Destination ‘I Do’

WHISPERING SPRINGS: an idyllic setting for wedding photographs; opposite page; Alyssa Jansen and Erik Marble in the forest chapel. Photograph from left to right : Marjan Photography; Howdy Pictures

THE CAPE: The historic mansion in downtown Picton is the perfect location for an elegant wedding; Arian Emond and Matthew Topic on the steps of The CAPE; from the ceremony to the honeymoon, the refinement continues. Photographs opposite page, clockwise from top left: Holly McMurter; BKH Photo; Holly McMurter; Ryanne Hollies

VENUE 1906: Celebrating a marriage –- from vows to reception – in the quiet dignity of a historic landmark makes a wedding a unique experience. Photograph on left: Pic Jager Photography; middle and right: Andrew McLaughlin Photography

THE MEADOWS: The diversity of natural backdrops, including a whimsical pine forest set the stage for outdoor wedding celebrations. Photograph on the left: Russett Photography; middle and right: Tirath Shergill Photography

REDFORD ON THE BAY: A wedding set along the banks of the Trent-Severn Waterway brings a sense of serenity to the occasion. Photographs from left to right: Dana Dobroshinsk; Chris Savage

Couples looking for an unforgettable wedding spot offering a mix of cinematic country vistas and iconic architecture are falling for our region’s charming locations.

What makes a wedding day particularly memorable? Amazing food, fabulous fashion and showstopping florals of course headline the list, but the most important and impactful detail for couples getting married in today’s world is hosting their celebration in an environment that packs a mega wow factor.

Couples are investing in not only a memorable celebration for each other, but a next-level guest experience. Being invited to a wedding in post-pandemic times has taken on a greater meaning. After years of not being able to gather, there is a newfound joy in being asked to celebrate lifetime milestones, with marriage being one of the biggest.

In the era of anything-goes weddings – you can have them micro, macro, on a weekday, or for an entire weekend – the place of celebration has become more important than ever.


When Alyssa Jansen and Erik Marble began planning their late September wedding last year, the most important thing on their list of party particulars was making their event experience as memorable for them as it was for their 70 guests. The venue they chose had to be spectacular. The couple live in Hamilton, but Alyssa was born and raised in Timmins, while Erik grew up in Calgary. That meant their guests would be travelling from all over to celebrate with them, and the idea of a dreamy destination wedding was appealing because it would deliver that next-level celebration they wanted. To their delight, they found the perfect spot for their wedding at a location less than two hours from home at Whispering Springs Glamping Resort in Grafton.

Situated on 200 acres in the heart of Northumberland County, Whispering Springs is an intimate and unique wedding venue. To a city person, the property is a natural wonder, featuring forest, wildflowers, pastures, spring-fed ponds and on-site accommodations that include custom-built chalets and spacious African-inspired safari tents. The resort offers a feeling of unparalleled privacy and exclusivity in a natural environment.

“The venue is beyond stunning and is a place that literally makes your jaw drop when you first step on the property,” Alyssa says. “Our guests were blown away by the scenery, the gardens, the thoughtful décor in each tent, and the intimate Forest Chapel that belongs in a fairytale. My most vivid memory of our day was when Erik was reading his vows, and it was so quiet and intimate we could hear the nearby creek trickling in the background.”

“Though many of our couples come from the GTA, we’ve had couples travel from Australia, England, China and Japan to have their wedding with us,” says owner Nancy Corcoran. “It feels like you are … miles away from the rest of the world.”

“We love bringing the idea of dream weddings to life and have had so many fun ones in the last few years including a Twilight-inspired wedding as well as a Super Mario-themed one.”

This is the very reason weddings in the Watershed region are so special, and venues like Whispering Springs have become top location choices for couples near and far.


Alex Baillie-David is the owner of Ottawa-based Baillie-David & Co. and has a passion for the Prince Edward County area, a location she has made a focus of her wedding planning and design business since 2020. Over the past few years she reports she has seen the County grow to be a go-to wedding destination for people in Ottawa, Toronto and everywhere in between, who love the atmosphere of the location, which Baillie-David describes as a perfect mix of casual and sophisticated.

“It is a naturally beautiful area, and there are so many places to have a wedding,” Baillie-David shares. “When I started planning weddings in the County, my vision was to inspire more couples to use the natural settings as a backdrop. Who needs to go south when we have white sandy beaches and clear blue water right here on Lake Ontario? I am seeing couples being more open to creative ideas and locations right now; it feels like it’s only the beginning of a new wedding scene.”

