Archive for Alison McGill

How To Plan The Perfect Wedding & Honeymoon Safari in Kenya

Travel

Alison Carey and Andrew Felfoldi had a gorgeous destination wedding and honeymoon in Kenya. All photos courtesy of Scott Dunn.

If you are looking for an incredibly exotic, luxurious and otherworldly destination for your wedding and honeymoon, Kenya is the perfect place. Home to incredible backdrops (Kenya offers mountains, lakelands and savannah), incredible adventure, culture and natural wildlife (lions, elephants and rhinos, oh my!) this country in East Africa is certainly not your average wedding location and that’s what makes it so incredible.

Scott Dunn is a luxury travel company which specializing in planning bespoke trips around the world and including weddings and safaris in Kenya. Alison Carey (who works at the company as a travel guide) and her husband Andrew Felfoldi recently had their wedding and honeymoon in Kenya. Carey says it was a dream destination for a number of reasons.

“Getting married in Kenya was absolutely the right decision for us and provided the exact balance of exotic adventure, luxury and intimacy that we were hoping for,” Carey shares. “We had always wanted to do a small destination wedding and to share more than ‘just a party’ with our loved ones. So as lovers of wildlife and remote places, Kenya quickly become our top choice and we could not have been happier for the opportunity to invite our loved ones along for a once-in-a-lifetime safari adventure. Our guests were truly amazed by the jaw-dropping scenery, majestic wildlife, delicious food and warm, wonderful people. Our actual wedding day was calm and organized and the overall trip was action packed yet restorative—all of our guests left saying that it was the most incredible week of their lives!”

If a wedding in Kenya sounds like it also might be perfect for you, Carey has some savvy planning tips to consider for the destination.

  • Choose an all-inclusive property. “One of the main reasons I chose Africa was for ease of planning and accounting. I knew that everything was included and exactly what it would cost.”
  • Consider a location easy for guests. “This is one of the reasons I selected Kenya. I was really open to any good safari destination in Africa, but we ended up going with Kenya because it has a great reputation and Nairobi has lots of international flights.”

  • Look for a location with wedding experience. When looking for the right location, I tried to pick somewhere that had a good track record as well as somewhere that had done a wedding in the past. This was important.”
  • Rely on your venue to help with vendors. “If you’re worried about hiring caterers, photographers, florists and bakers in a location that you’re not in, don’t. It was surprisingly easy. The hotel had excellent existing local contacts for us to choose from.”

  • Expect the unexpected! “Build in some downtime before and after the wedding. I added many more safari drives than I knew I would go on, because as with any wedding, and especially a destination wedding, there were going to be last minute details that would come up and unplanned changes that would happen.”
  • Arrive ahead of your guests. “We were at the property a day earlier than all of the guests, so we could do a private safari as a couple and go on a walk-through of the venue. It really helped me de-stress and it got all of our guests excited to arrive, seeing our trip photos on social media.”

These Are The Biggest Wedding Décor Colour Palette Trends

Planning

Brittany Frid creative director of Frid Events works on a recent colour-rich summer wedding. All photos: Design/Coordination/Florals/Stationery/Decor by Frid Events. Photography by Scott H. Wilson. Venue: Rockport Barn.

“The whole wedding industry is SO over the colour blush!”

Brittany Frid, Creative Director of Frid Events speaks the truth. Likely most of the weddings you have seen in the last five years incorporated this soft shade in to the mix but honestly in 2019 (and moving in to 2020), it’s time to say bye-bye. “Blush is such a popular colour because it’s timeless and romantic, but there are other ways to have an elegant wedding while also doing something unique,” Frid explains. “I find couples who gravitate towards blush simply aren’t sure how to experiment with colour or are afraid of their choices will look too bold or tacky. If you are more comfortable with soft neutrals but want to modernize your palette, try swapping blush for a pale mauve or a light butter yellow. If you still like blush but want to push yourself out of your comfort zone, try experimenting with apricot, terracotta (very trendy right now!) or burgundy if you’d like to keep a classic touch. Push those boundaries because I feel many people are not as vanilla their wedding palette would suggest!”

