Archive for Rachel Cravit

15 Phenomenal Etsy Finds


For many a bride, Etsy is the first stop for resourcing odds and ends to enhance their wedding celebration. A bona fide bazaar of sorts for artisans, designers and craftsmen to sell their creations online, the website contains a treasure trove of endless wedding goodies; veils, garters, cake toppers, candle holders, guestbooks, jewellery, even wedding dresses can cross your path once you enter the magical wardrobe. Launched in 2005 in Brooklyn, this North American mecca for craftsy, creative types has rapidly expanded to 22 million users, with over 18 million items listed on the website. Unsurprisingly, they have a vast wedding section.

Always on the hunt for awesome stuff to delight and inspire you during your wedding planning process, Weddingbells decided to dive right in and tackle the massive world of Etsy weddings. Here are 15 finds that we’re going nuts over.

50 Ways To Work The Year’s Hottest Patterns Into Your Wedding


We’ve detected a pattern among style-savvy brides and that is, well, patterns! From retro-inspired polka dots to unabashedly modern black and white stripes, patterns have been popping up everywhere: cocktail napkins, drink flags, table runners, even bouquet wrappers and dresses with bold geometric prints. Gone are the days when weddings were stamped with a run-of-the-mill monogram; with weddings embracing an entirely new level of personalization, brides have looked far beyond their married names for inspiration. Wardrobe favourites — such as beloved pair of striped wedges — or that bright chevron couch sitting in the couple’s apartment can now be just as influential in determining wedding decor as the actual colours or locale. In addition to providing an alternative twist on typical wedding motifs (flowers and lovebirds) patterns also allow brides to express a particular style without going overboard. Poodle skirts, mini cheeseburgers and root beer floats might make your celebration feel like a sock hop, but bridesmaids in cute polka dot party dresses will reinforce the retro vibe without subtracting from the elegance of your wedding day. Likewise, navy stripes would make a charming addition to a lakeside celebration but aren’t in-your-face “nautical”. In spirit of style that can carry its own weight, we’ve rounded up our favourite pattern-inspired wedding details.

Beyond Bridesmaids: How to Include More Friends And Family In Your Wedding Party


Bridesmaid selection can be one of the most daunting and potentially damaging tasks a bride can face during the course of her wedding planning. The fear of resentment or hurt feelings among friends and family who didn’t make the cut is certainly understandable; some brides decide to forgo a wedding party altogether, or only appoint a single friend or sibling to stand beside them on their big day. Others opt to include as many people as humanly possible a la Katherine Heigl in 27 Dresses. But one way to ultimately solve this bridesmaid conundrum is by finding creative alternative ways to include your nearest and dearest in the wedding ceremony, even if they aren’t toting matching bouquets. Here are a few ideas:

Witnesses: Two witnesses are required for a legal marriage ceremony in Canada. While filling out forms may not be the most romantic aspect of your wedding day, you can turn this bureaucratic procedure into a thoughtful gesture by appointing close friends or family members to the role. By including their names in the program or having your officiant call them up when it comes time to sign the documents, these close friends and relatives who didn’t quite make the cut for your wedding party will be less likely to feel like B-listers on your big day.

Readers: You know that kind of loud friend who you love to death but has a tendency to always steal the show? Instead of banishing her to the back row, let your pal take centre stage with a reading role. Not only will she be in her element, she’ll be able to contribute a meaningful portion to your ceremony by delivering a poem, religious passage or even a line from your favourite movie, a famous speech or any of the other boundless options for ceremony readings.

Ring Warmers: A ring warming ceremony can be a touching addition to the usual wedding fare. Include your nearest and dearest who aren’t standing up as bridesmaids by asking them to bestow a quiet blessing or happy thought on your wedding rings before they’re exchanged. Attach the rings to a ribbon so they don’t get lost and then pass them around the first few rows of guests or, if you’re having a  smaller wedding, the entire group of celebrants!

Pole Holders: Brides who are including a traditional Jewish wedding canopy or chuppah in their ceremony can honour friends and family by asking them to hold one of the four poles. Some pole bearers make a grand entrance by carrying the chuppah down the aisle and assembling it before the bride and groom arrive.

