Welcome to ElopeToronto.com!

Welcome to ElopeToronto.com! We conduct simple, meaningful, 'civil' (non-religious, non-denominational, or secular) humanist weddings in Toronto. The ceremonies are similar to a 'city hall' wedding, or one conducted by a 'Justice of the Peace". We also provide simple legal weddings for couples planning a destination wedding. Mary is licensed as a Marriage Officiant by the Registrar General of Ontario, and the Ontario Humanist Society
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Tuesday

Soltice Winter Wedding in the Beaches by moonlight

First, a candlelit wedding at Kew Beach pavilion - just a few of us, standing in a circle in the cold, and watching the moon.  Then we went to Sauvignon Bistro on Queen Street East to sign the license and drink champagne.  (They have a private room at the back, which could probably be used for a small simple wedding. There were 12 of us.)
Then I went home and set the alarm and we got up at 3am for the Solstice Eclipse - and the meteor shower!! Happy Winter Solstice to all.

Monday

Civil Weddings in Italy - my vacation shot

Just returned from our (45th) wedding anniversary trip to Venice and Verona (hurrah!) I did some touring of Civil Marriage chambers - include this wonderful Municipal wedding room in Verona, near 'Juliet's tomb' (which isn't 'hers', of course). I love renaissance domestic frescoes - what a pretty place for a wedding!

Saturday

Parks, Forestry and Recreation : Permits - Wedding Ceremonies and Photography

Parks, Forestry and Recreation : Permits - Wedding Ceremonies and Photography
Here is a new web page for booking Toronto Parks for weddings and events. (Note all the typos, my goodness!)
* Application Start Date:Apply for your 2011 wedding permit beginning November 1st, 2010.
* Permit Season: April 30th to October 30th

I'm not sure what the booking season means, if you want a nice winter wedding any any of these locations...

They have also lowered the capacity of the Music Garden from 40 to 20, as well as reducing the capacity of St James to 40. Please note our other post on Sunnyside, as this is also a problematic location.
I'm not sure the prices are current (I think Allan Gardens is about $104 instead of $96) but call to make sure. I also don't know WHERE the location on the Toronto islands for 100 people is -- or the Ashbridges Bay location. If you find out, let me know!

Monday

Nice fall elopement at Trinity Bellwoods Park

Yes, it can be done!  A beautiful fall day, and a circle of us standing in the fallen leaves while dogs ran on the left and workout mommies jogged with strollers on the right of us. We signed the license at a picnic table and took pictures by the gates.
Remember, you can't officially BOOK a park like Trinity for a wedding - but if you're just having an impromptu celebration, with a handful of people (we had 8) you can usually just turn up and have a small, brief wedding. And hugs all around.

Saturday

Very pretty candlelight wedding at Enoch Turner

You can have a bigger wedding in the vaulted gothic hall, but a little wedding in the schoolhouse room is lovely.  Move the benches around to make an aisle, enter through the gothic arched door, and it's warm and intimate. Be warned, the light is low.  So we moved some of the stanchion lights. There ARE outlets, so you could bring other (period appropriate) lights, and we had nice tealights on the table and windows, so if you're considering it, visit AT DUSK to see what the light is like.  Absolutely great downtown location on the King streetcar @ Trinity.

Wednesday

Pretty Guildwood wedding on 10-10-10

Here we are, on the cliffs at Guildwood, at 10:10am on 10/10/10  (yes indeedy!)  We had a permit - very important for Guildwood - but it was really quiet early in the morning.  There were flocks of birds and gently falling leaves, and it was rather magical, actually!

However, it's NOT on the subway, of course, so you'll need a car to get there - or at least pick people up from Kennedy subway.  It's worth the trek on a beautiful fall day.  Be warned, the wedding limos were pulling up as we left....

High Park Wedding - small and impromptu

This was a lovely little wedding - we signed the license on the bench where the couple used to meet when they were in school.  Note:  You can't really get a permit for a BIG wedding in High Park any more - too many people abused the privilege.  But you can stand around in a little group of 5 or 6 people and have a private wedding or elopement - as long as you are discreet.  Just find a little spot off the regular tourist areas (and then come back and take a few pictures and sign the license)

Tuesday

Wedding spaces: The Young Center, Distillery District

As the mom of an acting family, I think weddings in Theatres are wonderful. The new Young Center in the Distillery District has lots of cool spaces.  You can see some wedding setups on their Site Rental pages, here. Like other event spaces, the background is cool enough that you don't need much additional decoration - a swag or two of tulle and a few flowers are probably more than enough - and the setting itself is interesting and of course already in the Distillery District.  Remember, it's used by the Theatre on performance nights - so I'm not sure about weekend availability...

