Weddings 2012 Planning Guide: Venues

Weddings 2012 Planning Guide: Venues
Weddings 2012 Planning Guide: Venues (Malaparte)

ART GALLERY OF ONTARIO For a truly magnificent celebration, Frank Gehry’s transformed AGO offers an awe-inspiring event space. On the third floor of the south tower, the 7,200-square-foot Baillie Court affords panoramic city views on one end and overlooks the gallery’s iconic spiral staircase on the other. Designed in modern glass and Douglas fir, the room can be divided as needed and seats up to 300. Executive chef Anne Yarymowich works with couples on customized menus ($65–$90 per person for a three-course meal), and a small army of professional event staff ensures the experience is as effortless as it is unique. Baillie Court rental from $5,500, including a one-year membership to the AGO for the newlyweds. Walker Court is available to rent outside of gallery hours for $1,500, in conjunction with a reception in Baillie Court. 317 Dundas St. W. (at McCaul St.), 416-979-6634.

ARTSCAPE WYCHWOOD BARNS An inspiring product of urban renewal, this series of long-abandoned TTC streetcar-repair buildings reopened in late 2008 as Wychwood Barns, a mixed-use community of artists’ residences, urban agriculture, non-profit groups and an event space. With exposed brick, concrete floors and 22-foot ceilings, the skylit Covered Street Barn holds legitimate claim to the industrial chic label. The nearly 8,000-square-foot hall accommodates up to 400 people for dinner. All events must end by 10 p.m. Sunday to Wednesday or by 11 p.m. Thursday to Saturday, since people live on the site. $2,000–$3,500 per day. Use in-house catering ($32–$45 per person) or choose from a preferred list. 601 Christie St. (at Benson Ave.), 416-653-3520.


Weddings 2012 Planning Guide: Venues (Berkeley Church)

Built in 1871, the Berkeley Church did religious duties for nearly a century but is now a charming special events spot with lofty ceilings, original stained glass windows and hardwood floors. The main-floor Yorktown Room has two gas fireplaces and a 500-square-foot stage; the mezzanine is bordered by antique railings on one side and stained glass all around. The 50-seat Circa Room has a wine cellar and fireplaces. Together, the two can seat 400. Next door, the Field House (which hosts 150) leads out to a patio near a stream. $1,500$2,100 per day Monday to Tuesday, $2,800$3,400 per day Wednesday to Friday, $3,500$4,100 Saturday, $2,400$3,400 Sunday. Catering in-house; rates vary. 315 Queen St. E. (at Berkeley St.), 416-361-9666.

THE BURROUGHES BUILDING Using draping, chandeliers, theatre lighting and a wide range of furnishings, couples have transformed the century-old building to feel as modern as a Wallpaper magazine interior design spread or as old-fashioned as an Edwardian sitting room. The third and sixth floors ($4,500 and $5,500, respectively) both have stunning hardwood floors and can each hold 450 for cocktails and 260 for a seated dinner. The sixth floor offers access to a rooftop bar and features the original building’s former exterior wall, complete with the old furniture company’s retro signage. Renting the rooftop costs $1,500 for the evening and offers unobstructed skyline views (holds 100 standing). 639 Queen St. W. (at Bathurst), 416-360-5757.

CAMBRIDGE MILL After a $10-million restoration, this boulder-and-beam gristmill on the Grand River, erected in 1842, was relaunched in 2011 as a romantic full-service wedding facility. In-house services include the use of three event rooms (one outdoors), bridal suites and personal valets. Three event rooms and many smaller rooms (with such features as waterfall views, solarium patios and stone hearths, accommodate 20 to 240 guests. Extras, including transportation, flowers, music, cakes and photography, can all be booked on-site. Catering features chef Brad Lomanto’s farm-to-table cuisine. Sit-down dinners $75–$150 per person. 130 Water St. N., Cambridge, 519-624-1828.