So what does Frid see as the biggest colour trend in wedding décor palettes? She says bright and bold hues are on the rise and says her and her team have recently seen some seriously bright and experimental palettes come to life. “This is so refreshing! We’re really seeing a strong tone-on-tone trend emerging with saturated colours reminiscent of the 70’s. Think cherry red paired with bubblegum pink, taupe with terracotta, even pastel yellow and mustard.”

Frid says if you are considering your wedding palette and want to try something fresh and fun try this exercise: take your favourite neutral and find the undertone in it, and then exaggerate the undertone. “For example, the colour ivory looks white but it has yellow undertones, so we would pair it with a dijon hue, or even with chartreuse which is poppy yellow/green.”

When you do find that dream palette, keep it consistent from invitation to reception. This will set the tone for the day and helps establish what your guests can expect from the wedding day in terms of style and formality. We recently designed this really fun summer wedding where we used a rich forrest green as the base colour and accented it with berry tones and pops of coral,” Frid shares. The green was classic and sophisticated and the pops of fuchsia, burgundy, copper and peach were just enough to make it fun, summery and a little wild. This elegant yet vibrant colour palette was first used in the invitation and followed through with the forrest green linens, bright florals, burgundy candlesticks, ceremony arch, napkin colours and even in a huge champagne wall. We really pushed every tone in the whole palette in every decision we made, and it created a consistent, three-dimensional event.”

Having your palette balanced throughout your celebration is key says Frid. Just like fashion, you never want to take things into the much-too-much zone. Frid suggests once you find your base colour, choose up to five accent colours to compliment it.

“Each of the accent colours should somehow be connected. A good way to see if they’re connected would be to use paint chips and select colours on the same chip. Another way would be to take the primary flower you are using at your wedding and identify all the colours within that flower. For example, peach foxglove has a spectrum of colours that sound strange together on paper but look beautiful together: butter yellow, peach, darker apricot and burgundy. When these colours are placed on the base colour, they’ll look cohesive and deep instead of a random mix.”

15 Gifts That Are Absolutely Essential For Your Wedding Registry

Planning » Home & Registry

Registering is one of the best parts of wedding planning. Shopping for the best things for your new life as marrieds is something you should do early in your planning process and it is truly an exercise in fun as you figure out your newlywed nest essentials. When you set up a wedding registry you are also helping your guests out tremendously by letting them know what you want and need. From chic luggage to that coveted Dyson vacuum and Downtown Abbey-worthy tableware, here are 15 things we think are essential for your wedding registry right now.

Wedgwood Parkland tabletop collection (pictured above). This very British inspired pattern will lend an air of aristocracy to your table (it will also be featured in the upcoming Downton Abbey film!)

Flax Sleep linen sleep set. French linen bedding is a chic, all-seasons choice—it keeps you cool in the summer and cozy in winter.

Tiffany & Co. terra cotta flower pots (set of three). This trio of designer pots will give a luxe edge to your indoor garden.

 

Breville The Tea Maker Compact. Brew the perfect cuppa with this clever kettle and infuser that lets you custom steep according to your leaf choice.

The Endy Pillow. This pillow is a game changer—add or remove pieces of the bamboo charcoal memory foam to find your dream comfort level.

Kit Kemp for Wedgwood Sailor’s Farewell tabletop collection. Textile designer Kit Kep has created a whimsical folk pattern inspired by tales from the sea that is seriously chic.

Anna Olson Kitchen 24-cup non-stick mini muffin pan. This will get a serious workout every Sunday brunch!

Le Creuset Round French Oven in sage. Our favourite cookware has introduced this new neutral shade (meringue is another new colour addition) that will look haute in every kitchen.

Dyson V11 Absolute. This dream machine cleans every nook of your home and will actually have you fighting over who will do the vacuuming, it’s that cool!

William Yeoward Corinne ice bucket from Hopson Grace. This art-deco vibe ice bucket will elevate your bar cart to luxurious Gatsby-level standards.

Away The Carry-On. This lightweight suitcase is perfect for a mini-moon escape. One cool extra feature we love is the option to personalize your bag with handpainted letters—may we suggest adding “MRS” or your new initials to your luggage?

Lagostina pasta maker. Turn your kitchen into a pasta-making emporium with this slick tool that lets you make noodles of every shape from spaghetti to ravioli.

William Yeoward Bella Blue goblet from Hopson Grace. This sleek goblet with its cobalt swirl is a chic match for any place setting.

