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The Most Inspiring Wedding Photographers For 2017

Planning » Photo/Video

canadas-best-wedding-photographers-intro

At this stage in the game, contrived wedding photos are a thing of the past. Photography accounts for a significant part of the overall wedding budget and, as such, most couples know to narrow their search for a shooter to those pros whose aesthetic is both unique and reflective of the celebration and the bride- and groom-to-be.

Throughout this year’s guide to the top wedding photographers in Canada you’ll find some of the finest examples of photojournalistic, fine art, dramatic and lifestyle wedding photography. The pros we’ve chosen to feature this year are experts at sourcing stunning locations, framing their subjects in beautiful and unique ways, and making the most of natural light.

Each photographer on our list has had at least one real wedding featured by Weddingbells over the course of the last year. And while all of the weddings we feature online and in print inspires us in some way, 2017’s top wedding photographers have created work that captures moments in time and transforms them into beautiful timeless art pieces.

Know any great Canadian wedding photographers that aren’t on our list but should be? Have them submit a real wedding to be instantly entered into the running for 2018.

Need more inspiration? Take a look through our list of some of the best Canadian wedding photographers of 2016.

Debunking The Biggest Destination Wedding Myths

Travel » Destination Weddings

Debunking the Biggest Destination Wedding Myths

You might be dreaming of exchanging vows at the base of a stunning waterfall or with a cliff-top view of green, rolling hills, but you also might think of it as a pricey, extravagant option that’s harder to plan and won’t allow for much personal time with your guests.

In reality, a destination wedding can actually save money and allow you to have a romantic, intimate celebration with your closest friends and family. It’s ideal for couples who want to give their guests a unique experience that extends beyond a one-day event. “Destination weddings are a great option for couples looking for a more laid-back approach to their wedding,” shares Tara Soloway, founder of LUXE Destination Weddings. “Events tend to be smaller, more intimate and personalized for the couple that’s looking for an experience-based wedding, rather than a traditional one.”

No matter what destination you choose, you don’t have to make huge sacrifices to have the wedding of your dreams. That’s why we’re dispelling some of the biggest destination wedding myths, and shedding light on why getting married abroad may be right for you.

Destination Wedding Hotspots for 2017

Travel » Destination Weddings » Sponsored Content

Destination Wedding Hotspots for 2017 - Costa Rica
Photo courtesy of Visit Costa Rica.

If you’re planning to say your ‘I dos’ abroad, we know that picking the ideal location is a must. Your ceremony, accommodations and wedding details will depend largely on the location, which is why picking the right one is important. Your celebration should be set against a unique postcard-worthy backdrop that also has tons to explore after the wedding.

Tara Soloway, managing director of LUXE Destination Weddings is the authority on destination weddings and gave us the scoop on this year’s hottest destination wedding spots and why. From a low-key foodie city in Mexico to the sizzling food and amazing sounds of Jamaica, you’ll want these locations to be at the top of your list when considering the right setting for your dream wedding.

Bridal Beauty Products Our Editors Love

Fashion & Beauty » Skin Care & Makeup

beauty

Each year our editors, Alison McGill, Jen O’Brien and Kimberly Aglipay, unbox and test out hundreds of bridal beauty products. From trendy drugstore colour cosmetics to ultra luxe skincare items, the Weddingbells team has tried nearly every hot new product to hit stores, but not all of them will get written about and even fewer will end up becoming staples in our editors’ own beauty regimens.

These 19 products are special; they are the go-to skincare, haircare, makeup and fragrance item that our editors just cannot live without.

Canada’s Loveliest Wedding Venues For 2017

Planning

canadas-top-wedding-venues-2017

Now that you’re engaged (congrats!) you’ll need to start thinking about potential wedding venues. The space you decide on for your big event will dictate everything from the tone to the dress code so it’s no surprise that most couples tackle this particular wedding booking first.

This year, there’s no shortage of beautiful new wedding venues (and established favourites!), all of which have something completely unique to offer. Whether you’re hoping for a wedding theme that is traditional, romantic, industrial, or intimate, there’s definitely an ideal spot for your celebration within this year’s list. Check out our top picks for 2017, and you just might find your dream wedding venue.

