Archive for the ‘General Wedding Articles’ Category

Berkeley Church and Berkeley Fieldhouse
Rent either the Church or Fieldhouse, or both together for extra space. The Church space features 17-foot stained glass windows and hardwood floors with a mezzanine and main floor, while the Fieldhouse features French glass doors and high ceilings in the main space, plus a wooden deck and patio area. Renters can bring their own alcohol while Berkeley Catering provides food services. Expect to pay around $135 and up per person. Rentals range from $1,800 to $3,800 for the Berkeley Church and $800 to $3,800 for the Fieldhouse, depending on the day and season.

Steam Whistle Brewery
The popular brewery features beautiful cityscape views and a rustic interior with plenty of exposed brick and wood beams. A variety of spaces can accommodate anywhere from 30 to 250 seated, or up to 500 for a standing reception. Rental costs vary based on the season and day of week – prices range from $1,150 to $5,000. Catering is selected from an approved list of vendors, while Steam Whistle operates the bar – obviously, your beer of choice for the evening is Steam Whistle.

Graydon Manor Hall
The manor’s sprawling gardens could play host to your ceremony, while the estate itself is perfect for an evening affair. The home features ornate moldings, bay windows, and wood-burning fireplaces. Rental fees ($1,000 to $6,000 depending on the time, date, and season requested) include use of the dining room, library, conservatory, bridal suite, groom’s room, gardens, and courtyard. There is a minimum spend of $20,000 to $25,000 depending on your event date, and a 20% service charge for event staff and labour.

Palais Royale
This beautiful venue, open for 86 years, underwent a restoration in 2005. The current space features a plush interior with contemporary art deco furnishings, an original stone fireplace, hardwood dance floor, and a 30-foot vaulted ceiling. The Palais Royale rests directly by the water with a 2-tiered deck patio reaching out to the waterfront. The ballroom can host 350 people for a seated dinner or up to 800 for cocktails. They have an extensive list of preferred suppliers for every service your event might need. Rental fees range from $1,000 to $4,500, while prices per person are $100+ with packages available.

Edward Day Gallery and MOCCA Courtyard
The combo of indoor and outdoor space makes this gallery an attractive option. Another perk: The option to work with the caterer of your choice. With 125 to 150 capacity for seated meals and 300 for a cocktail reception, consider this venue if you’re looking for a sleek and contemporary feel. Rental rates range from $2,500-$4,500 for the indoor gallery space and an additional $300-$500 for the outdoor space. Rental rates include one staff member for up to 100 guests; additional staff is available for $45 per hour.

2nd Floor
This 3,000 square foot space on King West is open-concept with an industrial feel including exposed brick walls, large windows, and a 36-foot bar. The team can accomodate up to 180 people for a seated dinner or 215 for a cocktail party. Rental fees range from $2,000 to $4,000 depending on the day of week, and include tables, chairs, loungers, and candles. A/V equipment is also included in the rental fee and the space has a coordinator who can help to further organize your event, including providing their list of preferred suppliers.

The Carlu
Elegant and glamorous events are the best fit for this lavish ’30s-inspired space. The art deco feeling is carried throughout the historic site, located on the 7th floor of the College Park building. Renovations undergone in the early 2000s restored the space to its former brilliance, but added modern amenities and details. Rentals range from $1,100 to $5,500 depending on the room, or $15,000 for the full floor. There is a list of preferred suppliers that those hosting events must choose from.

Evergreen Brickworks
This dynamic event space can host anywhere from 70 to 2,000 guests. Evergreen strives to mix nature with an urban setting, so it encourages sustainable practices in hosting any events. Their approved suppliers are in keeping with its sustainable goals, and will help couples make eco-friendly choices. A major bonus is the 300 parking spots available for events. Rental fees vary but can reach up to $4,000 and are not inclusive of anything. A permit will need to be purchased if you intend on serving alcohol.

Sunnyside Pavilion
This seasonal space provides an attractive waterside option. Sunnyside has long been a destination for sunbathing and relaxation, and the distinctly Mediterranean feel of the open-aired areas create an exceptional ceremony or reception space. There’s room for 250 to 500 individuals for a dinner; catering can be provided by the venue or an outside vendor. The rental fee is $2,500 for the courtyard or terrace, which does not include anything. Expect packages for guests to start around $100 per person.

The Burroughes Building
This newer event space was originally built as a department store in 1907. The venue has been renovated to carefully preserve its character; exposed brick, wood details, and chandeliers help to create a stylish and urban feel. The 3rd floor (350-guest capacity), 6th floor (450 guests), and rooftop (100 guests) include incredible views of the city. Seated capacity depends on the configuration of the space. Rental fees range from $2,800 and up for the raw space, and guests are welcome to bring in their own vendors, along with purchasing their own alcohol and permit.

Design Exchange
Originally built in 1937 as the home of the Toronto Stock Exchange, the Design Exchange now plays host to incredible exhibitions and a variety of events each year. Highlights of the space include wood finishes, marble details, incredibly high ceilings, and eight murals by artist Charles Comfort. The setting is perfect for parties of 150 to 250, and the rental fee of $4,712 includes chairs, tables, linens, lighting, the sound system, signage, cleaning, security, and some staff. There is a preferred list of caterers and a suggested list for other services.

Hart House
Since its opening in 1919 this unique space in the heart of the University of Toronto campus has played host to numerous events. The grey stone walls, ivy-covered outdoor space, vaulted ceilings, and Gothic arches lend an old world feel. The quad and Great Hall hold up to 250 guests with a dance floor and a nondenominational chapel is available to couples. The rental fee is approximately $3,000 and catering is provided in-house with meals beginning at $50 per person.