White Terry sheet set. You’ll have the sweetest of dreams when tucked into a fresh bed dressed in 400-thread count organic cotton bedding.

 

Giada de Laurentiis for Lagostina 4-quart Dutch Oven. This steel-and-copper beauty is a kitchen must and comes with cool celebrity-chef caché.

Why Planning Your Wedding Before You’re Engaged Can Be A Great Idea

Planning

Wedding by Aly Armstrong Events. Photo by Blush Wedding Photography.

This is becoming an increasingly common scenario we’re hearing about. The question hasn’t been popped, there’s no ring, but a wedding date, venue and key vendors have been booked. In 2019, some couples start planning the day well in advance of their engagement and it can be a very smart idea.

Aly Armstrong, principal event planner at Aly Armstrong Events in Vancouver says this is the new reality for many soon-to-be-engaged. She has recently worked with a few couples who started the wedding planning process well in advance of their engagement. Here she shares her thoughts on why it can be extremely savvy and some things to consider before you forge ahead with advance wedding planning.

When did you notice this shift happening with couples and wedding planning and why are couples going this untraditional route?
“In the past three years it’s really become a thing. I personally have worked with two couples who started planning prior to getting engaged. In both cases, the couples were in their early 30’s and had openly discussed marriage and starting a family as soon as possible. Their motivation and sense of urgency to begin the planning process came from a fear of not getting a preferred venue and wedding date. They opted to select a date, venue and secure key vendors prior to the engagement to ensure they could have the wedding of their dreams.”

How far in advance do couples typically start planning before engagement?
My most recent couple worked with me for six months before they got engaged. We started planning their wedding for the following year in the summer and they got engaged around the holidays. The wedding was then six months later.”

Do you think going this route with your wedding planning is a smart move?
I have to admit, with my first experience, I was a bit hesitant to take them on as clients. But I quickly realized they were a committed and loving couple who had a very open channel of communication with one another and their families. The bride in this case was vocal however about her expectations for the engagement; she wanted it to be very special and wanted to feel ‘surprised’ by the circumstance. Clearly she knew it was inevitable but it was still magical nonetheless. I think as long as you as a couple are on the same page there is no harm doing a little advance planning. I would in no way advocate for one person to start planning a wedding without their partner’s support. Don’t put the cart before the horse!”

For couples who are considering advance planning, what are some challenges they may encounter and some tips to ensure the process runs smoothly?
A flag that does come up for me is ‘Why hasn’t the proposal happened yet?’ and the fear that someone will have cold feet! The onus will be on you as a couple to deal with any repercussions in case something does happen like loss of venue and vendor deposits for example. I would caution against making any secret plans. As a couple, you want to ensure you’re on the same page and your expectations… alignment is key!”

Scenting Your Wedding: Why Your Party Should Smell As Amazing As It Looks

Planning

Toronto-based stylist Talia Brown Thall and husband Nelson Thall scented their wedding at the King Edward Hotel with Jo Malone London’s Orange Blossom and Wood Sage & Sea Salt fragrances. Photography courtesy of George Pimantel.

Choosing a signature fragrance for you and your groom for your wedding day is essential but have you ever thought about scent as a complete concept for your day? Scenting your wedding is a very cool and fashionable idea from Jo Malone London that encompasses both you and your wedding environment.

Toronto-based stylist Talia Brown Thall did Jo Malone London scenting for her wedding day (her real wedding is featured in our Fall & Winter 2019 issue, see it here) and says it was one of her favourite parts of the day. “Scent creates powerful memories and I believe plays a key role in the mood of an event,” she explains. “I am a long time fan of Jo Malone London Orange Blossom Cologne and wanted this signature scent to be a part of our day. We combined the scent with Wood Sage & Sea Salt and infused our wedding space with the fragrance via hand lotion and soaps in powder rooms as well as candles throughout the venue.”

Jo Malone London Cologne in Orange Blossom, $184 for 100ml.

We spoke to Joe Dovizio, field executive training manager for Jo Malone London and La Mer to learn a more about the specifics of scenting your wedding. Here he shares the scoop!

