Newbie February 2019 Ontario

Anyone else planning a wedding in a city you don't live in?

Caleigh, on 10/January/2018 at 10:22 Posted in Plan a wedding
My fiancée and I moved to Ottawa from Toronto in September. Because we both grew up in the GTA and most of our friends and family are in that area, we've decided to get married in Toronto.

We've started planning things, but I'm already struggling with how to do things at such a distance. First obstacle: venues! We can't check them out on weekends, so we need to take a vacation day. Hopefully we can stack them all into a Friday...

Is anyone else planning a wedding at a distance? How do you organize photographers (especially if we want Ottawa engagement pics?), venues, the dress, etc when you're not in the same location? Anyone have any great advice?



  • Breanne
    Expert August 2018 Ontario
    Breanne ·

    Hi Caleigh,

    Fellow Ottawa bride here. I definitely think it's a great idea to take a Friday/Saturday to go up (some things that you can't fit into Friday, you may be able to do on a Saturday). I think it will just take a bit of research and co-ordinating so that you can have things in a schedule for the day you go up.

    I've found something that has been helpful here in Ottawa is the local facebook group. I'm sure there's one for the GTA too - maybe join that one as I find it's super helpful for venues, caterers, DJs, photographers etc.

    Depending on your budget another suggestion might be to find a venue that is more all-inclusive so you have less things to worry about from the distance. We have our ceremony & reception in the same place and our venue here in Ottawa takes care of: set up & take down, decorating (I just have to drop everything off), catering & dessert, bartending, servers, flowers, dj, and I get a wedding co-ordinator. We literally just had to find a photographer and it's been amazing.

  • I
    Newbie July 2019 Ontario
    Izaskun ·


    I have just moved to Ontario from Spain. I am getting married there but I have to plan everithing from here... my advice is to spend long hours on the net and enquire by email. this way you can complete a list with the top 3 options you can visit. I mean, cross out from the initial list as much as you can. In my opinión the things you need to check face to face (as you need a real feedback, or feeling) are:




    Regarding clothes, i would buy then in the same place you are going to spend the night before, not to damage them during the transport.

    Regards and good luck!

  • Holly
    Expert June 2019 Ontario
    Holly ·
    View quoted message
    Our venue also gave us a list of preferred vendors, super helpful! That's what is helping me through this planning is their list lol
  • Marina
    Expert July 2018 Alberta
    Marina ·
    Arghhh me. I live in Ontario and planning my wedding in Alberta. Don’t live in, never lived in. It is waaay trickier than it looks. However once you get used to it, things get easier!

    Initially I thought that at ahh moment I would break down into tears or have a break down or whatever, but 4 months after I got engaged, almost everything is already booked and in an order

    so just stay strong, take deep breaths and keep on!
  • Kellie
    Beginner October 2019 Ontario
    Kellie ·
    The venue we picked for our wedding is about an hour and forty minutes away from where we live via the 401. The place we booked gave us a list of their prefered vendors, it's all very convenient. As for the dress, I bought it in my hometown and will just bring it to our destination.

  • Holly
    Expert June 2019 Ontario
    Holly ·
    We are having a our wedding about an hour or so away from where we live. The venue was the reason why, we wanted to get married in a barn and there was a beautiful one for weddings so we want to visit it and fell in love. Now we are in the same boat as you, planning the wedding from one city to be in another. We got a photographer from where we live who travels. Our DJ, Catering and all the big things will be from where we are getting married, so that it's easier for them to get there. However...there is a chance we may be moving from Ontario to BC.. so that will change things. As for my dress I'm doing that shopping in Kentucky and Tennessee with my dad ( he lives there) so I'll be taking lots of vacation time to do. It's hard but worth it on the day of.

    Our plan is to research a ton of places and get quotes and as much information as you can. Then compare them to each other to narrow it down, then if you're not able to meet half way or anything maybe try video chat, that way you can see them face to face and really talk more in-depth. Then try to actually meet them before you book.
  • Caleigh
    Newbie February 2019 Ontario
    Caleigh ·
    Thanks for all the helpful responses!! I knew I wasn't alone!

    I'm feeling a bit better - going to make a list of Toronto vs Ottawa things and hopefully go from there. First photographers we've contacted have been cool with skype meeting so that's a start!
  • Valérie
    Featured September 2019 Quebec
    Valérie ·
    We live in Calgary and plan on getting married in Ottawa/Gatineau.

