Archive for Stephanie Gray

Tips For Financing Your Wedding


Couple Calculating Wedding Finances

Photo via iStockphoto.

Chances are you’ll be paying for the majority of, if not all of, your wedding-day expenses. According to Weddingbells’ Annual Reader Survey, 92 percent of Canadian couples will contribute towards their own weddings and with the average wedding costing about $30,000, financing this party is no small feat. So how do you do it? Here are 10 tips on staying financially fit from Gail Vaz-Oxlade of Til Debt Do Us Part.

1. Find Your Number
“The amount you spend on your wedding is completely a matter of personal preference and ability to pay,” says Vaz-Oxlade. “Borrowing money to blow on a one-day extravaganza is dumb. You can have as big or as small a wedding as your little heart desires, as long as you have the money—that’s cash in hand—to pay for it.”

2. Budget Together
Once you get engaged, you need to think of your household budget and wedding budget as one. “Run it like you would a business,” says Vaz-Oxlade. Talk to each other, discuss goals and ask questions.

3. Start Saving
“That means find the money to set aside for your very important day,” says Vaz-Oxlade. “This could mean bringing your lunch every day or even switching your cable plan—every little bit will make a difference. If it’s really that important to you, you’ll forgo Frappuccinos and pedicures to make your dream come true, right?”

4. Talk About Debt
Do you have outstanding credit card bills, student loans or even a mortgage? “You and your fiancé need to have a conversation about how you’re going to pay off your debt,” says Vaz-Oxlade. Ideally, you’ll want to go into the relationship debt-free (or at least carrying only good debt), but if you do have some you need to talk about it before you start planning the wedding.

5. Make Extra Money
It may not be glamorous or even easy, but extra income is a great way to help finance your wedding. Taking a part-time job, working extra hours or even selling items you don’t need (like old clothes or books) is another way you can fund the big day.

6. Don’t Burden Family
“I don’t like the idea of asking for loans from family to pay for anything,” admits Vaz-Oxlade. While it may seem like an easy solution, it’s possible your lenders may feel entitled to make decisions about your day because they’ve financially “contributed.” “Besides, these loans have the potential to cause rifts either because we expect to be forgiven, or we disappoint our lenders by not paying them back quickly enough,” explains Vaz-Oxlade.

7. Don’t Carry A Balance
It’s fine if you want to use your credit card to pay for a wedding purchase, but be sure you can pay the FULL balance each month. “Carrying a balance on a credit card for a big honking party is ridiculous,” says Vaz-Oxlade. “Pay only the minimum on that card and your wedding will end up costing you twice as much.” Consider using a credit card that will give you points or rewards that you could potentially use towards your honeymoon or groceries.

8. Keep on Track
You should be tracking each and every wedding purchase you make. Let’s say you allotted $500 for wedding party gifts and end up spending $600, you have two options: either make more money or cut back in another area.

9. Discuss Every Purchase
This means every single purchase, big or small. “If one person abdicates, then they can’t complain if the budget goes off track,” says Vaz-Oxlade. “And if one person gets to make all or most of the decisions unilaterally, what does that say about how the money is going to be managed after you get back from the honeymoon?”

10. Be Realistic
If saving for a $30,000 wedding is going to make you miserable all year (like working two jobs and saving every last dollar), then you may need to rethink your budget. You should definitely have your dream day, but not at the cost of your quality of life. Think about cutting back in certain areas, doing DIY projects or even extending your engagement to give you more time to save. When the wedding comes and goes and you’re debt-free, you’ll thank yourself.

How To Plan A Wedding: A Step-By-Step Guide


You’ve said, “yes,” so now’s the time to start getting ready to say, “I do.” When considering how to plan a wedding, the details may seem slightly daunting — yes it can be a lot of work, but it doesn’t have to be hard. The secret? It’s all about being organized, knowing how to negotiate, make decisions and, of course, having a creative streak (and a Pinterest board) doesn’t hurt either. So where do you start when it comes to knowing how to plan a wedding? Right here! We’ve outlined the major items to take into consideration when you start planning your wedding and also included links to some key areas of our site that you’ll want to bookmark. Some of these items will be immediately helpful (like our list of Inspiring Photographers, some of whom book up to a year in advance), others, like our list of 50 amazing wedding songs you may have never heard before you’ll want to save to reference closer to your wedding day.

