Archive for Alison McGill

An Opulent, Sophisticated Same-Sex Wedding in Toronto

Real Weddings

A White, Elegant Same-Sex Wedding in Toronto

Jamie and Justin began their journey toward Mr. & Mr. nine years ago. After a chance meeting on a night out, the two arranged a lunch date where they talked for hours over a giant boat of sushi. Fast-forward to 2018, and Justin popped the question on a trip to Scandinavia. “Justin orchestrated the most romantic proposal during a stopover in Flam, a small village in Norway,” Jamie recalls with a smile. “I found out later he had been hiding our rings in a pair of socks for the first half of our trip, which I found extremely amusing!”

The couple were intimately involved in planning every aspect of their wedding. When looking for inpso, they were drawn to the elegance and crispness of white, but wanted to mix in some moody masculinity. “With our planner Lexi, of Lexington and Co. Events, we found an image of a bouquet containing white ranunculus, white amaryllis, navy privet berries and kumquats on the branch (for a pop of orange and deep green), all perfectly arranged in a gunmetal vase,” Jamie says. “This represented the elegance we wanted, with the orange representing our playful personalities and the high energy of the day we envisioned.”

Justin and Jamie hosted 180 guests for their grand fête and said ‘I dos’ on a custom stage loaded with candles and lanterns to create a gorgeous, glowing ambiance. The bridal party had five groomsmaids, all outfitted in bespoke gowns by Mikhael Kale, a friend of the couple. Jamie was a part of the creative process for the dresses, helping to choose fabrics and silhouettes for each groomsmaid. “We did not have a bride at our wedding, so we really wanted to highlight the beauty of the women involved in it,” Jamie explains. Three flower girls accompanied a special ring bearer—the couple’s dog, Diesel, decked out in his own dashing wee tuxedo— down the aisle. The ceremony was a favourite moment of the day. “We wrote our own vows, which was very nerve-wracking, but also very special,” Jamie shares, adding that “the lead-up to walking down the aisle was a total adrenaline rush!”

The reveal of their dream reception space was also a high point. Suspended above their King’s Table was a 26-foot installation of green and white florals, while candles, grapes and kumquat branches ran down the centre of the table below. “It was magical to see everything and feel all the love and energy in the room. We had the best team helping us—Lexi and our florist, Wild North, nailed everything!”

When it came time to party, the evening kicked off with mother- and-son dances, which turned into an impromptu flash mob—a surprise planned by a good friend and Justin’s brother, who owns a dance studio. “He called up a bunch of our guests to teach them dance moves before our wedding,” Jamie shares. “It was a big surprise that we loved and will never forget!” Guests spent the rest of the night on the floor, dancing to the sounds of Symmetry Studios, a nine- piece band. “They kept the evening buzzing, from cocktails through dinner and dancing,” notes Jamie. “It totally gave our celebration a customized, curated and sophisticated feeling.”

Jamie Knoepfli and Justin Lopresti, September 20, 2019, Toronto, Ontario.

Photography courtesy of Liza Litvinocvitch from Mango Studios.  

Venue: Casa Loma
Wedding planner: Lexington and Co.
Groom’s tuxes: Surmesur
Groomsmaid gowns: Mikhael Kale
Groomsmen’s attire: Esco Clothiers
Flowers: Wild North Flowers
Hair and makeup: Aniya Nandy
Favours: MS Society of Canada and The 519
Desserts: Sud Forno 
  Symmetry Studios
Stationery: The Lovely Script
Menu, seating chart and bar signs: Grace Boivin
Wedding bands: Stephen Andrew Collection

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The Most Gorgeous Dresses For A Rustic and Romantic Wedding

Fashion & Beauty

Two-piece bridal gown by Fame and Partners from David’s Bridal. Denim shirt by Zara. Earrings by Lucky Brand. Bouquet by Snowberry Botanicals.

