Archive for Alison McGill

How Pose To Like A Star For Your Wedding Photos

Planning » Photo/Video

Photography by Alvaro Goveia from this shoot for Weddingbells Fall & Winter 2018 issue.

Think of your wedding day as your red carpet moment. A glamourous gown, flawless hair and makeup, and being photographed from all angles, morning ‘til night. How do Lady Gaga, Zoe Kravitz, Angelina and Nicole always manage to look perfect in every picture? They know the secrets—how to pose, find the best light and work with the camera. This is something you need to be savvy about for your wedding day and we spoke to Alvaro Goveia, one of Canada’s top fashion photographers (he’s shot Andi MacDowell, Tessa Virtue and supermodels like Liisa Winkler, Daria Werbowy, Tasha Tilberg to name just a few) and a regular Weddingbells contributor for his secrets to flawless photos and how to put your most photogenic, beautiful self forward!

As an editorial photographer, impactful photography is essential in your work? What is the secret to capturing an amazing photo?
“The secret is quite simple actually. It’s about capturing great light and communicating with your subjects. Relaxed comfortable subjects give you great moments and great moments make great photographs.”

For the royal wedding, Harry and Meghan famously chose an editorial fashion photographer for their shots and the results were very different and modern wedding photos. What did you love about the photos and how did you find them fashion forward?
“The photographer of choice, Alexi Lubomirski, captured modern wedding portraits of the royal couple. They were not the traditional look-at-the-camera type of portraits. Some had the couple looking off camera, at each other, or a mix of both. There were photos with their eyes closed, big smiles as well as more tender, intimate smiles. The photographs captured a moment and the selects were tastefully edited, the couple looked like themselves, comfortable and enjoying having their photograph being taken. Even the family portraits had a fashion angle as they were beautifully styled and art directed. The room had green accents, which matched the flowers and the outfits of HRH The Queen and Meghan’s mother Doria. It was a very stylish and different take on a traditional wedding photo.”

Photo via Instagram/@kensingtonroyal.

Posing for photographs is difficult, but the right angles makes the difference between a good and a great photo. What are your expert tips for posing?
“One of the best insider tips I can share: keeping your chin down is key! It makes your eyes appear bigger and you should constantly refresh your smile. Standing or sitting slightly on the side as apposed to straight to the camera always gives your body nicer silhouette.”

grand bridal gowns - dramatic dress

Photography by Alvaro Goveia from this shoot for Weddingbells Fall & Winter 2016 issue.

How should a couple let their photographer know they would like unique, different and editorial feeling images on their wedding day?
“Have a conversation with your photographer and tell her or him what you are looking for in your photographs. Show the shots you like in their portfolio, and references you love from magazines or Instagram. Explain what you love about the references and work together to create your style for the day.”

The Best Wedding Hair For 2019

Fashion & Beauty » Hairstyles

Hair by Jason Lee. Photography by Erin Leydon as seen in this real wedding.

Next to your dress, the biggest style decision you need to make for your wedding day is about your hair. Do you need to grow it? Do you have to wear an updo? Can you wear it short and sassy? We needed to call in an expert for this one and asked one of our favourites, colourist and stylist Jason Lee at Serge Normant at John Freida in New York and owner of Jason Lee Salon in Toronto to answer ALL of our wedding hair questions (and more!).

What is your favourite look for wearing hair down?
“The ever-popular beach waves have evolved into a much softer and looser appearance I love that. The waves should brushed out a little and less defined. Another great addition could be a simple veil or few hair accessories add some subtle detail if the dress permits.”

Wedding updos… hit or a miss for 2019 brides?
“Choosing a hairstyle for a bride whether up or down should always reflect the theme of the wedding along with the details of her dress.  If the theme is bohemian or whimsical, wear hair down or loosely up to echo the experience of the wedding. If the theme is more formal, then it makes sense to consider an up style that is a little more structured. So while it seems wearing hair down is the current day trend, it really depends on what is the right decision for the overall concept. I feel for brides, hair for 2019 should be worn in a more natural appearance without too much going on. I am personally nota big fan of braids or twists for 2019, the look should be classic and clean. Timeless options such as a low ponytail, a chignon or half up should be simple and not too busy or elaborate.”

Short-hair for brides? Discuss.
“I love it! The silhouette of short hair and a wedding dress is beautiful and I think should happen more often. I also think the hair should be simple and not overly styled. A soft 60’s Mia Farrow pixie cut looks amazing on a bride and if the hair is a bob, it should just be softly waved or worn straight and possibly tucked behind one ear.”

What celebrity wedding hair do you love?
“I always refer back to John F. Kennedy Jr. and Carolyn Bessette’s timeless wedding because in 1996 she single handedly made the low chignon the perfect hairstyle for decades to come. That’s my favourite wedding hair of all time! More recently I also loved Miley Cyrus’ hair at her private wedding to Liam Hemsworth because it was just so healthy and shiny and simple. A very subtle wave and beautiful color allowed her hair to not steal the attention but just help to support her overall bridal style. Another all time fave was Solange’s wedding hair. Worn naturally, her hair complimented the entire aesthetic of her very cool wedding.”

Do most brides come to you with an idea of what they want for their hair, or do you do the steering? How important is a stylist’s expertise when it comes to wedding hair?
“The consultation is the key moment when planning your wedding hair. It’s always very important your hairstylist understands the theme of the wedding, any details happening such as where photos will be taken, time of the year (in order to understand the level of heat, wind or humidity which can affect the hairstyle) and details of the dress. I always love when a bride has a few ideas in her mind of what she is envisioning for her wedding hair because her personal style is extremely important in the decision making. That said, a stylist needs to also be able to not get too involved as well in order not to make the hair overly complicated and of a certain hair-era. Technically, a stylist needs to be able to understand how to make the wedding hair last over a long day. Using the right products and setting the hair will allow for the hairstyle to last throughout their special day.”

