Ontario restaurant wedding

Victoria, 26 & Randy, 33

Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

Wedding Date: May 29, 2011

Number of Guests: 32

Wedding Cost: $6,500

Wedding Ceremony Location: Abraham Erb’s Grist Mill, Waterloo Park

Wedding Reception Location: Wildcraft Grill Bar


Waterloo Mill Wedding

paper rose bouquet

Waterloo Mill Wedding

Waterloo Mill Wedding

Why did you have an intimate wedding?

As nice as it would have been to host 100+ people at our wedding, we really wanted to keep it simple by celebrating with our nearest and dearest friends – creating an environment where nearly every guest would know each other and be able to simply sit back, relax and celebrate. We also wanted to avoid the money pit that most weddings become for many couples. After all, we have much bigger priorities than booking the fanciest hall or buying the most expensive wedding gown.

Waterloo Mill Wedding

Waterloo Mill Wedding

swiss dot veil

What are some of the challenges that you faced planning an intimate wedding?

Our guest list started at about 50, resulting in a lot of venue issues. We were much too small for larger, more traditional wedding venues and too big for smaller, more nontraditional wedding venues. When our guest list started to swell towards the 70-person mark, we put a halt on everything, reevaluated what we were doing and cut our guest list down to around 30. That immediately made our lives easier.

Waterloo Mill Wedding

Waterloo Mill Wedding

Rustic Waterloo Mill Wedding

Was it difficult to pare down the guest list?

At times I would hesitate and wish to add one or two more guests, but ultimately, it wasn’t that hard for Randy and I to look at our guest list and pick out those individuals who were our closest companions.

Waterloo Mill Wedding

Did you have any ‘issues’ with the small guest list from friends and family? If so, how did you address them?

I feel like we got really lucky and didn’t have to deal with any of that guest list drama. Everyone seemed to be quite understanding of the fact that we wanted to have as small of a celebration as possible, and those that were invited, felt extra special. :)

Waterloo Mill Wedding

swiss dot wedding veil

Waterloo Mill Wedding

What were the highlights of the ceremony?

The “reveal” was a highlight for Randy, who was afraid of the whole thing being a bit cheesy and played up for the sake of the camera. As soon as we go to the grounds, Jimmy really wanted to use the dock nearby for photos and then, the reveal. I had had a different idea in my head initially, but went with the flow and am glad I did. Having Randy walk down from the mill to meet me at the dock was the perfect way to build suspense and really get the waterworks going. We had to fight the tears like crazy.

Saying our vows ended up being one of my highlights. It was one of those moments where, despite the fact that my brain was mush and I was incredibly nervous, nearly forgetting each line as soon as the officiant was done saying it, time slowed right down and everyone around us disappeared. It was one of those ultra cliche moments you don’t really believe when you hear about them. It was perfect.

Waterloo Mill Wedding

Waterloo Mill Wedding

Waterloo Mill Wedding

Waterloo Mill Wedding

Rustic Mill Wedding ceremony

Rustic Mill Wedding

Waterloo Mill Wedding

Waterloo Mill Wedding

Non-traditional Waterloo Mill Wedding

Rustic Waterloo Mill Wedding

Waterloo Mill Wedding

What were the highlights of the reception?

We booked at room at Wildcraft that had an adjoining private patio. I think one of the biggest highlights for us was arriving at Wildcraft about 45 minutes before dinner to a really laid back atmosphere where everyone was just sitting around outside with a drink and munching on hors’ doeuvres that were being butlered around.

paper lantern wedding decor

blue and white wedding flowers

Waterloo Mill Wedding

blue and white flower centerpiece


What was the best thing about having an intimate wedding?

It was relatively stress free. We didn’t have to worry about all of the standard details like DJs, caterers, wedding cakes, large amounts of decor, late night buffets, etc etc etc. With so few people, we were really able to focus on the details, putting lots of effort into a small number of items rather than minimal effort into a large number of items. We were able to have some fun and make photo props, as well as DIY a good portion of our decor, including all my of the bouquets.

