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Beginner August 2020 Ontario

Tell me about your A-typical or Alternative Wedding

GCMcGEE, on April 12, 2020 at 03:04 Posted in Wedding reception 0 25
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I need some ideas! We're having a very hard time so far with picking a venue! One major problem we're having is neither of us really enjoy traditional weddings and so we're exploring some alternative ideas.

We're exploring the idea of an overnight cottage weekend type thing, basically an over-grown family reunion/friends getaway.

We're also looking into using a local beach or park and having a big picnic or barbecue

We're also checking out farms, bnbs, lodges etc... to see if anyone has a very flexible venue that would allow us to design the day our way.

The priority list for what ever we do plan will be: #1 guests having fun! We want to have games and activities, a short and sweet ceremony, lots of music maybe even a short concert (we and our friends are musicians) dance floor optional but cannot be the only source of entertainment we know our guests will only dance for an hour at most, we want some kind of comfortable seating area for late night conversations and some place that people can walk around when they need a break from the festivities. We're looking for something very un-constricted, where if people want to break out the scotch and talk until 2am they can. Essentially we want a backyard wedding, but we don't have a backyard!

A few things I know we won't be having are: invitations and other paper products, bridesmaids and groomsmen, speeches, a head table, colour-schemes, themes, any kind of meal that restricts guests to one table all night, and basically anything that puts the focus on us for an extended period of time! We're both shy and hate being the centre of attention... Ironic for performing artists right? LOL Seriously though I honestly get anxious at just the thought of sitting at the front of a room with 50 people watching me eat while some uncle tells a long and embarrassing story! Aaaahhh that one is so not for us!

Another restriction we're working with is budget. We are both still developing careers and money is tight. We also both feel very strongly that spending a huge sum on our wedding is just not prudent or responsible for us right now and that our money would be better saved for a future family and towards our long term life goals. That said we do want a wedding, we want to celebrate finally making it official with everyone we care about so we're ruled out a court-house wedding for that reason.

In the name of budget we are considering a few possibly taboo options: 1) Alcohol, we both feel that cashbars are not the way to go for a few reasons most importantly that 9$ drinks are a great way to make sure your guests stay sober and leave early! Ideally we want to provide all the wine and beer plus soda for mix and then offer guests the chance to bring hard liquor or any higher quality wine or beer that they desire 2) We are considering self-catering, I know I know, everyone says this is a terrible idea but for a few reasons I think it might work. I'm a good cook as is my MIL to be and I have a few eager and ambitious friends who would be willing to help store frozen foods, heat things up, make salads, man a grill etc... I see the argument that you don't want to spend your wedding day working, but honestly with enough prep and some helping hands I think it's doable. Another factor is late night snacks! If you want people to stay late and keep partying you have to feed them! This seems to be a hard one to find in the typical wedding packages and if it's there it costs more than my car haha!


Anyways long rambling post later if anyone knows of a venue near Ottawa/Gatineau where that type of event would be possible or if you'd like to share your plans or stories of hosting a non-traditional wedding or even just a list of the typical wedding stuff that you plan to/did skip I'd love to hear it all!

25 Comments

Latest activity by Krysta, on November 4, 2020 at 09:33
  • Krysta
    Newbie September 2021 Ontario
    Krysta ·
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    We are looking at doing a cottage wedding up in Muskoka. Our guest list is quite small (under 20ppl) - mostly close family and a couple of friends. We are going to being our own alcohol and have it catered. We wont be having a wedding party, speeches, a head table, invitations may be electronic or printed by us and sent/ handed out... ect. We will have a wedding website for all details as well along with RSVPs. We are trying to keep our costs down as much as we can, as we have our future as a priority but I'm just starting the process and already getting overwhelmed - debating of having a wedding planner help us as we aren't up there and I really don't want to have to worry about everything.

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  • N
    Newbie June 2022 Ontario
    Nikk ·
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    We’ve rented an entire camp ground where we have full access to the industrial kitchen(we have a catered but could work for you if you’re wanting to make your own meals) you can bring in your own alcohol, and you get full access of all cabins so accommodations are included in the fee we pay to rent the grounds. We’re also from Ottawa and the camp is in Eganville.
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  • Laura
    Devoted June 2022 Ontario
    Laura ·
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    We were thinking of doing the cottage thing in Muskoka! I think it would be such a fun house party if you don't have too big of a guest list.