CANOE Guests can dine on Canoe’s award-winning contemporary Canadian cuisine while surveying the impressive view from the 54th floor of the TD Bank Tower. Two private dining rooms (seating 24 and 40, though they can be combined to accommodate 64, are available during the week, and the entire 140-seat restaurant can be rented out on weekends. Floor-to-ceiling windows offer views of Union Station, the CN Tower and the lake. Room rental included with minimum food and beverage order (wedding package includes tasting for two). Full restaurant rental from $12,000. 66 Wellington St. W. (at Bay), 416-364-1211.

THE CARLU A breathtaking example of art moderne, the seventh-floor space at the top of the former Eaton’s College Street store was designed by one of the style’s masters, French architect Jacques Carlu. The look is ’30s glam, from the Lalique fountain in the Round Room to the ebony and bird’s-eye maple in the auditorium. The airy lobby opens onto a 1,200-seat concert hall that can accommodate 1,500 for cocktails or 600 for dinner. $1,100–$5,500 per room, or $15,000 for full-floor rental. Choose from five preferred caterers: dinner from $60 per person. 444 Yonge St. (at College), 7th flr., 416-597-1931.

DESIGN EXCHANGE Built in 1937 for the Toronto Stock Exchange, the site now houses a design museum and hosts weddings, parties, fundraisers and events. The key attraction is the former trading floor ($3,600), which holds 500 standing. Graced with 40‑foot ceilings, the glamorous room features marble wainscotting, vintage fluorescent lights and eight murals by the Canadian master Charles Comfort. Also available: a large space that can serve as a bridal dressing room. Choose from six approved caterers. 234 Bay St. (at King St. W.), 416-216-2140.

DISTILLERY DISTRICT When the Gooderham and Worts distillery was revamped in 2003, Toronto not only got a new historic attraction—an amazingly well-preserved example of Victorian industrial architecture—but also a popular party venue. Built in 1859, the Fermenting Cellar is a fine example of what the venue offers, with plenty of windows (it’s not actually a cellar), rustic stone walls, original wood trusses and high, beamed ceilings. Popular with everyone from celebrities and brides to bar mitzvah organizers and corporate types, the 12,000-square-foot space holds up to 600 people for cocktails and 400 for dinner. Prices vary, but there is no charge for customers who use in-house caterers, Stonehouse Catering. It’s booked up to a year and a half in advance. 55 Mill St. (at Trinity St.), 416-203-2363.

THE DOCTOR’S HOUSE This Kleinburg legend is an appropriate site for a cozy gathering with family and friends. There are a slew of dining rooms: the large restaurant converts into a 200-seat space, and the Heritage Room seats 140 for dinner. The veranda and Doctor’s Study are smaller options. Some of the spaces are graced with worn oak floors, candelabras, beamed ceilings and fireplaces; all are sun-filled and breezy. An exquisite little candlelit chapel, which is white as a wedding cake and complete with a working bell in the steeple, can seat 140 people. The lush grounds are crying out for wedding pictures. Room rental included with catered dinner; wedding packages start at $125 per person, including a dedicated event planner. 21 Nashville Rd., Kleinburg, 905-893-1615.


Weddings 2012 Planning Guide: Venues (The Drake Hotel)

Wired in more ways than one, this adrenalin-fuelled Queen Street hot spot is not exactly your classic wedding venue—unless you’re a rock star. One L.A. couple had their ceremony in the club-like Underground bar, a reception in the lounge, dinner in the elegant main-floor restaurant and nightcaps in the Sky Yard (the rooftop patio). With its Rorschach-print walls and deconstructed stools, the lounge has a sensual vibe; the Corner Café Bistro holds 35 for dinner and up to 80 for cocktails. The Underground can play almost any role you like; it morphs from club to theatre to party zone. There are dedicated bars in each of the main areas, as well as digital projection, wireless Internet and other audiovisual services. Room rental and event planning services included with minimum in-house catering fee; rates vary. 1150 Queen St. W. (at Beaconsfield Ave.), 416-531-5042, ext. 244.

EDWARD DAY GALLERY Tucked away in the courtyard beside MOCCA and steps from Trinity Bellwoods Park, the Edward Day Gallery is not just a contemporary art sanctuary but also an exceptional wedding venue. The soaring ceilings and open gallery space transform to accommodate up to 300 guests for cocktail receptions or 120 for a seated meal. The charming outdoor courtyard, dotted with sculptures, is also available to rent and makes a lovely backdrop for photos or a peaceful place to step out and have a drink. Rental rates from $2,500–$4,500. 952 Queen St. W. (at Shaw St.), Ste. 200, 416-921-6540.