If your bridal vibe is rustic and romantic, consider kicking it up a notch with denim, fringe or sparkle for a look that’s a little bit country and a little bit rock ‘n’ roll. Cambium Farms in Caledon, Ontario, was the perfect backdrop for our cool country bridal fashion shoot. The locale features 50 acres of lush land and a fully restored century-old barn—a stunning event space with a capacity for 250 guests.

Adjacent to Cambium Farms’ barn is The Carriage House, originally built to house the farm’s horse-drawn carriages. Today this charming, raw space is lit by twinkle lights and can be transformed into a dreamy venue for pre-event cocktails or an intimate wedding celebration.

Photography by Alvaro Goveia. Styling by Tara Williams. Editor & creative production by Alison McGill. Hair & makeup by Sheri Stroh for Charlotte Tilbury/Kevin Murphy/Plutino Group. Model, Brianah, Spot 6. Very special thanks to the Cambium Farms team and Snowberry Botanicals. As first seen in the Spring/Summer 2020 issue of Weddingbells.

Dress by Luna Willow Bridal from Oh Happy Brides. Earrings & necklace by Thomas Sabo.

Dress by Daalarna Couture from Sash & Bustle. Earrings by Michelle Ross.

Jumpsuit by Rivini. Necklace by Zara. Ring by Thomas Sabo. Belt, stylist’s own. Shoes by Rachel Zoe. Floral hoop by Snowberry Botanicals.

Dress by The Fitzroy. Hat by Coup de Tête. Earrings by Michelle Ross. Necklace & rings by Thomas Sabo. Boots by Zara.

Dress by Justin Alexander. Sequinned pants by Zara. Earrings & necklace by Michelle Ross. Shoes by Rachel Zoe.

Dress by Jenny Packham. Headband & earrings by Jennifer Behr from White Toronto. Floral hoop by Snowberry Botanicals.

Dress by Brøsche Bridal. Earrings by Michelle Ross. Ring by Made You Look. Fresh floral cuff by Snowberry Botanicals. Shoes, stylist’s own.

Dress by Willowby by Watters. Earrings by Michelle Ross.

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.”

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.

Victoria Radford’s Stunning, Elegant Wedding in Lisbon

Real Weddings

A White, Elegant Wedding in Lisbon, Portugal

Victoria Radford, owner of Toronto’s Radford Studio, wanted an all-white wedding. So in addition to her own white bridal gown, the bridesmaids wore white, and female guests were invited to wear their own original white wedding gowns. “As a professional makeup artist, I know firsthand that a bridal gown is synonymous with love,” Victoria asserts. She’s worked hundreds of weddings and knew the effect would be breathtaking. “It was a sea of white set against one of the most stunning landmarks in Lisbon, with lush vegetation and history all around us.”

The venue, The Pestana Palace Hotel in Lisbon, Portugal, offered an old-world, white-stone backdrop for the celebration. This magnificent former private aristocratic residence, completed in 1910, is now a luxury hotel with the nest of appointments and spectacular views of the Tagus River. “We both have parents originally from Portugal,” Victoria reveals, “and we both spent time there growing up. Relatives living in Portugal joined us—including my grandmother, who’s in her nineties—and guests from around the globe flew in to sunny Lisbon for our wedding.”

The owners echoed the elegant theme, with dozens of white roses used throughout, from the reception tables and bridesmaids’ owners to the of official bridal bouquet.

Victoria’s bridal gown, “a dream confection” by Galia Lahav, also came from a shop that echoed her palette—White Toronto. “White should be every bride’s first destination,” Victoria says. “Their superior selection of gowns and customer service are unparalleled. I was made to feel like an absolute princess.” The amour vibe continued as Victoria entered the celebration to Steve Winwood’s “Higher Love,” sung live by Billy Newton-Davis, a close family friend from Toronto. “Everyone could feel genuine love in the beautiful courtyard where the reception took place,” Victoria recalls. “The lyrics represent exactly how Matt and I felt before we met, waiting for our ‘higher love.’”

The couple met at a haircare industry event when Victoria was a studio owner and Matt was in business development for L’Oréal. She grilled Matt because she thought his interest was simply work-related. But she couldn’t stop thinking about the smart, driven, good-looking man she’d met, so several days later, she agreed to meet for a coffee. They clicked during that coffee break—as they both say, “When you know, you know.”