99 Sudbury
If you enjoy contemporary, minimalist spaces that work as a blank canvas you should consider this venue, as there are a variety of options available. The Glass Factory, The Lounge, and 99 Gallery can accommodate from 25 to 300 guests for seated dinners and 250 to 800 guests for cocktail receptions. Each space has a loft-like vibe with plenty of wood and exposed brick. Rental rates range from $1,500 to $4,500 depending on the date selected as well as the space utilized.

Arcadian Court
Since the opening in 1929, this venue has hosted Toronto’s first auto show, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra’s first radio broadcast, and Sotheby’s first auction outside of Britain. The Court’s most beautiful qualities are the grand arches and beautiful chandeliers. The space can accommodate up to 520 for a seated event or 1,200 for a standing reception. There is a rental fee that ranges from $1,000 to $2,500 and a minimum spend for food and beverage that ranges from $6,000 to $25,000. Rental fees include service staff, standard linens, tables and chairs, standard flatware and glassware, candles, and table numbers.

Andrew Richard Designs
The Atrium and The Loft are available for events in this blank-canvas space that allow couples to feature their own aesthetic. The venue offers services such as catering, bar services, staffing, rentals, décor, florals, lighting, production, A/V elements, and entertainment. Venue staff assists in event coordination and help to select the best fit for your event from their preferred vendors list. Rental fees begin at $3,500 and depend on the spaces selected, all other fees are above and beyond.

Eglinton Grand
Ever wanted to see your name lit up on a marquee? Formerly The Eglinton Theatre, the historic landmark has been restored to its original 1936 form. The venue can host dinner from 50 to 550 and receptions for up to 1000. Venue rental includes catering staff and bartenders, tables, banquet chairs, china, cutlery, glassware, linens, and napkins, with packages provided to potential clients. Fees range from $1,250 to $4,500 depending on the day of the week. If your event exceeds 175 guests the rental fee is waived.

Artscape Wychwood Barns
With a long and narrow event space, Wychwood Barns offers the opportunity for a unique event layout. The venue features concrete floors, exposed brick walls, and 22-foot ceilings and windows that provide plenty of natural light. You can supply your own liquor, but must select from a list of approved caterers. Rental fees range from $3,000-$3,500; furniture is available to be rented.

The Fermenting Cellar
In the heart of the Distillery District lies this rustic space that is often transformed for the most chic and sophisticated events. The raw space lets you work with any theme you like all while hosting up to 300 people for a seated dinner or 600 for a stand-up reception. Rental fees range from $4,000-$8,000 for the space alone. When hosting a full event, minimums range from $8,000 to $22,000. You can avoid the room rental fee, staffing charges and 15% Landmark Commission Fee by selecting in-house catering.

The ROM is an exceptional part of Toronto’s cultural landscape and hosts everything from small events to gala receptions regularly. The original stonework heritage building lives side-by-side with the Michael Lee-Chin Crystal, and events can be held in both. The original museum’s high vaulted ceilings, soaring windows, and detailed stonework offer a more traditional space, while the crystal has a more modern feel. Rental fees can range from $500 to $12,000, and fees per person can begin around $100.

With a variety of spaces available for events, the AGO is an excellent choice for any admirer of the arts and lover of a luxurious event. Couples can celebrate in Walker Court, Galleria Italia, Sculpture Atrium, FRANK Restaurant or Baillie Court while enjoying a meal prepared by their executive chef or special events chef. Capacities for seated dinners range from 70 to 300, with reception capacities ranging from 130 to 450. Rental fees range from $1,500 to $5,500 and include furniture rental, while minimum spends vary from $3,000 to $30,000. The cost per person is usually around $250.

Casa Loma
Searching for an old castle in Ontario? This is likely the closest you’ll get. The landmark Gothic Revival house was originally constructed between 1911 and 1914 and features 60-foot oak beamed ceilings, bay windows, wood paneling, and hand-crafted ceilings. In addition to these architectural marvels there are marble details and plenty of greenery on the premises. Rental fees are around $3,500 while the price per person tends to begin around $150 and increase based on personalized details.

Toronto Botanical Gardens
There are two primary event halls at the recently renovated Toronto Botanical Gardens – the Floral Hall or the Garden Hall. Both spaces include stunning views of seasonal flowers and provide an excellent space for wedding photos. Rentals range from $1,200 to $1,300 for the Garden Hall and from $2,100 to $3,100 for the Floral Hall, with free parking available. There are 12 preferred caterers for the venue and there is a corkage fee applied for alcohol brought into the space.

Storys Building
Located on Duncan St., this 170-year-old classic brick-and-beam building is a relatively new entry on the Toronto venue scene, having opened to the public in October 2011. It boasts over 14,000 square feet of event space over several floors, with each allowing for 150 seated guests or 225 for a stand-up reception. The on-site chef works with clients to plan imaginative and innovative dishes and the bar is handled on-site. Rentals for weekends are $5,000 per floor and include set-up, labour, security, cleaning, furniture, and all other operating costs. The average cost per person for food and open bar ranges between $125-$150 plus tax and service fee.

The Great Hall
The Great Hall is an important and vibrant piece of the music and arts community in Toronto. The space was built in 1880 and has been restored to its former Victorian glory. The Main Hall includes a balcony, curved glass, wrought iron railings, and 40-foot ceilings. Capacity is 250 for seated guests and 500 for a cocktail reception. The cost is approximately $1,000 to $3,500 per day.