House Party: Everything is bigger in Texas, and weddings are no exception. When Jenna Bush, daughter of former U.S. President George W. Bush, tied the knot, she nixed bridesmaids altogether in favour of a 14-member “house party” (in addition to the maid of honour, whose role was filled by her twin sister). Predominant below the Mason-Dixon line, house parties are “a Southern tradition through and through,” says Texas wedding blogger Clare Liguori of Belles, Bouquets and Galveston Bay. ”The main difference between a house party member and a bridesmaid is that the house party does not stand up with you at the altar in the church; they sit with your family in the front row. There are lots of other duties that the house party can help you with: reading during the ceremony, attending to the guest book and gift table, handing out programs, serving cake, and just helping you get through the day. Other than the whole altar thing, the house party is just as much a part of the wedding party as the bridesmaids.”

Whether you decide to expand the roles of your ceremony participants or not, the biggest safeguard against hurt feelings is making sure your friends and family feel appreciated, even if they aren’t officially part of your wedding party. Pulling someone aside after the ceremony and personally thanking them for coming or including heartfelt welcome message in your program can go a long way.

50 Original Wedding Ideas Your Friends Haven’t Thought Of Yet


Over the past week, Weddingbells accepted a challenge: dig up the most creative, show-stopping and completely original wedding ideas that our brides hadn’t already seen at a friend or relative’s wedding. This was a considerable task, considering the bounty of wedding ideas that constantly abound in our magazine and on our website. Many of these ideas are wonderful, some are even fantastic, but — given the vast shareability of weddings enabled by such websites as Facebook, Pinterest and WeddingGawker — few are really original. We decided to find the ones that were; to provide some fresh inspiration for brides who are sick of the same old, same old.

Now, don’t get us wrong, we love that DIY bunting your co-worker hung above her dessert bar and the spiked limeade circulating your sister’s celebration in mason jars tied with fancy burlap bows. But we also know that occasionally, it can’t hurt to shake things up, especially when it comes to weddings, which possess such massive creative potential.

The following guide contains 50 of our favourite original wedding ideas, from alternative ceremony directions, to a new definition of “princess gown”, to an aisle your guests have never seen before. We’ve got it all covered.

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50 Unforgettable Wedding Invitations


Geometric Wedding Invitation

Honestly, we get it. After all the months you’ve spent deliberating wedding colours, persuading your cousin’s ex-boyfriend’s sister-slash-graphic-designer to create your wedding monogram and Facebook messaging all 300 of your wedding guests in order to track down their addresses, you just don’t have anything left to give your wedding invitations. At this point, they just need to show up, look nice and leave you to pursue more enjoyable wedding pursuits like coming up with clever table names and picking out your cake topper. The truth is, in the glittering world of bridal gowns, banquet halls and Swarovski swaddled centrepieces, wedding invitations often take the backseat to their more glamorous counterparts. They’re sort of like those guests seated at that infamous Far Away Table — your mother’s yoga instructor, relatives you see every 10 years but still had to invite — present, but certainly not front and centre on the biggest day of your life.

There’s hardly a better example of how wedding invitations are often overlooked than Kate Middleton and Prince William, whose super-detailed Royal Wedding extravaganza included English field maple trees brought into West Minster Abbey, a bouquet bursting with symbolic blooms (including “Sweet Williams”) and reception tables named after meaningful locations to the couple. Their wedding invitations, however, looked sort of like business cards.

Wedding stationers were devastated. Afterall, wedding invitations are the first impression of your entire wedding! In response to such travesty, some of the world’s most renown studios even released their own editions of the Royal invitation, proclaiming the importance of those little slips of paper tasked with revealing the treasured details of a bride’s wedding day.

For some brides, however, invitations are the priority, and they set out in search of designs destined to live on on Pinterest boards and gilded frames. We think all brides should aspire to stationery greatness and for that reason we set out in search of hand-drawn illustrations, lavish calligraphy unseen since the Declaration of Independence and DIY masterpieces that make up wedding invitations that are truly one of a kind. Take note of these 50 inspiring stationers and their jaw-dropping work.

15 Indispensable Wedding Infographics You Absolutely Need To Save


When it comes to weddings, Pinterest is sort of like the Wild West: there’s seemingly no order, anything goes, and gold mines of ideas and inspiration abound, that is, if you know where to look. While there’s nothing we can do to defend you from the barrage of blurry cell phone pics some pinners choose to post, we can help you navigate the vast terrain of visual wedding planning; we’ve sent out our scouts to round up the most exceptional wedding infographics containing a wealth of tips, tricks and trivia to make your planning process more enjoyable. We’ve even thrown in a few for your other half to enjoy (#hinthint). Here you’ll find everything from wedding infographics on which flowers are in season when and who you should be sure to tip, to which size of a cake you’ll need to feed everyone on your guest list and which wedding photos you want to make sure your photographer snaps. Happy Pinning!

