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Looking for a Muskoka wedding that’s steeped in tradition yet big on originality? The Kee to Bala – the legendary concert pavilion that’s presented everyone from Louis Armstrong to the Tragically Hip – is the perfect venue to host guests from far and wide for a wonderful cottage country affair.
For fans of live music, concerts at The Kee are as much a part of a visit to Muskoka as lazing on a dock beside the region’s iconic waters and for over 75 years, fantastic memories have been created by thousands of concert-goers inside the walls of this hallowed hall.
A favoured venue among today’s most popular musicians as well, acts that have performed here include Kim Mitchell, David Wilcox, The Trews, The Arkells, Sam Roberts Band, George Thoroughgood, Snoop Dogg and the late, great Gord Downie with his band mates.
And it’s maybe no surprise that Ontario’s favourite summer concert hall is a place where beautiful relationships begin. After all, who hasn’t danced with a stranger or two beside you while you rock out to the musicians on the elevated stage?
“My husband and I had our first date at The Kee,” says Jenny Ramsay, “and eight years later we had a crazy idea to make it the spot for our wedding. We were thrilled that ours was the first wedding in Kee history!”
What’s maybe more surprising is just how stunning The Kee – home to summer’s greatest rock concert parties – can be.
A Touch of Class in A Classic Hall
Originally known as “Dunn’s Pavilion” and built as a dance hall in 1942 to host big bands, The Kee makes perfect sense for a wedding venue. “It’s bigger than many in Muskoka, so our large guest list was easily accommodated,” says Jenny Ramsay.
In fact, the main floor of The Kee boasts 3000 sq. ft. of space for dinner and dancing, while the stage offers another 800 sq. ft. The main floor can host up to 250 people with a dance floor, or 350 people without. Additionally, the space features up to five operational bars, depending on the size of your guest list.
Situated on Lake Muskoka and with a large deck to take in the view of Bala Bay, weddings here often include arriving by boat, like in a classic “woodie.” Nuptials can be performed indoors or out (with plenty of space on the sun-kissed deck), and when it comes to decorating, the sky’s the limit.
“Wedding parties often embrace the heritage and history of the venue by incorporating concert elements into their special day,” says Mike Strong, owner of The Kee. “We’ve had tables sorted by band names or musical genres, and invites printed on real Kee tickets. It’s fun to bring it all together with these little touches for a truly unique event.”
Besides the hall, Bala, Muskoka lends itself to beautiful wedding photos. From the nearby falls to local parks and landscapes, this picturesque village provides an amazing backdrop to capture the moments you don’t want to forget. And guests from outside the region will definitely want to take a few extra days to explore Bala and surrounding cottage country.
“It’s great for visitors to take in local attractions when they’ve come this far to be at your wedding,” says Strong. Recommended places include Bush’s Watersports Park for a wakeboard or waterskiing session, the Balacade for arcade fun, Clear Lake Brewing Co. close by, the Torrance Barrens Dark Sky Preserve and Hardy Lake Provincial Park Trails for outdoor adventure, and Johnston’s Cranberry Marsh just up the road.
Rehearsal parties can incorporate Dunn’s Coffee Shop into the party (adjacent to The Kee), and exceptional dining can be found at nearby Grand Electric or Turtle Jack’s in Port Carling, or at Bass Lake Roadhouse in Mactier.
Open for special events from late spring to fall, a wedding at The Kee to Bala in any season is a marriage between old Muskoka style and new presentation ideas. And the venue is just the start of a cottage country reception your guests will never forget.
“It was an incredible night,” says Jenny Ramsay of her wedding. “Our friends and family still rave about our party at The Kee.”