Intimate legal wedding in a downtown condo

What a lovely evening.  Just the couple and their witnesses, and a quiet private wedding.  They are going to celebrate overseas and have another ceremony in the spring ceremony with family.  So, two anniversaries!

Small condo wedding

and then, another one! Also planning a fall wedding, later.

Evening apartment wedding


Toronto Hotel Elopements - cosy private weddings

I'm reposting this article on Winter Weddings, as I'm too busy with winter weddings to put up a new post!  But you can read about winter wedding ideas here

Several couples chose to hold small private weddings and elopements in Toronto hotels this last couple of weeks, specifically, the King Eddy, the Windsor Arms, The Grand Hotel on Jarvis, the Gladstone, and the Templar Hotel on Adelaide. [this month, include the Radisson, Trump, Four Seasons]. It's a nice way to have a special event, and some privacy. The witnesses were mostly friends, family, or in one case, their children.

It's your choice whether to inform the hotel you're holding a wedding.  It can have benefits, or it can add costs.  One couple informed the staff they were getting married, and they got 'upgraded' to a penthouse.  (They also moved the furniture out of the way a bit, scattered some biodegradeable rose petals and brought a guitar along instead of an IPAD). note: the Windsor Hotel has some rooms with guitars - they are, however, mostly out of tune...  Some rooms also have pianos, tho this might be more useful in the sitting room than the bedroom?

Windsor Arms Hotel Suite with Piano
Another couple BOOKED a penthouse room, but just said they were 'celebrating an occasion',  A third was so discreet I don't think the hotel ever realized we were holding a small wedding.  Some couples chose to go to dinner afterward (in the hotel, in a couple of cases) or just to the bar for oysters and champagne to celebrate.  Finding ourselves without one witness, one hotel sent up a Concierge, who had a lovely time and even got a little verklempt!

We have held larger family weddings at hotels that cater in-room events, like the Four Seasons and the Plaza and the Trump. They will deliver drinks, a cake, and at the Four Seasons, even a chef.  But if you just want a quiet romantic elopement, find a nice cozy room with a view, and bring your own champagne. Check Groupon! Get upgraded!
Small Private Wedding at Templar Hotel
Small Private Wedding at King Edward Hotel

"If I get married in another country can I just 'sign the papers' here?" (or "Registering a Marriage")

Here is yet another variation of a query for 'signing the papers', or 'registering a marriage'.  A couple just asked me: they had picked up a proper Ontario marriage license, and then went abroad and had a wedding, and thought we could now just 'sign the papers' certifying their foreign wedding.

Nope.  To get legally married in ONTARIO, and apply for an ONTARIO MARRIAGE CERTIFICATE, you must hold a short verbal legal wedding ceremony in ONTARIO, with a properly licensed Ontario Marriage Officiant, in front of two legal witnesses who hear and see the spoken ceremony.  Then you sign documents, immediately following.

Because what marries you is this legal ceremony, not 'signing the papers'.  It must be a short verbal ceremony, in front of your witnesses, and it MUST include the legal Mandatory Declarations from the Marriage Act.  It's not long, and the legal parts are of course not religious, but they must be followed.

THEN you can 'sign the papers' (Registry, Marriage License, Record of Solemnization), and your officiant will certify and file the papers with the Registrar in Thunder Bay within 48 hours.  After the data has been entered in the records of the Province, you can file for your Certificate of Registration (eg., "Marriage Certificate").

I seem to be discussing this weekly, so here is yet another reminder.
Please see:  Legal Weddings FAQ


AGO: Frank restaurant for small family weddings

The AGO has many spaces, in additional to the large spaces, like Baille Court. New! You can book the small Grange Library (with High Tea or cocktails), and you can book one end of The Bistro (formerly Frank restaurant) - the gallery area by Dundas- for the ceremony, and the adjacent dining area for the dinner. Not sure about numbers, but maybe 40-50 people?  The backdrop will be whatever art is on show - this wedding was very fortunate, with a vibrant background. And they chose Frank because they met a chef school! This pix is by Alicia Thurston -  there's another great pix from this wedding in an earlier post.

Private morning wedding in Casa Loma

Yes, you can actually 'elope' or have a private wedding at Casa Loma! It will be the same fee to rent the Conservatory (where they hold weddings) for a hundred people or for 6 (or 20, or any small group). There will be tourists in the main part of Casa Loma, but you can have the conservatory to yourself for an hour.  These weddings are normally in the morning (light is good!) and then you can take photos in the fun parts of the castle, and also in the gardens.  This couple is from Quebec, and they just liked getting married in a Castle.

Casa Loma Elopement


Romantic winter elopement - Hilton Hotel by the fireplace

We had planned an outdoor ceremony - perhaps on the waterfront, or on the ferry, or even on the island.  Then we thought about Grange Park by the Bell Tower, or even the grounds of Osgoode Hall.  But the weather turned nasty - so we asked the downtown Hilton if they had a room we could use.  They kindly said that they would open the tower lounge just for us, for a short private wedding.  Hurrah!

and after the wedding, the view...

