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Wedding venue...HELP!

Hi everyone...I need some help with wedding venue ideas. I'm originally from Buffalo, NY and currently living in NYC. Toronto is one of my favorite cities and my fiancee and I are planning to get married there in either winter or summer 2010 (I know the summer seems far away, but dates are already going fast!). Not being from Tornoto I could use some help finding some additional places to look into. It would be a larger wedding (minimum 220, if there is room slightly over 300). Currently we have a date held at casa loma (hence the 220 number) but I haven't been there in a long time so I will need to see it first. I'd love any reviews on weddings you've been to there. Other ideas we are considering: the Hart House at UT and Capital Events theatre. I would perfer a place that has better than average food (not typical wedding food, but also not anything too "crazy" for the nonfoodies!) and has more of a historical feel. Not a typical banquet hall. And of course 220 is the minimum in size.

Any ideas/imput on the venues I mentioned would be so much appreciated. Thanks!!

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  1. Check out http://www.venuesource.ca/ . Most mainstream venues in Toronto are listed on this website. You might want to check out Steamwhistle brewery, or one of the venues at the Distillery District.

    1. I haven't hosted an event at Casa Loma but I have at Hart House. The venue is nice, but I think the food is lacking.

      I would suggest that you try the Carlu and the Liberty Grand. Both would be able to hold a group of 300 with a sit down dinner and cocktail reception and their selection of caters is good.

      1 Reply
      1. re: JennaBean

        Liberty Grand has the same management company as Casa Loma. But I don't know if the in-house cooking facilities are superior.

      2. One cool place that come to mind is: The Great Hall: http://www.thegreathall.ca/

        The Berkeley Church:


        Or maybe even the Eglinton Cinema:


        1. Haven't been to a wedding here but there is some historical context - Arcadian Court. Lots of room.

          Arcadian Court
          401 Bay St, Toronto, ON M5H, CA

          1. Hi nycbuff...

            The Capitol Event Theatre is a really nice space, but (despite its age) it doesn't have a super-historic feel IMHO. I've only been to drinking events there, so can't comment on the food.

            Have been to the Liberty Grand for a couple of events and it's also a nice space but, to me, it seems to have a wee bit of a banquet hall feel -- perhaps because there are multiple events there at the same time.

            Someone else mentioned the Eglinton Grand. I can't personally comment on it, but you may want to check out this thread, which should probably cause you some concern:


            There are a few options in the Distillery District, which would be a fantastic spot to have it if you want a historic vibe (is is especially great if you have a lot of out of town guests). Archeo's nice, but probably too small for you. The Boiler Room is an option size-wise, but I'm not crazy about the layout for a wedding (we checked it out when we were planning ours). The Fermenting Cellar, however, may be a good bet. You have to bring in your own caterer, so the food would definitely be good (assuming that you choose well!).

            I haven't been to the Carlu, but I've heard it's great (though a bit pricey). You also bring your own caterer there so, as with the Fermenting Cellar, you'd be assured of good food.

            Re; Casa Loma, someone once told me that it's not perperly air conditioned inthe summer, but that was a long time ago, so I have no idea if that's still the case...

            Good luck!

            1. I would pass on Hart House if you want good food. Went to a wedding this summer at Graydon Hall and it was a great spot and food was impressive (not sure how many they can hold). Liberty Grand is nice and the food was very good. Carlu - been there once for a corporate event and pretty nice as well if you like Art Deco. Also have been to a really nice wedding at the Toronto Hunt Club but not sure about holding 200 plus guests.

              1 Reply
              1. re: ksapd

                Toronto Hunt is beautiful and historical but note that you need to have your private event there sponsored and attended by a club member.

              2. I just went to a friend's wedding at Old Mill. The great thing about it too is that it's walking distance to the subway and quite beautiful. My friend chose the cheapest package for everything, so I can't vouche for how wow can you go... they served French style, where they plate the food right in front of you. It was okay, a roast chicken with some roasted vegetables, but it wasn't anything you'd go crazy above.

                  1. re: LemonLauren

                    Estates of Sunnybrook is lovely, but too small for NYCbuff.

                    I went to a wedding at the Old Mill a few years ago, and was surprised at how great the food was. We really enjoyed it, and they even got the beef right (perfectly medium rare for a group of 200) which quite impressed me. I'm pretty sure our friends must have opted for one of the more expensive packages though. Word of warning though -- it does have a touch of a banquet hall vibe (if only because there are multiple weddings all going on at once).

