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See FAQ: HOW TO PLAN YOUR WEDDING: How to get your license, find a location, legal requirements, witnesses, the process of 'signing the papers', or 'registering a wedding' and how to apply for your CERTIFICATE OF MARRIAGE REGISTRATION. See the Toronto Registry link for information on a MARRIAGE LICENSE and MARRIAGE CERTIFICATE (online application, hours & location, fee, divorced applicants, IDs required, etc.)
Mary is licensed as a Marriage Officiant by the Registrar General of Ontario, and the Ontario Humanist Society (and has performed over 1200 weddings)
HUMANISM is an ethical philosophy of secular living, stating we all share a duty of care, to lead ethical lives of compassion and respect, for each other, and for the world we all share. Humanist Wedding Ceremonies are simple, meaningful, non-religious legal marriage ceremonies written specifically for each couple, which reflect your wishes, your values, and your story. We also provide humanist ceremonies for baby-namings, memorials, and other life events.
Make sure there is enough ROOM, tho - some of the boutique hotels only have room for that great bed, and nowhere to stand. So do your research, or ask the staff for a room with a VIEW or with room to entertain. Then hold your small wedding in your room, and sign the license on the fancy table and order room service. You can always arrange to go down and take wedding photos in the lobby and in the entrance afterwards. We had a nice little elopement wedding at Sutton Place this winter for a couple from out of the city (meaning they came in from Mississauga and survived the trip). Just order a few flowers, and bring a some gravlax and champagne, and have a wonderful winter wedding.
permit fees for weddings in city parks. Also, the booking season opens in November, for April - Oct, only. A few caveats:
There are very few downtown locations available, and most of those are for SMALL weddings, under 40 people. That includes Sunnyside, St James park, The Music Garden (20 people), Allan Gardens, Kew Beach pavilion (30 people). You cannot have MORE PEOPLE, people!! You can't book it for 40 and bring in 60. ESPECIALLY at Allan Gardens. It's a historical greenhouse, not an event hall, and you CANNOT BRING more than about 25 people comfortably. They can't see, they can't sit anywhere, they are a hazard to the delicate plants, and it just doesn't WORK. Don't break the rules, please. Also, note that there are NO weddings permitted in High Park - due to too many people being less than thoughtful, and failing to respect the park.(You can rent the VERANDA at Colborne - see Historic Permits
Note also that wedding PHOTOGRAPHY in city parks has a minimum of 2 hours booking - longer than a wedding.
Despite the single listing saying you can have a big wedding for 100 people on the islands, you can't really book an outdoor spot on Toronto islands very easily. They usually only offer you the esplanade thingie on Centre Island by the pier - which might work, but it is hot and sunny and anything but private -- full of lots of other people, including kids running around screaming. Consider the Algonquin Island Club house, an easy walk from the ferry (Gibraltar Artscape is great, but you'll need the shuttle bus). Try outside at the Rectory Cafe patio - you can walk up to the boardwalk out the back gate. Back on shore, Sunnyside has it's own problems - it's falling apart, there are no facilities, and it's funky and funny - but sometimes there are booking problems and mixups.
Check the garden of your condo! We have had some nice weddings in outdoor condo gardens (as well as rooftop patios). Try the Music Gallery at St George the Martyr - Right by the AGO - with the great rose garden outside. Or find a restaurant with a garden or patio. Or elope with 6 friends in front of Osgoode Hall or by slipping quietly into Trinity Bellwoods or another local greenspace and just standing under a tree. You can have little elopements on the Toronto islands without too much fuss. But you can't have a Bridezilla wedding in a park without a permit - and permits are not available for most parks. It's the Wedding Catch 22.
Note: the historical sites, including museums with gardens and outdoor areas, are booked separately from the PARKS department. Here is booking info for such sites as the Spadina Museum and Gardens, Todmorden museum (pix above) and other historical sites. You can also enquire about weddings at the Brickworks - and with luck, you can wander outside at Artscape on Wychwood for pix. Except at the back, where the kids are quite excitable at the waterspray fountain.
We had a super Distillery wedding on the hottest day of the year - we had to move from Archaeo patio to the Arta Gallery for the ceremony due to the heat . But isn't this a great pix of the bride by Lini Campbell! You can see more pix of this event on her photography blog.
