2020 wasn’t the year we expected.
Thinking back to New Year’s Day when we were welcoming this new decade full of exciting possibilities seems like such a distant time and place from where we find ourselves now.
In the wake of so many changes this year, large-scale travel plans and social gatherings have been cancelled. Perhaps some of the most heartbreaking rescheduled plans have been the weddings. So many couples who had planned for these happy celebrations this year and even next year have been forced to completely reconsider and re-evaluate how they plan on getting married.
While the decision to cancel or postpone any wedding can be difficult, couples who had originally planned for destination weddings, specifically, have had to make the most changes. These plans involve more than a postponement, and instead require an entire nuptial rehaul.
As inclined as we might be to think we need to travel far to find that perfect venue, there are so many unique, intimate and Instagram-worthy venues right here. In the Greater Toronto area, specifically across Headwaters Region, York Region and Durham Region, the options for unique spaces to host your wedding are likely far more varied than you may think.
If your far-off destination wedding dreams have had to be put on hold, keep reading for this list of hidden gems to help you plan your perfect destination wedding much closer to home.
“The Mountain Resort Weekend Getaway” at Hockley Valley Resort – Mono, ON
If you had been planning on a resort wedding in the mountains, settling on the charming hills of Hockley Valley Resort in Mono is the hidden gem in our neck of the woods for you.
Hockley is the perfect place for a winter or summer wedding. In winter, you can plan to spend the weekend at the resort, and family and friends can enjoy downhill skiing, snowboarding or snow tubing. In the summer months, your guests can spend time lounging by the pool or gazing up at the stars on a summer night from a fireside Muskoka chair on the back patio.
Whichever choice is right for you, Hockley has a variety of rooms, suites, event spaces and tent options for you to choose from to make your wedding resort weekend truly your own.
Furthermore, if you’re more interested in a winery wedding, Adamo Estate Winery (further in the list) is just up the street from Hockley, making this the perfect choice for guests to stay overnight for a wedding at either location.
“The Hamptons Garden Elegance” at the Royal Ashburn Golf Club – Ashburn, ON
The stately yet cosy Royal Ashburn Golf Club makes for a charming location for an outdoor garden wedding. Their intimate outdoor ceremony space is encompassed by lush greenery and has the feel of an estate’s garden elegance. Depending on the time of year or weather, the indoor ceremony spaces have large open windows to bring the outside light and space in.
Views from the clubhouse and reception areas overlook the expansive golf course and grounds. You may choose to have cocktails outside or inside, and plan the perfect ceremony for you. They provide many options to create the intimate wedding atmosphere your destination wedding dreams are made of.
“The California Hills” at 4 Seasons Country Club – Claremont, ON
This is the ideal place for a picturesque outdoor wedding. Wedding ceremonies are held overlooking the dramatic rolling hills from the raised tee at the first hole of the golf course. You have to see the view in person to believe it. You’ll be shocked to know it’s located just over an hour outside Toronto.
Weddings at 4 Seasons Country Club include all the essentials in one place. The ceremony space is close to the tent space for cocktail hour and the reception. The beautiful views of the grounds are the perfect backdrop for photos and for celebrating with family and friends.
“The Rustic Southern Ranch” at Holland Marsh Wineries – Newmarket, ON
If you had visions of a wedding with the warm and rustic feeling of being in the American south, Holland Marsh Wineries is the perfect location for you. Their location is, of course, set on a winery. So this means it ticks off all the southern charm elements and then some.
Their warm outdoor ceremony space is set on a scenic pond with a gazebo. The backdrop of the winery also makes for a great place to take photos and for family and friends to enjoy before dinner.
The rustic reception space is intimate and unique, with a two-floor open plan, so your guests have a variety of places to sit and view the dance floor from.
“The Riverside Stone Cottage” at Alton Mill – Alton, ON
Driving up to Alton Mill will transport you to a quiet Scottish town’s central mill or stone cottage. This historic mill is officially on the list of Canada’s Historic Places.
Options for an intimate wedding ceremony are endless at Alton Mill. You can rent anything from their charming lower level or gallery spaces with surrounding views to their scenic outdoor patio spaces. The outdoor areas of the Waterfall Courtyard and the Annex Courtyard are each stunning in their own right.
Given that Alton Mill is an art and cultural hub, planning your wedding here involves many different options for personalization. They don’t offer as many one-stop-shop coordinating options as some of the other venues on this list, but the uniqueness of this spaces and the endless possibilities will make for a wedding day you can definitely put your stamp on.
“The Napa Valley Wine Country Escape” at Adamo Estate Winery – Mono, ON
Adamo offers a wide variety of options to suit your destination weddings needs throughout the year. This modern-rustic winery is located on top of the rolling hills in the surrounds of Mono.
The views of the region and the vines are quite breathtaking. If you plan to get married in the warmer months, their outdoor ceremony space features a stunning rustic wooden beamed canopy to exchange you vows under.
If an outdoor ceremony isn’t to your taste, in addition to the indoor reception area, you can also choose to have your ceremony inside. The indoor spaces have large picture windows, so the view of the vines is never far away.
“The Central Park ‘Boathouse’ Lakeside Soiree” at Nestleton Waters Inn – Nestleton Station, ON
If you’ve ever swooned over romantic comedies set in New York City’s Central Park, like When Harry Met Sally or 27 Dresses, then the intimate all-in-one setting of the Nestleton Waters Inn really fits the bill.
This charming inn is set on its own private lake. Outdoor weddings traditionally take place in and around the tent across the scenic lake from the inn. Between the water lilies, soothing fountain and immaculate grounds, this makes for a truly private and personal celebration space.
The inn also has several of its own unique rooms, perfect for getting ready and for immediate family and wedding party members to stay in. To top it off, they have an outstanding chef on-site who will work with you to create a personalized menu for your picture perfect wedding weekend.
“The Quaint and Peaceful British Inn” at Forks of the Credit Inn – Cataract, ON
The Forks of the Credit Inn has a storied history. It was built in 1855, and has lived many lives from being a post office to serving as a general store and hidden speakeasy during Prohibition, to being an inn many times over.
This inn is best for smaller-scale and intimate weddings. They have a large back lawn, perfect for a tent or open-air celebration. They also have a dining patio and a cosy dining space inside, plus a flexible indoor space, which is perfect to tailor for your wedding needs.
There are 4 rooms on site, perfect for the married couple, plus a few close friends or relatives. You’ll need to arrange for your own catering, but the historic on-site kitchen is at your disposal. Between the Forks of the Credit Provincial Park next door and the inn itself, a wedding weekend here will be beautiful, peaceful and intimate.
So there you have it. From charming inns to resorts and country clubs, there are so many fantastic places to plan a wedding in and around the Greater Toronto Area.
These hidden gems may not require flying a far distance to get to or boast the all-inclusive beach resort you had originally planned for, but they’ll certainly deliver on their beautiful backdrops and the memories they’ll help you create.
In the end, after all, a wedding is about celebrating the magic of your relationship and being surrounded by the people you care for the most.
Written by Bri Mitchell
Bri Mitchell is a freelance travel and lifestyle writer. She has travelled to over 50 countries and loves to learn a little more about the world (and herself) with each trip she takes. Bri currently lives in Toronto with her partner in life and travel, Christopher Mitchell (travelingmitch.com), and their Turkish street cat turned Prince of the Great White North, Kotu. You can follow her travels and meanderings around Ontario and beyond on Instagram @mstravelingmitch or her Facebook page.