Archive for Alison McGill

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.

Why You Need To Create A Social Media Strategy For Your Wedding



Photo courtesy of Genevieve Albert.

Getting engaged in the age of social media means there’s one more thing you have to add to your wedding to-do list. Creating a wedding social media strategy is a relatively new concept, but that doesn’t mean it should be overlooked as something that will organically roll out. How your event is presented on social is something you definitely want to have as much control as possible over, which means starting to think about Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat the moment the question is popped.

We spoke to Toronto-based etiquette expert and columnist Karen Cleveland to get her take on social media at weddings. Here are four things to consider as you map out your strategy.

To selfie, or not to selfie.
It’s become the calling card of an engagement, but is posting an engagement ring selfie really necessary? “There is something a bit showy about in the ring shot, but it’s ubiquitous,” Cleveland says. “If it doesn’t feel right to you, don’t post it. You’re taking a very intimate moment — one of the most important in your life — and trying to reduce it to a Facebook or Instagram photo: No matter how beautiful the shot is, it won’t do the moment justice. Rather than post a picture, get in touch with your friends and family who may be asking to see the ring on social and thank them for their excitement (relay that you’re thrilled too!) and that you can’t wait to see them in person and share your new sparkler.”

Create a hashtag…like, immediately.
As soon as you’re engaged, put some thought to what the hashtag for your wedding will be and start using it. The best hashtags are short, smart and easy for your guests to remember. “A hashtag also helps consolidate all guest photos related to your wedding,” Cleveland says. “Again it’s a great idea, but not one that each and every one of your guests will embrace, so realize that. As a traditionalist — though of the modern variety — I think hashtagging takes an intimate event and turns it into something really, really public. But hey, it’s your party, you can hashtag if you want to.” The best way to get the word out about your wedding hashtag? Include it in your wedding invites and save-the-dates, or like any good social media campaign, seed it with strategic influencers within your circle of family and friends.

Appoint a social coordinator.
On you wedding day, you are obviously going to be busy and likely won’t have a lot of time for Instagram, Snapchat or Periscope. Consider appointing someone in your circle who is very social savvy to handle it on your behalf. They can snap photos, then have a quiet meeting with you to edit shots and decide what you want posted. “Having a person to steward your posts will take the pressure off you while also giving you the confidence that it is being handled correctly,” Cleveland says. Let your guests know who this person is and that they’ll be around to help out with any questions about hashtags, Instagram handles, etc.

Make social sharing guidelines known.
There’s something to be said for living in the moment so know that if you don’t want your wedding on social media, it’s absolutely acceptable—after all it’s your party. “I was at a wedding recently where the bride and groom asked, via their officiant, that everyone please stay present, and that meant putting phones away and no taking photos of the happy couple,” Cleveland reports. “It made the event feel much more intimate, and the later the bride confided in me that she and her groom wanted to pick the wedding photo that they shared online. There’s something very special about your wedding being witnessed by only those you’ve chosen to invite.”

Statement Wedding Gowns For The Ultra-Fashionable Bride

Fashion & Beauty » Wedding Dresses


If you want to be a style standout on your wedding day, choose a dress that’s anything but traditional. Step away from classic white and instead opt for warm tones of butterscotch, rose gold and black to create a red-carpet-worthy look. Pair your non-traditional wedding gown with bold, unconventional accessories and you’re guaranteed to make a statement during your walk down the aisle.

Photography by Chris Nicholls. Styling by Tara Williams. Hair by Tony Masciangelo, The Alcorn/ Makeup by Grace Lee, lead makeup artist, Maybelline New York Canada/Plutino Group. Nails by Leeanne Colley, Tips Nail Bar/ Set design by Caitlin Doherty, Editor, Alison McGill.

A Stylish, Modern Wedding In Toronto

real weddings

Urban Contemporary Toronto Wedding - Ceremony

The love story of Erica Wark—resident stylist and fashion expert on CTV’s The Social—and Corey Laurysen is beyond charming. The pair, who met in high school in the Ottawa area and dated for 15 years, became engaged exactly one year prior to their wedding day, when Corey surprised Erica with a proposal during one of her on-air fashion segments. “Corey proposed on live TV,” Erica recalls with a laugh. “I was completely blown away by the romantic and shocking gesture! He surprised me again by having all our family and closest friends at Toronto’s Beverley Hotel to celebrate with us after the show.”