THE EGLINTON GRAND Built as the flagship movie house for Famous Players in the ’30s, this theatre still oozes old-time Hollywood glamour. The opulent exterior, complete with the original marquee, is a far cry from your average banquet hall. The interior is an art deco beauty; many of the original design elements, such as the coffered ceiling in the main lobby, have been faithfully preserved. The mezzanine, built for balcony seating and available with the rental of the main space, has been recast as a swank cocktail area for 250. One level down, the ballroom (which can host dinners for 400 or cocktails for 800) evokes the romance of the silver screen. The stunning gallery can also be rented separately for wedding ceremonies. Food and open-bar package from $95 per person (includes rental charge for parties of more than 175 guests). Catering in-house; kosher cuisine available. 400 Eglinton Ave. W. (at Avenue Rd.), 416-485‑5900.

ESTATES OF SUNNYBROOK These two recently restored Georgian-style mansions sit on 40 acres of manicured countryside in north Toronto. The Gatsby-esque grounds are spectacular: English-style gardens at McLean House are fairy tale perfect, while couples who marry at the Vaughan Estate have the option of doing so in The Arbor, a leafy-treed grove. Interior spaces include the Vaughan Estate’s stately main ballroom (200 standing, 150 seated), the more modern courtyard ballroom below (175 standing, 140 seated), the self-contained McLean House (120 standing, 70 seated), as well as the petite coach house (60 standing, 40 seated). Individual estimates are available upon request. Catering is done in-house; dinner buffet from $45 per person; à la carte and international options available. 2075 Bayview Ave. (at Blythwood Rd.), 416-487-3841.

EVERGREEN BRICK WORKS The former brick-making quarry has been transformed into a vibrant community centre where everyone, from the high-society yoga mom to the University of Toronto urban planning student to the eco-minded bride and groom, feels at home. Four spaces on-site are suitable for weddings. The Holcim Gallery ($4,500) offers seasonally available covered outdoor spaces with views of the surrounding gardens. They accommodate up to 600 and 450 for dining, respectively (or 1,200 for cocktails if your mother-in-law wants to invite the whole neighbourhood), while the BMO Atrium ($3,000) provides year-round facilities for smaller affairs of up to 200. Koerner Gardens, an open-concept building with native plants in warmer months and a skating trail in winter, can also be rented ($1,500) for up to 330. Green is more than a colour scheme here: all six approved caterers—Belong Catering, En Ville Event Design and Catering, 10tation Event Catering, Presidential Gourmet Fine Catering, Jamie Kennedy Event Catering and Daniel et Daniel Event Creation and Catering—meet strict sustainability guidelines. Hotel partners are all Green Leaf certified through Tourism Toronto. 550 Bayview Ave. (at Pottery Rd.), 416-596-1495, ext. 329.

THE FACULTY CLUB, UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO Old-time Toronto charm permeates each of the Faculty Club’s six unique rooms. The Fairley Lounge (which holds up to 20 people), for example, is lined with paintings by the Group of Seven—it’s a popular place for a receiving line. The main dining hall (up to 150 people) is a Wedgwood blue space with oak floors and white cornice mouldings—a Juliet balcony jutting into the high-ceilinged space makes for a truly dramatic bouquet toss. No two rooms have the same feel: some are more casual (the basement pub), and others are sun-filled (the Primrose). All catering is done by the in-house chef. Whole-venue bookings start at $2,000 for non-club members and $1,000 for club members. Room-by-room bookings range from $150 to $500. 41 Willcocks St. (at Spadina), 416-978-6325.

THE FAIRMONT ROYAL YORK The Royal York is a favourite destination for establishment weddings. The Imperial Room can hold 575 for cocktails and 250 for dinner with a dance floor. The ballroom (590 for cocktails, 250 for dinner) has an eye-catching ceiling, with a fresco of clouds and a chariot, suspended above 25-foot windows and hardwood floors. The concert hall holds 1,085 for cocktails or 450 for dinner, while the Canadian Room can accommodate 1,670 for cocktails or 1,000 for dinner. There is no rental fee if a minimum food and beverage charge is reached. Hotel packages can include a bridal suite with breakfast in bed. Catering in-house (although kosher cuisine is outsourced). 100 Front St. W. (at Bay), 416-368-2511, ext. 2657.

