This is a list of my favourite wedding venues on Central Vancouver Island including: The Cowichan Valley, Duncan, Cobble Hill, Nanaimo, Parksville, Qualicum Beach, and The Comox Valley (Comox and Courtenay).
It is really easy for me to look back at my wedding and imagine what I would have done differently knowing what I know now about weddings.
Almost 10 years later, I have been lucky enough to have photographed over 150 weddings on Vancouver Island. In most cases I am at the wedding from start to a finish so I get to see all the amazing vendors in action and experience what all the the various venues have to offer.
To help those starting to plan their Vancouver Island wedding (specifically the Central Island), here is a list of my top Vancouver Island Wedding Venues from The Cowichan Valley to The Comox Valley. There is the odd venue that may deserve to be on this list but isn’t because I haven’t photographed a wedding there, yet.
* This list is alphabetical, all venues can host a ceremony, but some cannot host a reception. I have included some highlights of why I love these venues.
Affinity Guest House – Duncan
I love the modern vintage feel when you step into the guest house. Beautiful, clean light for Getting Ready photos and many places inside and on the deck to use for various photos. The large, wide-open field is surrounded by nice greenery and a pond that give the venue a cozy, intimate feel. This field and the exterior of the beautifully crafted house allow all the wedding party photos to be taken on site.
If you plan on having a reception here, a big white tent looks gorgeous against the backdrop of the house and garden. You also have the flexibility of bringing in third party catering which can be a bonus if you are wanting something specific. This is the ultimate location if you want to get ready, married, photographed and host your reception in once place.
Arbutus Ridge Golf Club – Cobble Hill
Arbutus Ridge offers a mid-sized garden around back that is private and always well-kept. There are a couple of really neat spots with grand views and open fields on the grounds for photos. If it is a very dry time of year and things are getting brown there are a couple of great spots for wedding photos only 5 minutes away. The staff here are always happy to lend out a golf cart to drive to one of their most scenic holes.
The reception room is one of my personal highlights of Arbutus Ridge as it sits perched over a small valley. It has patio access and very large windows wrapping around the room showing off the Georgia Straight with views of Washington State on a clear day. As the sun sets here it creates a lovely, warm-lit room – adding to an already romantic ambiance. The staff and kitchen at Arbutus Ridge always do a stellar job on the food and table service.
The Beach Club Resort – Parksville
Where to start… Simply put, some of the best rooms to shoot Getting Ready photos in. Clean, bright, spacious and beautiful window light. It is a photographers dream.
The Beach Club Resort has the whole package if you want to do very little planning. Great accommodations for you and your guests, a very modern room for the reception with a great patio, and a spectacular backdrop from your rooms and for your ceremony of Parksville Beach and the mountains on the Mainland. If you have plenty of family coming from out of town it can be a real treat for them to stay here and make a holiday of it.
Check out these Beach Club Resort weddings here.
Crown Isle Resort – Comox
A grooms dream! He can wake up early, play 18, and then head back to get ready for the greatest day of his life. Crown Isle offers the full deal. Plenty of accommodations, an intimate gazebo overlooking the fairways, a wonderful retreat for out-of-towners and the choice of two different sized high-class reception rooms. The food here is delicious – especially if you go for something off the grill.
I have found wonderful spots for wedding party photos that can either showcase the beauty of the golf course or hide the fact that you’re at a golf course according to the Bride & Groom’s preference.
Check out these Crown Isle Resort weddings here.
Dragon’s Lodge – Gabriola Island
Want something a little different, but as pretty as any ceremony venue that I have ever been? You can rent this whole house. In the summer there is a 4 night minimum, and 2 nights during shoulder season. The flat fee gets you the 11 bedroom house (9 queen ocean view bedrooms and 2 double forest view rooms), a great room and patio that can host a pretty decent sized reception, and the most jaw-dropping part of the property — the ocean view cliff to hold your ceremony on. It might seem like extra work getting to the Island, but the ferry schedule is pretty good and with 11 rooms plus additional cabins, plenty of friends and family can stay after the wedding or arrive a day or two before the wedding and have a little family and friends reunion before the wedding itself.
This has been the backdrop for some of my favourite ceremony photos, has a great beach for wedding party photos, and is close to some other incredible west-coast-esque photo locations. You can check out a full blog post with tons of photos from the Dragon’s Lodge here.
Filberg Heritage Lodge and Park – Comox
Walking onto this location I always feel like I am entering a fairytale. The house is something that reminds me of Hansel and Gretel , while the rest of the grounds remind me of The Secret Garden or maybe The Chronicles of Narnia. It is all quite pretty and I discover new places every time I am there for the wedding party and bride and groom photos. And if the house exterior and garden are not enough, there is a lovely little beach too.