With her expert style sense, Erica knew exactly what she wanted their wedding to look like. They chose the slick Malaparte for their ceremony and reception, hosting 150 guests for a “Metrothereal”-themed party. “Corey and I both love being outdoors,” Erica says. “I have a family cottage that we spend lots of time at, and we both grew up in the country. We wanted our wedding to reflect that. The feeling of the day was chic with a rustic undertone.” This was accomplished in a cool urban setting by choosing a palette of white florals and greenery complemented with silver and birch-wood accents. One of the standout decor pieces was the incredible white and green flower wall that Erica’s wedding stylist, Lindzi Armstrong, constructed. The couple said their personalized vows in front of it, and the wall also served as the backdrop for family photos. “It was absolutely breathtaking and one of my favourite details,” Erica shares. “I had never seen anything like it.” The rustic-chic floral theme was brought into the reception space with centrepieces that combined large antique vases with imperfectly arranged florals, birch tree bases, antique candleholders and china cups.

It should be no surprise that this stylista’s other favourite wedding detail was her dress. In an incredible shimmering Zuhair Murad gown, Erica was the definition of a modern bride, wearing her signature tresses long and loose, topped with a delicate voilette designed by milliner David Dunkley. “My dress was covered in hand-stitched beads made to look like champagne bubbles,” Erica says. “It fit me like a dream, was comfortable and made me feel incredibly special—I wish I could wear it every day!”

To make an even more fabulous fashion statement, Erica actually had two additional short and sexy dresses by Naeem Khan, which she changed into throughout the night. She wore a glittering deco-style mini for the first dance, a dazzling performance to Lana Del Rey’s “Young and Beautiful,” which was a surprise for their guests. “Two of our friends from the Ottawa-based dance studio Dance With TLC helped us choreograph this, and we worked on it for seven months,” Erica admits. “It included three types of ballroom dance moves: the waltz, the cha-cha and the rumba. We had a blast with it.”

Another entertainment highlight: pop star Kiesza (who Erica has styled) dropping in on the party. “Kiesza totally surprised me and everyone jammed the dance floor to dance to her hit ‘Hideaway,’” Erica says, laughing. “It was amazing!”

Erica Wark and Corey Laurysen, July 11, 2015, Toronto, Ontario.

Photography courtesy of Joel Bedford Photography.

Ceremony and reception location: Malaparte
Bridal gowns: Zuhair Murad and Naeem Khan from Kleinfeld at Hudson’s Bay
Bridal shoes: Manolo Blahnik
Veil: David Dunkley
Bridal party: LE CHÂTEAU
Groom’s attire: Ermenegildo Zenga suit and Salvatore Ferragamo shoes from Harry Rosen
Wedding stylist: Lindzi Armstrong
Music: Mellow Dee
Hair: Fiorella DiNardo
Makeup: Melody Iafelice
Flowers: A Petal or Two
Calligraphy: Calligraphy by Diane
Stationery: Cards of Wood


A Pretty Vineyard Wedding In Niagara-on-the-Lake

real weddings

Pretty Vineyard Wedding in Ontario - Bride and Groom

Ashley and Yiannis were a duo for seven years before he proposed on St. Patrick’s Day. “I was finishing my MBA at Ivey Business School at Western University, and he came to visit to celebrate our seven-year anniversary,” Ashley shares. “He walked through the door with champagne, shouting, ‘Happy anniversary!’” When Ashley turned around to open the champers, she found Yiannis down on one knee. “It was a very private moment and simply romantic.”

Fast-forward 18 months to their wedding day, a celebration they wanted to be uniquely “them.” Since they both have a deep appreciation for great wine, a vineyard in the Niagara-on-the-Lake region was the perfect venue.“We have been to vineyards in France and Italy, and we wanted to replicate the natural, romantic atmosphere for our wedding,” Ashley says. “Once we found our location, we wanted to ensure we showcased its natural beauty, which became the incredible backdrop for our ceremony and dinner reception.”

With this in mind, the couple kept the decor elegant and classic with a punch of colour. Ashley chose a dreamy blush pink Maggie Sottero gown, and her bridesmaids complemented her beautifully in classic black dresses. The celebration’s lush florals—from bouquets to centrepieces—featured blush and white mixed with peach and coral blooms. “These shades are so summery, bright and vibrant, which made them the perfect accent colours for the day,” Ashley notes. “We also incorporated them into our stationery and felt the subtle hints of colour throughout the venue really enhanced its natural beauty.”

It’s said that rain on your wedding day brings good fortune to the newlyweds, and, in Ashley and Yiannis’ case, there were buckets full of luck falling just as the pair said “I do.” A light rain misted down on Ashley when she began her walk down the aisle, and as soon as she made it underneath the tented ceremony area, the heavens unleashed.

