From Niagara’s classic farm-to-table to whimsical and from pampered to sophisticated, these chic spots will bring new meaning to the words “wedding toast.” These are my top picks to make those smaller affairs more personal and unique.
A word of warning: wedding receptions usually book these venues quickly. To get more bang for your buck it’s best to arrange a mid-week bridal shower.
Inn on The Twenty
3836 Main St, Jordan Station
It’s an entire village at the brides’ disposal. On the Twenty Restaurant is tied into the spa and hotel of the same name and to Cave Springs Winery. With limitless options you can easily design a bridal party soiree joining these luxury facilities together. Start with a small bridal party early in the day. Dine in the On The Twenty restaurant overlooking the stunning Twenty Valley. Sip on bubbly, enjoy a light lunch of P.E.I Mussels or an Heirloom Beet Salad. Then take a stroll through some of the clothing boutiques and art shops on the main street before moving to the spa for facials, manicures and pedicures. Afterwards, relax by curling up in fluffy robes in front of a roaring fire, sipping on more champagne and nibbling on fruit and little decadent cookies. While the ladies can spend all day being pampered, the guys can enjoy lunch at the Jordan Inn and a tour and tasting at Cave Springs Winery. Then a little later in the evening, have your hair and make-up done and join the other side of the wedding party in one of the beautiful, private rooms in the restaurant for a Jack and Jill party that will last into the late hours of the evening. Surrounded by and indulging in so much pampered luxury is pre-marital bliss that all brides deserve.
Paris Crepe Café
4613 Queen St, Niagara Falls
Spend an afternoon in romantic Paris. If you’re a bride who loves far off places then you’ll want to plan a mid afternoon event at Paris Crêpes Café. Walk through the doors of this Queen Street restaurant and be transported into a Parisian café. Warm brown paneling, bistro chairs and hardwood floors set a warm stage for the walls of French posters: some art deco, others black and white photographs. Soft peppermint lights hang from the tall ceiling, an ancient stained glass divider sets off the room and Edith Piaf plays ever so softly. It is a unique spot for small bridal showers of 40 to 70 people. Owner and chef Thierry Clement says (bridal showers are) “champagne all the way!” Crepes, the perfect food with bubbly comes with duck confit and onion jam, or perhaps garlic mushrooms and chèvre.
For dessert, order a tall French Croquembouche filled with vanilla cream and drizzled with caramel or choose from little sweet crepes flambéed with Grand Marnier or one with dark chocolate shavings, bananas and Chantilly cream. You can also choose from a variety of French finger pastries like Madeleines, crème caramel, chocolate mousse or sabayon with fresh berries. An elegant French Café experience with no French required.
Niagara Parkway, Niagara on the Lake
Kurtz takes the concept of farm-to-table to a new luxury level. Kurtz Orchards is a 40-acre working fruit farm with more beautiful bridal options than any other farm venue in Niagara. There is a large farm market constructed of warm wood and expanses of glass that overlook the orchards and coy pond. There is a 300-seat tent in the middle of the orchards that offers a covered wedding option for orchard dining, but for a more intimate bridal shower, just “pick an orchard,” says farm owner Anne Just. My pick would be the ancient pear orchard adjacent Gracewood Manor. The sturdy, old, knarly trees with their thick canopy offers cool air in the summer while the moist grass below your feet dare you to go barefoot. It’s a relaxed, ‘Southern-style’ feel for an afternoon soiree with the girls. The small orchard becomes a private sanctuary with thick, ivy, living walls set between your party and the rest of the farm. Meals are cooked on the farm and served on repurposed fruit tree platters. Even the live-edge tables are repurposed from 100-year old willows. Just the sight of a white plate and small bouquets of white hydrangea against the beauty of the natural wood table is stunning. There are other areas on the farm equally stunning such as the English gardens around Gracewood Manor. The manicured boxwood shrubs and beautiful roses are reminiscent of a gentleman’s English garden. Kurtz gives farm-to-table a new luxury meaning.
McFarland House + Queenston Heights
Niagara Parkway, Niagara on the Lake
Along the Niagara Parkway there are many quaint choices for a unique bridal shower, but none that make history spring to life more than McFarland House and Queenston Heights. In very Downton Abbey-like style, you can experience High Tea in the beautiful, glass atrium adjacent to the historic 18th century McFarland House. Even the servers are dressed in period costume. Sit up straight, pinkies in the air and sip from bone-china tea-cups. The tables are covered in period linens, three-tiered cake plates hold edible delectables in both sweet and savoury while tall glasses of bubbly clinch the aura of grandeur. It is open from June to August, and seats 30. If losing yourself in time isn’t your thing, how about surrounding yourself with the magnificence of being perched on the Niagara Escarpment with front row seats to the spectacular view of the Niagara River as it winds it’s way down to Lake Ontario? This is Queenston Heights restaurant and it holds Niagara’s most dramatically beautiful views. Bridal events can be held on the outdoor patio perched into the escarpment forest with the imposing General Brock towering over you. Or, you may want to choose the comfort of the restaurant with floor to ceiling windows that capture the view of the Niagara River. It’s the closest thing to bridal beauty that nature has to offer. Opt for the horse and carriage ride and heritage soldiers that stand guard at your event.
In no particular order, my top 10 picks for restaurant venues, perfect for a small, impromptu wedding of under 100 guests.
Taris on the Water
25 Main St., Welland, 905-788-0123
Hollywood-ish décor with an art deco flair and stunning view of the Welland Canal. At Home Bed & Breakfast available with six rooms.
Elements on the Falls
Niagara River Parkway, Niagara Falls, 905 356-2217 Ext. 5503
It’s like you could dip your toes into the falls you’re so close to the drama that is Niagara Falls.
Peller Estate Winery Restaurant
290 John St. E., Niagara-on-the-Lake, 888-673-5537
Posh and elegant, let the bubbly flow.
6671 Fallsview Ave., Niagara Falls, 905-354-8775
Put the exotic and fun into your wedding with this high energy eatery.
Rainbow Room by Massimo Capra
5685 Falls Ave., Niagara Falls, 905-374-4447
An air of celebrity, a wine cellar second to none and with a stunning view of Niagara Falls.
Casa Mia Ristorante
3518 Portage Rd., Niagara Falls, 905-356-5410
Fine Italian fare, richly stocked wine bar and a traditional family atmosphere.
LIV Restaurant at White Oaks Resort
Taylor Rd., Niagara-on-the-Lake, 905-688-2550
Add a little bit of Alice-in-Wonderland feel to the bridal festivities in this beautiful restaurant.
Taylor Road, Niagara-on-the-Lake, 905-641-2252, Ext. 4619
Exquisite food, amazing wines and artisan brewery, they have it all covered at Niagara College.
14 St. Davids St. W., Thorold, 905-680-9581
Opulence and dark romance in this stately historic home complete with rooms for guests.
Winery Restaurants Niagara Peninsula
I couldn’t make a decision between Ravine Vineyard Restaurant, Peninsula Ridge Winery Restaurant and Vineland Estate Winery Restaurant. All great food and spectacular wines.