Archive for Nicole Keen

Wedding Checklist: Last-Minute Tasks to Complete

planning » Reception Ideas

As you go through the planning process you will realize there are two major waves of craziness: one soon after your engagement as you scramble to secure a venue and find your dream dress (at this point your wedding checklist will be long and slightly overwhelming!), and another in the final month or so leading up to your big day. In the last weeks before the main event, many of the major tasks on your wedding checklist have been taken care of, and it’s time to turn your attention to the finer planning details (like deciding on certain elements of the decor and picking your bridal accessories). This is also your opportunity to follow up with your vendors and make sure everyone is on the same page regarding delivery details, expectations, etc. As a fellow bride in the home stretch of planning (my wedding day is just three weeks from today!), my final piece of advice is this: take a deep breath and try to enjoy this time with your mister and other loved ones. Enlist their help so you can spend quality time together as you tackle your wedding checklist. I guarantee your nearest and dearest will be happy to assist as you make banners or wrap favours or print place cards! Afraid you’re forgetting something? Here are a few last-minute to-dos to cross off your wedding checklist if your big day is four to six weeks away.

Helpful Tips for Picking Your Wedding Colour Scheme



After setting a date and picking a venue, one of the most important decisions that lies ahead is selecting a colour scheme for your wedding. The colours you pick should enhance your celebration, reflect your personality and tie all the elements of your day together. Here are six pointers to help you pick your perfect palette.

1. Consider Your Location.

Your venue sets the tone for your celebration, so it’s important to choose accent colours that work with the space. If there are elements of the space that can’t be changed (i.e. carpet, drapery, upholstery), you would be wise to start there and select colours that won’t clash! Is your venue old or new? Are you getting married inside or outside? The answers to these questions can put you on the right path to choosing your colours. For instance, a heritage building with lots of heavy wooden trim will likely look best with rich colours like gold and burgundy, whereas an outdoor ceremony calls for light airy colours like white and green.

2. Stay in Harmony with the Season.

What time of year are you tying the knot? This is another great place to start when it comes to choosing your colours. If you’re getting married in the fall, look to the turning leaves for colour inspiration and incorporate vibrant shades of yellow and orange. A springtime wedding, on the other hand, is perfectly suited to pretty pastel colours such as lavender, pistachio green and pale pink.

3. Create the Right Mood.

What type of celebration are you planning? Classic shades like ivory and navy blue convey a sophisticated air, while bright colours like Kelly green and hot pink are perfect for a funky fete. The right colour scheme is an easy way to create a certain ambience for your wedding. Want to know more about colour theory? Check out a colour psychologist’s advice here.

4. Think of Your Bridesmaids.

Don’t decide on a specific shade without considering your bridesmaids—especially if you expect them to wear the hue from head to toe! Each bridesmaid’s hair colour, eye colour and skin tone will affect how a certain colour looks on her, which is why you should choose a shade that flatters everyone equally or give them some options. For example, you can choose several shades of blue—from cobalt to baby blue—so there’s something for everyone. Also, Dessy has an ingenious way to make sure you and your bridesmaids are on the same page (no more squabbling about what coral looks like!). Through Dessy’s website you can order Pantone Wedding Chiplettes to distribute to your girls (and your vendors). Each Chiplette represents a specific Pantone colour (with a number), and each one corresponds with matching Dessy products such as bridesmaid dresses, ballet flats, etc.

5. Limit Your Options.

There are so many incredible colours to choose from that it’s easy to get carried away. Just remember, unless you’re planning a rainbow-themed wedding, you’ll want to be selective with your colours. As a rule of thumb, pick one main colour and two accent shades. You want your decor to look pulled together, not chaotic!

6. Get Inspired by Your Bouquet.

When in doubt, look to your favourite flower to establish a colour palette. This is a simple way to start narrowing down your colour options. For example, if red roses are a must-have, you might want to avoid green and white accents for fear of creating a Christmas vibe. Likewise, if you’re determined to have sunflowers in your bouquet, pastel bridesmaid dresses probably aren’t going to work.