Can you explain the idea of scenting your wedding?
“Scenting your wedding is a very personal experience. Adding scent to your wedding brings a nuance throughout the event, it defines the atmosphere and creates a highly personal tone throughout the day. Through the art of Jo Malone London’s Fragrance Combining a couple can bring a custom scent into many aspects of their special day: the creation of a bespoke scent for the bride, her bridal party, the groom and groomsmen. In addition to this, a couple can add surround scent in their wedding venue via candles, diffusers, room sprays and linen sprays as well as custom fragrance gifts for the bridal party.”

How does this aromatic process begin?
“Brides and grooms start by booking complimentary session at the Jo Malone London counter for a bespoke bridal consultation. The bride will meet with a consultant who will work with her to develop her ideal scent keeping in mind the venue (especially if it is an outdoor wedding). This typically consists of selecting the first scent either in cologne or in a body crème–the latter is a lovely way to incorporate scent subtlety before layering on her second scent in cologne. These two fragrances together will make up her bespoke scent. From there, similar scents for the bridesmaids could be selected (such as using same Body Crème but adding in different cologne so the bride is unique). The groom scent can also be selected at this point, which is usually something complementary to the bride. Lastly, the couple will select fragrant items to scent the wedding venue, often selecting one or both of the two scents that comprise their bespoke bridal scent.”

Jo Malone London Scented Candle in English Pear & Freesia, $184 for 100ml.

Why do you think adding a signature scent adds an extra-special element to a wedding day?
“Scenting your wedding is a lovely way to create something distinctive personalized to your wedding day and tailored to your taste. To be enveloped in a scent you adore adds a thoughtful element to your wedding day. The scent of your wedding will always evoke sweet reminders of your special day any time you smell it in the future!”

The New Wedding Floral Trends (Hint: Blush And White Are Out!)

Planning » Bouquets & Flowers

All photos by Scarlet O’Neill and all florals by The Little Flower Shed Co. Ribbons by Silk & Sumac. Venue, The Great Hall

Looking ahead to planning your 2020 wedding? We too are looking forward and seeing lots of change happening when it comes to the wedding landscape and what’s in and what’s out out OUT! Sarah Sylvester is the owner of The Little Flower Shed Co. in Bayfield, Ontario and reports she’s seeing a big shift particularly when it comes to wedding flowers. We actually saw her declare this on her Instagram and immediately got in touch…we had to know more!

“Today’s couples are looking to really stand out and their guests a hyper-personal experience,” Sylvester says. “They want to put their personal stamp on their wedding day more than ever and are examining what makes the unique and tapping into that for wedding inspo.”

Sylvester believes the constant influence of social media platforms and the abundant sea of inspiration that comes with them is causing a rapid shift in trends and a real surge in creativity. “I’d love to give you my list of totally in and totally out floral ideas but I think that concept is a little done as truly anything goes now. Personalization on the grand scale is where it’s at.”

We pressed Sylvester to spill the tea on what she really really loves and is really really over, and she shared some thoughts. “I love seasonally inspired, local and foraged blooms and foliage,” she smiles. “I love when a space looks like Mother Nature blew in the door and decided she’s staying for the party! I’m totally into keeping things eco-friendly, wild and full of movement. I love repurposing ceremony floral into your reaction space—let’s double down on those beautiful installs!”

Other hits topping Sylvester’s floral décor list include dark and moody palettes with a pop of unexpected colour, texture and using fruit and vegetables in tablescapes.“I love botanically dyed bouquet ribbons and huge floral installations. Depth, dimension and utilization of existing structures to create floral art for amazing ceremony decor.”

Things on her miss list: burlap and lace trimmed anything, round and tight bouquets and arrangements. “I am also so over blush and white. There, I said it!”

Sylvester also shared some on the verge thoughts if you are looking to really make your floral décor fresh and forward-looking. Dried elements and organic floral shapes, smaller bridal bouquet sizes (think dainty), less use of heavy greenery and LOTS of colour! The bottom line for your wedding florals: get creative! “Hire a planner to hone in and perfect your vision and book the floral designer whose work you can’t live without!”

The Curvy Girl’s Guide To Wedding Dress Shopping

Fashion & Beauty » Wedding Dresses

Curvy bride Cathy Sawyer in her gorgeous bridal ballgown. Photo by Lisa Mark Photography.