The grounds can accommodate small and very large weddings, offer post-ceremony catering — specializing in tea and, seriously, the best scones I have ever had.
The Filberg is also located very close to salons, hotels, and venues that can take care of the getting ready portion and reception.
Here is a handy little PDF with more wedding info for the Filberg Heritage Lodge and Park.
Check out these Filberg Heritage Lodge weddings here.
Milner Gardens – Qualicum
This old English tea house dressed with ivy has a nice little window of trees overlooking the ocean. The ladies can usually get ready here in the vintage-style rooms and guests always enjoy walking through the gardens. There is a wealth of locations on the grounds for photos after the ceremony and it is only 10-20 minutes away from some great locations for the reception.
Check out these Milner Gardens weddings here.
Mt. Washington Alpine Resort – Courtenay
If gardens and beach are not your thing or you just love an alpine mountain setting, Mt. Washington is a one of a kind location. I don’t think there is anything else like this on the Island. It offers accommodations, an alpine backdrop, and a large reception venue with professional catering service. Depending on the time of year you can often ride up to the top on a chairlift for photos and sometimes get snow in your photos. If the snow is all melted,there is usually lots of greenery.
Comox and Courtney are about 30-45 minutes away (down the mountain). I would suggest hiring a makeup artist and stylist that can come to the location to make your day really easy. Plus there is no use leaving such a beautiful view and fresh air.
Pacific Shores Resort – Parksville
I grew up going here once a year and the things that nature has created here never cease to impress me. The ceremony site is large, wide and set against the famous backdrop Pacific Shores is known for and can accommodate large receptions.
The resort itself offers guests a place to stay that will have them burning through memory cards while taking photos. For those that like pampering, the Aqua Terre Spa is my wife’s favourite. Pacific Shores Resort also cooks up a very memorable meal that can highlight the evening while eating under the big white tent at the back portion of the ceremony site.
Check out these Pacific Shores weddings here.
Tigh-Na-Mara has the ability to accommodate more than one wedding a day with numerous banquet rooms (which vary in size), plus they have an amazing team of girls at the Spa that can pamper you the day before or morning of.
When I talk to clients that have already booked Tigh-Na-Mara about their decision to book it, they always say there were to two things that sold them: The first is the hillside garden/gazebo with ocean view for their ceremony. The second is the warm and friendly service they received from Suzanne Hedges during their tour or phone consultation. Suzanne is Tigh-Na-Mara’s wedding/event extraordinaire and couples know her infectious happiness and calm demeanour will be perfect to have around on their wedding day.
Tigh-Na-Mara offers some of the finest food you can find at a wedding. That goes for anything from the appies during a champagne toast at the Gazebo, dinner, dessert and late night goodies that can be a little bit different than your conventional wedding menu if you like. And when the night is all done, guests only have to walk out of the main building to find the forest outside offering cabins and hotel style accommodations.
Check out these Tigh-Na-Mara weddings here.
Qualicum Beach Inn – Qualicum
UPDATE – Qualicum Beach Inn is no longer hosting weddings as of 2015. The rooms still are superb for getting ready in for anyone getting married in Qualicum.
This location just popped up this summer (2014). I was not familiar of it because it was so new, but one visit and I was sold. Easily one of the best wedding venues on Vancouver Island.
First off, the new boutique style hotel offers ocean views and decor that does not follow your stereo-typical hotel. It is modern, yet swanky, and has wonderful daylight for getting ready photos.
A 45 second drive down the road (or 3 minute walk) there is an estate that is in affiliation with Qualicum Beach Inn. Walk onto the grounds and you will feel like you are on a movie set at some house in Malibu. Tell your guests to bring their shades and best dress or suit because they’re going to feel Über-cool hanging out here for the day.
Below the house there is a sunken garden manicured to precision for the ceremony. A hop across the street and you’ll be at the beach if you want photos there. Make sure to space things out though because often the couple takes off for photos while guests mingle and enjoy cocktails and appies. Take some time to mingle with them around the pool house on the edge of the infinity pool overlooking the Georgia Straight.
After returning from photos, the grounds can accommodate a very large tented area on a courtyard-type setting amongst the garden and pool. Here you will get to bring in your own catering and bar service. Ultimate flexibility.
The below locations are ones I have not shot at yet, but have no doubt in my mind once I do experience a wedding there, it would make my list.
Cherry Point Estate – Cobble Hill
Merridale Cider – Cobble Hill
Pine Lodge – Cobble Hill
Providence Farm – Duncan
Crown Mansion – Qualicum
Have you attended a wedding at any of the following venues. I would love to hear your feedback below.
If you love the photos you see, I photograph weddings all over Vancouver Island. You can learn more about me and my work at my official website — www.etchedproductions.ca