This modern, chic space, located in the TIFF Bell Lightbox, is an upscale and stylish wedding spot, with breathtaking views of the city and an ornate and sloped ceiling. Accommodation is available for up to 150 seated or 200 for a cocktail reception. The rental fee starts at $2,000 and is based on date and time of year; the fee includes staff, white linens, tables and chairs, flatware and glassware, printed menus, candles, and table numbers. Catering is provided on-site with menus beginning at $60 per person. Beverage charges are based on consumption.

5 Brock Events
Placed in the centre of Parkdale down a quiet alley, this gallery, once a warehouse, has retained its original character and includes exposed brick, wood-beamed ceilings, and concrete floors. Art curated by the owners can be left up for your event, or you are welcome to showcase your own pieces for a fee. The space holds 150 for a seated affair or 250 for a cocktail reception. The preferred caterer is Eatertainment but couples can explore outside catering, and alcohol can be brought in. Rental fees are $2,000 Sunday to Wednesday or $2,500 Thursday through Saturday.

Todmorden Mills
This Toronto heritage site is set in 15 hectares of green space in the Don Valley and the grounds contain several historic homes in which events can be held, including the Brewery Gallery, the Papermill Theatre, and the Papermill Event and Museum Gallery. Each space is simple with minimal décor and an industrial feel. Rates range from $125 to $250 per hour with a three-hour minimum required. The only downside is the lack of a full kitchen.

National Ballet School
There are several spaces owned by the National Ballet School available to the public for renting; however, Currie Hall is the most conducive to a wedding. It can accommodate up to 130 seated guests or 220 for a cocktail reception. The space includes a wood dance floor, high ceilings, large windows, dark wood trim, and a state-of-the-art kitchen. Catering services are provided from a list of preferred partners, and a special occasion permit must be obtained. The rental fee is approximately $3,000 with additional time available at $250/hour – a great bonus if you want to party a bit later into the night.

The Estates of Sunnybrook
The Sunnybrook Hospital property has four spaces available for events, all of which donate their profits to the hospital. Spaces include hardwood floors and well-maintained rooms with simple but elegant décor. Capacity ranges from 40 to 160 for seated events or 60 to 200 for standing receptions. Rental fees ($450 to $3,000) cover room set-up, tables and chairs, linens, tableware and candlesticks, as well as servers and bartenders. All rooms include a minimum revenue requirement for food and beverage; average cost is about $165 per person including the taxes and service charges.

Gardiner Museum
Located at Bloor and University, this minimalist space features floor-to-ceiling windows and a contemporary design. The Terrace Room includes stunning views of Queen’s Park and the Royal Ontario Museum, and couples can also rent the lobby designed to include black-glass countertops and limestone floors. Catering is exclusively provided by à la Carte Kitchen Inc. or Jamie Kennedy Event Catering. Both vendors also handle inquiries for availability, rates, planning, and site visits. Rental fees for the space range from $1,500 to $1,800.

Choosing a wedding venue can be an enjoyable experience if you’re looking at the right locations. The following are some recommended venues in and around Toronto region.

  1. Black Creek

    1000 Murray Ross Parkway
    Toronto, Ontario M3J 2P3
    Tel: 416 736-1733 |

    Endless possibilities, in a timeless setting. The historic atmosphere, exceptional banquet facilities and catering services make Black Creek an ideal venue for Wedding Ceremonies. 

  2. Casa Loma

    1 Austin Terrace
    Toronto, Ontario M5R 1X8
    Phone: 416-923-1171

    When planning your wedding reception or wedding ceremony and reception, Casa Loma provides the perfect setting for an evening you will never forget. Enjoy the exclusive use of three charming main floor rooms. Experience the unique ambiance of The Great Hall with its 60-foot oak beamed ceiling and towering bay window, the rich wood paneling and hand crafted plaster ceiling of The Library, and the splendid marble and lush greenery of The Conservatory. The venue can accommodate groups of up to 550 people.

  3. Atlantis Pavillions

    955 Lake Shore Boulevard West
    Toronto, Ontario M6K3B9
    Phone: (416) 260-8000

    This unique landmark location features four spectacular ballrooms with floor-to-ceiling windows. Panoramic views of the Toronto Skyline and Waterfront. Exceptional food and service are features that make an event at Atlantis unlike any other.

  4. Hart House

    University of Toronto,
    7 Hart House Circle
    Toronto, Ontario M5S3H3
    Phone: (416) 978-2452

    Hart House is a unique downtown treasure steeped in history. Elegant rooms and beautiful architectural details are perfectly complemented by modern cuisine and exceptional service. Whether you envision a small and intimate gathering or a large-scale celebration, Hart House can offer the perfect space and all the elements you need to design the wedding of your dreams.

  5. Whistler’s Grille and Cafe Bar

    995 Broadview Avenue
    East York, Ontario M4K2S1
    Phone: (416) 421-1344

    Whistler’s Grille and Cafe Bar is available for special occasions, functions, weddings and corporate events. The second-level McNeil Room boasts a stunning view of the Don Valley. Accommodating up to 300 guests, a 16-foot ceiling, natural oak decor, and an in-house DJ service, the McNeil Room is a popular choice for weddings.

New York City reaped $259 million of economic benefits from same-sex marriages in the first year of the law allowing the practice, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Council Speaker Christine Quinn said.

At least 8,200 gay-marriage licenses were issued, accounting for more than 10 percent of the 75,000 wedding licenses issued in New York City in the past year, Bloomberg and Quinn said in a statement today, citing a survey conducted by NYC & Co., the city’s marketing and tourism office, and the city clerk’s office.