Black Creek village - candles and weather and wind and wildness

We had a lovely wedding at the village - candlelit ceremony in the church, and then a walk to the reception pavilion.However, though the reception pavilion is well-roofed, it can be cold in the shoulder seasons if the wind comes up. (And very hot in the church in the summer, of course!)
Remember the obvious: Pioneer settings, camp settings, conservation settings (Kortwright) and anything outdoors is NOT climate-controlled, so plan accordingly, warn your guests to bring wraps, bug spray (and a change of shoes - high heels on grass and cobblestone are treacherous). It may be obvious to you, but it won't be clear to those who haven't visited the venue.

Saturday

Weddings for Older Couples: Elopements for Seniors and Baby-boomers

We've had a few nice small weddings lately for older people - not just second marriages , but for people who are actually ELOPING at 64 (or earlier, of course, but since I'm that exact age, the Beatles refrain naturally runs through my head - how did I get here already? grin)

Most of these couples have been living together for quite some time - often decades - but just never got married.  Some come to us because of financial planning, or other retirement concerns which suddenly pop up as you are nearing retirement.  Some are doing things as practical as going on holiday, and are concerned about health issues.  SOME are simply romantic, and want a small private wedding (sometimes with adult children - and grandchildren in tow) to celebrate their decision.

We've had the ceremonies in our office, in their homes, backyards, and at restaurants - sometimes with family, sometimes with long-time friends, sometimes just the couple (and their witnesses) but the weddings have been lovely, simple, and very touching.

The words we say change a bit when you have been keeping house together for 30 years - we often talk about the couples life not changing, but simply becoming stronger. We can talk about the years they've spent together, and their plans for the future, or simply celebrate their partnership. 

"...for N & N their relationship has not changed – it has endured thirty years.  Today their relationship simply grows stronger, made more powerful by their pledge to each other to support and love one another through all of life’s joys and challenges. For marriage is not the beginning, but the maturing of love - it is love freely given and gladly returned and it is both ordinary and extraordinary because it is simply about everyday living.."

Here is a reading I like to use for couples who are 'getting married at 64'
Captain Corelli’s mandolin, Louis de Bernieres.
Love is a temporary madness; it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides. And when it subsides you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of eternal passion. That is just being in love, which any fool can do. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident. Those that truly love have roots that grow towards each other underground, and when all the pretty blossoms have fallen from their branches, they find that they are one tree and not two

Wednesday

Two ROM wedding tales: Royal Ontario Museum & Philosopher's Walk weddings

On the weekend, we had a big lovely wedding in the Rotunda of the ROM (Royal Ontario Museum) Lots of people - great food, and a super band.  I may write a note about it, as it was quite special - a secular / Hindu ceremony, with candles, some traditional elements, and some modern multicultural elements. Great acoustics in the Rotunda!

Today, however, I met a couple inside the Museum, and we went out into Philosopher's Walk, next door (between the ROM and the Royal Conservatory of Music), and we found some nice students relaxing on the path who offered to serve as witnesses, and we held a small impromptu wedding in under the trees and sat on the grass to sign the license.  Then the new couple went BACK into the ROM to explore the Mineral Gallery. Because it was Free Admission Day!  (They planned to zoom down to the AGO afterwards to take in 2 free museums on their wedding day.  Two styles, two events, with the ROM between them...

Saturday

Drake Hotel Wedding Location

And down the block from the Gladstone, still on Queen Street West, is the Drake Hotel , of course.  We also had a bit of a retro themed wedding, but that seems natural in the SkyYard (roof deck).  We used the tiki bar as a backdrop, and signed the license on the bar.  Fortunately, the rain held off!  So all the guests could crowd around the middle area.  The food and drink service was great - as was the boardroom area for the bride, and for signing things and collecting ourselves.  The guests had a ball.

Wednesday

Toronto Island Weddings - logistics

Most of the yacht clubs have their own launches, which leave from different quays downtown. You can get a water taxi, but it's expensive, and they get very busy at certain times.

 If you're taking the ferry, to an elopement, one of the clubhouses, etc. - be sure to plan for the TICKET LINES.  Mid-week, it's daycamps and tourists, weekends, it's the whole city.  There is only one booth that takes visa, you can't buy your tickets online, and the single automatic ticket dispenser is terrible and only prints one ticket at a time. The best idea is to go a few days before and buy a block of tickets - they are good 'forever', and you can skip lines.

