Archive for Jen O'Brien

Swim With Pigs In This Caribbean Honeymoon Paradise

Travel » Honeymoons

caribbean honeymoon in exumas - swim with pigs

Swim with pigs” excursions have drawn thousands of travellers to the Exumas in recent years, but paddling porkers are just one of the many selling points that make this Bahamian archipelago of 365 cays and islands a dream Caribbean honeymoon destination.

Located just 314 miles from Miami and a three-and-a-half-hour flight from Toronto, the Exumas are surrounded by turquoise water with beach views that rival even the most remote South Pacific island. Add to this amazing food and luxurious accommodations and you’ve got an ideal spot for the romantic vacation of a lifetime.

We’ll fill you in on all of bucket-list-worthy itinerary items you need to check out in the Exumas (pigs included).

South America’s Best Non-Beach Honeymoon Destination

Travel » Honeymoons


Some couples were specifically engineered to garner maximum enjoyment from spending days on end sipping daiquiris on the sand, and others…not so much. If your idea of the ultimate vacation means exposure to ancient history and local culture, rather than simply sun and umbrella drinks, Cusco, Peru may just be the non-beach honeymoon destination of your dreams.

Imagine a city nestled in the heart of the Andes with llamas and luxury hotels in equal measure; a place where women in swathed in elaborate traditional garb cradling baby goats perch outside high-end boutiques, and where some of the world’s finest examples of Spanish colonial architecture sit in contrast to rugged mountain peaks – this is Cusco.

Once a backpacker haven used as a precursory stop before the trek to Machu Picchu, this vibrant Peruvian city, the former crown jewel of the Inca Empire, is re-establishing itself as a world-class destination.

From ancient wonders to modern amenities, we’ll show you why this city of contrasts is the ideal non-beach honeymoon destination. Read on to discover everything you need to know to plan the trip of a lifetime in this fascinating part of Peru.

Reem Acra Fall 2017 Wedding Dresses

Fashion & Beauty » Wedding Dresses


Airy fabrics and modern silhouettes dominated the runway at Reem Acra. Overall, the look was ultra-romantic with form-fitting, shoulder-baring bodices and tiered skirts stealing the show.

Typically a skewing towards more dramatic, modern looks, Acra seems to have toned down her signature aesthetic for Fall 2017 in favour of more ethereal designs featuring lace, intricate embroidery and beautifully structured corsets. Subtle colour also made an appearance in Reem Acra’s new line in the form of a dreamy lace gown featuring a layered skirt kissed with lavender.

Photography courtesy of Reem Acra

Houghton Fall 2017 Wedding Dresses

Fashion & Beauty » Wedding Dresses


Katharine Polk took quirky bridal separates into an entirely new stratosphere for Houghton Fall 2017 and the result is a collection of edgy wedding looks not for the faint of heart. According to Polk, the collection, which includes knit sweaters, embroidered silk baseball jackets and hand-painted leather wearable way beyond the wedding day, was inspired by successful, sexy and strong women.

With this new line entitled “Not Your Baby,” brides are encouraged to mix and match slip dresses with motorcycle jackets and top traditional lace gowns with oversize knitwear. Driving home the message of non-conformist bridal style, Polk recruited a group of real women to model her designs.

Photography courtesy of Houghton

2017 Wedding Dress Trend You Need To Know About: Off-The-Shoulder Silhouettes

Fashion & Beauty » Wedding Dresses


Photo via Liancarlo.

If you’ve been to the mall recently you’re likely familiar with off-the-shoulder silhouettes – they’re literally everywhere.

Shoulder-baring looks first emerged on spring 2016 fashion runways and this trend definitely resonated with bridal designers. Spring 2017 bridal runway collections were filled with off-the-shoulder dresses in every style imaginable, from flirty, Coachella-inspired gowns to sleek, form-fitting frocks designed to frame the décolletage.


Photo via Marchesa.

This beautiful embroidered dress from Marchesa’s spring 2017 collection dress is a lovely choice for a laid-back boho wedding. It’s also a great alternative to a traditional strapless gown, allowing you to show a little skin while still taking advantage of a bit of arm coverage.


Photo via Rosa Clara.

On the other end of the spectrum, this Rosa Clara gown illustrates how sleek and chic the off-the-shoulder silhouette can be. The form-fitting design is ultra-flattering and the bow detail at the waist adds a stylish twist that could also be helpful for anyone hoping to camouflage a tummy.