When should a bride start making her hair plan with her stylist?
“Ideally the minute you know your wedding date, you want to secure your stylist.  Great stylists can be booked months if not a year in advance and so you want to ensure yours can be there for you. Also, something to consider is whether or not you will want to get your hair done and touched up later in the day. This will be something you’ll have to build into your budget and I do recommend if you are expecting to have a long day.”

Two dresses is the new norm for brides and we have also seen the second hairstyle as made famous by Meghan Markle. What are your tips for brides who want to switch up their hair looks from ceremony to reception?
“Start with a style which can be easily worked into a second style without leaving too much evidence behind. All hairstyles will start with a set. A set is usually some form of blow-dry or rollers or curling iron set. Then that needs to be brushed out into your first look which will easily need to be transformed into a second. A soft low ponytail can easily be transformed into a chignon or up style afterwards. A beautiful down wavy style can also be put up easily into a different ‘do.”

 

Why You Should Consider Planning A Secret Wedding

Planning

Photography by Ikonica.

I just celebrated my 10th wedding anniversary. It’s hard to believe it’s been a decade since that wonderful wintery day in February when we said ‘I do’ at Langdon Hall Country House Hotel & Spa. I’m often asked about my wedding and how it all went down. Make no mistake, I had the most magical, personal and amazing day, but it was anything but a huge, epic, OTT affair. Ultra-intimate and incredibly personal was our vibe. There were only two invited guests—my parents—and it was also a secret wedding as in nobody except a handful of people involved with it knew it was happening. We did it way before Justin and Hailey made it cool.

Why a secret wedding? It was totally us. We are a very on the DL couple and wanted our day to be exclusively ours. I also practice what I preach. Our motto at Weddingbells is you should have your day, your way, whatever that looks like for you. It’s your party, plan it the way you want it… you do you. If a private, under-the-radar wedding day is something you’ve thought about, here’s are five reasons why it may be a perfect choice for you.

Two words: low stress. Since there’s basically no guests to worry about, planning your day will be relatively easy. I still wanted all the elements of the day—a white dress, flowers, cake, photography, amazing venue and food—so that took a little organizing but fell into place quickly and easily.

You don’t have to wait long. I started planning in November and our wedding was in February. Once I secured my venue I was off and planning. The biggest part your secret wedding plan will be deciding your venue or destination and from there, it’s easy peasy.

There’s greater budget control. If you opt for city hall and dinner at a favourite resto it’s obviously going to cost less than a luxury elopement destination affair. That’s the beauty of an intimate wedding—you can choose to save or splurge where you want to!

It’s ultra-romantic. In an age where privacy is an ever-shrinking luxury it’s a decadent choice to keep your day secretive and just for the two (or few) or you.

You’re attention shy. Make no mistake, a wedding is ALL about you and if one or both of you are not comfortable having the spotlight on you it can make for a very anxiety-inducing and emotionally turbulent day. When it’s intimate and nobody knows about it, there’s no pressure and no problems.

If you do opt to go the secret route, the one thing you do have to be prepare for is there will be friends and family who will be disappointed they weren’t a part of your day. Hopefully most will be happy and want to celebrate the news with you over brunch, lunch, dinner or drinks. And for those who continue to voice their discontentment, remember it’s their issue, and not yours.

Find The Best Wedding Ideas In Montreal At The 10th Annual Bridal Boudoir Affair

Planning

Photo courtesy of the Bridal Boudoir Affair.

Event planner extraordinaire Maddy K has made the Bridal Boudoir Affair (BBA) show one of  Montreal’s must-attend events. The show is celebrating it’s 10th anniversary in 2019 with an all-star showcase lined up for March 31 at the historic city venue the St-James Theatre in Old Montreal.

Weddingbells and our sister publication Mariage Québec have been been a supporter of the show since its inception, and it’s an event that is incredibly executed and curated—Maddy outdoes herself year after year, always putting together an incredible, immersive experience for couples featuring the best-of-the-best in the business. This year’s show, themed the 10th anniversary Emerald Edition continues Maddy’s evolution of her show and of wedding planning. “I am so excited for the next decade because I know there’s just so much more amazingness ahead,” Maddy shares. “My goal with Bridal Boudoir has always been not to produce a show, but an experience.”

Photo courtesy of the Bridal Boudoir Affair.

The show will feature an expertly curated lineup of vendors from the city showcasing the hautest wedding trends. Just a few of the all-stars lined up for this year’s show include Celebrations Group, Patisserie Tillemont, Galleria Della Sposa and White Montreal. As ever, the fashion show will be one of the buzziest features of the Bridal Boudoir Affair and this year the show is produced by Canadian fashion all-star Hans Koechling from The Image Is…who has helmed events for global fashion houses including Chanel, Hugo Boss, Escada and Romona Keveza. “Having the opportunity to work with The Bridal Boudoir and Maddy K has been an amazing experience,” Koechling says. “We will be making bridal fashion fantasies come true working with an incredible lineup of international designers and artists.”

For more information about the 10th Annual Bridal Boudoir Affair show and to buy tickets visit bridalboudoir19.eventbrite.ca.

 

 

Why The Maldives Is The Ultimate Honeymoon Paradise

Travel » Honeymoons

Tell someone you are going to Maldives and watch their head spin. It’s one of the world’s most gorgeous, sexy, exotic and coveted locales; a place celebrities frequent (Gwyneth Paltrow just honeymooned there in December!) and most of us mere mortals only dream of visiting. It tops most romantic travel bucket list trips. We recently lived the dream and had the chance to explore this remote archipelago of atolls. It truly is everything you envision it to be—here we break down what makes the Maldives such an incredible and unforgettable honeymoon hotspot.

Maldives 101
The Republic of the Maldives is a sovereign archipelagic nation located in the Indian Ocean. The Maldives is comprised of 26 natural atolls consisting of dual island chains and it is located in a strategic area with access to major international sea routes in the Indian Ocean. The Maldives is actually situated on top of a vast underwater mountain range with more than 1,190 islands and sandbanks. All the islands are encircled by a lagoon which has the most incredible crystal clear water. The islands are protected by a reef structure, housing some of the world’s most exclusive and spectacular underwater life.