Once you get there, it's easy.  Elopements on the picnic grounds under a tree, the beach, even by the fountains on Centre Island - nice gardens.  But the ferrying over of guests and party is difficult if the streetcar is late, the line is long, etc.  EARLY is better.  About 11 things start to heat up.

Sunday

Rainy Day weddings - plan B is important

While I don't mind standing under an umbrella in a soft rain (which can be romantic), your granny and your friend in the new 5 inch heels, and people who DID get dressed up for you may mind, a lot.  Last night we had to move a wedding ceremony from the Music Garden, where the metal gazebo has no actual roof, to the reception site at the last minute.  That meant the groom had to wait at the garden for all of those people who were still coming to the first site, even though the skies opened and it should have been obvious the rain wasn't going to stop. 

Please have a "Plan B" - and a way to CONTACT your guests. 

You will usually need to contact them BEFORE they set out for the wedding -- or it's going to be a logistical nightmare (in the rain) trying to get everyone to your other location.  Appoint a contact person who is NOT in the wedding party, and give out their phone number to everyone.  Post them at the original location to redirect - so the groom won't have to stay at the original site.  Have a rain time already prepared, which is usually an hour later than the original wedding, so you have time to set up.

If you have the ability to simply move inside at the same location, talk to the site staff in enough time for them to adjust.  We often have a ceremony area roughly set up in another room, and all you'll need to do is move chairs, or set up some chairs for family and older guests and have other guests stand at the back

Respect your guests - their clothes and shoes and hairdos - and respect your musicians - string players can't cope with rain, and they won't want their instruments to get wet. Electronics can't get wet - so ditch the DJ and let them go inside.  In case of passing showers, you can always reasssemble outside for post-ceremony pix, toasts, and group pictures.

Wednesday

reminder: You must get your OWN marriage license!

It may be a function of the summer heat - but a few people have been confused lately about the legal process of getting married.  YOU MUST GO TO CITY HALL AND OBTAIN YOUR OWN MARRIAGE LICENSE. BY YOURSELVES (or at least one of you, with the other persons signed application and ID).

THE OFFICIANT DOES NOT OBTAIN YOUR MARRIAGE LICENSE.  Nope. No way.  I'm not getting married TO YOU - I'm officiating at your wedding.  To the person you love.

Once you have gone to the Marriage Bureau, and satisfied the City Clerk that you meet the conditions for getting married - proved your identity, shown that you are of age, and not currently married to someone else, and not related to the other prospective spouse in one of the excluded categories - and filled out all the questions with the names of your parents, your full legal names (yes, you have to use all those names on your birth certificate) and your legal address, etc., and paid the fee, you will obtain an official license-to-be-married.

THEN, you can bring the license to a REGISTERED MARRIAGE OFFICIANT, along with your intended, two witnesses and your IDs, and you can get married. 

If you have any questions, please check with your officiant and with City Hall. Turning up at kind Father O'Flaherty's in the pouring rain on the Brooklyn waterfront to be married in the parlor with him in his slippers only happens in movies.  And trust me - a former Brooklynite - it doesn't happen in Brooklyn, either.

Cherry Beach wedding

Cherry beach (lifeguard station at left) was quiet, nice, and a little too full of cigarette butts, lurching labradors and goose poop. But we wrote the couple's name in the sand, had a simple ceremony, and watched the sunset across the channel. Much cooler than the city.


For a fancier early morning, consider Rosetta McClain park on the bluffs -  there's a nice tree/sward area (above right), or the view over the cliffs. you'll have to book it for a full wedding, but you could zip in early for a morning elopement, I expect.  The City website says hours are "dawn to dusk everyday".   hmmm

Saturday

A few weddings in backyards

A big one: (fiddler! piper! lots of children! potluck reception) and a lovely happy family gathering. The bride watched the gathering from the upstairs deck - in disguise - and then we all went and got her.  The music lasted through the night...
Then some little ones:  a dozen people in a backyard - birds and flowers and more children, signing the papers in the gazebo, champagne for all.  Or just the couple and two friends as witnesses, quiet and peaceful, with a little Sarah MacLaughlan for background and some yummy food from St. Lawrence market, and then another nice wedding with the couple and parents and two special dogs, and then a couple of weddings on balconies, and a little one in the woods.  In bad weather, we can meet you in our office for a wee elopement, but it's fun to set out a little repast and have a toast in the comfort of home - especially with kids and backyards!