Here is a delightful little legal wedding at Philosopher's Walk by the ROM. We are standing by the tiny little amphitheatre by the Music building.
Don't you wish that Toronto civil marriage chambers looked like this? Instead of being concrete block rooms in the basement?
HERE.) There is a real kitchen, if you're having a small reception, but there are restrictions (no meat dishes above the 2nd floor), so it's good for light things like cake and coffee and canapes - though people do bring in caterers. There is an elevator, too, because it's a modern building.
Here is an entirely lovely small wedding in the Hart House Chapel , (bigger youtube), which was organized in 5 days - from proposal to reception :-) The couple's children were only together in Toronto for a few days, so they organized the wedding quickly, and we Skyped in the remaining children from BC, so they could also participate. A wonderful couple, and a magical afternoon. Note, we are standing on a symbolic Ukrainian wedding runner, and then smashing TWO glasses at the end :-)
Hart House, Enoch Turner, Le Select, Caffino, FieraMosca, Globe Bistro, Archaeo, the Berkeley, Graydon, Allan Gardens, Canoe, Toronto Islands, Les Provences Delices, Trinity Bellwoods, Royal Conservatory (and Philosopher's walk), St. Lawrence Market Kitchen - lots of backyards and balconies - and even the Toronto Necropolis Chapel. Yes indeedy, that's us in the sunset, under the lynch gate (across from Riverdale farm). Must find links...
We had a fabulously wonderful wedding at Dufferin Grove Park today, in the Day of Delight Festival: Giant puppets, a tandem bike, a salsa band, and many other 'delights'. Pix to come soon, but here is a teaser...
The view of the Rose Garden from the St James Pavilion is lovely right now, tho.
We've done a few weddings here, in the rain, inside, outside....
The answer is simple.
Your friends and family can certainly be involved, and can do many of the NON-legal parts of a wedding.
If your friend is NOT a Registered Marriage Officiant, however, you need a legally registered Marriage Officiant to conduct the legal parts of the wedding ceremony. We cannot just 'sign the papers'. A wedding is a legally witnessed contract between two parties. The Marriage Officiant must preside over required parts of the actual ceremony.
Here are some choices:
1) You can have a simple legal wedding ceremony before your family celebration, along with your two witnesses, and save the music and readings (and rings, which are not legally required) for another ceremonial wedding celebration. This is the same concept as having a legal wedding in Ontario before you fly off for a ceremonial resort wedding. It's the same as Prince Charles getting legally married at the Registry Office in the morning, before changing clothes and going to the Cathedral for a wedding blessing after lunch.
2) You can invite your friend to participate in your wedding, and the legal officiant will do the legal bits, and your friend or relative can do the family bits. This takes a little planning, but it works quite well. Family or friends can welcome guests, offer readings and best wishes, present the rings, and ask everyone to welcome the couple at the end, for example.
Here is the previous post on this topic, with a few more details. We can also send you examples of ceremonies with participation by others. Happy planning!
BUT, when we arrived on Saturday at 4 for our little wedding, there were 3 other wedding parties running around Behaving Very Badly.
Although the City states that there is only room for about 40 people, some clients regularly ignore this requirement. One wedding had over 80 people crammed into the central greenhouse on Saturday, and they were (completely illegally) passing round trays of food, letting kids run wild, putting their coats on the flowerss, and generally ignoring the fact that we were in a GREENHOUSE. The caretakers got them to ditch the food, but they admitted that clients regularly ignore the regulations, that weekends can be awful, and many people treat the gardens as a RECEPTION HALL, and forget it's a greenhouse. They actually have to wash it down with soap in the evenings after the weddings leave. Sundays are just as bad, they said.
It's heaven on a slow weekday, and we love it a lot. But on Saturdays, they often book 3 weddings an hour, and let the parties fight over the space. Not to mention photography shoots, and other intrusions. Be warned, and pick a weekday early, or at dusk, if possible. Sad.
Last week, we had a wedding in Kengsington Market, and Skyped to Romania and the Netherlands, so both parents could watch the wedding.
Of course you cannot GET MARRIED by Skype. You both have to be in the same room, with your officiant and your witnesses. SKYPE is a way to share your ceremony with loved ones who are unable to attend. However, you can broadcast your ceremony to friends and family who are not present - whether overseas, or unfortunately detained, or unable to travel. You just set up a couple of laptops, ask your attendants to hold them, dial in BEFORE the ceremony and establish connection, and arrange yourselves so everyone can see.