You know what you want in a wedding dress but will you be able to find it in your size? This is a challenge faced by many a bride if you aren’t sample size (which, let’s face it, is most of us!) and you have curves. Also ICYDK, bridal gown sizing is a very special thing in that it’s smaller than your average clothing size (read if you are a size 8 in everyday wear, you could be up to a size 14 in bridal wear!). With this in mind, gown shopping is not easy, especially if you are a specialty size.

“Wedding dress shopping can pose quite the challenge for plus-size brides,” says Diana Di Poce, founder & editor-in-chief of DARE Magazine. “Over the years, I have spoken with many curvy brides who have had unfortunate experiences while shopping for their gowns. Many bridal boutiques do not cater to women over a size 12, or do not have plus size samples available to try on. These brides-to-be are often let down with a lack of options, and leave boutiques feeling traumatized, when they expected a fairytale experience.”

Cathy Sawyer knows this scenario well. When she was looking for a wedding dress a few years ago, she was extremely challenged because virtually no stores she visited offered dresses in plus size samples. “I am a size 20 street size and it was virtually impossible to find a store that stocked any plus-size gowns,” Sawyer says. “One of my most frustrating experiences while shopping was in one popular high end store—I was told that most dresses were available in plus, but the samples were generally a size two and a FEW had plus size samples in a 14.  The consultant brought me a style I loved, but there was no plus size sample (which still would have been much too small), when I asked how I was supposed to know if I liked it her response was ‘well, you could hold it up against your body and see how you like it.’  Its been three years since that day and I still laugh —it would be like shoe shopping and putting a baby-sized shoe beside your foot and deciding if it would work!”

Sawyer says she was lucky to find a bridal boutique stocking size 26 samples which she easily fit into and could be clamped and fitted into styles to see how they would actually fit her. “I felt like a model!” she says. Based on her own experience, Sawyer recommends finding out what your dress size is before starting to shop and scoping out brands that are available. She also found it helpful to call ahead and ask if they have plus size samples in the styles she liked before making the appointment.

Andrea Anastasiou, fashion stylist and owner of White, Toronto & White, Montreal says today there are so many wonderful styles for brides with curves to consider and many designers will custom create to any size. “Fabrics have changed a lot, and what the designers are using to create wedding gowns is allowing for options to ALL brides,” she shares. “We no longer need a special collection that goes up to certain sizing. Many designers we work with will provide a range of sizing, and/or offer the option for us to make custom gowns, which allows for creating a garment that is tailored to our client’s body. Smaller designers we are working with really want to be accessible to all brides and be inclusive. And, we as bridal service providers can take our expertise and really help a client choose something that will flatter and make her feel amazing. It’s the best time to be a bride. The possibilities are endless.”

We asked Anastasiou to delve a little deeper into the plus size dress shopping quest—here are her incredible shopping tips!

Make gown structure a design detail focus.
“The best advice I can offer when a client is curvy and choosing a gown is to consider the structure of the gown itself. Many of the gowns on the market now have incredible stretch in them that hold the body and can really shape and lift for brides wanting a fitted gown. If your want something more flowy, you need to consider: does the garment allow for proper undergarments and support? Can you put a bustier under it to lift the bust and shape the waist? Sometimes those gauzy, breezy dresses are hard in terms of shaping and supporting, or allowing for good undergarments no matter what your curves are, this is important for all brides to look at and consider before purchasing their gown.”

A  V-neckline is your best friend.
“I love gorgeous V-neck options which are extremely flattering, elongating and offer great support vertically for the bust. Fitted gowns are insane these days, with designers like Galia Lahav and Berta adding stretchy liners to really hug the body and let a curvy girl celebrate her shape, while feeling secure. There are some great options on the semi-fitted, soft A-line front. With these styles, the fabric lies closer to the waist and top of the hip and there is less volume in the skirt, but just enough to give you that special bridal feel.”

You CAN rock a sexy naked dress!
“Honestly any bride can wear this dress style, trust! Often, we make a nude slip that is detachable for the ceremony, or fill in or layer the necklines with more lace so as to not reveal too much, but just enough so that brides can embrace the light and airy feel of a naked gown. Girls can take advantage of the transparency-effect that is so beautiful and ethereal about these gowns, but with the reality of having to wear them in front of their grandparents! 
Often, we will make the lining so it can detach to showcase great legs. Sometimes we will add mini-skirts underneath in nude, again to give the look that the dress is naked but not! There are lots of ‘tricks’ that we can use so as to not compromise the look, but make it wearable.”

