I’m a pretty particular, all-or-nothing person.

I’m laid-back in regards to how my life and career unfold, and am relaxed in terms of what’s on my agenda for the day. But all the laxness in the former finds its counterpart in the form of being very opinionated in regards to how I want things to look, taste, feel and be experienced. For me, it’s the bigger picture and the vibe, not the gritty details.

So when it came to our wedding and getting married, Shawn and I agreed we were either going to elope in Italy (tempting, still), or we’d go all-out. After weeks of considering both sides of the coin and touring a few close-to-home spots (The Arlington Estate, Adamo Estate, The Spicy Factory and Terre Bleu—all super lovely by the way), we stumbled across the charming, hidden gem that is Elora Mill.

Growing up, my family visited the town of Elora often for day-trips spent picnic-ing, eating ice-cream and perusing shops. And while I don’t remember it well, this small, quaint town nestled beside the Grand River holds fond memories for us (read all about its history here). Just a 40-minute drive North-West of Toronto along countryside back-roads, and with affordable hotels a stone’s throw away, it got a giant checkmark for logistics—that was until reality punched me in the face.

On the website, floating atop a gorgeous rendering of the venue (photo above), white text read “opening winter 2018.” I assumed this meant December 2018, which was way later than we wanted. But a glutton for punishment, I devoured every write-up and photo on the site until I inevitably fell in love. But without being able to marry there, we figured another venue run by the same company, Pearle Hospitality, would be a great alternative. We had previously attended weddings at Spencer’s, Ancaster Mill and Cambridge Mill (which were all amazing) so we decided to check out Whistle Bear—a trip that changed everything.

After touring the grounds and meeting with Events Consultant Vanessa, I took a shot-in-the-dark and inquired about Elora Mill’s opening. When Vanessa shared that the opening date was actually Spring 2018 (a date they’ve since updated on the site), she brought us into the “Elora Mill room” which was filled with renderings (below), menu options and venue info.

Shawn and I shot each other a knowing glance—we both knew it was game over. While Whistle Bear was absolutely lovely and we had already started scheming decor and seating charts, we threw it all out the window. After a few additional meetings with the lovely Leanne Ciancone, to make a long story short, we went all-in for Elora Mill and made it official with a visit to the under-construction site.

The town of Elora is 175 years old and boasts a European, small village feel—and like a good wine, that’s only going to get better with time. The design plans for the venue are stunning in their own right, but the reinvention goes far beyond the historic Mill. This summer, power lines are being buried underneath cobblestone streets, and in their place will be old-world street lanterns and stone-clad store-fronts. On top of an impressive spa (perfect for the wedding party the day-before), the revival includes the addition of new boutique hotels overlooking the gorge, event spaces, and mass restoration to oodles of artisan shops. All of which contributed to a vibe we fell in love with.

The venue itself has two rooms: the Wellington Room (holding 180) and the Ayrshire Room for more intimate events (which holds up to 100), both of which have been thoughtfully designed after the design team took trips to Paris: think decorative moulding, creams, whites and putty tones, nature-inspired chandeliers, stone wood-burning fireplaces, and touches of antique mirror, exposed stone walls and soft, billowing sheer drapes. 

And the cherry on top (pun intended)? The locally-inspired food and drink options. I come from an Italian family, so great, fresh food is my top priority. And with a strong farming and agriculture community at its doorstep, Elora Mill’s dinner packages are all based on seasonal, farm-t0-table foods. Sure, that means that aspects of the menu may change in relation to what’s freshest at that time, but that’s a sentiment I subscribe to 100%. In addition to their approach to food, we also fell for their unique Harvest Table Package which combines a classic plated four-course menu with family-style food served in the center of the harvest tables. It’s the best of both worlds–and a nice surprise for guests is the ability to choose the entree on-site in the moment rather than having to commit to and choose an entree in advance when you RSVP.

All in, we’re taking a risk booking as potentially the very first wedding in the soon-to-be-opened Elora Mill, but we have full trust in Pearle Hospitality and Leanne who are taking care of everything (and I mean everything)! Already, while we’ve only just booked, we’ve already received tons of correspondence, putting our minds at ease and outlining every single step we have to take along the way and when.

With our big day a year away, I’ll be continuing to share updates every two months about our Elora Mill wedding, so stay tuned for lots of content about the venue, dress shopping, food tastings, cake, florals and more. Ah!

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