Monday, November 26, 2007

Friday's child is loving and giving...

I generally don't put too much thought into the days of the week; other than counting how many are left until the weekend. However, after learning that our beloved venue has a minimum food spend of 5000.00 on saturdays and 4000.00 on sundays, you can bet I started giving more thought to the days of the week.

I've always felt that the optimal day for throwing big bashes is saturday. No rushing home from work to get ready before going out or having people over; a chance to catch up on some much needed sleep the morning of; plenty of time to prepare for the evenings festivities, and a whole day dedicated to recovery following the big event.

Thus, when planning our wedding, I was naturally inclined to choosing a SATURDAY. No need for guests to take an extra day off. Lots of time to prepare the venue. Rehearsal dinners on friday, and a full day of recovery on sunday (or a very hung over flight home).

Unfortunately, most brides tend to agree. Thus the idea of "minimum spends" was born. If your big bash can't step up to the plate, someone else (with a bigger bank account and a larger guestlist) is gonna steal your date!

Although 5000.00 seems like alot of money, if one has 100 guests, it's actually not a difficult number to meet. Even with 80 guests it's doable. But anything less and it starts to get dicey. And since 75% of our guest list is from out of town, it's hard to know how many will actually be able to come. I really hate the idea of adding random guests to our list just so we can make that minimum spend. And so it looks as though we'll be holding our big event on a friday night instead.

We'll most likely have the ceremony at 6pm, with a cocktail hour immeadiately following. Dinner at 7:30-8:00ish and reception from 9:30pm to 1:00am. Sounds reasonable right?

I really only have two concerns:

1. The timing might be a bit tight for those guests that are in town and working. Some might take the afternoon off but not everyone can afford that luxury. Plus it may coincide with "rush hour". Of course, Vancouver doesn't really know the meaning of "rush hour" but traffic is traffic, and nobody likes getting caught up in it!

2. Out of town guests will need to take at least one day off of work if not two. Although the wedding will be friday evening, I am guessing that some guests will want to fly in on the thursday instead of the friday morning. Again, not everyone has the luxury. Of course, since the wedding is friday night, those same guests have two whole days AFTER the wedding to enjoy all that vancouver has to offer.

In the end, it seems as though Friday is really our best option. We could go with a Sunday I suppose, as we'll most likely meet the 4000.00 minimum food spend. But I'm worried that people will leave early so they're ready for work or their flight the next morning. And those that are out of town will still have to take the Monday off work anyways. And friday nights just seem more glamourous and party like! Friday it is.

I realize the following poem is about the day of the week that a child is born on, but really now, why couldn't it be about the day of the week that two "children" decide to get married on? I mean, it says right there that Friday's child is loving and giving. Seems pretty fitting to me :)

Mondays child is fair of face,
Tuesdays child is full of grace,
Wednesdays child is full of woe,
Thursdays child has far to go,
Fridays child is loving and giving,
Saturdays child works hard for his living,
And the child that is born on the Sabbath day
Is bonny and blithe, and good and gay.

I also discovered that I was actually born on a Friday. Coincidence? I think NOT! Then again, Patrick was born on a tuesday. Hmmmm. Oh wait, his parents were married on a friday! Yet another good reason for us to get married on a friday :)

What do y'all think? Friday work for you?

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!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Venue Three - Centennial Lodge

After traipsing around from island to island, we soon realized that the logistics of using an island venue for our wedding might be more headache than its worth! As such, we decided to try our luck a bit closer to home.

Which is how we found ourselves exploring Queen's Park in New Westminster on a beautiful Saturday morning this past October.

Centennial Lodge is in the northern corner of the park, overlooking McBride Blvd, across from the band shell and very close to Rainbow Playland! I wasn't sure what to expect before visiting the venue, as I hadn't heard or even read much about it; considering the very affordable rental costs, I was prepared for the worst. Which made my surprise at finding such a lovely venue, all the more sweet.

The lodge works very well with our "outside in" theme, with it's rustic beams in a deep chocolaty brown, and it's huge double fireplace made entirely of stone. The mountains can be seen peeking up behind the trees from the window and balcony view, and the park itself has many many picture opportunities.

Better yet, the cost for renting the facility for the entire day (from 11am until 1am) is only $667.00, and one can bring in their own caterer and booze! The ceremony can be performed in the same area with tables and chairs switched around before dinner. Or there is a lovely rose garden a little way down the path that can be rented for another $199.00 with chairs and staff setup or $95.00 without.

The rental fee for the lodge includes tables (round or rectangle) and chairs, a portable bar, and use of the kitchen for warming food. Decorating happens the morning of as the venue is usually booked out the night before - especially in the busy summer months.

There are only a couple drawbacks about this venue. The park itself is a "community park" and as such, is more than likely very busy during the summer months. It was fairly quiet when we were there, but it was the second weekend in October. Considering the proximity of the venue to the picnic pavillions, playland, petting zoo, and kids water park, I think it's safe to assume that the area will be teeming with dogs, children, parents, and tourists on a warm sunny Saturday afternoon in July.

Although the view of the mountains is present, it's hard to miss the much closer view of the traffic on McBride Blvd.

And finally, the ability to bring in one's own caterer and booze is a bit of a double edged sword; money can be saved, but with savings comes much planning. More vendors to meet and hire, more items to rent (linens, dish ware, and flatware,sound system), and more things to organize! More planning equals more stress. So it's a bit of a trade off!

Needless to say, we were pretty excited about this venue possibility. It met almost all of our wants, and it is very affordably priced. We were pretty much sold, until we went to visit the last venue on the list - The Diamond Alumni Centre at SFU. Stay tuned...for the one! Or at least we believe it's the one for now! heh