Walk down the aisle surrounded by rich history at these landmark locations
At these classic locales around the province, something old translates into sophisticated celebrations of romance, all wrapped in the classic beauty of the past...
1. Cecil Green Park House
Christie Graham PhotographyKnown originally as “Kanakla” (an Indigenous word meaning “house on the cliff”), the Cecil Green Park House has been a landmark on the grounds of Vancouver’s west side since 1912. Designed by noted architect Samuel Maclure under the direction of lawyer Edward Pease Davis, the house was originally run by a small team of employees, many of whom had to hike uphill from the end of tram lines in a much-smaller Vancouver. Thankfully, that commute has shifted dramatically.
“Cecil Green Park House offers the privacy of an expansive well-groomed garden, historic mansion and terrace overlooking Howe Sound, all within 20 minutes drive of downtown,” explains Nicole Caron, operations manager.
And the city’s ever-expanding road map isn’t the only aspect of life on the West Coast that has impacted the planning of events on-site. “It has everything: elegant gardens, historic architecture… and always a built-in rain plan, which is essential for Vancouver,” she says.
PREVIOUS WEDDINGS: Approximately 3,200
CAPACITY: 140 for a seated dinner
MINIMUM SPEND: No
LEAD TIME: One to two years, though even just one week can work if availability permits
PLANNING: Exclusive caterer, but independent wedding planners welcome
A/V: Small projector and screen available, with wireless mic and speakers rented for events
INSIDER INFO: “Our annual tasting event–held in January–provides little bites of the menu options,” offers Caron.
Christie Graham Photography
2. Naramata Heritage Inn and Spa
Sarah Vaughan PhotographyJust off the eastern shore of Okanagan Lake, the Naramata Heritage Inn and Spa stands in the middle of a region acclaimed for new world wines, and the popular spot is deeply entrenched in the soil—and the history—of the area.
“It oozes with an era of another time,” explains the inn’s proprietor Colleen Gunther. “It is, in fact, 110 years old and showcases many original antiques and fixtures. When you top that off with old fashioned tubs, beautiful linen and a first class restaurant, it really enhances the romantic feel.”
The location came to life in 1908 as the home of John Moore Robinson, credited with launching the fruit industry in the region. A newspaper titan from central Canada, Robinson moved west after being swept up in the fever of the gold rush. The Okanagan, though, caught his eye and his land development efforts resulted in this impressive one-time family home.
Charisma abounds with mission-style furnishings, acclaimed spa facilities and quaint rooms named for the world’s major wine regions. “The old fashioned elegance of the inn is so fitting for weddings,” says Gunther. “We always hear from guests that the intimacy and the charm is so memorable.”
PREVIOUS WEDDINGS: In the hundreds
CAPACITY: 180, though 80 to 120 is ideal and smaller always welcome
MINIMUM SPEND: Based on wedding size
LEAD TIME: One to two years
PLANNING: Independent wedding planners welcome, with preferred—and familiar—options offered
A/V: Arranged by planners
INSIDER INFO: “All rooms at the inn have to be reserved as well, so if we have bookings on any given weekend then it is not available for a wedding,” explains Gunther. “Sometimes couples get lucky and we can book the same year!”
Sarah Vaughan Photography
3. Brock House
Kat Wilson PhotographyOne-time UBC dean Reginald Brock is the namesake for Brock House, the heritage home located just steps from Vancouver’s idyllic Jericho Beach, but he actually was not the first resident. Built in 1911 by Englishman Philip Gilman, a mining engineer, the space changed ownership a handful of times, even housing an RCMP headquarters for nearly two decades before being turned over to the City of Vancouver. The waterfront property takes full advantage of its locale.
“We are the only venue right on Jericho Beach, with direct access from our property,” says catering manager Melissa Wong. “It’s a wonderful seaside view… with both the mountains and the Pacific.”
On-site catering simplifies planning, while plenty of outdoor space offers options. “We have a two-acre lawn and garden space… with a tent for dining… and all of our catering is in-house. We provide everything you need for your wedding day!” says Wong.
PREVIOUS WEDDINGS: Nearly 200 per year
CAPACITY: 20 to 400, depending on wedding style and time of year
MINIMUM SPEND: Yes, but varies with month, day and time
LEAD TIME: One and a half years
PLANNING: A banquet manager will oversee, but independent planners are welcome
A/V: Can be provided by the in-house DJ
INSIDER INFO: “We host both afternoon and evening events so flexibility can really make a difference when it comes to pricing,” says Wong.
