Recently engaged and now on the hunt for the perfect venue within or near Calgary to host your big day? Maybe you’ve always dreamed of a stunning outdoor venue on the outskirts of the city, preferably having your the whole estate to yourselves for your wedding. Well we were in that exact same position two years ago, and once we came across Azuridge Estate Hotel, no other wedding venue that we looked at came close to what we envisioned at this remote property.
If you’re contemplating Azuridge for your nuptials, you’ve come to the right place as I’ll be taking a deep dive into everything we’ve learned as bride and groom getting married at this beautiful venue, and the ins and outs we had to go through from our first visit to the takedown after our big day.
The Initial Steps Prior to Booking the Venue
When considering Azuridge as your venue, the first step that you and your fiancé(e) will want to take is start an email thread with their wedding management team: Weddings@azuridgehotel.com. Michaelle is currently the wedding director and she was and is incredibly insightful and responsive with all potential and current clients. You might already have a date or date range in mind for your wedding, as well as an approximate number of guests, so pass on any information to the team that you have an idea of already to help them and yourself navigate the next steps.
Michaelle or another coordinator will forward you up-to-date documents including the Weddings Brochure and the Wedding Menu Booklet – which you can also find on their website – as well as the Wedding Investment Guide. The latter will be a crucial piece for you to start to evaluate if the venue is within your budget or not, and presents as an à la carte menu for the space rental.
If your guest count is looking to be under 80, Azuridge has five rooms you can rent out individually for your wedding ceremony and/or reception. BUT, if your guest list is going to be over 80 people and/or you’re looking to get married on a high season (May-September) weekend (Friday-Sunday, statutory holidays included), you would have to book a full estate rental.
Full Estate Rental
The full estate rental essentially means that you’re renting the entire property for 24 hours, from about 11am the day of the wedding to 11am the next day. That means that all 13 rooms of Azuridge Estate Hotel are included and it’s your own private booking for the entire wedding. We were sold when we heard this and considered it to be worth the cost for what we valued. Maybe it resonates with you too!
This package has different price points for high season vs. low season and weekend vs. weekday. As we wanted to get married on a Saturday in July, we had no choice but to pay the high price of $18,000 for the full estate rental ($21,500 as of 2023). Had we chosen to get married on a weekday (Monday-Thursday) during low season (October-April), we would’ve paid only half of that cost at $9,500 ($15,000 as of 2023). Depending on your flexibility on the date, you can save on cost here.
The full estate package comes with not only every single hotel guest room and suite on property – which you can offer up to your guests looking to stay overnight – but it also includes:
- a Prairie Mountain Breakfast buffet in the Opal Dining Room the following morning up to 55 overnight guests
- private access to the whole estate including all event spaces, the three-storey gazebo and grounds
- private access to all Azuridge staff where you and all your guests are their main priority for the entire day
- outdoor ceremony chairs and tables if needed, indoor reception chairs, tables, linen, flatware and glassware
- setup and teardown of all Azuridge provided items for ceremony and reception
- executive chef customized menus
- wedding butler service for the couple
- private menu tasting (plated dinner only)
- private logistics meeting with the wedding team and all coordination until the final day
I’ll be touching on these inclusions more throughout the rest of this post but hopefully this paints a clearer picture on what the full estate rental provides. If you’re not opting for the full estate rental, there are still certain details that may still apply to your wedding day so keep reading!
Visit the Venue
Now that you’ve got a good idea of what the venue provides and what they offer for food and drinks, it’s time to go check it out in person! Michaelle or one of the team will be happy to coordinate your tour of Azuridge and feel free to bring anyone else whose opinion you prioritize. During the meeting, you’ll be shown around the entire grounds, all the banquet rooms and the various guest suites of both the Emerald and Sapphire buildings.
You’ll start to picture where you’ll host your ceremony and your reception, and you might notice that the Tourmaline room – the largest capacity banquet hall – may not be able to accommodate a dance floor if dancing is on your wedding day itinerary. The most popular choice for dancing is in the Opal which is the high-ceiling open dining room that you first see when you walk into the main Sapphire building of the hotel.
If you pictured your dance floor to be in the same space as your reception, this may set you back. We had our own reservations for this set up and noticed the Tourmaline room was a little narrow with the structural walls separating the bays be obstructing for some of the guests’ line of sight. In this sense, Azuridge didn’t match perfectly to the picture of our future wedding, but we managed well in the end. It just took some adjusting and extra coordination for the day of.
