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Toronto's Top 5 Boutique Hotel Wedding Venues

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Toronto's Top 5 Boutique Hotel Wedding Venues

 Photo by Selina Whittaker

Photo by Selina Whittaker

In the timeless words of Robert Kelly, "After the party it's the hotel lobby." But 'Kels, what if the party's already happening in the hotel lobby!?

Boutique hotels offer options for couples seeking unique spaces with exceptional food and service. Plus, with typically small room counts, bridal parties will have somewhere close to crash while overbearing family members might just have to find another place to spend the night down the street.

Here are some of my favourite boutique hotel venues I've had the pleasure to DJ weddings at... 

 

5. Hotel OCHO - downtown core

 Hotel Ocho, photo via eventsource.ca

Hotel Ocho, photo via eventsource.ca

Consistently booked every weekend for private events in the summer, Ocho has become a popular choice for couples looking for an out-of-the-box wedding venue in the heart of the city. 

I always assumed the name Ocho meant there were eight guest rooms, but there's actually twelve of them. The food is excellent, lead by Excutive Chef Lai’ika Boulton, and the hotel's restaurant and bar is open throughout the week serving breakfast lunch and dinner.

For weddings ceremony, cocktails and dancing usually take place on the ground floor, and seated dinner takes place on the floor above. Because these spaces also serve as the lobby, it's not unusual to see the occasional hotel guest not part of the wedding momentarily join the party as they move in or out of the building. 

website: Hotel Ocho

 

4. The Broadview Hotel - riverside

 Broadview Hotel, photo by Shauna Heron

Broadview Hotel, photo by Shauna Heron

Toronto's newest boutique hotel got a lot of attention when it was announced, not just because of the hip refresh of a 127 year-old building on the east end, but also because the space's former tenant was gentleman's club Jilly's (there are some not-so-subtle nods to this in the decor around the building).

There are 58 guest rooms, (each with in-room vinyl record player!) and the ground floor dining room The Civic was named one of "Toronto Life's Best New Restaurants of 2018". 

The 7th floor rooftop bar has stunning 360 degree views of the city skyline and can accommodate up to 240 guests for a cocktail reception. The Lincoln Hall & Terrace can serve up to 140 guests for seated dinner, and The Tower and The Civic can host more intimate dinner parties.

website: The Broadview Hotel

 

3. thompson toronto - king west village

 Thompson Toronto, photo by The Love Studio

Thompson Toronto, photo by The Love Studio

Part hotel, part residence, part nightclub, the Thompson Toronto never sleeps.

Located in the nightlife hub of King West, the Thompson is part of a luxury hotel chain with sister locations in Cabo San Lucas and Playa Del Carmen, and is known for five star service and cuisine.

There 's the lobby bar, nightclub Wildflower in the basement and yet another bar with infinity pool on the roof.

And the rooftop is the real selling feature here, with spectacular views of the Toronto skyline it makes an ideal spot for ceremony. This area is also great for cocktails while receptions are typically held in the Wellington Ballroom downstairs.

website: Thompson Toronto

 

2. The Gladstone Hotel - west Queen West

 Gladstone Hotel, photo by Jennifer Van Son Photography

Gladstone Hotel, photo by Jennifer Van Son Photography

If Victorian architecture and avant-garde art is your thing, the Gladstone may be the perfect spot for you. Billed as a "boutique art hotel", Toronto's oldest continually operating hotel has seen a true revitalization in the past decade, opening its doors to the arts community and hosting ongoing exhibitions and weekly parties. 

Each of Gladstone's 37 guest rooms are completely unique works of art in themselves -- themed rooms designed by individual artists. As their website boasts, "no two stays will be the same".

Wedding receptions are typically held on the main floor in the North Ballroom, which can hold up 110 guests for seated dinner (150 for standing cocktail party) and have some space leftover for a dance floor. Theres' also the Melody Bar which can fit 150 guests for standing cocktail party, or the upstairs Gallery that can serve as a space for cocktail hour for up to 120 people.

website: Gladstone Hotel

 

1. The Drake Hotel - West Queen West

 Drake Hotel, photo by Megan Michelle

Drake Hotel, photo by Megan Michelle

Vogue recently named West Queen West one of the world's coolest neighbourhoods, and arguably most of the credit for this should go to The Drake Hotel.

In 2004 the arts and culture hub made a lot of noise, opening along a stretch of Queen Street nobody dared venture to on a Saturday night, never mind host a wedding. Now, a decade and a half later it's still a hot spot, and has completely changed not only the neighbourhood but what a boutique hotel in the city should look like.