School-Themed Wedding Ideas


Engaged educators take note: we’ve scoured far and wide for A+ wedding ideas and inspiration sure to earn top marks for your school-themed wedding.

Our first stop: Hart House at the University of Toronto, a fabulous venue for a school-themed wedding. Resembling a little plot of Oxford, Cambridge or Hogwarts, Hart House is ideal for couples more inspired by roaring fireplaces and leather-bound books than glittery banquet halls. Enoch Turner Schoolhouse is another great location for a school-themed wedding. Originally built in 1848, Enoch Turner  is a bona fide member of the Ontario Heritage Trust, featuring Gothic-style windows, exposed beams and tons of Victorian charm.

Wherever the location, educators can draw inspiration from the classroom, cafeteria, even playground to create a unique celebration reflective of their vocation. One of the best places to score clever, school-themed wedding decor, jewellery and general supplies is Etsy (we’ve included some of our favourites below). Not only can you find some great stuff but everything is handmade by independent artisans, sure to lend a crafty, classroom touch to your school-themed wedding celebration.

We’ve also tracked down some adorable DIY projects (pencil push pops, anyone?) easy enough for a kindergartner to tackle.

Find someone else to cover your cafeteria shift, sit back and get ready to Pin, bookmark and enjoy a ton of fun ideas for your school-themed wedding!

A Romantic Summer Wedding in Fredericton

Real Weddings

When border guards Stephanie and Chris had something to declare, they celebrated a romantic wedding bursting with beautiful details. “I’m known as quite a girly girl and many people are surprised at my profession,” says Stephanie, who always envisioned a timeless wedding. The two were unable to write their own vows for their traditional Catholic mass, so they decided to meet beforehand and exchange love letters instead. A friend sang “Ave Maria” during the ceremony and an Italian opera piece at the reception, where 75 guests (more than a third of whom were officers!) were treated to lobster grilled cheese sandwiches and individual chocolate peanut butter cheesecakes. Stephanie and Chris included their pets in the festivities by donating to a local animal shelter in honour of their friends and family.

Photography courtesy of Julie A.Whitlock Photography.

Stephanie Klein and Chris Delahaye, August 25, 2012, Fredericton, New Brunswick.

Ceremony location: St. Thomas University
Reception location: Ducks Unlimited
Bridal gown: Panscofar Bridal Boutique
Bridal party attire: Nordstrom
Groom’s tux: Tip Top Tailors
Caterer: Brewbakers
Favours: Donation to Dunroamin Stray and Rescue Organization
Wedding planners: Day of Coordination by Charlotte Burhoe and Kristina O’Neil from C Jayne Events
Hair: Avalon Salon and Spa
Makeup: Made You Blush
Flowers: Fredericton Co-Op Florals
Stationery: You’re Invited
Decor: Barbara Lee Designs

View all photos from this romantic summer wedding in Fredericton New Brunswick.

40 Ingenious Beach Wedding Ideas That Haven’t Been Done A Million Times Before


Truth be told, beach weddings have a tendency to all look the same. This isn’t surprising, considering the beach is not only a blank canvas but — if you’re lucky to find the right spot — a truly spectacular setting. One glance at the seaward horizon and you’re practically ordering those chocolate seashell favours by telepathy. Trust us, we’ve been there. It’s hard to not look at a great beach and immediately envision a boatload of cutesy nautical details (if only you could persuade your bridesmaids to wear boat shoes!).

The wedding industry, for its part, doesn’t help much: beach-themed favours and knick knacks capitalize on the initial excitement: your ceremony site overlooks the water, therefore you have to snatch up these shell-shaped program fans before you send out your message-in-a-bottle invitations.

We say, pause. The oodles of items available for your beach wedding aren’t going anywhere. You’ve already scanned the surface and know there are infinite ways to incorporate your seaside surroundings into your wedding celebration. However, if you’re willing to dive a little deeper, you’ll discover an entirely new realm of creative beach wedding ideas that haven’t been done a bajillion times before. Here are 40 of our favourites.

Thinking Outside the Basket: 16 Sweet Flower Girl Alternatives


While we’re hardly ones to argue against a gaggle of flower girls skipping down the aisle with baskets of petals, there are several alternative ways to herald your arrival that don’t involve flowers or pint-sized relatives for that matter. We’ve rustled up some of the most charming, sweet and downright spectacular flower girl concepts to come our way to put a new spin on this age-old tradition. Whether you’re planning a sleek soiree in the city or homey backyard celebration, these ideas will translate into practically any venue (with some thematic options thrown in for good measure!)

What To Look For In A Wedding Makeup Artist

Fashion & Beauty

Photo via iStockphoto.