FOUR SEASONS HOTEL For 50 years, the second-floor Regency Ballroom at the Four Seasons has been the haute hotel setting for glamorous Toronto soirées. In March 2012, however, the room, along with the entire Avenue Road building, will be decommissioned. But brides in need of a massive ballroom (the kind that can easily host over 200 people), will find what they are looking for in the newer, larger, more modern Four Seasons a mere 400 meters away, on Yorkville Ave. (it’s still under construction, but is already taking inquiries for the 2012 fall wedding season). The two marquee ballrooms (the smaller one can seat 250, the larger one 430), designed by famed design firm Yabu Pushelberg (One, Bymark), are clean-lined and sleek, with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the trees of Forest Hill. The Czech crystal chandeliers, which look a bit like an elegant rain shower, add some razzle-dazzle to the space. Catering in-house. Prices to be determined. 60 Yorkville Ave. (at Bay), 416-964-0411.


Weddings 2012 Planning Guide: Venues (The Gardiner Museum)

The KPMB-designed Gardiner is a modernist prism of limestone and glass. The light-filled lobby is ideal for receptions, and early arrivals can peruse the ceramics, glass, wood and textiles in the gift shop. The third floor is for the main event. Jamie Kennedy tailors a seasonal sit-down menu for up to 150 guests, cocktails for 250. The room’s outer walls are glass, with knockout vistas of the Royal Ontario Museum and U of T’s Victoria College. Drinks can be served on one of two terraces, and galleries can remain open for guests when the lobby and terrace are booked. Rates vary. Catering in-house: $35 per person for a buffet; $44 for a sit-down dinner. 111 Queen’s Park (at Bloor St. W.), 416-362-1957.


Weddings 2012 Planning Guide: Venues (Gladstone Hotel)

Toronto’s oldest continuously operating hotel, this Victorian landmark is also the city’s funkiest. The guest rooms have been redone by local and Canadian artists and designers; the public rooms mix historic grandeur with street cred and are natural settings for an artsy do. The grandest of the three public spaces is the 2,000-square-foot ballroom, with exposed brick walls, pine flooring, a high ceiling and Victorian windows. The Art Bar, a smaller venue for more intimate events, such as a post-wedding brunch, can accommodate up to 28. On the second floor, the hotel’s wide hallways provide an exhibition space that doubles as a reception area, with 14-foot ceilings and a balcony overlooking Queen Street. The two-storey Tower Suite is perfect for bridal party preparation. Approximately $2,500 per space. Catering in-house: buffet dinner from $37 per person; sit-down rates vary. 1214 Queen St. W. (at Gladstone Ave.), 416-531-4635, ext. 7121.

GRAYDON HALL MANOR Partying in this venue is like being in a Merchant Ivory film. English country gardens, stone terraces and flowing fountains transport guests from Don Mills to a veritable Sissinghurst. Built in 1936 for financier Rupert Bain and owned by just one other family until the mid-’60s, the manor got a facelift 11 years ago and opened as an event facility. Private receptions have access to eight fireplaces, a library, dining room and conservatory. Luxuries include silk, damask and peau de soie linens, Rosenthal china, crystal stemware and use of a bridal boudoir and groom’s room. Entire facility $3,000–$10,000 per day, daytime rental (10 a.m.–3 p.m.) from $1,000. Catering by Couture Cuisine: cocktails from $30 per person, dinner from $60. 185 Graydon Hall Dr. (at Don Mills Rd.), 416-449-5432.