These Everlasting Roses Are The Perfect Bridesmaid Gift

Planning

A beautiful bouquet of roses is a gorgeous gift but what if those blooms were artfully arranged in darling Parisian style boxes, custom coloured and treated to last a year? That’s exactly what Toronto-based Prairies And Petals (@prairiesandpetals) has created and you may have seen the flower company’s gorgeous creations pop up on your Instagram as they have become quite the social media sensation.

Reena Kumar, owner and founder of Prairies And Petals, says the inspiration behind the bouquets was to create a product that would leave a lasting impression on customers. “We were determined to find a solution to the problem so many people face: buying a fresh bouquet of roses that die after a week. Our roses are not only real but they last an entire year, and make the perfect gift for any occasion. We have reinvented a wholly modern approach to luxury arrangements!”

Prairies And Petals roses are treated with a secret solution to preserve and protect them. They do not need water and should be kept out of direct sunlight and at a steady room temperature to stay looking lovely for 12 months. We had some a few more questions for Kumar about her amazing arrangements which are absolutely brilliant for gifting your girls!

What are the range of colours available for your roses and how can arrangements be customized?
“We have from over 12 different rose colours to choose from. Our platform allows users to customize from over 1,000 different styles and patterns, and create the entire look of their arrangement. They can customize from the patterns, letters, numbers, shapes, and any specific customization they have for their arrangement. We also have a team of designers that work directly with our customers, if they are interested in customizing the individual rose itself, from bi-colour or even tri-colour roses. The possibilities truly are endless!

What is your most popular arrangement for a bridesmaid gift or bridesmaid proposal gift?
“Our most popular arrangement for a bridesmaid gift is both our Miniature (a single rose) and Diora Collection (four roses). These are the perfect sizes and are extremely complementary for bridesmaid packages. Brides continue to push the boundaries and make each moment special leading into their wedding. The bridesmaid proposal is a very important part of their lead up to the wedding that we love being a part of. For brides that have a smaller bridal party will usually opt for our Signature Small Round arrangement (12 roses) and Square Arrangement (16 roses) to gift their girls.”

How much time do you need to process an order?
“We are an online only business and offer North American wide shipping which means our flowers go almost anywhere! Orders usually are delivered in anywhere from two to seven days depending on the shipping address and delivery preference.”

24 Things You Absolutely, Positively Must Do Before Saying I Do

Planning

Photo courtesy of Francis Fraioli as seen in this real wedding.

You are about to enter an amazing new life phase which requires a bit of prep before transitioning from ME to WE. There are things that need to be done, experiences to be had, life to be lived! We have thoughts, and we also crowd sourced some thoughts on our social media platforms to come up with this hit list of 24 things (in no particular order!) we think are essential to tick off the life list before saying “I Do.”

1. Learn to cook.

2. Master a signature dinner party dish

3. Go away for a weekend. Alone.

4. Talk budget. As in yours, his and your collective home one. Also now is the time to get all the money matters on the table, don’t hide any debt!

5. Do a home purge. New life phase equals new stuff.

6. Take a dance lesson. Even if you are a master of the dance floor, it’s a fun thing to do as a couple.

7. Have the kid chat. It’s surprising how many couples aren’t on the same page about this one before saying “I do.’

8. Have the pet chat. Dogs? Cats? Ferrets? Birds? Are you aligned in your pet choices?

9. Adopt a regular self-care routine. Nightly bath? Workout? Meditation sesh? Find your groove and stick to it.

10. Travel together for at least a week or more. Hopefully you still like the person on return! You don’t truly know someone until you travel (or live) with someone!

11. Talk about home expectations and what each of you are going to be responsible for on the day-to-day running of the household. (i.e. laundry, cooking, cleaning, bill paying, outdoor maintenance). This is not a job for one, it’s a team task!

12. Consider marriage classes. Sounds terribly old-fashioned, but can actually be interesting and informative and make you think about what this new life phase means and entails. It’s not easy.