Though brides often spend hours determining their wedding photographer, a makeup artist is usually one of those smaller details that doesn’t come in until later. Who you hire, however, can make a meaningful difference, ensuring you look and feel your absolute best on your big day (and in the photos that follow). Weddingbells recently got the full scoop from Toronto bridal makeup expert Colette Cormier, on what brides should look for when evaluating potential wedding makeup artists to hire. “When you look at photos of an artist’s work, you want to look for these signs that the makeup is technically well applied,” says Cormier.

This means:

  • Photos featuring real people with visible skin texture and pores, a sign that the artist’s work has not been falsely enhanced with photo-editing. “Look for photos of real brides, not only models from magazines,” advises Cormier.
  • Blended makeup free of harsh, sharp edges between two shades. It should also not be evident where the skin ends and makeup begins.
  • Correctly applied lip colour: straight, without going over the edges of the lip. Lip liner should not be obvious.
  • Uniform, well-groomed eyebrows. There should not be any stray hairs or blank spaces with the skin visible beneath. “Brows are often completely untouched in an amateur artist’s portfolio,” warns Cormier.
  • Symmetry. Eye shadow and liner shouldn’t be darker or differently lined on one eye or the other.
  • Matte makeup applied in the T-zone (nose, forehand and chin). This area should not look shiny or greasy. Appropriate areas for shine include limited highlighting below the brow bone, on the upper cheeks and inside of the eye near the tear duct, as well as a small amount of sparkle above the cupid’s bow (upper lip).
  • Proper concealing in the under eye area. “It’s the most neglected step,” says Cormier. “You can often still see dark under the eyes, or they overdo it, using a formula that is too thick and dry, drawing attention.”
  • Perfect match between face colour and neck/shoulders
  • Restricted use of bronzer. “You don’t want to see bronzer used in the wrong areas,” advises Cormier. “Bronzer placed correctly will find its rightful spot on areas that are naturally kissed by the sun” (upper forehand, nose, upper cheekbones, tip of the chin).
  • Connection between makeup and the bride’s dress and hairstyle. “You don’t want to see strong bright colours that are trendy now but will date your wedding photos 15 years later. You want muted, neutral tones that are classic,” says Cormier.

Cormier also suggests looking for before and after shots which demonstrate the artist’s ability to tackle larger skin issues like blemishes. Ideal portfolios should also include a range of ages. “Mothers of brides want to know the artist doesn’t target only 20-something faces,” says Cormier.

Keep our handy little checklist in mind when you’re looking over potential makeup artists’ portfolios. Taking some time to find an experienced wedding makeup artist for your big day will ensure that you look your absolute best for your walk down the aisle.

Wedding Venues: Romantic Ceremony and Reception Spots Across Canada


Even though a cluster of votives can make almost any space romantic, there are some wedding venues that are so spectacular on their own, you have to wonder if the architects knew that one day brides and grooms would want to get married there. We’ve rustled up some of our favourite wedding venues across the country, from an industrial space in Montreal to a French cottage in Toronto to a lodge in the Rocky Mountains, and everything in between.

Warning: The romance factor in the wedding venues we’ve selected is already so high that use of votives, tapers or any sort of candle could make things so over the top that guests may break out into a musical number, recite poetry or propose to one another on the spot. Use with extreme caution.


The Hottest New Alternative Wedding Trend For 2013? Swapping Flowers for Plants!


From prudent WWII wedding corsages to the abundance of fake flowers colonizing banquet halls in the decades that followed, brides have always embraced methods of managing their floral costs. The most common technique, in this regard, is, of course, deception: beefing up bouquets with filler, ordering “real touch” silk flowers to trick Great Aunt Gertrude. What happens, though, when brides suddenly don’t want flowers, real or imaginary?

Over the past few years, alternative plant bouquets, boutonnieres and centrepieces have burst onto the wedding scene with gusto, and brides can’t get enough (truthfully, neither can we). Blame a renewed sense of financial restraint triggered by the recession, a heightened concerned for environmentalism nipping the appeal of short-lived floral displays in the bud or the explosion of wedding blogs, Pinterest boards and online connectivity enabling brides to explore entirely new realms of ideas and inspiration. Propelled by affordability, sustainability, creativity, or a combination of the three, brides are now flaunting their alternative arrangements, liberated at last from the thirty pound Princess Diana bouquets of the 80’s and perfectly trimmed long-stemmed roses of the 90’s.