Want to explore more jaw-dropping spaces? See last year’s list of beautiful wedding venues.

Meet Canada’s Premier Destination Wedding Planner: Tara Soloway

Travel » Destination Weddings » Sponsored Content

LUXE-Destination_Weddings_Round_Hill_JamaicaPhoto courtesy of Round Hill Hotel & Villas, Montego Bay, Jamaica.

Thinking of planning a wedding away? Let us introduce you to Tara Soloway, expert extraordinaire on the subject of destination celebrations who offers much insight into planning a party in a dream location. Soloway is the co-founder of LUXE Destination Weddings, a Toronto-based, full-service boutique destination wedding and event planning company, who (with her business partner and husband Matt) has planned unforgettable celebrations for couples in amazing locations all over the world for the past 10 years.

Soloway says the beginnings of her destination wedding expertise happened when she and Matt were planning their own nuptials in Jamaica. The couple found a lack of info and services available to them on the subject and decided to fill the void by creating their own company designed to bring couples’ wedding dreams to life, no matter how intricate or grand and without couples having to be involved at every turn. We chatted with Soloway to find out what makes a destination wedding so special, how the process of putting together such an event unfolds and why it is the perfect wedding party!

LUXE_Destination_Weddings_Tara_SolowayTara Soloway, LUXE Destination Weddings. Photo by 5ive15ifteen.

Weddingbells: As a destination wedding planner, how does your process work with couples?
Tara Soloway: “Destination weddings, for me, are about the whole experience. From choosing the right destination and venue, to planning the group travel and ultimately all of the wedding details, a typical destination wedding isn’t just about the wedding day but rather everything from start to finish. I believe that each element goes hand in hand to ensure a smooth flow and accurate details. Not only are we planning your wedding, but also the travel for everyone coming. It’s a pretty comprehensive process, but also a lot of fun!

WB: Why do you love planning destination weddings and how did it come to be your specialty in event planning?
TS: “This is an entirely personal answer. When I was engaged, I couldn’t picture myself doing a traditional wedding at home. Rather, I was always enchanted by the idea of getting married on the beach with the sand between my toes, and with only my closest people. And my father instilled a love of travel in me early on, taking us on many family vacations when we were little. Fast forward many years, when it was time to get married, this is how it all came together. My love for destination weddings was born out of personal experience. It was the perfect fit. I see destination weddings as the ultimate trip—a vacation surrounded by your favourite people and your wedding all in one!”

WB: Can you share details one of your favourite destination weddings you have planned and what made it so special?
TS: “That would most definitely be my brother-in-law’s destination wedding in Mexico. Getting to experience all that we do with my family was nothing short of amazing. Their ceremony was filled with singing, spiritual readings and lots of love—and even an “unplanned” downpour followed by a beautiful rainbow. It was just so meaningful and thoughtful. To me, it’s all about the personal touches that your guests take away as memories.”

WB: Destination weddings have continued to rise in popularity with Canadian couples year after year, why do you think that is?
TS: “Couples are no longer looking for a traditional wedding that follows a set of rules, rather, they want to throw an amazing party in a beautiful location surrounded by their closest family and friends. Travel is as popular as ever and it’s a great way to take a trip with your friends while celebrating your wedding. And from a cost perspective, the numbers are generally smaller than a hometown wedding, significantly resulting in savings for the couple.”

WB: Complete this sentence: “A destination wedding is the perfect party because_______________”
TS: “…it’s a once in a lifetime travel experience! It’s the perfect chance to get married on a holiday with your nearest and dearest in a stunning location. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate your love for one another in an incredible setting.”

The Key To A Long-Lasting Marriage

advice

Photo via iStockphoto

Getting to the altar is one thing, but the real work in a relationship comes into play after your wedding day. Most married couples will agree that a healthy long-term partnership takes effort – and part of that work is recognizing (and avoiding) the little things that can tear a relationship apart.