"I'm getting married in the morning, ding-dong the bells are going to chime...."
If you've ever thought about why all Brit weddings are around noontime - things are about to change (except for CofE):
"Couples who want to marry in the moonlight will soon get their wish granted, as the UK ban on night-time weddings is lifted. Historic legislation requiring that ceremonies are held during the day is to be scrapped as part of a drive to remove outdated laws.
Although the move is unlikely to a lead to Las Vegas-style wedding chapels operating 24 hours a day, ministers explained it was not the Government's place to dictate when couples should be allowed to marry. Church weddings originally had to take place between 8am and noon, but the hours were later extended to 3pm and 6pm. The same hours were adopted for civil ceremonies when they were introduced in 1837, although many registrars work for even shorter periods.
The rules for Church of England weddings are sent down in canon law and cannot be altered by the state. But the restrictions on civil ceremonies are to be swept away in the new Protection of Freedoms Bill. James Brokenshire, a Home Office minister, said the move on weddings had been inspired by comments from the public during a consultation on which laws should be abolished.." A spokeswoman for the Church of England said it had no plans to alter the hours during which wedding ceremonies were conducted.
of course in Toronto, it's not the moonlight, it's the temperature. We've done some moonlight weddings in winter, but my fingers we so cold it was hard to turn the pages...
Here is a link to enquire about Campbell House rentals (and inhouse catering)
It seems people are superstitious about SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 13, so engagements and dinners and weddings are mostly happening on Monday, February 14 this year. And Mondays are perfect for a very quiet elopement - even for brunch.
Restaurants are prepared for elopements (they have the champagne ready) but not always prepared for actual weddings. For a small elopement, you can still book a "Valentine's day romantic meal", and pre-order champagne, and ask for the 'quiet table in the corner' (probably crowded, on Valentines Day). If you can get the 'romantic corner', or even a private room or the back of the restaurant, then let the front of house know you're going to actually stand up in that corner for 10 minutes and get married. And THEN you'll drink the champagne and order dinner.
We suggest you don't START calling for a booking by talking about a 'wedding', or the venue will assume you want fuss and waiters and flash photos and flowers and chairs and all sorts of waiterly attention, on their busy night. But if you simply book a 'romantic dinner' and then your party essentially stands up for a few 'toasts', it's closer to an engagement, a birthday or a family celebration, which they can easily handle. But a good tip is still a good plan!
Want to see inside the Gladstone?
Every year, the Gladstone Hotel holds an event they call Come Up To My Room, where artists take over empty rooms on the building's second floor and redecorate them to suit their own particular sensibilities. Being there is kind of like attending a party at the home of a rich and crazy interior designer, and snooping through all his bedchambers. Eleven rooms—twelve, counting the downstairs ballroom—were transformed as part of this year's show (part of the Toronto International Design Festival). Admission is $10, and exhibit continues through Sunday Jan 30.
Thursday January 20, 2011 at 9 pm on CBC-TV
Repeating: Friday January 21, 2011 at 10 pm ET/PT on CBC News Network
They did discuss the decision of couples who have decided to ask their friends and family to be present as they make "a public statement of their private commitment to each other" (a phrase from the beginning of a Humanist marriage ceremony). We were pleased that they also mentioned that couples are making this decision at many different phases of their relationship - some have been together for many years, and have homes and children, some have decided to have a party and celebrate their partnership by getting married, and some older couples have finally decided to celebrate and formalize their long-term union with a simple legal marriage ceremony.
It was nice to have a fairly realistic view of modern marriage - and a few statistics as well. Enjoy the stories of the couples, and write us with any questions.
Most of the action was on the Ice Rink on Sunday, so the five of us walked into the Japanese garden, and stood on the bridge by the frozen waterfall. Great shots from the bridge below by our photographer! Our fingers got a bit frozen, but hearts were warm, and the chickadees came to comment on what we were doing. After a short ceremony and some great pictures in the snow, we hiked back to the Grenadier cafe for hot chocolate and the signing of the Marriage License. A memorable mid-day wedding to start the year.
and then - a wonderful wedding by the empty wading pool in a Leslieville Park.