What Makes The Maldives So Amazing?
You will definitely fall in love with the incredible geography of The Maldives. The waters are the most incredible shades of azure and turquoise. The white sand beaches are pristine and some of the best in the world and it’s sunny for a good part of the year (wet season is from May through November). Because it is such a remote destination, it is incredibly private, which is why celebrities adore it—Gwyneth, The Biebers and influencer Chiara Ferragni have all recently honeymooned there. Once you are on resort, there is not much more to do than soak in all the beauty of your chosen island paradise. You can dive, spa, dine, beach explore, swim and completely unplug (all resorts do have Wi-Fi though!) Any transportation off resort is via boat or seaplane.

Photography courtesy of Four Seasons Resort Maldives At Kuda Huraa.

Where to Stay
For the ultimate trip of a lifetime, plan your honeymoon stay with time divided between the two otherworldly Four Seasons Maldives properties. Upon arrival at Malé airport, start your island adventure at the Four Seasons Resort Maldives At Kuda Huraa. You will be met by resort staff and whisked to your destination via speedboat ride. The hotel’s breezy and luxe open air lobby sets the tone for the absolute Zen you will experience at this lavish island paradise—even when the resort is at capacity you’ll feel as though you have this Maldivian village-feeling property all to yourself. There are a few different room types to chose from at Kuda Huraa and each is spectacular, but the choice honeymoon pick is a sunrise overwater villa complete with your own infinity pool you can dive into from your bedroom and look over the azure waters of the crystal lagoon that surrounds you (you can also access the ocean via a ladder on your bungalow deck).

The resort can be easily navigated on foot or via bicycle and getting to the resort’s Island Spa is a particular treat as you hop on a traditional dhoni boat to ferry you the short distance across the lagoon. For the most supreme spa experience, visit at night for the Secrets of the Sea scrub/wrap/floating massage enjoyed under the island’s stars. You can also dive, paddle board, take a scenic cruise around the island or just luxuriate in your bungalow and enjoy world-class private dining—indulge yourself!

Photography by Alison McGill.

To reach your next hotel stop, hop aboard a Trans Maldivian Airways flight and take a 30-minute island hop to Four Season Resort Maldives At Landaa Giraavaru. This lush, verdant island hideaway is located in the BAA Atoll UNESCO Biopshere Reserve that is focused on wellness thanks to the ancient Indian healthy-lifestyle practice of Ayurveda. The most exclusive accommodations here are also overwater villas, where you can dive straight from your deck into the ocean for a swim or snorkel and observe hundreds species of Maldivian marine life, including manta rays.

With a focus on wellness, the resort has its own Ayurvedic doctor on-staff who you can book a consult. The doctor will evaluate your current body and mind state and suggest strategies for optimum wellness (a perfect thing to do after the stress of wedding!). The open-air spa is quite simply one of the most spectacular on the planet and much of the menu is focused on treatments with an Ayurvedic twist. The 75-minute Abhyanga massage is a must do—two therapists work in tandem using warm oils which are chosen especially for you based on your dosha and the treatment closes with a steam shower and custom-mixed body scrub.

Another of our favourite honeymoon experiences at Landaa Giraavaru is booking the mid-ocean table for two dining experience, where you sail out from the resort’s shore to a floating platform in the middle of the Indian Ocean for a candlelight dinner served by boat. Sound like a dream? Everything about this property and Kuda Huraa absolutely is.

Getting There

If you’re going to indulge yourself with the ultimate celebrity honeymoon, you want to get there in high style so consider splashing out with a business class ticket to Maldives on Cathay Pacific. From Vancouver and Toronto, you can fly direct to Hong Kong, then connect on to your island oasis from there. Though the trip is a long (i.e. 12 hours to Hong Kong from Toronto, then another six to Malé) Cathay’s business class cabin ensures you arrive rested and relaxed thanks to your travel pod that comes equipped with a fully reclining bed, duvet, tons of movies and shows on Netflix, and gourmet food on demand (each meal comes with a full cheese and dessert course beautifully displayed on a proper trolley!).

Inside Cathay Pacific’s The Wing Lounge in Hong Kong. Photographer courtesy of Cathay Pacific.

The dan dan noodles are renown as one of the best airport lounge dishes in the world! Photography courtesy of Cathay Pacific.

You likely will have a layover in Hong Kong which gives you time to check out Cathay’s world-renown airport lounges. There are four in total—The Wing, The Bridge, The Pier and The Deck. You could literally spend days in these high design style spaces—which feel more like a luxury home or hotel than a lounge—experiencing all the incredible food offerings (hello noodle bars—Cathay Pacific’s dan dan noodles are legendary) and amenities like foot massages, showers and tranquil, cozy sleep areas.

How To Create A Perfect Wedding Hashtag

Planning

create_a_memorable_wedding_hashtag

Photo by Shannon Yau

A creative, cute and clever wedding hashtag for your nuptials is a must, but what makes a perfect one? Though this sounds like a relatively easy wedding planning task, you’d be surprised how much time and energy finding the perfect wedding hashtag can take.

“A hashtag has to be three things: short, memorable and personal,” explains Gillian Roberts, principal at Toronto-based events company Gillian Roberts & Co. “It should be short so people don’t make a mistake and spell something incorrectly, therefore defeating the purpose of the hashtag altogether. It should be memorable so your guests can easily remember it and not constantly have to look for it. Most importantly, it should be personal. If you and your fiance are laid back, funny people then your hashtag should be witty as well. If you’re more conservative and having a more traditional wedding then your hashtag should reflect that. Don’t force something that isn’t you.”

Read on for more of Roberts tips on creating the perfect hashtag for your celebration.

Weddingbells: Why is it so important to have a wedding hashtag?
Gillian Roberts: “Wedding hashtags are great because they’re the easiest way to have all of your guests’ pictures from your wedding and events leading up to your wedding in one, easy-to-find place. Your wedding hashtag also in many ways becomes the brand name for your wedding and allows your social media followers to follow along on your journey.”