Wedding Colours: 5 Common Blunders to Avoid


Deciding on your wedding colours early in the planning process is crucial. The wedding colours you choose will determine your stationery, your flowers, your bridesmaid dresses and more. Narrowing down your options can be challenging, especially when you have an entire rainbow at your disposal. Luckily for you, the rules aren’t as hard and fast as they used to be—almost anything goes when it comes to wedding colours so pick hues that express your personality. That being said, there are some guidelines to follow that will help you from committing a colour crime on your wedding day! Without further ado, here are five common blunders to avoid when picking your wedding colours. Please note, each of these photos represents a do not a don’t!

Brag-Worthy Marriage Proposal Ideas Using Props


marriage proposal fortune cookie

A few key props can come in handy when it comes to creating the perfect marriage proposal, and there are tons of original ways to say “Will you marry me?” Tried-and-true approaches like putting the ring in a champagne flute or perched atop a slice of cheesecake could do the trick, but why not present a personalized Kinder Egg or custom crossword instead? And who could say “no” to a beloved family pet with a diamond ring on its collar? Without further ado, here are 10 creative ways to use props to craft a brag-worthy marriage proposal.

A Rustic-Meets-Urban Wedding in Toronto

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When Nicole and Jan embarked on a road trip through the Canadian Rockies,  she had no idea he was planning on popping the question. For their last night out West, the two checked into the scenic Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise—a property Nicole had always dreamed of visiting—where Jan surprised her with a beautiful engagement ring. “As soon as I saw the ring I realized why he had been carrying a backpack everywhere,” she laughs. “He had it on him the entire time!”

In search of inspiration, Nicole started perusing bridal blogs and found herself drawn to weddings with a rustic esthetic. She loved the idea of getting married on a farm, but wasn’t sure she could find the perfect venue near their home base in Milton, Ontario. For a time the couple toyed with the idea of a destination wedding, “but it just didn’t feel like us,” Nicole muses.

Returning to her original concept, she typed “weddings in a barn” into Google, and lo and behold a property 2o minutes away popped up—the aptly named Weddings in a Barn, located in Cambridge. “It was everything I had imagined,” Nicole explains. “I knew right away we had to have our wedding there.”

With the ideal ceremony location locked down, Nicole turned her attention to creating personal touches and DIY elements for their special day. To give loved ones a taste of what was to come, Jan and Nicole chose rustic wooden wedding invites packaged in boxes filled with moss. The invite packages also included hand-drawn maps folded into heart shapes courtesy of the maid of honour. Other crafty projects included send-off flags, which guests waved at the happy couple post-ceremony, and snack packs containing apples and cookies. “The snacks were to keep our guests energized,” Nicole confides.

Her bridesmaids helped pull everything together—they even hand-tied their bouquets of baby’s breath. For her own bouquet Nicole entrusted the professionals at Eco Stems to create a natural-looking arrangement. “I wanted my bouquet to look effortless, like I had just walked through a garden and picked out some flowers,” she explains.

On the day of the wedding 100 guests joined Nicole and Jan beneath the barn’s soaring beams to witness the two say “I do.” Following their vows, and some amazing photo ops in the surrounding countryside, the newlyweds and company hit the road for the urban portion of the celebration—a rocking reception at downtown Toronto’s Drake Hotel.

“A typical banquet hall wouldn’t have been a good fit,” Nicole admits. “The Drake has a lot of personality so we knew it would be perfect. Plus, we used to go there a lot when we were first dating.” The hotel’s mouth-watering culinary offerings also sweetened the deal—guests were treated to such delights as a pulled pork buffet, macaroni and cheese and corn dogs.

After dinner everyone was lured onto the dance floor by Jan’s personalized playlist—an eclectic mix of hip hop, house and oldies. Nicole and Jan didn’t plan on having a first dance but the crowd insisted, so their first twirl to Robin Thicke’s “U Center Me” turned out to be a highlight of the evening.

