Sunday, October 24

The Hunt for a Perfect Venue

I have fairly strong opinions when it comes to wedding related things. Things that are typical or the norm usually aren't my style. That's not to say that our wedding will have a lot of things that all weddings typically have, but there are some things that will be different and fit more to our style.

Confession: I hate hotel ballrooms. And I hate conference centre ballrooms. I pretty just hate rooms that have ugly carpets and beige walls, and everything gets draped in white and tulle. Actually, let me rephrase that... hate is a pretty strong word. I dislike all of those things, and they are totally not my style, so I knew for our wedding that I wanted to avoid a venue like that.

When we first started putting our guest list together, it looked like we were going to have about 100 people. One of my first thoughts for a reception venue was to have it in a restaurant. If we could find place that was big enough to hold 100 people, and would have nice enough decor and style to fit our wedding, it would work perfectly. So the search began. I used google to look up restaurants in the city and try and find some that fit our criteria. We made a list, narrowed down our choices, and emailed the prospects to set up meetings. Then we planned our visits!

#1 - The Courtyard Restaurant

This place is gorgeous! It is a historical building right in downtown Ottawa, and the whole second floor is dedicated to events. The prices are really reasonable and the decor was definitely unique (hello, stone walls and exposed beam ceilings - love!). They even have a max capacity of 120 which would work. But, the thing that didn't work for us was the floorplan for the room. We would get the whole second floor, but we didn't realize until we got there, that the floor was divided into 3 rooms, and we wouldn't get to seat our guests all in the same space. It basically broke down that we could seat 40 people in one room, 80 in the other, and they were separated by a smaller middle room where the bar was located. No bueno. We really tried to think of ways to make it work, but when it cam down to the logistics of who to separate, where we would sit, and how things like speeches and the first dance would work, we realized it just wouldn't work. Le sad...

Here are some pictures of the gorgeous venue. I still think it would have been such a beautiful location for the wedding!

Room 1 - The 80-person room

The bar area in the middle room

Room 2 - The 40 person room
All photos from here

#2 - Crowne Plaza Hotel


Yes, shock of all shocks, the second place we went to see was a (gasp!) hotel ballroom. The thing that set it apart for me was that the ballroom was in the penthouse of the hotel and had a stellar view of the city. Well, pretty stellar. There are taller buildings around it, but since it is right downtown, it was pretty nice anyways. But that was pretty much the best thing about the room. The hotel itself is a bit older, so the ballroom was kind of shabby and run down. They only had round tables which I did not want, and there was an overall dinginess to the whole room. So that was a no.

#3 - The Empire Grill

Continuing with the restaurant trend, we booked an appointment to see the Empire Grill. From the moment we walked in, I knew this was IT. It was trendy yet elegant, NYC-themed (which I love!), and the walls were purple. Purple! And they had cow-print chairs. There were so many small details in the restaurant decor, it was so easy to envision exactly what our wedding would look like if we had it there.

The event space is at the back of the restaurant, and is completely partitioned off from the rest of the patrons, but we wouldn't have the whole restaurant to ourselves. The back room is equipped with it's own bar, and the seating ranges from booths to small and large tables.


This place is absolutely perfect. It has everything we were looking for, and is such an amazing venue for a wedding. We actually have been for dinner as well, and the food is great. That's one of the reasons I was so keen on having the reception at a restaurant - you're guaranteed good food! The menu pricing is a bit more than we were looking to spend, but I think it will definitely be worth it in the end!

So, after time spent researching what was out there are narrowing down our choices, and finally making a decision, we finally have our venue. What do you think?

Did you have a very specific idea in mind when it came to your reception venue?

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