Wedding Reception Budget Tips (part 1)
Advice from some of the best wedding reception venues in Toronto
We had the pleasure of interviewing staff from some of the best wedding reception venues in Toronto. We asked what tips or advice they had for couples who are budgeting for their wedding reception, and if there were any particular areas where a couple should consider splurging or saving. Here’s what they had to share:
“A few tips for couples who are budgeting their wedding reception would be to hold your ceremony and reception in one spot – it will cut travel time for vendors you pay and your guests won’t have to change locations. Also, having your wedding in off-peak months or on a Friday or Sunday is a great alternative to save on venue rental fees. Last but not least, always try to fine-tune your guest list.”
Kristy Dennison, Events & Sales Manager
When budgeting, couples often overlook the cost of renting dinnerware, glassware and linen. Also, venues require a certain number of catering staff per guest to make sure that the wedding will be run professionally. All this needs to be included when budgeting. On the other hand, couples will save a lot on decoration when booking a historic venue like the Ontario Heritage Centre. A few candles or flowers on tables and window sills are enough to make the space look gorgeous. With these savings, couples can then splurge on food and a great DJ.
Carole Choucoutou, Wedding and Special Event Coordinator
Ontario Heritage Trusts
“Budgeting for your wedding reception can be challenging for any couple. Far too often we see clients spend large portions of their budget on aspects of their wedding day that go largely unnoticed by most all of their guests. We are firm believers in the tried and true philosophy that the food and drinks offered at a wedding will provide one of the most dramatic and lasting impressions on the largest number of your guests. Additionally, the importance of lighting and the effect it can have on a space. Both of these can offer your guests a very memorable and impressive experience that they will be talking about for years to come.”
Nick Di Donato, President and CEO
Liberty Entertainment Group
“Across the Drake properties, whether it be an urban wedding at Drake Hotel & Drake One Fifty or a chic country wedding by the lake at The Drake Devonshire Inn, couples save big on décor. Venues at the Drake properties have been carefully curated so the aesthetic is already set! All couples really need is minimal florals to suit their vision. This alleviates the need to splurge on the styling that is often required with a raw space or banquet hall. Instead, budget can be dedicated to food and drink – this would be the time to splurge! To keep costs down, mixologists can be instructed to gently decline guests who ask for doubles or shots and instead couples can create a signature cocktail!”
Kathleen Johanson, Wedding Coordinator
Drake Hotel Properties
“Catering is the largest expense and one of the most important aspects of any wedding, so from the onset make sure that you are allocating a large part of your wedding budget towards it. Guests will not care if your flowers were really expensive and beautiful if your food is not good. Food keeps your guests happy and helps set the tone for your wedding— provide food and provide it well.
Secondly, spending money on a good photographer, who will take lots of photos, is money well spent. You do not want to look back and wish you had more photos or hate the photos you have because you did not invest in a good photographer.
An item where you can save on costs is your wedding favours. The favour does not have to be something large or even a takeaway. Most favours will end up being forgotten over time so even something like a donation in a guests name will go farther than an ice bucket with your name and date on it. You can also cut costs with your choice of wedding cake. While it is nice to have a traditional wedding cake, it does not need to be extravagant. Caterers can always set up a sweets table with a variety of desserts instead of a cake. Cupcakes are also a nice alternative as they are simple and small. If you do, however, choose to have a wedding cake, ensure that the cake reflects the number of your guests—do not have a four-tier cake if you only have 80 guests.”
Danielle Oliver, Event Logistics Coordinator
McMichael Canadian Art Collection
“Have the budget discussion first. Do your budget homework. Determining what you can afford to spend even before you place that first call to a prospective supplier will save heartache and difficulties down the road. Hire professionals, listen to their advice, share your thoughts, and let the people you have hired do their jobs. On the day of the wedding – relax and enjoy – it is a day that will only come once – enjoy every moment.”
Heather Jonasson, Catering Sales Manager
The Ritz-Carlton, Toronto
“Be clear with your venue or wedding planner on what details are most important for your day and where you prefer to spend the largest parts of your budget. Is wine more important? Is the band most important? Splurging on details always defaults to the couple and what will shine for their special day and reflect who they are. Always important to keep the food and beverage in good check, as those are the few tangible pieces that people do remember most after an event. Economical ways to dramatically change a room in terms of décor for more of the vision and dream of the wedding include lighting and table linens.”
Beth Bruno, Sales & Events Manager
AGO – Art Gallery of Ontario
“Budgetary decisions are so personal for each couple. For some couples, having a band is the most important thing, and for others, they are happy to play music from an iPod. So the key is to really discuss this as a couple before getting too set on a particular option.
To start, go through all of the different elements of the wedding and rate the importance of each one, from a scale of 1 to 5. This way you can gauge where you will invest. Then, my suggestion is to do your research. Get a sense of what each element is going to cost. Many suppliers do list their pricing online, and you can send some preliminary emails out to see what quotes are coming in at. Once you’ve got a sense of what elements cost, you can circle back to your budget to see if your preliminary plan is realistic and what you might like to change. Luckily for almost all event services, there is a wide scale of pricing, from DIY to high end! I do think one area that is really worth investing in is great food. It’s something that guests always talk about, and remember.”
Natalie Ho, Event Sales Manager
Oliver & Bonacini Events and Catering