We hear a lot about the industries most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic – restaurants, or accommodations, for example. But there is one industry that is often overlooked when it comes to struggling through the COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions for in-person gatherings: weddings.

Temple’s Sugar Bush is a maple syrup production facility and wedding venue operating out of a beautiful timberframe building set in the hardwood forest of a working sugarbush. Each year, Temple’s provides the setting for hundreds of brides and grooms to join together in love and matrimony.

With two stunning outdoor wedding venue spaces to choose between, brides and grooms would typically say their vows outdoors before heading inside for a reception and dinner surrounded by family and friends.

Unfortunately, COVID restrictions introduced strict limits to the number of guests who could attend a wedding (often less than 50, sometimes less than 10) leading many brides and grooms to choose to postpone their events, or search for outdoor alternatives that would allow them to increase numbers.

In search of a solution to continue hosting weddings, Temple’s looked for funding to extend their outdoor patio and create a space where brides and grooms could increase numbers within the limits of public health guidelines. The Ontario’s Highlands Tourism Organization’s (OHTO) Tourism Recovery and Innovation Program (TRIP) – Capital Projects funding was just the program Temple’s was looking for.

TRIP funding provided up to 80 per cent in funds for capital projects to a maximum of $25,000. Temple’s applied for $20,000 to contribute towards an estimated $50,000 to $75,000 for the patio extension.

“We expanded the patio and renovated the gardens,” said Jamie Fortune, Temple’s Sugar Bush owner. “The TRIP funding was helpful because it allowed us to do a lot more work in that year.”

Jamie Fortune

The result was a beautifully landscaped patio space for receptions complete with a bonfire area where brides and grooms and their guests could congregate for a 100 per cent outdoor wedding, from ceremony to reception. 

“The objective was to provide more space outdoors for people and diners and to put a tent there,” said Jamie. “It pretty well transformed this space from a 20-to-30-person spot to a 50-to-100-person spot.”

The newly expanded space provided a base for a tent that could be used for diners during the reception in the event of inclement weather. The increased space allowed for more physical distancing in accordance with the provincial regulations in effect at the time.

Jamie explained that without the outdoor patio many couples may have cancelled their weddings as it wouldn’t have been possible to host their dream ceremony while following regulations provided by the province.

Thanks to the outdoor space, Temple’s was able to host and celebrate the weddings of 40 wedding couples in 2021.

“It was very, very helpful and very well received by people.”

About OHTO’s Tourism Recovery & Innovation Program – Capital Projects Stream

The TRIP-Capital Grants stream is geared specifically to small to medium-sized tourism businesses to offset up to 80% of eligible capital expenses incurred to modify operations to a maximum of $20,000 in non-repayable funding, including expenses incurred back to June 1, 2020.  

For more information about other available OHTO funding programs, please visit comewander.ca/programs.

About FedDev Ontario

For more than 12 years, FedDev Ontario has worked to advance and diversify the southern Ontario economy through funding opportunities and business services that support innovation and growth in Canada’s most populous region. The Agency has delivered impressive results, which can be seen in southern Ontario businesses that are creating innovative technologies, improving their productivity, growing their revenues, and in the economic advancement of communities across the region. Learn more about the Agency’s impact in southern Ontario by exploring Southern Ontario Spotlightpivotal projectsTwitterFacebookInstagram and LinkedIn.