At Weddingbells, we’re absolutely tickled by this new non-floral wedding trend and have rounded up our favourite plant finds, from bouquets to boutonnieres, centrepieces to favours, and everything in between. We’ve also compiled our knowledge on this season’s hottest specimens and where to find them. While such arrangements can include anything from moss to tropical foliage, a few perennial players have emerged as major kingpins:

Succulents — Thick, fleshy plants which often retain water and are native to warmer climates, succulents come in several shades of green and some purple. They began to appear a few years ago on the Los Angeles indie wedding circuit and have proceeded to charm the socks off practically every rebel bride to glance their way. Unlike flowers, which wilt and die shortly after the wedding celebration, succulents can live for years, earning them major points among the DIY set, finally able prepare their own centrepieces months in advance. Due to their popularity, succulent shops seem to be opening every day on Etsy (SANPEDROCACTUSThe Succulent Source and Succulentsplus are some of the biggies, all based in California).

Canadian brides, however, don’t need to resort to international shipping to get their hands on the wedding world’s plant du jour. Sprouts Greenhouse in Winfield, Alberta (a one-hour drive from Edmonton) stocks their own supply of locally-grown succulents, as does Valley Succulents on Vancouver Island, which ships to brides throughout Canada. Solar Gardens in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan grows succulents in on-site greenhouses and also offers workshops in succulent bowl arranging, a fantastic alternative bridal shower or bachelorette activity.

Air Plants — Plentiful in Australia and South Africa, air plants — famous for their soil independence — come in a variety of shapes with a tendency towards striking, even architectural configurations. More elongated and ethereal than their pudgy succulent counterparts, air plants have been gaining understandable popularity among alternative brides, who can’t resist their delightfully whimsical presence. Fortunately, air plants are relatively easy to track down online, with Etsy shops CTSairplants and Twisted Acres both being fantastic resources. JTLCREATIONS, also on Etsy, supplies an eccentric offering of air plant terrariums and mobiles we’d love to see suspended in a funky ceremony or reception space. In Toronto, cult-favourite flower shop Sweetpea’s stocks an abundance of air plants at their quirky West-end mecca for eco-savvy urbanites. Multiple varieties of air plants can also be purchased at Sheriden Nurseries, which operates several locations throughout the GTA including North York, Mississauga, Etobicoke and Scarborough.

Cacti — Cacti are spiny plants generally found in arid regions throughout the United States and Mexico. Cities such as Austin, Texas and Palm Springs, California — both of which boast a vibrant indie wedding scene — have popularized their local response to the succulent. Although difficult to use in bouquets, cacti can make fantastic unexpected additions to centrepieces and other standing arrangements. Cacti are harder to track down in Canada but can be purchased online from various Etsy suppliers, including SANPEDROCACTUS and Succulents Galore.

Whether motivated by budget, ideology or aesthetics, brides continue to power this affordable, alternative, eco-tastic wedding trend, which presently shows no signs of withering. Who says it’s not easy being green?

5 Fresh Ways to Style Your Purple Wedding


In 2011, roughly one in four couples included purple in their wedding colour palette, according to XO Group Inc., and this outrageously popular shade is showing no signs of slowing down in 2013. Unfortunately, you can only attend so many purple weddings before they all start to look the same. But what if you’ve been a lifelong devotee of the colour before it became a fad? Do purple-loving brides now need to choose between their favourite colour and an original wedding celebration that won’t look like every other purple party on the planet? Weddingbells votes a resounding no! To prove that you can take even the most tiresome trend and inject some originality, we’ve combed through the vaults to show you five fresh ways of styling a purple wedding celebration. From outrageously girly hues inspired by powder and blush to jewelled tones brazen enough to tempt the most daring of brides-to-be, we’ve got you covered!

The secret? Whether you gravitate toward an Italian garden bursting with lavender or a downtown industrial space awash in amethyst lighting, let your favourite colour inspire your big day without dictating its entire look and feel. While selecting a colour as an actual theme may be a comfortable move for couples overwhelmed by their limitless options, doing so puts the reins on originality and prevents your personality from playing the starring role it deserves. Rather than scouring for the perfect shade of purple napkin to circulate during cocktail hour, focus on compiling cute pieces of trivia about you and your partner to print on them. If the ink is purple, excellent, but your guests will likely be too entertained reading about how you spilled a massive roti on your lap on your first date or how you didn’t even like one another until you realized you both had pet rocks as kids to even notice that your wedding colour is the same as everyone else’s.

Whether you decide to spice up your purple palette with one of our original style boards below or prefer to stick with the tried and true, remember to keep the focus on you and your partner, because if the two of you are the “theme”, your wedding will always be original.