Tommy Smythe on set of Gusto TV's "Where to I do?" (Photo by Kik Di Nino)
Whether you love it or dread it, wedding season in Toronto is here. And with that, comes invites to attend fetes all over the city.
Some venues are perfect for the demure bride who doesn’t like attention and wants to keep the guest count low. Other places are lavish, large and are known for being the perfect spot for an over-the-top night. (We’re looking at you, Liberty Grand!)
Choosing a venue is one of the biggest issues for couples who need to find the ultimate setting for their dream wedding. And as they say, it’s all about location, location, location.
But not all venues are created equal.
The show features design and property expert Tommy Smythe on a quest to help engaged couples find the wedding venue of their dreams.
Each episode, Smythe takes couples to three incredible venues and shows them state-of-the-art 3D transformations (so they can actually see the venue come to life before their eyes).
Their final choice is revealed on their wedding day — you know, an intimate event, including their family, friends, loved ones, and strangers watching on TV.
We spoke to series producer Jessica Nahmias, who travelled to all the venues featured on the show (and then some). She gives her behind-the-scenes notes on all things wedding destinations ... And, after seeing everything Toronto has to offer, she tells us what her dream wedding venue would be.
Taking a little break to snap a shot on the set of "Where to I do?" (Photo by Zach Nash)
What your goal was when showcasing all these places to say I do?
As the series producer my role is all-encompassing.
I’m involved in all elements of pre-production (including casting). And then once we shoot, I direct the show. I also work closely with the editors in the post-production process, which is amazing because that is when it really comes to life.
It was really important for us to shoot the show extremely cinematically, because the venues we go to are so beautiful. They deserve to be showcased in a way that represents them to our audiences as clearly as possible, without them ever having to get off their couch.
We wanted to make sure the aesthetic of the show reflected the venues themselves, and the spectacular weddings days.
Looks like this couple is very happy with their "where" on "Where to I do?" (Photo by Danny Nash)
What was the most common thing that couples were looking for when sourcing a venue?
I’d say the most important thing we hear is that couples want a venue that reflects them as a couple.
People are getting more and more creative about the kind of space they want to get married at, so finding something unique, that’s also suitable for the kind of party they want to have, is probably the most common goal.
What were couples biggest concerns when looking for a venue?
Cost is a huge one.
With the Pinterest of it all, everyone’s quite aware that costs can creep up. So, it’s important to find a venue that fits within a couple’s budget, and that also gives them space to play with all the fun design elements and other accoutrements they want on the big day.
Another big concern is weather.
So many couples want beautiful outdoor weddings … but we’re in Canada. So that’s a thing.
After travelling across Canada and seeing so many wedding venues, where would your dream wedding be in Toronto?
It’s SO hard to choose!
I would say of all the venues we went to in Season 1, I would probably personally choose the Tall Ship Kajama in Toronto’s harbour for my ceremony, and then a casual reception just steps away from where the ship docks, at Boxcar Social.
It’s a unique program and shockingly cost effective.
Our finale episode, airing June 21 on Gusto, also features a private mansion, which is a totally different, yet equally unique approach. However, we are in production on Season 2, and so many more venues have opened up to me. So who knows?
What’s the most in-demand venue in Toronto and why?
I think the classic venues are probably still the most in demand: The Casa Lomas, The King Eddies, The AGOs of the world. They’re all beautiful and unique, but still classic wedding and classic Toronto.
Crew on the set of "Where to I do?" (Photo by Danny Nash)
Are there any spots that really amazed you in the city? If so, how?
I have to say I was really amazed by two venues that seem to be (and really are) the complete opposite.
The view at Bisha Hotel is just completely breathtaking. And their lobby bar, where a cocktail reception can happen, is one of the sexiest spots around.
But then, on the other end of the spectrum, the secret subway: a decommissioned platform under Bay Station, is also just so mesmerizing in its own way. I mean, imagine having a wedding under a subway station. It really doesn’t get more unique than that.
Is it possible to have a chic, metropolitan wedding in Toronto that’s affordable?
I think people think it’s impossible to have a chic, metropolitan, wedding in Toronto for a reasonable price — and it’s not. You just have to get creative.
The “Katie and Gerry” episode will show you how.
What are a few things couples should keep in mind before they ultimately book a venue?
I think, and I know Tommy would say this, the most important thing to keep in mind is being true to who you are.
Don’t let Pinterest and parents and friends get in the way of what you want to do on your day. You only get one of these (hopefully), so you have to make it about you and your partner.
If you want to run away and elope in San Sebastian, do it! If you want a black-tie affair at a prestigious hotel downtown, do that.
Just listen to your instincts (and your wallet) and you’ll be set.