Guide: Planning a cottage wedding

Tips from cottage-country experts on how to make your special day as smooth as possible

By Steve BreartonSteve Brearton

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The cynic who noted the Old English word for travel also meant torment was surely a cottager. The distance from urban centres that makes cottage weddings so enchanting is also a major complication. By road or water, you’re responsible for ensuring provisions, rentals, and guests arrive and depart as smoothly and safely as possible.


For people arriving by car, adequate parking can pose its own problems. Occasionally, cottagers will have to use a distant lot and hire someone to shuttle guests to and from the cottage. But even if you don’t have to do this because you and your neighbours can scrape together the necessary number of spots, don’t forget those with mobility problems (or just inappropriate footwear). Golf carts can be rented for as little as $45 per day and can be dropped off for an additional fee. Sean Beane, owner of Central Cart Services based in Windermere, Ont., says people mostly use them to move guests and heavy objects. But he’s even seen a golf cart used as a carriage for the bride. Drivers must be at least 18 years old. Some hosts will also assign designated parking attendants to jockey cars or direct people to spots.


For guests not comfortable driving on unfamiliar, unlit roads after dark, or for those who indulged in a few too many toasts, it’s wise to provide some sort of shuttle service to get them back to their lodgings at the end of the night.

Yellow school buses are a popular alternative and can accommodate 48 adults. Rates are based on time and distance travelled and, according to Haliburton-based First Student Canada (formerly Laidlaw Transit), fees can be as low as $200 for the day with a driver.


Island and water-access cottages pose special problems, but local marinas are often able to help. Tonia Blenkarn, co-owner of Desmasdon’s Boat Works in Pointe au Baril, Ont., will assist in coordinating all aspects of transportation — from renting boats and barging supplies out to the island, to arranging water taxis for guests. (Desmasdon’s will even decorate their workboat for the occasion.)

But all marinas should be consulted well in advance — especially since weddings typically coincide with their busiest summer weekends. And if you need to ferry a lot of supplies to an island, remember, depending on the cargo, a 20-minute boat ride may take 90 minutes. Also, some commercial vessels require special insurance policies for driving at night, so make sure your marina can also pick up guests who need to leave after dark.

Those with water-only access who’ve invited guests from nearby cottages might also consider renting a barge as a floating dock to park extra boats. As with cars, think about designating a person to shuttle boats to available dock spots.

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