Ottawa Wedding Receptions.

In the coming weeks, I hope to post some images of many popular Ottawa Wedding Reception venues and photo locations. Having covered over 1000 weddings to date…who better to ask than someone who has seen his share of rubber chickens and fine cuisine.

For now, here are some observations about some of the popular Ottawa and Gatineau area reception venues. The comments are derived from our photographers experiences and this post will be updated as new info comes in. Feel free to add your comments and this can be a resource for those seeking to choose the ideal location for their event.

Strathmere… If the couple enjoy a rural setting and a lot less stress this is one of the best spots in the area. Food is a 7 to 8 on 10. The staff are friendly and the exterior locations for photos are
plentiful if you have a good eye. Only downside..the interior of the main manor is small and could use a new paint job..hint hint.

Stanleys Maple Farm… Once again, a rural setting…not quite as pretty as Strathmere for photographs…but the food is on par. The big plus…a great wagon ride…especially beautiful in the fall. They have also recently put in a nice garden that serves as a good photo spot.

Chateau Laurier...The best indoor location in Ottawa. Food varies widely….at the low end menus its a 6 or 7 given the price/quality ratio…BUT….at the high end, such as what one sees in the Quebec suite at its premium menu…its a 10. Parking will cost you big time…but hey, its once in a lifetime.
Update Mar 09….just enjoyed a great wedding, food, service and coordination was A+
The couple chose a buffet type service and it was well coordinated and the food was excellent.

The Schoolhouse….a special little spot in the west end (max 70people) that is worth a look. We have not been there, so don`t take our word on the
food…but the place itself seems quaint.

Holiday Inn Kanata…surprisingly nice. Food is above what one would expect for a Holiday Inn and the lobby is small, but not too bad for some nice shots on a rainy or winter wedding. Parking if free and plentiful.

Westin Hotel. Food is widely varied…at their best its still a 7 or 8. Not much thought was put into indoor locations for photos…always a problem in Ottawa…especially in the winter. The main reception areas are not that exciting, so unless you spend a fortune on decor your wedding
may not look much more exciting than a dentists convention.
If you have the budget, the suites on the top floor have some of the best views of Ottawa and make a great location…but get your wallet out. On a sunny day, the rooftop garden
works well too….

Delta…Nice staff, food is average. The lobby area is pretty busy to shoot in…but its better than
the Westin.

Hilton Lac Leamy.…Food is a 9 or a 10 most of the time. Great decor…lots of photo spots indoors and out. One of our favorite spots. Check the rest of my blog and my site for some pix.

Beantown Ranch…a hidden surprise…Food is excellent and staff VERY friendly. Its very rural,
but worth the drive..lots of great photo locations. They really care about weddings! AAAA

Sala San Marco….Food is always great….not surprisingly,they are excellent at Italian. Lobby is a bit small..and no place for pictures…too bad. Its a short jaunt down to Dows Lake or the Experimental Farm for some shots of the gang.

Italian Soccer Club….Decor is plain ….But the food once again is tops. Italian weddings
demand nothing but the best. Parking is free.

Skyline Hotel…food is pretty standard, though once again, you should consider that as you move into the higher brackets on any hotel menu price wise…the food gets better (gosh, that works in a lot of services doesn`t it) great photo locations at the hotel, although the view from the top is spectacular, shooting groups there is not advisable since its all glass.

Tudor Inn…location needs a makeover…food is a bit above average. Parking is free.
Lobby is not a place for group shots..try Mooneys Bay park on the way out there…some
nice white bridges and water.
Update…we were back in May 09…and rate it the same

Ottawa Hunt Club. Food and service are great, view is fantastic. A little formal, but if
thats your schtick…enjoy. Group shots can be done on the front lawn…though you have
to contend with a lot of traffic…we advise shooting elsewhere unless you are really stuck for time.

Empire Grill…..great food and service. Perfect for a wedding of under 75 people…
Parking is best at the lot behind the Basilica on Sussex….a two minute walk.

