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A glowing review re: my wedding banquet at Lai Wah Heen.

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Hello Chowers!
I started a string regarding places for Chinese Wedding banquets in Toronto and I figured I should do a follow up. I got married about two weeks ago and after looking and getting my fellow chowhound's advice, we my now-hubby and I decided to have our wedding banquet at the Metropolitan Hotel, catered by Lai Wah Heen. We had about 80 guests, and the menu we chose came to just under $130/pp. This is not the most inexpensive place to have a banquet, but I felt like it was all money well spent.

Our menu actually was very nice in that it included dim sum for canapes during our cocktail hour, a full 8 course dinner and a dessert table. It was a lot of food of course, but what was nice was that we had the option of doing away the sharkfin - which we REALLY felt like was a waste of money - and the whole steamed fish- which might have scared some of our guests. The proper alternatives were offered, no questions asked, and the changes was made to the menu. We also had some guests that had dietary restrictions, and again, changes were made for those guests- even our Buddhist vegetarian was accommodated for with minimal effort on our part.. The food was superb and our guests are still ranting about that, two weeks on.

But what we found most impressive was really the service the hotel provided - namely Wendy in the catering department. She was friendly, knowledgeable and most importantly (and I am SO not kidding about this), she knew how to deal with my mom. My mom is a fairly picky individual who knew what she was looking for and what she wanted. Wendy patiently dealt with her, listened, made suggestions and made my mom feel like she was an integral part of the wedding (and she was!!) over Dim Sum in (and On!) Lai Wah Heen... twice. The process made my mom comfortable and for a bride who was planning this wedding by herself (the bridesmaid is in Hong Kong and in fact, so is the mom) this is a huge weight off my shoulders. Wendy was also knowledgeable enough to conduct the Tea Ceremony, help us out with the rundowns and kept me informed about what's going on throughout the whole process and the evening of the banquet. Her estimates when it came to the alcohol and the total cost was almost dead on. She's worth her weight in gold, and she came with the hotel for free!!!

Also included in the banquet was the use of one of their suites on the day of the wedding and the wedding night. It solved many logistical problems and provided a great place for the post party!

So, if anyone's considering Lai Wah Heen for a banquet - I would recommend looking at other places first and seeing if they suit your needs, but for what we paid, the Metropolitan and Lai Wah Heen is a great value if you are looking for amazing food and stellar service that only a hotel could provide.

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  1. About 2 years ago, I was fortunate enough to be a guest at my husband's friend's wedding dinner at Lai Wah Heen. I was totally blown away by the experience - the food was exceptional and the impeccable service had great flourish. It was a traditional Chinese banquet and I, a non-Chinese, was probably the most excited guest there. I'm not surprised that your guests are still giddy about it 2 weeks on - it's been 2 years for me and I still have vivid memories! Congratulations on your wedding.

    2 Replies
    1. re: peppermint pate

      Agreed with peppermint pate. I attended my cousin's wedding at the Metropolitan. It was the best wedding I've ever been to (and I've been to A LOT). My family is still raving about it....it's been 5 years. The food was AMAZING even though we were about 1.5 hours off schedule.

      1. re: peppermint pate

        Ditto to what peppermint pate and leelei said.

        My own cousin's wedding a couple of years ago was modest (in numbers) by conventional standards but the couple sure are not. I've been to countless receptions and this was the best in my experience. Everything was top shelf and whatever the dollar amount in the end it was money well spent. On a day when people expect things done just right, it was the case.

        As an example, the one thing that stood out for me was the tea. It was the hotel's house jasmine but of all the tea that I've ever drank, this was sublime. I'm no tea expert but when I had the first cup I thought of all the adjectives used when describing tea (aroma, essence, bouquet, etc) and I thought 'this is what it should be like' which sums up the reception.

      2. If you don't mind me asking, did that $130 include drinks? I've got a relative looking at places now, and for personal reasons I would like to suggest Lai Wah Heen. Selfish, I know, but it sounds great.

        5 Replies
        1. re: grandgourmand

          The $130/pp did not include drinks, I'm afraid. But for the party we booked they threw in 80 glasses of non-alcoholic drinks for the party. About a third of my guests were Chinese, so they didn't consume too much alcohol, and there's another third that weren't heavy drinkers. We kept the alcohol consumption under control by not offering liquors and the top top shelf Spirits like VSOP. The only thing I felt was a little expensive was the corkage for the wine... I paid $36 for a bottle of Pelee Island Sav Blanc that I can get at the LCBO for about $9. In the end, we were quite surprised at how in control the drinks bill was!!
          SO, i'll say it again... Highly recommended!! I hope your relative gives it a shot!

          1. re: oracle347

            Congrats on your wedding - it sounds amazing! And your posts are super helpful too. My fiance and I are also interested in booking LWH for our wedding. Do you mind if I ask if your $130/pp included taxes and gratuity? And do you have any other suggestions on how to save a buck or two at the venue? We have a fairly big guestlist too (250+) so any way we can stretch our budget would be great. Thanks!

            1. re: puccigucci

              Hi Pucci!
              I'm afraid the $130 quote did not include the taxes and gratuity. But what WAS included that I know other places charged for were things like the hall rental, the linens, Chair covers, all sorts of other rentals, The bridal suite (huge bonus! Trust me!), great staff and of course, really great food. I would say if you're trying to save a buck here or there it would be on the bar bill. You have options of what kind of liquor you'd want to serve. We chose to serve only beer, wine, and your basic bar brand alcohol, with none of the top shelf liquors avaliable to our guest.
              I'll say it again :) The Most Valuable Service that comes with the Hotel is most definately Wendy. I would say call and talk with her- she should be able to help you on the budget side too!
              Good Luck!

              1. re: oracle347

                Hi oracle347, I'm also looking at LWH for my wedding reception, and the estimates I received were similar to yours. One thing I'm not sure about is ceremony location / photo location. DId you do these at the hotel? Do you have any suggestions on nearby places that would be good?

                1. re: boopie

                  I actually had my ceremony inside the ballroom, after everyone was seated for the banquet. My hubby and I actually just had a non-dimentional minister marry us, so there was no need for a seperate venue. It saved us a little time and money :)
                  As for the pictures, we had originally planned for pics at the ROM, but we ran out of thim and just did them in Nathan Phillips Square. They people at LWH also suggested maybe the Textile museum, and of course, you're literally around the corner from Old Osgoode Hall and the new Opear House. :) Very Toronto-Centric choices. Good luck!! Tell us what you chose!!