“During the song our 18-month-old daughter River wandered onto the dance floor and joined us,” Nicole recalls. “She is such an important part of our lives. She represents the best of both of us, so it made perfect sense for us to have a first dance of three.”

Nicole Fajardo and Jan Almanzor, August 19, 2012, Toronto, Ontario.

Photography courtesy of All This Happiness Studios.

Ceremony location: Weddings in a Barn
Reception location: The Drake Hotel
Bridal gown: Allure Bridals at Ritché
Caterer: The Drake Hotel
Flowers: Eco Stems
Groom’s attire: Holt Renfrew
Hair and makeup: Unbridled Images
Stationery: Wood Chick Studios

See more photos from this laid-back urban wedding in Toronto, Ontario.

A Vintage Wedding In Treherne, Manitoba

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Bride and Groom

Caleigh and Chad’s relationship epitomizes modern romance—the two first met on Facebook! “I accepted his friend request, and we were pen pals for a few months before we met in person,” Caleigh explains. When it came time to propose, Chad presented Caleigh with a very special Kinder Surprise egg containing a beautiful Claddagh ring. Naturally, the happy couple decided to hand out Kinder Surprise eggs as wedding favours. While that decision came easily, Caleigh struggled to commit to a colour palette. “It took me forever to decide on colours. I kept changing my mind,” she discloses. Eventually, she chose grey, pink and navy blue for her “enchanted forest under the stars” theme. To achieve the desired look, the couple’s colours were combined with twinkle lights, moss and ivy—and Caleigh donned a sparkly gown.

Caleigh McCreery & Chad Cnudde, June 1, 2013,Treherne, Manitoba.

Photography courtesy of Memories by Me Photography.

Ceremony location: Treherne United Church (204-723-2224)
Reception location:
Holland Community Hall  (204-526-2384)
Bridal gown:
Demetrios from Stella’s Bridal
Groom’s attire: Black by Vera Wang from Moores
Cake: Cake Studio
Music: DJ Dale of Tunes (204-724-7700)
Flowers: Robin’s Nest
Décor: Party Professionals

See more photos of this vintage wedding in Treherne, Manitoba.

An Elegant Red, Black and White Wedding in Edmonton, Alberta

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 Bride and Groom

Teri and Christopher met in 2010 at their mutual friend Ashley’s wedding, and they can credit her with engineering their introduction. “Since I was the only single bridesmaid, Ashley had pre-arranged for me to dance with Chris,” Teri explains. They spent the remainder of the evening getting to know each other, and the rest is history! For their summer wedding, they decided on an elegant colour palette of black, white and red, and the decor ended up being one of their favourite wedding elements. However, the most unique aspect of their wedding was caricature artist Gerry, who “smiled all night and sketched tirelessly throughout the reception,” Teri concludes. “He was a hit!”

Teri Patterson and Christopher Sadek, July 20, 2013, Edmonton, Alberta.

Photography courtesy of Shandro Photo.

Ceremony location: Holy Trinity Anglican Church
Reception location:
ATB Financial Arts Barn
Bridal gown:
Martina Liana from The Bridal Boutique
Bridal party attire:
Groom’s attire:
Armani from Holt Renfrew
Elegant Touches
Cakes by Janna
Sawmill Banquet Centre
Revolution DJ Services
Hair and makeup:
Aveda Academy Salon in Edmonton
Kate Ashton Florists
Wedding Paper Divas
Caricature artist:
Gerry Rasmussen
Vandenberg Jewellers

See more photos of this simple and elegant wedding in Edmonton.

A Fun, Elegant Wedding in Winnipeg, Manitoba

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Deciding where to say “I do” was easy for Jordan and Jeffrey—they chose the Fort Garry United Church where both their sets of parents were married more than 25 years before. Needless to say, the couple’s ceremony was especially meaningful. “We felt this part of the day was our moment,” Jordan reflects. “Jeff and I were only looking at each other, and it was as if we were the only ones in the church.” After exchanging vows, it was time to get the party started, but Jeffrey had no idea exactly what was in store. “He didn’t realize I had some surprises up my sleeve,” Jordan jokes. Unbeknownst to Jeffrey, Jordan snuck away to switch her dress before serenading him with a rendition of “Sea of Love” by Cat Power. “Every Wednesday for two months I practiced with my cousins to perfect my version of the song,” Jordan explains. “I wish I had a picture of the look on Jeff’s face when I was called up to the microphone!”