“We had torrential rain and thunder during our ceremony and a double rainbow afterward,” Ashley says with a smile. “We wrote our ceremony and vows personally and kept all the details a secret from everyone, which made it incredibly authentic, romantic and sentimental. It was definitely our favourite moment of the day.”

Post-ceremony, the couple’s 320 guests enjoyed dinner and dancing underneath the many twinkling chandeliers in the tent. The dinner menu was a brilliant blend of the couple’s two cultures: Italian and Greek. “Acclaimed chef Mark Picone personally designed the menu to respect both our cultures while incorporating seasonal Niagara foods into the mix,” Ashley says. “On the day of, chef Marc Lyons, executive chef from Queen’s Landing, executed the menu perfectly.”

For Ashley and Yiannis’ first dance, they chose “Sideways” by Citizen Cope, featuring Carlos Santana. “It’s very untraditional but extremely meaningful to us,” Ashley says. This kicked the celebration into high gear, but there were a few unexpected pauses on the dance floor, thanks to a power outage caused by the rain. “Our DJ’s breaker tripped twice because the grass was wet,” Ashley recalls. “The best thing was that when the lights and music shut down, our guests didn’t stop singing or dancing. It was so loud it was as though nothing had even happened.”

Ashley Clerici and Yiannis Soumalias, August 1, 2015, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario. 

Photography courtesy of Jean-Marc Robin of Ikonica.

Wedding planner: Lexington and Co.
Music: DJ Mike Vibe
Flowers: Forget Me Not Flowers
Stationery: So Pretty In Print
Officiant: Ceremonies to Remember
Videographer: IMAGES Film + Video
Decor and rentals: Simply Beautiful
Catering: Vintage Hotels
Sweet table and wedding cake: Criveller Cakes
Hair: Dorissa Cervan
Makeup: Marissa Schwartz

How To Plan A Destination Wedding in Vermont

travel » Destination Weddings


Photo via Twin Farms.

Bordering Quebec, New York, Massachusetts and New Hampshire, Vermont is a gem in the heart of New England. Home to the rolling Green Mountains, the state is brimming with quaint little towns to explore. This rustic and romantic destination is one that’s easy to fall in love with – and there’s no shortage of charming inns and luxury resorts at which to host an idyllic destination wedding.

Here we will give you the scoop on everything you need to know to plan your dream celebration in the Vermont.

The best time to go: Though Vermont is one of those magical destinations that looks amazing 365 days of the year, autumn is definitely when the state truly shines. The fall foliage season typically begins in mid-September and lasts through mid-October, with peak colors appearing around the first week in October. Of course this varies depending on the weather. The leaves start to turn in the northern part of the state first, then gradually move south. Also, trees at a higher elevation typically start changing before ones at lower elevations so keep this in mind when you’re picking a date and location.

Getting there: Burlington Airport is the main hub for flights to Vermont. Porter Airlines offers service to Burlington from downtown Toronto and the flight time is just one hour. Driving from Toronto will take just over seven hours; from Montreal, under two hours; from Halifax approximately 11 hours.

The legal paperwork: To get married in Vermont you need a Vermont marriage license and it must be purchased in the county you wish to be married in. You can buy it at the town clerk’s office and it must be picked up in person. The cost is $45 for the license and $10 for a certified copy of the license.

The venue: There are many beautiful hotel properties in the Green Mountain State to chose from but one of the most renowned and exclusive is Twin Farms—it’s so hidden you’ll probably drive by the gates a few times before finding it! Once you arrive, you won’t want to leave this Relais & Châteaux’s magical 300 sprawling acres. There are only 20 accommodations at Twin Farms—10 guest rooms and suites in the main house, farmhouse and lodge. The rest are plush cottages, each equally incredible, and all completely different in design and feel, featuring everything from modern and sexy decor to Moroccan elegance. The entire property boasts an incredible art collection with works by masters like Roy Lichtenstein, David Hockney, Frank Stella and Milton Avery displayed in the common and private areas.

When it comes to wedding venues at Twin Farms, there are eight choices on site, each vastly different (but all equally gorgeous). For smaller celebrations, the main house dining room, new dining room, small dining room and the wine cellar are all amazing options. For wedding parties of 50 people and up, consider the lodge, the pub, or having a tented celebration on the property’s rolling acres—there are several spots at Twin Farms where this can be done.

Staying on for a honeymoon at Twin Farms will give you a chance to fully indulge. The property is all-inclusive, which means everything from meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner are all incredible), to drinks, activities and tipping is covered in your nightly rate—you literally don’t have to think about a thing while you’re there except relaxing and enjoying an unforgettable romantic escape.