The Proposal Stage
Choosing Your Wedding Date
If you’re fully considering Azuridge, you want to make sure they have your wedding date available. Get this figured out as soon as possible! After your venue visit, the wedding team is going to throw some available dates your way for the timeframe you were thinking. You’ll want to lock that date in as they might have other clients looking too.
We were lucky in that we were looking at Azuridge almost two years before our wedding date, so the earlier you figure out your date and venue, the better! Once you’ve sent back the email stating your preferred date, you have about two weeks to sign the proposal and pay the deposit before that date gets released back into the pool for others to snatch.
Estimating the Deposit
So you’ve decided to make Azuridge Estate Hotel yours for your wedding and you’re excited for the next step! Well, now that you’ve looked at what the venue and food is going to cost, it’s time to make a rough estimate for the proposal. The initial deposit is going to be 25% of that estimate, which is going to factor in:
- venue space selection (full estate or individual rooms)
- approximate guest count
- selected dinner menu (buffet or plated 3-, 4-, or 5-course)
- whether you will be having dinner wine
- whether you will be serving hors d’œuvres and/or late night snacks
- if you would like to book any rooms for the night before the wedding
Don’t worry if you selected ‘no’ for some of the options and later need to make adjustments! If you’re not sure yet, you can always go for the cheaper option for now and coordinate the changes later on, as we did for our dinner menu and cocktail hour hors d’œuvres.
One thing I would suggest is booking any rooms you might need the night before. All guest suites are discounted at a flat rate of $399 plus tax, so definitely aim for the largest suite – i.e. more expensive suite – even if you don’t need it. My bridesmaids and I were extremely glad to have the Garnet Suite all to ourselves the night before and the morning of to get ready.
My husband, on the other hand, regretted not booking himself and his groomsmen a room too, but luckily Azuridge had one room that wasn’t booked by other hotel guests the night before, and they were kind enough to offer it to the guys early on our wedding morning so they could get a private room to get ready!
Even if you’re not sure you’ll need the room, book now and cancel later if you have to!
Signing the Proposal
I can’t stress enough to read the fine print of any contract you sign, especially for your wedding! As we have all witnessed with the pandemic the last two to three years, some venues have been sneaky with their deposits if you had to postpone or cancel your wedding. Be sure to discuss with Azuridge about these ‘what if’s’ you might be thinking, and read carefully what is stated in their entire proposal. It’s only a few pages so it doesn’t hurt.
One minuscule issue we ran into was the fact that our wedding ceremony arch was not included. After seeing pictures online and on their website of this arch they had at most weddings, I assumed that it was a part of the venue rental. There was some back-and-forth months before the wedding, between myself and the wedding coordinators, about me asking for its dimensions, where I wanted the arch placed, etc. But for some reason it wasn’t brought up to me that the arch was an extra cost to rent. I had a mini panic attack on the day of the wedding when I got asked by the Azuridge staff, amidst all my frantic getting ready, where our arch was. Are we not going with the one you guys have?!
I was thankful to see that they didn’t charge us for the arch rental on the final bill, but that miscommunication wouldn’t have happened if I paid attention to the fact that the full estate rental includes only chairs, tables, linen, flatware and glassware. Learn from our mistake!
You’ve Booked the Venue – What’s Next?
Once you’ve signed and made your first instalment, you’ve locked in your date and now it’s time to start grinding with the wedding planning.
Booking Your Vendors
If you booked the venue two years in advance like we did, you’ll likely put off the wedding plans for a long time. But the best thing you can do right now is research your potential vendors and look into locking them in early as their rates are subject to increase as time passes.
What we loved about Azuridge Estate Hotel was the freedom we had in choosing our vendors. Be sure to reach out to them for suggestions first as they’ve dealt with amazing companies that by now have a really great understanding of the place and how to bring to life your vision. Keep in mind, however, that a lot of the vendors they’ve worked with many times may be priced on the higher end.
Apart for our amazing photographers and violinist, it was the first time the rest of our vendors worked at this venue. Scroll to the bottom for our vendor list!
One thing that was a bit of a bummer was that there was an extra cost for us to serve bubble tea during cocktail hour between our ceremony and reception. Again, it did say in the fine print of the proposal that no outside food or beverage is permitted at the event with exception to the wedding cake. They made an exception in our case to have bubble tea supplied from an outside vendor for a $250 fee, which was subject to their mandatory gratuity and tax. It was the price we had to pay if we wanted to serve something special food/drink-wise at our wedding as it contributed to an opportunity cost and added liability for the venue.