The hotel itself has 19 stylishly designed rooms and the service, staff and food and drinks are all top notch -- consistently topping the city's "Best Of" lists each year. 

The Drake's 'Made from Scratch' mantra means personalized event planning, and each space in the building can be used for a la carte weddings. The South Lounge on the ground floor can accommodate 150 people seated for ceremony or standing for cocktails & food stations (combined with the North Lounge this can be bumped up to 250 people). The Underground concert style venue can hold 125 guests and the rooftop Sky Yard can serve 80-125 people for cocktails or ceremony (weather permitting) or 30 people seated for set menu dinner. 

website: The Drake Hotel

 

Also, check out my list of Top 5 Toronto Restaurant Wedding Venues

 

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Nicole and Will's Wild Archeo Wedding

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Nicole and Will's Wild Archeo Wedding

 Wedding at Archeo, Distillery District, photo by Silverlight Photography

Wedding at Archeo, Distillery District, photo by Silverlight Photography

Last year I included Archeo as one of my favourite restaurant wedding venues in Toronto. For a DJ it's a space that works perfectly for getting people dancing for one key reason: guests have to go through the dancefloor to get to the bar! 

Nicole and Will were married this past November. They're an impossibly kind couple who were a dream to work with -- we met once to discuss music and aside from a few favourites, they left it wide open for me to play whatever I needed to keep the party going. I also stood in as MC through the night, helping with a few introductions and announcements. 

The playlist was a mix of classic hits through the decades, and later veered towards 2000s nostalgia . At one point there was a call for some throwback Euro dance hits, which culminated in a big "Sandstorm" dance circle!

Here's what Will and Nicole had to say following the wedding:

"Rich is an excellent and very talented DJ! He helped make our wedding an awesome and unforgettable party. Our musical tastes are broad so it was hard giving Rich any direction but he didn't need it. He was great at choosing the right genres and songs for the right times throughout the evening. He made sure the dance floor stayed lit and we got many many compliments about the music. Would definitely recommend!"

 

Photos: Silverlight Photography

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Matt & Tasha's Prince Edward County Wedding

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Matt & Tasha's Prince Edward County Wedding

 Matt & Tasha's Prince Edward County Wedding, Photo by Cait Lavoie

Matt & Tasha's Prince Edward County Wedding, Photo by Cait Lavoie

Matt and Tasha are the life of the party. I'd first met them while I was DJing another wedding, where they were firmly anchored on the dancefloor all night. They were wild, funny, and always looked like they were having the time of their lives. When they asked me to DJ their wedding I knew it would be an epic night!

The wedding took place at Fields on West Lake, August 2016. A large barn set in the middle of a lush sprawling property, this venue has become one of Prince Edward County's most popular spots for weddings over the past several years. PEC is quickly losing its "hidden gem" status (if it hasn't already) with more and more city slickers making the 2 hour drive east of Toronto to discover fantastic restaurants, wineries and picturesque settings ideal for weddings.  

I shared DJ duties with good friend and turntablist extraordinaire DJ Timfamous, who was also a groomsmen in the wedding party. We took turns trading off sets, starting off with some Motown, Top40 and classic rock hits then moving into some hip-hop throwbacks and dancehall later in the night. 

Here's some sweet feedback the couple gave after the night ended:

"Rich was amazing to work with! The music was amazing and the dance floor was packed the whole night. I highly recommend DJ Rich Sweet to anyone who wants a great dance party inclusive of all ages. If I could give more than 5 stars I would!"

Congratulations again Matt & Tasha!

 

Photos: Cait Lavoie 

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3 tips for couples hiring a wedding DJ

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3 tips for couples hiring a wedding DJ

 Photo: Niv Shimshon Photography

Photo: Niv Shimshon Photography

The following is an excerpt from an interview I recently did with Niv Shimshon Photography. To read the full interview & see more pictures, click here: http://www.nivshimshon.com/toronto-wedding-dj/

When asked about what to consider when hiring a DJ for your wedding, here's the advice I offer...

1. Ask to meet your DJ. Some companies will book clients who won’t meet the DJ until the day of their wedding. The DJ they send might be fine, but a wedding is a very personal event! I pick up a lot of information just chatting and corresponding with clients along the way.

2. Ask family and friends about their own experiences hiring a DJ. Although I use social media and various wedding vendor sites to get leads, word of mouth is still my most powerful form of marketing. Online reviews are also key.