Though Baillie-David has a few favourite wedding locales, The CAPE in Picton is the one that tops her list. The Georgian mansion built in 1863 has been lovingly restored to its original grandeur and is a sweeping, spectacular backdrop for a wedding.

“We are located in the heart of Picton, and we have a sprawling front lawn where couples love to host their event outdoors under the summer stars,” says Jake Curl, general manager of The CAPE. “In addition to entertaining outdoors, you can host various parts of the day in multiple areas and spaces on the property, which means it’s super easy to surprise and delight guests with specific areas for your ceremony, cocktail reception and dining, which could be in the tent, our Odyssey ballroom or al fresco.”

According to Curl, The CAPE hosts just 24 to 30 weddings a year, with the majority between May and October. Couples are typically booking 12 to 18 months in advance, and size-wise, the sweet spot seems to be anywhere from 70 to 130 guests, but Curl reports micro weddings continue to be popular, especially elopements booked Monday to Thursday.

When Arian Emond and Matthew Topic married at The CAPE last August the guest count was 100 and they booked out the entire venue for their wedding weekend. The elegance of the building and the beauty outside of the manor home is something they fell for in an instant. “It was easy to picture all our guests enjoying that garden and dining under a tent. We also knew we wanted to do a disco afterparty and as soon as we saw the ballroom we imagined what we could do to the space.”


Venue 1906 in Belleville is another old-world space that boasts a rich history and a truly bespoke atmosphere for weddings. When Jeanette de Boer and partner Mark Vreugdenhil purchased the building in 2020, they bought the century-old Baptist church with the sole intent of preserving its character and historical position in downtown Belleville.

“As we explored potential uses for the building, friends brought the lack of unique wedding venues in Belleville to our attention, and it seemed like such a natural fit for the building,” de Boer says. “The space is a special one as it maintains many of the original details and as much character as we could manage to preserve. It’s so grand and romantic; a space that can be as simple or as extravagant as desired.”

Details to love at Venue 1906 include the soaring ceilings complete with dark wood beams, stunning stained glass windows, rustic wooden flooring, vintage church pews – and it even has the church’s original organ pipes. It’s the perfect, all-inclusive facility to host a wedding (ceremony, cocktails, dinner and dancing) and can accommodate up to 140, but de Boer says it is also a beautiful choice for an intimate event of 25 guests. Because Venue 1906 is an indoor space, de Boer notes autumn is the busiest season, but weddings and receptions during the winter months are also very popular.

“Events in the summer months tend not to book as quickly, but it is a gorgeous time, and we do have air conditioning!” And Venue 1906 is just a few blocks away from the Corby Rose Garden downtown, which is a popular and beautiful spot for summer wedding photos.


The Meadows is an otherworldly wedding space located on 27 verdant acres just east of the village of Stirling. Owner Kori Lekun, who is also the event coordinator and planner, says that what she loves most about planning weddings at The Meadows is the diversity of natural backdrops that frame the celebrations.

“Our landscape features a mix of meadow and forest, and we have a choice of four different ceremony locations. Receptions happen in our covered outdoor pavilion, which has a concrete lounge, three firepits, and a gravel stone walkway that leads to a whimsical pine forest.”

With the luxury of space to explore, so too come a host of iconic wedding photography options, notes Lekun. The pine forest ceremony location is dramatic and romantic and has a couples’ exit on a winding boardwalk draped in wild ferns – this is an essential photo moment at The Meadows.

“Our grassy meadows also make for some incredible photographs for those brave enough to encounter the crickets and bumble bees,” Lekun laughs. “At night, we recommend couples sneak away during the golden hour to take romantic photos on top of the hill, behind the wedding pavilion. We often get cotton candy skies and have seen some beautiful silhouettes up there. Couples love to finish the photo opps for the day under the pavilion with all the string lights lit above them and their guests, with the feel of the starry night above them.”

“As an all-inclusive venue, we only host weddings on Fridays, Saturdays and holiday Sundays,” explains Lekun. “Most Sundays we host tours and planning meetings with couples that have upcoming weddings. We host about 40 weddings a year, and as we operate seasonally, we have a condensed window for booking.”


Having a wedding day that feels both blissfully celebratory as well as serene and restorative to the soul is essential for modern couples today, which is another reason why the environment of an event has become so vital.

Redford on the Bay is an Airbnb property located in Frankford on the Trent-Severn Waterway. It has become a choice spot for couples looking for a wedding venue that’s not only private, but also totally Zen. The rustic A-frame home sits on a quiet bay and has almost two acres of grounds including a lush, forested section. Owner Nissa Belmonte says the venue is ideal for micro weddings and elopements, or for bigger parties of up to 85 guests. Belmonte and her husband Joe are completely hands on when it comes to event planning on site. They work with couples to create the perfect look and feel for the day, with a host of preferred vendors from the area including photographers, officiants, and hair and makeup artists.

