Archive for Alison McGill

4 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Engagement Rings

Fashion & Beauty » Jewellery

Tiffany_setting_tiffany Blue_book_2016

Photo courtesy of Tiffany & Co., Tiffany 2016 Blue Book collection

Maybe you are shopping for that dream ring (translation: dropping hints to your guy about the perfect ring) or perhaps you’ve just been proposed to and are busy capturing ring selfies, but we bet you didn’t know there is a long and interesting history behind left hand bling.

The Tradition
Engagement rings date back to ancient Roman times, but the diamond engagement ring as we know it was not widely seen until the Victorian era. The ring is worn on the ring finger of the left hand because it’s thought that finger contains a vein that leads straight to the heart.

The Design
In 1886, Charles Tiffany revolutionized the engagement ring by introducing the six-prong mount, which was trademarked as the “Tiffany Setting”. That famous setting, which lifts a radiant cut diamond up and away from the finger, allows the stone to sparkle from every angle.

The Most Popular Rings
The Tiffany setting turns 130 years old in 2016 and, incredibly, it remains the most popular setting in the Tiffany & Co. engagement ring portfolio. We were recently in New York to celebrate this monumental anniversary of the Tiffany Setting with Tiffany & Co. and spoke to Melvyn Kirtley, the company’s chief gemologist, about why the six prong setting is still tops with brides-to-be. He says it really comes down to the simplicity and timelessness of the design and how beautifully it showcases a stone. “You can literally spot this ring from across a room no matter what the size of the diamond because the stone is so shiny and bright and the setting allows the light to filter through it giving a beautiful sparkle,” Kirtley explains. “The setting itself remains the same as it was when it was introduced 130 years ago and was Tiffany & Co.’s only engagement setting for about 100 years. It is still our most requested and purchased engagement ring today.”

The Holy Grail of Bling
How does an 8.5-carat radiant cut diamond sound for your engagement bling? To celebrate the Tiffany Setting’s anniversary, the company’s design team lead by creative director Francesca Amfitheatrof crafted the ultimate dream ring as part of the exclusive 2016 Blue Book collection. This year’s Blue Book offering called “The Art of Transformation” featured 200 one-of-a-kind, eye-popping pieces, one of which was a 8.5-carat radiant cut diamond mounted in the classic Tiffany Setting and bigged-up with pave set diamonds on the prongs and band. The cost? $2.3 million. A girl can dream…

A Luxe Blue And Gold Styled Shoot

real weddings


Rustic vineyard weddings are ever-popular in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley, but it’s rare to see a Provence-inspired celebration brimming with luxe details. That was, however, the goal of the genius team who put together this gorgeous shoot in Osoyoos. “Our inspiration was a very sophisticated celebration centred on a colour palette of gold, blue and ivory,” shares Lara Taylor from Watermark Beach Resort. “We wanted to convey a different level of sophistication in the heart of British Columbia wine country with décor elements including velvet fabrics, chandeliers, large estate urns and a champagne tower with Marie Antoinette glasses.”

Photography courtesy of Nikki Dawn and Kreative Beginnings.

Venue: Watermark Beach Resort
Cocktail artist: Alex Kagel from 21C Intinerant Bar
Bridal gown: Berta Bridal
Bridal stylist: Monti Samuel from Blush Bridal
Cake: Anna from Sweet on You
Decor and design: Tyler from Defining Decor
Event and editorial production: Lara Taylor from Coco Events
Floral design: Arlene from Edgy Petals
Gowns: Blush by Hayley Paige
Groom stylist: Bobbie Long from Haberdasher & Co.
Hairpieces: Olivia The Wolf
Hair: Gillian from Illumination Spa
Makeup: Melanie from Shimmer + Gloss
Models: Deja Vu Modelling
Ribbon: Sheer Radiance
Stationery design: Carrie Mayhew from Ginger Creative
Shoes: Blush by Vera Wang 
Videography: Tim from Limelight Studios

Delicious (And Totally Unexpected) Wedding Cake Flavours

planning » Wedding Cakes


Photo by Brittany Mahood.

Birthday cake, red velvet, dulce de leche…all delicious wedding cake flavours, but a little 2000-and-late when it comes to what’s hip for sweet treats.

For 2016, it’s all about getting really creative and serving your guests the unexpected. And nobody does cool cake flavours like Winnipeg-based Jenna Rae Cakes. Partners Jenna Rae Illchuk and Ashley Illchuk are renown for their quirky cake designs and incredible tasting treats. “We love experimenting with different and fun flavours,” says Jenna Rae. “It’s fun for us and incredibly fun for our clients. We have some really amazing combinations that are super popular right now.”

Read Jenna Rae’s current top wedding cake flavours and get inspired to dream up a few new and amazing ones to include in your layers of love.