Note: Azuridge has a mandatory 20% gratuity that is applied to all food and beverage related items.
With Azuridge being outside of the city limits of Calgary, you might have extra costs associated to delivery or mileage from your vendors as there’s extra distance that they will have to cover, including driving on the highway. It’s a small price to host your wedding at this exceptional estate, but I wanted to forewarn you of that additional cost to account for.
Private Menu Tasting
While you start putting together your guest list, it’s time to figure out what to feed them. Have a look at the Wedding Menu Booklet again to determine your dinner menu arrangement.
We went with the plated Emerald 3-Course Menu and had decided that dinner wine would be served. So for our private tasting about five months prior to the wedding, we had the choice between:
- 2 options for the first course (to narrow down to 1)
- 4 options for the main course (to narrow down to 3)
- 2 options for the final course (to narrow down to 1)
- 2 options for red wine and 2 options for white wine at similar price points (to narrow down to 1 each)
- Signature Drink tasting at an extra $25/guest
If you want others to join you and your fiancé(e) at your tasting, you can have up to four guests at a full menu price per guest. When you do the tasting, you’ll also be sharing each dish with your spouse. As there are a total of eight dishes, this will ensure you don’t stuff yourself mid-meal and cannot fully enjoy the ones at the end. You’re also free to pack up any leftovers if you can’t finish!
Wanting to cross out dessert and do two appetizers instead? That’s what we decided to do later on to allow our guests to enjoy our wedding cake to the fullest! But if you let them know prior to your tasting, you can actually get to taste the two appetizers and see if they’re a good fit. Since we opted to do a soup – a delectable Dungeness Crab + Corn Chowder – after our tasting instead of dessert, we didn’t get to try it until the day of the wedding. Fortunately, it was a well loved course! The choice is yours to customize your wedding meal however you like within certain parameters, so make it known if that’s the path you’d like to take.
Another point is that the kitchen is able to accommodate a number of vegetarian meals as a fourth option, even though technically we are only allowed three main course options for our wedding. If you see that only 10% of your attendees or less will opt in for the vegetarian menu, you can still offer three meat options for your guests plus the vegetarian main as a fourth option.
The Final Weeks
You’ve progressively been getting your RSVP’s back from your guests with their meal selections and dietary restrictions. Slowly but surely, you’ve started to piece together your seating chart and floor plans. By now, you should have a very good idea of what you need from your vendors and any info you need to pass on to them.
Logistics Meeting & Final Coordination
Azuridge will reach out to you to set a date for your private logistics meeting where you’ll discuss all these final details within the last six weeks before the wedding. From final food and beverage selection to final bar structure to itemized list of decor items coming onsite from other vendors, you will start to fully visualize your big day. If you’ve hired a wedding planner or even a day-of coordinator, you’ll get to delegate most of these tasks to them depending on your contract.
Make time to re-visit the venue if you need to really get your mind wrapped around the space. You might not have accounted for certain space dimensions, lighting, entryways, etc. The logistics meeting will serve as your additional site visit so make use of it but don’t hesitate to go back if you need to.
The coordination work gets heavy in these last few weeks and things will change and evolve constantly as you get new RSVP’s or later cancellations. Be sure to send reminders to your guests who have yet to respond at this point! If you’ve chosen to do a plated dinner for your reception, be prepared for the brunt of the work being focused on the meal selections spreadsheet and seating chart. It’s highly time consuming so if you have a coordinator to help you out, all the better!
By the time it’s two weeks out, you’ll need to have the final meal selections spreadsheet and the final rooming list – if you’re renting the full estate – completed and sent off to the team. Any changes in which you have last minute cancellations will not be able to be deducted from the final bill.
Be prepared for no-shows or last minute cancellations within the last two weeks. It happens, people get sick or have emergencies and you can’t hold it against them. The best thing you can do in this case is to ask the kitchen to prepare the extra meals and save them for yourself or your guests for later. I’m sure some of your family or friends might enjoy a round 2 of food!
Evening of the Rehearsal
If you decide to hold a rehearsal onsite the day before the wedding, which we absolutely highly recommend, you’ll be able to run through the whole ceremony processional and recessional, reception entrances and anything else that pertains to the wedding day with your wedding party. This might be their first time at the property so now they’ll know what to expect. A wedding, as much as we don’t like to think of it as one, is a performance. And every performance needs a rehearsal!
On this day, you’ll get to meet your assigned wedding coordinator who will be there to keep the wedding flow, meet with the vendors, help with any set-up and make sure you and your boo are doing okay. They’re essentially the theatre director for the day.