Fittingly, on their wedding day, Matt and Victoria took an hour to sneak away for a private coffee in Lisbon, to toast love, their fateful first encounter and their new life together.

Victoria Radford and Matt Couto, August 31, 2019, Lisbon, Portugal.

Photography courtesy of Purple Tree Photography.


Venue: The Pestana Palace Hotel Lisbon
Bridal gown: Galia Lahav from White Toronto
Wedding planner: Diana Pires 
Flowers: Precious Flowers Event Design
Bridal shoes: Maison Bédard
Groom’s tux: Soren Custom
Bride’s rings and bridesmaid’s jewelry: Brenda Radford Studio
Bridesmaid robes: Tara Rivas
Hair & makeup: Radford Studio
Music: DJ KennyG, Maura and Billy Newton Davis

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A White, Elegant Wedding in Lisbon, Portugal

A White, Elegant Wedding in Lisbon, Portugal A White, Elegant Wedding in Lisbon, Portugal A White, Elegant Wedding in Lisbon, Portugal A White, Elegant Wedding in Lisbon, Portugal A White, Elegant Wedding in Lisbon, Portugal

Tips for Buying Wedding Day Lingerie

Fashion & Beauty

Photo via iStockphoto

Before you begin to dress shop, there’s one thing you must buy first—your wedding day intimates. Nothing you try on will fit right or make you look fantastic unless you’re wearing the right smalls underneath. Liliana Mann, owner of Toronto’s Linea Intima is a fit expert (a visit to her and you will walk out feeling taller and up to 10 pounds slimmer thanks to your new bra) and we asked her for some insider intel on wedding day lingerie shopping.

“Every bride deserves to feel like a queen on her wedding day and the royal treatment begins with an expert bra-fitting and bridal lingerie consultation,” Mann says. Here are her six shopping tips.

1. The right bra equals the right dress
“Begin your dress search with a bra-fitting to help you discover which bra styles are available in your size and best flatter your body,” she says. “Buy your bra or bustier before you buy your dress. Build your look from the inside-out, starting with the foundation. Shop for the dress of your dreams, with the confidence that comes from knowing which bra is perfect to wear under it. Steer clear of styles you haven’t worn before and stay within your comfort zone. If you’ve never worn a strapless bra, aren’t comfortable in one or you’re large busted, don’t select a strapless dress. If you don’t like the look of a push-up bra, don’t select a dress that requires one. Take your bridal lingerie to all your dress fittings to ensure it’s altered properly.”

2. Select the best bra style for the job
“If you need full support, look for a full coverage bra in an ultra-feminine design. If you need curve enhancement, try an underwire bra to give a fuller, more rounded shape to the décolletage. If you need a strapless bra, the secret to finding the perfect one is to choose a smaller band and a bigger cup size.”

3. Bet on a bustier
“These all-in-one wonders are both bra and body shaper and provide extra support and comfort under heavy bridal gowns. Added bonus: bustiers are a big part of fashion’s hot retro trend, which means there’s an amazing selection of sexy styles to choose from.”

4. Buy the best underwear your budget allows
“Underpants are a small indulgence that can make a big difference to the way you look and feel on your wedding day, so don’t skimp on them, just because they don’t show! This isn’t the time to try a style of panty you’ve never worn before, stick with your usual panty preference, but select a more elaborate fabric or a special design.”

5. Stay in control
“Keep your curves in check with whisper-light shapewear that invisibly smooths out any unwanted bumps. Choose the right level of support for the job—the higher the Lycra content, the firmer the support. And remember, never squeeze into shapewear—pay careful attention to choose the correct size. Breathing is important!

6. Say ‘I do’ to stay-ups
Ultra sheer, textured or embellished stay-ups add an element of sexy intrigue to the day and don’t interfere with your dress silhouette or other lingerie. White or ivory are the best colour choices and when it comes to sizing don’t buy them too small. When in doubt buy the next size up.”