3. When it comes to the budget, consider how important music is to your event. Booking a DJ doesn’t need to break the bank, but this is an area where couples sometimes try to save money by getting a friend to do it or by hiring a company advertising cheap DJ services. Price is usually linked to experience, and a DJ who puts a real value on their own time and services will take pride in making your wedding the best it can be!

 Photo: Niv Shimshon Photography

Photo: Niv Shimshon Photography

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Toronto's Top 5 Restaurant Wedding Venues

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Toronto's Top 5 Restaurant Wedding Venues

 Photo: Frances Beatty Photography

Photo: Frances Beatty Photography

As couples get more creative planning weddings in unique downtown locations, foodies are looking to restaurants to host their big day. Although restaurant receptions sometimes means a limited guest count (which can be a good or bad thing depending on if you're looking to make some tough cuts) what's sacrificed in seating is made up for in impeccable food.  Meals are typically made to order, and the experienced in-house staff means flawless execution.

Here are some of my favourite restaurant venues I've had the pleasure to DJ weddings at... 

 

5. George Restaurant - Queen St. East

 George Restaurant, photo by Studio2000

George Restaurant, photo by Studio2000

If you're on Queen Street East this hidden gem is easy to miss if you're not paying attention.

Unassuming from the outside, George's beautiful private dining room can accommodate up to 110 for a wedding reception. The menu emphasizes local, seasonable and sustainable ingredients, with an in-house sommelier to offer wine pairings.  There's a central courtyard which can host ceremonies and cocktail hour and guest suites available upstairs. They've even got their own spa in the basement!

website: George Weddings

 

4. Canoe - Financial District

 Canoe Restaurant

Canoe Restaurant

If your guests aren't afraid of heights, check out Oliver Bonacini's Canoe.

Perched above the Financial District on the 54th floor of the TD Bank Tower, this power lunch locale can accommodate receptions of 140 seated guests or 250 standing. With stunning panoramic views of the city and an available ceremony space, it's one of Toronto's most unique wedding venues.

website: Oliver & Bonacini Events

 

3. Rosewater - Downtown Core

 Rosewater, photo by Jennifer Moher Photography

Rosewater, photo by Jennifer Moher Photography

Looking at Rosewater from the street it's hard to picture how big this venue actually is.  There's the elegant restaurant on the ground floor, but also supper club in the basement and a dedicated event space on the second floor. 

Upstairs, The Rosewater Room does the classic banquet hall motif with a modern feel. It can hold large ceremonies then be reset for a seated dinner accommodating up to 200 people. 

website: Rosewater Room

 

2. Archeo Trattoria - Distillery District

 Archeo Trattoria, photo by Zsuzsipal Photography

Archeo Trattoria, photo by Zsuzsipal Photography

It's impossible to walk through Toronto's Distillery District on a weekend without photobombing a wedding party. Among the several heritage buildings turned event spaces, it's not uncommon to see 3 or 4 brides congregated on the main Trinity Street any given Saturday. But of the Distillery venues, Archeo remains my favourite.

Located in the Distillery's old carpentry shop, Archeo's brick and beam design is a perfect spot to host an intimate reception. The room can seat up to 118 guests, and has an adjacent courtyard for ceremony and cocktails. The food here is excellent -- with Chef Joshua Dyer crafting menus that focus on local and sustainable choices. 

website: Distillery Events

 

1. Mildred's Temple Kitchen - Liberty Village

 Mildred's Temple Kitchen, photo by Frances Beatty Photography

Mildred's Temple Kitchen, photo by Frances Beatty Photography

In the heart of Liberty Village, Mildred's Temple Kitchen is a beautiful restaurant with great food, exceptional staff and has the perfect layout for an intimate wedding reception... in fact, I recently had my own wedding reception here! Personal bias aside, it's one of the best venues in the city. 

Typically known for their famous pancakes and epic brunch lineups (which can reach up to 2 hour waits), Mildred's is also quickly becoming one of Toronto's most popular restaurant wedding locations. The menu is fantastic and the food is made to order, skillfully executed right before your eyes in the open kitchen.

Mildred's can accommodate up to 100 seated guests, and up to 200 for a cocktail-style reception. There's a couple options for ceremony location if it's happening on site. Huge floor-to-ceiling windows and simple, modern design make it a bright space that looks great as-is, with or without added decor.

website: Mildred's Temple Kitchen

 

Also check out my list of Top 5 Toronto Boutique Hotel Wedding Venues

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