Happy holiday Monday!

With the last long weekend of the summer coming up and the season coming to an end, we began to reflect on what a truly awesome summer of cottaging, food, weddings, travels and city adventures it has been. To celebrate our favourite season, we thought we’d share our favourite summer 2012 moments in photos. We hope everyone enjoys the rest of their long weekend!

City Living: New Bridal Boutique

A wedding dress is quite possibly the most important garment a woman will slip over her shoulders, or so we’re told. Whether or not you agree, your gown needs to encapsulate your distinctive style, fit your body type and make you look radiant on your big day. Plus, you want to look timeless and classic, yet fashionable. 
A tall order for a single dress, which has caused many a girl to run around town, measurements and printed out photos in hand, stressed about all the choices. Luckily, we turn to the experts when shopping for “the one” and are excited about the newest bridal shop in town: MRS Bridal Boutique.
This chic-yet-friendly little spot opens in Yorkville today (164 Davenport Rd) and has everything that a Toronto bride needs to make her dress shopping experience fantastic.
Owners, best friends and newlyweds Michelle Gunn and Kelly Power also offer a wide range of price points and provide a one-stop-shop where brides can purchase unique accessories including jewellery, veils and underpinnings. We love this kind of efficiency.

Michelle and Kelly, the brains & the beauty behind MRS.
The first floor is open to the public, letting you wander in whenever you feel like ogling the beautiful accessories, veils and lacy things. The second floor is by appointment only and features a carefully curated selection of gowns from the likes of Delphine Manivet, Caroline Devillo, Elizabeth Fillmore and Junko Yoshioka. There are two dressing rooms including one that takes up the entire third floor, so you can try on wedding dresses with your mom and besties with room to spare.

 Lovely, unique Delphine Manivet gown.
For more info about store hours, special trunk shows and lots of other goodies, check out their Facebook page or follow them on Twitter. They’re also booking appointments as we speak!
Pssst: we hear that the grand opening party in the third week of September will also feature a fab trunk show with three NYC based designers. See you there!

Rant and Rave: Wedding gift etiquette

Summer months signal longer days, sangria on the patio, cute sundresses and weddings. It seems that each time we check our mail box a new wedding invite arrives. With each new invitation we wonder, “what is proper gifting etiquette and how much should we spend?”
Weddings can be pricey for everyone involved – including guests. Image source
Gifting amounts can be tricky and you can’t exactly ask the bride-to-be what gift value isn’t going to make her tell the tale of the cheap guest for years to come. Here are some tips for you to follow to get you through wedding season without sign of the fail whale. 
If you’re attending an out of town wedding:
Your best friend is getting married…in Jamaica. Often when guests are asked to travel long distances, their presence is requested in lieu of gifts. That being said, we recommend giving a more modest gift off the registry or a cash gift totaling $50 -100 a head (depending on what you can afford). 
 Destination weddings are beautiful, but are a big ask for guests. Image source.
If you’re a bridesmaid in the wedding:
Being in the wedding party is a huge honor, but also a larger financial responsibility. In addition to purchasing your bridesmaid dress, throwing a bachelorette party and giving a present for the bridal shower(s), you’re expected to purchase a gift for the new couple. This is where things get tricky – you’re obviously close to the couple, or are a future in-law, so you’d probably like to get them something nice. But how much is too much to spend? We recommend purchasing a gift off the registry or cash gift totaling $100-150 per head.   
 Why do groomsmen get off the hook for paying for wedding events? Image source.
Attending a wedding that’s a cash bar:
In an effort to reduce expenses, and because couples are frequently footing the bill for their weddings in more recent times, some are opting for a cash bar at the wedding reception. Because guests have to purchase their own cocktails we recommend purchasing a gift off the registry or a giving a cash gift between $50-75 per head.
Side note: if you’re hosting a cash bar:
Be sure to let your guests know prior to the big day. This information should be spread by word of mouth, similar to how registry information spreads. Also, providing guests with a few drink tickets and wine throughout dinner is a nice way to ease the pain of the dreaded cash bar. 
Other tips to remember:
Don’t bring cumbersome gifts to the wedding. Deliver them to the couple prior, or post, wedding. Most major retailers with registry programs will also let the couple pick up their gifts at the store after the wedding.