Royal Ottawa Golf Club Food is traditional..but very well done. Surprisingly, they don`t even let you near the beautiful course for pix…hmmmn. Stop along the Parkway for group shots or use the nice front verandah….if you want varied locations, perhaps even stop at the island in the middle of Champlain Bridge. is average, decor is too. Photo locations…minimal. The good news…nice view of the greenery and a nice area for cocktails…plus, no charge to park.
Update…Summer 09 we saw an increase in the quality of food and service.

Loch March…food is average to slightly above. I hear the price is decent.(Update: Had a great steak dinner recently…if you can budget for that….you are OK) Not much in indoor or outdoor photo locations…which is surprising, given that its a golf course. It just happens that all the best angles are dangerous to stand a bride and groom in… A wonderful course btw…my fave in Ottawa. A good photo location on the way out there is Andrew Haydon park.

National Art Gallery…Great location rain or shine. Food is super..and the parking is even reasonable. Every couple of years some new civil servant changes the rules on where you
can take photographs..sigh. Make sure you clear it all well in advance.

Museum of Civilization. Wonderful photo location….a bit crowded most Saturdays in tourist season though. Food is average to good…depending on what you pay for it…. If you want GRAND..the Main Hall is really super with its view of Parliament at sunset.

Calagogie Peaks…a hidden gem. Great locations both indoor and out. Make sure you get some
shots on top of the ski hill. The food was excellent!!!

Cordon Blue.….Magnifique….some of the best food in town. Great decor and even a couple of
photo spots indoors. A little formal for most….but hey…live a little. Nice park..Strathcona..across the street.

Lord Elgin Hotel….have not been there in a while…but nothing really special last time we went.
No great spots to shoot in either. Food was competent, but not exciting, possibly try the higher end menus. There is a nice park across the street for photos…with rain, I suppose you could walk over to City Hall. The hotel lobby is far too busy.

Wakefield Mill….very nice location for photos…food is a consistent 9….staff are a little formal..but that may have changed since we last shot there. Not much space for groups indoors on a rainy day.

Courtyard….food was very traditional…but competent. Great locations for shots just outside the
restaurant. A walkabout on the market for those candid shots is lots of fun.

Centurion… Food is dependable…but not exciting. Locale is pretty industrial. It IS possible
to shoot some groups on the second floor in case of rain.
Update FEB 2010, check out the top of our blog for a post entitled Oh Canada…which was held
at Centurion

Montebello. A beautiful secluded location with fine food. The rooms are a little in need of sprucing up for the price they charge. As well, shooting in the main foyer is tough because it has a tendency to turn out dark when shot by anyone but an extremely goooood photographer. One tip, try booking their smaller venue at the golf course..beautiful and a little less pricey.

Brookstreet….Fantastic spot,indoor locations are great, staff, service and food are tops. The nearest great photo location is Andrew Haydon Park…but not on a windy or cold day.

Officers Mess, Somerset Street….good conservative food…one room is not bad for indoor shots.

18 Beautiful decor, great food..perfect for a group of 50 or less…No location indoors that is big enough for group shots…but on a nice day, Major Hills Park and the Market are right there.

The Mill.….I have not been there in a few years…thankfully. Great location, but boring cuisine and poor service the last time I was there a few years back.

Southway Inn…..excellent food and service at a reasonable price. Not much by way of photo spots though.

Ottawa Congress Centre…now being torn down…thank goodness…boring food and a location that resembled a prison…Hopefully the new one will shine..we need it.

Orchard View…great photo locations, food is a bit above average. Staff are very cooperative and
friendly….something we see at a lot of the locations outside the city core.

One more thing to consider…having the wedding outside of a normal venue and utilizing the
services of a caterer…I will post some thoughts on the local scene in the coming months, but for now I would say that my faves are Tulips and Maple as well as Thyme and Again…but then thats just my taste…I like creative, inventive and good wholesome food…not a chicken fingers guy at all.
Update….a reader suggested I add Dish Catering….and yes, they rock….how did I forget them,
heck, I did their portraits.

I would strongly advise you to do a sample meal before booking any of these locations as chefs and staff are constantly changing and some of my comments may be out of date… Its best to ask
friends who have had recent weddings at these locations, for things change in the catering biz
really fast.