Do You Need Wedding Prejuvenation?

Fashion & Beauty

Photo by Carlyle Routh. Hair and makeup by Vanessa Jarman, P1m. Styling by Tara Williams.

Next question: what does “prejuvenation” exactly mean? If you are worried you may not be putting your best face forward on your wedding day (translation: you’re looking at fine lines, uneven skin tone and even a little darkness and hollowness under your eyes) we’re talking to you. According to Dr. Lisa Kellett of Toronto’s DLK on Avenue, prejuvenation refers to preventative treatment targeting all of the above. It encompasses many things from skin treatments to injectables and the focus is on preserving your natural appearance or slowing down the aging process. “It’s easier to prevent a wrinkle from forming rather than treating and existing one,” Kellett shares. “We are seeing younger patients coming in and many brides-to-be.”

We wanted to know all when it comes to prejuvenation. Here’s what Dr. Kellett and DLK Cosmetic Nurse Diana Phillips shared with us and why it may be the perfect pre-wedding regimen for you.

Weddingbells: Why are more brides (and younger brides) having procedures done for their wedding day?
Dr. Lisa Kellett: Brides are older than they used to be in previous generations and some of the signs of aging have already started to occur. Brides want their pictures and wedding selfies to be perfect!”

WB: What is the process when it comes to prejuvenation?
DLK: “We always start with a comprehensive consultation and assess the skin and concerns, and of course work backwards from the date of the wedding.”

WB: What are the most common prejuvenation procedures?
Diana Phillips: “Procedures that brighten the appearance of skin which include IPL for skin tone and texture; lifting the brows using a neuromodulator; and treating dark under eye circles with injectable filler are the most common treatments for brides. Leading up to the wedding, a small amount of hyaluronic acid based filler can fill the hollows and have a profound effect improving a patient’s overall appearance and making them look less tired.”

WB: Is there any one thing that is being requested more than another these days?
DP: “Lip treatments are very popular and we don’t see this trend changing any time soon.  We have social media, and of course Kylie Jenner ,to thank for this.  Lip augmentation, when done properly can enhance a person’s features and give patients a boost of confidence that will definitely show on their wedding day.”

WB: What sort of timeline should a bride work on to book prejuvenation procedures before her wedding?
DLK: “Ideally brides should come in one year prior to their wedding day, but we know this is not always possible. Some skin issues need time to be properly treated so the more time we have to work with our patients, the better.”

WB: How long do injectables last?
DP: Neuromodulators (Botox and Dysport) last four to five months and injectable filler can last 10 to 12 months.

WB: What is the approximate cost for injectables and treatments?
DLK: “Starting at $400 and up.”

WB: What things should you consider before signing on for prejuvenation treatments?
DLK: “Have a look in the mirror and decide, what are the most important skin concerns that need to be addressed to feel your best!”



Throw A Next-Level Dinner Party With These Tips From Entertaining Expert Sophie Conran


Sophie Conran.

Chances are you know Sophie Conran from her iconic tabletop collection with Portmeirion. With its clean modern shape and neutral colour palette, Conran’s tableware has topped registry charts since it launched 12 years ago, and she has just added two chic new patterns—White Oak and Blue Oak—to her portfolio. British-born, London-based Conran has also authored three cookbooks and is of course part of the renowned Conran dynasty (her father is designer and restauranteur Sir Terrance Conran; her mother Caroline is an acclaimed food writer; and her brother Jasper is a fashion designer). Sophie was recently in Toronto for the launch of her new tableware line (available at Hudson’s Bay) and we had a chance to ask her about how to entertain like a pro-star.

What are some essentials everyone needs for great entertaining?
“I love dinner parties and having people over—it’s really the social glue of your circle. Having those special moments with your family and friends as your guests. Setting the table is all about being creative and bringing your own personality and style to it. It’s one of my favourite things to do! I use masses of candles, metallic pieces and crystal because it picks up the candlelight. At holiday time I love fairy lights. I always have tons of fresh flowers to set the tone and match the season. Make your table fun and have fun playing!”