                    1. re: torontofoodiegirl

                      I went to a wedding at Canoe about 3 years ago and the food was the best that I have had at a wedding. They cooked all of the steaks to order and everything was perfect. Also, you can't beat the view.

                      1. re: theresah

                        Canoe is fabulous. sadly, also not big enough (unless it's a coktail party-style wedding).

                        1. re: torontofoodiegirl

                          Toronto Board of Trade does "Canoe" inspired menus on site. In fact they offer many of the Oliver and Bonacini inspired menus (Jump, Canoe, Auberge Du Pommier). That may be a good compromise if the O&B venues lack the capacity but have the food quality you seek.

                          Auberge Du Pommier
                          4150 Yonge Street, Toronto, ON M2P 2C6, CA

                    2. re: LemonLauren

                      I'm getting married at the estates of sunnybrook, and having trouble choosing a red wine. Do you happen to remember which one you served? I tried some of the cheaper ones, and thought they were awful. But don't want to spend more than $50! Thanks!

                    3. For a summer wedding, the RCYC is one of the best locations in the city. It is a private club, but it's not an insurmountable challenge to get a sponsor. The only real issue is that that Ballroom sits 180 for dinner - you can combine with the Ballroom Veranda for a capacity of 250 but not an ideal solution.

                      Food at RCYC is great and a cocktail reception on the side lawn with the sun heading towards the lake is rather hard to beat.

                      The private clubs are a great resource and they're much more approachable and flexible than you'd expect. Besides RCYC and the Toronto Hunt, you should also look into the Boulevard Club and Rosedale Golf Club. Recessions hit the clubs even harder than general venues, and with the members' portfolios being down severely the membership will be pressing for more outside revenues.

                      I'm not a big fan of Casa Loma for events as its a pain to get there and gets chaotic traffic at beginning and ending of events. Liberty Grand is great for huge parties (thousand +) but when running multiple weddings it's not the same. Really haven't been happy with my experiences at the event theatres - just banquet halls in old movie theatres, nothing really special. Plus parking is a serious pain and there can be a horrid wait for cabs after an event on the weekend - they're not exactly in the liveliest areas.

                      For a historic feel there's also the Royal York and King Edward hotels. Their ballrooms are classic and they do great events regardless of season. Much easier to escape upstairs when you want to leave your wedding and incredibly easy for guests to get to.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: preppycuisine

                        I had my wedding at RCYC two years ago and have been to many weddings there as well. It is a great place. Word of warning - it is a yacht club and if you are thinking about this you will want to check if they are hosting a regatta the same weekend. If so - it can be very busy and the activities of the after sailing party can be loud! I would think, like RCYC you would need a sponsor for many of these places like Rosedale Golf Club etc...

                        Also been to a very nice wedding at the Royal York in the Imperial Room and it was a nice venue and good food. Canoe will not work for that number and the set up of the room did not work well in my opnion for a wedding - 2 levels.

                      2. I planned my own wedding (with my mom and one bridesmaid far, far overseas) at the Metropolitian Hotel with the help of their amazing staff. Food was AMAZING , the service was impeccible and the hotel helped me out with just about everything. I've reviewed them elsewhere on CHOW, and I highly recommend you give them a call to see if they suit what you need!

                        1. Hey there - going through the EXACT same process right now. I have a whole list of places we've checked out, with the pros and cons for each. I can email to you if you want.

                          Some notes:
                          *Capitol Theatre - avoid working with Julie ... she's either a drunk or druggie and is incapable of even stringing a sentence together (not the kind of person you want coordinating your big day!)
                          *Hart House - gorgeous especially for a larger wedding (great photo ops). Traditional style.
                          *You can book other venues that just rent space, and get a caterer to do it all for you. This gives you sooo much flexibility with food and drink, and will most likely cost you less in the long run (especially in the booze dept).
                          *Check out the Distillery District (about 10 venues you can choose) - absolutely gorgeous and full of character and history. The ladies who manage the venues are spectacular and down-to-earth.

                          Good luck!

                          1. If I can chime in with my experiences too.... I am getting married at the Liberty Grand in 46 days (!) and when looking, I sent inquiries to all the gorgeous historical places in the city. Many were in the $250 price range, and for 300 people, well, you can do the math. So we narrowed it down to Berkely Church, Palais royale and Liberty Grand.
                            Pros and Cons:

                            Berkeley Church
                            -new chef was the chef at Coca and Chezowski's (sp?), AMAZING food
                            -location dodgy: we witnessed a fistfight breaking out as we left the venue
                            -I loved the historic shabby chic, rustic vintage feel, my fiance felt it was a bit too run down
                            -a bit tight, 250 would be the absolute max, and that would be a squeeze.
                            -you can bring in your own alcohol, which should save money, but with pp costs starting at $120, that actually cost 20% more than the Liberty's price INCLUDING open bar.