13. Shop for lingerie. For under your gown, your wedding night, your new married life. Little things mean a lot.

14. Have a physical. A healthy life is a happy life.

15. Live apart. Independence is a cornerstone of a healthy relationship and long distance is not easy but in most cases makes the heart grow founder. It’s important for each of you to bring your unique life experiences to the relationship that’s what makes you you!

16. Have lunch with your in-laws-to-be. Just you and them.

17. Have your engagement ring cleaned, plated and the setting checked. You want it looking fresh and fabulous for your wedding day.

18. Buy yourself wedding gifts. It’s important to celebrate yourselves with a special keepsake before the main event.

19. Have a hair and makeup trial AND book a date for that night. Great glam should never be wasted!

20. Keep bank accounts in both your own names but also open a joint one to access for common costs. Also, wedding guests will make cheques out in both your names so you need to be able to cash and stash those!

21. Have girlfriend time. Take time to travel with your girls and enjoy all the fun they bring to your life. BTW, this shouldn’t stop when you are married—girls’ trips are essential for keeping you grounded.

22. Adopt a solid skin regime and routine. Important not just for your wedding day, but for life! Also, SPF daily… just do it!

23. Decide how you will spend the holidays as marrieds. It’s the most stressful time of the year, and your families will want every second you can give them. Think about how you will juggle commitments and make a plan to stick to it.

24. Enjoy your engagement. It’s just the first step on the road of your life journey together!

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.

The Must-See Bridal Fashion Trends For Spring 2020

Fashion & Beauty » Wedding Dresses

New York Bridal Fashion Week (NYBFW) has just wrapped and it’s hard to believe we’re talking trends for Spring 2020! A whole new decade awaits and with it comes an incredible parade of bridal fashion trends. Designers are casting the net wide when it comes to wedding style inspo, with many getting nostalgic and echoing styles and silhouettes from bygone eras including the 1920s, 1950s, 1970s and 1980s. Veils continue to be a key bridal style item and capes, tulle overlays and capelets give airy light coverage. The accessory of the season is the hoop earring in all shapes and sizes. One of our favourite hoops were spotted at Berta where models all wore the same oversize bejewelled earrings that dazzled in the flash of fashion paparazzi bulbs. From architectural shapes, to lamé fabrics, simplistic and minimalist designs, delicate floral details and sexy transparency, there is a vibe for every bride in 2020. Here’s our top picks from the runways and collections introduced as part of NYBFW!

What Is Your Perfect Wedding Hair?

Fashion & Beauty » Hairstyles

Photography by Carlyle Routh. Hair by Tony MasciangeloAlcorn Hair/P1M.ca. Styling by Georgia Groom. Makeup by Sheri Stroh for The Detox Market/Plutino Group. Nails byJohn C. Nguyen for CND. First published in the Spring/Summer 2019 issue of Weddingbells, see story here.

Did you know there’s an X variable which will ultimately dictate your wedding ‘do: hair texture. While there are many factors at play (your dress, your personality and your style preference) the natural texture of your hair is ultimately the most important one. Your stylist can manipulate your hair to look any which way you like, but the longevity of that style relies on the natural texture you begin with. We spoke to hair pro Tony Masciangelo, co-owner of Toronto’s Alcorn Hair and on-set regular with Weddingbells, to break down the finer points of natural hair texture and the wedding style that works best with each.

Fine Hair
“This is definitely the most challenging hair type to work with when it comes to creating a style that will last all day,” Masciangelo says. “It typically does not hold curl or bounce well, so adding a lot of body to the hair with a blowout, curling irons and rollers is key. This hair texture works best when styled into a loosely pinned updo (I love a side-part with a bun or low chignon). To pump up volume and body, extensions can be added. I recommend going with glue-in ones to lessen any potential damage to hair. If you do choose the extension route, I love the look of a gorgeous, polished wave. Think Old-Hollywood glamour like Rita Hayworth or modern red-carpet-chic à la Blake Lively.”

Textured Hair
“This is hair that is curly and may have a certain degree of frizz,” Masciangelo explains. “Environmental elements, such as humidity, need to be taken into account with this hair type when deciding on a look because humidity is not your friend! Expect hair to expand in the heat, which means frizz at the hairline is a factor if you are considering an updo. I love creating wedding styles with naturally textured hair because this hair type holds all my styling tricks. I work with texture as a styling base, and love adding more curls with a curling iron, then pinning up sections randomly to create a naturally elegant style.”

