and coming wedding photographer that is just getting started in the wedding industry. They will most likely charge you less for their services in hopes of having your wedding as a portfolio piece. However, their skills may or may not be as top-notch as the wedding photographer that charges 3-4k and also has 10+ years of experience. The best thing you can do is to see a sample of the photographer's work to make a more accurate decision for your budget.
Best Time Of The Year to Plan Your Wedding
If you are shopping around for wedding venues in Toronto and you are looking to save some money on your overall venue cost, one of the best ways you can do this is by having your wedding during winter months vs summer months. As well all know everyone wants to have their wedding in the summer, but having a wedding in the winter can be fun too.
Photos turn out beautiful, tons of great locations to get your winter pre-wedding photography done and best of all, you can get all your vendors at a slight discount. Another thing you can do is to plan your wedding during weekdays vs weekends, wedding venues don’t usually get booked up during the weekdays so you can literally save money on your venue cost just by having your wedding at a different day.
Planning Your Wedding During Holidays
There are a lot of pros and cons to having a wedding during the holidays, by holidays we mean around Christmas and new year time. One of the major benefits of planning your wedding for the holidays is that the majority of people take time off, however, it also means that a lot of people might be having travel plans or they might be having family over so they may or may not be able to attend.
This is why it’s good to send out those invitations or e-invitations ahead of time just so you can see if you are going to have maximum attendance or not. Another benefit of having your wedding during the holidays is that you or your significant other will easily remember your anniversary. Yes, of course, you will remember it but let's be real, life gets busy sometimes and either one of you might forget.
So, by having your anniversary around the holidays, you will have more things to celebrate during that time of the year. If you decide to have a wedding around the holidays, make sure you reach out to vendors well in advance so that you can reserve your favourite Toronto wedding venue before other couples book it.