                            Palais Royale:
                            -gorgeous room, stunning renovations, spacious yet intimate
                            -stunning lake view, right on the water, there is a large terrace so you can get married right beside the Lake.
                            -costs were pretty high, close to $200 pp.
                            -After seeking feedback here, the results were pretty mixed. Some thought the food good, some thought it mediocre.

                            Liberty Grand:
                            -very historic, ornate feel, gorgeous setting
                            -close to highway access, but close to downtown
                            -I've been to 3 weddings here, and the food is always outstanding, as is the service
                            -we booked in the offseason, so our 6 course dinner, including cocktail reeption, open bar, dessert table came to about $120 pp.

                            The menus are exactly the same at Casa Loma and Liberty Grand: I didn't consider Casa Loma because they would be renovating at the time and weren't able to accomodate us.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: sway

                              I got married at the Liberty Grand in October 2007. Can't say enough good things about the place. Yes, it's true, they do lots of weddings there - but that means that they know what they're doing and know how to handle almost any situation.

                              One great thing about the place is the gorgeous courtyard, if you'd like the ceremony to be outside. We were lucky enough to have fantastic weather so had the ceremony outside, but could have switched that even a couple of hours beforehand. They're that flexible (if you get your foot in the door early enough on your selected date).

                              We were in the Governor's Room, which is the big room. That room is used for larger parties (I think they can fit over 600 people in there if there's no dancing), but for a wedding it was really great. We had 320 people, no problem, massive dance floor, lots of room to move. There were bars at both ends of the room, service was never a problem. The food was really fantastic. We had it set up so that people chose (in advance) whether they wanted beef, fish or veggie. No problem. We had alternating desserts, too (alternating plates of chocolate / fruit). They were really quite flexible.

                              After the ceremony we had a cocktail reception upstairs in the mezzanine; lots of room to mill about. The hors d'oeuvres were great - but like any venue, your guests have to be a bit aggressive sometimes to get what they want.

                              The sweet table was also fantastic. It was more of a sweet / savoury table with lots of cheeses, nothing too over-the-top with crazy sweets. We even substituted a wheel of brie instead of a wedding cake - everybody loved that.

                              Actually, we even really enjoyed the house wines.... for a large party, can't complain. Cheap & cheerful Italian wines. We had thought of upgrading, but after our tasting there really wasn't any point. Really quite good.

                              Can't say enough good things about the place. (Oh yeah, check out the candelabras as centrepieces, too.... very elegant and will save you $$$ on flowers.)

                            2. If you're looking for 'better than average food' and 'a historical feel' then you shoudl for sure look into the distillery district.

                              I was married in the Gibsone Jessop Art Gallery and then had all my guests walk a few hundered metres to the Boiler House. The food was outstanding. Everything was perfect. The pictures of the group walking on the cobblestone with the gas street lamps glowing alongside is a beauty.


                              1. Having been married not too long ago, we looked at Casa Loma for the same reasons you did. However, being fairly young and with a lot of young people at the wedding, when they told us the entire wedding had to be over at 1am (not one person left in the place at 1am or they charge you an extra $500 per 15 minutes), we balked. That meant wrapping things up at 12:30am, which comes very quickly. Maybe things have changed, but that was the biggest reason we choose not to have it at Casa Loma.

                                Not sure if you would be able to watch, but Mark McEwan's show (The Heat) on the food network did a show for a wedding in the distillery--looked really nice!

                                1 Reply
                                1. Hi there,

                                  Not sure if someone else has recommended Palais Royale already but here it is. I've attended a function there recently and really liked the place.


                                  1. Hi everyone I just wanted to report back on my first round of searching. My family lives in Buffalo so we drove up for the day to check out a few venues.

