Archive for Alison McGill

What Does A Fashion Expert Wear On Her Wedding Day? We’ll Show You!

Fashion & Beauty » Wedding Dresses


What does a national TV personality and one of Canada’s top fashion experts wear on her wedding day? That is exactly what we wanted to know when we dropped by Kleinfeld Hudson’s Bay‘s exclusive photo shoot with CTV personality Erica Wark. Wark, a fashion stylist on The Social—who has also appeared on The Marilyn Denis Show, etalk and styled celebrities including Kiesza—is getting married this July 11th to her long-time sweetheart Corey Laurysen. For the shoot, Wark modeled eight diverse dress styles and silhouettes—some traditional, some alternative—in the search for her dream dress. While we were on set with Wark, we asked about her aisle style philosophy and the fashion advice she has for other brides.

On her bridal style: “I would say it’s definitely more alternative—I love something that’s less formal and more unique. I guess I would describe my style as more red carpet than bridal. I love the idea of a dress that is something truly special and fashion-forward.”

On wedding dress shopping challenges: “I wouldn’t say I’ve had any challenges per se. I am more surprised by how many amazing options there are to choose from! It’s hard to narrow down so many incredible options to just one.”

On her favourite look from the shoot: “This shoot was amazing because I tried on lots of gowns I would never have tried before. I loved having the choice of going from traditional silhouettes to avant garde ensembles. I loved them all, but if I had to choose, I would say the beaded Naeem Khan because it’s a show stopper!

On dress shopping in general: “Go in with an open mind and try on lots of different shapes, styles and silhouettes to give yourself the opportunity to find the perfect fit.”

Photography David Pike courtesy of Kleinfeld Hudson’s Bay. Hair Ryan Dowell. Makeup Rachel Renna from FACEatelier at Kleinfeld Hudson’s Bay. Styling Jessica Mulroney for Kleinfeld Hudson’s Bay. Shot on location at the Arcadian Loft.

5 Things Every Bride Should Know About Wedding Dress Shopping

Fashion & Beauty » Wedding Dresses


Photo courtesy of Verve Photo Co. As seen in this real wedding. Dress from White, Toronto.

After the excitement of your engagement settles and you’ve picked your venue, it’s finally time for the moment every bride waits for: dress shopping! While this is definitely one of the most fun parts of wedding planning, it can also be one of the most stressful if you head into the experience unprepared. To ensure dress success and a dream shopping experience, we asked Andrea Anastasiou fashion stylist and owner of White, Toronto and White, Montreal what you should start thinking about before even scheduling that first atelier appointment.

1. Keep to a schedule. “I advise brides to schedule the start of the dress-shopping process eight to 10 months from the wedding day. This allows you to visit various shops and keeps you from stressing about ordering time once you find the dress you love. This time frame also helps brides factor in final details like the alterations, which are just as crucial to the process.”

2. Know that your venue will dictate your wedding style. “You must consider what type of venue you are getting married in and what type of dress is suitable to the setting,” Anastastiou says. “If you’re tying the knot on a tropical island you are going to want to avoid wearing a full ballgown with a never-ending train. If you’ve having a big wedding with a black-tie theme, you will want to kick up the wow factor to another level. Venue and wedding style have a huge connection!”

3. Prepare to share your research and ideas. “This is the first thing you need to do when you meet with your retailer and consultant so be prepared,” Anastasiou explains. “You should have a good idea of what you like and what you don’t.  Once you begin working with your consultant, don’t be afraid to trust some of the suggestions he or she will give you. You may find these suggestions lead you to a dream dress you would never have considered, which makes for a totally amazing shopping experience.”

4. Think carefully about who to bring shopping with you. “Limit your first bridal appointment to your bestie or a few people you really trust,” Anastasiou says. “There’s nothing worse than having a disappointing first experience trying on dresses, and then getting overwhelmed by other people’s opinions.  Everything about your first appointment should be happy.”

5. Keep your budget in mind. “It’s important to have your budget in mind at all times as well as a realistic idea of what you are willing to spend on your wedding dress,” Anastasiou stresses. “You need to share this with your bridal consultant who will help keep the budget on track and prevent the shopping experience from being a frustrating one. There is nothing worse than falling in love with a gown that you can’t afford and then forever comparing every other gown you try to it. Save yourself the heartache.”