Now, jump in and start studying up on how to plan a wedding without the worry!

DIY Wedding Accessories

Fashion & Beauty

Blue Topaz Cluster Earrings

I just discovered a cool DIY jewellery site you’ll definitely want to check out. New on the market, Shenya let’s customers create their own pieces of jewellery — from bracelets to earrings and necklaces, all with the simple click of a button (I’m told rings and hair accessories are coming). The way it works is you drag and drop the pieces you want onto a digital canvas and after you can publish to let others see what you’ve created (or buy!). It’s also really cool because you can see the price upfront, which is particularly good if you’re working with a strict budget. If you don’t think you’re super creative or just want to see what others have made, you can browse through other people’s designs (like these Blue Topaz earrings I found). Read the rest of this entry »

Day 61: Past Royal Weddings


On the way towards the Kate and Williams April 29th nuptials, we thought it would be a good time to look at royal weddings of the past, including that of Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles, as well as Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson. Curious to know some of the highlights of their big days? Read about eight royal couples in: Royal Weddings Throughout History.

Day 62: Kate Begins Royal Duties


Thursday was Kate’s first official day on royal duty. She and William were at the Trearddur Bay Lifeboat Station in Anglesey, North Wales launching the lifeboat, Hereford Endeavour, which the pair named. The two currently live in Anglesey, as William is stationed there as a search-and-rescue helicopter pilot. Before Kate christened the boat with champagne, she sang along to the Welsh national anthem. William spoke to the crowd of about 500, telling them he was going to talk, while Kate was “going to do the fun bit.” Wearing a khaki-coloured jacket and brown scarf, as well as a black Vivien Sheriff fascinator, Kate looked happy to be greeting the onlookers.

Day 63: Royal Wedding Photographer Chosen?


{Prince Charles & Camilla Parker Bowles wedding as shot by Hugo Burnand}

Any engaged couple knows the importance of choosing your wedding photographer, but what about William and Kate? According to, the pair might have chosen the lucky one and no, it’s not Mario Testino, who took their engagement portraits. Society photographer Hugo Burnand, who shot Charles and Camilla’s wedding, is likely going to shoot the pair on April 29th. While nothing has been confirmed, the photographer has also shot Victoria Beckham, Michael Jackson, and other royals. The Daily Mail concludes one of the reasons for the family choosing Burnand is due to his “high regard for his discretion, spontaneity and charm, as well as his ability as a portrait photographer.” We can’t wait to see how all of the portraits turn out!

John Galliano to Design Kate Moss’ Wedding Gown

Fashion & Beauty » Fashion & Beauty » Wedding Dresses

A spectacular Dior creation from the S/S 2011 collection

While we’re all waiting to find out who’s designing the other Kate’s wedding gown, we now know who will be the lucky designer to dress Kate Moss. Earlier in the week, Vivienne Westwood claimed the model would be designing her own dress, telling the Daily Mail, “No, I think she’s designing it herself. She has done her own fashion range and she knows about clothes. She knows what she is doing, she doesn’t need my help.” Instead, Kate Moss told friends during London Fashion Week that she is enlisting the help of the same designer who dressed Gwen Stefani for her wedding to Gavin Rossdale — Dior designer John Galliano, who is also a close friend. Set for July 2, we’ll have to wait and see what both Kate’s decide to wear on their big day!

Day 64: Prince William to Have Exteme Sports Stag


Samir Hussein/WireImage

Forget nightclubs or strip clubs, best man Prince Harry is keeping it classy by planning a private stag which will include a lineup of extreme sports, reports the U.K.’s Daily Mail. The stag, which is reported to include 20 friends, is costing about £100 per head and will be held on the South Coast by an unnamed water activities company that specializes in stag and does. On the potential itinerary? Wakeboards, surfboards, and the option to rent a boat for more relaxed cruising. It’s expected an evening pubcrawl will commence after the day of activities. The two definitely enjoy sports, as pictured on the left playing soccer during a recent trip to Lesotho.