Christopher Paunil Fall 2016 Wedding Dresses

Fashion & Beauty » Wedding Dresses


Canadian designer Christopher Paunil made his debut at Toronto Fashion Week to showcase his latest bridal and special occasion collection and the vibe was modern, chic and subtly sexy. With silhouettes ranging from sleek form-fitting sheaths to structured mermaid gowns and strapless, tulle-skirted designs complete with hi-low hemlines, every style of bride has a dream dress in this lineup.

Paunil’s use of fabrics was particularly gorgeous, blending satin with lace in many of his designs. One particular standout that stole our hearts was a blush pink beauty. This particular strapless gown, with a Chantilly lace bodice and sculpturally-pleated trumpet skirt in silk wool, was a show-stopper and a perfect option for a bride that wants something ultra-feminine yet non-traditional.

The Best Fragrant Flowers For Your Wedding Bouquet

planning » Bouquets & Flowers


We bet you want your bouquet to look amazing, but shouldn’t it smell otherworldly too? A bouquet with a light, bright and feminine fragrance is a beautiful touch on your wedding day and it can also have a therapeutic effect! Scents like rose and lavender are known to soothe the soul while greens like eucalyptus can have an amazing energizing effect.

We asked Alex Cole, creative director and owner of Toronto’s Patchouli Design, for her favourite aromatic blooms for brides. Her picks may surprise you!

5 Reasons To Honeymoon In Scottsdale, Arizona

travel » Honeymoons


Want a honeymoon that’s equal parts zen, cultural and adventurous? Scottsdale, Arizona is the place! Situated in the heart of the Sonoran Desert, Scottsdale has a magical and mystical quality to it.

The landscape will absolutely enchant you with the dramatic McDowell Mountains, palm trees and miles of saguaro cacti. Add to this Scottsdale’s vibrant downtown arts district, which is home to 90 restaurants, hundreds of stores and over 80 art galleries. Oh, and did we mention the spa scene in Scottsdale? You could literally spend your days hopping from one luxury property to the next having a unique treatment experience at each.

The climate in Scottsdale is pretty close to perfect with little to no rainfall, tons of sunshine and consistently warm temperatures year-round. So, if you are looking for a gorgeous sun destination that offers more than beaches and mojitos, Scottsdale is your perfect match.

Check out five more reasons Scottsdale makes a great honeymoon destination:

Everything You Need To Know Before You Book A Wedding Hair Trial

Fashion & Beauty » Hairstyles


Photo courtesy of Revlon Professional

If there was ever a time in your life when your hair needs to look flawless, it’s your wedding day. Working with your stylist to achieve the perfect look needs to start a least a month before your big day and there are many factors that contribute to making your locks look their best. We went to Kirsten McIntosh from Revlon Professional for some tips on achieving amazing bridal hair.

When should a bride have her first hair trial and how many should she plan to have total?
“I recommend having a trial one month to three weeks in advance of your wedding day. This allows time to adjust the look and discuss the possibility of another trial if required. I generally find one appointment is enough for most brides.”

What should a bride bring to her hair trial?
“Come well prepared for a trial date with the veil, extensions, hair jewellery and possibly the earrings you will be wearing.”

What are some of your favourite wedding hairstyles?
“Currently I’m into looks that are very classy and chic. I love a three-dimensional-looking bun fastened at the middle-low back of the head with a soft side-part and finger waves for feminine details. I also love modernized looks from the 1940s, which are pretty, elegant and timeless.”

Do you recommend brides look for style ideas in advance of the hair trial?
“All stylists definitely love it when brides bring photo inspiration of styles they love. It’s a great starting point for creating their perfect look. Of course Pinterest is a great source for wedding styles but I also love looking to the red carpet for ideas. That is where you will find the newest and hottest looks—the stars are always wearing what’s ultra-fashionable.”

What special care do you need to take with hair leading up to your wedding day?
“Your stylist should help make your hair plan at least six months pre-wedding to ensure it is in peak condition. Colour or highlights should be done one week prior to the wedding. Regular trims and treatments should be done every six weeks leading up to the date. Home care is also crucial—a nourishing shampoo, conditioner and treatments will ensure your hair looks and feels its best.”

Read This Before Booking Your Wedding Venue



Photo courtesy of Le Germain Charlevoix.

Anyone who is in the midst of searching for a wedding venue knows this can be one of the most stressful parts of the wedding planning process. Your venue will determine the date of your wedding, the décor and the overall style of your party.