New York became the sixth and most recent state to legalize gay marriage a year ago after Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, signed the measure into law. More than 200,000 guests have since traveled from outside of the city to attend same-sex wedding receptions, and more than 235,000 hotel room nights were booked at an average daily room rate of $275, according to the mayor’s statement.

“Marriage equality has made our city more open, inclusive and free — and it has also helped to create jobs and support our economy,” Bloomberg, 70, said at a news conference in Lower Manhattan.

Bloomberg has focused on tourism to diversify the city’s economy beyond Wall Street, with employment in leisure and hospitality growing more than 100,000 in 10 years to 362,400 in June, according to the state Department of Labor.

‘NYC I Do’

The city attracted a record 50.5 million visitors in 2011, and Bloomberg has a 2015 goal to draw 55 million people, add 30,000 jobs and increase the industry’s economic impact to $70 billion from $48 billion last year.

NYC & Co. began the “NYC I Do” marketing campaign after the same-sex marriage law passed, with a goal to make the most populous U.S. city the top wedding and honeymoon destination for couples globally.

In addition to New York, same-sex marriage is legal in Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and the District of Columbia, according to Freedom to Marry, a New York- based national advocacy organization.

Sixth State

This year, the legislatures in Maryland, New Jersey and Washington state passed same-gender marriage laws that haven’t taken effect. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie vetoed the bill, while opponents in Maryland and Washington have November ballot measures challenging the laws.

Quinn, 45, who with Bloomberg lobbied the Legislature to approve same-gender marriage, benefited from the law when she wed her partner, attorney Kim Catullo, 45, on May 19 at a ceremony attended by the mayor, Cuomo, and U.S. Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand.

“What you can’t quantify is just the joy that has happened in New York City,” Quinn told reporters. “What better thing could government do than pass laws that make people equal, repeal laws that say some of us are unequal, and give families the opportunity to have that once-in-a-lifetime moment when a father can walk his daughter down the aisle.”




Toronto’s Majestic Castle, Casa Loma. The former home of Canadian financier, Sir Henry Pellatt. Canada’s foremost castle complete with decorated suites, secret passages, an 800 foot underground tunnel, towers, stables and beautiful 5 acres estate gardens, all in a 98 room castle. Open daily 9:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Self-guided audio tour in 8 languages, included with admission.

Despite the drizzly weather, the view from the Scottish tower was phenomenal. Casa Loma sits on a hill overlooking downtown Toronto, with views as far as Hamilton and Niagara Falls on a clear day. I had to line up at the winding staircases for people to file upstairs and downstairs before it was my turn to get to the highest point of the castle.

The Queens Own Rifles Museum is part of fulfilling the legacy of Sir Henry Pellatt who always had a dream of turning the castle into a military museum. A large poster on the 3rd floor recalls the significance that Casa Loma played in world history: Casa Loma played an important role in the development of sonar technology, when the British government relocated their sonar research to Canada during WWII and chose underground spaces at Casa Loma as the location for advancing this technology. This invention played a significant role in turning the tide of the war.

The third floor also features servants’ rooms – with surprisingly generous proportions. Sir Henry Pellatt employed about 40 servants, the majority of whom lived on premises. The Round Room, although appearing to have an elliptical shape, is completely round including windows and doors as it is housed in the Norman Tower. The Austin Room and the Pellatt Board Room are actually available for rent for private and corporate functions .

The second floor of Casa Loma houses Sir Henry and Lady Mary Pellatt’s private living quarters. Sir Henry’s Suite is the smaller of the two, and none of the furniture is original. In keeping with mysterious medieval traditions, he had a secret storage area to the left of the fireplace to store confidential documents. His bathroom is most impressive, clad all around in Pavenzo marble. Spray nozzles controlled by six porcelain taps completely surround the shower for a full-body shower experience, way ahead of its time. Sir Henry’s love of modern conveniences also becomes evident in the more than 50 telephones that were installed all throughout the castle. The alcove in his bedroom actually held his electrical control centre from where he was able to control the entire building. Considering that Casa Loma was built almost 100 years ago, it is astounding to see all these leading-edge installations that would not be out of place in a high-end home in the 21st century.

Lady Pellatt’s Suite is decorated in soft pink colours and has an entranceway to a large stone balcony and a beautiful sitting area. In her later years Lady Pellatt was confined to a wheelchair and spent most of her time in her spacious 3000 square foot suite. The Girl Guides Exhibit pays tribute to her important role in this organization which at the time was still in its infancy. Just across the hallway is a Guest Suite which is decorated in a Chinoisery style which complimented Sir Henry’s collection of lacquered Oriental furnishings. On the way down to the first floor Lou pointed out the castle’s original elevator to me: it is named “Otis 1” and was Toronto’s first elevator in a private home. It is still functional today.

We took the grand wooden staircase down to the main floor where Lou pointed out to me that the original staircase, complete with imported marble from Italy, is actually located somewhere at the bottom of the Atlantic as the transport vessel sank during the ocean voyage. To the left of the Great Hall is the Library which holds 10,000 books. Lou pointed out that the hardwood floor is the source of an optical illusion: when you look straight down, all the floor boards appear to be the same colour. But when you look away in the distance in one direction, one floor stripe appears light, the other one beside it dark. Then, when you face the other way, the same stripe now appears dark, while the one beside it appears light. The colours of the wooden planks just seem to magically switch.

The family logo “Devant Si Je Puisse” is featured in an elaborate coat of arms on the ceiling of the Library. The Dining Room right next to the Library is lined with walnut – no expense was spared for this castle. A few steps to the left is the Conservatory, for me the most visually stunning space in the entire castle and also Sir Henry and Lady Mary’s favourite place in the entire building. The magnificent bronze and glass doors leading into the Conservatory were modeled after a set made in New York for an Italian villa and at the time cost $10,000 to make.