Day 65: Philip Treacy to Design Hats for Royal Family

Fashion & Beauty

London milliner Philip Treacy will be designing hats for some members of the royal family for Kate and Will’s upcoming wedding, according to The famed hat maker is no stranger to the royal family and actually designed the hat Camilla Parker Bowles wore to her 2005 wedding to Prince Charles. Treacy’s creations have been on celebrities like Sarah Jessica Parker, Lady Gaga, as well as Kate Middleton herself (pictured). Read the rest of this entry »

Day 66: Take the Kate Middleton Country Tour


Would you love to see where Kate went to middle school, had a drink with William or was baptized? Well, now you can thanks to the Kate Middleton Country Tour running in the town of Bucklebury, where the 29-year-old grew up. Led by Charmian Griffiths of local coach, Mortons Travel, has been guiding for the past 10 years and admits to being a loyalist. Read the rest of this entry »

Day 67: Kate & William Go Back to School


Prince William and Kate Middleton will be attending an official engagement at St. Andrew’s University on February 25. The pair, who met and fell in love at the school are expected to meet with staff and students and announce the prince’s support of the 600th anniversary appeal, which has been going on for three years. “St. Andrews is clearly very special to both William and Catherine,” a palace spokesman says. Read the rest of this entry »

All About The Royal Wedding


Prince William & Kate Middleton shot by Mario Testino.

It’s the wedding of the century and we’re here to cover it from start to finish. In addition to our 100-day countdown, which will run until the wedding: April 29, we have additional coverage about the royals — from past royal brides to interesting facts about past royal weddings.

When it comes to your basics, here is some essential reading to catch you up on the royal details:

– The scoop on who’s in the Royal Wedding party.

– William & Kate’s potential honeymoon destination.

– Find out what Mario Testino had to say about shooting the royal couple.

– The debate on Kate’s title.

– See the pictures from the engagement shoot. Read the rest of this entry »

Tips from a Reebok Trainer and Fitness Model

Fashion & Beauty

Last week I had the pleasure of chatting with Julie Marsland, Reebok Trainer and Fitness Model who was in town chatting about Reebok’s new line of EasyTone Apparel and footwear. The new gear had some added technologies Reebok has dubbed “ResisTone,” which uses bands built into the tops and bottoms to help tone and strengthen your muscles and encourage better posture (who doesn’t want that!). They’ve designed it in a way that’s very subtle, so it just looks like part of the design. Starting at $55 for the sleeveless shirts to $80 for the pants, you can find the apparel at Sport Chek locations across Canada.

In addition to checking out the new gear, I wanted to get some tips from Julie about getting in shape and some great exercises to tone those arms (especially if you’re planning on wearing a strapless)! Here’s what she had to say:

1. Every Little Bit Counts. Whether that’s taking the stairs instead of the escalator or going outside at lunch for a walk, anything you can do to be more active counts.

2. Invest in a Personal Trainer. If you’re a beginner and have never worked out before, working with an expert will help make you feel more confident in your abilities.

3. Keep Your Metabolism Up. When you start training more your metabolism increases, as well as your appetite. To combat potential binges, be sure to eat about every two to three hours. You never want to feel full and you never want to feel hungry. Read the rest of this entry »

Birks Signature Designer ESTY Unveils New Collections

Fashion & Beauty

A ring from the ESTY Anemome collection

This morning I had the pleasure of meeting Birks‘ signature designer ESTY, who came all the way from her studio in the French Riviera to chat about her newest collections. Admittedly inspired by sea life, which she encounters almost daily on her free-diving explorations, the pieces she creates definitely feel like they’ve been plucked from the ocean floor. Talking about her designs, she told us the shape and movement of how things grow in nature are the key to her inspiration. Read the rest of this entry »