HART HOUSE Few places are as magical as the Hart House quad in summer. With its ivy-covered grey stone walls, raised flagstone patio and baronial Great Hall, it feels a bit like an outdoor church or a nobleman’s private park. A slice of Oxford in downtown Toronto, this splendid example of late Gothic Revival has rooms of leaded windows, creaking wood floors, vaulted ceilings, Gothic arches and fabulous Canadian art (check out the extensive Group of Seven collection). The quad and Great Hall (which together hold up to 280 with a dance floor) are popular sites for weddings, as is the tiny non-denominational chapel. The on-site restaurant, the Gallery Grill, is also available for smaller celebrations. Great Hall and quad $2,900. Catering in-house: dinner from $50 per person. 7 Hart House Cir. (at Queen’s Park Cres.), 416-978-2449.

LE MERIDIEN KING EDWARD For grand fairy-tale weddings, the King Edward—Toronto’s oldest luxury hotel, in business for more than a century—is one of the city’s most popular venues. But keep in mind that romance knows no budget: a function in the Vanity Fair Ballroom (wedding packages start at $175 per person), a favourite of socialites, doesn’t come cheap. Nevertheless, the room plays the part beautifully, with flawless wedding cake decor, including gold curtains, teardrop chandeliers and faux marble pillars. The ambience—silver trays and French service— is pure class. All told, the ballroom and reception areas can hold up to 290 people for a sit-down affair or 500 for a stand-up one (including a dance floor). The Sovereign Ballroom (400 for cocktails, 180 for dinner) is a light-filled, photo-friendly space with lovely full-length windows. Rates vary. Catering in-house, unless there are kosher requirements. 37 King St. E. (at Yonge), 416-863-3233.

LIBERTY GRAND The Grand’s three gleaming, beaux arts–style ballrooms are notable for their crystal chandeliers, soaring 27-foot ceilings, iron-laced balconies and arched windows. The Governor’s Room hosts grand affairs (800–1,200 for cocktails, 400–800 seated); the Centennial and Renaissance rooms each accommodate 700 for cocktails, 350 seated. The upper mezzanine features rooms that can be used as bridal suites or hospitality rooms. Decor is decadent: mahogany ballroom chairs upholstered in luxurious fabrics, large tables set with Royal Doulton china and silverware. The Artifacts Room holds up to 1,800 for cocktails or 450 for dinner and has extensive audiovisual equipment. Kosher and vegetarian meals are available. Venue rental included with minimum food and beverage order; bridal suite included. Catering in-house by chefs Daniel Ponte and Michael Ewing; rates vary. Exhibition Place, 25 British Columbia Rd. (at Lake Shore Blvd. W.), 416-542-3789.

MALAPARTE Oliver and Bonacini’s endeavour on the sixth floor of the TIFF Bell Lightbox is a clean-lined, modern room (150 seated, 200 for a standing cocktail reception) with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking King West. An adjoining rooftop terrace and band-ready outdoor amphitheatre are ideal for those who want to celebrate with a bumping downtown party. As expected from O&B, both the in-house event planning and cuisine (which includes Japanese, French and Spanish options) are masterly. From $2,000 to $4,000 with a minimum food and beverage spend of between $3,000 and $14,000. 350 King St. W. (at John St.), 416-364-1211, ext. 4.

MCMICHAEL CANADIAN ART COLLECTION Surrounded by 100 acres of parkland, this Group of Seven landmark provides secluded serenity. Most couples choose to be married on the isolated outcrop known as Hilltop and hold their reception indoors, either in the Grand Hall, with its rock walls and wood-beamed cathedral ceiling, or in the smaller restaurant and terrace that overlook the Humber River valley. The hall seats 220 people, the restaurant about 100. Another option is the Founders’ Lounge, which can seat 40 and looks out onto the canopy of the Humber River forest. For a small fee, you can arrange to have the galleries remain open for private viewing. Hilltop $600, Founders’ Lounge $750, galleries $500, McMichael Restaurant $1,000 (includes use of terrace), Grand Hall $1,500 per night. Catering in-house by Gourmet Cuisine; vegetarian, vegan, kosher, Indian and gluten-free menus available. 10365 Islington Ave., Kleinburg, 905-893-1121, ext. 2536.

