Archive for Alison McGill

What To Wear To A Wedding: Outfit Tips For Guests


Within moments of opening your wedding invitation, guests will undoubtedly begin pondering what on earth they should wear for the occasion. They will inevitably wonder if white is off limits and whether suit jackets and ties are expected, which, depending the type of people your loved ones are, may result in a barrage of emails.

Get ahead of these queries by offering concrete outfit advice from the get-go. Include somewhere on your invite (fine print at the bottom works perfectly) a few words about the style of wedding you’re having, which will give guests some direction on what they should wear. You may not think it’s your duty to tell them how to dress, but helping your guests with sartorial choices will actually ensure they’re comfortable and able to focus completely on the main event (rather than feeling self-conscious about being over- or under-dressed).

We asked Melissa Evans-Lee, style expert and marketing director for Toronto’s Bayview Village for advice on decoding the what-to-wear question for your wedding guests. “Most people don’t know what to wear and it can be tricky to navigate a wedding dress code based on whether it’s a casual or formal affair,” Evans-Lee shares. Here is her fashion advice for you to pass along to your guests based on the type of celebration you are hosting:

Summer Backyard Casual Weddings
“’Wedding’ and ‘casual’ in the same sentence is almost contradictory,” Evans-Lee says. “If you don’t clearly define the style for your guests, you will see some very casual shorts!” Evans-Lee explains that this is arguably the toughest wedding dress code for guests to decipher. If it is indeed in a backyard, advise women against heels in favour of sandals or wedges (there will be grass to contend with). Easy, breezy summer dressing is the thing you need to stress to guests—for women, maxi dresses, jumpsuits or floral dresses are perfect. Sunglasses, sunscreen and a cardigan for after the sun goes down are also advised. For men, dress pants paired with a polo shirt or light linen dress shirt is apropos.

Destination Beach Weddings
Two words: beach chic! This is the dress code you need to enlighten your guests about says Evans-Lee. Sleek sundresses, bling-encrusted sandals, dramatic sunhats, movie star-worthy sunglasses and stylish shawls for cooler nights are perfect. For men, think light summer suits in linen, sans tie.

Formal Evening Weddings
“My definition of formal is that it’s an opportunity to dress up,” Evans-Lee explains. If you decide to have a formal affair, you need to let guests know that that means pulling out all the stops. For women, it’s a cocktail gown or evening dress; for men it’s a suit and tie—and if you want tuxedos, you must specify black tie.

Sunday Brunch Weddings
“I love the idea of a wedding transpiring over Sunday brunch,” says Evans-Lee. You have to be clear with dress expectations though, since many guests will assume a level of informality as it’s not in the evening. For women, suggest beautiful day dresses in bright colours or print, or even classic little black dresses. For men, dress pants and a jacket are perfect.

6 Wedding Elements You Absolutely Shouldn’t Skimp On



Photography by Krista Fox Photography.

Balancing a wedding budget is delicate business. It’s easy to go off the rails quickly when it comes to wedding spending, but there are also a few parts of the party-planning process that warrant a bit of a splurge. We’re always asked for our take on where it’s most important to drop the bucks, so here our editors share insights on which elements of your wedding you absolutely shouldn’t skimp on.

“It’s your Cinderella, red carpet moment and you don’t want to feel anything less than incredible going to the ball, right? There are so many styles of gowns to choose from today at so many different price points, I don’t think any bride has to settle for something she is not completely in love with. You will be looking at your wedding pictures for the rest of your life and the last thing you want to think is that you should have paid a little extra for that dress you really loved.”
—Alison McGill, editor-in-chief


Photography by Carey Nash Photography.

“You absolutely cannot skimp on photography (because this is what happens when you do). Your wedding day is going to go by in a flash and the images will become priceless mementos of the time you spent with all of your favourite people. Look for recommendations on the top photographers in your area and flip through their portfolios to see who will jive best with the overall theme of your celebration. The best shooters will command higher prices but they’ll also ensure that you end up with a collection of artful images that you adore. When it comes time to book, make sure you reserve your chosen photographer for the entire day (not just the ceremony) so that they can capture all the tearful reactions to heartfelt speeches, your first twirl on the dance floor as husband and wife, and your beautiful sparkler send-off.”
—Jen O’Brien, executive online editor


Photography by Photobolic.

“For a great party-like wedding atmosphere, splurging on your music and surround sound is key. If you can, hire a live band because there’s nothing like live entertainment to get the crowd pumped. Spending on quality sound equipment, especially in larger venues is also a must. The last thing you want is for your guests to talk through the heartwarming speeches that your bridal party or parents have prepared for you.”
—Roseanne Dela Rosa, associate editor 


Photography by Ikonica.

“Great flowers can make a wedding. They create a mood and add luxurious drama to your décor. It’s not about the number of flowers you have or even having an over-the-top display of them; great flowers mean putting together creative arrangements using the freshest blooms available. Work closely with your florist to come up with a plan that won’t break the bank but also may necessitate dedicating some extra dollars from another area of your budget. It is a spend you definitely will not regret.”
—Alison McGill, editor-in-chief


Photography by Chris Nicholls. Styling by Tara Willams. Shot on location at Tangled Garden, Grand–Pré, Nova Scotia. Hair and makeup by Tony Masciangelo using Tresemme products for

“Unless you work as a hairstylist or professional makeup artist, you need to abandon the notion that you’ll do your own hair and makeup for the big day. Part of the process of putting together a cohesive bridal look is working with pros to test out hairstyles that will complement your dress and makeup that will look natural yet flawless in photos (and last from the vows through to the last dance). For this reason, hair and makeup trials are an absolute necessity. Even if you’re a die hard DIY bride, go ahead and hand-make the decor, favours, stationery and even the cake, but splurge on the pampering experience of hiring pros to handle your bridal beauty look.”
—Jen O’Brien, executive online editor


Photography by Taylor Jackson.

“Every amazing wedding I’ve attended and every great real wedding I’ve written about always highlights food and drink as a top priority. Trust me, the menu can have a huge impact on how your guests will rate your celebration. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box: for appetizers have food stations highlighting your favourite dishes, and for dessert go all out with a wide range of sweet and savoury options. For drinks, serving personalized cocktails goes a long way. An open bar is a necessity and treating your guests to some nice wine with dinner will also enhance the culinary experience.”
Roseanne Dela Rosa, associate editor 

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