Kortwright Centre - wedding in the woods

Beautiful woodland wedding last evening - the birds were singing, a simple willow arch in the woods, handspun cloth on the signing table, birdseed for celebration -  the groomsmen wore suspenders and stovepipe pants, the ladies in canary yellow and orange sundresses, and a wonderful banjo and guitar player to bring the groom and bride up the path.  After supper and dancing, plans were afoot for a bonfire and singing.  What could be better?

Wednesday

Toronto Islands - Rectory Cafe wedding

Here we are, having a delightful indoor wedding in the Rectory Cafe on the Toronto Islands.  The planned terrace ceremony was moved inside, as the wind and rain rapped on the windows - but we were able to go outside after the ceremony for some windy pictures on the boardwalk.  The staff was great at re-arranging things, the food was lovely, the service was attentive.

This was a small informal wedding for about 30 people - and I have just asked the guests for their support for the couple. The resounding "Yes" was so hearty that we are reacting to the happy sound. Check out the great footwear.

Saturday

A pretty dawn wedding in Ashbridges Bay

A lovely family wedding at dawn at Ashbridges Bay. We're in the midst of the wedding ceremony, and the couple's young son is helpfully pointing out some sea gulls behind us (not to worry, his granny was watching him while his grandfather took pictures). 

We often include small children in the ceremony, sometimes they hold the rings (in this case) and sometimes we can add a ceremony of encirclement at the end - but our young lad was so excited by the birds and the rocks that we just let him explore a bit while we did some important talking.

Friday

A Royal Conservatory Wedding - and a Philosopher's walk elopement

The 'big' wedding at the Royal Conservatory was lovely today.  Great Views from the Board Room at the top, where the groomsmen hung out.

But if you aren't having a big elaborate wedding, why not choose Philosophers Walk, right down below the Conservatory glass windows? It is lovely and green, and has lots of little nooks.  We could see it delightfully from the glass windows at the Conservatory...

Here is a couple getting married in the little rock amphitheatre behind the Music Building (just up from Trinity College).  No permit needed - but best for a group under 12.

Tuesday

Small weddings - tasks and jobs for friends and family

Small family weddings are some of the most delightful, and seem easy to plan.  But a) people NEED jobs, because they want to be helpful, and b) you need THEM, because the wedding couple can't do everything, especially on the day of the wedding.

So here are some tasks and suggestions for willing helpers:

1)  Site selection, pre-site prep and cleanup
Whether it's the beach, your backyard, a park or a patio or your condo roofdeck, someone needs to get there early, pick up hamburger wrappers and cigarette ends, and politely inform other people that there will be a short ceremony.  You need to assign someone to pick up your own discards - from ribbons to flower wrappings to champagne corks.  If you're borrowing chairs, someone needs to set them up and put them back.

2)  Greeting guests
Post a friend near entrances, along park roads, in the parking lot, at the corner of the block, to direct lost people.  Everyone should know when you're going to try to start, and who you need to wait for, and what to do with granny. 

3)  Drinks - toasts - glasses
If you don't have a bar person (with a SmartServ certificate), someone needs to pro-actively handle refreshments and clean up.  I have a friend who hired a 'butler in training' from a hospitality course at a community college, to go around the apartment, serve drinks and buss up, so the guests could talk and relax.

4)  Music and flowers and photos
Streaming or live, someone needs to provide ambient music, and to organize playlists on the day.
You can get flowers from a corner deli - but give someone that task, and ribbons and pins and tell them to take on the task of bringing the flowers to the reception - even if its back inside the house.
If you don't have a professional photographer, deputize ONE or TWO people as 'official' photographers, and tell everyone to give them their email so they can get pix - and tell guests that there WILL be pix, so they don't all have to snap the ceremony, and can actually listen

5)  Prezzies and guest book
You can get a little book from a dollar store, and ask someone to make sure everyone signs it.  Ask someone to collect gift cards and presents, and bring boxes or bags to contain them.  We often have to run for a kleenex box or something to hold envelopes safely.

6)   Granny minding and other relative ideas
Assign someone to monitor special guests and relatives - see that they are seated, they have food and someone to talk to, and that they get a moment to talk to the couple

7)  Ceremony honours
Signing the license, holding the rings, readings, lighting candles, speaking, ring warming, holding flowers, bringing the wine glass, all tasks can be split between friends and relatives to honour and recognize special people in your lives.

8)  MC and Wedding-Planner-stand-in
Even in a teeny wedding, the couple are busy doing lots of tasks, and they can't micro-manage their day. One or two people can take over as 'managers', fielding phone calls, seating granny, moving the presents inside, paying the musician, caterer & officiant, organizing toasts, and assigning small errands.  Thank them with a special toast AND a gift certificate for a massage, afterwards!