How To Plan A Destination Wedding In The Bahamas

travel » Destination Weddings

If you can picture your feet in the warm white sand while the waves splash onto the shore as you get married, the Bahamas is the place for you.

Here we’ll fill you in on everything you need to know to plan your dream destination wedding in the Bahamas, from the legalities to the costs involved.

The best time to go: The rainy season in the Bahamas runs from the middle of May until the end of October. This is when there is high humidity and the possibility of showers most days. Hurricane season is from June until November and during this time the chance of rain increases further. The best time to tie the knot in the Bahamas and have the weather cooperate would be in April or early May.

The flight: Both WestJet and Air Canada offer daily service to Nassau from Toronto and the flight time is roughly three hours. Once in Nassau, it’s easy to travel on to other islands via a local carrier like Bahamasair. Most of the islands are a quick flight away from each other (ie. travel time from Nassau to North Eleuthra, the destination closest to Harbour Island, is 20 minutes!)

The legal paperwork: In order to legally be married in the Bahamas, it’s a good idea to ask for the help of a Bahamas wedding destination planner in order to forgo the headache of planning figuring out the paperwork yourself. If you choose to take on the task yourself you’ll need to start by applying for a marriage license. You will also need an Apostille, a special seal applied by the authority to certify that the marriage document is a copy of the original. Both parties must also present a valid passport, birth certificate, and photo identification. You must also show evidence of your arrival date in the Bahamas and have two witnesses over the age of 18 to sign your marriage license, whether it be family and friends, or two provided witnesses.

The local customs: The yellow elder is the national flower of the Bahamas and is very popular choice for bouquets and centrepieces. As for music, Junkanoo, a fun and expressive style of percussion with African influence, is the local music of the Bahamas and one that many couples enjoy working into their celebrations. Include a Junkanoo rush-out — a parade of musicians in masks with cowbells, whistles and drums, to add some traditional flair to your wedding day. Now that the music and flowers are taken care of, you can’t forget about the food. The Bahamas has a wide array of cuisines that feature spice and seafood. The most popular food in the Bahamas is conch, a large ocean mollusk, which is commonly eaten raw with spices and citrus. Rock lobster, coconut and rum are also featured at many Bahamian weddings.

The budget: The cost for a destination celebration in the Bahamas can cost as little as $5,000 (for an intimate daytime wedding) to $25,000 and up—it really depends on the size and scope of your celebration. Virtually all resorts offer destination wedding and honeymoon packages, which include on-site planners to help you execute each and every details of your day.

The venue: The newest and buzziest wedding venue in the Bahamas is at Atlantis Resort Paradise Island, which has recently opened Ocean’s Edge, a gorgeous new event space exclusively for weddings. This space includes a beautiful indoor pavilion, which can be used for ceremonies with up to 120 guests or receptions with up to 60 guests. Ocean’s Edge also features a beach deck and event lawn, which both can host up to 150 reception guests. All spaces can customized by the Love Atlantis weddings team. The team will work with you to plan catering, guest accommodations and your Atlantis honeymoon—we recommend the Cove Honeymoon Escape package for an amazing VIP experience. Also, happening for 2015, Atlantis is offering Canadians some amazing travel savings to help you make your dream honeymoon in paradise a reality.

Bahamas Wedding and Honeymoon Guide

View more from our Bahamas Wedding and Honeymoon Guide ›

A Guide To Wedding Bouquet Types

planning » Bouquets & Flowers

bouquet types - classic

Chances are until you started planning your wedding, you didn’t know there were so many different types of bouquets to choose from. From classic to cascading arm arrangements, there are a number of styles to choose from. So which type of bouquet is best for your particular celebration? We asked Joseph Delarge, owner of eco|stems, an environmentally-sustainable flower shop in Toronto, to explain which arrangements work best for each type of wedding. Read on for the ultimate wedding petal primer.