    We are a bit unconventional, we're having a chic modern cocktail party in an art gallery in downtown TO

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  • Kirsten
    Newbie September 2022 Ontario
    Kirsten ·
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    We had the same feelings about the “traditional” weddings we’ve been to, so we are planning a morning ceremony with a brunch reception!
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  • G
    Beginner August 2020 Ontario
    GCMcGEE ·
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    That sounds like a fun wedding! I really love this idea of focusing on having a fun day above all else.


    Agree with you about camping. I considered the idea, but it would have to be causal attire only and I wand to wear a wedding dress so decided if we do an overnight it will be a cottage or inn or something with mirrors, showers and beds!


    Also puppy rescue = best wedding gift ever!!!

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  • Taylor
    Devoted October 2021 Alberta
    Taylor ·
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    For me the girls I worked with were asking about it because I just assumed it was a promise ring and they were like "not at that price!" (He showed me the reciept lol he didnt know he wasnt supposed to) and so I asked him about it and he said it was an engagement ring and he wanted to see how long till it clicked.
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  • Brooke
    Beginner November 2022 Ontario
    Brooke ·
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    HA! My fiancé gave me a ring a year and a half ago and was like “look what I got you” and I promptly stuck it on my right hand and went “I love it,” and he was like “...great.” Then months later he said he was trying to propose and I was like “try harder.” (I wound up proposing to him; I’m not a monster!)
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  • Brooke
    Beginner November 2022 Ontario
    Brooke ·
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    I have been to a camping wedding where the expectation was fancy clothes for the reception and then camping overnight, and it was frankly pretty stressful trying to pitch a tent and get pretty after driving out to the campground from two hours away. The party was fun, the hanging by the campfire later was also fun, but trying to be pretty without running water in the rain with only a hand mirror because the car was full of camping gear and there was no room for your vanity was not fun! So please, fellow brides, have a care for your guests if you want a camping wedding and keep the reception more casual or provide cabins or a private prep area.


    My sister was married at her university campus; she went to a small women’s college in the US, and they had a late morning service in the non-denominational chapel (no religious imagery, basically a pretty hall with pews) and then we walked to a big lawn with a small house-turned-hall and had a picnic lunch. The bridal party had use of the house to get ready and there were well lit, clean bathrooms and a kitchen. They ordered boxed lunches, so each guest had a brown paper box with their name and a lace ribbon. Drinks were lemonade, fun flavour sodas (like celery and corn—don’t knock it till you’ve tried it!), water with fruit, and two types of sangria in big dispensers. Glassware came from Ikea and the family all still uses them six years later. It was very low key and relaxed. An abandoned puppy wandered in and wound up being everyone’s favourite guest, at some point someone took out a football to toss around with the puppy, and the officiant and best man (married to each other) adopted him. 10/10, recommend wedding puppies for outdoor more casual weddings.
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  • Taylor
    Devoted October 2021 Alberta
    Taylor ·
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    You can ask people to donate to a charity. Pick a handful to donate to and have a blurb about them. Luckily we only each have 1 friend lol. And his proposal was we were at his parents at christmas and he gave me a ring in a box. No words. Took me 2 years to figure out what it ment and he thought it was hilarious. My moms third wedding which was this past august legit was thrown together in a week. My stepdad and stepmoms wedding they had chilli and pulled pork sandwiches and she got married in a purple maxi dress. Both were very lovely. My mom did hers for like 500$ but it was mostly items donated from others weddings or things they were given as a congratulations to my stepdad who had beaten cancer only a few days before the day. I spent 12 hours putting together the hall including a memorial for his parents and sister which had him bawling. They made the food themselves and it was beyond amazing. It was bring your own booze and at the end of the night they were going to have a fire but everyone got too drunk lol. My stepdad and stepmoms wedding I think again was only a couple hundred bucks. Ours is more expensive because I'm buying a new dress and no one is donating things to us haha but that's ok I feel better doing it myself. Anyone who is going to complain can just not bother coming at all. I'm my 70 year old grandmother and her sister and brother in law can drive an hour and a half to be a part of my wedding then everyone can help out with making the day special. It's about celebrating 2 lives becoming unified not about fancy food and a whole bunch of fuss. If we are lucky we even have people coming from bc! My sister did the traditional wedding and everyone was miserable and they ended up divorced. I'm not saying every traditional wedding ends in divorce but if your miserable on your wedding day then what is even the point?
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  • G
    Beginner August 2020 Ontario
    GCMcGEE ·
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    I love the sound of your wedding! I keep telling my Fiance that somewhere along the line in history weddings kind of went off the rails and we've all lost touch with what they should really mean. To me a wedding should be about a community of people who love and care for a couple coming together to celebrate their union; not about spending a fortune providing a 5 star experience for everyone you know!