    I’m just doing everything via email, phone and Skype. Vendors, so far, have made it pretty easy for us! Plus they all have a pdf version of whatever they offer, so you don’t really need to meet in person.

    We’ve included visits to venues during the holidays, while we were back in town. As for the photographer, we Skyped her after exchanging a few emails. We’ll probably schedule more stuff next time we’re in town.

    Our wedding will be pretty intimate: no wedding party. So we don’t have to coordinate bridesmaids dress shopping or guys’ tux. As for my dress, I’ll be shopping in Calgary either by myself or with friends. My mom and I agreed that she didn’t need to be here for it (flying across the country is expensive!!!).
  • Jennifer
    Frequent user September 2018 British Columbia
    Jennifer ·

    We are getting married 3 hours away from where we live.

    Our photographer we are hiring live in Calgary, our hometown... we are just going to pay a travel fee. You might find that would work better for you! That way you can have your first meetings in Ottawa, engagement photos in Ottawa & then pay a fee to have them travel.

    We ended up being able to do lots of things in one day. Checked out the venue, cake tasting from the cake lady & tried the food at the restaurant we are getting catering done! Also hit up the local brewery there to try the beer we want to bring in for it

    I would suggest getting the dress where you live.

    We did a lot of e-mails back and forth, skype meetings work too!

  • Allison
    Featured October 2019 Ontario
    Allison ·

    We're both from Southern Ontario (London/Windsor) but now live in Thunder Bay. We are getting married in London (closer for family/friends). My parents have been a huge help with scoping out venues, my mom is going to a bridal show for me, etc. I would definitely enlist the help of friends/family in your wedding town. I haven't got too much into planning things, but I plan on using my vacation time to go down and to meet with vendors.

  • Candace
    Super May 2019 Ontario
    Candace ·
    We are getting married in London and we live in Whitby. It’s about a 3 hour drive sometimes longer so it’s rough finding time to go down. Thankfully a lot of my vendors have understood and a few have Skyped me and emailed me documents. The ones who aren’t as flexible we ended up setting aside 4 days of vacation time and just did meeting after meeting. My MOH lives in London so she has helped us by meeting with some people as well.
    We have been successful so far but our venue comes with a wedding coordinator so that will really help once we get closer to the wedding and have more booked and decided
  • Erin
    Master September 2017 Ontario
    Erin ·

    We live in Ottawa and got married in Cobourg so I understand. We did a lot of stuff via e-mail and Skype.

    We were lucky in that we didn't need to search for a venue as we got married on family property.

    We found our caterer online and booked a tasting/meeting with him before we confirmed him as a vendor. We met our officiant via Skype a few times to make sure that we would mesh even though she wasn't actually performing the ceremony. We bought our desserts and flowers in Ottawa and brought them to Cobourg.

    We had a lot of help from family. I would suggest getting some friends and family from Toronto to be your eyes and ears for the initial list of vendors. Then you could plan a weekend to go to Toronto and visit with the potential vendors and strike them off the list or book them.

    I think you can easily find 2 different photographers if you need to or one that will travel. It takes a lot more research and communication with vendors when you are making an out of town wedding happen.

  • Stephanie
    Master July 2018 Alberta
    Stephanie ·

    My friend did. She had moved away, her parents and brother still lived in her hometown and so she counted on them a lot to help out with those things. She hadn't seen her venue until a few weeks before the wedding.

    I think photographers you can hire one from Ottawa. They might charge to travel to Toronto. But, I think it's important to meet with your photographer to make sure they are a good fit for you. Or, if you hire a Toronto photographer, make a weekend trip again to visit with different ones. You can still hire a photographer in Ottawa to do engagement photos.

    The dress you can buy in Ottawa.

    I think venue, caterer (if it's not included in your venue), photographer, DJ, videographer (if having one), officiant, flowers, wedding coordinator/planner (if hiring) are the things you would want to go to Toronto for. I would suggest pre-screening to weed some out. If you explain you are in another city and have questions for them, they should be willing to answer them before you arrange to meet. That way, you can weed some out just based on price or any other criteria before arranging to meet them.

    It's not easy, but I found once everything was booked, my planning is being done at home anyway, so it doesn't matter that I live in the same city.

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