When it comes specifically to pieces on the table, what does every household need?
“A pattern that can work for casual or formal is key. Then I recommend a few pieces you can dress it up with and layer, like chargers or lay plates. You also need some amazing serving pieces that you can put on the table and use for family style parties—those are my favourite kind of event because it’s less work, no plating required! I love to use tumblers and glasses for flowers and it’s great to mix in vintage pieces and lovely linens and napkins. I am a huge napkin fan and have a rather embarrassingly large collection of them—I use them every day, for every meal!”

Sophie Conran’s newest pattern, White Oak.

Everyone needs a signature dish for entertaining. What’s yours?
“Everyone needs a go to! To be honest, mine changes all the time but I do have a few. I make a quick easy tomato sauce (garlic, olive oil, tomatoes, salt and pepper) that you can do 1,000 things with that I love and is hallmark of mine. I also love to make different mayonnaises. Red pepper, garlic, herbs. All different flavours which I serve with roast chicken, veg and lots of big salads.”

As a Brit, you obviously love tea! Do you have a favourite spot for afternoon tea in London?
“In the office we literally drink tea all day long! If there’s a birthday, it’s tea and cake to celebrate. I have a few places I love in London—The Wolseley and Claridges London would be my very top choices though.”

Who are your dream dinner party guests, past of present?
“Picasso, because he looks like he’s really fun. I’d love to get all the heads of the religions around the table—Jesus, Muhammad and Buddha—to talk about the state of the world and how we can solve it. David Attenborough as it would be great to also solve climate change. And a few of my favourite foodie people: Diana Henry, Nigel Slater and my mum.”

4 Fashion-Forward Bridal Beauty Looks

Fashion & Beauty

Photography by Riley Stewart. Hair & makeup by Cia Mandarello for using OGX. Beauty assistant, Jenna Burrell for Styling by Tara Williams. Nails by Rita Remark for Essie. Model Brianna Wood, Plutino Models. Editor & creative production by Alison McGill. As seen in the Fall & Winter 2019 issue of Mariage Quebec. Dress by Sunflower Bridal. Earrings by Ines Di Santo.

We always look to the runways for fashion and beauty inspiration and this season we saw some amazing trends perfect for weddings that are so easily bridalized! The overall vibe of the season is glam with looks drawing on classic starlet looks including fluttery lashes and liner, red lips and a stylist French-girl inspired chignon. Here are four of our favourites of the season!

The Eyes Have It (pictured above)
A thick line of liquid eyeliner and a fringe of dramatic eyelashes creates a look that is pure red carpet glamour.

Cape by Sunflower Bridal. Earrings by Ecksand.

Rose Gold Goddess
Pink and bronze shades are the hottest beauty hues and work for the entire face—eyes, cheeks and lips. We love using these colour to create a chic, monotone bridal look that simply glows.

Blouse by Martina Liana. Bow by Valencienne. Earrings by Rebekah Price.

Chignon Love
The most modern way to updo is to keep hair simple and sleek, but with a hint of texture. This chignon gets its stylish twist via teasing to add volume at the crown.

Blouse by Brosche Bridal Couture Lab. Stacked rings by Ecksand. Silver jewelled ring, stylist’s own.

Red Alert
Go bold with your bridal lip colour and wear a red lip on your wedding day. To make it au courant wear colour as a stain on lips so it appears almost matte and just-kissed.

This Anniversary Shoot in Paris (Shot On iPhone 11 Pro) Is Simply Breathtaking


Photography courtesy of Kristy Ryan, Blush Photography shot on iPhone 11 Pro.

Vancouver-based photographer Kristy Ryan, co-owner of Blush Photography (and the winner of best Wedding Photography in our 2019 Weddingbells Canadian Wedding Awards) spends a lot of time travelling the globe shooting weddings, honeymoons and anniversary shoots with her clients. She recently jetted to Paris to shoot Jessica Cheng and Phil Chou, a couple she’s been working with for over three years, starting with their engagement shoot which was staged on a mountain top in British Columbia. “Since then I shot their wedding, travelled with them to Iceland and Myanmar for shoots to celebrate their anniversary and this year it was off to Paris,” Ryan says. These types of shoots are becoming increasingly common with couples and Ryan loves the adventure and romance of them.