    I've been getting irked with a few people who seem almost offended that we might ask them to carry a chair or help move food around to make it all happen... it really made me question why is it that people are expecting us to shell out and provide them with a high end experience when they know we can't afford to do that. It's really made me question everything about weddings!


    We decided to really dissect every aspect of a wedding and ask why it's done and if we will include it. We had no proposal, we just decided together that we wanted to get married and then chose rings together. My FH is super cute, he wants to wear his as an engagement ring too lol!


    We were both raised Christian and aren't totally for or against religion but we like the minister at his family's church, she's very modern and feminist, very forward thinking so I think we'll be asking her to do the ceremony. She makes us more comfortable than a stranger would anyways.


    For a procession we will ask parents and siblings to walk in and then just sit in the front row. We're asking our niece to be a flower girl but realistically she'll probably just run around lol she's two lol!!! Then we are going to walk in together!


    We opted for no wedding party because I hate the idea of having to tell some friends they are more special than others and my fiance has no close friends really! Plus I hate weddings where the bridal party all have to shell out a fortune to buy their own dress and shoes and stuff but I can't afford to buy dresses and suits for everyone!


    We're musicians and so are our friends so we will ask everyone to do one or two songs, a few in the ceremony and then later we will have a small concert as entertainment.


    We want to do all the food ourselves, but I'll need help with stuff like getting food into ovens and I'm having a hard time finding a place that allows for self-catering. I'm planning to do all foods I can make and freeze ahead of time then just warm it all up and toss together some salads on the day of to go with it all.


    For drinks we want to provide beer and wine, plus juice and sodas but ideally we want to find a venue where guests can byob too. That way if anyone wants better wine or beer or to have hard liquor they can but it's still way cheaper than a cash bar.


    For cake I have several friends who are good bakers and I make really nice cakes too so between us we are going to make 4 or 5 normal size cakes that way we have enough for everyone plus then we get to have different flavours of cake!


    For decorations and wedding favours I'm growing a bunch of succulents that we will pair with cheap candles and found sticks and branches to make centrepieces and table decorations. Then at the end of the day guests who want one can take home an arrangement! No one needs a silly corkscrew with our names on it lol!!! I'm making my own bouquet out of false flowers since I can do it ahead of time and then I can keep it as a decoration at home. We also have tons of mason jars here cause I make all kinds of preserves so we'll do something with those. We also have a lot of Christmas lights we can use for outdoor lighting. (We also have a contingency plan incase we have to the date and make it a winter wedding in which case I'll do evergreen branches, red berries, birch branches, pinecones and Christmas lights!) Either way I want to grow/collect from nature everything we use except for a few dollar store things.


    And perhaps key to me is we are asking everyone to skip gifts! We don't need more stuff, but instead we are asking everyone to just lend a hand to pull off the day. Be that helping set up chairs, making a cake, warming up some food or helping run some games for the kids to keep them busy.

