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Monday, January 6, 2014

Our Top 10 Unique Wedding Venues - Toronto

During my seven-year career as a DJ, I had the chance to work and attend 400+ weddings all over Toronto and the GTA. I'm always paying close attention to the food, service and how well I am treated (even as a staff member - these are the people who will sing your praises). A few of them stand out in mind, so I'm sharing my most favourite and unique wedding venues in Toronto as an industry-insider:

Photo Credit - Pink Pearl Images, Toronto
1) Steam Whistle Brewery - Host your wedding in the historic roundhouse with features like exposed wood beams, warm red brick, huge windows with views of the city skyline and 30-foot ceilings. It's the opposite of a sterile window-less banquet hall. Best part? Fresh Steam Whistle on tap! Guests can take tours of the brewery during cocktail hour or hang on the huge, newly renovated back patio. The gallery space (bar) can be rented for cocktail hour and there's even a classic photo booth on-site. It's one of our favourite venues in the city. AV works with a built-in house system - you bring the band of DJ. Choice of exclusive caterers, event furniture/decor would have to be brought in.


2) The Berkeley Field House - The clean white space can be left minimal or jazzed up with as much decor as you want. Think South Beach interior, big greenhouse windows, a lovely garden patio and outdoor tent option. Even comes with its very own treehouse and eclectic dressing room for the wedding party. I once attended a family-style Thanksgiving wedding here and the food was phenomenal. The chef is extremely flexible and open to ideas - no rubber chicken or typical steak and potatoes here.

3) The Berkeley Church - The old church has been converted into an event venue and is more edgy than the Field House next door. The space has a large stage (perfect for a live band), exposed cement walls, stained glass windows and a mezzanine upstairs to host your ceremony or cocktail hour. If you're thinking cocktail reception, this would be an excellent space as well. Lots of capacity here for a large wedding.


Photo Credit
4) Casa Loma - We love all the different spaces available for use in this castle-like mansion. Host your ceremony in the gorgeous glass conservatory, move into the great hall (with 60-foot ceilings) for cocktails and then into the library for dinner. The picturesque gardens make for great pictures and guests will love lounging on the expansive patio too. The catering is done exclusively by Pegasus Group and I've been to four weddings here. The food is consistent and excellent. The staff are on the ball and even connected over headsets to execute the service of meals perfectly. Book in the late spring or early fall here, the space is not air-conditioned.

5) The Royal Conservatory of Music - Your guests will feel like they are in a floating glass box in the trees in the newly-built The Leslie and Anna Dan Galleries inside the RCM Telus Centre on Bloor Street. Floor-to-ceiling glass windows overlook the quiet Philosopher's Walk. The Upper-Level Gallery or the Conservatory Theatre can be rented for the ceremony. Bring your own caterer & furniture/decor - exclusive suppliers list.

6) Palais Royale - If you're set on having your wedding on the water, the 4,000 square foot, two-tiered patio at Palais Royale is the best in the city. This 86 year-old dance hall has undergone a major restoration with an art deco vibe, stage and a dance floor to host regular Big Band Dances. The bartenders are trained in flare and will even set the bar on fire!

7) Enoch Turner Schoolhouse - Interestingly enough, the majority of weddings that I have attended here have been for teachers. This charming little schoolhouse even has a working classroom, where you can host your ceremony. Choice of exclusive caterers and furniture would have to be brought in. Bonus: you can stock your own bar from the LCBO by purchasing a Special Occasion Permit. Huge savings here.

8) St. Lawrence Hall - This hidden gem is a city-owned property and the old town hall/event space sits on the third floor of this historic building. Think gold accents, an ornamental ceiling, gas-lit chandeliers all in a crazy pink room. The pictures don't always do it justice, you have to see it in-person. Bonus: Gold Chivari Chairs are included in the rental price. Saves you $10/piece in rental fees. Bring in your own caterer and furniture. You can even stock your own bar with an SOP.

9) The Distillery District - Lots of interesting spaces here including restaurants, art galleries and cafes that can be rented for an event. We recommend that you check out The Fermenting Cellar, Archeo, Balzac's, Arta Gallery, The Boiler House and The Thompson Landry Co-operage Gallery.