Well, thats it for now. Just one closing comment. With all the money spent on weddings at these venues I am disappointed that most have not even considered setting aside space and budget to
create decor that works for wedding photography. I have been asked to consult with
a couple of these locations on the topic of decor for photos and their attitude has been less than enthusiastic about spending time and a little money on making weddings look better… how sad.
When you meet with the various reception planners take note of this, as its a mark of how much
they care for your business.

One last thing…I am open to comments on this thread, so post a comment on the blog or e me
if you have any flowers or bricks to throw at these reception locations…I will update
this every week.

Oh…one more thing…check out my site if you would like to see shots of some Ottawa and area locations we have covered…there are lots more examples at the studio.

UPDATE Feb 2010…check out our newest blog entries…lots of shots of local venues.


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Ottawa Wedding Consultants and Planners.

Recently an Ottawa firm that produces training videos for wedding planners hired me to
help them create a Professional Planning Secrets dvd for sale to wedding consultants worldwide.
Frankly, appearing on camera was not my favorite thing…I prefer the other side.

It occured to me that I should write a few words about wedding consultants locally. First, let me say that I have seen some extremely cool decor and some great ideas by a few local firms. That said, I have had the unfortunate experience of photographing some of the most ill timed weddings of my career…that were organized by wedding planners!

Sadly, I have had a number of these planners offer to refer our services…for a fee, which makes
me wonder about a large number of these services. To add to that, of the twenty or so current
wedding planners, only two have taken the time to come by and chat about our services…yet they all claim to advise you on the best suppliers in town…hmmmmn. Whats funny is that I asked the owners of a few of the other top studios in town and they said exactly the same thing..double hmmmmn. We have a thirty year history of specializing in weddings yet the average wedding planner seems to last three to four years in Ottawa…triple

Given that one of the key players in making your wedding run smoothly is a photographer with
style, tact, personality and a cool disposition under pressure….why not ask us who we have worked with…we promise that we don`t take payola. We just want you to have a great
smooth that we can get great shots. To top it all off…we don`t even charge for our 30 years of
experience in the local wedding industry.

Btw..for anyone wanting to start a career in Wedding Planning…the course mentioned above seems very pro.
Take a lookyup…thats me bottom left.

Update: We recently photographed a beautiful Medieval wedding at the Chateau Laurier and the cool decor was by an Ottawa company named Wedecor…check them out….here is their work.

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New Years Eve 2008 Wedding.

We ended the year at the Delta Ottawa. Right on cue, the elevators stopped working and we were trapped a few times between the rooms and the main floor where the actual marriage and the reception were taking place. One more story for the book.

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Ottawa Wedding Photographers Referrals

Since next summer is looking like a busy one and we already have a couple of dates that are fully booked, we get emails asking who we would refer. Frankly, its a tough
call, because we are extremely picky about our own photographers…and even more picky when we think of sending clients to others.
Sadly, I have seen over 800 photographers come and go over the 30 years of Couvrette Studio and have taken numerous calls from panicked brides a day before the wedding whose photographers simply vanished…despite having been in business for a few years and having a nice portfolio and a friendly demeanor. Sadly, what is seen on a web site is often NOT what is produced for the client. As well, one needs more than a good eye to run a successful photography business.

Selecting a wedding photographer should be based on a combination of talent,reputation, longevity and the personality of the photographer and staff.
With those benchmarks, I can safely say that Photolux and GR Martin are two shining examples which possess all of the above.

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Drive through window???

Just when I finally had three days off…this morning the icy conditions resulted in a car driving
right through the front window of our studio. Luckily, no one was injured and hey…I got great coverage from the Citizen and the Sun…Check it out!
Yes…we are open for business tomorrow as the front of the building has been repaired and its all safe. Perhaps we need to offer drive through portraits!

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Ottawa Wedding Palace Show, Ottawa Bridal Fair

A number of emails and calls have asked us why we are not at the Ottawa Bridal Fair, The Ottawa Wedding Show or the Ottawa Wedding Palace Show. The answer is simple…We want to save YOU money!