                                    Our first stop was Casa Loma and from the approach it is beautiful. Although the way our gps took us was not the most scenic drive ;o). The place is so pretty when you walk up to it and the inside is as well. The conservatory was under construction but still looked great. I love the patio and how you can see the city from there, I bet thatwould be spectacular at night. My biggest issue was that even at 220 the dance floor would have to be seperate from dining. Also another issue is the time...you cannot begin until 6pm and must end at 1230 ($500 extra for 1am). Between having to slash the guest list and the limited time, Im not sure its worth it
                                    2. Arcadian Court - someone suggested this to me and I decided to swing by...the room was pretty but seemed manufactured. It definitely wasn't for me...and the approach through the woman's underwear department wasn't the best either! Although I did hear that there is a more suitable entrance.
                                    3.Four Season - our parents frequently stay at the Four Seasons when visiting Toronto. The Ballroom was very pretty. They also had a nice space for pre-reception cocktails. I personally have a strange adversion to ballroom carpeting, but it is the Four Seasons. I will say the catering manager has been calling me multiple times a day, so perhaps they are struggling a bit.
                                    4. Windsor Arms - I mostly stopped here to check out the tea room for bridal party tea. But the space for a smaller (150) wedding is so pretty. If only I coul get rind of half my guest list...
                                    5. The Royal York - I was very interested in seeing the Ballroom of the Royal York (the blue room, not the concert hall) especially since there are no carpets. The room itself was amazing, but I couldn't figure out where you would have cocktails? The hallway?
                                    6. Le Meridian Edward - the best of the hotels in my opinion for combination of the outside area for cocktails and the ballroom...which was pretty even with its blue carpet.
                                    7. The Hart House - this was my favorite venue of all. I loved the courtyard for the ceremony, the entry way and patio for cocktails and the great hall which I think with some lighting will look amazing and formal.

                                    Does anyone have any experience with the Hart House? How is it during summer (June) without AC? How late can you stay (we are planning to party, 2 bands and DJ)? I've heard mixed things about the food, any experiences?

                                    I'm planning to go back the first week in April to check another round of venues so please keep the responses coming. I really appreciate all the help...look me up if you need NYC info!!

                                    5 Replies
                                    1. re: nycbuff74

                                      I don't know about the air flow in Hart House, but June in Toronto can definitely be very hot, so bear that in mind.

                                      If you're considering doing the wedding at a hotel, you might want to consider the Park Hyatt (across the street from the Four Seasons). I know people who had their wedding reception there and they were really pleased with it (I didn't go to the wedding, so can't personally comment). I recall them mentioning that it was really reasonable for what they got. An added bonus is the amazing Stillwater Spa and the lovely rooftop lounge/bar.

                                      1. re: nycbuff74

                                        I've done a June event at Hart House and it was very hot. Now granted it was a daytime event, but nonetheless for some of the guests it was too much. We had two items show up on all of our post-event feedback forms - the rooms were too hot and the food wasn't so hot - not refering to temp but taste.

                                        1. re: nycbuff74

                                          sounds like a good start! i haven't been to hart house but have heard from many who have that, like many of the old buildings in toronto, it is HOT in the summertime. so, i'd be very careful about that, personally.

                                          i have attended weddings/functions at:

                                          old mill - beautiful. the one weirdness about it is that it has multiple weddings going on. everyone has a seperate ballroom of course, but most parties will choose to do photos outside. so, when you are out in the garden, there are wedding parties left and right! (obviously, i was in the wedding party). to me, i wouldn't like that for my wedding...there is something unspecial about it in a very small way (this is my own, irrational opinion). the food was very good. a wee bit better than average, but nothing crazy exciting.

                                          i also have been to palais royale, which is what i immediately thought of when i read your post. you MUST check this place out - especially if you want a lot of people! it's perfect! i think it even has a 200 person minimum requiement, so, testament to the size of the space (huge). the decor is not your typical wedding banquet hall either. it's very interesting, with this old, jazz theme going on. with grand accents, but not tacky. the food is good (i liked it). it was a wee bit more adventerous (this was a recent event and we were served this tasty pan seared chicken with this cranberry and walnut stuffing and an heirloom tomato and bocc salad and the desert was the highlight: (trio) creme brulee, chocolate spoon and almond tart) but still translatable to the less adventerous. this is a must see.

                                          the eglinton grand is basically really expensive and i have heard bad things about the wedding coordinator staff. the space is nice, the idea cute, but there are better options.

                                          casa loma is not the best idea. i won't explain since you seem to have figuerd this out on your visit!

                                          i think that's as far as i can comment. everywhere else i have been is too small to hold your party.

                                          good luck with your search!

                                          1. re: nycbuff74

                                            To start with, friends raved about their wedding at Casa Loma and highly recommended it to us. They actually liked the separate room layout and felt it wasn't a problem. The catering is the same as the Liberty Grand, and the food is always phenomenal. Other friends have gotten married at Hart House, and she told me that she wouldn't recommend it, the food at her wedding was unmememorable at best.

