Sassafraz restaurant Wedding Toronto
When the bride and groom told me they will have a Sassafraz wedding, right in the heart of Yorkville, I was in heaven. I love documenting intimate weddings at Toronto restaurants where the warm atmosphere is conducive to genuine moments. Over the years, my photography style evolved towards a more photojournalistic one and I love capturing the love between the bride and groom in a natural environment, in-posed, unrestrained and pure. Compared to the typical venues, a restaurant allows the couple to focus more on the guests and fully enjoy their wedding day. During our first meeting, the couple mentioned they wanted their big day to be documented in a photojournalistic manner and this restaurant wedding in Toronto does exactly that.
Our wedding photographers started at the beautiful bride's house where the bridal party and her family got ready for the big day. Love was in the air and the girls were giggling in anticipation of the special event. We were photographing not too far from Casa Loma and we really enjoyed the happy and warm atmosphere of this cold winter special day. The beautiful bride was of Persian descent and the groom Italian. According to the Persian traditions, the bride and groom received plenty of gifts on their special day (aroosi). Also, it is customary for the groom to receive a watch on his big day while the beautiful bride was showered with gold jewelry. The groom is a jazz musician and their house is adorned with plenty of musical instruments that we used as props during the beautiful bride's preparation. I particularly liked when the mother of the bride helped her daughter put on her dress and despite some minor issues, inherent in weddings, we were on time for the ceremony. What I love about the event space is the massive windows on the second floor, where the ceremony took place. They give the place a romantic atmosphere and make photographer's life easier. The place was adorned with candles and the sofreh aghd (Persian wedding spread) was out of this world.
Despite the extreme cold alert, the couple decided they wanted to have a photo shoot at Casa Loma, not too far from Sassafraz. The wedding day proved very cold (-35C) and we had to stop shooting within minutes so that the beautiful bride does not freeze. I have rarely seen a couple who braved the elements so happily.
According to Sassafraz, the wedding related cost starts at $155 per person and includes a 7 hour continental bar (13% tax and 18% gratuity apply). Guests can pick from a menu at the table and the dishes are identical to those in the a-la-carte menu. The establishment offers dairy free and gluten free options.
Enjoy this gallery of a real wedding at this beautiful location.
Reasons Why You Will Love Getting Married at Sassafraz
This intimate restaurant is one of the best venues in the GTA when it comes to food and service quality. The restaurant is consistently ranked among the top intimate locations to get hitched in Toronto and in the dining room you can often see celebrities during TIFF.
Few people know that the establishment hosts over 50 weddings a year and many corporate events or celebrations of special occasions. Here is where I saw some of the most professional staff in my whole career in wedding photography. To give you an idea, we were waiting for the bride and groom to kiss following the traditional clinking of glasses. The couple was not rushing and after about 20 seconds I noticed a waiter holding 4-5 plates and waiting for me to get my shot. In comparison, often banquet halls staff often jump in the shot.
If you are planning a small wedding, the event space can accommodate about 125, 150 guests.
You can have the ceremony on site, followed by the cocktail hour and reception.
The dance floor is fairly spacious and the living wall is perfect for your romantic first dance wedding photos.
The restaurant's acoustic is impressive and if you plan to have a live band play during your reception you will be impressed.
There is an affordable parking space right across the event space. Its address is 87 Critchley Ln and your guests, friends and family can park underground.
From a wedding photographer's standpoint, the restaurant is located in downtown Toronto, where the artist can take beautiful portraits of the couple, guests and the bridal party in a 2 minute radius. On this cold winter day we stepped out just across from the restaurant, in the Village of Yorkville Park to take a few intimate shots of the bride and groom. During the winter the park is adorned with Christmas lights and especially at night it looks splendid. As a side note, the following evening I went out to capture those lights for another project I am working on. The neighbourhood abounds in terraces and coffee shops (Sorry and Starbucks are my favourites) and is a perfect setting for candid images of the couple. In fact, this is my first option when it comes to photography locations. You will not need a photography permit, the place is close to Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) and U of T and Bloor St. and one can create masterpieces in a short period of time. As you know, time is a valuable commodity on the wedding day.
Wedding Photography Style
During our first meeting with the couple they mention they prefer a photojournalistic, unobtrusive coverage of their special event. The wedding album you just saw was created without much direction from the photographers. I could say about 95% of the images on that day were candid and only the family and group photographs (so important in the Persian tradition) were guided. As a side note, it is customary in many Iranian weddings for the bride and groom to mail a thank you note or card with the photo of the couple and their guests.
Best Places for Group Photos
If you have access to the second floor of the event space, use the wall on the right for family photos. On the lower level the living wall is a good option as well.
The Sofreh Aghd in Persian Wedding Ceremonies
The sofreh aghd is a Persian wedding ceremony spread. Sofreh means spread and aghd means ceremony.
The sofreh includes many symbolical items that represent the bride and groom's new life together. Among them, the mirror and candles will be taken home to remind them of the wedding ceremony. The couple lights the candles during the wedding ceremony and they are of utmost importance, along with the mirror in Persian ceremonies. The couple mentioned to us they wanted plenty of photographs of the sofreh aghd, so one of our photographers went to the restaurant to capture the beauty of the sofreh. The pomegranates represent the fruitful future of the couple. With the many seeds, the pomegranate symbolizes plenty in life and offsprings. Decorative flatbread shaped like flowers symbolize prosperity and abundance of food in the future. Often the flatbread is etched with the words mobarak (congratulations or celebration). The basket of decorated eggs (painted, adorned with beads, etc), the almonds and various nuts represent couple's fertility. The mirror symbolizes light, the coins wealth for the couple, the holy book represents God's blessing. Honey is usually consumed during the ceremony and the bride and groom dip their small finger in honey and offer it to the other to represent sweetness in life. Another reference to a happy life are the sugar cones rubbed above the couple's heads (protected by a cloth) so that the bride and groom have a sweet marriage and life.
Sassafraz restaurant is located at 100 Cumberland St, Toronto, ON M5R 1A6, in the heart of the city, at the intersection of Cumberland and Bellair St. According to critics and google reviews, It is one of the best restaurants in Toronto and it is the recipient of many Choice Awards. We personally enjoyed the professional service at this iconic event space and the first time I learned about this establishment was many years ago when we were blown away by the summerlicious menu. I remember like was yesterday that I had lamb rack paired with a cabernet sauvignon from Napa Valley (California USA). For more information and to book the place, please contact the establishment at Phone: (416) 964-2222
This place is a great choice for the food aficionados and the menu served to your guests is identical to the one served in the restaurant. The quality of food and the excellent service made Sassafraz Toronto one of the most sought after intimate wedding venues in the GTA.
The restaurant does not have its own parking and street parking is rare, especially in the summer. Still, there is a parking lot close by at 84 Critchley Ln. It is open 24 hours and relatively inexpensive.
Highlights of the Celebration
Here is a slideshow that captures some of the best moments of this special event.