Under the Caledon Sun

Tradition takes a twist at a Tuscan-style summer ceremony in the Caledon countryside.

May 17, 2013 | | Back Issues

On a sultry afternoon last August, Renae Cristello and Darren Glennon were married in the stadium jumping ring at the Caledon Riding and Hunt Club. The bride wore white, the groom sported a black Stetson, and horses grazed happily in a nearby pasture as the couple said their vows. As wedding venues go, it was, to say the least, unconventional.

And yet, for the most part tradition ruled at the Caledon couple’s nuptials. “My family is very Italian,” says Renae, “so they preferred to view the horses from afar.” Indeed, this was the first outdoor wedding many of her relatives had ever attended. But Renae, who works at Woodbine Racetrack, and Darren, who is a thoroughbred trainer, have horses in their blood, so the riding club was a perfect choice for them. “It suited both our personalities in a very classy manner,” says Renae. “Upscale, but casual country.”

And although the day was as hot as anything Tuscany could deliver, guests stayed cool in the shade of a marquis surrounded by sweeping views of the Caledon countryside. “There was a lovely breeze,” says Renae, “and everything glowed in the beautiful light.”

Despite the unusual setting, there was never any doubt in Renae’s mind about what to serve the 120 family and friends. True to her Italian roots, she had her heart set on a traditional five-course sit-down dinner. Appetizer, pasta, meat/seafood, salad, dessert. And she knew where to get it – or so she thought.

Every Valentine’s Day Renae and Darren treated themselves to dinner at Chef Talk Bistro in Bolton where chef Fabrizio Natale had been wowing guests since 2005. “We were long-time lovers of his food,” says Renae. So she was more than a little dismayed when she learned the restaurant had closed early last year. But after a few calls, she discovered her favourite chef was still in the catering business.

Renae trusted Fabrizio so completely that she let him set the menu for the wedding. “‘I don’t care what you serve,’ I said. ‘This is my budget. Go for it.’”

Renae’s grandparents and their four eldest children came to Canada in the 1940s. Her father, the fifth child, was born here. And the menu Chef came up with was typical of Italian feasts the family had enjoyed for generations.

“I received endless compliments on the food,” says Renae of the menu which began with an antipasto plate of prosciutto, melon, marinated vegetables, tomato bocconcini, salami and olives. The pasta was penne alla vodka, followed by chicken Marsala and seafood bouillabaisse, and finishing with a garden salad. Dessert was fresh fruit and, of course, the cake – lemon with a buttercream icing.

“There was perfectly too much food,” says the bride.

After dinner the couple, who as tradition would have it, were prevented from eating much of anything thanks to the persistent tinkling of spoons on glasses, performed their first dance as man and wife to “Wanted” by country star Hunter Hayes. And as the sun went down over the Escarpment, it was replaced by a gibbous moon and the light of countless candles.

“Everyone,” says the happy bride, “was overwhelmed by how perfect it was.”

The Menu


mushroom frittatas, beef tenderloin on crostini, bocconcini-wrapped zucchini,
cocktail sausages, bruschetta, spinach phyllo triangles, Swedish meatballs

 antipasto plate

prosciutto, melon, marinated vegetables, tomato bocconcini, salami, olives


penne alla vodka


grilled chicken Marsala with roast potatoes and steamed veggies


tomato seafood bouillabaisse


garden salad


fruit platter

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