Sunday

Mixing cultural traditions in a non-religious wedding

We often marry people from different cultural & faith backgrounds. My first wedding ceremony, 15 years ago, was Jewish and Catholic, at the UN. Which we call a 'New York wedding'. Since then, we've married Hindu and Jewish, Buddhist and Jewish, Atheist and Protestant, Mormon and Catholic, Muslim and Catholic, Jain and Atheist, Shinto and Greek Orthodox, Korean and Japanese, Russian and Irish, German and Chinese, Filipino and Indian, Celt and Trinidanian, Pagan and Catholic - and many more combinations.
Please note, that we can certainly include cultural traditions, but we do not perform religious traditions ourselves. We have co-officiated with spiritual leaders (especially if you have a friend or family member who would like to participate), and welcome a discussion about your wishes to honour your cultures.

Here is a wedding we did on the Toronto islands for couples from different backgrounds:

"....Conrady, 33, is originally from Germany. Chaoui, 36, is from Lebanon. “We are part of an international culture,” explained Chaoui in an interview before the wedding. “We did not want to be bound by traditions. We did not try to satisfy any vision of how it should be,” she said. “We did not want it to be conformist and we wanted it to be affordable and fun. We are not rooted in any particular culture. We could have adopted North American traditions or German or Lebanese – but they are not really ours. We are a cultural hybrid.”
For example, in the Lebanese culture traditions are varied, she explains. “It is an eclectic country,” says Chaoui. “Often people spend a fortune on weddings. And the invitations to the festivities are very open. They are less structured. Everyone in the village is invited. There’s traditional folk dancing and belly dancing.” Conrady, as well, says typical weddings in Germany are large, open affairs.
By contrast, their Ward Island wedding was intentionally small, intimate and economical. Beaty was recruited because the couple appreciates humanist ideals. “We wanted everything relaxed and open-minded,” says Conrady."

Monday

Unusual transportation wedding venues: Boats, Trains, Planes and Aeroplanes - and Streetcars

We often read of exciting weddings - bungee jumping, center ice, scuba diving, even the roller coaster.  Yes, of course it's possible.  You can say "I do" anywhere.  Though you must always do the formal wedding paperwork (and say "I do " again) on land, with a street address. People simply get confused about the legal parts of the ceremony, and the 'ceremonial' parts.

The official Provincial registry does not (yet) use GPS coordinates for the legal location of your wedding, nor latitude and longitude.  That's why you can get married ON a boat, but you have to sign the papers on land at the dock.  You can have your ceremony underwater, but you have to do the legal bits on land.  We have married people in boats, on rooftops, and on the train, in a special car set up with a SpeakEasy bar.  But once we alight from the fun place, we must sit down and do the legal parts at a (non-moving) legal address.

I lose my mind and my lunch on roller coasters, and will NOT marry you on a ride at Canada's wonderland . I have piloted a plane, but decided not to skyjump out of one. It's too hard to HEAR in a helicopter.  I love boats, and I like horses (and love Riverdale Farm, for instance!) so canoes are a definite possibility.   I like hiking, and would consider remote parts of the Scarborough Bluffs, and hiking trails.  But I have friends with Lyme disease, and I won't venture into tick-infested groves.  No matter how idyllic.

So - leave something for the honeymoon, in terms of adventure and escape - but plan your wedding elopement in a location with an address, a view, and a minimum of moving parts.

UPDATE:  Yes, we had a nice wedding on a Mariposa Cruise Line Yacht in July.  We signed the papers while docked, and performed the ceremony at the Island lagoon - then I caught a water taxi and came back to Queen's Quay.  A bit windy, and the party boat that crossed our bow during the ceremony was annoying, though everyone yelled "congratulations".  But it's an option...

UPDATE:  OK - Streetcar wedding! Moving vehicle! You can rent a modern or a vintage streetcar, for about 55 people.  Food, but no alcohol. So have a reception afters
Get out and sign papers on the group photo break! This was fun, but you have to rent a loudspeaker amp - you can't use the TTC one.

Wednesday

"Green" elopement locations in Toronto

...are very hard to find.  The parks dept would like you to book the BIG parks, and won't issue permits for the small ones for weddings.  So you can hold a small informal elopement for a handful of people, if you are discreet and happy to fade into the less well known areas of parks, or the Rosedale Ravine, or Cherry Beach, or the Spit, etc. You could even discreetly gather on a NON-busy day at the foot of this pretty bridge on Center Island - which looks just like Bow Bridge in Central Park.  Indoors, you can rent Allan Gardens conservatory for a small wedding (they say up to 40? seems crowded) and it's reasonable and very lovely. 

