Archive for Jen O'Brien

This Is A Wedding Photo Game-Changer

Planning » Photo/Video » Planning

Photo via iStockphoto

Great photography is a wedding essential and, let’s face it, these days couples count on guests for cool coverage almost as much as they rely on their pro wedding photographers. The reason? These two sets of pictures serve totally different purposes. While pros are employed to capture the artistic images that will fill Facebook albums and live on mantles for years to come, friends and family are typically called upon to document the event as it’s happening, populating the day’s hashtag with gorgeous FOMO-inducing images that will present the celebration in the best possible light.

Thankfully, it’s never been easier for amateur photographers to capture beautiful photos. iPhone users now have access to a whole new suite of tools perfect for snapping flawless wedding shots.

With the introduction of iPhone 7 Plus came portrait mode (allowing the shooter to focus on the subject and blur the background) and 12 megapixel wide-angle and telephoto cameras, and with the launch of iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X, hitting stores in late September and early November respectively, the smartphone’s camera will be improved yet again with larger and faster sensors, new colour filters, better image stabilization, faster auto-focus in low light and a portrait lighting feature, which promises studio-quality illumination. Meanwhile iOS 11, which launches September 19th, will give iPhone users access to new filters inspired by classic photography styles and a photo feature that can transform any Live Photo into a loop, bounce and long-exposure shot.

Check out these iPhone photography tips and where they can be incorporated into your wedding day. To ensure your wedding hashtag is blowing up with only the best possible images, share these tips with guests beside your hashtag signage and appoint a trusted friend whose photographic style you admire to use these pointers as your honourary iPhone photographer (because everyone loves a special job on the big day).

To make sure you don’t miss the first kiss
Swipe to the left from your lock screen to quickly access your camera.

To get that ultra-flattering couple shot
Try photographing in open shade (like under a beautiful tree) for the most flattering light.

To shoot an artsy shot of the venue
Try turning your phone upside down and shooting upwards toward the ceremony or reception venue for a dramatic angle.

To snap a drool-inducing wedding cake shot
Use portrait mode. You can use this camera setting any time you want your foreground subject to pop. Use it to shoot food, flowers, or even the wedding bands.

To photograph the first dance, even from far away
Crowds tend to congregate quickly when the first dance is announced. Thankfully on iPhone 7 Plus a 2x camera is available in all camera modes, which means you’ll be able to capture a perfectly-framed shot even at a distance. Just tap on the “1x” icon on the camera screen to immediately switch to the 2x camera.

To capture the bouquet toss in a unique way
With the introduction of iOS 11, wedding guests will have so many more cool ways to capture motion with Live Photos. Just ensure that the Live icon at the top of the camera display is yellow and apply Live Photo effects after the shot is snapped. To apply an effect, swipe up on the photo in the Photos app and choose loop, bounce, or long exposure.

5 Jaw-Dropping Spots To Get Married In St. Maarten

Travel » Destination Weddings

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Not all destination weddings in the Caribbean need to be laid-back beach affairs. St. Maarten, in particular, is the perfect island to host an action-packed party for a crowd that wants to stay busy beyond the beach.

With a prime location between Anguilla and St. Kitts, this popular cruise ship port with both Dutch and French roots has developed a reputation as the “Vegas of the Caribbean” for its high-end restaurants, bustling casinos and world-class nightlife. This is the sort of place where, if you’re lucky, you just might spot Drake at the club for Ladies’ Night or P. Diddy leading a late-night conga line from the black jack tables to the bar.

St. Maarten also boasts an array of stunning wedding venues, from picturesque patios with views of Maho Beach and its iconic oceanside airport to chic rooftop spaces perched above the sea.

We’ll show you the best places to get married in St. Maarten.

Three-Ingredient Cocktails Your Guests Will Love

Planning » Reception Ideas

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Complex cocktails are fantastic for a night out on the town, but probably not so appropriate for your wedding day — after all, nothing kills a party quicker than a super long lineup at the bar. This doesn’t mean that you can’t still have cool signature cocktail offerings at your celebration that extend beyond vodka sodas. The solution? Opt for cool wedding drinks that are both tasty and simple for your bartenders to make. We’ve rounded up some of our favourite three-ingredient cocktails that are as beautiful and wedding-appropriate as they are delicious and easy to whip up.

