A wedding fit for Queen’s

Locations on Queen’s campus are sought-after venues for wedding ceremonies and receptions

Jesse and Margaret Fumerston outside Summerhill on their wedding day in 2007.
Jesse and Margaret Fumerston outside Summerhill on their wedding day in 2007.
Credit: 
Supplied
Queen’s Chaplain Brian Yealland says most weddings used to take place in the chapel at Theological Hall but are now held primarily in the University Club and JDUC.
Queen’s Chaplain Brian Yealland says most weddings used to take place in the chapel at Theological Hall but are now held primarily in the University Club and JDUC.
Credit: 
Supplied
Queen’s Event Services provides catering for wedding receptions on campus.
Queen’s Event Services provides catering for wedding receptions on campus.
Credit: 
Supplied

Forget federal elections and the end of Oprah—these days it seems like popular culture is dominated by weddings.

Whether it’s the continued fixation on Will and Kate’s royal union or the wedding fever apparent in the cinematic gold that is Bridesmaids, our culture’s fascination with wedded bliss is undeniable.

Students can even find two people uniting around the corner from a residence, class or favourite study spot.

Choosing a wedding venue is no easy task and Stephen Murano, co-owner of Bridal Creations in downtown Kingston, said several things could interest a couple to wed at Queen’s.

“Reputation is very key,” Murano said. “Couples that had any affiliation with Queen’s would love to hold a wedding there for not only sentimental reasons but for overall ambiance.”

Murano said he attended a particularly memorable wedding reception held at Ban Righ Hall on April 30.

“It was one of the nicest ones I’ve ever been to,” he said. “There was good food and a great band and it was in a nice setting on a perfect day.”

Queen’s proximity to downtown Kingston’s restaurants and hotels is a plus for couples with out-of-town guests, Murano said.

In addition to atmosphere and location, couples need to consider a few other factors when choosing a venue.

“Quality of food is important as well as price of alcohol and how much time you will be allowed inside the hall prior to the wedding to decorate,” he said.

There’s been a departure from traditional denominational weddings both at Queen’s and at other venues, Murano said.

“There aren’t as many cookie cutter weddings,” he said. “Everybody is doing something unique.”

To provide couples with the option of a ceremony closer to home, Queen’s has offered wedding services for the past 10 years, said Jennifer Pete, manager of Queen’s Event Services.

The university is available for weddings from May to August, Pete said.

“We generally hold 8 to 12 receptions per summer, some with ceremonies on campus,” Pete told the Journal via email.  Couples are usually alumni or family of Queen’s staff—mostly in their 20s and 30s.

The outdoor courtyard behind Ban Righ Hall is the popular location for ceremonies because wedding guests can retreat into the hall if it rains, Pete said.

Other popular campus venues include Grant Hall, the Agnes Etherington Art Centre and the University Club.

Summerhill’s white stairs overlooking a picturesque lawn remains an especially popular spot for photos.

The cost of a Queen’s wedding can range from $10,000 to $25,000, depending on the services requested by the couple. Costs can include room rental and set-up and food and beverage charges. Queen’s Event Services organizes catering but doesn’t book bands or photographers.

University Chaplain Brian Yealland said there’s been a decrease in the number of weddings he officiates at Queen’s and in the larger Kingston community.

“[It’s] mostly because there are many other people who are licensed to do weddings these days,” he said. “Fewer people are in the churches … looking for a minister or religious official.”

Yealland said he officiates between 10 and 20 weddings a year, most of which occur on Queen’s campus.

“I do occasionally officiate at a ceremony arranged by Events Services but usually that is not the case,” Yealland said, adding that some alumni ask him to officiate their wedding. “For some people I am their minister as chaplain, so they ask me.”

Why then do couples choose a university campus instead of a hotel or banquet hall for their wedding and reception?

While it’s clear that people are coming to Queen’s to get married, Yealland said there’s a change in the types of weddings that are happening at Queen’s. Most weddings used to take place in the School of Religion’s chapel, but have now moved primarily to the University Club, Donald Gordon Centre and JDUC.

For the ceremonies that Yealland officiates, religion often doesn’t play a big role.

“I do have a fairly modern Christian ceremony I use with people who want that,” he said, adding that he also officiates for interfaith and same-sex couples. “I also have an entirely secular ceremony for people who are not religious but want a nice ceremony that has a spiritual feel to it.

“I am pretty modern and open minded.”

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