Jordan Wiebe and Jeffrey Stevens, June 1, 2013, Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Photography courtesy of Red Photo Co.

Ceremony location: Fort Garry United Church
Reception location: Fort Garry Hotel
Bridal gowns: Mori Lee from LA Collection (ceremony); Sue Wong (reception)
Bridal party attire: Jordan Fashions from Alan Evans Bridal
Cake: Laugh Love Cakes
Decorator: Decorations By Rick
Flowers: Fache Floral Designs
Music: Topps Music Service

See more photos from this elegant wedding in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

A Romantic Wedding in Winnipeg, Manitoba

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Bride Chelsey confesses she wasn’t the type of little girl who dreamt about her wedding day but admits that marrying her love Kevin was better than she could have imagined. “I could never have dreamt up something as beautiful as that night or someone so perfect to stand beside me,” she reflects. From the couple’s first-look photos to a late-night jam session when guests joined band members on stage, every moment of the day was action-packed. Yet in the midst of all the excitement, Chelsey only had eyes for her handsome groom— as well as her fabulous flowers! “There were a lot of photos taken of me looking at my bouquet because I couldn’t take my eyes off it,” she laughs. The lush floral arrangements were just one element of the idyllic decor, which also included candles set atop rosette tablecloths.

Chelsey Rieger and Kevin Daciw, June 22, 2013, Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Photography courtesy of Kamp Photography.

Ceremony and reception location: The Delta Hotel
Bridal gown: Paloma Blanca from Chantal’s Bridal
Bridal party attire: Harsuccthing on Etsy
Cupcakes: Karen Jurkowski, a friend of the bride
Decor: Dream Day Decor
Favours: Pelican Lures
Flowers: Academy Florists
Groom’s tux: Aldo Formal Wear
Hair: Rayna Redmond at Skala Hair Studios (204-253-6866)
Makeup: 2 Chicks and a Bag of Makeup
Music: Luke and Murray
Stationery: Quantum Graphics

See more photos from this beautiful wedding in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

A Romantic Pink And Purple Wedding In Winnipeg, Manitoba

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Bride and Groom

Brittany and Justin decided to break with tradition and see each other before their ceremony. In fact, the two kicked off their wedding day with a breakfast date at their local Smitty’s restaurant. After breakfast, Brittany and Justin parted ways—each heading to separate locations to get dressed. Back at Brittany’s apartment, her mother and best friends were waiting to help her transform into a bride. “One of my friends, a skilled hairstylist, did my hair and I did my own makeup,” Brittany explains. “And my mother laced up my gown.” Then it was off to the Canadian Mennonite University for a “first look” photo session with Justin. The university holds special meaning for the two as they met here during their first year of studies. Other highlights of the evening celebration included an ice cream sundae bar and a photo booth complete with props from Brittany’s childhood tickle trunk.

Brittany Kroeker & Justin Fraser, May 24, 2013, Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Photography courtesy of Tina Wiebe Photography.

Ceremony and reception location:
Fort Garry Mennonite Brethren Church
Bridal gown: Sophia Tolli from L.A. Collection
Bridal party attire: Bari Jay from L.A. Collection
Groom’s attire: Calvin Klein from Tip Top Tailors
Cake: Valerie Kroeker, mother of the bride
Caterer: Florence Loewen (204-746-8810)
Flowers: Mona Lisa Florist
Jewellery: Custom-made from Boutique Unique

See more photos of this classic purple wedding in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

10 Intimate Canadian Wedding Venues

planning » planning » Reception Ideas

Are you planning a small-scale soiree with under 100 guests? We searched high and low for the best intimate party places in Canada. From rustic lodges to urban hotels, there’s something for everyone on this hit list of intimate Canadian wedding venues.

