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Couples scrambling to find new wedding venues after Toronto company goes into receivership | CBC News


Some couples who had planned to get married in Toronto are now heartbroken and scrambling to find new venues after a company well known in the events industry has gone into receivership.

In some cases, the would-be brides and grooms have lost their deposits, meaning they are tens of thousands of dollars out of pocket.

The news about Berkeley Events, which runs three venues in downtown Toronto, has been devastating to some and means their dream weddings have now become nightmares.

“It’s definitely a shock, an absolute shock,” says Emma Rockburn, a Toronto resident, who found out on Facebook on Tuesday night, six weeks before her wedding day, that the venue will not be available.

Rockburn said she and her fiance are about $22,000 to $25,000 out of pocket. 

“And now we have to pivot and pay that all over again. As two young professionals in this economy, it’s a hard pill to swallow.”

A document provided by Spergel Licensed Insolvency Trustees shows that msi Spergel Inc., licensed insolvency trustees in Toronto, was appointed receiver of 1871 Berkeley Events Inc. on Monday.

On its website, Berkeley Events says it runs three venues in downtown Toronto: 1871 Berkeley Church, at 315 Queen St. E.; Berkeley Fieldhouse, 311 Queen St. E.; and La Maquette, 111 King St. E. 

Berkeley Events has not released a statement, did not return messages from CBC Toronto and has put a notice on one of its venues, Berkeley Church, saying it has gone into receivership. There are now padlocks on the gates outside of Berkeley Church.

“A review of the financial situation of the Companies indicated that the Companies have no cash resources to operate as such the Receiver will not be operating the Companies. Unfortunately, this means that no events will be occurring at either 317 Queen St East or 111 King St East locations on a go forward basis,” Spergel says on its website.

Emma Rockburn
Emma Rockburn, a Toronto resident, says of the company going into receivership: ‘To find out at about 10 o’clock at night, on my own, having no communication from the venue, obviously, nobody works there anymore, has just been honestly heartbreaking.’ (CBC)

‘Everything revolves around the venue,’ bride says

Rockburn said her wedding has been in the works for more than a year. Her guests have sent in their RSVPs and all vendors have been booked, she said.

She and her partner had planned to have 110 people attend their big day, some coming from out of town, at the Berkeley Fieldhouse on Sept. 16, which would have also been her grandmother’s 102th birthday.

“As a bride, you envision your wedding multiple times a day, right? To every little detail of: What song am I going to walk down to? What is my hair going to look like? What is the response of my partner going to be when I walk down the aisle at this one venue? And everything revolves around the venue,” she said.

“To find out at about 10 o’clock at night, on my own, having no communication from the venue — obviously, nobody works there anymore — has just been honestly heartbreaking.”

Rockburn said she signed an agreement with Berkeley Events a year ago. On Saturday, she says, she spoke to the coordinator of her wedding and now cannot reach anyone at the company.

“It’s unfortunate the circumstances, and I feel, you know, burned. I feel taken advantage of and I feel exploited. But ultimately it’s just about him and I,” she said.

Rockburn said she is now looking for a new venue and has contacted more than 100 venues. She has already received offers of help, but says she’d like a public statement from the company and an apology.

Former VP ‘deeply upset about the sudden closure’

Michael Sherman, the former VP of Berkeley Events & Catering, said in a post on LinkedIn that the news is upsetting.

“I am deeply upset and sad to hear about the sudden closure of Berkeley Events. Berkeley Events was operating efficiently thanks in no small part to a great team of staff. I was blindsided to hear about the financial issues facing our parent company, which owns the operating company and event venues,” Sherman said. 

“To everyone with a booked event: I share your shock and disappointment. We were very much looking forward to hosting you and exceeding every expectation. I hope this city’s great venues can come together to accommodate these celebrations on short notice.”

Bridget Callaghan, right, shows off an engagement ring. Callaghan's wedding is now on hold after Berkeley Events has gone into receivership.
Bridget Callaghan, right, shows off an engagement ring. She is getting married to Connor Boyle, left. Their wedding booking is cancelled after Berkeley Events has gone into receivership. (Submitted by Bridget Callaghan)

Bridget Callaghan, a Toronto resident, said her wedding reception was booked for Oct. 13th at La Maquette and she and her fiance had planned to have 55 people. Some of their guests were to fly in from other provinces.

Now, she said she is “stressed” and “saddened” because the wedding booking has been cancelled and she and her fiance are slightly less than $10,000 out of pocket.

“We are kind of stressed out, along with other couples, wondering if we are going to be getting the deposit back or any funds at all and it’s kind of just very stressful not knowing at all,” she said.

Jessica Lisi, owner of Jessica Lisi Events and a wedding planner, said she was shocked to hear about the receivership. But she said she is hopeful that other venues will be able to help out.

“For those couples that are getting married in the next few weeks that were going to be at Berkeley, it is going to be a little bit difficult,” she said. “But I think that our community will definitely be able to help out in any way that they can.”

The 1871 Berkeley Church courtyard on August 2, 2023.
The courtyard at 1871 Berkeley Church is shown here on August 2, 2023. (Michael Wilson/CBC)


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