But if you're dreaming of a bigger bunch of people in a sylvan glade, you may have to go out of town, to the Toronto Islands, or the Kortwright - though I disapprove of chairs in a forest [amended: we had a lovely simple wedding at the Kortwright where simple wooden chairs were on the path].

You could bring a folding chair for granny, but the rest of you should simply stand around and leave no footprint... The Toronto Regional Conservation Authority books most of the pretty places, including Black Creek Village (which also offers a glade and a green).   The largest 'downtown' gathering option seems to be Woodbine "Millenium" Park, which holds 100 people, or so says the Parks Department. Kew Gardens gazebo is up to 50 people - all standing, of course, and the St. James Park (gazebo) downtown is 40 people. You can book the fountain at Center Island for 100 people, but need to ask the island authority first. Otherwise, the Music Garden has lowered its capacity from 40 to 20 people,.

Part of the problem with park weddings is the number of people who have gone before you and ruined it all - bridezillas with chairs and high heels and videocams and altars and arches and rice... So naturally, the caretakers of our common spaces try to minimize the damage, and have restricted weddings to easily monitored spaces.

How about a friend with a great backyard?
Or go camping!
The Brickworks is nice, tho you MUST get a permit.
Ask me about Todmorden Mills - outside of mosquito season.
Sometimes there's permits for Riverdale Farm.
I like RIVERDALE PARK, - also ask me (small groups, tho).
Also the green roof at the Big Carrot.

Monday

Inexpensive locations for smallish weddings

Are hard to find, yes?  For a simple wedding ceremony, everybody standing (except Hart House),  here are some ideas.  Do try small restaurants.  Almost ANY restaurant will be happy to accommodate a group for dinner or cocktails or brunch, but don't say 'wedding' until you chat about the room and food. Then say "small private event, with a short little ceremony".  Do check hotel rooms! You can probably find a suite in most hotels, suitable for a meeting for a dozen or so - often with a view! Ask friends and relatives about  Condo party rooms, or nice lounges they have seen, including, rooftops, back patios, all very suitable for a nice wedding.  Or try:

Co-working spaces - CSI, etc.  Book a meeting room.
AirBnB apartments with balconies
Restaurants with decks, patios, if you eat there after.
Good old Trinity Bellwoods (but you may have to share the space with the denizens of the park - animal and human
Pick a piece of waterfront that isn't owned already.
The Music Garden, Harbourfront (no chairs, 20 people). No shelter for rain.
 Hart House Chapel. 30 people max. Also other small pretty rooms available.
Allan Gardens   12-40 people? No chairs. Lovely plants, and rainproof.
The Gazebo at St James Garden.  40 people, 1 hour bookings (lots of pigeons tho)
The Gazebo at Kew Gardens.  50 people.
Meeting rooms and pretty lounges at a local church, if they rent to outside groups - such as Bloor Street United Church. (But being renovated).
The Multifaith Centre at University of Toronto - lots of nice rooms for 6-100 people ask Mary (Chaplain at UofT) especially if you are staff or student.
Rectory Cafe on the Toronto Island - including their terrace.
Small terrace area and private room at Le Select Bistro

Weekday elopement at the CN Tower

A lovely small wedding in the SKYPOD of the CN Tower - just us, a couple of witnesses, and a few German tourists...

This works best on a weekday at 10am - particularly in winter!  It's a little crowded in the summer months, course - but we nearly had the skypod to ourselves. 

We had lunch at CANOE afterwards - for another great view!

Thursday

Make your own Wedding Rings

The popular classes at the Devils Workshop are now running night at day. "...Many students are empowered by learning how to safely and properly use such tools as an oxy-propane torch and jewellery saw. Students will learn how to measure, cut, forge and polish precious metals into unique pieces of art. It is a hobby that provides a creative outlet, handcrafted gifts for loved ones and a great way to adorn yourselves in jewellery you have only imagined possible..."

We blogged about myo rings in Brooklyn a couple of years ago - and the trend is obviously widespread.  You can even find places that let you put your fingerprints on the rings.  If the Devil is full, consult other ateliers - who may allow you some personal input into your rings.