During our visit, the Conservatory was used as a backdrop for wedding photography, and indeed Casa Loma is one of the favourite places in Toronto for people to get married. Lou mentioned that it takes about two years to be able to book a date for a wedding, and a few years ago one lady booked her wedding date even though she did not even have a groom yet. But in the two years before her wedding at Casa Loma she managed to find her future husband. In the end her dream of a fairy-tale wedding in this stunning castle came true. The black and pink marble floor was imported from Italy while the marble facings on the flower beds are from a quarry in Bancroft, Ontario. The flower beds were heated with steam pipes to ensure the perfect soil temperature for exotic plants.

The Gardens of Casa Loma are astoundingly beautiful and were renovated by the Garden Club of Toronto in 1989. Rare annuals and perennial plants, sculptures and a fountain adorn five and a half acres of well-kept grounds which offer some of the best vantage points to take in the magnificence of this structure. A beautiful terrace on the south side of the castle invites visitors to take a well-deserved rest after an indepth exploration of this heritage building.

Casa Loma is not only the second most important tourist attraction in Toronto, it also offers plenty of special and seasonal events for locals and travelers alike: summer events include Afternoon Tea events which include interesting lectures and a delightful afternoon tea buffet menu. Several Sunday Royal Brunches are offered which include a wide range of gourmet hot and cold foods as well as a sweet table and a free self-guided tour of the castle. The Casa Loma Kid’s Club hosts such events as a Dragon Making Workshop as well as a Become a Knight event. At the end of October Casa Loma becomes a Haunted Mansion for Halloween; and the Middle Ages Come to Life Sundays provide reenactments of the medieval period. There is always something special going on at Casa Loma.

Engagement/Wedding Photo Shoots

Engagement/Wedding photo shoots may be booked from 9:30 a.m. – 11:30a.m.and 12noon – 2:30 p.m. most days, (Subject to availability and special Casa Loma programming). The cost is $300.00 from 9:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. and $450.00 from 12 noon – 2:30 p.m., and the areas that you would have access to are the Conservatory,the front of the Castle and, depending on the time of the year, the Terrace, and Gardens. For further information and to check on availability email or contact the Catering Department at (416) 923-1171.

Film Shoots

Film shoots may be accepted subject to availability and operational requirements. The basic location fee is $3,000.00 / day for up to 12 hours filming and $300.00 per hour for any hours in addition to the 12. There is an additional fee of $300.00 per hour for dressing and $300.00 per hour for striking. Fees for supervision are $42.00 per hour and for security is $27.00 per hour. The number of security staff necessary will vary depending on timing and complexity. Additional services or requirements will be considered for extra fees. A damage deposit will be necessary and the amount of this deposit will be returned upon the completion of the shoot provided there is no damage or any additional expenses incurred during shooting. For further information please email

Photography – Other Than
Engagement/Wedding Photo Shoots

Photo shoots may be accepted subject to availability and operational requirements. The location fee is $300.00 per hour for minimum of 6 hours. There is an additional fee of $300.00 per hour for dressing and $300.00 per hour for striking. Fees for supervision are $42.00 per hour and for security $27.00 per hour. The number of security staff necessary will vary depending on timing and complexity. A damage deposit will be necessary and the amount of this deposit will be returned upon the completion of the shoot provided there is no damage or any additional expenses incurred during shooting. For further information please email

Some businesses find a way to thrive even in the toughest of economic times.

During the Great Depression, movies and radio found great success as relatively inexpensive forms of entertainment.

While many businesses are struggling today, one niche enterprise has done well. The popularity of beach weddings has continued to grow this summer.

“The beach wedding business has been great,” said Darrel Jones, executive director of the Okaloosa County Tourist Development Council. “We get an average of seven to nine leads a week (at the TDC). That has grown each year.”

The TDC has advertised its beach wedding opportunities in a popular wedding magazine called Knot. Jones said that has been successful in drawing couples to the Emerald Coast.

Although beach weddings have been big business in the area for years, the economic slump had organizers worried.

“I knew it was a reality out there that people were hurting and people were having to cut back” said Cecilia Cappella, owner of Tropical Beach Weddings in Navarre. “Everyone was concerned. I was concerned as a business owner, being self employed, but I have not seen a decrease at all.”

Cappella said she did not have any wedding cancellations this summer because of lost jobs or anything to do with the economy. She said she only had one couple call to downgrade a previous plan.

Financially, Cappella said she was even with last year’s summer numbers. Things have gone so well this year that Cappella has decided to expand her business next year to add another wedding crew to her staff to increase the number of weddings her company performs.

“It was a very good season. We’re still doing weddings. I’m slammed for September,” she said.

Maggie Halsey, owner of Barefoot Weddings in downtown Fort Walton Beach, said the biggest advantage to a beach wedding is the savings. She said a typical church wedding costs $10,000 to $12,000, whereas the most expensive package she offers is $2,500, which includes the bouquet, photos, chairs, music, decorations and officiating.

“It has been phenomenal,” Halsey said. “I have been really blessed. I just took my first day off since July 4 this past Sunday.”