At Francesca Miranda’s spring 2017 show, the off-the-shoulder trend took the form of a flowing, knee-length tent dress with dramatic chiffon bell sleeves.

naeem khan

naeem khan

Naeem Khan, on the other hand, offered up a stunning blush pink off-the-shoulder gown with intricate applique details and just a hint of a sleeve.

Christian Siriano offered yet another interpretation of this wedding dress trend by adding shoulder-framing chiffon sleeves to a classic strapless fit-and-flare silhouette.

Refreshing Cocktail Recipes For Summer Weddings

Planning » Reception Ideas


Parched guests are never pretty. If you’re getting married during the warmer months it’s especially important to take pre- and post-ceremony refreshments into consideration.

Offering up signature drinks is an nice way to welcome guests to your party, and for a summer wedding refreshing, icy cocktails are your best bet. Incorporate fresh fruit garnishes and give the concoction a cute, personalized name that references your new last name, wedding theme or the location of your celebration.

Start by testing out these five refreshing cocktail recipes for summer weddings to get your creative juices flowing.

Epic Spots To Host A Destination Wedding In Costa Rica

Travel » Destination Weddings

destination wedding in costa rica - secrets

With beautiful beaches, lush rainforest surroundings, warm weather year-round and a plethora of affordable accommodation options, it’s no wonder Costa Rica has become a popular destination wedding spot for Canadians. Twenty years ago the country’s venue options were rather limited, but these days Costa Rica boasts a host of new resorts that actually specialize in over-the-top celebrations – these are the types of places whose on-site wedding planners won’t bat an eyelash when you stress the importance of having peonies in your centrepieces and gluten-free meal options for your guests.

Check out the newest full-service resort venues perfect for your destination wedding in Costa Rica.


7 Ways To Have An Instagram-Worthy Honeymoon In Costa Rica

Travel » Honeymoons


During a honeymoon in Costa Rica you’re likely to experience a lot of firsts – your first encounter with a howler monkey in the wild, your first walk on a black sand beach, or maybe your first zip down a rainforest water slide. If you’re a couple that enjoys documenting and sharing all of your adventures together via social media, you’ll find no shortage of photo ops in this fascinating part of Central America.

Twenty-five per cent of Costa Rica’s land is devoted to national parks and within an hour’s drive from Liberia International Airport you’ll find mist-shrouded volcanoes, majestic waterfalls, secluded beaches and overgrown rainforests teeming with exotic wildlife. So where do you even begin your selfie-snapping adventure? We’ll introduce you to seven life-altering experiences you absolutely can’t miss during your honeymoon in Costa Rica.

You Won’t Believe These Wedding Photos Were Shot On An iPhone

Planning » Photo/Video

iphone wedding photos - bride on iphone

Smartphones have undoubtedly shaped the ways in which we experience, and share, pivotal moments in our lives – a fact that is especially obvious at modern weddings.

When is the last time you attended a celebration where guests weren’t vying, iPhones in the air, to capture that perfect photo of the ceremonial kiss or first dance to share via Instagram? With the rise of custom event hashtags and wedding photo-sharing apps, those candid shots snapped by friends and family have actually become an important part of documenting a celebration. But can smartphone snaps ever really stack up to those shot on pro DSLR cameras? Inspired by the recent work of famed Indian wedding photographer Sephi Bergerson, we set out to answer this question. We wanted to see what was possible when Canadian pros were tasked with capturing wedding photos on the world’s most popular camera.

Weddingbells asked three of Canada’s most sought-after wedding photographers, Jennifer Moher from Jennifer Moher Photography in Peterborough, Ontario, Gabe McClintock from Gabe McClintock Photography in Calgary, Alberta and John Yoo from IAMJOHNYOO Wedding Photography in Vancouver, British Columbia, to spend a month snapping celebrations on their iPhones and you won’t believe the results.

Here Moher, McClintock and Yoo share some of their favourite photos shot on iPhone, along with the stories behind them. You’ll learn about the apps and settings these pros used to shoot and edit each image, along with some background on what goes into capturing a great iPhone photo. Whether you’re a professional photographer or just an avid Instagrammer, you’re sure to be amazed and inspired by these shots, many of which were captured on the fly.

