Fairy-tale weddings come to life every day at Toronto’s historic Casa Loma, so when Liberty Entertainment Group’s vice-president and creative director Nadia Di Donato’s son and his fiancée announced their engagement, she couldn’t wait to fête the happy couple in this iconic landmark.

By Adriana Ermter & Lisa van de Geyn


As women of a certain age who grew up riveted by the love stories in Disney films, we know that only the most spectacular royal fairy-tale weddings take place at castles. Sure, stories like Cinderella’s and her Prince Charming’s are indeed fictional, but that glorious castle set the ideal for romance and glamour 70 years ago, and for those tying the knot in the city, perhaps the most idyllic place to say your vows is Casa Loma — midtown Toronto’s incomparable castle. “Casa Loma is an absolutely stunning backdrop for any wedding,” says Nadia Di Donato, vice-president and creative director of Liberty Entertainment Group, the company that operates countless special-event facilities and restaurants in the city. “The exceptional ambiance, along with the history and wealth of the artifacts, plus our astute hospitality and high level of service, make this the perfect place to celebrate.”


Built in 1914 by architect E.J. Lennox for Sir Henry Mill Pellatt, the Gothic revival-style castle is one of North America’s only castles. Surrounded by five acres of lush gardens, it boasts three storeys that feature a great hall (with 60-foot ceilings), a conservatory with a stained-glass dome, the Pellatt family’s original library and a stunning pavilion and outdoor terrace. “Couples interested in having their wedding at the castle can reserve any or many of the rooms,” says Di Donato, who recommends booking a year in advance. “Our in-house coordinator oversees every detail from the minute a couple first walks through our doors.” These exceptional details include securing a roster of elite vendors such as Fleur Weddings for floral arrangements and Purple Tree for photography, as well as a white-glove dining service and curated menus by Casa Loma’s executive chef, to name a few. Of the thousands of weddings Di Donato has had a hand in, none have been more special to her and her husband, Nick (Liberty Entertainment Group’s CEO and president), than her son and his fiancée’s magnificent nuptials at the castle last fall.


“The exceptional ambiance, along with the history and wealth of the artifacts, plus our astute hospitality and high level of service, make this the perfect place to celebrate.”


Dr. Justin Di Donato and Dr. Carissa Simone Di Donato said their “I do’s” on November 19, 2022. This awardwinning wedding (it recently won accolades as the Best Wedding $250,000+ at the 2023 Canadian Event Awards) was highly inclusive and uniquely interactive. The ceremony was held in the storied stables on the property, then guests walked through the 800-foot underground tunnel to the main building, which displayed large photos of the couple’s history together.


The reception was perhaps even more unique than the ceremony. “We took over the entire castle,” says Di Donato, explaining there were moments for guests to experience in the great hall, the library, conservatory, the second-floor museum rooms and the third-floor military museum. “Food stations with accompanying beverage pairings were set up throughout all the rooms in the castle, including the bedrooms. There was a late-night cocktail lounge on the third floor; a DJ and dance floor set up in the conservatory that, at 10 p.m., turned into a nightclub; the Casa Loma symphony orchestra played inthe mezzanine overlooking the reception during the first few hours; and Canadian soul and R&B artist Sean Jones performed throughout the evening in different rooms on the main floor. It was a roam-around wedding where guests got to peruse the whole castle while celebrating with Justin and Carissa.”


Each room had its own stunning colour palette to match the fashioned vibe and experience. Flowers were done by Fleur Weddings — every one of the thousands of flowers used for this exceptional day was real, there were no artificial blooms. The great hall — where guests entered and enjoyed cocktails — had white, pink and champagne-coloured roses, hydrangeas and orchids. The library, which Di Donato described as having “understated elegance” was more eclectic with a combination of rectangular and round glass-top tables with gold bases and white Louis chairs and white, champagne and mauve roses, brown hydrangeas and crystal centrepieces. The conservatory took on a high-energy nightclub-like setting with black and gold bars, black sofas and black glass communal tables. The flowers were shades of pink and purple, with vibrant fuchsia hydrangeas and soft pink roses stealing the show. The second floor matched the great hall and featured modern high-top tables allowing guests to move freely throughout, while the third floor embodied a stylish-yet-comfortable cigar lounge full of candles.


If the decor was extraordinary — and it was — the food was nothing short of spectacular. “Food stations and paired beverages in every room were curated to represent the vast array of Liberty Group restaurants,” says Di Donato. “Led by Don Alfonso 1890’s Michelin-Starred chef, each room had a different cuisine style, from oysters, caviar and vodka pairings in Lady Pellatt’s bedroom, to Italian fresh-sliced prosciutto and Amarone in Sir Henry Pellatt’s room.” While executive chef Sean Blomeley from BlueBlood Steakhouse presided over the great hall’s seafood tower (which featured king crab, jumbo prawns, lobster, house-made gravlax and fresh tuna tartare, among other scrumptious offerings), the conservatory housed a homemade pasta station, the Pellatt’s study featured a taco and tequila bar and the Chinoiserie guest room had a sushi and sake bar, just to name a few of the eatery options. Late-night treats included savoury and sweet bits, specialty coffees and teas and a scotch tasting, and the five-tier wedding cake (in the couple’s favourite flavours) was designed and created by Kate Frash.


It truly goes without saying but bears repeating — this was the fairy-tale wedding to end all others. Along with a beautiful bride, handsome groom and 380 admiring family and friends, the castle took centre stage and was the perfect venue to host such an important, memorable and simply magical day.


Photography by Purple Tree Photography