For this elaborate shoot to celebrate their third wedding anniversary (and 15 years of being a couple), three dramatic backdrops were chosen. “We started at sunrise at Place du Trocadero to capture the Eiffel Tower,” Ryan shares. “Then shot briefly at Hotel de Crillon, then went to Palais Royal and around the Louvre. We finished with a helicopter ride over the city to the countryside of Chateau de Villette.”

To capture all of these swoon-worthy moments, Ryan had the iPhone 11 Pro in her kit, which she says is a something every couple needs to pack for their honeymoon and travel adventures. “With travel photography, often the moment happens quickly, and with the iPhone everything is right there for you to capture the best photos possible. Just swipe, tap and shoot. The new Night Mode feature is particularly amazing for travel photography. I can remember many times being inside caves and temples on my travels and not being able to capture anything. I think the low light night mode will also come in handy for travel photography.”

With special thanks to the following vendors: NKT Events, Ciara Coiffure, Trine Juel, Floraison, Rouge Wedding, Retro Motors Collection. Dresses from Paolo Corona Paris (yellow and black gowns), Top Bridal Paris (cream and silver gowns) and Mae Paris (green gown). Check out these amazing photos captured by Ryan during her jet set trip with Jessica and Phil to Paris and beyond.

Ryan loved the iPhone’s super-slick three camera set up. There are three modes: Ultra-Wide camera, Wide camera and Telephoto camera. This image captured in Portrait Mode puts Jessica & Phil front and centre in the midst of the beauty of the Palais Royal in Paris.

This photo is a stunning example of iPhone’s Ultra Wide lens capabilities. With three lenses at the ready, you are basically packing a packing a professional caliber camera in your pocket that’s able to take the most incredible snaps.

These two photos were shot using Night Mode and Ryan notes both shots had extremely low light. “I REALLY liked the flexibility of the low light and wide angles that enabled me to get some shots that I wouldn’t have been otherwise,” Ryan says.


How To Take The Perfect Engagement Ring Selfie

Fashion & Beauty

He asked, you said yes, then naturally you snapped a selfie! However, it wasn’t until he slipped that sparkler on your finger that you realized how difficult taking the perfect engagement ring selfie is. “Hands aren’t always photogenic and tend to be tricky to flatter and pose,” says Rita Remark, the lead nail artist for Essie Canada who regularly creates fashion-forward, photo-ready manicures for Canada’s top fashion and beauty magazines.

We asked Remark for her essential tips for engagement ring selfies. From the right way to pose hands, to the best shade of nail polish. Read her expert advice before you start posting:

What are the key elements for a successful ring selfie?
“When taking an engagement selfie, it’s important that the ring is the focal point — you want to be sure it dazzles! When it comes to hand placement, never hyperextend your fingers in a star position because it emphasizes your knuckles and shortens your fingertips. Instead, try shooting your hands flat with a gentle bend in the knuckles or, better yet, holding something like a glass of celebratory champagne. Natural lighting is always best and never use a flash because it will bounce too much light off of your ring and give the image a harsh contrast.”

Are there any tricks for giving fingers an elongated appearance?
“A great illusion for making fingers look longer is an oval or almond nail shape. If you have small hands, a square nail shape can actually make your fingers appear stubby or blunted. Oval nails give elegance and have a high-heeled effect on your hands.”

What shade(s) of nail polish do you recommend to make a diamond ring pop?
“It’s important not to out-shine the ring with vibrant neon or a high-impact glitter. Make the ring the entire focus of the photo by choosing a nude like Essie Topless & Barefoot or Mademoiselle for a fresh and feminine look. You could also choose a colour that complements your ring like a playful Tiffany-inspired blue or a classic red — I love Essie A List.”