Bridesmaid Gifts That Aren’t Monogrammed Jewellery

Planning

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Don’t get us wrong, we love monogrammed jewellery, but it’s not the only way to thank your besties for all the help and support they provide in the lead up to your wedding. When it comes to bridesmaid gifts, think about opting for unique presents you know your friends will appreciate and use beyond your big day.

Weddings are all about individualism so there’s no reason your bridesmaid gifts shouldn’t follow suit. Think about your friends’ personalities, their favourite hobbies, and the types of accessories they love when you’re choosing thank you gifts. Also consider what you’d want to receive (hint: it’s probably not a personalized dress hanger).

Here are a few awesome present options that are guaranteed to thrill your pals.

DIY Unicorn Tassel Garlands

Planning » Wedding Decor

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Photos by Carlo Mendoza

The unicorn trend has steadily been gaining steam over the course of the past year, and this folkloric frenzy is showing no signs of disappearing any time soon. Multicoloured hair and makeup has given way to bizarre rainbow-hued meals. From Starbucks to Valentino, some of the world’s biggest brands have even embraced the unicorn phenomenon.

Regardless of how you feel about “unicorn bagels” and ultra-sugary kaleidoscopic frozen drinks, there’s no denying that the unicorn trend is sort of perfect for wedding decor inspiration. With this in mind, we approached DIY guru Lorrie Everitt, creative director at Creative Bag, to put together a unicorn-inspired wedding decor item that’s both beautiful and simple to assemble at home; the result are these amazing DIY unicorn tassel garlands, which come together in just a few simple steps (and sort of mimic the coveted creatures’ multicoloured tails, in case you were wondering).

Click through the gallery below to discover how you can create these gorgeous garlands at home.

The Best Spot In The Caribbean For A Low-Key Luxe Destination Wedding

Travel » Destination Weddings

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Photo courtesy of Curtain Bluff.

For some couples, the perfect wedding day means a banquet hall filled to the brim with crystal details, flowers and hundreds of guests, but for others — those who prioritize intimacy, stunning natural surroundings, impeccable food and a laid-back atmosphere over traditional pageantry — there’s no better place to tie the knot than Antigua.

Located just north of Guadeloupe and east of St. Kitts where the northeastern Caribbean Sea meets the western Atlantic Ocean, the two-island nation of Antigua and Barbuda is part of the Eastern Caribbean’s Leeward Islands. The area is renown for its mellow vibes, friendly people and beautiful uncrowded beaches — the near-perfect weather year-round doesn’t hurt either.

It’s hard to be anything but relaxed in this island paradise — all the typical stress of wedding planning instantly starts to melt away as you sail in over turquoise waters and touch down amidst lush rolling hills just minutes from the pristine shoreline studded with celebrity vacation homes (Oprah, Richard Branson and Giorgio Armani are among the stars with property here).

The best time to go: With very little rain and temperatures that hover around 25 degrees Celsius year-round, there are few bad times to visit Antigua. However, planning a celebration between May and July (the island’s off season) could save you and your guests a bundle on accommodations.

The flight: Both Air Canada and WestJet offer non-stop flights from Toronto to Antigua’s V.C. Bird International Airport. The trip from Toronto takes just under five hours.

The legal paperwork: Legally tying the knot in Antigua means paying a visit to the Ministry of Justice located in downtown St. John’s with your valid passports, completing an application and paying applicable fees. There is a registration fee of US$40 that must be paid at the courthouse in the new government buildings on Queen Elizabeth Highway. The application fee for a special marriage license is US$150, and the marriage officer’s fee is US$100. Most hotels will include these fees in their wedding package costs and arrange to help sort out the paperwork.

The venue: Charming boutique hotels abound in Antigua, but none compare to Curtain Bluff. This unpretentious all-inclusive five-star resort on the island’s south coast, a favourite hideaway of rock gods like Keith Richards and Eric Clapton, features flawless ocean views from every room and suite. The property, which is consistently named among the best all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean, has been under the same ownership and management since opening its doors in 1962. The atmosphere is that of a luxurious summer camp for adults that you can visit year-round. And with a full-service spa, gourmet food, top-shelf bar drinks as well as complimentary snorkeling trips, tennis instruction, yoga and pilates classes, water sports, and a location that spans two hammock-lined beachfronts, it’s no surprise that many guests return year after year.