Unique Wedding Ideas That Haven’t Been Done A Million Times Before



When it comes to what’s hip in the wedding world there is always room for more beautiful inspiration. Madeleine Kojakian, founder and creative director of Maddy K events in Montreal and Toronto (she is expanding her business into Ontario this year) and the Bridal Boudoir Affair, says for 2015 she’s encouraging brides to think about unique and different trends that will make their wedding standout. “Last year was the era of blush, gold and cream weddings,” Maddy says. “The palette is beautiful, but everyone has done it. This year it’s time for a shakeup!”

Here Maddy shares some unique wedding ideas that will make your 2015 party an incredible one.

Embellished Wedding Gowns Guaranteed To Make A Statement

Fashion & Beauty » Wedding Dresses


From flirty paillettes to delicate crystals and everything in between, embellishments were seen on just about every 2015 bridal runway. Whether you’re opting for a strapless mini or a voluminous ballgown with sleeves, there are a number of different ways to interpret the embellished wedding gown trend. Consider picking a dress with strategically placed appliques, embroidery and shimmer to play up your best assets. These nine gowns, shot against the backdrop of gorgeous Bal Harbour, Florida, represent some of the most beautiful embellished creations available for 2o15 weddings.

Photography by Gabor Jurina. Styling by Tara Williams. Hair, makeup and nails by Bo from Creative Management @MC2 using Chanel, Privé and MAC lacquer. Special thanks to the Village of Bal Harbour and Andrea Stevens from Jane Gill & Associates.

10 New Fragrances To Match Every Bridal Style

Fashion & Beauty » Skin Care & Makeup


Finding a signature wedding day perfume should be high on your list of bridal beauty to-dos. Just think of all the hugs you’ll be doling out on your big day! To kick off the year, we’ve rounded up 10 of the freshest new fragrances. Whether you’re a whimsical, sophisticated, or boho bride, there’s a scent out there to perfectly match your style. Read on to find your ideal bridal fragrance.

Beautiful Wedding Updos For 2015 Celebrations

Fashion & Beauty » Hairstyles


This season the only way is up when it comes to gorgeous wedding hair. For 2015, the prettiest bridal updos are wispy and undone. Our favourite styles include boho braids, a voluminous ponytail and a sexy, mile-high updo. Read on to discover how to wear these versatile new styles, which would be equally appropriate at a beach wedding or black tie affair.

Photography by Chris Nicholls. Styling by Vanessa Taylor. Hair by Justin German for Pantene/ Makeup by Grace Lee, Official Makeup Artist for Maybelline New York Canada/Plutino Group. Styling assistance by Holly Cheung. First published in the Spring & Summer issue of Weddingbells.

Inside ‘Say Yes To The Dress Canada’

Fashion & Beauty


We know you’ve been waiting for this one: Say Yes to the Dress Canada premieres January 7th at 10 pm ET on W Network with back-to-back episodes and you can absolutely count on lots of tulle, tears and, of course, drama. Filmed on location at Amanda-Lina’s Sposa Boutique in Woodbridge, Ontario, the Canadian version of SYTTD stars owner Rachelle Pollari, her husband Brian (the company president) and their team of seven bridal consultants. Also on the show and part of the Say Yes to the Dress Canada team is Joseph Spencer, bridal stylist extraordinaire, who helps turn each and every bride on the show into a real life Cinderella.

With years of fashion experience working for retailers including Chanel and Holt Renfrew, the charming Spencer (who has dressed glamour girls including Bette Midler, Patti Labelle and Aretha Franklin) is a natural fit for the show and is full of amazing bridal advice. We sat down with him to talk about the show and glean a few expert aisle style tips.

WB: How would you describe your role on Say Yes to the Dress?

JS: “My job is to make a bride and her style pop! In most episodes, the bride has already chosen her gown when I meet her so I’m brought in to consult on finishing the look. I tell her what I love about the gown on her and what I think she needs to finish the look and make it magical.”

WB: What challenges do most brides face when it comes to choosing a dress?

JS: “Families often get involved and that’s where things can get dramatic. I always support my brides, back up their decisions, make suggestions where necessary, but in the end it’s all about what the bride wants.”

