Alternative Wedding Venues Updated for 2017 by Vanessa Larkey

What do 2015 and 2017 have in common? Finding an affordable wedding venue in Toronto sucks. HARD. I decided to update my alternative wedding venue list, and provide you lovely brides & grooms to be with some advice to keep in mind while searching for that perfect space. 


- Does the venue offer chairs and tables free of charge? If not, what is their rental fee? It's those hidden costs that can turn a $500 venue into a $2000 one. 

- Thinking about a sit down dinner? Talk to the venue about caterers. Some places have a preferred caterer list AKA you HAVE to use one of their preferences. Make sure you price out your event with the caterer before you lay down a deposit. When Peter and I were researching venues, we were quoted $20,000+ for just catering.

- Is there a cake cutting fee? An 'AV' fee? Onsite ceremony fee? Will you need to hire security guards? GRILL the venue coordinator with money related questions. While asking a million questions about money may make you uncomfortable, remember that those questions could end up saving you thousands of dollars down the line.  

- Sometimes appearances can be deceiving. Peter and I initially thought it would be cheaper to rent a cheap space and bring in food/alcohol. Catering, especially in places without a kitchen, can set you back more than a banquet hall. While a $1000 rental may seem reasonable, once you factor in food and booze it suddenly becomes a $16,000+ night.

- Still set on that Pinterest worthy space without a kitchen? You may want to consider hiring a wedding coordinator for your big day. I mean, do you really want to be coordinating caterers and chair rentals while getting dressed? 

I have more advice, but Peter wants to watch Big Foot Files on Netflix with me, and who am I to deny him that pleasure? 


LOCATION: 1225 lakeshore blvd west


VENUE: The venue is right on the water (kinda like the west side version of Bluffer's Park) and can accommodate up to 200 people. You need to email for package pricing. 


LOCATION: 14 Elm Street


VENUE: The Arts and Letters Club can accommodate 100 people max (if you want a dancer floor). You're looking at $1,150 for a 5 p.m. - midnight rental. Dinner per person is $50-60.  


LOCATION: 10 Market Street (This is the east end location. There is also one in Liberty Village).


VENUE: Balzac's Distillery District location has a cozy and rustic vibe. There was no pricing on the website, but they can accommodate 100 people standing and 60 people seated. They also allow for outside catering. 


LOCATION: 7 Brimley Road South 


VENUE: The Scarborough Bluffs are beautiful, and the marina would make for some really cool wedding shots. The venue can accommodate up to 200 people, and the cost is $93/person. 


LOCATION: 1300 Gerrard St E


VENUE: It's a 5000 square foot revitalized vaudeville theatre that can seat up to 220 people. While they've removed pricing from their website, I can tell you that in 2015, it was $2000 to rent the space from 7 pm - 2 am,  $2600 to rent from 2pm - 2 am,  and $3100 to rent from 8 am - 2 am. The rental includes the use of sound, lights, a technician and 200 folding chairs. Again, outside catering costs are something to consider if you book this venue. 


LOCATION: 106 Trinity Street


VENUE: This is what your fee gets you: the venue from 1 p.m. – 1 a.m., 150 chairs, 1, wired microphone and PA system, 1 podium, grand piano, 2 easels, a screen, AV cart, coat racks + hangers, eight 8 foot long rectangular tables and six 6 foot long rectangular tables. But! There's also a heritage tax on food, and you MUST go with one of their preferred caterers.  


LOCATION50 Pottery Road

VENUE: There are two rooms to choose from. The Ballroom can accommodate up to 220 guests, and the Cottage will take up to 110 guests.  The Ballroom has a minimum of 150 adults for any Saturday and 125 adults for any Friday or Sunday.  The Cottage has a minimum of 80 adults for any Saturday and 65 adults for any Friday or Sunday. Fantasy Farms also offers a winter wedding discount. Unfortunately you have to email for a quote (as every quote is different), but you're looking at $90-$150/plate. 


LOCATION: 245 Eglinton Ave East


VENUE: Nestled along Eglinton Avenue East, this brewery offers dinning from $60/person to $75/person. There is an 80 guest minimum. The good stuff? There's a dance floor, free parking, wheelchair accessible and the dinner package includes wine. 


