Archive for Alison McGill

This Facial At Toronto’s Radford Studio Will Give You An A-List Glow

Fashion & Beauty » Skin Care & Makeup

Victoria Radford treats a client to the ultimate skin treatment: the Custom 24K Gold Hollywood North Facial.

There’s a beauty secret in Toronto all the It girls swear by and it comes in the form of a magical skin service by the city’s skin queen Victoria Radford. The multitalented Radford—who is the winner of Best Wedding Makeup Artist in our 2019 Weddingbells Wedding Awards—recently celebrated the one year anniversary of Radford Studio, her full-service salon in Yorkville and her team of amazing hair, skin and makeup pros are a favourite of haute brides in the city.

A treatment topping every bridal-beauty-to-do list is the incredible Hollywood North Facial, which was developed by Radford herself and will leave your skin with an otherworldly glow and finish akin to polished glass (people will stop to ask you what your secret is, trust). During the 60-minute treatment, your skin will be lovingly and masterfully cleansed, exfoliated and massaged. Radford was inspired to design the facial after learning of skin treatments in L.A.—the service incorporates low frequency sound waves and electrical current into the traditional facial mix. The star of the show is the application of Radford’s bespoke vitamin-rich 24K Gold Hydrogel Mask (you can also buy this and the Radford 24K Hydrogel Eye Mask to take home) which is cooled to zero degrees Celsius, helping to calm inflammation and boost circulation.

Treat your skin post treatment by taking home Radford’s 24K Gold Hydrogel Mask and 24K Hydrogel Eye Mask.

To take your skincare to the next level, you can opt for a customized Hollywood North treatment which involved a heightened level of pampering designed expressly for you. You can take your pampering a level up still with the Custom 24K Gold Hollywood North Facial which incorporates a gold skin roller into the mix and a bespoke home care regime.

55 Avenue Road Unit #210, 416-399-3704, victoriaradford.com.

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 We Loved At Maddy K’s 10th Annual Bridal Boudoir Affair

Planning

Dress from White Montreal. All photos courtesy of Badger Photography.

On March 31st, Montreal’s Maddy K  brought her amazing Bridal Boudoir Affair (BBA) show to the city’s historic St-James Theatre. The Emerald Edition BBA marked the 10th anniversary of Maddy’s iconic show and there was inspiration at every corner for all areas of your wedding day: fashion, décor, florals and food.

One of the undoubted highlights of the show was a gorgeous runway show featuring the very best in bridal fashion presented by White Montreal, Di Carlo Couture and Galleria Della Sposa. Weddingbells and our sister magazine Mariage Québec were thrilled to be media partners for the Bridal Boudoir Affair. Take a look inside the show and get inspired for planning your day!

Maddy K on the mainstage.

Show goers taking in all the beautiful sights at the Bridal Boudoir Affair.

Kick off to the runway bridal extravaganza.

Di Carlo Couture rocks the runway.

The show finale is bathed in emerald lights in an homage to the Emerald Edition of Maddy K’s BBA.

Why Not Having A Bridal Party May Be The Best Idea Ever

Planning

Photo via Julia Park

Consider this: on your wedding day, it’s just the two of you taking on the event together. No MOH (just like Meghan Markle), no best man, no bridesmaids, groomsmen or wee ones. Sounds like a sweet recipe for an easy breezy day doesn’t it?

While we appreciate how helpful a bridal party can be, we are also fully behind this new movement towards flying solo through your day. It can make things a little easier and let you focus solely on each other and your guests. Toronto-based event planner Gillian Roberts says this is a trend she has seen gaining popularity. “I am absolutely seeing a trend towards couples skipping bridal parties all together, or only have one person stand up with them such as a sibling or best friend,” Roberts shares. We quizzed Roberts about the pros and cons of abandoning attendants altogether.

Why do you think opting to not have a bridal party has become a thing?

“Couples going this route are ones who have already attended lots of weddings and been in a number of wedding parties themselves. They tend to go this route because they know how much work being in a wedding can be. These are the people who have been in countless bridal parties where people complain about the costs, the time commitment and the overall experience of being in a wedding and they don’t want to do the same to their friends.”