A Chic Multicultural Wedding in Toronto, Ontario

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On a secluded beach in the south of France Sukrit popped the question to Janet in a most unusual way—he handed her a personalized crossword puzzle. All the clues and answers in the puzzle related to aspects of their relationship (like the name of their cat!). The puzzle also included the big question: Will you marry me?

Obviously Janet said, “Yes,” but she always teased Sukrit that he wasn’t down on one knee when he proposed. Fast-forward to their wedding day when Sukrit greeted Janet on bended knee pre-ceremony. “I guess he wanted to make it up to me,” Janet laughs. “I’m not usually an emotional person, but I burst into tears when I saw him,” she recalls.

Shortly after their engagement Janet and Sukrit brought planning professional Melissa Andre on board to help narrow down their vision for the big day. They didn’t have a specific theme in mind, just that they wanted to host an urban celebration with great food and vibrant colours. “We wanted something modern and fluid that would be guest-friendly,” Janet explains.

The two decided on a late afternoon ceremony followed directly by a reception at a venue nearby. “That way guests didn’thave to wait around for hours in between,” Janet notes.

Another important consideration was paying tribute to their diverse backgrounds: Janet is of Korean descent and was raised in Canada while Sukrit grew up in Dubai. “We’re a unique couple and we wanted our wedding to reflect two different people coming together,” Janet confirms. A traditional Christian ceremony at Toronto’s Metropolitan United Church acknowledged Janet’s family background, while a Hindu ceremony at Malaparte in the TIFF Bell Lightbox honoured Sukrit’s roots.

With so many diverse components scheduled for the day, Janet also organized several outfit changes. For the church she donned a dreamy blush pink gown by Monique Lhuillier, while for the Hindu ceremony she changed into a fuchsia sari that was a gift from her mother-in-law. She slipped into a slinky lace dress by Claire Pettibone to finish off the night.

Despite the fact Malaparte was dressed to the nines for the reception with floral print chairs, shimmering gold lamps and bold flower arrangements in bright shades of orange and pink, Janet only had eyes for her magnificent wedding cake, a six-tiered Cakes by Konstadin confection adorned with gold leaf details and lifelike orchids. “I was a cake skeptic,” Janet admits. “I really didn’t think the cake was that important, but Melissa (Andre) encouraged me to reconsider.”

Janet did some research and presented her ideas to Konstadin, who merged them all into one astonishing creation. “I had seen some sketches of the cake but nothing prepared me for seeing it in person,” Janet states. “It ended up being my favourite detail.”

To end the night on a high note, Janet and Sukrit headed to the dance floor for their first twirl as husband and wife. The quirky twosome selected the upbeat tune “I’d Rather Dance with You” by Kings of Convenience. “It reflects us in a nutshell,” Janet observes. “It’s different, not overly serious, fun and happy.”

Janet and Sukrit agree the wedding was a perfect representation of who they are. “Our wedding was colourful, modern, multifaith and multicultural,” the duo concludes.

Janet Lee and Sukrit Ganguly, September 22, 2012, Toronto, Ontario.

Photography courtesy of Jean-Marc Robin at Ikonica.

Ceremony location: Christian ceremony at Metropolitan United Church; Hindu ceremony at Malaparte in the TIFF Bell Lightbox
Reception location: Malaparte in the TIFF Bell Lightbox
Bridal gown: Monique Lhullier (ceremony); Claire Pettibone (reception)
Cake: Cakes by Konstadin
Caterer: Oliver & Bonacini
Flowers: Hoopla Event Design & Styling and Jackie O
Hair: Salon Y
Music: Mint Lifestyle Events
Stationery: Smock
Wedding planner: Melissa Andre Events

See more photos from this chic multicultural wedding in Toronto, Ontario.


An Elegant Pink Wedding in Toronto

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Kristy Hogger and Christopher Cutler got engaged in the dead of winter. “We decided to celebrate Valentine’s Day at The Briars resort in Jackson’s Point, Ontario,” Kristy confides. “I stood up to warm my hands by the fire and when I turned around Chris was down on one knee with a ring.”

