I debated for awhile if I should write this post about our wedding, but it’s been long enough that I’m open to sharing it now. It was held in downtown Toronto and all our wedding vendors were from the Greater Toronto area. If you’re in the planning process, read on for my experience and reviews!
Wedding Venue and Catering
It was a priority for us to have our wedding ceremony and reception at the same venue so our guests wouldn’t have to drive and travel twice. But we also wanted an outdoor ceremony and indoor reception. A venue that worked for us was Malaparte, located inside the TIFF Bell Lightbox in Toronto’s Entertainment District. They have a stunning city view with the CN Tower in sight. Malaparte is owned and catered by Oliver & Bonacini, who also owns popular Toronto restaurants like Canoe and Auberge du Pommier.
We are so glad we chose them as our venue and caterer. Their staff was professional and efficient, everything went as planned. The food was some of the best we’ve ever tasted, and not just for wedding food, it was top restaurant quality. A lot of our guests expressed surprise at the option to decide on their meal choice on the spot. Most caterers require your guests to decide weeks in advance. Their food options are extensive so you’ll definitely find something that suits your tastes.
The entire venue area is yours, you won’t be sharing the washrooms or hallways with guests from other weddings. Your wedding will be the only one held there that day. The venue upkeep and cleanliness is top notch. The service was attentive and friendly. The washrooms were bright and clean (this is important when you’re wearing a floor-length white wedding dress). Throughout our planning, we had a dedicated coordinator who worked with us. She replied and answered all emails promptly.
The downside of Malaparte is the cost. Everything has additional fees. The use of the gorgeous rooftop terrace costs extra. Terrace chairs cost extra. Microphones cost extra. A podium costs extra. If you want a slideshow, audio/visual cost extra. Plus there’s an 18% administration fee on top of everything before tax. Plus there’s a minimum spend on food and beverage, which was $25,000 a couple of years ago.
This may not be a priority for everyone, but it was seriously my dream to have a lot of flowers at the wedding. I knew fresh flowers cost a lot, but oh boy...I did not know just how much! Since it was a priority, I wanted a vendor who had a ton of experience with elaborate floral arrangements. That’s why I chose Rachel A. Clingen Wedding & Event Design. I knew she was going to be my wedding flowers vendor before we even met, her work is just breathtaking! I trusted her style and artistry completely. A moment my husband and I distinctly remember was walking into the reception for the first time after everything was set up, beauty struck and left us in awe!
We only met twice during the wedding planning process. The first was to discuss expectations and pricing. Her services are not inexpensive, it will vary greatly depending on the amount of flowers. For a ballpark figure, our flower budget was $10,000. Rachel and her team were very patient and detail oriented, they listened and took notes of everything I wanted from flower types to colours. You can customize everything to your heart’s desire. They also have a wide selection of decor pieces like chandeliers, candelabras, vases, to put your flowers in. You will not be disappointed with her work. The pieces she created for us was everything I wanted and envisioned.
Like most couples, photos were another priority for us since that’s all you will have to remember your wedding day by. It was important to us to find photographers who can capture both sunny outdoor shots and dark night time indoor shots. We also wanted a bright, elegant, candid, photo-journalistic style which is why we chose Mango Studios. They are another wedding vendor we highly recommend. We had two photographers for the day and not only did they capture all the big important moments, but they captured the quiet ones beautifully too. All the photos in this post are their work!
Our interactions on the day was mostly with the lead photographer. She was warm, friendly, easy to open up to even if you’re not used to being in front of the camera. Several of our engaged friends were interested in hiring them after meeting them at our wedding.
Once again like most things wedding related, their services were not inexpensive. For a rough estimate, our budget was $5,500 for two photographers for 9 hours (however this was a couple years ago). This did not include any prints or albums.
We hired a string quartet from Wellington Music to play before the ceremony while guests settled in, during the ceremony, and after while guests mingled during photos. Being the bride, I didn’t get to enjoy their music much since I didn’t show up until I walked down the aisle. But the feedback from our guests was great! The musicians arrived on time ready to go. They were all talented and played as expected. You can specify all the songs you want played. I only wish I got to hear more! The cost per hour was $700.
Our vision for the wedding reception was kind of a dinner party vibe so we wanted a live jazz band playing through the night. I really feel like we lucked out finding Sidecar Music! They were so easy to work with during the planning process, very accommodating. I truly loved their music and you can hear their passion shining through. Many guests spoke positively about them and absolutely enjoyed their performance. Having them play livened the atmosphere and helped keep conversations and drinks flowing. I want to have another party just to hire them again!
I had a certain vision for our wedding and part of that included some pretty furniture. Our venue included basic chairs but they didn’t quite fit into the overall look. We went to Luxe Rentals for reception chairs and French-Victorian style lounge area furniture. You can check out their showroom to see in person what the pieces look like before booking. Our experience with them was average. Everything went accordingly in the end but literally the day before our wedding, they asked if we would mind switching out all our chairs for their other client because they miscalculated and were “desperate”. WHAT?! I didn’t need extra stress or a guilt-trip the day before the wedding! Everything was decided and set for months, and they thought it was a good idea to spring that on us less than 24 hours before the wedding? The cost for the rentals was $2,200.
We placed more importance on taste and flavour over visual for our wedding cake. We’re not huge fans of icing or fondant so elaborate decorations were not needed. Our cake was from I Do Wedding Cakes and it was delicious! We chose hazelnut, mango passion fruit, and chocolate raspberry for our 3 tier cake. Majority of the cake was gone by the end of the night even though we had other desserts and late night appetizers! There is a tasting appointment if you book them and my husband and I gobbled everything up! The cake arrived safely and on time. Our cake was $720.
Our wedding day was mostly stress-free thanks to our wedding planner, Rebecca Chan. She handled all the logistics with our wedding vendors and venue staff. We didn’t have to worry about delivery schedules or set up or tear down at all. We were blissfully unaware if anything went wrong, we really have no idea! That’s how organized and smooth everything went! Planning the wedding with her was so easy, she is meticulous, detail oriented and super organized. I must’ve asked her hundreds of questions in the months leading up, and she always answered within the hour. We really came to depend on her for guidance and advice. She is friendly and easy to talk to, having her there on the day of managing everything was reassuring when timelines are so tight.
Overall we loved our wedding day and would recommend any of our vendors. We were lucky to have each of them make our day so special. I hope this post helps future brides and grooms! Happy planning!