Yesterday (Sunday) we drove up to Cowichan to visit Sun Lotus Guesthouse. It is a venue that hosts wedding ceremonies. The facility hosts your wedding party from Friday morning until Sunday evening. It is all outdoors in a beautiful, serene location. Which is exactly what we are looking for. It's perfect because everything takes place in one beautiful location without having to drive anywhere, which makes the whole day more relaxing and peaceful.
When we first drove up, we were a little skeptical. There was a dilapidated fence, a broken down bus and a front end loader. Rob and I looked at each other with doubt and disappointment. Then Rob said "Let's just look. You never know". Once we explored the grounds and got a feel for the place, we fell in love. It is so perfect.
I love the fact that there are plenty of activities, equipment and toys available for children. There is tenting available for guests, with a very small bunker that sleeps 10 as well as two suites in the main house. There is an 8 person hot tub, and sauna, the pond is clean and swimmable, there is a volleyball net, row boat, and a peacock sanctuary, solar lighting, composting and recycling. This is a short list of the things I love about Sun Lotus. The things that popped into my head first. Before I get to the things that I don't fit for us, here are some pictures, actually a lot of pictures, of what I love about Sun Lotus:
This is a little island in the middle of the pond that the couple can row to after the ceremony to be alone together and share some champagne.
Here is the volleyball net next to the pond
Here is some covering next to the pond with a hammock and some water toys
A view of the couples tipi. This is where the couple can spend their first night together.
A view up at the facility from the pond
The row boat
The private tipi
a view of the island from the tipi
The tipi has it's own private beach. The grass has not yet been mown.
Astroturf! Sorry, but I love astroturf.
Looking up through the top of the tipi
the path from the tipi back to the main grounds
back to the upper grounds
and the trampoline
the kids didn't want to jump on the trampoline until it was time to leave
It's a good thing they are pretty laid back and were okay with us hanging out for a while
Rob patiently waiting:)
The tent is where the reception takes place and incase of rain the ceremony can also take place under the tent
This is the bunker and the front end loader.
plenty of seating for lounging and visiting
We thought this was fun, and happy looking
The Iguana bus, which is available for the couple if it is raining, rather than sleeping in the leaky tipi
Jasper liked the patio.
Okay, so it's pretty right? It may not be everyone's ideal setting, but it is for me. I'm a low key, un-formal kind of gal. I don't like dressing up, or eating in formal settings. I just feel uptight, and that's not how I want to feel on our special day. I want to feel relaxed and peaceful, which is exactly the energy created here. Now comes for part of the package deal that just unfortunately would create a bit of stress for us. I hesitate from saying dislike, because I don't want to paint any sort of negative picture of Sun Lotus. It is beautiful and perfect, but some parts don't fit for us financially, and I will also recognize the fact that this goes for all retreat type venues, not just Sun Lotus.
There are only two options for catering. Their chef can cater the whole event and we would choose the menu at $24 per person, or we can choose to purchase the food ourselves and the chef will cook and assemble everything as well as put the buffet together. Both options we have to pay extra for. We have 3 chefs in our family, so we were hoping to use them to prepare our food and have a potluck style dinner. This is not something we discussed with them while we were there yesterday, because we both drew a blank when it came for the Q&A portion of the tour. We do have questions the we will gather and ask once we can think of more.
We also would have to rent tables and chairs for the dinner, which is not included in the price. Again, this is the case for most venues.
On top of that, purchase a liquor license, alcohol, bartender (actually we would rent the bartender not purchase them) and all the other expenses that come with a wedding. We had thought the price was the price. This seemed reasonable and do-able, but the little extras add up...fast. It's not completely off the table for us, especially because we haven't found anything else like this, and this is ideal for us. As I was loading the pictures, Jude was sitting beside me asking to go back:) We are a little overwhelmed by the cost, and are going to search for venues that may be similar, or maybe even better, work on a fundraising idea so we don't have to feel financially stressed.
All in all this is a beautiful location, that I think would fit perfectly, but we may need to either re-think the style of ceremony we want, or figure out a way to make this work for us financially. Like say we end up with an exchange student this year, we could then afford to save for a venue like this.
If you are in the Vancouver Island area, looking for a venue to host your ceremony and reception, that is kid friendly, eco-friendly, peaceful and beautiful, I would highly recommend booking a viewing at Sun Lotus.
Oh and one more bonus of the location, it is right next to Cowichan River, so you can also go tubing! How fun is that?! Okay I'm done with my little promotional rant. Do let me know if you have discovered a venue like this on the island. I would love to hear about it.