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  • Taylor
    Devoted October 2021 Alberta
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    We are using a community hall. Less then 30 people. His family isnt invited because they are mindblowingly toxic and it was his only wish. But due to the virus it might be under 15. I love the ideas you have been tossing around! Our entire wedding is going to be under 3k which is amazing. All the decorations are from wish,my dress and the dogs outfits are from amazon,the dishware is party city,and we are making all the food. We are doing cupcakes instead of a cake which is good because he hates wedding cake,we have alot of chocolate fiends but I'm allergic to chocolate. So we can make a bit of everything for everyone. Our dogs are actually service dogs so we dont have that issue but we are allowing some more wellbehaved dogs to come too and if they bark we dont mind. It's so low key I keep telling my FH that it's barely even classifying as a wedding at this point lol. It is so personal. My mom is walking with my grandma,my new stepdad (moms 3rd husband) is playing the song I'm walking to and singing,my stepdad (moms second husband now divorced) and his new wife are giving me away and her two sons are doing the ceremony. The human best man and maid of honor are our childhood friends since grade 3. The dog of honor and maid of honor will be walking together. Originally I would carry her but my arms will be too far apart to hold someone so tiny (both are chihuahuas). Jack who is the best dog is all white and has a black bowtie and juliet the dog of honor has a black and white dress like mine. He will be wearing black with a white shirt (wont be white for long lol) and the best man and maid of honor will be in head to toe black. I nearly gave my grandma a heart attack when I said my dress was half black lol after my mom I'm surprised she expected anything different lol (second wedding she wore a pink suit with hot pink dreads but the sides were shaved and dyed pink leopard print. First wedding she was so drunk the entire time they had to hold her up during the ceremony). But when I called crying she said nothing is going to stop her from watching her baby get married (we are extremely close) and others agreed that they would rather risk their lives then to miss such a special day.
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  • G
    Beginner August 2020 Ontario
    GCMcGEE ·
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    Yay someone else who is hosting an alt wedding! Lol Autistic bluntness aside haha I kind of agree with both of you! I want a wedding because I want to celebrate our relationship in a meaningful way, but weddings are in many ways a giant waste of money and they easily become very self indulgent. So many people treat a wedding as an excuse to treat themselves like royalty for a day and spend money they don't have and it just doesn't feel like something we want !


    It sounds like your wedding will be a wonderful tribute to you two as a couple! That's what a wedding should be in my opinion! I don't subscribe to generic anything else so why this? So far all my preliminary research is showing me that the average person wants a one size fits all, straight out of the box, select package a, b, or c type wedding and it couldn't be further than what we want!


    We want to have our dog in the ceremony too, but I'm afraid he'll just bark the whole time lol!!!


    I love the idea of games and video games! We are expecting our guests to be very split in activities, the older ones will just stand around and chit chat then go to bed, the parents of little kids will leaver early and then our childless peers will probably want to party all night, but they tend to be a calmer group; if they dance it will be for 5 minutes then not again all night lol. We are considering some outdoor activities early in the day. A painting station, water-balloons for the kids or even swimming if the venue allows, maybe some bean bags or horse shoes or carnival games. Later in the night we're thinking of maybe casino games (chips only no real cash, but maybe a cool prize or two for the winners), glowsticks, sparklers, bonfire and late night hot dogs and smores! I really want it to be more of an over-grown cottage weekend than a "wedding" Also funny you mention pulled pork that's one of the foods I'm considering! The pork shoulders go on sale often and you can make it ahead and freeze it easily too!


    Loving your board games idea and now you have me thinking about if our venue has a tv we might add in video games or have you even tried the jackbox games? Quiplash and Drawful are favs at our parties! If you've never tried them I highly suggest!


    What venue will you be using? How many guests are you expecting? One challenge we are having is we have big families and just the barebones family plus a few close friends puts us at 40-50 people which makes finding a venue really tough... too many for a backyard, but most of the big "real" wedding places have minimum guest numbers of about 80! Yikes!

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  • Taylor
    Devoted October 2021 Alberta
    Taylor ·
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    My FH despises weddings. He thinks they are boring and a waste of money (gotta love the bluntness that comes with autism) but he knows its important to me. We are very untraditional people. The ceremony is quite witchy to be honest haha. No prayers no vows not even rings. We are doing a tree planting ceremony instead of rings then tattoos later on down the line. My dress is mostly black. My dogs are best man and maid of honor along with our best friends. There will be music but probably not dancing as we are very shy people. We will have video games in the corner with just a small tv and w.e console he wants to bring. We are doing a buffet with pulled pork sandwiches and salad. Cupcakes instead of cakes. No booze (personal preference due to us both having trauma based around alcoholic family members) we have been think of a few games people can play but everyone is much older so they will probably just talk. But we might have some puzzles,board games,cards,and crosswords. I've seen some people get giant lawn games like yahtzee and tic tac toe. Pinterest has great ideas. Our wedding color is black and it's very much in homage to the elements and fall without being Halloweeny.
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  • Hank
    Featured September 2021 Ontario
    Hank ·
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    Maybe you can stay in Ottawa instead of cottage country since the resorts you're looking at is already too expensive for your budget? You can check out community centres or a friend's condo party room for spaces where you can self-cater. You can also try the nightclubs on off-nights, like a Sunday or early weekday when they sit empty anyway, if not having it on a Saturday is not a deal-breaker for you.