Evening wedding at Le Select - ceremony, drinks and dinner!

This was a tremendously lovely wedding at Le Select Bistro, down on Wellington. A marvellous couple, and we had the best time! And of course, the staff is great (I've actually married some of them!), and the food is marvellous...  Great for a group of 25-50 people, for a wedding and dinner.


Small legal wedding behind Trinity College - happy and informal

A very lovely couple who are going abroad were looking for a small legal wedding somewhere around the University.   You can't do this many places, as you need a permit (esp near Hart House).  But if you don't  SEEM like a 'wedding', and you don't bother people, and there's just 4 of you, it's possible to find a little nook and be discreet.  Here's the 5 of us, looking very happy indeed, on the hill behind Trinity College - the new couple are in the middle, witnesses surrounding them. 

At the same time as we finished filling out the papers, a large wedding party marched up the path, bridesmaids in more ruffles and platform shoes than I've seen in ages.  It was quite a fun contrast - both couples very happy, and a beautiful fall day, and cheer all around.  I don't think the fancy wedding realized what we were doing, but the couple who were eloping were tickled by the other entourage!


Pop-up weddings, CN Tower, Museums,Galleries, Monuments, Parks and Gardens

It would be wonderful to be able to just turn up at your favourite location and hold a pop-up wedding.  After conducting weddings for almost 1500 people, I have lots of opinions on pop-up, guerilla, flashmob, and other surprise weddings.

Primarily, it is very difficult to hold a popup wedding in public museums and monuments and all those locations where you met, or hung out.  Most public institutions have guards, and lots of closed -circuit television. They understand what you are doing, and they will come and ask you to stop.  This is also the case with wedding photography, as they will also stop anyone who is trying to do engagement or wedding photos without a permit.  THIS IS WHY you do not see millions of wedding or fashion photographers in your favourite museum, monument (such as Union Station) or gallery.  They do this after hours, or they pay LOTS of money for the privilege.

You can certainly buy a permit for a wedding at Allan Gardens, the beautiful 19th century conservatory.  You CANNOT try to hold a popup there without a permit, as the long-suffering guard's job is to stop you.  The same with the Guild in Scarborough, the music garden, the Toronto Botanic Garden, and parts of the islands.  You cannot hold a wedding on the main UofT campus (around Hart House Circle), as you will be stopped.  You will be stopped quite firmly in the Distillery.  Also, parts of the Brickworks. It is the JOB of the guards to come and ask for your permit.

Please read the post on park weddings.  It's a Catch-22:  you must have a permit for a park wedding - BUT, the parks department will not issue permits for all parks.  The problem is that many weddings abuse the locations (bringing too many people, chairs, high heels, confetti, etc.) and the parks department can't supervise locations not set up for weddings.  YOU may have the best intentions in the world to be respectful, but other people have ruined things for you in advance. This is why High Park has now banned all weddings - because bad people treated it as an event space, not a park.

SO.  Here are some ideas. The CN tower (like Grand Central Station in NY)  will allow you to come in and stand in a corner and have a teeny wedding.  You have to buy admission for everyone anyway, so as long as it's short and you don't bother anyone, it's possible. The tourists will smile, or ignore you, or squeeze around you. You cannot do this at Ripley's, tho you can book the party room and then get tickets for all (which I think come with the booking).

You can't use Queens Park (the front of the building), tho you can use Queen's Park PARK, behind the legislature (by King Eddy).  You cannot use the AGO, but you can book the lovely library in the Grange and have a wedding by the fireplace AND HIGH TEA!  You can also use Grange Park BEHIND the ROM. You cannot do Casa Loma without a permit, but you can pay lots of money for a private wedding in the Conservatory at Casa Loma.  The ROM is all on closed-circuit TV.  Don't try it.  But you can use philosopher's walk, beside the  ROM, and then you inside and take some romantic cell phone pix. 

A legal wedding takes some calm, and some time.  It's not like the movies.  Basically, you need 25 minutes, and some peace and calm, and a place to hear, where your witnesses can also hear properly.  Then you need to sit down and sign all those papers. You must also document the wedding with a photo, in case you need to prove this for a non-traditional wedding.  So you need to be able to take at least cell phone photos.

SO, it's best to find a quiet place for a little legal wedding and THEN go and take some post-wedding photos in your fave location.  Or, try talking to your favourite restaurant or bar, and see whether you can have a quiet corner at 4pm between service, for a 'little private event' , and then stay for food and drinks!  Don't say the word "wedding" at first, just say 'celebration'.  Many locations will be happy to give you your 20 minutes and sell you some prosecco and nibblies.

We might also be able to slip into your nearby small parkette, or some friendly spaces like Trinity Bellwoods, Riverdale, etc.,, with a handful of people.  But for a larger event (over 12 people ) find a location which issues permits:  Allan Gardens, Toronto Botanical, Music Garden, etc.  Ask me.

Please write me with your ideas and I'll try to help.  Little popup weddings are great fun, as long as we can relax and hear and do things properly.  And not bother OTHER people, of course.   Your wedding should be fun and memorable, not fraught with being chased out of your favourite location.