WB: When do you you need to create your hashtag?
GR: “It’s best to have your wedding hashtag created before your first wedding event, for example your engagement party or bridal shower. If you like, you can always use it if you post about wedding dress shopping or choosing your bridal party but that depends on your personal level of social media activity. Be yourself and share as much as you like to share.”

WB: What should be avoided when creating a wedding hashtag?
GR: “Avoid anything that could cause people to have to think about it too much. Avoid it being too long, having incorrect spellings; numbers are not ideal. You want it to be simple and easy to remember.”

WB: Should you include your hashtag on your wedding invites?
GR: “I suggest not including your wedding hashtag on your invitation. Your invitation is a special keepsake that you may frame cherish your entire life. I don’t like the idea of a hashtag on an invitation because invitations should be timeless and we don’t know where hashtags will be (or if they will even exist) down the road.”

This Sweet Valentine’s Day Elopement Was Shot On An iPhone XR And The Photos Are Incredible

Real Weddings

Photography by Tomasz Wagner shot on iPhone XR.

Vancouver couple Marie Pigarowa and Derek Gee describe themselves as an unconventional couple, so it only made sense they would chose to get married in an unconventional way. Just before Valentine’s Day, on February 12th, the pair snuck off for a romantic elopement set against the dramatic and beautiful backdrop of Cannon Beach and Ecola State Park in Oregon. “This is where we were engaged and the Oregon Coast is probably one of the coolest places we’ve been to,” Marie shares. “We love exploring and the Oregon coast beautifully captures that adventurous feeling.”

Marie says they chose to elope for a few reasons. “We aren’t traditional people so it seemed very us. Also, while we loved the idea of a big wedding, it just wasn’t our style or something we were prepared for budget wise.”

To capture all the romance and sweeping scenery of their most intimate affair, Vancouver photographer Tomasz Wagner used the new iPhone XR. The camera in Apple’s latest device is built for capturing moments just like this elopement thanks to some shiny new features including enhanced portrait and bokeh mode, increased low light capabilities and Smart HDR which brings more highlight and shadow detail to photos.

“The iPhone XR surprised me with its speed and responsiveness,” Wagner says. “The shutter was incredibly fast which made for some fun animated gifs. Additionally, HDR helped keep the image flat which give me lots of range while editing. The phone is perfect for capturing beautiful travel moments and landscapes like the backdrop to Marie and Derek’s wedding and to integrate into my photography kit alongside my regular equipment.”

Check out the amazing images Wagner captured using the iPhone XR from Marie and Derek’s wedding day.

“I wanted both an intimate but open portrait of Marie, displaying more of her posture as we spent some time in this architecture studio in downtown Portland,” Wager explains. “I usually reach for a wider lens in these cases so the XR’s camera right into my usual shooting style with and portrait mode capabilities.”

“It was a dark and foggy day, but this one window coupled with the XR’s great low light capabilities made this portrait with Derek possible, especially with all the dark wood in this eclectic home,” Wagner shares.

“Here I used portrait mode with the natural addition of soft light and haze from the XR’s lens,” Wagner explains. “With it being February and coastal weather always a bit temperamental, it was important to stay close and warm as the wind cut through us!”

“I used portrait mode here to apply depth of field and separate Marie & Derek from the background, capturing their expressions as they enjoyed each other’s company in a place that has become doubly important (where they got engaged and where they decided to get married),” Wagner says. “What’s interesting is the XR only needed half a face to detect and apply said depth of field.”

“Here I used portrait mode again with  in-camera studio lighting to add a bit of light to Derek’s face,” Wagner says. “I love this candid shot of him rocking the dino socks, finishing off his champagne, and enjoying the wind in his hair.”

“This shot is a great example of how well the X’s Smart HDR handles its dynamic range between the brightest and darkest parts of the image,” Wagner explains. “As the water moves in, Marie & Derek escape the rocks to enjoy the last bit of sunlight.”

“Marie knew she was going to get her beautiful Truvelle dress dirty during our time together but at this moment the ocean snuck up on them for one more attempt,” Wagner says. “Capturing Marie’s split-second expression here with a fast shutter was priceless!”

“This is a favourite moment with Marie & Derek as I had them balance on slippery rocks while throwing the bouquet to one another,” Wagner says. “Timing these kinds of action shots is pretty challenging (not just for the right composition but to have everything in focus) so having a fast shutter certainly helped in this situation.”

“While photographers normally use a wide angle lens when shooting landscapes, I decided to use the XR’s digital zoom so that the sheer scale of the environment didn’t take complete precedence over the couple,” Wagner shares.

Romantic Hotels For Your Honeymoon In London

Travel » Honeymoons

Photo courtesy of VisitBritain.

The pomp, pageantry and history of London makes it one of our all-time favourite destinations for an incredible honeymoon. There are castles and cathedrals to visit. Museums to explore. Royal traditions to take in like the Changing of the Guard and the summer opening of Buckingham Palace where you can have an exclusive look inside the State Rooms of the Queen’s residence. Shopping, tea time and cruising the Thames are also must-dos on your London getaway. Busy days of exploring the city calls for an extra-sweet sleep, and London is home of the most indulgent and beautiful hotels. Here are two new favourites we recently checked out to book for an ultra-chic and romantic London honeymoon.

The Atheaneum Hotel & Residences
Located in the heart of London’s posh Mayfair neighbourhood, the five-star Atheaneum is famous for it’s cool British style and luxury accommodations. Pull up to the hotel and you’ll see the property’s iconic living wall which stretches from street level to the 10th floor, a distinct design feature which can also be enjoyed fro the inside if you score a corner room or from the inside the bar area through floor-to-ceiling windows. The vibe at this property is distinctly modern-British. The airy, light-filled lobby features sleek pieces in tones of orange, yellow and teal blue. For your stay, there are a range of accommodations including guest rooms, spacious suites and Victorian townhouse residences, which are perfect if you want to live like a London local.

London’s Green Park with views of Canada Gates. Photo courtesy of Visit Britain.

