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Suggestions for a restaurant wedding

Having combed through the many wedding-related posts on Chowhound, without much success, can I appeal to you all for help?

I am looking for a venue either in Toronto or somewhere west of Toronto (as far as Brantford, let's say), where I can host 70-80 people for a nice dinner in celebration of a wedding. This will not be your typical wedding: there will be no bouquet, bridesmaids, dancing, long speeches, wedding cake, garter events, etc, etc. We will likely have a ceremony beforehand i.e. not at the venue. It should be comfortable, and the food should be great. We are willing to spend 100-200 a head, but with everything included (tax, tip, drinks, etc.).

We have looked at Niagara On The Lake, briefly, but found that even a nice meal at a restaurant (a Ravine restaurant buy-out, for example) means paying a premium for a "wedding" menu (which is essentially the same as the regular menu), a 5,000 set-up fee (for setting what up, exactly, I'm nots sure), and a separate bar package instead of payment based on consumption--basically, all of the commotion we were hoping to avoid by "sacrificing" a dance floor, and all the pageantry.

As we are at the brink of resorting to elopement, your help would be much appreciated. So far, we've looked at Le Select and George. Geore is outside of our budget. Le Select is great--we are looking for other similar suggestions so that we can make a choice. If you have any idea of the "buyout" of your suggestion, that would be helpful to know.

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  1. Not sure if it's what you're looking for, but Via Norte can probably do it, and their chef is really talented. It's at college and dovercourt, so parking could be an issue though.

    1. I have been to weddings at Canoe, La Maquette and Archeo and Academy for Spherical Arts. Weddings were not conventional and very similar to what you envision. I am pretty sure that Archeo, and Academy drinks were just billed. I might recommend that you also think about places you really like and see if you can do a buy out. I know when we were getting married we had considered Auberge du Pommier as a potential venue so this is not uncommon. Good luck! Report back!

      2 Replies
        1. re: Apple

          All good suggestions but from my experience both Canoe and Auberge will be out of the budget. George is the other venue that is on par in terms of offerings but also budget.

        2. I had my wedding at La Maquette (even had the ceremony there). Following from their website:

          Weddings and family celebrations

          All Special Events
          from 10 - 150 people
          Special Wedding Packages
          and group menus
          call Direct 416 366 8191 ask for the event specialist

          1. A few more places to look at - Crush Wine Bar on King West, Biagio on King East, Joy Bistro on Queen East.

            Just a note regarding Apple's post - Academy of Spherical Arts closed at the end of 2012.

            1 Reply
            1. re: midtowngirl

              We had about 100 people for our casual wedding party in the upstairs room at Joy, and loved it (food and location). It wasn't formal but I'm sure they could do something with the room downstairs also if you're looking for a sit down dinner as I don't think they could seat 80 people upstairs.

            2. You could consider these options (narrowed to TO, Halton, Peel and Southern ON, 51-100 guests):

              Out of the options listed on Opentable, I'd probably consider Volos, Little Anthony's, Crush, possibly one of the Terroni's. I went to a wedding reception at Rosewater, and it was quite a nice space, and the food was decent. You could also look into places like Luma and Biff's.

              I think your idea of Le Select is a good one.

              1. About a year and a half ago, I went to an anniversary dinner for about 100 people. It was held at Pangaea and though it was relatively low key, it was done quite nicely. Looking at George and Le Select pricing, I believe Pangaea is less than George but more than Le Select. I do not know if there is a 'buy out' requirement but from my experience, I would suggest it is an option to look into. The group dinner menus range from 55 to 75 (without wine or tax).

                1. I know that Momofuku Daisho does private events, and that room is pretty spectacular.

                  1. I would take a look at Caffino at King and Dufferin in the Liberty Village area. I was married last year and though we ended up somewhere else we were very close to using them. The food I tried was very good and the package price was reasonable. The people I dealt with were really professional also.

                    1. I had contacted Le Select for a restaurant buyout of 120 people. To my surprise, they had the capacity to hold us. To my greater surprise, there was a $4000 room rental fee, not including an addition $400 for set-up and $400 to use the Jardin. Has this been anyone else's experience?

                      We are looking for a restaurant precisely so we can avoid needing to pay for a room rental in addition to everything else.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: kittyfantastico

                        I think the room rental fee is only $400, but there is a minimum expenditure which can easily surpass $4000 for that many people.

                        1. re: ukers

                          Spoke to the lady again to clarify. There is no rental fee if you're booking the private rooms but if you're buying out the restaurant you must have a minimum of 100 guests and pay an addition $4000 rental fee, plus $400 set-up fee. Also, gratuity is 220 per server.

                          1. re: kittyfantastico

                            Thanks for the update! Apologies, I read your post wrong, I didn't realize you were buying out the restaurant for the event. I suppose they would need to account for the various customer numbers and seatings for that timeframe and include that in the equation for a buy out. Pretty hefty amount though.