METROPOLITAN HOTEL One of the Met’s catering packages (billed simply as the best of both worlds) combines wizardry from Hemispheres executive chef Raymond Cheung and Lai Wah Heen chef Ronny Lam. Although the menu features such Chinese delicacies as abalone and suckling pig, Cheung can also cook up more traditional Western fare. The Mandarin Ballroom (seats 300) is decidedly modern, featuring blond wood, mirrors instead of windows and colourful glass wall decorations. Other options include the Toronto Ballroom (seats up to 200). Room rental included in catering fee. Western-style five-course dinner from $152 per person or Chinese-style 12-course dinner from $98 per person (with reception, wine and beverages, starting at approximately $130). Bridal suite with breakfast in bed included; special room rates available for guests. 108 Chestnut St. (at Dundas), 416-597-6320.

NEUBACHER SHOR CONTEMPORARY Located off an unassuming Parkdale alley, this warehouse turned contemporary art gallery has clean white walls, but retains the character of the original building, with rough brickwork, buffed concrete floors and a 16-foot wood-beamed ceiling. Movable partitions make the 3,000-square-foot space (250 standing, 150 seated) malleable to individual visions. The gallery is curated by owners and art experts Manny Neubacher and partner Anya Shor; guests can leave up the current art show or remove it and create their own projections and installations. The space is $2,000 Sunday to Wednesday, $2,500 Thursday through Saturday. The preferred caterer is Eatertainment, with outside catering also permitted. Couples also have the cost-saving option of providing their own alcohol. 5 Brock St. (at Queen), 647-933-0193.

THE OLD MILL INN AND SPA Nestled on the edge of the Humber River, this Tudor-style mansion is the epitome of Anglo tradition. The timbered walls and wood-beamed ceilings evoke old England, while flower gardens and waterfalls provide a photogenic backdrop. Almost 600 couples get hitched every year in the Old Mill’s 120-seat private chapel, a brick and stained glass building based on a 16th-century model; receptions are held in one of 15 function rooms that each hold anywhere from eight to 800 people; four of the rooms—the Guildhall (up to 300 for cocktails, 200 for dinner), Garden (80 for cocktails, 54 for dinner), Kingsbrook (60 for cocktails, 50 for dinner) and Drawing (50 for reception, 36 for dinner)—open onto private patios or gardens. Each room offers a unique look. Outdoor weddings can be held in the garden ($975) any day except Saturday. Wedding packages, including catering, $93–$130 per person. 21 Old Mill Rd. (at Bloor), 416-236-2641.

ONE KING WEST Although it was fully renovated in 2005, One King, built in 1914, retains its classic architectural magnificence with the original marble bank deposit tables and an impressive 40-tonne vault in the basement (it’s the kind of space that’s perfect for photo-ops). The Grand Banking Hall (500 standing, 250 seated) is a guaranteed showstopper, with 35-foot ceilings, a 100-foot bar, floor-to-ceiling cathedral windows, Corinthian columns and a meticulously restored carved relief ceiling. Guests can also opt for one of five other heritage spaces, including the wood-panelled Chairman’s Boardroom (40 seated, 80 standing) or the 2,000-square-foot Austin Gallery (100 seated, 150 standing) with overlooking balcony. Packages from $130 to $170 per person. Catering in-house; plated dinners from $46 to $70 per person, buffet dinner $57 per person. 1 King St. W. (at Yonge), 416-548-8100.

ONTARIO HERITAGE CENTRE Built in 1909 by architect George Gouinlock and carefully restored, this beaux arts beauty retains its Edwardian charm and dignity. The former banking hall, now known as the Gallery, seats up to 120 and feels like a grand ballroom. With its high ceilings, gilt details, marble staircase and three chandeliers, it could double as a set for My Fair Lady. (Cinderella Man and other movies have been shot here.) One of the last manually operated elevators in the city delivers guests from the first to the second floor and the Birkbeck Room, which looks onto Adelaide Street through oak-trimmed Romanesque windows. The room is often used for wedding ceremonies and receptions. A small, oak-panelled boardroom suits private dinners and bridal prep. A private entrance (8 Adelaide St.) leads into the Gallery. $250–$1,950. Choose from five preferred caterers. 8 and 10 Adelaide St. E. (at Yonge), 416-314-4914.