Tuesday

Elements of a simple legal marriage ceremony

HOW to HOLD a SIMPLE LEGAL MARRIAGE CEREMONY

The couple themselves are responsible for obtaining a legal marriage license before the wedding. You may apply online, but one of you (or both) must go IN PERSON to pick up the license and swear that the information is correct.

You must be married by a LICENSED ONTARIO MARRIAGE OFFICIANT.
After a simple verbal legal ceremony in front of 2 witnesses, the legal officiant will give the couple a Record of Solemnization, signed by the Officiant and the witnesses, to state that the wedding took place.  The officiant must then file your official Marriage License with the Registrar General within 48 hours.

In 6-10 weeks, the couple may request a Certificate of Marriage Registration (known as a "Marriage Certificate") from the Province of Ontario (note, this is not mailed automatically, you must apply for it).  See more information here: Toronto Registry Office, and  Getting Married in Ontario

Note requirements for divorced couples, those with foreign identity documents.
You must also provide TWO legal witnesses, over the age of 18.

'SIGNING THE PAPERS'
Couples often ask us if we will just 'sign the papers', because they want a very simple legal wedding ceremony, or perhaps they are planning a more elaborate ceremony later, with friends and family, and want a legal ceremony first, or sometimes they have had a cultural ceremony which was not legal, or they have asked a friend of the family who is not a legally registered officiant to perform a 'celebration of marriage' ceremony, and want to legally 'register' the marriage. 

While 'signing the papers' is the closing part of a legal marriage ceremony, the Marriage Act requires that we first hold a simple verbal actual ceremony, in front of 2 witnesses, which includes the required elements legislated by the Marriage Act of Ontario. This means the voices of the two persons, repeating the words from the Marriage Act. This is because because marriage is a formal  legal agreement between two parties - which is enacted in a public 'marriage ceremony', where you state in front of the legally certified officiant that you are accepting the other person as your legal spouse: this is the same whether we're meeting in your kitchen, my office, the CN Tower, the beach - or in a formal wedding location.  You sign the documents AFTER the ceremony, to show you all participated in the legal wedding.

Wedding Ceremonies may thus be informal or formal, but the following parts must be included, and the LEGAL MARRIAGE OFFICIANT must conduct the parts listed below. 

If you wish to include other family or friends, other persons can offer statements, readings, blessings, introduce the couple, and also perform the ring exchange (which is not a legal requirement. This is called a 'co-officiated' wedding, in which the legal officiant performs the required parts, and the other person may conduct the traditional or family-oriented parts.

ASSEMBLY, STATEMENT OF PARTIES. The officiant will introduce themselves by name, as a licensed representative of the government, and announce we have assembled together at this time for the wedding ceremony of (your full legal) NAME1 and NAME2.

WITNESS AFFIRMATION. The officiant notes the presence of the witnesses, and asks for their participation. They may also acknowledge the presence of guests - family and friends, and remember those who are not present (optional).

STATEMENT on MARRIAGE. The officiant makes a short statement about marriage, so that we all know we are present for a wedding ceremony.

The INTENTION to MARRY or CONSENT. The officiant asks the couple individually if they are here freely, knowing no legal impediment to being married, and are prepared to enter into a legal marriage at this time with the other party, and asks them each to repeat:  "I do solemnly declare that I do not know of any lawful impediment why I (Name1) may not be joined in matrimony to (Name2).

THE VOWS. The officiant asks the couple to each state out loud to the other person that they accept the other person as their legal spouse. They must say:  "I call upon these persons here present to witness that I (Name) do take you (Name) to be my lawful wedded husband/wife/partner/spouse".  You may add personal vows or statements after this legal portion.

DECLARATION. The officiant states that this contract has been entered into by these two persons, and that the witnesses have witnessed this agreement (example: "In front of us all, this couple have exchanged their promises and agreed to meet sorrow and joy as one family") Then:

 "I  [OFFICIANT NAME] by virtue of the powers vested in me by the Marriage Act, do hereby pronounce you Name1 and Name2 to be married"

Then the officiant, the witnesses and the couple each sign the MARRIAGE LICENSE, MARRIAGE REGISTER, RECORD of SOLEMNIZATION.

The officiant congratulates the couple and INTRODUCES THEM as a married couple.

KISS (optional) and CELEBRATION!

The officiant files the MARRIAGE LICENSE in 48 hours, and 4-8 weeks later, the couple can apply for the CERTIFICATE OF MARRIAGE REGISTRATION, described above.

