Ontario Heritage Centre is a convenient and charming Wedding Destination in the Heart of Downtown Toronto
We met the Wedding and Special Event Coordinator for the Ontario Heritage Centre in the large reception area towards the rear of the building. Sitting there, it felt as if we had stepped back into the past. Judith later explained that the Centre had previously been a financial institution and later a bank during which that room had served as the main hub, a role it continues to play. When the Ontario Heritage Trust took over the property in the mid 1980’s it was renovated with the idea of restoring the building back to being a working office building. Built around 1908, The Birkbeck Building (home of the Ontario Heritage Trust Centre) was designed by one of Toronto’s most celebrated architects with the intention of creating a structure that conveyed the wealth and prosperity of the time. The Beaux Arts style was considered to be “state of the art” during the 1900’s and the fireproofed steel edifice with the terracotta infill represented advanced engineering. (After the Great Fire of 1904 wreaked havoc on much of downtown, Toronto builders didn’t want to take any chances.) Every detail in the room appeared impeccably maintained. We were eager to catch a glimpse of the wedding spaces as we were certain they would be equally authentic.
The Gallery, located on the first floor of the building, is the main wedding venue. It can accommodate 120 people (although 100 is the suggested capacity for a comfortable atmosphere) and can easily be set up for a dinner reception. It has its own marble bar that can be moved on casters, allowing you the luxury of “setting up shop” wherever you’d like. There is a grand staircase with a wood banister leading up to the mezzanine above. Many couples enjoy making an entrance down the stairs as it is a perfect photo opportunity. The surrounding mezzanine is great for guests to slip away for cocktails or get a great view of the party below. It is also an ideal location for a DJ as it allows for more room on the dance floor. (Reminder: If you are planning on having live music or a DJ you will need to get a Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada license.) On the second floor of the building is The Birkbeck Room, where many couples choose to hold the wedding ceremony or pre-dinner cocktails. (The bride will need to get her own special occasion permit for alcohol but there is no corkage fee.)
Who Chooses The Ontario Heritage Trust?
Couples looking for a small, indoor wedding seek out the venue (outdoor weddings are not an option). While they do host around 30 weddings a year, they sometimes do have last minute requests. The venue is not as well known as other locales, oftentimes brides need only book a few months in advance. Because it was designed as a financial institution it has a more majestic and formal feel than other historic venues and she finds that professional couples who work downtown represent a large portion of her clientele. They also appreciate its convenience and proximity to area hotels and attractions. And while there isn’t onsite parking, it is downtown Toronto after all, with city parking aplenty.
Did You Know You Were Getting Married on A Movie Set?
It’s true. Many production companies book the Centre for filming. In fact, Cinderella Man and Murder at 1600 were both filmed here as well as the entire pilot of Blue Bloods. Yes, both Tom Selleck and Russell Crowe have ventured through the historical halls of The Birkbeck Building. (For some brides that may be all the reason they need to host a wedding there.)
Going Up (or Down)
The Ontario Heritage Centre is wheelchair accessible and houses one of the two remaining manually operated elevators in the city. There is always an attendant on duty to make sure your guests never have to take the stairs.
Couples looking for a beautiful space with history and elegance will not be disappointed by the Ontario Heritage Centre. And if you are thinking of planning a more impromptu event, perhaps in the next month or two, give them a call. Who knows, you might just luck out!
Details, details, details
• Average Bride Spends: $10,000
• Taxes Gratuities Fine Print that Applies: HST not included
• Deposit Required to Book: 50% deposit is required
• Months to Book Ahead: 8-12 months in advance of date
Contacting Ontario Heritage Centre
A Special Events Consultant at Ontario Heritage Centre can be reached by email using the form below 🙂 The Centre is located at 10 Adelaide East in downtown Toronto. You can also visit Ontario Heritage Centre online at www.heritagetrust.on.ca.
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