The resort hosts just a handful of destination weddings per year and prides itself on pulling out all the stops for these special celebrations. Curtain Bluff’s owner Chelle Hulford even opens the doors of her immaculate private home, The Bluff House, to couples interested in reciting their vows on the sweeping balcony with views across the sea to Montserrat’s steaming Soufrière Hills volcano — a testament to the relaxed atmosphere that defines a stay at this idyllic hideaway.

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Photo courtesy of Curtain Bluff.

The local customs: Music plays a big part in Antiguan life, particularly Afro-Caribbean percussion including steel and iron band music. Each Sunday an area called Shirley Heights hosts a barbecue party for tourists and locals alike. Tunes are provided by the island’s famed Halcyon Steel Orchestra, who can also be booked for wedding celebrations.

The budget: Basic wedding packages at Curtain Bluff start at roughly US$1,300 and include the wedding license, marriage officer’s fee, a bridal bouquet, a boutonniere, use of either one of the beaches or the Bluff House for the ceremony, a single-tiered wedding cake and a private gazebo dinner. Expect to pay closer to US$10,000 for a more elaborate celebration that includes hair and makeup at the on-site spa, a photographer and a band. Larger parties are eligible for group rates when it comes time to book rooms.

5 Fun Ways To Add Mexican Flair To Your Wedding

Planning » Reception Ideas

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Want to throw a bash where good times are the first order of business? Look to the south! While a full-fledged Mexican-themed wedding may not jive with the otherwise elegant celebration you’ve been planning, there are more subtle ways to incorporate your favourite fiesta items into your celebration (for example, you could hold off on the mariachi band and instead incorporate papel picado and candy skulls into your decor). In honour of Cinco de Mayo, we’ve gathered together five of our favourite Mexican party ideas. Not only are these ideas wedding appropriate, they’re also guaranteed to get your guests in the celebratory spirit.

Reem Acra Spring 2018 Wedding Dresses

Fashion & Beauty » Wedding Dresses

Reem Acra Spring 2018 Wedding Dresses

If you’re of the mindset that bridal fashion is best served with a side of priceless gems, then you’ll adore this new collection. For spring 2018, Reem Acra drew inspiration from internationally renowned jeweller Tiffany & Co. Presented at Tiffany’s Fifth Avenue flagship store in New York, the Reem Acra runway show began with an unexpected twist. The first nine models donned sleek black gowns draped in jewels to pay homage to the store’s iconic setting. The remaining 28 dazzling looks showcased Acra’s ability to combine tradition with contemporary silhouettes and adornments.

Many pieces within the new collection reflected Tiffany’s signature jewels: sculpted and cut-out bodice details reflected the intricacies of ornate platinum metalwork juxtaposed with the vibrancy of Tiffany yellow diamonds. Looping and scrolling bands of geometric diamonds in ribbon and bow motifs also inspired romantic embellishments on sheer sleeves, necklines and tulle overlays.

The show closed with a stunning Tiffany blue gown — 2018’s answer to ever-popular blush pink.

The Best Honeymoon Spot For Couples That Love World-Class Beaches And Puppies

Travel » Honeymoons

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Turks and Caicos has developed a reputation as the ultimate place to kick back and relax – and this is not without warrant. Serene Grace Bay, a wide stretch of sand on the main island of Providenciales, is a postcard-perfect spot to embrace the art of doing nothing. However, spending your entire honeymoon in Turks and Caicos in the chill zone would mean missing out on all of the amazing things these 40 islands and cays have to offer.

Scenery aside, there’s so much that sets the Turks and Caicos islands apart from other popular Caribbean destinations. A plethora of luxurious accommodations, in particular, have drawn honeymooning stars like Sofia Vergara and Eva Longoria to Turks and Caicos, while Kylie Jenner and Nicki Minaj both headed to the islands to celebrate birthdays recently.

Read on to learn more about why you can’t go wrong with a honeymoon in Turks and Caicos.

Swim With Pigs In This Caribbean Honeymoon Paradise

Travel » Honeymoons

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Swim with pigs” excursions have drawn thousands of travellers to the Exumas in recent years, but paddling porkers are just one of the many selling points that make this Bahamian archipelago of 365 cays and islands a dream Caribbean honeymoon destination.

Located just 314 miles from Miami and a three-and-a-half-hour flight from Toronto, the Exumas are surrounded by turquoise water with beach views that rival even the most remote South Pacific island. Add to this amazing food and luxurious accommodations and you’ve got an ideal spot for the romantic vacation of a lifetime.