4 Reasons Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula Is A Dream Honeymoon Spot

Travel » Honeymoons


With over 1,000 kilometres of coastline, the Yucatan Peninsula lays claim to some of Mexico’s best beaches, from Cancun and Isla Holbox on the northern tip to the Mayan Riviera and Cozumel, but there’s more to this captivating area than spectacular stretches of sand. This 197,600 square kilometre piece of land, which separates the Gulf of Mexico from the Caribbean Sea, is also home to the largest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere and some of Mexico’s most impressive Mayan ruins. Add to this the tropical climate resulting in balmy weather year-round and you’ll understand why this part of the world has become such a treasured tourist destination.

Read on to learn more about what makes the Yucatan Peninsula the perfect place for a dream honeymoon.

Everything You Probably Didn’t Realize You Could Do During A Honeymoon In Cancun

Travel » Honeymoons


Forget everything you thought you knew about Cancun — this popular Spring Break destination has matured.

Founded in 1970, Cancun quickly developed a reputation as one of the world’s most debaucherous travel destinations; but after more than forty years of hard partying, it was time for this coastal area to grow up.

These days, the city is being celebrated for its luxury resorts and world-class restaurants, but don’t think that means that Cancun has forgotten how to have a good time. Mega-clubs and giant margaritas are still easy to come by in the hotel zone, however they no longer define this sun-soaked piece of paradise. Travellers are now relishing the finer things Cancun has to offer — the nearby historical sites, beautiful ocean views, fine tequila rarely found outside Mexico, and beachfront accommodations that are second to none.

Ready to explore a side of Cancun you may have never seen before? Check out these five amazing experiences you probably didn’t know you could have during a honeymoon in Cancun.

The Best Quick Fixes To Get Your Skin Wedding-Ready

Fashion & Beauty » Skin Care & Makeup


Photo via iStockphoto

With everything else that’s on your plate in the lead up to the big day, getting your skin in top shape has probably fallen to the bottom of your to-do list. Not to fear though, even if you’re getting married in the next few weeks there’s still time to solve any lingering skincare concerns so that your complexion is flawless in your wedding photos.

Thanks to a few miracle products and one ground-breaking new skincare treatment, achieving perfect skin in a matter of days has actually never been easier.

We recently sat down with Leala McInernery, senior educator at The International Dermal Institute in Toronto, and asked her to share her favourite quick (yet extremely transformative) skincare fixes with us.

Get A Super-Charged Facial
Want visible results instantly with no down time? Proceed directly to a Dermalogica spa for a 45-minute IonActive Power Treatment. “This is absolutely the strongest system we’ve been able to launch in Canada,” says McInernery. This next-level facial is customized based on each individual’s skincare needs. “We can target aging, oily skin and acne, dehydrated skin and pigmented skin,” she explains. “With this new treatment we’re adding the power of touch, the power of technology and really advanced ingredients. This is definitely for people with more stubborn, challenging skin concerns and it’s also for people who want to target something very quickly. You can even get this treatment done in the week before your wedding.”

“Exfoliating is one of the best things you can do,” says McInernery. “It replenishes and rehydrates the tissue and when you have exfoliated skin it’s really going to increase luminosity – and every bride is after a luminous glow on her wedding day.” McInernery says to avoid strong glycolic acids, which can cause sensitization, and abrasive, gritty drugstore brand exfoliants. Instead opt for a product like Dermalogica’s Daily Resurfacer with pre-measured doses of alpha and beta hydroxy acids and enzymes. “There are 35 pouches in one tin so you can use them every single day leading up to your wedding for bright, nourished, hydrated skin on the big day,” she adds.

Don’t Forget The SPF
McInernery also stresses the importance of keeping up with SPF protection in the lead up to your wedding. “A lot of times we hear people say ‘Oh, I want to have some nice colour for my wedding’ but I’ve also had people calling saying ‘My wedding’s in a few days and I have a really bad sunburn! What should I do?’ The last thing you want is to be red and peeling during your ‘I dos,'” says McInernery.

Do A Masque The Night Before
“Even if you’ve neglected your skin up until the night before your wedding, masquing is one of those options that offers instantaneous results,” says McInernery. “Dermalogica’s new Charcoal Rescue Masque is actually the perfect product for the night before your wedding,” she explains. “It’s an all-in-one masque that detoxifies, purifies, brightens and exfoliates the skin all at the same time so skin looks bright and nourished. It also leaves skin nice and clean for great makeup application.”