A new survey conducted by FASHION revealed that seemingly trivial annoyances and disagreements can cause a relationship to unravel. According to the survey, which attracted close to 400 participants, it isn’t sex, day-to-day responsibilities, or even money that couples are fighting over. In fact, 28 per cent of respondents said they were likely to blow up at their partner over little things like how to squeeze toothpaste or whether fruit should be washed (seriously!)

So how do you keep your partnership in check knowing that such insignificant things can bring about a major rift? First off, recognize that every couple bickers (33 per cent of couples argue once every month or two, according to the survey) and instead of using sex to end an argument (like 29 per cent of couples admitted they tend to do) use your disagreements to learn about and empathize with one another.

Also, hire a cleaning lady. 64 per cent of survey respondents said a housekeeper would do more to improve their relationship than a sex or relationship therapist.

Learn more secrets to a long-lasting relationship by reading more about this survey.

The Most Dazzling Diamond Engagement Rings

Fashion & Beauty » Jewellery

The Most Dazzling Diamond Engagement Rings

Nearly every woman on the verge of becoming engaged has a rough idea in her head about the type of engagement ring she’s after, whether that’s a jaw-dropping oval centre stone with a dainty band or a classic cushion cut stone with a pavé halo setting and band. Ultimately personal style preferences will dictate the type of ring that’s right for each particular girl, but there’s one thing that every woman will agree has to part of the equation: an eye-catching diamond.

Every girl wants a dazzling diamond engagement ring that she can proudly show off, so sparkle factor is paramount. Luckily, Forevermark has just released a new diamond collection with exactly this in mind.

With a focus on supreme symmetry and maximum light reflection, the stones used in Forevermark’s Black Label diamond collection are a cut above. The difference lies in where and how the cuts are placed on each diamond: Each is hand-crafted and measured down to the micron to produce a “Compass of Light™,” a symmetrical pattern of arrows within the stone’s geometry that makes its sparkle even more jaw-dropping.

Available in round, square, cushion, and oval, the Black Label Collection is the most exclusive collection of diamond cuts ever conceived. And with Forevermark’s strict standards for quality and responsibly sourcing, you’ll be proudly showing off your glittering gem even on your golden wedding anniversary.

Think the love of your life is getting ready to pop the question? Help him pick the most dazzing diamond engagement ring possible by exploring these new designs from Forevermark’s Black Label Collection and sending him your favourite!

View the Black Label Collection at Forevermark.com

What’s Your Ideal Wedding Venue?

Travel

Finding the perfect location can be the most challenging part of wedding planning. Use this fun quiz to track down a celebration spot that reflects your style and suits your wedding vision.

How To Talk About Money Before You Get Married

Planning

By Jennifer Bridger

How To Talk About Money Before You Get Married

Jen Masseau and her fiancé, Andrew, aren’t even married yet, but they already understand the importance of open communication — especially when it comes to money. The couple talk about their finances usually once a month, says Masseau, a 30-year-old magazine editor in Toronto, and it’s paying off: They bought their first car and paid for it in full. They’re actively saving for a down payment on a house. They’re both debt-free.“We talk about money so we can maintain good standing with our finances,” she says. “We don’t want to be in debt. We see other people struggle with that, and it’s not something we want for ourselves.”

The couple, who are getting married next June, are in an enviable position, especially among their millennial peers. A new poll from CIBC finds that 66 percent of those who plan to marry or live common-law are entering their relationship with debt. Only 35 percent of newly committed couples say they’ve talked about money in detail, while 40 percent have only had a brief conversation about money.

“Financial topics can be difficult to discuss — they’re not romantic or sexy,” says Jamie Golombek, Managing Director of Tax and Estate Planning, CIBC Wealth Strategies Group, and the author of a new report For richer or poorer: Financial Planning Tips for Newlyweds. In fact, a recent U.S. survey listed finances as the most challenging thing to talk about, above politics, religion and even death.

Yet having an open and honest discussion about finances is a vitally important first step in a new life together.

“Couples should absolutely talk about finances before getting married,” says Golombek. “They’re merging not just their love for one another, but their assets and liabilities as well. There should be no surprises.”