Sharon Naylor, author of over 30 wedding planning books, has just published the perfect book for brides and groom looking to save money on their wedding expenses. “1001 Ways to Save Money … and Still Have a Dazzling Wedding” is filled with expert advice and insider tricks to show you where you can make cuts to your wedding budgets, and how to make them. We asked Sharon to give us her top tips on creating a wedding budget and where you can really save some money. Here’s what she had to say:

How does one create a wedding budget?
The best plan for creating a wedding budget is taking a series of important steps before making your first plan or purchase. You can’t create a realistic budget, one that will allow you to choose most of the elements you want for your big day, without knowing approximately what things cost in your area. For instance, you don’t want to create a budget and then get stunned when you find out that photography packages start at $5,000 in your area when you only budgeted $1,000 for that. Do plenty of research, invest your time in meeting with all kinds of experts, getting printed price lists, and really knowing the ballparks of what everything costs. Then sit down and look at your available funds to figure out what kind of wedding you will have.

Now there are two more steps here:

  1. Talking with parents to see if they will be willing and able to help pay for the wedding. (Not all parents can split the bill or foot the bill these days. Many offer to pay for the flowers or the bar or the honeymoon, etc.)
  2. Make a Priority List of which wedding elements are important to you (catering, entertainment, gown, and photos) and doing the math to decide you’ll spend, say, 75% of your budget on those things, while spending less on (or doing without) the others. It may take a few steps and some extra time, but it’s so worth it to create a good, flexible budget that keeps you reined in, yet still able to spend a little more than you planned for here and there without a ton of guilt. The best budgets are just there to guide you, not make you feel guilty or stressed … they’re designed to keep you from losing control.


Is there a time of year when you can really save money?
Absolutely! January through April is the new Hot Season when it comes to looking for lower-priced packages in every area of the wedding industry. Mid to late-April is my own favorite time of year for a low-cost wedding, since you get the start of gorgeous spring weather for one-third the cost of a September or October wedding (which are now two of the priciest times of year). November is also a well-priced month, but keep in mind that many families have their vacations already planned, or would never dream of missing a family Thanksgiving elsewhere. Just be cautious about planning your wedding during your region’s rainy, stormy, icy, snowy or hurricane seasons just to save a buck; it’s not worth grabbing an insanely low price package when there’s so much weather threat to your day and to your guests’ traveling safety.

What’s your number one wedding dress budget-shopping tip?
Get on the mailing lists of several bridal gown shops, so that you get advance, VIP notice of upcoming and last-second-planned designer trunk shows and sample sales. At these events, you can find gowns for up to 75% off, as well as shoes, veils, headpieces and accessories for up to 70% off! You should also sign up at your favorite designers’ Web sites as well, since they sometimes plan last-minute trips through your area and their staff will e-mail you to invite you to the sale.

Are there any items a bride should splurge on?
Really good shoes. Just like with the gown, it’s all about how you feel as well as how you look, and you’re going to be in those shoes all day and all night. Comfort is key. One of the new trends is for the groom to buy the bride a fabulous pair of designer heels as a wedding gift, because she may already have jewelry or wish to borrow from her mom. Grooms say their brides swoon over a great pair of Louboutins or Jimmy Choos. Wearing a pair of phenomenal designer shoes will make you feel like a true VIP on your wedding day.

Are there any items a bride should not cut from her budget or not look for a cheaper alternative?
The food, the food, the food! While there are lots of ways to get more catering for your budget dollar, it’s never a good idea to underfeed your guests. Guests get very angry when you cheap out on the catering, especially since they have gone to so much effort to be there with you on your big day. The true gift you’re getting is your guests’ presence at your wedding, so feed them well, be extravagant, devote a larger portion of your wedding budget to unique and delicious food stations, passed hors d’oeuvres, a fantastic sit-down meal and desserts.

The second item to invest well in, and not attempt to replace with a cheaper alternative, is your photographer. Yes, they’re expensive, but the good ones are truly worth it. Those gorgeous photos get more valuable over time, and this is not a day to trust to an amateur or the cheapest “expert” you find. Research well, ask friends who they hired, and invest in the best package possible. It’s worth every penny to get such masterful images of your day.

Is there a tactful way to ask mom and dad to help out?
Most parents expect to play a role in contributing to the wedding, so the best way to initiate this particular conversation is to make diplomacy your number one goal. Plan a get-together such as brunch or dinner at your place, if possible, with each set of parents separately. Here’s the ideal approach: “Mom, Dad, we’re so excited to share the wedding plans with you! We’d love to have you join us to tour potential reception sites and taste wedding cakes, and we definitely want to hear how you’d like to contribute, what you have in mind, what you’d like to work on.”

Mom and Dad should be told your initial wishes about the wedding, such as the number of guests, time of year and formality, so that they know the scale of the wedding (and also so that they don’t try to pressure you into having the wedding of their dreams!). With open communication, parents can tell you how much they were planning to contribute, or they can ask you to help them figure out what a wedding costs in your area. You’ll get much better results when you invite parents to participate and allow them to state what they’re comfortable with, show them your priority list and share your excitement about the wedding planning process than if you just tell them what your dream wedding is going to cost or try to guilt-trip them into contributing more than they can afford. (NEVER say your future in-laws are giving $X,000 — keep all donations discreet.)

Now if you initially told your parents that you’re paying for the wedding but time has passed, expenses have piled up, and you now need parental help, it’s fine to be direct: “We really wanted to foot the bill ourselves, but even with our modest plans things have mushroomed to greater expense than we expected. So if your offer to help with a financial contribution is still on the table, we’d love to take you up on it.” Being direct like this is always going to improve your odds of success.

Check out some more of Sharon’s books (and her blog) at her Web site,


black and white wedding dance

We’re not saying we don’t like these songs (okay…we don’t like the "Chicken Dance"), but we think it’s time to reconsider whether these really are wedding music essentials. Here are eight songs you might want to add to your "do-not-play list."