Be Careful With Spot Treatments
Expect you might wake up with a huge zit the morning of your wedding? Be prepared with a spot treatment product that’s not going to harm your skin. “Look for products that are benzoyl peroxide free,” says McInernery. “Benzoyl peroxide is an amazing ingredient but it tends to cause skin to peel and a lot of times people over use it and this can cause scabbing and even scarring.”

Invest In An Eye Cream With Caffeine
“Eye treatments with caffeine in them will actually help to reduce puffiness around the eye area so even if you’re emotional while getting ready in the morning your eyes will stay looking fresh,” says McInernery.

A Fancy DIY Wedding In Vancouver

Real Weddings

fancy diy wedding - bride and groom

Muted colours and whimsical details came together to create Maggie and Brian’s dream wedding day. “We’re a little offbeat and quirky so we wanted to have a kind of old-world-fancy meets current-day-youthful feel to the wedding,” Maggie explains.

Maggie and Brian settled on Cecil Green Park House for their celebration. “It was like our own private roaring twenties mansion with fairytale gardens all to ourselves,” says Maggie. The pair filled their space with hand-crafted decor including custom cake toppers created by a friend and a reclaimed wood welcome sign, which was handmade by the bride and her bridesmaids.

Reflecting on their celebration, the couple note that one of the best parts of their day was also probably the quirkiest. “We individually have our favourite moments, but our favourite ‘us’ moment was at the end of the evening when most of the guests had wished us well, celebrated, and gone home leaving a small group of our friends. We got together and went downtown to get some poutine,” Maggie remembers. “Being happy, in love, and able to share our lives with our close friends continues to be our favourite part of our marriage,” she adds.

Maggie Kan and Brian Kam, August 29, 2014, Vancouver, British Columbia.

Photography courtesy of Tomasz Wagner Photo & Films.

Ceremony and reception location: Cecil Green Park House
Bridal gown: Mikaella Bridal from The Bridal Gallery
Bridal party attire: Modcloth
Groom’s suit: Indochino
Catering: Catering by Wescadia
Cake: The Cake & The Giraffe
Music: DJ Soulfunkee and DJ Miss M
Hair and makeup: Sweet Styling Space
Flowers: Celsia Florist
Stationery: Design by Dainty
Favours: DIY
Decor: DIY
Rentals: Bespoke Decor Rentals
Day-of coordinator: Robyn Lemon from Smitten Events

A Gorgeous Boho Wedding In New Brunswick

Real Weddings

boho wedding - bride and groom

Stefanie and Marc knew from the outset that they wanted a wedding with a relaxed, bohemian vibe. “We both come from small, country towns and loved the idea of having an intimate and simple wedding,” Stefanie explains. “Our colours were purple and turquoise. There was no real reason behind our colour choice, but they were both colours that we liked.”

When the couple’s wedding day drew near they were initially upset to hear that the weather forecast was less than favourable. “Generally, summers in New Brunswick are hot and humid and we planned our wedding with this in mind; however, our day called for a 70 percent chance of rain and a high of 15 degrees celsius!” exclaims Stefanie. “This wasn’t going to stop us, though. We did all of the decorating the day before with the help of family and friends and at the end of that day decided to put up a tent for our ceremony to protect us from the elements. The tent actually helped us in creating the atmosphere we had hoped for: a small, intimate, wedding with close friends and family.”

“As we danced the night away, rain began to trickle,” Stefanie remembers. “At that moment, our amazing photographer, Shannon-May, came running over to grab us saying, ‘This is the moment we have been waiting for!’ We didn’t mind getting a little dirty or wet. The photos that came of this moment left us both speechless. Everyone always wants perfect weather for their wedding day, but as you can tell from the photographs, we couldn’t of asked for a better day!”

Stefanie Jene Swain and Marc Joseph William Doucette, July 18, 2015, St. Stephen, New Brunswick.

Photography courtesy of Shannon-May Photography.

Ceremony and reception location: Ganong Nature Park
Bridal gown: Grace Loves Lace
Groom’s suit: Simons
Cake: Imagine…Cupcakes
Caterer: Niger Reef Tea House
Wedding planner: Celebrations by Sarah
Favours: DIY wine
Music: DJ Noematus
Hair and makeup: Judy Goodine-McCarty from Luxe Day Spa & Salon
Flowers: Geraldine and Larry Parks and Lori Mehan
Stationery: Cleary Lane Invitation & Paper Co.
Celebrant: Selina Ashurst from Tree of Life Celebrant Ceremonies