    But by keeping it in the city instead of cottage country, guests can easily find an AirBNB that's cheaper than $200 with accessible transportation at any hour of the night to and from the venue. That's one less thing for you to deal with because I think trying to find that sweet spot of an affordable venue that can accommodate 30+ overnight would be tough. You'll also have access to more grocery stores with prepped food options that aren't overly expensive like barbecue chickens and salads if you're in the city. It will take a few things off your plate of to do's on your big day.


    Good luck with your search.

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  • G
    Beginner August 2020 Ontario
    GCMcGEE ·
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    I think you are miss-understanding one thing, the idea of overnight accommodation is that most guests will be coming from out of town and will need a place to sleep anyways. Rather than having them book in at a 200$ a night hotel (the going rate here) , If I can find a cottage or resort or something similar I can book out the whole place for a good rate, out of town guests will still pay for their own room, but at a savings to them and in a setting which would allow us to have a more relaxed event.


    Also I am aware that Ontario has some rather restrictive alcohol laws, so we are also looking at Quebec where the rules are a little more lax, we are also looking mainly at venues that fall within a setting where guests would be able to serve themselves legally, for example a cottage .


    Thank you for your input on catering... I'm not sure what friend you are talking about, the "people think it's a terrible idea" comment was more of a generalization based on my experience with the typical person's concept of a wedding, but my real life friends are on board! The idea behind self-catering is that is would save us a fortune even at 30$ a plate, feeding 50 people would cost nearly 2000$ after tax and gratuity. Once you factor in alcohol, venue price, the cost of the actual wedding legalities we are already over budget and that's without setting anything aside for clothes, decorations or anything else really. I'd love if we could afford to take the simpler route and have someone else do all of the work, but un-fortunately life is kinder to some than others and we are stuck working with a very small budget. We are still considering the option of having the main course catered but providing our own appetizers, cake and late night snacks. As I mentioned in my opinion the key to a good party is to keep the food and drinks available at all times and we are simply not able to provide that by any other means.


    I've also considered many of the other things you mention like bringing in tables etc, this is something we're looking at from multiple angles as well, perhaps a venue that has tables on site already or somewhere where we can set up ahead of time or tear down the next day. I should also mention that we are asking guests to lend a hand in lieu of gifts. We don't want or need wedding gifts but if someone is willing to carry a chair it would honestly be more appreciated than any gift.


    In any case neither my fiace nor I care for the traditional wedding at and we are simply exploring options for a very un-wedding like marriage celebration. It's not the vibe of a formal hall that bothers us, but rather the whole structure of a typical wedding day and so we're seeking out input from like-minded individuals who may have also planned a less than traditional wedding.


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  • Tori
    Top October 2019 Manitoba
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    We had a kid free wedding, but what we found that our guests really enjoyed was the fact that we provided a bus shuttle to and from the wedding venue Smiley smile It picked them up at a hotel in the city, drove them to the venue, then at 1AM took them back to that meeting point where they could either stay at the hotel or grab a cab back home.

    Our venue was just less than an hour outside the perimeter so our guests were fine with the drive. The only people who didn't like it/ didn't come were those who didn't live inside the city and lived 4.5hours North which would mean they had to drive to the city first (close family would have, but my family are the kind where they only think about what's in it for them).

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  • Hank
    Featured September 2021 Ontario
    Hank ·
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    I think you'll need to go over your priorities again and see which ones are absolute keepers for you and your FH. Below are a few points of concern:


    -Accommodations - what you're essentially looking for is overnight accommodations for 30+ people in a single spot. You'll be hard pressed to find anything along those lines that won't cost you quite some dough, even in a small town. Even a cheap motel typically costs more than a plate per person at a family style restaurant and based on what you're saying, it looks like you'll need some kind of resort in order to accommodate your needs.