                      2. We did the very casual wedding dinner that you describe at Le Select. Ours was fewer than 30 people even. We didn't say that it was for a wedding. (Just a celebration dinner. Had the ceremony at city hall!) We picked one of the set menus (there were lots of options within each, and the food has always been consistently good for us) and picked some of the hors d'oeuvres before dinner. We didn't do wedding cake as their desserts are great. I'm not sure what the cost is now, but we opted for the corkage option at $18/bottle (bringing our own champagne, red and white wines) and guests were able to order whatever other drinks they wanted from the menu. You have to pay more for servers for the event and they were totally spot on with service - gracious, never over bearing, and the timing of everything was absolutely perfect. Absolutely a professional crew. Everyone told us that the food was great, the atmosphere was fun and relaxed. The space was great for mixing before dinner with drinks and finger foods. After dinner, people sat and chatted into the night. Congrats in advance!

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: ukers

                          Hi Ukers,
                          quick question - you paid $18 / bottle for corkage - is that typical? The reason I ask is because the restaurant I am looking at is insisting we pay normal restaurant prices for the wine (starting at $48 per bottle), which seems unreasonable to me. They will not allow us to bring outside wine in for a corkage fee. Just curious what the norm is. Thanks!

                          1. re: nicolabeeTO

                            It's entirely the restaurant's choice as to whether to allow wine (with or without corkage). There are some licensing hoops to jump through ONCE - when they have a permit it's good for the term of the regular license (it's a free endorsement to their regular licence).
                            They're in business to make a profit (among other things) so it's entirely up to them and your ability to negotiate. Your option is to walk away.

                            1. re: nicolabeeTO

                              Yes, it's totally up to the restaurant as estufarian says. Some Chinese restaurants have no corkage fee at all (you just have to check/negotiate with them) and I've heard of corkage for up to $50 or maybe more. We thought under $20 was reasonable, considering the selection of wine under $50 was limited and we had champagne that would have cost considerably more if we bought off their list. I also think that their reason for not being able to negotiate the price for wine bottles is unreal.

                              1. re: ukers

                                Thanks, that's helpful. I was just really wanting to understand what the norm is in this situation.

                          2. I would recommend the Ancaster Mill since you mentioned something as far west as Brantford.


                            1. I've never been here but a friend had her wedding at the George Brown College restaurant. She said the students were servers too, and there was 1 server for every 2-3 guests. It was 6 years ago though so I have no idea of the size of the room etc.

                              1. Hi InToronto, I came across your query as I am planning a very similar wedding for myself and my fiance in Toronto, October 2014. We plan on having about 80 guests.

                                We want to have it in a restaurant. We are thinking of it as a dinner party where we happen to get married (the ceremony will not be a big part at all).

                                I have spoken to the restaurant where we really want to have our wedding. The manager quoted me $110 per person for a very nice menu, wine and beer in addition to that. The wine list she sent to me averages about 60-70 dollars per bottle (same as what all customers pay when they dine there). She said they could lose their liquor license if they give us a break on the wine.

                                My question: Is it typical for restaurants to offer the same wine menu (and prices) for a wedding party? I feel like we are getting gouged, but I'm not sure what the status quo is.

                                Where did you end up booking your wedding? Any thoughts would be appreciated!

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: nicolabeeTO

                                  The liquor liscence excuse is bull. Pardon my language, but it is. Did you ask if they could order some wines not on your list? I know at Mildreds temple kitchen they bring these in for weddings and such. The only rules on a liquor liscence is you must charge a minimum amount per pour, if it's a buy out then the "happy hour law" wouldn't apply.

                                  1. re: LexiFirefly

                                    Thanks LexiFirefly. I have asked if we can order wines not on their wine menu, and I'll see what they say. If they are not willing to accommodate we'll have to find another venue - can't pay $48+ per bottle for 80 guests!

                                    1. re: nicolabeeTO

                                      There is another option. Opt out of the drinking culture.
                                      Besides, the wine that you are likely to get at the price that you want to pay is likely to be pretty pissy anyway. Put the money that you save into the food. The food will be remembered (hopefully, and for good reasons but see CH thread http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/903115. )The booze will just be a ritual nothing.
                                      Do it your way. You are the one getting married.

                                      1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi

                                        My friends would disown me if I didn't serve wine/beer at any gathering mind you a wedding.

                                        Aside from my friends, I do a lot of event planning and unless it is for religious reasons, I always suggests that beverages be offered, even if in a limited way do to budget considerations.

                                  2. re: nicolabeeTO

                                    Yes the not offering the alcohol at a lower price because they could lose her liquor license is a big bunch of bull, lol. There used to be a restaurant on Wellesley that priced all wines at five dollars above cost for years. Also there are number of Toronto restaurants that have half-price wine nights. They only told you that crap because it sounded good, but it's simply totally and unequivocally untrue. The only thing the liquor regulations prohibit is selling alcohol at a loss, which is why we don't have the kind of happy hours they have in the US with their low prices.