WB: What is the most important thing for a woman to keep in mind when shopping for her dream dress?

JS: “You need to keep an open mind when shopping and consider dress styles and silhouettes that you may not have ever considered. Try things on, have fun, play and experiment because often times the dress you think you want is not the one you end up with.”

WB: When it comes to accessorizing, it there one piece that you feel always completes the bridal look?

JS: “A veil. It is the one thing that a lot of brides don’t think they want, but once they put it on, the look is simply magical. I believe it’s the ultimate finishing touch for a bridal look.”

Wedding Style Trends For 2015

Fashion & Beauty

2015 wedding trends - style - ear cuffs

Photo by Alvaro Goveia.

This year, when it comes to bridal fashion and beauty, the vibe is classic with a modern edge. Beautiful dress silhouettes that show some skin, unexpected statement jewellery, and a new twist on the traditional ponytail are just a few of the wedding style trends that will continue to build momentum over the coming year. More than ever before, bridal trends are influenced (and even dictated) by fashion runways and what’s happening on the red carpet and in pop culture.

Our first wedding style trend: Dresses that show some skin.

How To Take The Perfect Engagement Ring Selfie

engagement » Fashion & Beauty » Jewellery

He asked, you said yes, then naturally you snapped a selfie! However, it wasn’t until he slipped that sparkler on your finger that you realized how difficult taking the perfect engagement ring selfie is. “Hands aren’t always photogenic and tend to be tricky to flatter and pose,” says Rita Remark, the lead nail artist for Essie Canada who regularly creates fashion-forward, photo-ready manicures for Canada’s top fashion and beauty magazines.

We asked Remark for her essential tips for engagement ring selfies. From the right way to pose hands, to the best shade of nail polish. Read her expert advice before you start posting:

What are the key elements for a successful ring selfie?
“When taking an engagement selfie, it’s important that the ring is the focal point — you want to be sure it dazzles! When it comes to hand placement, never hyperextend your fingers in a star position because it emphasizes your knuckles and shortens your fingertips. Instead, try shooting your hands flat with a gentle bend in the knuckles or, better yet, holding something like a glass of celebratory champagne. Natural lighting is always best and never use a flash because it will bounce too much light off of your ring and give the image a harsh contrast.”

Are there any tricks for giving fingers an elongated appearance?
“A great illusion for making fingers look longer is an oval or almond nail shape. If you have small hands, a square nail shape can actually make your fingers appear stubby or blunted. Oval nails give elegance and have a high-heeled effect on your hands.”

What shade(s) of nail polish do you recommend to make a diamond ring pop?
“It’s important not to out-shine the ring with vibrant neon or a high-impact glitter. Make the ring the entire focus of the photo by choosing a nude like Essie Topless & Barefoot or Mademoiselle for a fresh and feminine look. You could also choose a colour that complements your ring like a playful Tiffany-inspired blue or a classic red — I love Essie A List.”

Do you recommend an accent nail on the ring finger to make the bling really pop?
When considering nail art for an engagement selfie, remember to keep it simple and chic rather than bold and distracting. I love blending colour and metallics with classic nail art looks for a trendy, yet timeless, look. Try a blue polish with a silver moon. I also recommend a two-tone French manicure like the one seen on the runway at Wes Gordon in New York. The mattified red with a shiny burgundy tip was very sophisticated. If you’d like to keep it simple, try a ring finger accent nail with a small crystal near the cuticle.”

What’s your favourite Instagram filter for engagement ring selfies?
My favourite filters are Valencia and Nashville. I love Valencia because it brightens the photo and gives a warm glow that’s both flattering and romantic. I love Nashville because it also brightens the photo, but gives a slight hint of blue that brightens and whitens everything from teeth to the tips of your nails. It’s important to remember to choose a filter that doesn’t deepen, or over-colour to make it distracting (like the Kelvin filter) and to always forgo the frame option to keep the focus on the photo.”


