by Chef Ira at

Where Are the Best Places in the Greater Vancouver Area to Host a Wedding Reception

Minnekhada Lodge in Port Coquitlam

Where to have your wedding reception and or ceremony is one of the toughest choices and challenges for the Bride and Groom. There are literally hundreds of choices in the Greater Vancouver Area so what are the important factors to consider?


Here is my take, in no particular order or priority,  on important factors for venue selection (Here is a list of Wedding Venues that allow independent caterers on my website)


  1. Accessibility - the venue should be easily accessible by car, close to where the majority of guests are living. Long commutes force people to leave receptions earlier. The venue should also be close to friends or relatives coming from out of town and a short ride by taxi since not everyone rents cars anymore.
  2. Adjacent Location to Parks, Mountains, Water, Gardens, Vineyards - If you are planning the ceremony and receptions to be at the same location then where the venue is in proximity to other things can be important. The UBC Rowing Club for instance is a nice venue but it is even a nicer choice because it is centrally situated in Stanley Park. Having a beautiful location is not onlu
  3. Budget - The wedding venue should be no more than 20% of your overall budget. Choosing an expensive venue and not having a budget for a good caterer is a common mistake as more people remember bad food over a beautiful venue and location.
  4. Venue Capacity - select a venue that has a greater capacity than the planned number of guests by at least 15% so that you are not crowding your guests into the venue's floor plan.
  5. Reception Style (Buffet, Formal Plated, Cocktail) - Some venues are better suited for certain reception styles than others for a variety of reasons including floor plan, kitchen size, guest capacity. All venues have a greater guest capacity for cocktail style weddings (fewer tables occupy space) than sit down weddings. Usually Hotels, Banquet Halls and some Golf Courses can accommodate formal sit down dinners. So it is important to really decide on the style of wedding reception you would like and find a venue that will support it rather than trying to force fit a venue into supporting a style of reception it was not designed to support.
  6. Venue Facilities (multiple rooms, kitchen, gardens, tables, chairs, dishes, linens) - Venue facilities are really important. I know I am partial top certain venues because they have great kitchens (large, spacious, convection ovens, walk-in cooler) and a venues lack of a kitchen doesn't limit the venue but it may limit the menu or result in additional costs to bring in a mobile kitchen (usually $300-$500) so that can be a significant factor. If you are planning on having loud music, a venue with multiple rooms with seating is recommended so people can escape the loud music should they want to. Some venues have tables and chairs, some don't. You have to factor in $30-$50 per 8 person table if you will need to rent tables and chairs. Having a decent outdoor area (patio, gardens) in the summer is really important when the weather gets hot. Make sure yoiur guests will be able to wander throughout the space at their leisure to escape the heat or loud music.
  7. Venue Flexibility (setup, tear down) - Some venues are more flexible than others in when you get to occupy the venue, when you have to be out by, when do the party rentals have to be removed as well as penalties if certain conditions are not met. Ideally its best to get occupation of the venue the day/night before the event and party rentals to be removed the morning/day after the reception to minimize your costs and give you the most flexibility in friends and family helping you with decorations, guest table setup, etc. Essentially the more flexibility you have the more options you will have in minimizing your costs be it delivery, setup, tear down or pickup. For instance rental companies charge a premium ($200+) for same night pickup of party rentals.
  8. Catering Choices - Many private venues supply only their own catering so picking the venue becomes just as much about the ambiance as it is about the food. In almost all cases the combined cost of the venue and catering is more expensive than if you were to find a venue that allowed you to choose your caterer. It makes sense as there is no competition so you are forced into there menu selections at their stated prices. The biggest advantage of the venues that don't allow catering options is that they usually have the kitchen and staff to serve formal sit down dinners which most independent caterers cannot offer.
  9. Ambiance that Reflects Your Personalities - Where you hold your wedding ceremony and wedding reception should reflect who you are. There is little point in trying to create a fancy and glamorous wedding ambiance if that doesn't reflect the type of people you are. It is far better to take a venue and decorate it with personal touches that your guests can connect with than to create a false or pretentious atmosphere as your guests will not be able to create the connection and feel your celebration.
  10. Lastly, Cost! - For most couples planning a wedding the cost of the wedding and keeping it to a set budget is the most important planning criteria. The venue costs are all over the map in the GVA with municipal venues being the cheapest and the most popular venues being the most expensive. In general, the farther away the venue is from the center of Vancouver, the cheaper it becomes.


Some of my favourite wedding venues are as follows:

  • Vancouver Art Gallery (even though there is no kitchen!)
  • Centennial Lodge in Queens Park
  • Aberthau Heritage Mansion in Vancouver's West Side
  • Heritage Hall in Vancouver
  • Minnekhada Lodge - Port Coquitlam
  • Nikkei Museum in Burnaby
  • Scottish Cultural Centre - Vancouver (its all about the great kitchen)

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