Registry at The Bay? They’ll let you purchase and ask the couple to pick up the gift later. 

Wedding presents should be gifted no longer than six months to a year after the wedding date. Mixed opinions about the exact timing, but no later than the couple’s first anniversary, or else it’s just a bit awkward.
Stick to the registry, unless you’re very close to the couple and have a wonderful idea for a personal gift. If you choose to take this risk, include a gift receipt – people are very picky about items they hope to have for years and years to come. Yes, they really do want that brand-new alarm clock.

Broke? Give the gift of amazing music by DJing the wedding! Image source.
If you can’t afford a wedding present, offer your services. Are you an expert photographer or a great DJ? Offer this as a substitute gift to the couple a few months in advance of the wedding. 
If you’re bringing a date to the wedding, make sure you calculate this into the cost of the wedding gift. Typically a present should cover the cost of each plate (approximately $100). 
 Is this vase worth $7,500? Kim Kardashian thinks so. 

In the end, someone has invited you to their wedding because they want you to be there to celebrate with them. If you’re under extreme financial stress, no bride and groom wants you to give a gift that you can’t afford. Be happy, supportive and invite them over for a delicious dinner after the big event to show that you care, even if you can’t get them that $7,500 Baccarat vase they desperately need.


Ed. note: Happy weddings to our two upcoming summer brides on the fourth floor, Christina Walters and Abigail Van Den Broek.






Yum yum: Wedding cakes and desserts

Some of us have been planning our weddings since the day we could say “Vera Wang”. And, with a few brides-to-be on the fourth floor, wedding talk has been amped up a notch (or seven).
Once he’s put a ring on it, many important decisions must be made. While choosing between calla lily bouquets and rose arrangements will prove difficult for many brides-to-be, not all decisions must be so. 

We chatted with Catherine Lash, the brains behind the boutique Wedding Show (January 14 to 16 at the Carlu!), about must-have sweets at 2011 nuptials. In her expert opinion, “it’s not just about the cake anymore.”

“The centerpiece of the wedding has become the stylized sweet table. Think macarons, meringue, biscotti and gourmet candy. But, the cake is still the star of the show.”
 
She pointed us in the direction of two amazing dessert and cake makers. Forget Say Yes to the Dress and say “I do” to these one-of-a-kind wedding desserts from Cake Opera Co. and Bobette & Belle.  

Straight from the kitchen of this chic bakery, cake girl geniuses Alexandria Pellegrino and Jessica Smith whip up the best crazy-original couture desserts. 

From the simple to the outrageous and everything in between, Cake Opera Co. has the macaron towers, designer cupcakes, handmade marshmallows and quirky cakes for any fabulous occasion.

Done up in non-traditional shades of grey and muted pink, influenced by current fashion, 2011 wedding cakes are all vintage-inspired glam. Decidedly posh and playfully textured, Cake Opera Co.’s confections come in a variety of flavours, from lemon blueberry to banana with salted caramel ganache. 

For a whimsical touch, top your cake with Lacroix-inspired gems and flowers, Gothic pirate ships, floating butterflies, Victorian-styled figurines or even feathered birds.

While they set up (bake) shop in midtown Toronto about a month ago, the Cake Opera Co. already has a following of Hollywood starlets that only continues to grow. For their much-anticipated wedding, Nicole Richie and Joel Madden offered guests a taste of the company’s red velvet cake. Decorated with look-alike figures dressed in her Marchesa dress and bearing his tattoos, the white, black, turquoise and 24-karat gold-trimmed cake has the gossip mags buzzing.    

Nicole Richie and Joel Madden’s gorgeous cake. 
With desserts inspired by Chanel and Elie Saab, Holt Renfrew can barely keep Bobette and Belle’s oh-so pretty and delicious macarons in stock. That’s because when it comes to dessert, Bobette and Belle is always one fashionable step ahead.
The owners of the sweet shop, Sarah Bell and Allyson Meredith Bobbitt, bake fancy cakes that are nothing short of spectacular. They also offer soon-to-be brides a non-traditional dessert route to wedded bliss. 