ONTARIO SCIENCE CENTRE It doesn’t host a lot of weddings, but Raymond Moriyama’s celebrated design may appeal to couples with a soft spot for the wonderland of their youth. Various spaces are available—most of which have spectacular views of the Don Valley’s trees—but only after hours, meaning events typically don’t start before 6 p.m. The Great Hall accommodates parties of 300 to 600 and features an outdoor terrace, floor-to-ceiling windows and a sculpture by David Rokeby. Weddings start at $5,000. Choose from seven approved caterers. 770 Don Mills Rd. (at Eglinton), 416-696-4606.

PALAIS ROYALE BALLROOM In its heyday, the Palais Royale hosted such greats as Count Basie and Duke Ellington. It was built in 1922 as a boathouse; a 2005 renovation retained the dance hall’s art deco charm. The immaculately restored, sun-filled grand ballroom can accommodate 100 to 350 people for a sit-down dinner or 800 for cocktails, with a full dance floor. A 4,000- square-foot lake-facing patio provides a romantic setting for summer vows. All catering is done on-site by executive chef Steffan Howard, with primarily local ingredients. Menus can be customized and offer multicultural options. Wedding packages (including space rental and food) are $160 per person. 1601 Lake Shore Blvd. W., 416-533-3553.

PARK HYATT TORONTO The 18th-floor Roof Salon offers an unparalleled view of the downtown skyline in an old-world setting. Wedding packages include individually printed menus, a complimentary honeymoon suite for the bride and groom, special room rates for guests and a deluxe open bar, as well as hors d’oeuvre and dinner options. The luxe hotel also makes its boardrooms (up to 285 people) and Queen’s Park Ballroom (600 for cocktails, 370 for dinner; 285 with dance floor) available for functions. There is a kosher kitchen on-site. Catering in-house. Wedding packages from $189 per person. 4 Avenue Rd. (at Bloor), 416-926-2383.

PAVILION ROYALE Specializing in customized events, the Pavilion caters to nearly any budget or taste. The Starlight Ballroom owes its name to the enormous cathedral skylight over the dance floor and hosts 450 for dinner and dancing or 650 for cocktail receptions. The Courtyard Ballroom, with its lower ceilings and two glass atriums (250 for dinner and dancing, 350 for cocktails), offers distinct celebratory options: relax and enjoy classic Continental fare served on classic Royal Doulton china and white floor-length linens or strut your stuff on the dance floor. Standard chairs are Queen Anne cherrywood. In January 2012, the name will be changing to Grande Metropolitan of Mississauga. Room rental included with in-house catering fee: $66–$81 per person; dietary restrictions accommodated. 5165 Dixie Rd., Mississauga, 905-624-4009, ext. 21.

THE RECTORY CAFÉ It takes some careful planning to hold a reception at the picturesque Rectory on Ward’s Island, but the quiet charm of the former reverend’s residence, surrounded by trees, rewards the effort of couples looking to escape the city without much travel. Fifteen minutes from downtown by ferry, the popular lakeside patio seats up to 130 and, for the right price, will close to the public for special events. The restaurant itself holds 50, and a smaller, semi-private lakeside bar is available for more intimate groups of 20 to 30. Prices range from $250 to $2,000, depending on the day of the week and the time of year. Catering done exclusively in-house. 102 Lakeshore Ave., Ward’s Island, 416-203-2152.

THE ROYAL CONSERVATORY OF MUSIC The newly renovated Royal Conservatory of Music offers the kind of stunning architectural backdrop that was unheard of in the city a decade ago, which is perhaps why it is quickly becoming one of the most popular wedding venues. Three levels of beautiful gallerias, which serve as the Koerner Hall lobbies on concert evenings, are connected by a floating staircase and offer breathtaking views of Philosopher’s Walk ($2,000 for lower level, $1,200 for middle, $1,000 for top). The lower level—with limestone floors and access to an outdoor patio— is the largest of the three, accommodating up to 350 for cocktail receptions and 200 for a seated dinner (or 150 with a dance floor). Rooms cannot be redecorated quickly, so those wishing to have both ceremony and reception on-site may have to book two levels. Choose from seven exclusive caterers: 10tation; Presidential Gourmet; Á La Carte Kitchen; Couture Cuisine; Marigolds and Onions; Daniel et Daniel; and North 44°. The venue also houses the Glenn Gould School, so you can have a young musical prodigy wow the guests at your event. 273 Bloor St. W. (at Bedford Rd.), 416-408-2824, ext. 500.