                                            I've been to/organized events at Arcadian Court, Windsor Arms, Royal York and King Edward.

                                            The Arcadian Court is pretty, especially at night. I attended a university formal, and organized a company party there. The staff were great to work with, but the food was mediocre to bad.
                                            The Windsor Arms food was very good, and lots of people mentioned it was the best meal of any company party we've ever had. Of course, it is too small, so as much as I would have loved it, I didn't consider it for my wedding either.

                                            Royal York: Don't even bother. Definitely a decline in food quantity from the 3 events I attended 10 years ago to the 2 events I attended more recently. In fact, the last time, the entree was roast chicken, and I was the last person served, about 15 minutes after the rest of my table. It looked like they ran out of entrees, because my chicken came pan fried! Not impressed, although the dessert was good. The cocktails are served in the entrance area outside the ballroom, as you guessed.

                                            One of my best friends got married at the King Edward, and I worked on a conference there. Food is excellent, it's a gorgeous venue for a wedding (as long as you get the Vanity Fair ballroom, not the one in the basement. It was one of the prettiest weddings I've ever attended.

                                            1. re: nycbuff74

                                              Did you end up booking with Hart house? My fiance and I are thinking of booking the place too for our wedding in august...but we are just a bit concern about the quality of food....Pls advise! Thanks!

                                            2. My top picks would be the Baillie Court at the AGO http://www.ago.net/special_events/ , the ROM http://www.rom.on.ca/dining_shopping/... , and the Carlu.

                                              1. Hi Nycbuff,
                                                I am also planning my wedding for summer of 2010, and I have looked at/got quotes from many of these places. My guest count is 150

                                                1st. What is your budget, because some of these places are going to cost you, your first born
                                                Gaydon Hall: it only holds about 200, and you wouldn't have a dance floor, it would have to be moved after dinner. It is going to run you around 50-60,000 dollars

                                                Liberty Grand: We were just there this weekend, and we had the worst service ever! I would never book my wedding there. The guy didn't really care to show us around, he seemed to be bothered by us being there, and there were other events going on, so it was kinda hard to get the whole picture.

                                                Palais Royale: This is one of our top choices, but they are pretty much booked solid on weekends, so hope you don't mind a Friday or Sunday. The place was looking a little dirty, I am not going to lie, the carpet was stained and torn, and the chairs had stains on them. They were setting up for another event so maybe it was just because of this that the place looked run down. It is a really pretty spot, and there are some awesome qualities, so I am willing to over look some things. We are looking at a quote of about 30,000 (food, open bar, all that jazz)

                                                Capitol Events: this is my Fianc├ęs top choice. We had a great experience touring this venue, and Julia was super nice and VERY enthusiastic about her job and the venue she runs. She followed through with her promise to send a quote today. The food is suppose to be amazing! Its run by FLOW restaurant in Yorkville. You get to pick 2-3 dishes (salad, entree, and desert) and they come around to each table and take orders, so all the food is made fresh to order. There is however, no free parking. There is a city of TO lot right out back, but to get it for your event you have to contact the City of Toronto and purchase vouchers for your guests. (We are looking around 30,000 also)

                                                Fermenting Cellar: VERY expensive, at least 50,000 (furniture, catering, lighting) the space is cobble stone and the walls are rough cement and there are a lot of pillars that break up the space. During the day it looks like crap. Be prepared to spend. The events coordinator told us most weddings start at 45,000

                                                ROM: Also expensive, starts around $250/person
                                                AGO: Also expensive, starts around $250/person

                                                1. I know NYCbuff (Original post) has probably found their venue, but in case other couples are looking around Toronto, I literally researched 51 venues for our wedding in November 2010. We chose The Great Hall (which someone mentioned earlier) and the process so far has been AMAZING. The service you get with the exclusive caterer (On The Move Catering) has been fantastic. We're in quoting and budget phase (hall already signed and booked) and OTM has been extremely accomodating and by far the easiest caterer I've had to work with.

                                                  Great Hall is a gorgeous venue if you're considering it. They just repainted and renovated the hall so it looks even better than when we originally saw it. The place is classic and elegant and really reasonable considering the costs of downtown venues that are centrally located. Highly recommend this venue for anyone looking for a wedding location. Ceremony and reception for us will all be on site for about 120-140 guests.

                                                  I'm just starting our wedding website but if you wanted to check out The Great Hall or other venues ideas in the GTA, please visit our site. http://aliceanddaniel.ca

                                                  Great Hall
                                                  1087 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M6J, CA