A Short Saga of our Ceremony Location


November 28, 2012 by Amie M

Last year, and perhaps a little before that, when we were planning our “hypothetical wedding” we came up with a couple ideas for ceremony locations in and around Guelph. We wandered and wondered over where would suit us and be perfect for us to make vows and promises to each other in front of our family and friends.

One place we kept coming back to, and were absolutely resolved to get, was the Goldie Mill ruins along the Speed River. Just behind the Guelph Youth Music Centre, the ruins has a large open room surrounded by limestone walls. Being along the river would make for some beautiful photos. The age of the place would fit with our vintage feel.

So just days after Paul asking me and making the wedding no longer hypothetical, we put in a call, and filled in online forms to reserve the mill for our ceremony. We heard nothing.

Then we called. And still heard nothing.

Then we called again, and emailed and filled out the form again. We still heard nothing.

This was getting on well into September. I was panicking. The whole wedding would be ruined if we didn’t get this location! The wedding planners and websites everywhere warn you have to book ceremony a year in advance! This place was perfect! It was us!

Then we heard back. It was reserved. Not booked, reserved.

A group had it booked Friday, August 2 to Saturday, August 3. All day. They had this reserve on our wedding weekend since June, and the city wouldn’t confirm they were going to go ahead with the booking until March. Apparently it is normal to confirm summer bookings in March for parks and public spaces, rather than at the time the reservations are made.

At this time, we were also entertaining the idea of the wedding at the University’s Arboretum. There were many open spaces that we could throw out some chairs and have the ceremony right there. But it just didn’t feel “us.”

After we booked River Run, we took a walk along the river, trying to see if there were any houses with backyards big enough to hold our ceremony. I was just barely holding myself back from going door to door asking if we can take over their yards overlooking the river. We would pay.

Why the river? Well, we had this wonderful plan to make as much of the wedding as possible downtown. Downtown Guelph is historic, gorgeous, and the majority of it is framed by the Speed and Eramosa Rivers. With almost two-thirds of our guests coming from way out of town we wanted to make it easy on everyone for getting around our little city. So we hunted for venues downtown.

We even entertained the idea of a guerilla ceremony in front of the River Run. We went out at about the same time as the ceremony on a Saturday to gauge the traffic noise. Although free, it just wouldn’t work with a busy road right there.

So we wandered, and we looked up garden after garden in Guelph. We both loved the romance of a garden wedding.

Then we found it. Why hadn’t we thought of it sooner?

Nestled into a quiet residential neighbourhood, just barely downtown, but upriver from the River Run Centre was a historic site. Complete with old English gardens, a stone fence and gorgeous wrought-iron gate framed by two beautiful trees, the John McRae House was perfect.

We went one afternoon and scouted. We made sure to go around the same time as the ceremony would be to get a good picture of lighting and how the gardens would look.

I can just picture us, sitting here after the ceremony, taking a breath, and maybe signing all those documents.

This is will be Paul’s and my view, with our nearest and dearest interspersed in the garden, beaming back at us, when we can pry our eyes away from each other’s.

The garden will need little to no decoration as all we need to bring are chairs for our guests.


5 thoughts on “A Short Saga of our Ceremony Location

  1. Ashley says:

    Fantastic Idea – and I think it will make for even more spectacular photos than the mill 🙂

  2. melissa says:


  3. […] we booked the ceremony space, and we were definitely going to be having a garden wedding! So florals became a more serious […]

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