Wow guests with sweet tables filled with macaron towers in Gianduja (chocolate flavoured with hazelnut paste), salted caramel, passion fruit and pistachio flavours. 

Customize yours in small or large sizes, and choose from trendy 2011 purples, lush pinks and metallic colours to match your event. 

For the ultimate in up-and-coming trendy treats, skip cupcakes in favour of whoopie pies. The chic version of an Oreo, whoopie pies are the new “it” dessert of choice. Fun and tasty, guests won’t be able to get enough of them. 

Hungry yet? 

PS: For more inspiration on choosing your wedding cake, check out this Wedding Bells article

Fashion-able: Bridal Trends

With two brides-to-be on the fourth floor, we’re counting down the days until the 10th annual Wedding Show, taking place at the Carlu from Friday, January 14 to Sunday, January 16. Unlike typical trade variety wedding shows, this boutique style show highlights ONLY the classiest and most original vendors in the city (selected by a jury, no less!). Founder and creative director of the show, Catherine Lash, has been in the biz for more than 15 years, having worked as a wedding photographer before launching The Wedding Show. 
The wide spread of vendors highlight the upcoming trends for 2011. One such vendor is Henkaa, creator of the convertible bridesmaid dress. The dress is one-size-fits-all (really!) and can be worn countless ways. Perfect for all the different shapes and sizes your bridesmaids come in.
The elaborate sweet table is a huge trend of weddings in 2011. Bobbette and Belle have gorgeous alternatives to the traditional wedding cake, with their gorgeous and tasty macaron towers. 
The show will also feature an elaborate art installation called The Crane Chandelier Project to celebrate its “tin” anniversary. The project is made from more than 11,000 origami cranes that were made, signed and donated by engaged and newlywed couples from around the world.
For each crane donated, The Wedding Co. will give 50 cents to The Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation (for a donation totalling $6,500). Cranes includes the name of the couple, their wedding date and their location. 
Join Lash on opening night at 6:30 p.m. for a champagne and cake toast and the unveiling of The Crane Chandelier projects.
Tickets are available for $20 at the door or online at www.theweddingco.com.
See you there!

Fashion-able: Custom wedding jewellery

‘Tis the season for I do’s. How can you be original?
Creating custom wedding jewellery is the ultimate in creative romance. The bonus? Going this route may also save you money. Working directly with a designer and raw materials eliminates some of the cost associated with traditional jewellery retailers. What better way to celebrate love than with a pair of rings crafted by the lovebirds themselves?

Geoff & Robin, courtesy of Trina Koster photography
At Made You Look Jewellery Studio and Gallery, various Toronto-based designers create beautiful custom pieces every day. To get started, head down to 1338 Queen Street West to flip through various designer’s portfolios and pick the artist you love best. Here are some tips:

Choose a designer whose concepts really speak to you – even if it isn’t wedding jewellery, a designer’s aesthetic will come through in any piece. The designer will work with your budget and ideas, give you options for materials (diamonds, gold platinum – amazing!) and start drawing. They’ll make a wax mold to make sure it’s perfect before casting.

A great way to have your “something old” is to remake or repair an heirloom piece of jewellery that’s at the back of your jewellery box. Grandma’s forgotten diamonds can be worked into a lovely new ring, or Mom’s old broken pearl necklace into a spectacular bracelet.
There are also made-to-order options for the wedding party. Made You Look designers can create fascinators, necklaces, cuff links or tie tacks. A custom piece of jewellery would make a beautiful, personal thank-you gift for your bridesmaids or groomsmen.
Whichever route you take, a wedding should be unique, personal and reflect the people being wed (and consider whoever is footing the bill). Designing your very own rings, or special gifts for your wedding party, expresses your once-in-a-lifetime love, day after day.

Our team member Abigail is celebrating her big day in 2011. We’re all very excited for her. Congratulations, Abby!

Black diamond, wide band with diamonds and yellow sapphire rings: Karen Macrae
Fingerprint cuff links: Deborah Lavery