Wednesday, November 7, 2007

The ONE - aka the Diamond Alumni Centre!

After a couple of disappointing venue visits, I'll admit, my hopes of finding THE venue were a wee bit deflated. Happily, our trip to Queen's park seemed to turn our luck around. After discovering the lovely and affordable Centennial Lodge venue, we decided to try our luck with the venue gods one more time. So I made an appointment to take a peek at the Diamond Alumni Centre on SFU's burnaby campus.

I was a little concerned that it would resemble a university cafeteria rather than a wedding venue, but my concerns were completely unfounded. What a gorgeous venue with a gorgeous view and a gorgeous rental price. In a word, it was PERFECT!!

Tucked away on Burnaby Mountain, the Diamond Alumnic Centre (DAC) boasts a "panoramic view of sea and mountains" and a "dining experience like no other". We haven't had a chance to test their food, but if it's anything like the promised view, it will be nothing short of spectacular!
Upon first entering the venue, we literally walked down the stairs, across the room, and directly out onto the balcony; the view was that striking. The first words out of Patrick's mouth were "let's have the wedding here" and the first pictures he took are from the balcony :) The top two pictures above are looking left and right when standing on the balcony. Bottom left is the front entrance of the venue, and bottom right is the incredible view of the North Shore mountains.

They were busy setting up the room for a wedding, but the event coordinator, Vivian, told us to come right in and take a look around. After wandering around for a few minutes, Vivian gave us a bit of a tour and answered all my questions.
Sorry for the small size of the pictures; we took so many and the room is quite large, so it's easier to put them all together. As you can see, the style of the venue fits perfectly with our "outside in" theme. The combination of stone fireplace, wood beams, and full wall of windows provides the elegant, woodsy, organic, lush foliage feel we're going for.

Vivan showed us the room downstairs as well. I doubt we'll need this area, but it's included in the rental fee so we figured we'd better take a look.

And I saved the best for last; the rental fee for the room is only $320.00 for the day. That's right, I said 320.00!!! Of course, that price is with the discounted alumni rental fee, but even the full price of $850.00 is very reasonable for such a beautiful venue. The rental costs include the upper and lower rooms, tables, chairs, white linens, glasses, dishes, flatware, podium and microphone (have to bring in own sound system for dancing) and bartender(s).

As with any venue, there are a couple caveats. They aren't major issues and so we're prepared to deal with them considering how much we adore the venue.

Caveat # 1.
The room is large. I'm not talking warehouse large, but if we end up with only 50 guests, it may be feel a bit too roomy (more to come on the difficulties of estimating the number of guests a bit later). To counteract this concern, Vivian suggested we set up the ceremony/cocktail hour at one end of the room, and the reception/dinner/dancing at the other. Which seemed like a reasonable suggestion.

Now I know I said my preference is to have an outdoor ceremony, but it's hard to argue with a $320.00 rental fee for the entire wedding, never mind the relief of putting aside all weather related stress associated with having an outdoor ceremony on the we(s)t coast.

Caveat # 2
Can't bring in our own catering and booze (with exception of wine which is subject to an 8.00/bottle corkage fee). Normally, this would be a concern, but their catering menu is reasonably priced and very tasty looking. I'll report back on taste after attending their annual Christmas buffet in December.

Alcohol will be more expensive, but at least we can save a bit by bringing in less costly wines. And if they supply and serve the beverages, its one less thing I have to worry about during those last few weeks before the big day!

Caveat # 3.
The venue has a minimum spend (includes, rental fee, food, and non alcoholic beverages) of $5000.00 on saturday and $4000 on sunday. With such a large percentage of our guests flying in from out of town, it's hard to estimate our final attendance numbers. We'd need at least 70 guests to make the saturday minimum, and I'm not sure we can guarantee that many guests! Lucky for us, there isn't a minimum spend on fridays; which leads me to...

Caveat # 4.
The venue is only available from 3:30pm until 1am on fridays because they are open for lunch on weekdays. Thus, if we want to avoid worrying about meeting a minimum spend, we'd have to be comfortable with having our wedding on a friday evening. Something like: ceremony at 5pm, cocktails 5:30pm to 7:30pm, dinner 7:30pm to 9:30pm, dancing 9:30 to 1am. We actually prefer friday evening over a sunday, but will touch on that topic in the next post.

Caveat # 5.
Photo ops. SFU campus is a bit of a concrete jungle (as are many university campuses). Although a good photographer will find excellent photo opportunities no matter where they are, we may need to travel elsewhere for the specific photo ops I have in mind. If we have an evening wedding, we could have the photos taken before the ceremony thus wasting less time traveling, and spending more time celebrating with our guests.

Although there are 5 "caveats" listed above, none are "deal breakers" (at least in our eyes anyways). Add to that the amazing scenery and the equally amazing rental fee and well, we just can't go wrong!! So we're pretty sure this is the one. Of course, things can change, and since we can't actually book the venue for our 2009 date until the New Year, it's possible that we might find something else.

But I doubt it ;)

UPDATE: See my review of the Diamond Alumni Centre here!


j said...

Caveat solutions:


*Pre-painted back drops for photos-surely Patrick's Dad has some hook ups with school photographers?

Y'know, like the ones with books or fall trees in the background...;)

anoisette said...

great choice of venue! i really liked the DAC and think it's very reasonably priced even for non-alumni.

Anonymous said...

I am getting married there next year and it is absolutely amazing! The catering staff has been extremely helpful and there are some good photo stops up at SFU.

Ryan said...

I got married here in 2006 and it was absolutely amazing. Highly recommended