You might not get the coordinator that you’ve been emailing back and forth who is completely familiar with your wedding day vision and needs. Though there were tiny details that may have gotten lost in translation between our main wedding coordinator Sarah and our day coordinator Jean-Christophe, we have to give it to the Azuridge team for seriously keeping up with their reputation of internal communication. At the end of the rehearsal walkthrough, our assigned butler Christofer also ensured our wedding attire was steamed and hung outside of the garment bags before bringing them to our respective rooms the next morning.
The day of the rehearsal is also the perfect time to gather your wedding party for help in setting up for the following day. After we hosted our rehearsal dinner at Azuridge, our bridesmaids, groomsmen and emcee’s assisted us in setting the reception tables with the charger plates we rented, personalized printed menus, place cards, napkin folding, our DIY table decorations and more.
You cannot do this alone! After all, you have a huge day ahead of you. Aim to get as much as you can done on the day prior to your wedding – basically everything except for things that have to go outdoors or in public areas as there are other hotel guests staying overnight.
The Wedding Day & Azuridge Service
I can’t stress this enough: get a good night’s sleep and wake up two hours earlier than you think you need to. As the bride who might need some more time to set up outdoor items the following morning, especially if you didn’t delegate these things, try to get up at 6am (if you have a mid-afternoon ceremony), finalize that checklist and start getting ready. This will give you the time to rest up, relax and eat before the great show starts.
As I mentioned earlier, the Azuridge staff were stellar at their job and would go above and beyond. Jean-Christophe managed to help out the groomsmen with our own DIY systems as well as the vendors dropping off and setting up the goodies. He was a great help carrying massive buckets of ice from the kitchen to the outdoor bar in the gazebo for our bubble tea at the last minute with our friend in the 30-degree heat of summer whilst wearing a suit. And the show ran smoothly from the time that the guests arrived till the end of his shift.
Our butler Christofer handled any small panic I had prior to the ceremony with ease. Though I didn’t need anything except more time, he was there to make sure we (the girls and I and the photographers and videographers) were on schedule. After the ceremony when we were taking family formals, he was there with waters, food and drinks. Every time I took a breath between photos, he had a new plate of food for me and Jason. Seconds later, he had bubble tea drinks for us and water bottles in hand for our family waiting their turn for photos.
After our feet couldn’t take it any longer, Jason and I headed to our suite to rest and there Christofer was, with two whole platters of fresh hors d’œuvres that the kitchen prepared just for us two at no extra cost! He was so en pointe the whole day that our parents couldn’t help praising his work. Both Jean-Christophe and Christofer also got the rest of the servers to help light every single candle in our reception hall so that our wedding party didn’t have to and could enjoy their cocktail hour with the rest of our guests.
After their work day ended around 7pm once all our guests were seated for dinner, we noticed a shift in how the show kept running. A minute occurrence really, but the kitchen had forgotten to take away the cake around the time that the main course was served in order to cut it (it takes 45 minutes at $2 a plate), which delayed our schedule and we had to rush our guests to finish eating before joining us for the first dance in the Opal. The cake slices were definitely not up to par as they rushed the cutting so thankfully Azuridge took off the fee for us in the final bill. And we got to dance as the sun set through the high-ceiling windows.
Apart for the minor hiccups I mentioned, everything went extremely well all things considered and we wouldn’t take back our day for anything. We thought that the cost of the venue and their food was worth the value of everything brought together on our day, and it certainly felt all the more worth it when our guests raved about the venue and the food! Having a wedding place that took care of all our needs, went above and beyond on the day of, made our guests feel even further excitement to be there and left us with amazing memories was all we could ask for.
Even the following morning, the staff put away all of our signage and decor back in their boxes and Christofer took it upon himself to clip all of our centrepiece floral arrangements and place them efficiently on the Topaz bar for our overnight guests to easily pick and take them home. Yet another thing to not worry about!
- Photographers: Ashley Daphne Photography
- Videographers: Stef & Niks
- Florist: Philip Chong Flower Bar
- Wedding cake baker: Gold Box Bakery
- Bubble tea stand vendor: Truedan (Jenjudan) Southcentre Mall
- Hair & makeup artist: Kristen Fong
- Violinist: Jill Lalonde
- DJ & photobooth: Vegas Entertainment
- Bride’s wedding dress: The Bridal Boutique
- Groom’s tuxedo: The Bridal Centre
- Bridesmaid dresses: Dress and Charm