If you are booking a suite we recommend one with views of neighbouring Green Park, beyond which lies Buckingham Palace.The hotel is super-central to access so many key London sites and has a darling cobbled shopping area called Shepherd Market, located a two minute walk from the front door where you can explore local shops, pubs and truly feel like a local. Not only is The Athenaeum a perfect honeymoon hotel but provided the perfect backdrop for this shoot (pictured below) featured in our Spring & Summer 2019 issue!

Photography by Alvaro Goveia. Hair by Sean Dawson, Electric Hairdressing London. Makeup by Sophie McMullen. Styling by Tara Williams.

The Egerton House Hotel
If you are looking for a quiet, intimate and uber-cozy hotel for your London honeymoon, The Egerton House is definitely it. This Knightbridge hotel was actually built as a private home in the 1820s which gives the property its residential charm—with just 23 bedrooms, four suites and one master suite. Each and every room features unique décor, all kitted out with a mix of antique furnishings, incredible fabrics and tapestries and incredible art.

Photo courtesy of Egerton House Hotel.

Our choice for the perfect stay at Egerton House is the Victoria and Albert Suite (pictured, above) which is spacious, sumptuous and decorated with an incredible palette of reds and golds with an ornate gold-gilded four poster bed as the centerpiece of the space.  Afternoon tea is a particular pleasure at the Egerton and is enjoyed in the hotel’s drawing room. All the traditions of a classic British tea are served including finger sandwiches, scones, preserves and mini pastries. The Egerton is ideally situated in the heart of Knightsbridge, steps from Harrods and across the street from the Victoria & Albert Museum.

Photo courtesy of Egerton House Hotel.

Getting There
Make your flight across the pond an easy, breezy and extra comfortable one by splashing out and booking a pair of Club Class seats with Air Transat. We enjoyed the incredible experience on our recent trip to London and the cozy Club Class cabin offers an intimate flying experience, as it accommodates a limited number of seats. Plush reclinable seats, pillows and amenity kits make for easy sleeping conditions for your trips across the pond. When you book Club Class you also are able to check two bags and have priority check-in service at the airport. You are also privy to fine in-flight dining experiences with access to a selection of gourmet meals created by renown Montreal chef Daniel Vézina. This is a honeymoon extra definitely worth the splurge!

Why A Custom Designed Wedding Gown Is the Ultimate Fashion Moment

Fashion & Beauty » Wedding Dresses

most romantic wedding dresses - red carpet gown

Photography by Yvonne Duivenvoorden for Weddingbells as seen in this story.

We are huge fans of the bespoke experience when it comes to your wedding attire. Having something designed and created especially for you is an incredibly extra moment you will always treasure. And one of the best part of the experiences is you play an active role in shaping your dream wedding dress.

Toronto designer Catherine Langlois, who specializes in bespoke wedding creations, says having your wedding dress custom-made is about the dress finding you, not you finding the dress. “The custom experience is not about champagne, tears and a quote from a reality television show,” Langlois says. “It’s about finding out what makes you feel lovely and beautiful and not necessarily what’s on trend.”

Langlois explains with custom design, all fit issues can be resolved whether you are super tiny and need not just a small size but a scaled down design. Or if a bride is plus sized–which is not just a larger size–but a myriad of shapes and silhouettes. “My design studio has access to unique and beautiful quality fabrics that are generally only seen in couture wedding dresses. Every bride has a selection of gorgeous high end fabrics and be able to choose accordingly to personal taste, not a pre-selected vision of what is trendy.”

If your personal style doesn’t necessarily fit the bridal norm you will also find the bespoke experience is a perfect fit. “You may not see yourself in the style of  wedding dress currently in fashion,” Langlois shares. “Sometimes you want or need a dress that is more modest or classic in design. Or perhaps you’ve always loved a dress from a movie (think of all the Audrey Hepburn inspiration gowns!), or have seen something on Instagram from a couture fashion show. You want something that speaks to you as an individual.”

If considering a custom gown, timing is key as Langlois says it ideally takes six to eight months to create the dress but can be done in as little as three months which is especially true in wedding shoulder seasons (November through May). The process starts with a cotton mock up of the gown to perfect the fit and start the design process. The fabric design will be fitted on the second visit and then you will likely require another one or two fittings from there to perfect the dress.

 

How To Plan The Perfect Wedding Food Experience

Planning » Reception Ideas

All photography courtesy of White Table Catering Co. Photo by The Apartment Photo.

The foundation of every great party is amazing food and your wedding day is an incredible opportunity to get creative with menus, serving styles, cocktail and drink offerings. Just like every part of your wedding, your menu should be personal and reflect things your love. A close working relationship with your caterer is essential for an inspired wedding food experience. We spoke to Carlyanne Pruger, creative director of White Table Catering Co. in Vancouver to share the secrets to creating a killer food experience at your wedding—one you must not forget to have beautifully captured in your wedding photography!

Photo by Teak and Thyme.

Food has become SO important at a wedding… why has it become such a huge part of the party?
“Today’s culture is all about the food. We photograph and style our own food, we pay to go to nice restaurants and are selective about our coffee shops. We don’t mind going longer distances across the city just to try that Instagram-worthy dish and we spend thousands of dollars to travel and experience different cuisines across the world. It’s not the just food that people want, it’s the full experience. The restaurant decor, the Instagramable wall and the way it’s presented.  Today we live for experiences and we see this as a constant trend in the wedding industry as well. Because great food culture is so accessible, being a foodie is no longer niche. When brides and grooms share their vision with us, it often includes food as a part of their relational identity. They want to include their own food memories together as a couple with their guests at their wedding as a part of sharing a story of who they are, what makes them happy and celebrating their unique relationship with them. Because of that, catering has changed in its contribution to a wedding—it’s now integrated into the total experience of a curated event. It’s woven into the main theme of the entire experience. This is what we are hearing from our clients. They want the food to be one of the main focuses of their wedding. They want it presented beautifully. They want it to be customized and represent them as a couple. They want it to be so good people talk about it and they actually want to eat it!!”