Here are five ways to start talking and begin building your joint savings:

1. Conquer your financial fears
“People are afraid of admitting what they spend on and that their financial philosophy might be different from their partner’s, but there’s no reason why two different money personalities can’t be compatible,” says Golombek.

If money talk makes you squirm, come right out and tell your partner about your discomfort. Don’t be secretive about money, says Golombek. Financial secrets in marriage can undermine trust and cause major marital problems down the road.

“Start the conversation by saying, ‘I have something I want to discuss that’s challenging for me to raise with you,’” adds Gary Direnfeld, a marriage and family counsellor based in Dundas, Ontario.

2. Decide how to manage joint finances
Once you’ve merged your lives, you’ll need to figure out how to approach shared money management. If you want to share everything, combine your money into one joint account.  This works well if both of you are cautious with your money. If you want to keep your accounts separate then assign common expenses – maybe one of you pays for rent, and the other for all groceries.

Then there’s the combo approach: Each of you keeps a separate account for personal spending, but you pay household expenses from a joint account that both of you fund. Whatever your method of choice, it’s essential to set a budget and review what you’re spending each month, says Golombek.

3. Set goals
What financial milestones are important to you and your partner? Whether your sights are set on starting a family, buying a home or retiring to a beachside villa, you should talk about how you’ll each contribute to funding your dreams.

The conversation should also extend to other obligations, like student loans. “If one person is coming into the relationship with debt, there should be a plan for how to pay it down,” says Golombek.

4. Bank smart
After the joint account is set up, consider sharing other financial products, such as reward credit cards.

Two cards to consider are the CIBC Aventura® Visa Infinite* Card and the CIBC Dividend® Visa Infinite* Card.

The CIBC Aventura® Visa Infinite* Card is a travel rewards card that allows you to redeem your Aventura points for full airfare on any airline at any time with no blackout periods, so you could use them for your honeymoon travels. You could also use your Aventura points to purchase select merchandise, make payments towards your Aventura credit card balance, or even make a residential mortgage prepayment.

The CIBC Dividend® Visa Infinite* Card is a cash back card – you get 4% percent cash back on gas and grocery purchases, 2% cash back on Tim Hortons and TELUS purchases, and 1% on everything else. That cash back could then be used for anything you choose — decorating a new home, buying a car or a getaway to celebrate an anniversary.

“As a couple with a shared vision for the future, it’s important to have banking products that work for both of you to help you reach your financial goals sooner,” says Steve Webster, Vice President, Retail and Business Banking, CIBC. “Using credit cards like the CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite Card or the CIBC Dividend Visa Infinite Card to help pay for your wedding is a smart way to turn your expenses into valuable points or cashback that you could use for the travel and purchases you want to make together.”

5. See a professional
If you’re struggling to have the money talk, Golombek recommends asking a financial advisor to moderate the conversation. They can also help with planning, and guide you toward achieving your goals.

“You get a videographer and wedding planner to help with the big day, why not get a professional to help you with your money?” asks Golombek. “An initial meeting is a good springboard for couples to have a regular financial discussion.”

For Masseau and her fiancé, the wedding planning itself presented an opportunity to discuss their approach to managing their finances.

“We’re opening a joint account so we don’t have to worry about dividing up who is paying for what vendor deposits,” says Masseau. “That’s what makes sense for us.”

Are your financial personas in sync?
Whether you believe spouses should have similar temperaments or that opposites attract, it’s obvious to any couple that personality plays a big part in a successful relationship. That’s why it’s so important to talk about money before the big day: You need to find out if your financial personas are in sync. There’s more to money than saving and spending. In fact, there are four money-related personality types and all of us fit into at least one, according to CIBC.

The super saver
These people take pleasure in saving every penny they earn. They avoid any spending unless it’s absolutely necessary.

The cautious spender
As the moniker suggests, they’re careful with their money. They spend prudently, putting their needs over their wants, and they try to save as much as they can.

The carefree spender
These people believe that money is meant for spending and enjoying. They tend to have a hard time saving and meeting their long-term financial goals.