Do you recommend an accent nail on the ring finger to make the bling really pop?
When considering nail art for an engagement selfie, remember to keep it simple and chic rather than bold and distracting. I love blending colour and metallics with classic nail art looks for a trendy, yet timeless, look. Try a blue polish with a silver moon. I also recommend a two-tone French manicure like the one seen on the runway at Wes Gordon in New York. The mattified red with a shiny burgundy tip was very sophisticated. If you’d like to keep it simple, try a ring finger accent nail with a small crystal near the cuticle.”

What’s your favourite Instagram filter for engagement ring selfies?
My favourite filters are Valencia and Nashville. I love Valencia because it brightens the photo and gives a warm glow that’s both flattering and romantic. I love Nashville because it also brightens the photo, but gives a slight hint of blue that brightens and whitens everything from teeth to the tips of your nails. It’s important to remember to choose a filter that doesn’t deepen, or over-colour to make it distracting (like the Kelvin filter) and to always forgo the frame option to keep the focus on the photo.”

How to Plan A Destination Wedding in New York City

Travel » Destination Weddings


Photo courtesy of The Surrey.

Not everyone dreams of heading for the beach for a destination wedding. If you crave arts, culture and city hustle for your day, New York City is the perfect choice. Extremely travel accessible from across Canada, you can have your New York wedding large or small, urban or uptown. The choices are truly endless in the city that doesn’t sleep.

 The best time to go: June, July, August, and September are the most popular months to get hitched in New York. These months bring fresh summery weather, but they can also be the priciest time of year when it comes to venues. If you want to avoid the increased costs of venues and accommodations, get married in the early spring, late fall, or have a winter wonderland wedding in the midst of the colder season. Try to avoid New Year’s Day and Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend in January if you want to be cost-conscious.

The flight: All major carriers offer daily service to New York. If you are traveling from the west, you may have a connecting flight. Travel time from Toronto and Montreal is just one hour.

Legal paperwork: In order to marry in New York, you must obtain a marriage license. There is a small fee of $35 for this paperwork. After attaining your license, you must wait a full 24 hours before your marriage ceremony can be performed, unless you obtain a judicial waiver. More information revolving around the necessary legal paperwork to be wed in New York can be found here.

The budget: Depending on the scope and size of wedding you choose, and the venue, your budget can run the gamut from a $10,000 to $100,000+! If you are planning a celebration at one of New York’s tony hotels expect to pay more for their total wedding packages, which typically include everything from the flowers, to the photographer, catering and entertainment.

The venue: For a gorgeous wedding in an intimate and exclusive space we recommend The Surrey, a quiet, cozy and dreamy hotel on the city’s exclusive Upper East Side. The only Relais and Chateaux property in the city, The Surrey is tucked away on the quiet corner of E 76th and Madison, steps away from the city’s best shopping, Central Park and Museum Mile (there are nine museums in the immediate vicinity). Originally built as a residence hotel in 1926, The Surrey has been home over the years to famous faces include JFK and Bette Davis. This boutique hotel boasts sleek modern décor and ultra-spacious guest rooms and suites (a true luxury in New York City!). It also has a priceless collection of modern art sprinkled throughout which guests can get up close and personal with. You’ll see one of The Surrey’s most famous pieces as soon as you enter the lobby: photographer Chuck Close’s giant tapestry of Kate Moss. Ask the concierge to arrange an art tour so you can see all the gems The Surrey has on display. There are a variety of spaces at The Surrey that are perfect for weddings. The penthouse suite on the 17th floor can accommodate up to 25 guests and has incredible views of Central Park. For a larger party of up to 75 guests, the presidential suite is the perfectly chic choice. The Surrey’s in-house resto Café Boulud, Chef Daniel Boulud’s Michelin-starred eatery is also a perfect intimate spot. The restaurant has two private dining areas which hold up to 18 guests each or they can be combined to accommodate up to 40. Weather permitting, you can take your party to the hotel’s stunning rooftop—one of the most romantic and intimate spots in the city—for dessert, cocktails and soaking in the beautiful Big Apple skyline.

