It may not be the first choice that comes to mind as a destination for a wedding, but Canada’s northern lights shine brightly from sea to sea, and couples willing to think a little outside the box can create a world’s worth of experiences and memories without ever leaving the continent.
In the east is Quebec, steeped in French-Canadian tradition; Toronto is sophisticated and diverse, and Vancouver stands as the fun-loving gateway to the still-wild northwest. Montréal and Quebec City exude European charm: you’re more likely to hear French spoken than English in these two ancient Quebecois cities. The island city of Montréal, presiding over the mighty St. Lawrence River, is Canada’s cultural capital, known for its annual comedy, jazz, and fireworks festivals. Cobblestoned Old Montréal and Mount Royal with its commanding city views are popular wedding locations; the Hotel Le St-James is an Old Town landmark housed in a former Merchant Bank building with a pampering spa perfect for bridal outings.
The downtown (Centre-Ville) Ritz-Carlton Montréal, with Chef Daniel Boulud’s famous Maison Boulud restaurant, is close to the city’s museums and galleries, some of which can serve as sites for wedding receptions. Speaking of dining, Montréal’s dynamic restaurant scene includes Estiatorio Milos with its refined take on Greek cuisine, the “steaks, scotch, and cigars” ethos of the La Queue de Cheval Steakhouse, and the eclectic Toqué!, helmed by a Relais & Chateaux grand chef.
The walls of Quebec City guard more than 400 years of history; this most European of North American cities includes the historic Vieux-Quebec dominated by the Fairmont Le Château Frontenac, a luxury hotel with 120 years of its own history to celebrate. The nearby Notre-Dame de Quebec Cathedral, the first basilica named in the Americas, is an amazing setting for a traditional wedding ceremony. For something distinctly non-traditional, you can get married in Quebec’s famous Hôtel de Glace—the ice hotel that springs up each year when Quebec’s temperatures plunge.
Toronto is a city of neighborhoods, including a pair of Chinatowns and enclaves with large Greek, Italian, Portuguese, and Indian populations, so of course you’ll find plenty of great ethnic restaurants as well as colorful festivals year-round. A great sports city, Toronto is home to the Hockey Hall of Fame and franchises in every major sport, making activities for the groom and his men easy to plan.
Brides, on the other hand, can take the ladies out for a stroll down Yonge Street—the longest street in the world—to shop in the fashionable Yorkville district, home to the exclusive Hazelton Hotel. The spire-topped Trump International Hotel is a landmark on downtown Toronto’s high-rise skyline, a boutique property with elegant spaces for a wedding reception, and home to the city’s premier spa.
Couples seeking extra “wow” factor can head west to The Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, a veritable castle in the heart of a stunningly beautiful Canadian Rockies park. Or continue on to Vancouver, a Pacific gem with a vibrant nightlife, some of the warmest year-round weather in Canada, and a world of outdoor adventures—including world-class skiing at Whistler-Blackcomb, where the Four Seasons Resort Whistler provides stylish Alpine lodging.
In the city itself, you’ll find luxury hotels like The Fairmont Empress Hotel Victoria on Vancouver’s Inner Harbour, where the event spaces include gardens, an intimate library, and the historic Ivy Ballroom. The Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel is an urban oasis in downtown Vancouver with spacious guest suites. The similarly situated Shangri-La Hotel Vancouver has a restaurant led by esteemed chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, while the landmark Rosewood Hotel Georgia beckons couples who want only the best with the Rosewood Suite and its signature 12th-floor rooftop terrace. It’s a great spot to raise a toast to your future—and perhaps clink a few beers in honor of Canada, too.
> Written by: Bob Curley
Location: The Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, Banff, AB