A Fun, Colourful Wedding In Toronto, Ontario

real weddings

Fun Colourful Wedding - bride and groom

As Weddingbells’ associate editor, Roseanne Dela Rosa has seen more than her fair share of weddings, so when it came to planning her own party, brainstorming exactly what it would look like proved more challenging than she thought. “Jay-R and I could not decide what type of wedding to have,” Roseanne laughs. “At Weddingbells I look after the real weddings content for the magazine. Over the years I’ve saved every idea I loved. The problem was, while everything was beautiful, none were us.”

After much creative thought the pair decided to let their life-loves shape their day. “We planned a wedding that was totally personal,” Roseanne smiles. “A fun, modern party packed with details for everyone to enjoy. Their wedding day started with the two meeting up pre-ceremony for first-look wedding photos. “We wanted to be super-traditional and see each other for the first time at the church, but our wedding timeline was tight, so we decided to take some photos beforehand. It was the BEST decision. We had time to soak everything in.”

The couple’s 270 guests watched the couple say “I do” in a traditional ceremony. Roseanne and Jay-R confirm it was the most important part of their day. “We said our vows in front of God, our family, our friends—we wouldn’t have had it any other way,” Roseanne says. The church aisles were decorated with pillar candles wrapped in pretty green garlands to create a dreamy ambience, and the couple had a live band as part of their ceremony, too. “The music was an important element for us and we selected songs to match the romantic mood.”

When it came to planning the reception, finding an unadorned space they could transform into Roseanne’s perfect vision was key, and she found it in The Warehouse. “Our jewel-toned colour palette was very Kate Spade–influenced—emerald green, navy blue, mustard yellow and coral with hits of gold, sparkles and polka dots,” Roseanne says. Gigantic balloons (ranging in size from three to eight feet in diameter) floated on the ceiling above guests as they dined. Tall vases filled with lush greens and berries anchored each table. The couple created a lounge area for guests outfitted with fanciful DIY details likes a propped photo booth and hand-painted “RO&JAY” signage. The custom-crafted dance floor was another centrepiece of their wedding decor. “We had a black-and-white checkered pattern with the words ‘and so the adventure begins’ written across it,” Roseanne recounts.

Two other elements both the couple and guests admit were favourites: the same-day-edit video and a most epic dessert table. The video—produced by In the Moment Productions—featured beautiful moments from the day that happened up until about an hour before airing. As for the sweet table, it measured 18 feet and was stocked with all of Roseanne’s favourite treats.

“I am the queen of sweets so I wanted to treat guests to all the sugary things I love,” Roseanne admits. “I worked with three bakers to create it: Flour Studio, Patricia’s Cake Creations, and Nadia & Co.” There were multiple cakes (including a surprise groom’s cake that was Toronto Raptors-themed), cupcakes, mini cupcakes, cake pops, brownies, Rice Krispies squares, macarons, cookies and more.

The couple and their guests enjoyed dancing into the wee hours to the sounds of the All Star Band. After a few days’ rest post-party, the newlyweds jetted to Hawaii, a destination on their bucket list for years—an extra sweet ending to the sweetest of celebrations.

Roseanne Dela Rosa and Joseph Ricasio, September 20, 2014, Toronto, Ontario.

Photography courtesy of Photobolic

Ceremony location: St. Joseph the Worker Parish
Reception location:
The Warehouse Venue
Balloons: Balloon Trix
Bridal gown: 
Anais Anette from Vogue Sposa
Bridesmaid dresses: Alfred Sung from Best for Bride
Cakes: Flour Studio, Nadia & Co., Patricia’s Cake Creations
Calligraphy: The Lettering Studio
Helix Candles
Caterer: Yorkshire Pudding Catering
Dance floor: Dance Floor Decor
Day-of coordinator: Platinum Events Group
Emcees: JC Yulo and RD Dimen
Flour Studio
Groom’s tux: 
Hair and makeup: A Glow By Joan
Lights: Chris Hollywood Productions
The Linen Closet
Music: Allstar Band
Rings: Emilian Jewellery 
Videography: ITM Productions

Roseanne + Jay-R – The Same-Day Edit from Inthemoment Productions on Vimeo.

5 Common Proposal Mistakes To Avoid



Rings from Ecksand. Photo by Carlo Mendoza. First published in Weddingbells‘ Spring & Summer 2015 issue.