ROYAL ONTARIO MUSEUM In addition to c5 restaurant, which has a dinner capacity of 100, the ROM offers eight gallery spaces and reception rooms that can accommodate dinner parties from 50 to 500 guests. You can, for example, dine among the dinosaurs in the Temerity Galleries, housed in the futuristic Michael Lee-Chin Crystal, or marvel at Ming tombs in the Gallery of Chinese Artifacts. Many spaces include additional artifact galleries for private touring. Ceremonies can be held in the intimate rooftop solarium, the Glass Room. Chef Corbin Tomaszeski oversees globally inspired menus. $750–$30,000. 100 Queen’s Park (at Bloor), 416-586-5572.

SUNNYSIDE PAVILION A relic of the old Sunnyside Amusement Park, this former bathing pavilion now draws couples seeking waterside nuptials. The lake is the unquestionable draw here, and two open-air Mediterranean-themed banquet areas are available for ceremony and reception, each seating up to 250 for dinner. The Corinthian-columned ground-level courtyard features botanical gardens and a fountain, while the covered upper observation terrace offers stunning water views. Seasonal (May to September). $2,500 for courtyard or terrace. Catering done in-house (barbecue, buffet and sit-down meals $30–$60 per person), or bring in your own caterer. 1755 Lake Shore Blvd. W., 416-531-2233.

THE THOMPSON HOTEL One of Toronto’s newest places to tie the knot offers sleek, retro-modern spaces for couples who want New York–style opulence tempered with the laid-back attitude of L.A. The two most impressive—the Rooftop Lounge (200 for cocktails) and the Lobby Bar (400 for cocktails)—offer views of the Toronto skyline, one 360 degrees and stunningly real, the other playfully hand painted on a grand scale by Spanish artist Javier Mariscal. The Wellington Ballroom (200 for dinner)—where a lingerie model pillow fight broke out during the hotel’s June 2010 opening party—features striking hand-blown glass chandeliers and dark, natural wood interiors. Rental fees start at $2,500 or are included with a minimum food and beverage rate. Packages are available, including a honeymoon suite with chocolate-dipped strawberries and breakfast in bed—familiar romantic elements that contrast with the hotel’s otherwise cool, masculine modernism. 550 Wellington St. W. (at Bathurst), 416-640-7778.

TORONTO BOTANICAL GARDEN Following a $5-million reno, the formerly dingy TBG has a new lease on life. The two main event halls are closely tied to nature. The 3,300-square-foot Floral Hall overlooks a courtyard filled with seasonal flowers and bordered by a water curtain. The lobby, with its soaring glass walls, leads to the TBG’s innovative gardens—no need to have your reception and take photos in different places. The smaller Garden Hall (designed by Raymond Moriyama in the ’50s) opens onto a garden of rhododendrons and Japanese maples. And you won’t risk running into other posing newlyweds: wedding parties need a permit to take pictures on the grounds. Garden Hall $1,000–$1,200, Floral Hall $2,000–$3,000; rates for lobby vary. Choose from 10 preferred caterers; $5 corkage fee. Free parking. 777 Lawrence Ave. E. (at Leslie), 416-397-1349.

TOULÀ The 38th floor of the Westin’s lakeside outpost has a 360-degree view of the city, harbour and islands. The food is normally Venetian and Mediterranean, but the special event packages (from approximately $60 per person) are flexible. A menu might include risotto and beef carpaccio or veal saltimbocca and minestrone soup. The space holds 220 for dinner or 400 for cocktails. Room rental included with a minimum food order. Rates vary. Westin Harbour Castle, 1 Harbour Sq. (at Queens Quay W.), 416-777-2002.

(Image: The Berkeley Heritage Event Venue: Johnny Lam)

(Images: The Drake Hotel, The Gardiner Museum: Joseph & Jaime)

(Image: Gladstone Hotel: Mango Studios)


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