A Romantic Farm Wedding Shoot

real weddings


Photographers from The Love Studio worked together with an all-star team of wedding vendors to produce this dreamy shoot, which was inspired by their support and passion for local, fresh produce farmers.

Shot on location at Marshall’s Real Farm Market (a working farm) in the barn event space, the creative team was able to incorporate much of the farm’s fresh grown veggies, jams and preserves into a favours stand—we love the idea of guests being able to select their own organic take-home gift!

Other style standouts of this shoot include the florals created by Mint Floral Co., which are textural and wild, with delicate edible elements like kumquats, a spread of home-baked sweets by Crumb and Berry, including a naked cake, and delicately decorated macarons cleverly arranged in egg cartons in keeping with the farm fresh theme.

Photography courtesy of The Love Studio.

Wedding designer and planner: Willow Rose Events
Venue and props: Marshall’s Real Farmer Market
Florals: Mint Floral Co.
Cake and baked goods: Crumb & Berry
Stationery: Paper Peony Design
Hair: Suzie Kim Bridal Hair
Makeup artist: Karen Kim Beauty
Dress: Saja from Sash and Bustle
Flower girls dresses: Wild and Free Baby Wear
Jewellery: Hattitude Jewellery
Ring: Emily Gill Design
Tea favours: Miyu Beauty
Tabletop rentals: Plate Occasions

The Transformative New Makeup Technique Every Bride Should Master

Fashion & Beauty » Skin Care & Makeup

Strobing_NARS Rodarte_SS16

Photo courtesy of NARS from Rodarte Spring 2016.

Contouring is so yesterday. Makeup pros and A-listers alike are abandoning the severe, chiseled look in favour of skin that’s considerably more natural (but still equally as pretty). These days it’s all about strobing.

But what exactly does that mean? Don’t worry, there are no disco lights involved. Instead, illuminating and highlighting products are employed to make your skin seriously glow. The Kardashians, Jenners, Gigi Hadid and Beyoncé are all strobing fans. Just check out their Instas to see the glam effect.

Michelle Rosen, a Toronto-based makeup artist with Judy Inc. broke down the makeup technique for us, explaining that it’s a look that’s super easy to achieve at home. “Strobing involves combining shimmer creams on well-moisturized skin to give a glowy complexion,” she says. “It’s a technique that’s made for brides, because not only does it give you a healthy-looking glow in real life, but it also helps to make your skin look incredible in photos.”

Rosen says the secret to strobing success is having the right products. For a highlighter she loves NARS The Multiple in Copacabana. Start with clean skin and apply a lightly-tinted moisturizer all over. Apply highlighter to your finger then dab on cheekbones, down the bridge of your nose, upper lip, a little on the forehead and a touch on the collarbones. Apply the rest of your makeup then stand back and marvel in your gorgeous, shimmering skin.

The Top Bridal Fashion Trends For Fall 2016

Fashion & Beauty » Wedding Dresses


Variety continues to be the name of the game when it comes to bridal fashion. During the Fall 2016 runway shows, which recently wrapped up in New York, designers were not shy about stepping away from traditional fabrics, silhouettes and accessories in favour of more avant garde looks.

Curating our top trends down to just 10 was definitely a challenge—there were just so many gorgeous styles on the runway that would complement a multitude of weddings. We did eventually manage to pick some ultra-faves from the shows. These are the top bridal fashion trends that everyone tying the knot in 2016 should be aware of.

The Hottest New Bridal Nail Trends

Fashion & Beauty » Skin Care & Makeup


Should you wear colour on your nails for your wedding day? Play with nail art? These are just a few of the questions we asked Madeline Poole, Sally Hansen’s global colour ambassador (pictured). “My best advice when it comes to bridal nails is to keep it simple,” Poole shares. “Don’t choose anything too colourful or overly complicated. Have your nails done the night before or morning of your wedding—the fresher and shinier the better!”

Read on for more of Poole’s expert tips.

The One New Beauty Trend Every Bride Should Know About

Fashion & Beauty » Skin Care & Makeup


Matte is where it’s at when it comes to lips. The trend has been creeping on to the beauty radar since early 2014 and now the only lippies landing on our desks are velvety matte formulas. Back in the day, when talking lip colour, matte meant one thing: dry. The new matte is anything but—lip colours are actually buttery soft and smooth and glide effortlessly across lips. They are seriously creamy and incredibly long-lasting which is exactly what you want for your wedding day. Here are eight of our favourite matte lipstick lines—a few old, a few brand-spanking new, but all amazing.