WEDDING GUESTS ROAMED THE ORCHARDS — LAUGHING, CHATTING AND THOROUGHLY ENJOYING THEMSELVES. THEY WERE ON A QUEST TO FIND PERFECT CHERRIES TO FILL THEIR FAVOUR BASKETS. IT WAS A CHARMING SCENE... Graceland Estate near Niagara-on-theLake offers a charming “Tuscan” experience. Dining options include tent dining, long tables through the orchard or dinner in the Cabernet Barn. Horse-drawn carriages can drive right up the tree-lined driveway. A fire pit and s’mores create fun memories. Events Co-ordinators Kiersten Gates and Heather Ralston share fabulous memories of special weddings, including one where they watched happy wedding guests roaming the orchards, favour baskets in hand, searching for perfect cherries to take home. Follow the vineyard signs to delightful vineyard wedding venues off the QEW all the way along the Niagara Escarpment. Check out Legends Estates Winery at Beamsville where brides and grooms can exchange rings against a backdrop of Lake Ontario and the distant Toronto skyline. The Bosc family of Château des Charmes in St. David’s maintains a tradition of superb wines that stretches back through seven generations to the French Alsace wine region. You will think you are in France when you see the magnificent Château right here in Ontario. Couples have exclusive use of the Château and can choose a tented marquee Vineyard Courtyard wedding; the marquee tent can be fitted with sidewalls in the event of inclement weather. Cocktails on the veranda at Reif Estate Winery are a charming addition to a winecountry wedding here. The winery is yours for the day, as you enjoy exclusive use of the property for your wedding celebrations. Old world charm abounds, whether you choose an outdoor wedding or indoor one in grand style with candlelight reflecting off stained glass windows. HISTORY & CHARM, NOTL Niagara-on-the-Lake is arguably one of the loveliest towns in all of Ontario. A special destination wedding here allows you to go back in time. Among the options are grandly elegant weddings at Queen’s Landing, which is reminiscent of a Gone With The Wind southern mansion. At the five-star historic country inn, The Pillar and Post, nestled in the heart of the village, you could marry in the rose garden and celebrate in the Upper Canada Ballroom. The Prince of Wales serves up old world sophistication and Victorian-era charm from its main street location. Liveried bellboys resplendent in red and gold attire set the tone for celebrations reminiscent of a more elegant period of history. Bridal couples and their guests can unwind and enjoy wonderfully diverse experiences before and after the wedding celebrations. Investigate the shops of the streets and lanes of the NOTL Heritage Business District, guaranteed to please even the most jaded shopping addict. If the play’s your thing, the Shaw Festival delivers worldclass drama and delightful musical interludes. Walk through history at Fort George, scene of several battles of the War of 1812. Get physical by cycling a portion of the 56-kilometre Niagara River Recreation Trail that links NOTL with Historic Fort Erie. Oneway bike rentals are available, so pack a picnic lunch and pedal to Niagara Falls; make it a full day trip to explore to the max. Catch one of the Jet Boats for an exciting trip along the mighty Niagara through the Niagara Gorge. OUT-OF-THE-BOX Maybe you are looking for something very unusual for your vows — the Niagara Region has no shortage of those opportunities. What about marrying in a helicopter, high over Niagara Falls and then celebrating with your guests at one of many Niagara Peninsula destination venues? People get misty-eyed at weddings, but it can happen on a grand scale if you marry on the legendary Maid of the Mist on the Niagara River, at the base of the mighty Niagara Falls. The renowned Niagara Parks Butterfly Conservatory is another possibility — let your imagination take flight. You can be sure of one thing: there’s a reason why Ontario destination weddings remain popular with couples. As the province’s motto says, “Ontario, yours to discover”. WE PHOTOS: Courtesy of The Briars 108 Wedding Essentials 2013