Storys Building - a classy summer wedding!

Fabulous wedding at the Storys Building, a downtown loft near Roy Thompson Hall.  This (and other great weddings) by Photographer Natasha Bardin


Hart House Gallery Grill - a lovely and yummy restaurant venue at UofT

Hart House: Gallery Grill
If you like Hart House at the University of Toronto, but are also looking for a great chef and a 'different' ambience than one of the halls, we've had a couple of weddings lately at the Gallery Grill at Hart House.  It's housed in the old Faculty dining room, overlooking the Great Hall.  We're having a wedding in the intimate grill area later this year, in front of the Fireplace, but this event was in the dining room.  You can have a reasonable number of people - 30-60? Just ask them - esp if this is a seated dinner, which is usual.  But it's best with under 50, I'd think. You also have the front bar area for cocktails, and then the dining room for the dinner.  So, about the same size as the Wedding at Frank at the AGO, or at Le Select, or other restaurants we've used.


Little private weddings in Dufferin Grove and Christie Pitts

Early morning, Dufferin Grove. They were just firing up the pizza ovens.  Kids, dogs, baseball - and a little wedding under a tree. Pretty happy couple!

And south of Christie Pitts, under another nice tree! Still only 7 people, but a little 'fancier', as in, a white dress, a couple of chairs, and no tennies. The tree is hiding the intense soccer game!
Pix below by Pep Phaxay Photography: http://www.pepphaxay.com/


Peter Pan Bistro - small family wedding downtown

Peter Pan Bistro, 2nd Floor
Had a lovely smallish family wedding this weekend for about 40 people on the 2nd floor event space at the Peter Pan Bistro, on Queen West.  Here's the space (we held the ceremony by the fireplace in the front window, then flipped the room for dinner, while they set up a bar in the back space).
The staff was wonderful, the post-wedding cocktail hour was yummy (crab cakes, cheese straws and fun things). I hadn't eaten at the PPan for 30 years or so, so it was really fun to see it transformed.


CN Tower Skypod: small morning wedding

Here we are, up in the CN Tower SkyPod again!  Two happy grooms, and their sisters and dad - and those that are nervous about heights are holding onto the others! Note: you can't 'book' the CN tower for a wedding (unless you book the BigFancyRestaurant?), and this is in the Skypod, where you really can't fit more than 5 people - and other tourists will be passing around and beside you during the wedding, (usually smiling with delight, tho!), and often they take photos and congratulate you.  But if you want a 'special' elopement, this is certainly an idea. It's best on a WEEKDAY MORNING before school is out.  Tho' you never know when busloads of students will turn up.  But it's certainly fun!


Surprise streetcar wedding - bumpy but fun

Here is a quick picture of a streetcar wedding last Sunday. More pictures from the photographer to come soon. 
1) You can rent Toronto streetcars, minimum, 3 hours. They travel on a circuit, and stop briefly at one end for a break/ pictures / etc.  No drinking tho - but some food and live music are nice. We had 50 people, tho there are seats for 46, so some people are always walking around.
2) This was a surprise wedding for the guests (we picked up the musician and me along the way). But you must tell your parents (it might break their hearts not to know) and maybe your BFF.  Then they can be in on the surprise. Note the mum in front holding the flowers.
3)  You should rent a portable amp with a mike.  The TTC mike is only used by the driver.
4)   This is a TRAVELING SHOW.  Toronto natives know how to walk on a moving streetcar. We managed a walk down the aisle with parents, and even a first 'dance' in the back.  We didn't drop the rings, or the bouquet, and the bride is brave in heels.  But I am wearing floor-gripping flats with rubber soles, as I'm holding a few things, including the groom when we went around bends.

TTC Streetcar wedding
This weekend - off to the skypod in the CN tower.  Send me an email if you want to know about either of these things.... 

Small Family Wedding at FRANK, AGO

Here's a nice venue for food and art lovers:  Frank Restaurant at the AGO.  This was a delightful wedding for about 40 people. You could squeeze a few more in, but not too many, if you're going to have a seated meal after.

We had the ceremony in the front gallery on Dundas street, and then moved to the private dining room behind it for the dinner.  The restaurant was still open to other dining guests, but the wedding guests had their own dining room and servers.   Nice art, lovely couple, airy and bright and easy to reach on the streetcar.  Pix is from Alicia Thurston.


Downtown Gothic: Arts and Letters club wedding

There are many stylish modern wedding venues in Toronto - the Gardiner Museum, Tech lofts, modern bars, and cool hotels.  If you are looking for wood beams and stained glass windows, however, there's Hart House, (and Vic college and UC and the Faculty Club at UofT), plus bits of Casa Loma, faux Tudor at the Old mill - and then; the Arts & Letters club, right downtown at Yonge and Elm.  We're having a wedding there tonight, for a couple of great guys from Newfoundland, and about 100 people.

Although the Great Hall can seat lots of people, you can also hold a smaller wedding for 50 or so. There's a grand piano, and a stage, and a fireplace, and original Group of 7 work scattered throughout the building and in the comfortable lounge. Call Joseph, he's great to work with.