Thick Hair
“This is one of the most difficult hair textures to work with simply because of the volume of hair you have,” Masciangelo shares. “It can be tricky to wrangle thick hair into an updo, as it can end up looking too heavy and awkward due to sheer bulk. With this texture,
I advise leaving hair down, waved, worn half up or lifted away from the face. I love a low ponytail for brides and this is the perfect hair type to create a sleek and sophisticated version. If you do want an updo, there are ways to cheat hair so it doesn’t appear as bulky. This is where we hairstylists work our magic, which we love to do with our beloved bridal clients!”

Meghan Markle Just Changed Her Engagement Ring Setting—And You Can, Too

Fashion & Beauty » Jewellery

Photo via Shutterstock.

Another precious detail has just emerged about Meghan Markle’s wedding bling. We have already dished about her new eternity ring, a gift from Harry on their first anniversary (Harry apparently also had his, Meghan and baby Archie’s birthstones set on the inside of the band…*swoon*). It seems that’s not the only new addition on Meghan’s ring finger—her three-stone engagement ring has been reset, the solid yellow gold band replaced with a micro-pave setting that matches her new eternity band beautifully. It’s been reported Harry (who designed the original setting) is also the mastermind behind this as he wanted the rings to compliment each other.

Given that Meghan’s engagement ring is not even two years old, does it seem early for an update? As it’s Harry who initiated the change, the switch of setting seems sweet and sentimental; but what if you find yourself in the situation of wanting to change your ring setting up but aren’t sure how to broach the subject without offending the presenter? We spoke to Toronto-based custom jeweller Elizabeth Wright of Elizabeth Wright Fine Jewellery for her thoughts on switching things up and how to have the chat.

How do you feel about changing up an engagement ring setting? Do you think that there’s a set time period it’s acceptable to do so in?
“I always tell my clients, when it comes to jewellery, there are no rules! What matters most is you have something you love and feel joy from. One of the most wonderful qualities about the precious materials used in jewelry is the ability to rework them countless times! Modifications to bridal jewelry usually happen around an anniversary, but people grow and change throughout time, and updating your jewelry can be very symbolic of your growing relationship.”

In the case of Meghan’s reset, it’s said that Harry took this on himself to match her new eternity ring which is very sweet!
“Harry clearly enjoys being involved in the jewellery design process, having put such thought and consideration into the engagement ring and eternity band. I think this is yet another example of how in love he is with Meghan. I personally love the new modifications to her ring.  Adding pavé diamonds gives her ring a modern update and provides texture and contrast with her wedding band. Plus, there is never anything wrong with more sparkle! I expect Meghan will continue to influence fashion and jewellery trends. We have certainly seen this in the last year with the popularity of the three-stone engagement ring.”

For brides to be, if you are presented with an engagement ring and you would like to tweak certain elements about it, how do you have that conversation?
“This can be a very delicate subject. Start by acknowledging the thought and care that was put into the ring. If it’s not immediately clear, talk with your partner about why they chose the ring. You may find that the sentiment and consideration behind the design affects your opinion. If you still wish to tweak the design, politely tell your partner how you feel. If the ring doesn’t feel like you or you think it could be better with some minor changes, be honest. Lastly, you can let them know how trilled and lucky you feel. After all, you’re going to be spending the rest of your life with your partner. Having conversations like this will strengthen your communication as a couple and will be great practice for a happy marriage!”

The Best Canadian Honeymoon Destinations

Travel » Honeymoons

The view from Marcus Restaurant + Terrace at Four Seasons Montreal. Photo by Carrie Macpherson.

Your dream honeymoon location may be closer than you think. Our home and native land has some incredible romantic spots that are perfect for a post-wedding getaway. From the wilds of the western coast Rocky Mountains to historic city locales and bustling urban playgrounds, Canada has some amazing places to explore and as Instagram-worthy as popular European or American destinations. Whether you and your new hubby are outdoor enthusiasts or city slickers, there are an endless array of options for every type of honeymoon (or mini-moon) here at home. Here are seven of our favourite places across Canada to plan the romantic trip of a lifetime.

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