Let me do the math for you. These shows primarily attract the new studios, looking to build new business and hey, that’s not a bad idea. However, the cost of booths at these shows has risen and adding to these costs are samples, brochures (most of which get tossed after the show) and overtime for our staff. We calculated that if we took the cost of these shows and divided it into the bookings we received we were paying $400 per wedding!!! Frankly we would rather pass those savings on to our customers. Our 2009 price list reflects these savings and if you print out this post and bring it in when you book us…we will take another $100 off any booking you make…Coupon must be presented at time of booking.

The Fine Print..this offer can only be applied to new bookings March to December. 2009.

Soooo…if you wonder why a studio with our awards, history and style has packages that are competitive with even some of the beginners…now you know.

Btw…The Bridal Fairs are worth going to folks…its just that I`d rather save you money and take my kids skating that weekend…its called win win!!!!!

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Yousuf Karsh and I, Ottawa Citizen.

I am honored that the Ottawa Citizen has chosen to feature me in their story on Yousuf Karsh of Ottawa on the 100th anniversary of his birth.

Yousef and I met many times and I expressed my gratitude for the influence he had on my career. My one regret is never having had him take my own portrait or never having taken his, thought I did have the pleasure of taking a portrait of his brother Malak Karsh. As well, I wisely purchased an original print by Yousuf that he signed for me. The image is, in my opinion his finest work, a portrait of Pablo Casals. It is also one of the best investments I ever made.
My Karsh stories are many and I will save them for my own eventual book, but suffice to say I
was honored when he referred a number of clients to me upon closing his studio and equally honored when a number of corporate clients considered me as his replacement. Karsh was an artist, a businessman and one of the most refined gentlemen I have ever met…he truly possessed an old world charm that is rarely seen today. Without Karsh, I doubt my career would have developed technically and artistically as it did.

Click on this link to the Citizen page and if you click on my self portrait you can hear me speak on Karsh. The series is extremely well done…Yousuf would approve.

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Merry Christmas to all…

Each year we do quite a few concept cards for our clients and every year for the last twenty years…one for ourselves. This years theme was of course my kids newfound interest in gymnastics and dance….

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Digital files and making your own albums.

Digital files, a thorny issue indeed. Having the experience of a few decades in this industry I am often asked to speak to groups of photographers at Conventions across Canada regarding our business and this topic keeps coming up.

There are two schools of thought…photographers that simply shoot a wedding and let the clients print their own…and photographers who insist on total control.

We actually don`t fall into either camp…since our policies allow for both.

What do I think about the idea of having clients create their own prints and albums?…My opinion is that in 90% of all cases it is a bad choice for the client to try to make their own wedding albums unless they have top level skills and lots of free time. I can`t tell you how many people walk up to me at weddings and bemoan the fact they have no wedding prints…its really sad.

The image above shows what a great Photoshop artist can do in half an hour with retouching, skin tone and effects. What you see on this screen is exactly what our printer actually prints and what our client actually recieves. This is called a color managed system, which has taken us years to perfect and a lot of coordination with our lab. The combined experience at my studio is roughly 60 years in total time that my staff and I have been dealing with photography and digital. We have won over 100 awards for our work. Yes, there is a difference.

Occasionally we find one of our clients is a digital whiz kid and hey….we are open to discuss rates for including the files. As well, some of our clients simply want to make up some 4 by 6’s for the inlaws and are not as concerned about these as their final album.

One thing I do caution against is selecting a photographer who will notmake you prints. This is no bargain…I get emails all the time from brides asking if we will correct these “bargain” photographers digital files and make them prints. Sometimes I feel like Mike Holmes (you know,the guy from Holmes on Homes), but not quite as cranky. Yes, we have provided this service…but as they can pay me now…or pay me a lot more later.

One final thought….. woe be the groom, who promises to make up a wedding album for his new bride and not deliver on that promise. Its a formidable task and to my mind, best left to a professional.

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Chateau Laurier Ottawa Wedding

I posted this snap of the Chateau Laurier lobby to give some prospective brides a peek at one of the best locations in the city for wedding photography. It can be formal, classic or funky, depending on how you want to shoot it…and how much time and talent the photographer has
at his disposal.

We are finding that an increasing number of our couples want less emphasis on those boring lineups and more on the couple themselves…to that I say great, lets plan to have fun.

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