    -Alcohol - unless you find a private residence, you'll likely deal with some kind of law enforcement for the ability to drink without restrictions outside in a public space. Even if you rent a private location, such as an event space, you'll still require a special occasion permit from the LCBO and licensed servers.

    -Catering - I would reiterate your friends advice and not self-cater your wedding. In addition to cooking, there's also cleaning - a lot of cleaning. Not to mention potentially schlepping in tables and chairs and then bringing them back. Do you really want to spend and remember your special day as being behind a stove cooking away and cleaning dishes for 50 people as opposed to relaxing and enjoying your time with loved ones celebrating your day?


    For the vibe you want, have you thought about going to a local barbecue restaurant like Moe's or Fatboys? It'll likely cost you around $30 for a hefty plate of barbecue plus whatever costs drinks are. Likely much less than what it'll cost for someone to stay overnight somewhere.

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  • G
    Beginner August 2020 Ontario
    GCMcGEE ·
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    That’s basically what we want, but I’m having a hard time finding something perfect. So far everything is either too small, (we will be 50 guests about 35 will want to spend the night), or crazy expensive, or too far away and the local guests with small kids won’t be able to get home the same night.


    We definitely plan to skip a lot of the smaller stuff that adds to the cost like invites. Decorations will all be homemade (we’ve already started propagating dozens of succulents to use as table decorations/party favours) plus stuff like collected branches and pinecones to use in vases. I’m going to make my own bouquet from silk flowers. I’m also hunting on market-place for lanterns and string lights and things that someone else bought for a wedding and is selling off now. It’s all going to be a lot of work, but I have time right now and I’m planning it all out so that I can get a lot of the work done months ahead of time.
    For now I guess the hunt continues for the perfect place to use.
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  • Rayanne
    Featured June 2022 Ontario
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    I'm sure you'll find something that works for you.
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  • G
    Beginner August 2020 Ontario
    GCMcGEE ·
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    I like the idea of the laid back element of camping and I’ve thought if that, but I will still be wearing a wedding dress and we’re giving guests the option of how dressed up they want to be, but knowing my friends many will still want to wear nice dresses so tents seem less conducive to this, but a cottage or cabins or something is basically what I’ve been looking for. Yet to find the perfect place though! The hunt continues!
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  • G
    Beginner August 2020 Ontario
    GCMcGEE ·
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    I’ll keep up the search Smiley laugh
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  • G
    Beginner August 2020 Ontario
    GCMcGEE ·
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    Your venue looks interesting. This is not far off from what I want. I’ve found a few places with cabins on site like this but so far they are either too expensive or so far out of town that the local guests with young kids won’t be able to return home the same night which several will want to do.
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  • Tori
    Top October 2019 Manitoba
    Tori ·
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    Compared to every other wedding I've been to, my wedding was somewhat different. We rented a place outside the city, brought in our own alcohol and food catering, and rented the place for the weekend (which had a couple cabins). I would say it for sure saved us money by doing all of those things, but you have to be organized!!! (We also had an open bar, so had we not done this we could have saved money in that way - but at the same time people would have probably given less presentation... so...)

    Kael and Tori's Real Wedding

    I'm also in MB, so my venue and other stuff wouldn't work for you - but if you can find a place like mine it would be so worth it Smiley smile

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  • Rayanne
    Featured June 2022 Ontario
    Rayanne ·
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    To me it sounds like you want a camping weekend. Maybe you could look into a campground? Or a nicer cottage? I guess in depends on how many guests you are thinking about having. If you could find a cottage with other cottages in the area. A beach wedding would be beautiful and more laid back.
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  • Ashley
    VIP August 2020 Ontario
    Ashley ·
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    You could always rent a giant cottage on the waterfront and then have a dj food and booze. you can rent a dance floor for guests to dance and then you can have games as well. that would be totally different and have the ceremony there as well. if you dont do invites and decor and all that other stuff you can totally save a ton of money. all people need is a space for dancing, food and booze and they will be happy!

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