LOCATION: 2 Matilda Street, Toronto


VENUE: The Jam Factory in 2017 is very different from The Jam Factory I visited in 2015. The space was recently renovated and is new management. While details are scant about rentals fees, I was able to find their off season site fee - it's $1202. Cheap, right? It starts off that way, but keep in mind catering and bar fees. Sometimes that can push you over budget. 


LOCATION: 245 Queens Quay W


VENUE: You're looking at a $2000 rental for the day (not including food). The price DOES include 20 6ft tables and 90 chairs. This is a great venue if you want your four legged friends to be a part of the ceremony. 


LOCATION79 Wellington Street


VENUE: The venue is located on the 34th floor of the TD Tower (very pretty pictures!) The room rental is $800/day, with a minimum spend of $12,000 on a Saturday night. Food packages range from $130-80 ish. The space can accommodate 100 sitting and 200 standing. Check out the package for a full list of details. 


LOCATION: 67 Pottery Road


VENUE: The North Lawn aka outside, can accommodate 150 people. The Papermill Theatre and Gallery can accommodate 90 people for a seated dinner at 150 standing. The rental for the Papermill Theatre is $225/hour while the North Lawn is $150/hour. 


LOCATION: 380 University Avenue


VENUE: There is an opening fee of $2, 250 with a minimum food and beverage spend of $4,500. The opening fee includes all of your linens, glassware etc. A three course dinner will set you back $70-80/person. For a sit down dinner, the club can accommodate 120 people per room. 


LOCATION:  111C Queen St E


VENUE: If there's one word I could use to describe this venue, it would be ambience. Moody lighting, great architecture, and, if I'm just judging by the photos, delicious food. Depending on your guest size and wedding date, room rentals start at $500 and go all the way up to $10,000. Word of warning: there are a lot of additional fees - before signing your contract, make sure you know exactly how much you will be shelling out for the big day. 

LOFT 404

LOCATION:  263 Adelaide Street West


VENUE: The multipurpose event spaces found at Loft 404 are used for everything, and I mean everything. Corporate retreats, yoga classes, photography shoots - anything goes. Most rooms have a real boho chic vibe, and there are lots of different rooms to choose from. Prices vary depending on the size of room you're booking. The space has preferred caterers, but you do not have to go with who they suggest. They also have tables, chairs, cutlery etc. for rent at a reasonable price. 



The Final Sprint by Vanessa Larkey

The marathon is almost over. The finish line is in sight. We just have one last challenge before it's all done - writing thank-you cards. 

How long do we have for this final sprint? According to the lady mags and wedding blogs, thank-you cards should be sent out no later than 3 months after the wedding date. To that I say, HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. 

Maybe 60 years ago, but times have changed. 

It's now standard practise to design your own card using pics from the wedding. But! by the time you receive the pics digitally from your photographer, a month (or more) has flown by. After that, you have the challenge of choosing the photo. It took Peter and I almost two weeks to decide on a picture. TWO WEEKS. That's a good chunk of time - especially if you're trying to get your cards out within the ridiculous 3 month timespan. 

The next hurdle?  Choosing a digital printing service. Vistaprint and Shutterfly are the two big names in the biz. If you're looking to score a deal, I recommend downloading a browser extension called Honey. This app automatically applies the best coupon code it can find at checkout. I use it all the time -especially when I'm shopping on Etsy.

So! You have the pic, you've designed the card and you're ready to order 200 cards. Then, panic sets in. What if there is a spelling error? Or you don't like the colour temperature?  To calm nerves, a friend of mine who recently tied the knot recommended a test order of cards. Great! Sample cards ordered  and now you have to wait 4 weeks for delivery. Wait, what?!?!? Here's where the digital printing services get you. Want your cards sooner? That'll cost you. 

Right now I'm waiting for our 'test' cards. It's been three weeks. At this point, I think it would've been faster to either drive to Shutterfly's headquarters, or, send for a carrier pigeon. I think when I order my next batch, I'll just swallow the $5 delivery charge.