Mustache glass

paper roses

Waterloo Restaurant Wedding Reception

Waterloo Restaurant Wedding Reception

Waterloo Restaurant Wedding Reception

swiss dot blusher veil

brown groom's suit

What advice do you have for couples who are considering an intimate wedding?

In general, I think our advice would be to host your wedding the way you want to, rather than how others expect you to. Tread carefully with that advice though and be aware that you’ll hit some family drama (I certainly did!).

We did a lot of nontraditional things with our wedding that some people may or may not have understood (ie. our placeholders were Minecraft cubes that we put together ourselves – not exactly a reference everyone would get). Our invitations were nontraditional and didn’t have much of the standard or expected text in them. We didn’t do any of the standard dances, bouquet tosses, garter tosses, etc.

Not everyone may have understood or been on board with the way we did things, but the day was for us, and at the end of it, we were thrilled.

Rustic Mill Wedding

Rustic Mill wedding

rustic mill wedding


Ceremony: Grist Mill, City of Waterloo

Reception Dinner: Wildcraft Grill Bar

Photography: Green Autumn Photography

Officiant  (Humanist Association of Canada): Matthew Bin

Tux rentals: Moores

Bridal party hair: Floor One Salon

Groom’s Boutonniere: Bragging Bags

Antiqued paper roses on the dinner tables: Nerd Nuptials

Invitations (I’m a graphic designer and designed them myself): Element Print & Copy


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10 Comments  |  Filed Under: Barn Weddings, Budget Weddings ($10,000 or less), Real Weddings, Restaurant Weddings

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  1. Posted by Lissa on July 11th, 2011 at 9:39am

    So great how this couple had the wedding THEY wanted. Love the handmade bouquets...and I saw someone in the wedding party reading from The Velveteen Rabbit (a book that still makes me tear up no matter how many times I read it)!
  2. Posted by Victoria on July 11th, 2011 at 11:10am

    Oh my gosh, Lissa, I had to fight the tears back so hard during the reading of the Velveteen Rabbit!

    The paper bouquets were a much bigger hit with everyone than I thought they would be. I'd definitely recommend it to any bride looking for something a little different than the standard fresh, cut flowers.
  3. Posted by Angela on July 12th, 2011 at 12:13pm

    I love this venue! And the bouquet!
  4. Posted by Amanda on July 16th, 2011 at 7:10pm

    I think this wedding is pleasant enough, and it seems well done for being a small wedding. However, I don't see what's non-traditional about it? It looks like most of the weddings I look at.....lol. Still nice, just wrongfully labeled I think.
  5. Posted by Michelle on July 27th, 2011 at 8:51pm

    What were the things on the tables... I noticed breakfast cereal and Starbucks cup...? Just curious. And also wondered what the gate and lock were? Also, would you please please please tell where your gown is from and what the design is called? I've been looking for a gown just like that but haven't been able to find one.

    Your wedding looks gorgeous, and so classy. I'm going to save many of your pics and copy some of your ideas for my wedding. Bravo and kudos to you. Thanks for sharing your wedding details.
  6. Posted by Victoria on August 3rd, 2011 at 12:20pm

    Michelle, I'm going to email you with answers to all of your questions ... just so you know, in case it ends up in junk mail or something. :)
  7. Posted by Ali on May 30th, 2013 at 6:08pm

    Super pretty! A little pricey for only 32 people but then again I could understand if the majority of the budget went to photo or video.
  8. Posted by Victoria on August 7th, 2013 at 10:16am

    About 70% of our budget was devoted to photo and food. With a smaller guest list, we were able to splurge on the two things that we considered most important. It also meant we were able to spoil our guests a little bit. :)
  9. Posted by Emily on August 19th, 2014 at 10:33pm

    I was thrilled to stumble upon this! I was thinking about this place as a venue and wanted to see inside. We visited the park, I would love to ask you a few questions if you don't mind shooting me an e-mail if you have time! Adorable pictures!
  10. Posted by Kayla on December 12th, 2014 at 9:56pm

    Hi there,

    Do you know what the capacity is for this venue?
    Love your pictures! Beautiful wedding
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