10) The Gardiner Museum - Catering is done in-house by Chef Jamie Kennedy and it is hands-down one of the best wedding meals I have ever had. Do the late-night french fry cones, you will not regret it. It's a modern minimalist space with lots of natural light and a view of Queen's Park.

Last but not least, book early. The typical engagement period is 18 months with prime Saturdays being snapped up as soon as you say YES!  Don't forget to feed your staff members (DJ, photographer, wedding planner) - it's awkward and tacky if you don't.

Congratulations on your engagement!


Where was the *best* wedding you've ever been to?





23 comments:

  1. Mine! Seriously. Had it at the Berkeley Church with great eats and live music up the ying yang. I wish I was a guest at mine.

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    1. So how much are we talking for the Berkeley Church??

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  2. Nice list! Definitely love The Berkeley, and Gardiner Museum. I would add the Design Exchange to the list as it is a spectacular venue:)

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  3. Great list! I so wish that this had been up a year ago when we were looking for unique venues. Better late than never, though! We're getting married at the Evergreen Brick Works in the summer, which I think should also be added to this list.

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  4. This is a great list!

    I had my wedding at Canoe (Oliver & Bonacini)! Lots of people think it's only a restaurant but you can actually book it for special events. It's unique because it's such an intimate space and on the 54th floor of the TD Tower, almost everyone gets a window seat and can see the beautiful sunset over the skyline and waterfront. Plus the food + service is top notch!

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  5. I was actually thinking of the Brickworks myself and I heard that they are open for private events/venue rentals. Do let us know how it is!

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  6. I heard that photography on the indoor of the Brickworks premises is prohibited? External shots only? Which could be a problem of course for wedding venue and photo opps. Am I incorrect??

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  7. I haven't looked into this, but with most private venues (U of T for example) you need to apply for a photography permit which is most likely available for around $150 in order to shoot. Ask your wedding photographer as he/she will know for sure.

    However if you are hosting a wedding at the venue, I am sure they will let you shoot photos there no problem.

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    1. You need a permit even if your Wedding takes place in The Distillery. Carry your permit on the day as security WILL ask to see it!

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  8. Fabulous overview of some of the great chicest wedding venues...I would aso add the Fermenting Cellar in Toronto as yet another posh spot to have a stylish wedding...

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  9. A spot-on list of some of the cities best, from a true professional with style. From a DJ perspective, these are certainly some of the most fun to work in as well. If the list include a couple more entries, I'm sure you would have added The Carlu for it's classy vibe, The Panorama for the best view in the city, and George Restaurant for being one of the cities best hidden gems. www.flohback.com

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  11. Hey There!

    January is a pretty busy month for engagements and we thought it would be helpful to repost this list from last year. Since we're all still on vacation until Monday, we often re-blog to showcase a few of our older articles that are still relevant today. Also Wendy and I both have other jobs and it's tough for us to create new articles everyday, so sometimes a repost is in order.

    Thanks again for reading :)

    Lisa

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  12. I did mine at the blackforest garden centre, with bonfire catering food truck, a giant bouncy castle for the kids, frank Ryan as the musician and a 3 tier rice Krispy cake. Spaces are hard to come by, so it's always fun to do something unique and affordable.

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    1. was this the blackforest centre in Aurora?

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  14. Wow, these are great!

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  16. Anyone familiar with the Heintzman House? It's pretty unique and well suited for those interested in a smaller wedding on a budget. I believe it's one of the oldest homes/estates in the GTA...Not on the scale of Casa Loma but worth checking out if Victorian charm appeals to you. :)

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  18. Couples getting married in Toronto are so fortunate. There are countless venue options, suitable for every budget and all tastes. I would add One King West, Toronto Botanical Garden, Graydon Hall Manor and The Estates of Sunnybrook to this list.

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  19. Those are great places. Definitely stunning! I think The Royal Conservatory of Music is perfect.

    I love how you describe it as "feel like they are in a floating glass box in the trees." I am excited to see it and attend a wedding held there.

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  20. Check out the toronto's hottest new event venue York Mills Gallery www.yorkmillsgallery.com
    Grand Opening August 1, 2014

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