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Here is a CHECKLIST for organizing a simple wedding, including music, handling of guests, announcements, etc.
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OPTIONAL CEREMONY ELEMENTS:
The Exchange of Rings, Music, Poetry, Candles, Flowers, Readings, and other rituals are traditional, and optional. THE KISS IS OPTIONAL. RINGS ARE OPTIONAL. The couple may write their own vows, and say them in their own language. At any point during the ceremony, the couple may address their family or assembled guests, or ask a friend or family member to make remarks, to offer readings, music, or other appropriate contributions.

The OFFICIANT may also read appropriate selections, as the couple requests. The couple may exchange flowers, a wine cup, tea, candles, or other symbols. The tone can be formal, informal, humorous, family-oriented, or anything you choose, as long as the required elements are included.

Be sure to ask your officiant for the options available to expand upon these required elements, or to add cultural elements from your tradition. (Glass smashing, wine toast, 7 blessings, 7 steps, circling, ring warming, handfasting, tea or saki ceremony, etc.)

Locations: try restaurants with private dining rooms

Go where you usually eat!

 Just go into your local boite and talk nicely and see if they'll let you hold a small wedding between service (before lunch, before early dinner).  We suggest you don't start out by saying "wedding", but ask if they have a quieter table for a small 'presentation' or 'celebration', then you can let them know it's actually a little private wedding ceremony, no confetti, no fuss or muss, just standing in the corner for 15 minutes, and then champagne and signing things...

SWe've used Le Select's back terrace as well - reasonable with a prix fixe menu - a delightful wedding. And Frank, at the AGO let us have a small elopement (6 people) at 4, just in the back when they weren't busy. We had a fun wedding in the basement of Rodney's Oyster House (just 20 people).  Here are some other ideas

Sometimes you have to use your imagination - a snug at your local pub, the window area of a cafe, the upper room at a bistro, the back patio or garden of your favourite brunch place. Just chat with the staff. If you have more than 6 people in a smaller place that does not have separate "event" staff, they will probably need to assign a staff member as your waiter/server, and they may need to re-arrange tables before and after, but as long as you indicate that you're willing to order drinks and not put too many extra demands on their staff, they'll be willing to consider your event. You might start a trend!

Allan Gardens for an intimate wedding

is lovely.  Soft and warm in the cold winter.  And very few people wandering about in mid-day, mid-week.  Rather magical stepping into the conservatory from the dank grey outside.  There was another fashion photoshoot happening in the south gallery; we were in the domed center. 

Be sure to book it for your event, don't just turn up, as the staff will have to refuse you.  Also, please write me if you're considering this, as I have some advice on the type of permit to save $$>

  Info on our locations page

Here's a few more Allan weddings:

NOTE:  in 2016, the Banana trees and palms at Allan Gardens got hit by frost, when the power went out.  BUT, that means the other plants to more light.  Here is a 'vine lady' sculpture from the Toronto Garden show which is occupying the main palm court area...


Sunday

Small weddings - rent a hotel suite

You can rent a suite or just a big hotel room (try something quirky like the Gladstone or the Drake or something grander like the Royal York or King Eddy, if you want more space than the boutique hotels). The couple can stay there, (or in a smaller room), and you can have drinks catered (check about bringing in a cake or cupcakes) and hold the ceremony in the room.
Then set up for a mini-reception, license signing and pictures, and take everyone to dinner in the hotel restaurant. Warm, cozy, and you don't have to hire cabs or walk through snow and slush to another venue.

Wedding photography - how much to book for an elopement?

I'm NOT a photographer - and I have some very nice wedding photography colleagues. So this is a personal opinion, and not a professional one.

Wedding photographers will offer you packages based on time, and quantity/type of photos. If you are eloping (private wedding), and not having a big reception, how long do you need a photographer? (And yes, it's a great idea to have a real photographer shoot your elopement).

In our experience, it's nice to have one meet you at home, (optional), follow you to the ceremony, capture the trip (climbing the stairs at the CN tower, taking the streetcar/subway, coming up in the elevator to the rooftop, etc.) shoot the wedding and the signing of the license (20 minutes), and the hugs and happiness after (20 minutes). If you want street shots, you can ask them to follow you to another location for some aftershots (20-30 minutes).

But you don't need LOTS of shots of preparation, unless you want them. So 1 hour minimum will cover the ceremony, or 2 hours the arrival, ceremony and aftershots, or 3 hours max will cover the home shots, the wedding, and the 'just married' aftershots. A photographer needs to know the real time you'll be using their services, so choose 1,2,3 hours, and then discuss the number of pix, presentation, etc. If a photographer is also acting as a witness, it's nice to add a little gratuity as well.