Photo by Hera Studio Inc

What are you seeing as the big trends for 2019 weddings?
“Because it’s all about the experience, family style continues to be a huge trend this year along with interactive chef and guest food stations like building your own taco or a His and Hers ice cream sundae bar. The idea is for your guests to experience food and not just taste it! Whether it’s having servers pouring a sauce on each plate at the table to create that dramatic effect at a plated dinner, or having guests plate their own food at a station. This also extends into drink where various garnishes are available at cocktail bars. Another growing trend is tasting many different things and flavours in mini portions. For example if a couple enjoys poke we serve poke in mini to-go boxes even with enough variety to become the main meal. This is also a great way to infuse ethnic food cultures together to represent both sides of the couple.”

Presentation is of course key with great food. What are some ways couples are getting creative with their food and drink presentation?
“Plating food on unique china or stylized glassware at the bar really changes the way food is presented and received. This creates new opportunities to build on a consistent feel throughout the evening. With food being one of the highest costs of a wedding, it is often hidden and not incorporated into the main event decor, creating a separation between the two. Tying it into the decor and making the food displays unique and interesting will showcase the food you have chosen for your guests as well as create a fuller experience for your event. Food doesn’t just have to placed in the corner on a table with a linen; incorporating bar carts, food carts, bar table tops for food stations and thinking outside the box for food presentation are all ways to highlight food in the event.”

Often beautiful food is not properly photographed as part of wedding coverage. What should a couple share with their photographer to ensure the culinary greatness is captured?
“Ask your photographer to include food photos in the photo timeline prior to guests eating. Often, the photographer has a schedule for photos that doesn’t include the food prior to guests eating or there is a photo timeline conflict. So when the food is ready for service and beautifully displayed, the photographer may be shooting another item. When food first comes out it always looks the best. This is similar to getting photos of decor before guests take their seat.”

How can a photographer and caterer work together to capture gorgeous food photos?
“Because the lighting or the backdrop may not always be best for close up food photos at a reception, we have found bringing a light box or even a marble slab and placing it onto something mobile helps. This way we can move it into the light with a featured plate and get great shots. Getting broader pictures of food stations, buffets, servers bringing plated or family style platters and food appetizer settings are great ways to capture the overall guest experience.”

Everything You Need To Know About Wedding Dress Shopping

Fashion & Beauty » Wedding Dresses

Photo courtesy of LoversLand.

A question we at Weddingbells hear from brides ALL the time is “where do I start when it comes to dress shopping??!” As ever, we are here to help you navigate all the ins and outs of wedding planning, so we put together this primer on everything you need to know about how to get started, important timelines and things you may not have considered (as you’ve never done this before, you simply don’t know!). We spoke to Danielle Gulic and Yvonne Reidy, co-owners of Toronto’s uber-cool bridal boutique LoversLand to give you the goods on wedding dress shopping.

How far in advance of a wedding should you order your dress?
“This one has every bride stumped, but it is by FAR one of the most crucial details to know when shopping for your dream dress,” Reidy shares. “We recommend giving yourself eight months to order your dress. This allows enough time for the designer to make your dress, ship it, and for your seamstress to do alternations. Give yourself plenty of time; this way you can avoid rush fees (these can cost a pretty penny). Remember, you aren’t the only bride in the world getting married.”

What is the minimum amount of time required for a dress? What if you are getting married in six months or less?
“Don’t worry if your wedding is six months or sooner from your engagement,” Gulic says. “Depending on availability from our designer(s), we are able to accommodate rush orders. In our store, we have a great selection of ready-to-wear options you can buy off the rack, or sample gowns in great condition! Our designers can usually accommodate a rush order (there may be a fee, depending on the designer and the date of your wedding).

How many fittings are generally required to get the dress fitted perfectly?
“Depending on the gown and fit, one or two fittings are generally required,” Gulic explains. Here’s a pro-trip I love to share with brides: it can be difficult to imagine how a dress will look when you have your hot pink thong illuminating under it, or your black bra straps poking out. For your fittings, wear skin-tone undergarments and a strapless bra, even better if they are the ones you are going to wear on your wedding day! We can also help with that and make recommendations of what to shop for before you come for a fitting.”

When should a bride be picking up her wedding dress?
“It depends on the ordering time before the wedding,” Reidy says. “In most cases brides pick up their gowns from their seamstress one week before their wedding.”

What are some other insider tips of expertise you can share about wedding gown shopping?
“Our most important piece of advice is to do you homework,” both Reidy and Gulic agree. “Raid your friends’ Instagrams, re-pin on Pinterest, collect up magazine tear sheets. Look for commonalities in silhouettes, fabrics, and detailing to help establish your overall vibe and then bring these ideas to your appointments. You also have to come in with an idea of cost and budget. A dress made specifically for you, that incorporates natural silks, fine lace, or beadwork, does cost a pretty penny! So before you set a budget, try to do some research on the creative process involved with producing a wedding gown. Trust your instincts when you do set out shopping, you know what feels you and it’s your wedding! We always suggest leaving the entourage at home and bring only one or two key people with you who are supportive and will give you an honest answer on what they love and don’t love on you. Lastly, remember the experience of gown shopping is FUN! And so is wedding planning and your wedding day, don’t forget to enjoy it all.”

 

Canadian Celebrities And Influencers Share Their Romantic Proposals

Planning

Photo by Annie McElwain courtesy of Jessi Cruickshank.

For Valentine’s Day we asked nine famous friends to share their magical proposal moments with us. We found out Jessi Cruickshank said yes to her husband Evan on Christmas day in front of her entire family. That Ben Mulroney popped the question to wife Jessica over a cheeseburger and fries at a favourite resto. The Style Guys’ Aly Velji was surprised with an incredible sunset proposal in  Santorini by husband Jason. Everyone loves romance, and all the engagement stories that follow are the most fun, funny and fabulous moments.

Photo by Annie McElwain courtesy of Jessi Cruickshank.

