Choose Your Own Adventure: Hamkey Wedding Edition by Vanessa Larkey

Everyone (read: people over 25) has that one friend. 

You know, that person who BEFORE they have kids says they would never give their child plastic toys, feed them fast food, put them in gendered clothing, etc. 

Within a year of giving birth, their child is throwing back McNuggets while smacking on a Playskool Poppin’ Park Elefun, and your friend is collapsed on the couch taking back everything they ever said pre-child. 

Me? I’m that person when it comes to wedding venues. Remember when I said Peter and I weren’t really banquet hall kinda people? Well, turns out planning a wedding is reaaallly hard, and the convenience of banquet halls is not to be understated. Let me explain. 

We are 7 months into our engagement and still venue-less. My loving parents, VERY excited for our nuptials, decided to help out. And by help out, I mean they made an appointment at Fantasy Farm and asked Peter and I to come and check it out with them. 

So! Last Saturday Peter and I begrudgingly piled into their car and headed to the Farm to meet Gus, the sales manager. 

There are two rooms for rent at Fantasy Farm. The “cottage” looks like a Swiss chalet, and isn’t really our style. The larger and recently renovated ballroom definitely has potential. 

Before taking over as sales manager at Fantasy Farm, Gus worked as a wedding coordinator. Years of dealing with multiple vendors really have impacted Gus – the dude is a crusader against hidden fees. He said that if we book with Fantasy Farms the quote he’ll give us is the price we will pay. And what is that quote? About $2000 less than our ENTIRE budget (and that’s for a wedding of 115 people, not the 128 we initially budgeted for). But, everyone will get a full meal, and there’s an open bar. 

 But! That also means we’d have to cut down our guest list, and expand our budget by potentially $3000 to cover other expenses. Also, they only date left is Nov. 24 – a little late in the year. 

By now you’re thinking, “Larkey! Why is this post called ‘Choose Your Own Hamkey Adventure?’” 

Well, that’s because we have another venue in mind. 

The Enoch Turner Schoolhouse. 

We fell in love with the décor and charm of the building. If we go with the Schoolhouse we will not be able to afford a traditional sit down dinner, but we could have a cocktail reception with appetizers. Still waiting to hear back from some caterers on how much that would cost. Also, there are still dates left in October, which is a definite bonus.  

Ultimately we are going to go with the less expensive option, but what if they’re relatively similar? Gus’ warning of ‘beware of hidden fees’ is haunting me like the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future haunted dear ol’ Ebenezer Scrooge. So, dear reader, if they were relatively cost same, what would you choose? Should we be more worried about unexpected or hidden fees? Do you know anyone that got married in either or location? What was their experience like? Let me know, we are having a tough time deciding. 



Don't Look at Stuff You Can't Afford by Vanessa Larkey

If there's one thing I've learned over the past six months it's this:


Why? Because you will compare EVERYTHING to the more expensive (and presumably) higher quality house/clothing/VENUE. 

And that's where we are today. Let me break it down for you.

Peter and I were at a Halloween party at the Jam Factory – a venue we were very close to booking. What happened? A few things. 

First up? The washroom situation (or lack there of). Could I really expect 130 people to only use two stalls? Especially if there’s drinking involved? Nope. 

Also, communication with their team proved to be.... difficult. 

When emailing with the pricier venues, everyone responded so promptly! And they were clean! With multiple stall washrooms! Why is this so difficult?!?! 

I was wallowing in my first world problem at my Ladies Learning Code Digital Skills for Beginners Course*, when the guest lecturer introduced the concept of "search engine optimization". Suddenly, everything became clear. I was Googling "Toronto Venues" -- I needed to switch up my search engine key words to gain access to a whole new world of event spaces. 

So! With my trusty new key words in hand, I came across this site.

Paul's Halls! So simple (especially in design. Woof).

Early internet page design aside, I suddenly had access to 14 pages of Toronto venues! We've made appointments with three -- the first with the Estonia House on Broadview. It's a cultural centre without much internet presence, but you can rent their grand hall for $2000. Not bad! Plus, you can bring in your own caterer, DJ etc. Some pictures below. 

60s design -- ample lighting. 

60s design -- ample lighting. 

A stage for the ceremony, you say? 

A stage for the ceremony, you say? 

Ample seating! 

Ample seating! 

It's got a 60s aesthetic for sure, but the place can definitely be dressed up. Plus, there's parking for up to 75 cars and we can bring in our own food.

We are going to check out two other venues this week. But! I promise you, dear reader, we will have a venue by the end of this month. 

*I'd definitely recommend the Digital Skills for Beginners Course for anyone looking to dip their toes into the world of web design.