Plan An Indulgent Mini-Moon At Four Seasons Montreal

Travel » Honeymoons

Inside one of the Four Seasons Montreal incredibly luxurious and stylish guest suites. All photography courtesy of Four Seasons Montreal.

Montreal is undoubtably one of Canada’s most romantic cities and has long been a favourite destination choice of ours if you are looking for a few days away post-wedding in a place with a European flair. With the opening of the Four Seasons Montreal in the city’s centrally located and extremely swish Golden Mile neighbourhood, there’s a new hot-spot in town to enjoy a few precious days away and indulge yourself with a stay in an impossibly chic room, incredible food and an immersive, luxury spa.

The hotel’s stylized ground floor lobby. The pink quartz cube has become an instant Instagram sensation and this is an amazing wedding photo spot.

The first thing you’ll notice when you walk into the hotel on the main level lobby before travelling to the third floor check-in is that it’s an incredibly artistic and masterfully designed space. Contemporary art work and installations pervade throughout the hotel and discovering them is all part of the sensorial Four Seasons Montreal experience. There are just 169 guest rooms here, all of which feature the property’s signature colour palette of dove grey, soft white and millennial pink trimmed in gold touches to create a seriously glam vibe. The best rooms in the house feature modern canopy beds, a deco-vibe, dusty pink velvet setée and views of Leonard Cohen, subject of the city’s newest landmark mural. Adding to the luxe are lavish marble bathrooms filled with Byredo toiletries (*swoon*).

The sleek and sexy Marcus Lounge.

Though the hotel has only been open since May 2019, it almost instantly became the hottest spot in Montreal, not just for the sweet sleeps, but for the incredible bar and restaurant scene at MARCUS Montreal. MARCUS Lounge is the hottest spot in town beginning from 5pm onwards into the wee hours when it transforms into Nightbar. The look and feel is sexy, sultry and decadently retro in the lounge space—Don Draper would be at home having one of the bar’s inventive and highly Instagrammable cocktails.

Inside the airy and bright terrace at MARCUS Montreal.

MARCUS Restaurant + Terrace is a mod take on a traditional brasserie. Bathed in natural light and featuring a greenery-filled terrace the space is a delight to experience for breakfast, lunch or dinner and the menu is ever evolving and inspired, with a particular focus on seafood in the evening hours. The terrace is also a gorgeous spot to enjoy sunset cocktails with views of Mount Royal.

Try the healing Kneipp Water Theraphy at the Four Seasons Montreal spa.

To get your groove back post-wedding a visit to the Four Seasons’ spa is essential. The space itself continues the chic, Zen vibe of the hotel and the treatment menu is absolutely world class with gold infused facials and body treatments headlining the menu. Also a must try is the spa’s signature Kneipp Water Therapy (a 19th century naturopathic practice developed by Sebastian Kneipp), a hydrotheraphy-based treatment which involves soaking feet in warm then cold waters, then walking on the spa’s custom relexology river rock footpath to stimulate acupressure points on the feet.

The Four Seasons is of course also a stunning locale for your wedding. The Palais des Possibles Ballroom can host up to 350 guests and has an exclusive outdoor terrace, an amazing space for pre-dinner cocktails and photos.

Four Seasons Montreal, 1440 Rue de la Montagne, 514-843-2500.

The 15 Biggest Bridal Fashion Trends For Fall 2020

Fashion & Beauty » Wedding Dresses

Bridal designers are working well into next year, presenting looks for Fall 2020 at New York Bridal Fashion Week last week. While 2019 saw a turn towards minimalism with wedding fashion, designers are getting back to gowns that are more detailed—shimmering sequins and crystals, pearls, intricate laces, textural tulle, feather and ruffles are just a few of the major trends we spotted. As for silhouettes, truly anything goes! The ‘80s and ‘90s are featuring heavily in collections. Puffed sleeves and balloon hemlines pay homage to the ear of excess while satin fabrics and sheath gowns are on point as 1990s throwbacks. Here’s s our hit list of the 15 biggest and boldest trends for bridal fashion Fall 2020.