The avoider
Avoiders pay no attention to how much they have, owe or spend. They have a laissez-faire attitude toward their money and prefer to let someone else take care of their finances.

With four personalities, there’s a good chance you’ll have a different money personality from your spouse and that’s OK. What’s important is to start talking.

More on this topic: 15 Things No One Tells You Before You Get Married

This is sponsored content. For more details on the CIBC 2016 Couple Finances Poll, go to http://cibc.mediaroom.com/2016-08-04-Money-shouldnt-be-a-taboo-topic-but-most-new-couples-avoid-having-the-talk-CIBC-Poll

Grand Bridal Gowns For A Fairy Tale Wedding

Fashion & Beauty » Wedding Dresses

Ballyfin-Grand-Bridal-Ballgown-Looks8

There’s no better place to showcase the year’s most grand bridal gowns than through the gates of Ballyfin Demesne in the Irish Midlands. Here, you’ll find yourself ensconced in a bygone era rich in tradition and romance–a fairy-tale setting to match a collection of over-the-top, dramatic wedding dresses fit for a queen.

Photography by Alvaro GoveiaStyling by Tara Williams. Shot on location at Ballyfin Demesne, Ireland. Hair and makeup by Blair Petty using NARS cosmetics for Plutino Group. A special thanks to Carol Ann Kelley-Elwell from Victoria King PR, and Tourism Ireland. Editor Alison McGill. First published in the Fall/Winter 2016 issue of Weddingbells.

5 Cake Toppers That Will Instantly Make Your Wedding Dessert More Awesome

Planning » Wedding Cakes

cool wedding cake toppers - flamingos

Sometimes it’s the little wedding details that are actually the most memorable; case in point: cake toppers.

A really cool topper can transform even the most humdrum dessert into an Instagram-worthy wedding accent – this is especially good news if you don’t have a massive budget. Order a few simple cakes from your local bakery and, for under $100, you can snap up a cool conversation piece that will become the focal point of your sweet table.

Now, just to be clear, if you’re in the market for an awesome cake topper you’ll want to avoid those played out bride and groom figurines you’ve seen at a zillion other weddings. Instead, set your sights on quirky animals, cute sayings and oversize DIY accents, all of which are sure to take your wedding cake to the next level.

The 30 Most Inspiring Wedding Photographers For 2016

Planning » Photo/Video

canadas-best-wedding-photographers-2016

A definitive guide to some of the best Canadian wedding photographers of the year from coast to coast, as chosen by the editors at Weddingbells.

Compiling this list is no easy feat. Each year we receive hundreds of wedding photo submissions from incredibly talented shooters across the country, so pinpointing the nation’s top 30 pros takes a lot of work. Along with sifting through thousands of shots to find the most striking photos that vividly portray the narrative of each special day, we also pay attention to each photographer’s presence beyond his or her creative work. Are they easy to deal with? Active on social media? Do brides regularly comment on their shots and leave positive feedback? All of these things come into play when we select our top picks.

Each of the real weddings we feature online and in print inspires us in some way, but the photographers on this list have elevated wedding photography to a true art form.

Know any great Canadian wedding photographers that aren’t on our list but should be? Have them submit a real wedding to be instantly entered into the running for 2017.

Need more inspiration? Take a look through our list of some of the best Canadian wedding photographers of 2015.

Bridal Skin Care Products Our Editors Swear By

Fashion & Beauty » Skin Care & Makeup

best-bridal-skincare-products

Our editors, Alison McGill, Jen O’Brien and Roseanne Dela Rosa, have spent a lot of time over the years testing skin care products. Some of them are fun and trendy, others are luxurious and worthy of the occasional splurge, but very few of them qualify as go-to items our editors are willing to purchase again and again.

From trendy K-beauty masks that will withstand the test of time to iconic, high-end creams that actually justify triple-digit prices, these 15 products are skin care items we’re willing to put our stamp of approval on. Not only will these serums, oils and scrubs help get your skin in top shape for the big day, we’re willing to bet they’ll become staples in your skin care regimens as they have in ours.

Looking for more recommendations? Check out 15 more beauty products our editors are obsessed with.

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