Keeping the wedding reception the right size and style for you
Story by: Iris Winston,
Photos by: Melanie Shields and courtesy of Stonefields Heritage Farm
Riding up the gravel driveway in a horse-drawn carriage towards a pre-Confederation farmhouse may be the beginning of your dream-wedding scenario. Or, perhaps you think in terms of an intimate, elegant dinner with your immediate family and closest friends in a downtown or country restaurant that has a special meaning for you and your partner. Then again, maybe you like the idea of a weekend destination wedding close to home. Any of these dreams can become reality in the National Capital Region.
At Stonefields Heritage Farm in Beckwith, Stephanie Brown and her partner, Steve Malenfant, offer outdoor wedding packages from May to October that offer” superior offerings and customer service and with an emphasis on detail,” she says. “We host the weddings at the farm where we live,” she explains, noting that caterers are brought in to offer guests a variety of menu options. “People who have come here say they like the fact that we’re involved in every detail, from the wedding coordination and tending the gardens, to dealing with any catering questions, and even helping the bride zip up her dress.”
Stephanie says that weddings are held in a large tent set up for the season. “The views all around are century-old barns, oldfashioned fencing and fields. A local farmer keeps his cattle in two ofour fields and, next year, there will also be Clydesdale horses. Part of our plan is to work with the riding academy across the street to make a horse-drawn carriage available.”
“Our goal is to make sure that people shouldn’t feel they are going to a wedding factory or a hotel,” emphasizes Stephanie. “We want them to feel as though they are coming home when they come here.”
For those who prefer an urban setting with just a handful of wedding guests, the Courtyard Restaurant in Ottawa’s Byward Market may be the answer. “The smaller numbers make it special,” says general manager Genevieve Rochon. “People can sit around one table, so that it feels much more intimate. The clients get to spend a lot more time with their guests than they do at a larger wedding. That’s one of the bonuses.” Further pluses are that guests may choose from a variety of menu options and that it is possible to cater to special requests and dietary needs, as well as holding the wedding ceremony at the restaurant if this is the couple’s choice.
Alternatively, some bridal couples may select a country restaurant — for example, Restaurant Les Fougères in the Gatineau Hills. “We have a lovely country property with a lovely hollow of land at the back that we use primarily for outdoor weddings under a big tent,” says Jennifer Warren-Part, who co-owns the restaurant with her husband, Charles Part. “It’s a delightful place, and some couples make a natural cathedral by the way the chairs are placed (for the ceremony). Others choose to have the wedding in the garden and then come up to the restaurant and choose their meal from the à la carte menu. The smaller the wedding, the more you can custom-design the event.”
Custom weddings are also a prime aim at Econiche House in Cantley in Gatineau, says chief executive officer Nancy Bailey. “We try to transform the atmosphere into whatever the bride and groom are expecting,” she says. “We have many different looks for a room and they can give it their personal touch.” She points out that Econiche House is an exclusive-use venue. “Our whole facility and all 20 hectares (50 acres) and the whole recreational area are put aside for one wedding. It’s a very different locale, so groups often stay for the whole weekend, and that’s a great way for both families to get to know each other in a relaxing setting. We provide them with great food and a lovely location to relax in for the whole weekend.”
For more information, visit:
Courtyard Restaurant; www.courtyardrestaurant.com
Econiche House; www.econichehouse.com
Restaurant Les Fougères; www.fougeres.ca
Stonefields Heritage Farm; www.stonefieldsheritagefarm.ca
Summer beauty at the Stonefields Heritage Farm.