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Wedding Planning 101: Finding Venues & Vendors

Aisle with gold chairs and pink and white pew bows for outdoor wedding

Finding Your Venue

The ceremony — who do you want to marry you and where?  Finding an officiant and a ceremony site can be pretty simple; if you want to get married in your home town church by the pastor who has know you for years.  Even if you don’t live in the area, your family may still be there and can pitch in and help out.  Sometimes, it’s better to choose a convenient location that is equidistant from both sets of parents as well as you two.  Then — what if you want a destination wedding — will everyone want to take a trip and can they afford to join you in the “islands”?

What about your reception venue?  Take another look at your wedding dreams (that you have already written down); and see how well they meet the reality.  Do you want a beautiful outdoor garden?  Great!  But what if you cannot find just the right place?  What do you do if it rains?  Maybe you want one of the great local venues in the Muskokas — is the one that you fell in love with at your first cousin’s wedding available?  Use local resources to narrow down your options — get in touch with a wedding planner or a recently married friend.  Ask lots of questions.  Check out wedding websites and/or bridal magazines.  Then start scheduling visits.

Hiring Your Vendors

If you want the BEST, start early!  As soon as you have nailed down your venues (with a signed contract and deposit paid!), get going.  Remember — every vendor should want a contract and a non-refundable retainer!  If they don’t — RUN far away!

Bride holding beautiful bouquet of lavender, white amd green flowers at summer wedding at Sir Sam's Inn, Eagle Lake, ON

Get your photographer and videographer signed up early!  The best ones usually book weddings many months in advance and sometimes even a year or more out.  (We are booking 2019/20 right now).  Get recommendations from friends and then DO YOUR RESEARCH!  What kinds of shots would you like to have to remember your wedding day.  Are you a more formal type or are you a “go with the flow” style!  Make sure that you ask to see a full wedding — either in digital format or a physical wedding album.

TIP:  If you aren’t sure what style of album you want, we have a number of collections with different styles of books (magazine, coffee-table or large leather ones).  You don’t have to make up your mind right away but can wait until after you see your final images.

Check out your musicians.  Make sure to hear them perform before you sign them.  If you are providing the playlist, will they stick to it?  In the contract, make sure that you specify how they will dress and how many breaks they will take?  Hiring a DJ is usually less expensive than a live band, but not always.

TIP:  Plan to feed these vendors.  Hungry photographers, videographers and DJs may result in them leaving the reception to eat and then things can be missed!  It’s an expense that just isn’t worth skipping!

As soon as you have nailed down the reception location,  you can book your florist and decor specialist.  They can help you choose bouquets, table arrangements, chair covers, table cloths, and all the other decorations to make your day “yours!”  Every venue will have different requirements and these specialists can make things work within your budget.

Your caterer will provide you and your fiance with a “tasting” where you will get to sample a variety of dishes to choose from.  Most caterers will be a bit flexible with menus and pricing so don’t be afraid to bargain.  You can cut some costs by limiting the number and kinds of hors d’oevres at the cocktail hour.  Also, be aware that some venues, like Belcroft Estates provide a list of approved caterers and the Bonnieview Inn does their own catering.

This is just a start and I hope that it helps.  Happy Planning.


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