“My husband and I went on our first date in 2006, at a little restaurant in the lower east side of Manhattan. Six years later, he made elaborate plans to propose to me just before Christmas, at that very same little restaurant. He had the ring, the reservation, the permission from my parents and the plan to meet me in New York City after I wrapped shooting in Toronto. He was ready. Except the day before… I cancelled. ‘I’m swamped at work honey, I’m so sorry—can we just skip the New York trip and meet at my parents house for Christmas?’ Not wanting to spoil the surprise, he moved to plan B. A proposal on Christmas day, in front of my entire family. I was still completely oblivious and rolled out of bed in yellow polka dot pajamas, an oversized sweatshirt, and my hair in a messy side ponytail. ‘Don’t you want to change?’ he asked casually around noon, the ring burning a hole in his pocket. ‘Evan,’ I said ‘it’s CHRISTMAS. I am staying in my pajamas all day.’ ‘Maybe just… a shower?’ he implored. ‘Nope!’ I shrugged, wiping cookie crumbs onto my dirty sweater. He must REALLY love me because he proposed to me anyways. He said beautiful things, then got down on one knee in front of my clapping, weeping family. We hugged, we kissed, I said a euphoric YES and then…BUT WHY DIDN’T YOU TELL ME TO CHANGE!!!??”Jessi Cruickshank, television personality

Photo via Instagram/@benmulroney.

“My proposal story is a simple one: I got down on one knee in a restaurant that means a great deal to me: my mother would take me there as a boy, Jessica used to go as a child, and we continued to eat there every time I’d come visit her while we were dating. We were sitting at the counter, I was eating my standard bacon cheeseburger/fries and gravy/black cherry cola and Jess had chosen a more sensible salad. Near the end of the meal, I pointed out that we had real history in this place and my hope was that we’d take our kids there some day. Jess replies with a ‘maybe’ and took a bite of her greens. At that point, I swiveled around to land on one knee. I could pretend that I remembered the rest but the fact is it’s all a beautiful blur. She said yes and my dream came true.”—Ben Mulroney, host of Your Morning & anchor of etalk

Photo by Paul Wright featured as part of this real wedding.

 “Justin proposed on Halloween night 2016. I was TOTALLY surprised as I did not see it coming. Up until this point, Halloween was not a symbolic day for us, but it is now. I did not realize that Justin had secretly been working on my engagement ring for three months. He designed it himself and had it made out of gold that he had panned for in the Yukon several years before. I was surprised on many levels! The reason he decided to propose on Halloween night was because that was the day that the ring was ready and he is really bad at keeping secrets. He carved a question mark into a pumpkin which totally went over my head as I was not expecting a proposal at all. Now we carve a question mark into a pumpkin every year.”Sarah Keenleyside, HGTV Canada star

Photo via Instagram/@thetracymoore

“Lio and I started things by doing something my parents didn’t like—buying a house before getting married. My folks are a little old school so I explained Lio was absolutely THE ONE…he just wanted to get a leg up in the housing market sooner rather than later. And also, a mortgage amortized over 20 years may as well be a marriage, no? Once we committed our down payment we were left with approximately zero dollars to decorate. Much to my surprise Lio had been paying attention to my obsession with decorating shows. Without saying a word he contacted the producers of Debbie Travis’ Facelift and organized a surprise trip for an girlfriend and I to go to Montreal for three days. When I got back I walked into a reality show. This was the lead up to our engagement story (because who says no to marrying a guy who just snagged a $100,000 makeover for FREE?). Two days after the reveal he took me to Langdon Hall in Cambridge where the door-greeters immediately gave us champagne and congratulated us on our engagement (ummmm, he hadn’t asked me yet so I now knew IT WAS GOING TO HAPPEN HERE). We took a walk on one of the beautiful trails before dinner and when we were far enough away from the building he got down on one knee told me I’m all he’s ever wanted in life and asked me to marry him. We cried, we kissed, it was mushy and tender and beautiful. And I left Langdon Hall with the beautiful ring we had picked out together (hello…I’m still a Capricorn) as happy as can be. It’s the best decision I’ve ever made in my life.”Tracy Moore, host of Cityline

Photo by Sydney Takeshta of London Light Photography as seen in this real wedding.

“Jason planned to propose four months before a big trip to Europe. It was all set up it would go down on their first night in Santorini. There was us and three other couples travelling together and only one of the couples knew it was happening. Reservations were made at a restaurant that overlooked the sunset and after meals were ordered we went down to take some photos together – that’s when it happened. He said yes! People who were walking by were congratulating us, crying, and the other restaurant guests (along with our travel-mates) were ecstatic.”Aly Velji, The Style Guys

“Nathaniel and were on a trip to England and France the summer of 2016. We had just spent a wonderful week in London, and we flew down to the South West of France where Nathaniel’s mom is from, and where most of his extended family lives. Nat insisted we go straight from the airport to the summer house his grandfather built to see it before all the family got there for their vacation (his parents were also married there on 7/7/77). I had a coffee stain on my shirt, and no makeup on. I had absolutely no idea that he was going to propose. He brought me up to the balcony, (still no idea…) overlooking the bay, and popped the question (meanwhile I thought he was tying his shoe). I said, YESSSSSS!”—Liz Trinnear, LA correspondent for etalk

Photo courtesy of Cheryl Hickey.

 “I remember I was wearing yellow that day hosting ET Canada and feeling really excited about my date night with Kev. We were going to the Keg Mansion—I love a good baseball steak, mushroom caps and Caesar! We had an amazing dinner and were talking about going for a drink after dinner at 7 West where we had our very first blind date together where he wore a name tag that said “Hello my name is Kevin.” We arrived at 7 West and he started saying the sweetest things about our relationship and I was looking off at an apartment building wondering why the outside looked the way it did. I got distracted just for a moment then tuned in and he was down on one knee and snapped me back into reality and body literally froze. The I heard will you marry me. I said yes right away and smothered him!  He walked me around the corner to where a stretch limo was waiting and we drove around the city drinking champagne calling all our family and friends. It was so much fun!”Cheryl Hickey, host of Entertainment Tonight Canada

Photo courtesy of Bliss Katherine as seen in this real wedding.