We’ll fill you in on all of bucket-list-worthy itinerary items you need to check out in the Exumas (pigs included).

South America’s Best Non-Beach Honeymoon Destination

Travel » Honeymoons

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Some couples were specifically engineered to garner maximum enjoyment from spending days on end sipping daiquiris on the sand, and others…not so much. If your idea of the ultimate vacation means exposure to ancient history and local culture, rather than simply sun and umbrella drinks, Cusco, Peru may just be the non-beach honeymoon destination of your dreams.

Imagine a city nestled in the heart of the Andes with llamas and luxury hotels in equal measure; a place where women in swathed in elaborate traditional garb cradling baby goats perch outside high-end boutiques, and where some of the world’s finest examples of Spanish colonial architecture sit in contrast to rugged mountain peaks – this is Cusco.

Once a backpacker haven used as a precursory stop before the trek to Machu Picchu, this vibrant Peruvian city, the former crown jewel of the Inca Empire, is re-establishing itself as a world-class destination.

From ancient wonders to modern amenities, we’ll show you why this city of contrasts is the ideal non-beach honeymoon destination. Read on to discover everything you need to know to plan the trip of a lifetime in this fascinating part of Peru.

Reem Acra Fall 2017 Wedding Dresses

Fashion & Beauty » Wedding Dresses

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Airy fabrics and modern silhouettes dominated the runway at Reem Acra. Overall, the look was ultra-romantic with form-fitting, shoulder-baring bodices and tiered skirts stealing the show.

Typically a skewing towards more dramatic, modern looks, Acra seems to have toned down her signature aesthetic for Fall 2017 in favour of more ethereal designs featuring lace, intricate embroidery and beautifully structured corsets. Subtle colour also made an appearance in Reem Acra’s new line in the form of a dreamy lace gown featuring a layered skirt kissed with lavender.

Photography courtesy of Reem Acra

Houghton Fall 2017 Wedding Dresses

Fashion & Beauty » Wedding Dresses

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Katharine Polk took quirky bridal separates into an entirely new stratosphere for Houghton Fall 2017 and the result is a collection of edgy wedding looks not for the faint of heart. According to Polk, the collection, which includes knit sweaters, embroidered silk baseball jackets and hand-painted leather wearable way beyond the wedding day, was inspired by successful, sexy and strong women.

With this new line entitled “Not Your Baby,” brides are encouraged to mix and match slip dresses with motorcycle jackets and top traditional lace gowns with oversize knitwear. Driving home the message of non-conformist bridal style, Polk recruited a group of real women to model her designs.

Photography courtesy of Houghton

2017 Wedding Dress Trend You Need To Know About: Off-The-Shoulder Silhouettes

Fashion & Beauty » Wedding Dresses

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Photo via Liancarlo.

If you’ve been to the mall recently you’re likely familiar with off-the-shoulder silhouettes – they’re literally everywhere.

Shoulder-baring looks first emerged on spring 2016 fashion runways and this trend definitely resonated with bridal designers. Spring 2017 bridal runway collections were filled with off-the-shoulder dresses in every style imaginable, from flirty, Coachella-inspired gowns to sleek, form-fitting frocks designed to frame the décolletage.

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Photo via Marchesa.

This beautiful embroidered dress from Marchesa’s spring 2017 collection dress is a lovely choice for a laid-back boho wedding. It’s also a great alternative to a traditional strapless gown, allowing you to show a little skin while still taking advantage of a bit of arm coverage.

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Photo via Rosa Clara.

On the other end of the spectrum, this Rosa Clara gown illustrates how sleek and chic the off-the-shoulder silhouette can be. The form-fitting design is ultra-flattering and the bow detail at the waist adds a stylish twist that could also be helpful for anyone hoping to camouflage a tummy.

At Francesca Miranda’s spring 2017 show, the off-the-shoulder trend took the form of a flowing, knee-length tent dress with dramatic chiffon bell sleeves.

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Naeem Khan, on the other hand, offered up a stunning blush pink off-the-shoulder gown with intricate applique details and just a hint of a sleeve.

Christian Siriano offered yet another interpretation of this wedding dress trend by adding shoulder-framing chiffon sleeves to a classic strapless fit-and-flare silhouette.

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