Melanie Aubin a wedding planner at Fou D’Amour in Montreal, Quebec—who recently shared her wedding planning expertise with Le Germain Hotels—says the first step to finding the perfect venue is calculating your wedding budget. How much you want to spend will determine where you ultimately decide to host your celebration. From there, Aubin says consider these six key things when it comes to selecting your venue:

1. Room dimensions. The typical setup for a seated meal consists of 60-inch round tables surrounded by eight chairs. If you are looking at a room that’s 3,000 square feet, it will accommodate 300 people. Another space consideration is that if you want a dance floor, photo booth, lounge or stage for a band that will eat into your seating space. Consider everything you need in the room, don’t just calculate the size you need based on your guest numbers.

2. Parking. Do you need a private parking area, or does a shared parking lot work for you? Are there enough spaces to accommodate your guests? Is there a fee from your venue for parking or is it included? If there is no parking area, do you need to arrange a shuttle or car service?

3. Inclusions. Does the venue offer certain extras for free such as tables, chairs, tablecloths, napkins and garden furniture? Ask to see all the equipment, learn about available colours and be sure to get the correct quantities. Do they have lighting, an audio system, projector and screen? And if you need to rent it all, can the venue store your equipment?

4. Exclusivities. Certain venues work exclusively with specific caterers, bar services or audiovisual providers. If you choose to work with your own supplier, it’s possible they will charge you a fee or penalty. It’s important to find out if this will be the case before you sign off on anything.

5. Additional fees. On top of the room rental fees, find out if the venue has any extra costs like cleaning fees, electricity (a band uses a lot more volts than a DJ), setup and storage. Is coat check included? Will you need security for your event?

6. Contracts. Request a sample contract from the venue(s) you are considering and take the time to study each clause. What happens if the wedding is cancelled? Does the location require minimum food and beverage fees? If the size of the guest list shrinks, is there an option to switch rooms? Be sure that any changes you agree on are added to the final contract.

Fashion Trends Your Groom Needs To Know About ASAP

Fashion & Beauty


Photo courtesy of Moores.

The days of basic rental suits are over. In fact, these days grooms-to-be are putting just as much thought into their wedding day outfits as their ladies are (because who wants to be tagged on Facebook in a suit that doesn’t fit properly?)

In terms of menswear trends, the tux is back in a big way (thanks to Leonardo DiCaprio, Ryan Gosling and Brad Pitt rocking them on the red carpet recently). Blue suiting is also big for the year ahead, as are quirky, fashion-forward accessories.

We turned to the experts at Moores for a full run-down of what’s hip for grooms. Read on and get ready to send these outfit ideas to your mister.


Bobbi Brown’s Secrets For Perfect DIY Wedding Makeup

Fashion & Beauty » Skin Care & Makeup

Marchesa, Backstage, Bridal Fall 2016, October 2015

Photo courtesy of Marchesa.

What would you say if we lined up a private wedding makeup lesson for you with the one and only Bobbi Brown? Known for her natural and incredibly gorgeous makeup, Bobbi knows a thing or two about what looks best for a wedding day and she shared with us the secret to perfecting DIY wedding makeup. Prepare to fine-tune your makeup artistry skills with Bobbi’s secrets for creating the ultimate bridal look.

What is your makeup philosophy for brides?
“I believe on your wedding day you should look like yourself at your most beautiful. Play up your favourite features rather than distort or change how you look.”

What type of wedding makeup look is easy for a bride to create herself?
“Bridal makeup needs to have enough colour to compensate for the whiteness of the dress. There’s a difference between everyday clothes and a wedding dress, so there should be a difference in the makeup, but it doesn’t have to be overly complicated.”

What should a bride stay away from when creating her own look?
“Steer clear of trends or anything drastically different from your normal beauty routine—every bride should love how she looks in her photos 10 years from now. Stick to classic neutral shades and focus on taking your normal evening makeup up a notch.”

What key products do you recommend for a bride on her wedding day?
“Start with a great moisturizer to prep skin (avoid sunblock formulas as they can reflect light under flash photography). Even out the skin with a yellow-toned foundation stick to eliminate red tones which photography can emphasize. Use a serum corrector and concealer to treat dark circles and give skin bounce. I recommend two shades of blush to create a flush that lasts, and then create a strobing effect with a shimmer powder on the skin. Define brows, add sparkle to eyelids with a shimmer shadow and finish eyes with several coats of long-wear mascara. For lips I recommend a pale lip colour two shades brighter than what you would normally wear, or layer a pink or rose colour over your everyday lipstick.”

On the day of, what should a bride pack for touch-ups?
“Bring a small bag with your makeup essentials for touch-ups. Must-haves include: yellow-based powder to even out the skin and prevent shine; your lip colour and a lip pencil to help with fading; waterproof mascara; tissues; blotting papers; mints and Q-tips. Finally, pack a palette containing all your basics: foundation, concealer, rouge and lip balm.”


