A Wedding Across the (Frozen) Pond

Posted by Catherine Friis-Gallagher , December 07, 2015

Photo via Serge Kaitaz http://photografika.ca/

When Paul and I started planning our wedding, we knew that we really wanted a venue that reflected us and our relationship; social, vibrant, interesting and just slightly out of the ordinary. We were living in London, England (Paul is a Londoner, born and bred) in the rough-around-the-edges, on-the-up area of Brixton; somewhere we contemplated marrying for a simple, close-to-home ceremony that would have also been kind of hip, kind of interesting. We wanted a very small + intimate ceremony and determined pretty quickly that Toronto would be the easiest location for the majority of guests. Arranging a wedding from across the pond could sound like a daunting task, with lots of hiccups along the way. I'll admit there were a few moments when I wondered what we were thinking, especially as we had chosen a February date and neither of us had particularly wanted a winter wedding. I took a deep breath and considered the fact that, essentially, we were planning a dinner party. An extra-special dinner party with an unusual event attached. But it couldn't have been easier, in the end.


Photo via Serge Kaitaz http://photografika.ca/

The Drake was one of the first venues I thought of. Many a (slightly blurry) night was spent at The Drake in my early twenties before I moved to London; grabbing a bite at the sushi bar, chilling out in the Sky Yard, or dancing into the morning (and some nights, all three!) In that sense, it was a no brainer. I knew that it would be a good fit, though it had been a while since I'd last been to the Drake before we met with Ashley, our wedding coordinator extraordinaire. There were a few little touches to the place that I either hadn't noticed or were new, that clinched it for us.

When we explained to Ashley the kind of small, intimate evening we were looking for, she suggested we have the ceremony in the Sky Yard, followed by dinner in the Café. Her idea of s'mores over the fire pit while hors d'oeuvres + a signature cocktail were served post-ceremony, sounded perfect for a magical winter wedding with a hint of Canadian spice, and when we noticed the lights tangled in a load of old bike frames on the ceiling of the Café, we were sold. Once upon a time, Paul was a downhill mountain bike racer, so it just felt right. And on the day, it all fell into place perfectly for the most wonderful time of our lives. We were a party of 18, including Paul and myself. We had most of our photos done before everyone arrived so that we could enjoy the atmosphere, greet everyone as they arrived and enjoy some champagne pre-ceremony. It was such a lovely, laidback way to start the evening. The Sky Yard looked beautiful and the area where the ceremony was held was so cozy and warm, looking out onto a snowy terrace with the fire pit blazing in the centre.


Photo via Serge Kaitaz http://photografika.ca/

After we'd exchanged vows and sealed them with a kiss, everyone grabbed a stick and toasted marshmallows for self-serve s'mores. It felt like a really original wedding treat. Once we'd all indulged the children inside us, we headed down to the Café where we had free reign for the rest of the night. The place looked great. Because we were a small group, we easily sat around the tables in a big family-style arrangement. The parents had helped create centrepieces for the tables in tea tins, which suited the decor of the Café and added a personal touch. Ashley had helped them with a surprise for Paul and I as well, which was a slideshow they hooked up to the screen. That was a really lovely addition to the evening. We'd created goody bags for everyone, which included bubble pipes, fake moustaches, and a couple of loonies for the photo booth, among a few treats. These made for some amazingly fun photos throughout the night! And we all got a little momento to commemorate the evening, too. The meal was amazing. We selected a menu that allowed everyone a choice for the three-course dinner. Every dish was delicious. I wish I could've had them all!


Photo via Serge Kaitaz http://photografika.ca/

Paul and I had put together a little pub quiz, in lieu of speeches (though there were a few who got up to say some words). We had some of my family from Norway, Paul's friends from LA, and our immediate families from England and Canada, and not everyone had met before. We devised questions specific to some of our guests as a means to encourage people to mix up their teams with those they didn't know. It was really good fun and got everyone talking and laughing between courses and ahead of the arrival of our delectable cake and mini desserts. The wine and beer flowed, the food was devoured, and we partied the night away tucked into our small slice of the happenings going on in the rest of the Drake. Paul and I were the last to leave, toddling up to our room in the wee hours after too many shots served by the great bartender we had for the night. The Drake wasn't just the venue for the most special night of our lives; it was a guest at our wedding. Its character infused into our precious moments. Our memories will forever be inextricably linked with The Drake, and that, I think, is pretty damn cool....

Getting hitched anytime soon? Check out a variety of options for planning your wedding at The Drake Hotel, Drake Devonshire, or Drake One Fifty.


Posted in: Special Events