1. "YMCA" — Village People

Why to Skip It: The fact that everyone knows the words, everyone knows the dance, and that this song fits lots of occasions — between innings at a baseball game, for instance — does not automatically qualify it as a must at your wedding.


2. "Chicken Dance"

Why to Skip It: At a wedding, everyone’s dressed to the nines and feeling festive. Is this really the best time to flap your arms like a chicken in front of that cute bridesmaid/groomsman/new spouse? Didn’t think so.


3. "Stayin’ Alive" — Bee Gees

Why to Skip It: There aren’t too many people who know more than one line and one dance move to this song — leave "Stayin’ Alive" to the Saturday Night Fever reruns.


4. "Every Breath You Take" — The Police

Why to Skip It: The Police are legendary, but the tune is a little high school dance-ish, and the line "Every move you make…I’ll be watching you" is a little stalker-ish.


5. "Total Eclipse of the Heart" — Bonnie Tyler Why to Skip It: This song is worth skipping if only to avoid any guest from reenacting the profanity-laced rendition made famous from Will Ferrell’s wedding in Old School.


6. "Macarena" — Los Del Rio

Why to Skip It: You may know how to do the dance — but do you really want to? Besides, everyone has a few certain relatives they’d rather not see get down with that hip swivel move.


7. "My Heart Will Go On" — Celine Dion

Why to Skip It: We’re not passing judgment on Celine Dion, but Titanic propelled this song into the realm of romance cliche. Besides, remember that Leo died in the movie — a bit tragic for a wedding.


8. "Mony Mony" — Billy Idol

Why to Skip It: Not sure what Billy Idol is singing in this song? Most other people don’t know, either, and when that’s the case, a good 10 percent of sing-alongers will find a way to say something objectionable.


Summer weddings are becoming even more popular among the beach crowd. Sun worshippers delight in using the sun, surf, and sky as a backdrop for their important day. That is certainly true for the summer of 2009.

Those who can’t afford or simply don’t see a need for a lavishly extravagant wedding, often opt to keep it intimate and personal. Sometimes that means simply inviting a few family members and friends to share in the event. But beach weddings can also be lush for those who want a celebration as big as their love.

Today’s bride is no longer, pardon the pun, married to wearing white. Elegant ivory, soft eggshell, and tantalizing taupe and beautiful pale pastels will be popular. Wedding party members may be dressed in deeper shades of the bride’s own color or they could go even bolder in complimentary shades of blue, green, or orchid.

The beach bridal dress may be less detailed with regard to beading and lace but it will definitely have its own appeal in beautiful lightweight silks and satins and gossamer chiffons that whisper softly in the summer breeze. Off the shoulder, strapless, or Grecian style dresses will ensure that every bride looks her most beautiful on her special day.

The bridal party may wear dresses that match one another or feel free to choose their own based on the bride’s basic design and color scheme. Even the groom and his groomsmen may be allowed to go light and free; opting for stunning dress shirts and pants instead of suits and tuxedos.

Of course the more traditional bride may still want a certain amount of pizzazz even on the beach, adding beautiful accessories like hats and gloves to polish off the women and lightweight jackets with or without ties for the men.

However, beach weddings aren’t for everyone and the summer bride feel free in choosing an alternative venue. Art galleries, museums, and lavish hotels will be popular choices. So are weddings at home, in the garden or park, and at churches, community centers and halls. The rule is there are no rules anymore. Brides and grooms are free to let their imaginations soar to build the perfect wedding day that suits who they are as individuals.

There will be formal, semi-formal, and casual weddings galore this summer. It’s all about the couple, their families, and their lifestyles. Anything goes. But more brides than ever may cut back on the extravagance because of the waning economy, carefully choosing only those things they consider absolutely necessary.

Summer wedding dresses for 2009 will be romantic and nature will play an important part. Floral designs in lace, beading and accents will be found in a lot of today’s gowns. But that’s not all. Grecian and Roman elegance in stunning refined cuts will also popular. Ruffles and netting will abound for some brides while others opt for something sleek, smooth and oh so sexy. Ruching and pleating will be a part of many of today’s favorite dress choices and extravagant beads, sequins, and jewels aren’t going away either. Dresses may be long, short, or anywhere in between. They could hearken back to the days of Victorian modesty or let it all hang out like the free love 60’s. Not everything will be all white here either. Colored beads, stones, ribbon, and accents will make today’s wedding dresses very unique.

Some brides will choose to wear their mother’s or grandmother’s dress instead of buying a new one for two primary reasons. Number one, it is a part of their commitment to going green. Secondly, the vintage look is hotter than ever before. Halter, spaghetti strap, and strapless gowns will remain popular and be accompanied not only by plunging necklines but plunging backs as well. And don’t forget the one-shoulder goddess gowns that have become so popular the last couple of years. A few will also still feature the mermaid or fishtail look as well. Look for whites, to be certain, but also look for soft champagne colors, barely there pinks and cool platinum.

With venue and dresses under control, it’s time to move onto things like wedding rings, cakes, and flowers. Look for my article "Completing the Summer 2009 Wedding Preparations."


The recession can make it hard to focus on the bride when the bill for the wedding is looming.

But while today’s bride is more conscious of the wedding budget, she’s still planning the ideal day, said Sue Diehl, owner of Visuelle Productions, which produces bridal shows in Green Bay and other Wisconsin cities.

"I think that brides today are not giving up their dreams of their weddings because of the economy," she said. "They’re just taking that same appropriated money and putting it in different locations."

For example, if a bride wants a big, fancy cake, she might spend more money there and less on flowers, Diehl said.

Brides seem to be sticking pretty tight to their budgets, she said, and while they’re not likely to cut back too much, they’re also not splurging like they used to.