Kat Wilson Photography
4. Kirkland House
Mikaela Ruth PhotographyThe stunning Edwardian Kirkland farmhouse is just the beginning when one considers the offering at one of Ladner’s most idyllic spots. The homestead, built by the Kirkland family in 1911, houses early 20th century antiques throughout, but its two-acre garden is an outdoor treasure that doesn’t go unappreciated.
“Several of our wedding couples have returned for picnics on their anniversaries,” says Colin Campbell, president of the Kirkland House Foundation.
The expansive outdoor area also boasts benefits beyond simple spots to dine al fresco. “Guests with young children love the grounds so the kids can play.”
And the house itself is an impressive work, especially when history is considered. A farming corporation purchased the land in the late 1970s, with plans to demolish the then-fading structure. A group of dedicated local citizens stepped in to salvage both the heart and the history of the space—and succeeded. “Guests often tell us what a great job the volunteers have done with the renovations,” explains Campbell, proudly.
PREVIOUS WEDDINGS: 200
CAPACITY: 65 in house and 250 on the grounds
MINIMUM SPEND: No
LEAD TIME: A year recommended (“but a month or so often works,” says Campbell)
PLANNING: No planner on-site so independent wedding planners welcome
A/V: Mikes for officiant and couple, plus ability to connect to in-house music system
INSIDER INFO: Kirkland House’s outdoor space provides parking for up to 200 cars
Mikaela Ruth Photography
5. Haig-Brown House
Erin Wallis PhotographyRoderick Haig-Brown demonstrated a great love of the outdoors and celebrated the pristine beauty of British Columbia when he and his wife Ann built the Haig-Brown House in 1923. Nestled in tranquil gardens near Campbell River, the home hosts weddings and other special events during summer months, and romance abounds from the start.
“The moment you drive onto the property, the experience is one of going back in time,” explains site manager Catherine MacLeod. “The formal garden runs down the side of the house, with roses and lilies lining the fence and the river flowing by at its foot, providing a backdrop for the bride and groom.”
Now under the watchful eye of the Campbell River Museum, the space once provided a home for Haig-Brown—a prolific writer—and still provides winter lodging for other wordsmiths through a writer-in-residence program. But it’s the summer when the space comes alive. “Frequently, we hear from guests how peaceful, breathtakingly beautiful and tranquil the spot is.”
PREVIOUS WEDDINGS: 6 or 7 per season
CAPACITY: Maximum 150
MINIMUM SPEND: From $200 to $500, depending on party size
LEAD TIME: At least one year in advance
PLANNING: Receptions are not hosted on-site, so independent planners can find local venues
A/V: Local vendors can be suggested
INSIDER INFO: Few parking spaces are on-site, but room is available across the street, on land donated by the Haig-Browns
Erin Wallis Photography
Something Old or Something New?
Heritage spaces provide history and grandeur, but many couples prefer a contemporary venue. These recent openings are perfect for those looking for something new...
1. Parq Vancouver
Nearly two-dozen wedding parties secured event bookings at the Parq Vancouver before construction wrapped in late 2017. The venue houses the city’s largest hotel ballroom—at nearly 16,000 square feet—and offers convenient connections to both the JW Marriott Parq Vancouver and The Douglas, an outpost of the glamorous Autograph Collection, boasting rooms designed with impeccable detail and sophistication.
2. Audain Art Museum
Whistler’s Audain Art Museum opened its doors to the public in early 2016. With over 56,000 square feet, the space is filled with impressive art, but also expansive views and spaces, perfect for wedding portraits and celebrations alike. “The museum provides one of the most breathtaking backdrops for wedding photography, allowing couples to capture masterpiece moments that will last a lifetime,” says marketing and communications manager Justine Nichol.
3. Tigh-Na-Mara Seaside Spa Resort
Parksville’s seaside Tigh-Na-Mara is a landmark wedding venue on Vancouver Island and a frequent recipient of accolades, including a top honour for its Grotto Spa in a 2017 ranking by Spas of America. A recent renovation to the Oceanview building provided refurbishment, but 2018 has brought additional upgrades for Cedars Restaurant and Lounge, which the resort considers “the heart of the house.” “Our new layout—with the huge stone oven up front—allows guests to watch our chefs create culinary magic,” says food and beverage director Bryan Stokes. “It enhances our contemporary rustic offerings: seafood skillets, artisan pizza. It’s fun and flavourful!”