“I custom designed Taylor’s ring with one of her favourite designers, Smith & Mara, in Los Angeles. I wanted to propose to to her in Toronto where we met and have so much history together, I waited until we went there for a show I was directing. On our way to Toronto I had to bring the ring in my carry on and I was so nervous security would ruin the surprise so I wrote a little note on the ring box that says ‘shh this is a engagement ring please be discreet.’ After the show wrapped I told Taylor I wanted to have a relaxing day to try and unwind. We went for brunch at our favorite old spot, Lil Baci, then for a massage, and then to Leslie Jones for dinner (where we went on one of our first dates). After dinner I kept persisting we walk a different route home, and Taylor kept persisting we stay on Queen Street. Finally, she agreed to go my route and she put her hands in his pockets for warmth as we walked. We got to a street corner and I said “Do you recognize where we are?” She looked around and noticed we were on the exact corner where we had our first kiss. Before Taylor could even figure out what was happening on this dimly lit street I was down on one knee. She was so shocked and then started laughing and crying and I said ‘You have to give me an answer!’ She said yes and then we hopped in a car and headed to the Park Hyatt rooftop (another one of our first date spots) to celebrate with champagne!—Gregory Smith, actor, director and star of Everwood and Rookie Blue

Photo by Tino Berardi for Sunwing Vacations. Sarah’s makeup and hair by Rachel Renna and Ryan Dowell. Dress from Kleinfeld Hudson’s Bay.

“Bryan and I were married September 3rd in Toronto at Graydon Hall Manor and this September will mark our 15th anniversary together! Our engagement happened in Nova Scotia. Bryan and I were living in Vancouver for the first few years of our relationship and had just returned home as we hadn’t spent much time together with our families. First stop was a trip to Nova Scotia where Bryan’s mum was born and raised. We spent a week visiting with extended family and friends—it was the first and last time I was able to meet his grandparents before they passed away.  On the last day of our trip Bryan planned a special outing to the very eastern tip of the island where the view of the ocean was said to be unparalleled. It was that afternoon that Bryan intended on asking for my hand in marriage, but unfortunately the weather turned and fog and snow flurries rolled in. Roads were closed down and as luck would have it, our car broke down. We were towed to the nearest mechanic shop where we sat for hours eating food from a vending machine. Although it was not the romantic day Bryan had planned, he did still proposed that night. The proposal was much more casual, over a bottle of wine and a hot bubble bath, and looking back now I think it truly set the stage for our life together; always changing, constantly evolving, and grounded in chaos!”Sarah Baeumler, HGTV Canada host, House of Bryan, Bryan Inc., Island of Bryan (premiering Spring 2019)

NARCES Fall/Winter 2019 Wedding Dresses

Fashion & Beauty » Wedding Dresses

NARCES Fall/Winter 2019 Wedding Dresses

Canadian label NARCES is a perennial favourite of ours because it’s always innovative, inspiring, luxe and simply stunning. Designer Nikki Wirthensohn Yassemi presented her latest lineup as part of Toronto Fashion Week in a stunning presentation at the ROM, and the show was equal parts drama and classical, modern beauty. The label is, of course, famous for the incredible wedding gowns Yassemi creates, which always come with a modern twist and push of traditional bridal boundaries—this season was no different. From jumpsuits to gowns with billowy illusion sleeves, plunging necklines and a stunning hi-low hemline gown complete with oversize bow to close the show, there truly was a look for every style of bride. Yassemi also showed an incredible lineup of evening and occasion wear and if you are a bride looking for something extremely different (hello neon, red, overside rosettes, ruffles and colour blocking!) NARCES likely has the perfect alternative wedding dress for you.

All runway photography George Pimentel. Makeup key Simone Otis for beautyBOUTIQUE for Shoppers Drug Mart. Hair key Jorge Joao for Redken 5th Avenue NYC. All millinery created by David Dunkley Fine Millinery for NARCES.

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Mani Jassal Fall/Winter 2019 Collection

Fashion & Beauty » Wedding Dresses

Mani Jassal Fall/Winter 2019 Collection

Canadian designer Mani Jassal presented one of the buzziest shows at Toronto Fashion Week, one that was brimming with romantic, ethereal and otherworldly designs inspired by her Indian heritage. Jassal’s “With Love” Collection featured the most luxe fabrics featuring delicate floral motifs in shades of white, baby pink with several garments trimmed in gold which complemented the incredible lineup of accessories—models were dripping in the the most incredible statement earrings, necklaces, headpieces and bracelets. Jassal presented an array of incredible silhouettes in this collection ranging from asymmetrical off-the-shoulder gowns to two-piece pant suits, caped bejewelled gowns and sari-inspired dresses—the collection truly felt like a fusion of global fashion influences, which is what made it such a showstopper. Jassal also sent gorgeous girls of all shapes and sizes down her runway, which truly took this show to the next level!

All runway photography by George Pimentel. Makeup key Simone Otis for beautyBOUTIQUE for Shopper Drug Mart. Hair key Jorge Joao for Redken 5th Avenue NYC.

Mani Jassal Fall/Winter 2019 Collection Mani Jassal Fall/Winter 2019 Collection Mani Jassal Fall/Winter 2019 Collection Mani Jassal Fall/Winter 2019 Collection Mani Jassal Fall/Winter 2019 Collection Mani Jassal Fall/Winter 2019 Collection Mani Jassal Fall/Winter 2019 Collection Mani Jassal Fall/Winter 2019 Collection Mani Jassal Fall/Winter 2019 Collection Mani Jassal Fall/Winter 2019 Collection Mani Jassal Fall/Winter 2019 Collection Mani Jassal Fall/Winter 2019 Collection Mani Jassal Fall/Winter 2019 Collection Mani Jassal Fall/Winter 2019 Collection Mani Jassal Fall/Winter 2019 Collection Mani Jassal Fall/Winter 2019 Collection Mani Jassal Fall/Winter 2019 Collection Mani Jassal Fall/Winter 2019 Collection

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