Do you think it’s a good idea? What are some benefits of not having attendants?

“I think that not having a bridal party is a great idea for the low key couple who don’t necessarily want a big production. These are the people who don’t want any drama on their wedding day, which large groups of close friends and family sometimes bring.”

Are there any down sides?

“The drawback of not having a wedding party is the help in planning that people often get from their party: someone to plan the bachelorette, bridal shower, help choose a menu, florist and so on. Many close friends will do this anyway, but it’s not as structured. You also miss out on that special time with your closest friends getting ready for your wedding, however you do skip any drama that comes with it.”

So in other words no bridal party equals a much less stressful wedding day?

“Yes, a very small bridal party, or no bridal party at all makes for a much more stress-free day. You’re not rushed to get hair, makeup, and pictures of a group of people—you just have to focus on you! There are always hair and make up issues at weddings and the last thing you want to worry about is that one of your bridesmaids isn’t happy with her hair…I’m telling you, it happens every single time!”

If a couple still wants to go the wedding party route, do you have any advice for making the decision more manageable and drama-free?  

“Give your bridal party as much freedom as you can. Let them be part of the decisions on what they have to wear, how many pre-wedding festivities they have to attend, how their hair should look, what colour their nails should be. Putting a lot of restraints on people causes them to put their backs up, therefore creating a tense day. One thing that bridal parties often really appreciate is being able to sit with their own spouses during the dinner, rather than at a bridal-party-exclusive head table. Wedding dinners can be long and attendants often feel guilty if their partners are at a table of people they don’t know.”

“Another tip that is often is overlooked is to actually ask your bridal party if they want to be in it. Don’t just assume. The gesture of being asked means a lot however some people just don’t have the capacity to take it on. They may have a new baby or have just bought a house or are too busy at work and although they’d love to be a part of the day, they know they would be better suited as a regular guest. The more relaxed you are about your bridal party, the more relaxed your day will be.”

5 Incredible Experiences For Your Grand Cayman Honeymoon

Travel » Honeymoons

Seven Mile Beach Grand Cayman. Photo courtesy of Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa.

The Cayman Islands is one of our all-time favourite picks for a honeymoon. Incredibly clean, safe and populated by some of the friendliest people on the planet, the Cayman Islands is a beautiful and memorable spot in the Caribbean. This trinity of islands truly has it all: miles of beach, endless sunshine, plush hotels, natural beauty and some of the world’s best diving and coral reefs. The weather is also hard to beat with sunshine happening pretty much 365 days of the year (November through April is particularly beautiful in the islands, with March and April being the driest months).

There are three islands to explore—Little Cayman, Cayman Brac and Grand Cayman—with the most popular and largest being Grand Cayman. We recently returned to the island to discover all that’s new, cool and experience some honeymoon-perfect activities we’ve never tried before!

A dreamy oceanview room at Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa. Photo courtesy of Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa

Stay At Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa
Grand Cayman’s newest resort on the world-renowned Seven Mile Beach is the island’s coolest and a new exclusive favourite of celebs and seasoned Caribbean travellers. This boutique hotel is not like most others on the island in that its design style is incredibly modern, bright and urban chic. All of the hotel’s 266 guest rooms are filled with light thanks to huge glass windows looking out to the spectacular pool and beach area. Pops of fuchsia, orange, yellow, and lime green prevail throughout. An ocean view suite is definitely our top pick (hello massive soaker tub with a sea outlook!).

Coccoloba is a breezy tacqueria at Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa. Photo courtesy of Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa.

The incredible Hammam at The Spa at Seafire. Photo courtesy of Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa

You can indulge in incredible food at the Seafire with three amazing restos in-house (we really love Coccoloba Bar & Grill, a breezy oceanfront taqueria) as well as relaxing self-care at The Spa at Seafire, which is home to the most tranquil Hammam room and Caymanian-inspired treatments like the Ocean Calm massage and Cayman Coconut body scrub.

A sail at sunset is the most romantic! Photo courtesy of Cayman Islands Department of Tourism.