Celebrity Wedding Ideas Worth Stealing



Celebrities, they really are just like us. A-listers care just as much as the rest of us about making their weddings unique, and thanks to Instagram you can now step inside their exclusive affairs to check out the details.

We’ve seen some incredible celebrity weddings in the past few years — Kim Kardashian, Nicky Hilton, Allison Williams and Whitney Port just to name a few — and 2016 is shaping up to be another stellar year of big bashes (Eva Longoria, Lady Gaga, Iggy Azalea and possibly even Miley Cyrus are rumoured to be tying the knot in 2016).

From epic cakes to over-the-top accessories, here are six celebrity wedding ideas worth emulating.

Wonder By Jenny Packham For David’s Bridal 2016 Wedding Dresses

Fashion & Beauty » Wedding Dresses


British designer Jenny Packham is renowned for her dazzling wedding dresses, which feature feminine, easy silhouettes as well as incredible detailing and bead work. The favourite designer of the Duchess of Cambridge and celebrities like Adele, Kate Winslet and Kate Hudson has just launched a new collection with David’s Bridal, which features gorgeous bridal gowns as well as bridesmaid, flower girl, and mother-of-the-bride dresses.

“I am passionate about designing bridal and the ‘Wonder by Jenny Packham’ collection epitomises the grace and glamour I want a bride to feel on her most special day,” Packham shares.

Here are some of our favourites from the Wonder by Jenny Packham line. The best part? You can pick up one of these stunning creations for a fraction of the price of most other Jenny Packham gowns.

Photography courtesy of David’s Bridal

The One Beauty Product All Brides Should Be Using

Fashion & Beauty » Skin Care & Makeup


Photo via Poetic Blend.

What’s the one skincare essential every bride should invest in? We bet this one might surprise you: facial oils. For glowing, gorgeous, hydrated, photographic, high-definition skin, this product is your secret weapon. Using the right oils for your skin type can target virtually every imaginable skin sin, from dryness to acne. Full disclosure—we didn’t initially know a lot about this beauty wonder and thought applying oil to your skin could only lead to problems. Not so! We spoke to the Canadian guru of facial oils Mikayla Tran from Toronto-based brand Poetic Blend to get the scoop on why these products should be an essential part of your beauty regime.

They are the secret weapon for amazing skin.
“Our skin naturally produces a lot of oil from a very young age,” Tran shares. “As we age, the supply depletes and oil production slows down; consequently, skin loses its natural, youthful glow. Beauty oils help to deposit the oils back into the skin, promoting a healthy lipid barrier quicker than a traditional moisturizing cream. This means your skin is instantly rewarded with a youthful, natural and radiant glow and the high concentration of natural ingredients found in beauty oils help your skin retain more moisture and prevent dehydration. I recommend using facial oils morning and night as a moisturizer. Apply on clean skin and warm a few drops in your hand then rub all over your face. If you do want to apply moisturizer as well, wait until the oil has absorbed.”

Applying oils to your skin can actually help control oil production!
Don’t believe the hype that adding oil to your skin creates more oil and breakouts. “All skin types from oily to dry and combination benefit from facial oils,” Tran says. “Whether you have oily, dry or even combination skin, incorporating oil into your daily skincare routine could actually be a complete game changer. When you use cleansers or even mattifyers to try and control shine, you are stripping the skin of its natural oils and trigger it into thinking it needs to produce more oil. This causes clogged pores and breakouts. You may have to experiment with finding the right blend to suit your skin’s needs but once you do, you’ll find yourself wondering how you’ve ever lived without it.”

Do your research before investing in facial oils.
Tran’s line Poetic Blend (which features three different oils to target a range of skin concerns) is all-natural and plant-based—she believes these are the best for the skin. The best beauty oils are specially formulated with pure, plant-based elements with a fast absorption rate, preventing any unwanted greasy residue. “Natural oils are supercharged with highly nutritive ingredients,” Tran explains. “They’re brimming with antioxidants, vitamins and excellent hydrating properties delivering unmatched moisture and naturally, glowing skin.”

The Best Bridal Beauty Looks For Spring 2016

Fashion & Beauty » Skin Care & Makeup


We always look to the runways for wedding beauty inspiration and the Spring 2016 collections, in particular, were brimming with gorgeous looks perfect for your walk down the aisle.

Be a fashionista bride by drawing inspiration from one of the wedding-worthy trends we spied at the best collections of the season. Here are three of our favourite looks from Marchesa, DVF and Christopher Kane re-imagined for your big day.

Photography by Carlyle Routh. Styling by Tara Williams. Hair and makeup by Vanessa Jarman using Charlotte Tilbury for Hair and makuep assistant Alexandre Deslauriers. Styling assistant, Kat Fregillana. Editor, Alison McGill.