This one is for the boys (so if you have a friend that might be proposing to his girl….or you’d like to drop a few hints to your boyfriend, tune them in!). Engagement season is officially upon us, with December being one the biggest month for proposals (our 2014 reader survey revealed that 18 percent of men will pop the question this month). As you well know, proposals today are an event unto themselves. The can be big orchestrated affairs (think flash mobs, the Jumbotron and movie screens); or quiet, intimate moments between just the two of you. Whatever route is decided for a proposal, there are definitely a list of things you should NOT do—here are five common proposal mistakes to avoid.

1. Don’t embarass your bride-to-be. Though you may feel pressure to plan a big, bold proposal, make sure it’s something that she would want and be comfortable with. It is an incredibly personal moment for a couple and she may want it to be a private and romantic event just the two of you share in. Do your research and find out what you think will wow her.

2. Don’t plan your proposal alone. Chose one person to be your proposal confidante, someone you can trust to keep your news private and also to give you honest feedback on what you are planning. It may be your best friend, her best friend, a sister, brother, mother or father, but we recommend having a wingman on this one to help keep you on track and focused.

3. Don’t forget to talk to her family. While yes, this is an old tradition, it’s still one that is very much in play. Having the pre-proposal chat with your future in-laws is just good business and a great way to enter into the next phase of your relationship with her family.

4. Don’t buy a ring without doing your research! An engagement ring and wedding band are two of the most important pieces of jewellery a woman will ever own. She’s going to wear her engagement ring everyday and you want to be sure she adores it. According to our 2014 reader survey, 39 percent of brides were involved in picking out their engagement ring. We suggest closely listening to her thoughts on her friends rings and celebrity engagement rings to get a feel for what she likes and you may want to even do a little window-shopping with her to determine her cut, gem and metal preference.

5. Don’t forget to make a post-proposal celebration plan. Immediately following the proposal, share your news with the key people in your lives with a phone call (texting is easy but still not so personal). Once you’ve done that, it’s safe to change your Facebook status and post Instagram engagement ring selfies. Your engagement is just the beginning of months of celebrations that will lead up to your wedding day—sit back and enjoy the ride.

How To Shop A Bridal Designer Trunk Show

Fashion & Beauty » Wedding Dresses

how_to_shop_wedding_dress_trunk_showPhotography by Chris Nicholls. Dress and veil by Oscar de la Renta from White Toronto. First published in Weddingbells’ Fall & Winter 2013 issue.

As you’ve been on the hunt for your wedding dress you’ve likely come across several retailers offering designer trunk shows. These are typically weekend events (Friday through Sunday are the days most bridal trunk shows run) where a specific designer collection is showcased and promoted by a retailer giving you the chance to get up close and personal with the dresses, the designer or a representative from the company who is a bridal fashion specialist.

We recently attended Engage!14 in the Cayman Islands and gleaned some tips for shopping a bridal trunk show from Tara Maietta, global bridal sales director for Oscar de la Renta. “A trunk show is an opportunity to see a designer’s most recent bridal collection before it is available in market,” Maietta shares. “These dresses are the newest of the new, and are designs that the retailer does not yet have in stock—think of it as a special designer preview.”

Maietta says a bridal trunk show will feature an extensive collection of gowns by a designer and can be more than a little overwhelming if you are not prepared when you head into the shopping experience. Here are her three essential tips for successfully navigating a bridal trunk show.

Do your research. “Look at the designer’s collections and figure out what you love about them. Come prepared with an idea of specific dress styles and designs. It’s so important to pre-shop a designer before you commit to booking a trunk show appointment.”

Bring your decision maker with you. “Trunk shows are typically very busy events so there isn’t room for you to bring a lot of people with you to your appointment. Bring your number one confidante with you to your appointment who will provide you with honest feedback.”

Prepare to commit. Trunk shows typically offer special event pricing and incentives. Often times the designer or company representative will be able to make custom changes to gowns that would not be available at another time. Gifts with purchase can include a veil, shoes or another amazing bridal accessory. All of these offers are only available during that trunk show weekend so you have to be ready to make a decision.”