Take A Sunset Sail
Grand Cayman has some of the most beautiful sunsets in the Caribbean and a perfect (and most romantic!) way to enjoy it is with a three-hour sunset cruise with Red Sail Sports aboard a 65’ luxury catamaran to the island’s other star attraction Stingray City. Head out late afternoon and arrive in time to take a snorkel with the friendly rays, then sail back to Seven Mile Beach against a stunning pink sunset.

Inside the Grand Cayman’s largest crystal cave. Photo courtesy of Cayman Islands Department of Tourism.

Explore The Cayman Crystal Caves
If you love exotic adventure that takes you off the beaten path, Cayman’s Crystal Caves are a must-do. Situated in a forested area in Northside, Grand Cayman, the caves have been recently excavated and can now be explored via a 90-minute guided walking tour. Millions of years old, the caves feature incredible crystal formations.

The dreamy Westin Grand Cayman. Photography courtesy of The Westin Grand Cayman.

Have A Wellness Retreat At The Westin Grand Cayman 
When it comes to the finest beach location on Grand Cayman, it doesn’t get any more prime than this resort property. Walk into the lobby of the Westin Grand Cayman Seven Mile Beach Resort & Spa and the first thing you’ll see are dreamy ocean views. The property has recently been renovated and the vibe is easy, breezy and chic Caribbean cool.

The breezy lobby at Westin Grand Cayman. Photo courtesy of The Westin Grand Cayman.

Book a Deluxe Ocean Front Room on the ground level and you can walk straight out to the beach. There is a big focus on wellness at the Westin Grand Cayman Seven Mile Beach Resort & Spa which pervades all aspects of the resort from dining, to spa and resort activities, which include everything from beach yoga to paddle boarding. The resort is also home to the largest freshwater pool in Grand Cayman so if you are looking to just lounge under a breezy palm tree and realign your Zen zone this is the perfect spot.

Agua restaurant at Camana Bay.

Experience Amazing Dining
Grand Cayman is famed as the culinary capital of the Caribbean. A decade ago, chef Eric Ripert’s now-annual Cayman Cookout event put the island on the international dining map. In Grand Cayman you can enjoy a different type of cuisine at every meal—giving your honeymoon a distinctly global flavour. A few must eat spots include LUCA at the Caribbean Club which offers classic Italian; Andiamo at the Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman which also serves Italian flavours with a Caribbean twist and has the best pizza and homemade gelato on island; and Agua at Camana Bay offering a largely seafood-focused menu with a Peruvian culinary flair.

For more ideas for your Cayman Island honeymoon or for planning a destination wedding, please see our Cayman Islands Guide.

Sleep Is The Secret To Eliminating Wedding Planning Stress

Planning

Photo via iStock.

Much is written today about sleep: our lack of it and how it impacts everything in our life and our quality of life. If you don’t get enough z’s your body and mind will tell you. And when you are stressed, it’s a guarantee you won’t be getting the rest you need which leads to more stress and worry. It can become a toxic, never-ending cycle.

Planning a wedding is one of those amazing life events that can create an inordinate amount of anxiety in your life. It’s busy, there’s so many details, you just can’t turn off your brain and your sleep is suffering because of it. To help you understand why it’s so important and how to truly lay it down, turn if off and get the restorative rest you need, we spoke to Alannah McGinn, renown Toronto-based sleep expert and President of Good Night Sleep Site, who shared with us many interesting and eye-opening sleep insights.

Why is good sleep so integral to our being?
“Sleep helps our body repair and restore from the day its had and helps the brain and mind rest and prepare for the day ahead. We are able to file away our long-term memories and flush out toxins. Research shows our brain’s drainage system—the glymphatic system—washes the junk and toxins from our brains primarily throughout the night. This is one of the major reasons why we sleep.”

Straight talk: how many hours of sleep do we really need a night to function at our best?
“For a typical healthy adult individual you need at least seven to nine hours of consolidated sleep. Rare individuals require less or more. When you are frequently cheating your body of six or less hours of sleep each night you are more prone to future health problems and a shorter life expectancy. You can’t catch on up sleep by just sleeping in one morning. It takes 24 hours to recover from one hour lost of sleep.”