She had a much warmer season in mind for the wedding. “I’ve always loved spring,” she notes. “It represents new beginnings, and I thought it would be the perfect time for our celebration.”

Kristy also knew she wanted the colour pink to be an essential element of the decor. “We loved the idea of using a bold colour to invoke a fun, vibrant feel to our wedding,” she discloses. “We chose fuchsia pink as the focal colour.” The challenge was making such a bright hue work with their chosen venue, the historic Graydon Hall Manor. “We knew it was the right space for us because it’s unique and it feels very intimate,” Kristy explains. “But it was important our overall design complemented the soft, traditional feel of the Manor.”

Enter Cynthia Martyn, wedding planner extraordinaire, who was hired as a design consultant. “When I first started researching wedding design, I gravitated to Cynthia’s work,” Kristy admits. “Her input and creativity were invaluable to us. In fact, it was her idea to introduce an ombré effect, incorporating various shades of pink from pastels to brights.” The ombré idea was just what the couple needed. “The gradation of tones really tied our palette together and added a contemporary touch,” Kristy notes.

The couple’s romantic head table epitomized Kristy’s rose-coloured vision: pink ombré floral arrangements mingled with crystal candlesticks in various heights and shimmering gold votive candles. “Tamara from Fuscia Designs executed the plan for our head table, and it turned out better than I ever could have imagined. I couldn’t stop staring at it all night,” Kristy smiles.

In the months leading up to the wedding the couple debated having first-look photos taken before the ceremony. “They would certainly help with the time line of the day, but they seemed untraditional somehow, and we were worried they might ruin the element of surprise,” Kristy adds. Eventually they decided to give the pre-wedding meeting a green light and it ended up being one of their best moments of the day. “The first look provided a moment of calm before the ceremony and allowed Chris and I to have a few minutes alone together before the craziness of the day began,” Kristy reflects. “We were so emotional, excited and happy to see each other that we couldn’t stop smiling and laughing. The photographer captured our reactions perfectly!”

The ceremony itself was equally memorable. “It was a non-church ceremony so we had the freedom to design and write the entire ceremony ourselves,” Kristy acknowledges. The duo carefully selected blessings, readings and vows that were especially meaningful to them as a couple. Their choice of minister was also personal—she had previously married Christopher’s mother and stepfather, as well as Christopher’s sister and her husband.

Looking back, Kristy wouldn’t change a single thing. “The whole day was like a dream,” she concludes. “I felt like I was floating on a cloud.”

Kristy Hogger and Christopher Cutler, April 21, 2012, Toronto, Ontario.

Photography courtesy of Renaissance Studios Photography.

Ceremony and reception location: Graydon Hall Manor
Bridal gown: Amsale at Pearl Bridal House
Bridal jewellery: Elsa Corsi
Bridal party attire: Amsale from Pearl Bridal House
Cake and favours: Bobbette & Belle
Design consultant: Cynthia Martyn
Flowers: Fuscia Designs
Groom’s attire: Garrison Bespoke
Hair and makeup: Faces by Carla
Music: DJ Services by Michael Coombs Entertainment; String quartet by Wellington Music
Stationery: Love the Design

See more from this pretty pink wedding in Toronto, Ontario.



Elizabeth Fillmore Fall 2014 Wedding Dresses

Fashion & Beauty » Wedding Dresses

Designer Elizabeth Fillmore can always be relied upon for effortless bohemian wedding dresses, and she definitely met the mark again for Fall 2014. Inspired by nature, Fillmore presented an ethereal, easy-going selection of gowns that looked perfect for saying “I do” in the midst of an enchanted forest. Many of the gowns were adorned with pretty floral details, including tulle rosettes and delicate silk petals, while others were simple and sexy, like a sleek charmeuse slip dress reminiscent of Carolyn Bessette’s iconic wedding gown. Another crowd-pleaser was a unique short dress with ornate sleeves and an interesting sheer hemline.

Photography courtesy of firstVIEW


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