“From May to October we can host larger outdoor ceremonies,” Belmonte says. “We can do smaller celebrations all year inside, and because we are such a unique property, we are always open to opportunities to try something new. We host weddings for the love of it and we know how important it is to us, and to our couples, to fulfill the vision for the day.”

Belmonte says up to eight guests (furry friends are welcome too) can sleep at the house, which makes it just the spot for the wedding party to stay the night before. Post-wedding, many couples opt to stay on for a few days to enjoy their newlywed status in a destination that allows them to disconnect from everyday life.

“Our property is a great place to unwind after the wedding is over,” Belmonte says. “We encourage our couples to stay on their own to enjoy nature, relax waterside and reminisce about their wonderful day.”

With the wedding boom which started in 2023 continuing this year (and into next), atmospheric venues offering bespoke events are an extremely hot commodity, particularly in the summer when the natural beauty and historic architecture of our local surroundings truly shine. If you’re planning a wedding, let your imagination wander into the hills, meadows, forests and towns that will bring magic to your celebration.


Find your dream venue with this comprehensive guide to Watershed wedding locations.


The Barn at Herrington Estates, Brighton
This family-run farm is an all-inclusive wedding location boasting romantic country vistas and rustic barn venue which can host up to 200 guests.

Coach House Wedding, Brighton
This charming guest house in the country is the perfect spot to host an intimate and unforgettable micro-wedding.

The Eh Frame, Grafton
This bed and breakfast on 50 acres features incredible Scandi-inspired architecture and is a dream spot for an elopement.

Ganaraska Forest Centre, Campbellcroft
This is an incredible DIY wedding location that brings you close to nature in the heart of the 11,000-acre Ganaraska Forest.

Lake to Skyview Farm, Cobourg
A picture-perfect country wedding venue with sweeping views of Lake Ontario and the capacity for up to 150 guests.

Meadow View Gardens, Roseneath
Much of this property’s 37 acres is landscaped with jaw dropping English-inspired gardens making it a stunning venue choice.


The Belleville Club, Belleville
The inviting and historic architecture which dates to the 19th century provides a stunning and romantic big day backdrop.

Black Bear Ridge Golf Club, Belleville
Expansive views and stunning sunsets at this club offer a unique destination for your unforgettable weddings.

The Grand, Belleville
An elegant wedding location, The Grand is known to offer incredible menus and this spot is the perfect location for any size, style, or theme of wedding.

The Hayloft Dancehall, Cherry Valley
This seasonal barn venue is over 100 years old and has been hosting nuptials and rollicking dancehall parties for over 50 years.

Montrose Inn, Trenton
This charming boutique inn has so many incredible spots for a wedding on property; it feels like it’s something straight out of an old Hollywood movie.

Occasions By the Bay, Trenton
The grand ballroom is the star attraction here as are the manicured gardens and lush green space.


Carriage Lane Elopements, Picton
Eloping is in, and this is one of the most picturesque environments to run away to and get married in. Features two waterfront venues.

Casa-Dea Winery & Banquet Hall, Wellington
The vineyard wedding is a thing of beauty, and this spectacular location also includes an indoor space to celebrate with up to 200 guests.

The Eddie Hotel & Farm, Wellington
Situated in the heart of PEC, this all-inclusive venue stars an iconic red barn set on 80 lush acres of apple orchards, landscaped gardens and rolling farm fields.

The Merrill House, Picton
This artful and luxurious boutique hotel offers the perfect backdrop for a wedding that is ultra-cool and creative.

The Waring House, Picton
A traditional wedding awaits at this stunning, historic County landmark. Enjoy gardenscapes, picture-perfect backdrops and stunning views.

Wander the Resort, Bloomfield
The style here is Nordic chic meets County comfort. The property is home to 10 luxe cabins along the beach and some incredible spaces to host a wedding celebration.

Waupoos Island Camp, Cherry Valley
This boat-access-only event venue offers a private, beach front wedding location that is pure magic.

Waupoos Estates Winery, Picton
This beautifully renovated century home is perfectly situated in a vineyard along the shores of Lake Ontario which makes for the most epic wedding backdrop.

We did our utmost to ensure we included as many wedding venues as space would allow. We apologize for any that may have been missed.

Story by:
Alison McGill

[Spring 2024 features]