How does stress impact sleep? What if you just can’t turn off your ever-whirring mind full of wedding planning details?
“Busy brains is a main reason why people are struggling to fall back to sleep at night. Bouts of insomnia are common. You may suffer from acute insomnia, where for a short period of time you struggle with sleep and then you start sleeping well again. It could be due to illness, stress, excitement, worry. Others may struggle with chronic insomnia, where the individual has had loss of sleep for months or even years and now it could be affecting their overall health and quality of life. Some tricks to quiet your mind include practicing mindful breathing and relaxing techniques. Take a personal pause throughout your day where you allow your mind to shift to your worries or your to-do list. Right it down if you have to. This way once you go to sleep and the distractions are gone you’re not left to thinking about everything because you already gave yourself that opportunity to throughout the day. Also I advise keeping a worry journal on your bedside table where you can jot down worries, stresses, and to-do lists that may be keeping you up at night so that you are giving yourself a brain dumb and off your mind so that you can sleep.”

What are the essentials for a good night sleep?
“You always want to start with the basics and that’s practicing proper sleep hygiene. Sleep hygiene are steps that you should practice promoting ongoing healthy sleep. There are a few main steps for this. It’s important to establish a consistent sleep pattern. It’s easier for us to fall asleep and stay asleep when we are aiming for the same bedtime and wake time each day. Next, protect the amount of sleep that you need. When we don’t meet our own personal baseline of sleep on a regular basis we accumulate a ‘sleep debt.’ Determine your wake time and base your bedtime on that. Lastly, turn off tech and keep it out of the bedroom! You may fall asleep to the TV okay or after you surf your phone, but being in front of that bright screen turns the sleep switch off in your brain. And even though you are sleeping, your brain still thinks that it should be awake, so you’re not able to get proper restorative sleep.”

On that note, how much do tech devices impact our sleep?
“Likely the biggest sleep buster in our bedrooms! Turn off the TV, the internet, the iPad, and the iPhone, whatever you use. That blue LED light from the screen can really over stimulate the brain. It suppresses melatonin and make it difficult for you to fall asleep. So at least 60-minutes before bedtime (90-minutes if you can do it!), turn off tech!”

How can a couple get a better night’s sleep as a collective? It can be very difficult when you are two different sleepers, with different wake times and bedtimes.
“If you can focus on the same bedtime at least a few nights a week this can provide you and your partner the opportunity to connect without life’s distractions. Establishing a healthy bedtime routine as a couple and as individuals is imperative in attaining a good night’s sleep.”

These Floral Fragrances Are Wedding-Perfect

Fashion & Beauty

The flowers in your bouquet are not the only blossoms to consider for your wedding. Indulge your inner romantic, floral-loving side by choosing a wedding fragrance blooming with verdant, garden-inspired notes. Choosing a memorable and impactful scent for your wedding is a big must in our books—you want it to be an extra special scent you remember as being a part of your very special day. Here are six new scents we love that will also become everyday favorites long after you say ‘I do.’
All illustrations by Stephanie-Anne.

Dior Joy Eau de Parfum, $165 for 90ml (pictured above)
The first fragrance from the fashion house in 20 years is a warm floral blend with the key notes of mandarin, sandalwood and white musk. Combined, these scents create an instant classic.

Jo Malone London Honeysuckle & Davana Cologne, $184 for 100ml
This woodsy floral smells like English summertime, featuring a star blend of honeysuckle, rose, davana mixed warm moss and wood notes.

 

 

Gucci Bloom Nettare de Fiori, $168 for 100ml
A richer spin on Gucci’s original Bloom scent, this juice relies on rose and wood notes to give it a big, bold, beautiful punch.

Yves Saint Laurent Mon Paris Eau de Parfum, $160 for 90ml
Fruit essences of strawberry, raspberry, pear and orange flower combine with white peony to create a scent that’s fresh and fabulously feminine.

Ralph Lauren Women Eau de Parfum, $115 for 50ml
This classic floral fragrance is vibrant and elegant with bold tuberose accord at its heart.

Calvin Klein Women Eau de Parfum, $92 for 50ml
This is a complex, multi-level fragrance that combines orange flower petals, eucalyptus acorns and Alaskan cedarwood to give it a modern edge.

How To Pose 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.

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