"It seems overall, worldwide, brides are not looking to cut their budget," she said. "… But now they’re sticking to budgeted amounts, doing more unique things, so they can still fulfill all the dreams they’ve had."

Wedding experts say there are a number of things couples can do to get the most matrimonial bang out of their buck. They include:

  • Checking out bridal shows. They can be a great way to find everything you need with one-stop shopping, Diehl said. Whether it’s cakes or dresses, bridal shows typically offer a wide selection for wedding planning that can fit any budget.
  • Finding a low-cost location. A lot of brides are looking to destination weddings to save a little money, said Lisa Breault, bridal consultant and assistant manager of Elaine’s Wedding Center in Green Bay. Don’t be fooled — destinations do not have to be exotic and tropical. They could be as close as your own backyard.
  • Deciding on a different day. Couples don’t have to get married on a Saturday and more are starting to look to other days when prices may be a little bit less and venues may not be quite as busy. Plan a wedding that skips the meal — either earlier in the day or later at night — and you’ll cut your costs, Breault said.
  • Considering taking on some of the wedding-related duties yourself. If you have the time, make your own invitations, decorations and save the date notes. A number of brides are e-mailing invitations these days as well, Breault said.
  • Looking online for deals on favors, bridal party gifts and even dresses. But it’s important to be careful and read the fine print and find out ahead of time about return policies.

LOCATION:  Carnival Glory  |  DATE:  August 22   GUESTS:  About 20

Our first Bride On The Brink for July will set sail August 22 for a Caribbean cruise with her groom-to-be, a few wedding guests—and it’s also her groom’s family reunion! Talk about a family affair!

Q. When did you start your wedding planning?

A. I became engaged in March 2008. We had already planned since last March to go on a cruise for my fiance’s family reunion in August 2009. I wasn’t sure when I was going to set a wedding date, what type of wedding I wanted to have, and whether it would be in Mississippi, where I’ve lived for the past 12 years, or New York, where my sisters and I grew up, or North Carolina, where my parents live. I actually started planning in May 2009. (Wow! Talk about waiting until the last minute! S) Once we decided the cruise would be a great place to have the wedding, it was a matter of [making arrangements.] We’ll set sail for a seven-day Western Caribbean cruise to Cozumel, Costa Maya, Belize and the Bahamas.

Q. So what’s the most important thing on your mind right now?

A. Right now, I’m just hoping we have good weather and no hurricane. Oh, and I hope the H1N1 flu doesn’t strike.

Q. What’s been the most stressful or difficult part of preparing for your wedding.

A. I like to think I’m “too blessed to be stressed.” Fortunately, the stress is minimal since the [cruise line] is taking care of all the details. The most difficult part was trying to coordinate with my fiance’s family members who had been booked on the cruise for months, since it’s their family reunion. I’ve had to work with the airlines to rearrange [our] flights, which we booked in January. Luckily, I got a sympathetic airline representative in customer service who was happy to help.

Q. Would you have done anything differently?

A. I would have booked [the cruise] earlier.

Q. What’s been the best part of your wedding planning?

A. My fiance is a stickler for being on time and setting deadlines. And he’s great with finances. With that in mind, I knew I had to set a budget and stick to it to keep the harmony. I’m happy that my fiance was okay with having a wedding during his family’s cruise.

Q. You really waited until the last minute to start your wedding planning. Do you have any last-minute details to take care of?

A. My sisters and I are still shopping for bridesmaids dresses. I ordered my own cute cake topper…and plan to order some gifts for the wedding party, like personalized candle keepsakes and mints. I’ll also want to order personalized napkins and a few other favors.

Q. How has the current economy affected your wedding plans?

A. The economy has had an impact on my wedding in a number of ways. This is the second wedding for both of us. We both lost our spouses several years ago to cancer. As far as the wedding, neither one of us was trying to recreate our first wedding experience. So we’ve saved a lot of money by not having a traditional wedding with dozens of guests. Originally, I wanted to go to Hawaii for my honeymoon. But, I’m happy we get to turn a family cruise into our honeymoon. By deciding to have a shipboard wedding, we’ve been able to pay cash for everything in advance and won’t have any credit-card debt when we come back from our honeymoon. I’ll still have a few more bells and whistles, like a limo to take us to our ship. My parents and 13 of my fiance’s family members will go on the cruise, but because of the tough economic times, my sisters and aunt will not be able to come on the cruise. But I’m happy they will be part of the wedding ceremony and reception. I still plan to have an informal celebration/reception when we return for other friends and family who weren’t able to attend. I am having a knock-off designer wedding dress made for under $300, but I won’t know if I’ve made a good choice or not until I receive it. (I’ve secretly fantasized that, as a back-up plan, first-lady Michelle Obama will let me borrow her inauguration gown.)

Q. Any words of wedding-planning wisdom for your best friend?

A. I would tell my friend that, at the end of the day, it’s YOUR WEDDING. If you can afford to have the wedding of your dreams, go for it. If money is a concern, there are always less-expensive options to make your wedding a memorable one without breaking the bank.

Watch for the next edition of Brides On the Brink…30 Days and Counting! It’s for brides, it’s about brides, and most importantly, it’s by Brides On the Brink who are one month away from walking down the aisle.

Become One of our Brides On The Brink!

If you’re about one, two or three months from tying the knot and would like to be a featured bride, please click here to e-mail your contact information and wedding date. I’ll send you the questionnaire to fill out and return. For passing on your wedding wisdom, featured brides will receive a $25 gift certificate* for, where you’ll find fabulous wedding favors, wedding accessories, bridesmaids’ gifts and so much more!

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