THE STORIES BEHIND THE EVENTS (or random things we think are cool...)

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Saturday, April 26, 2014

Outfits that Needed their Own Post

Anjli, Parambir and I met about two years before they got married. They later told me they wanted to work with me from the minute they saw the purse I was carrying... ha! Little did I know at that fateful first meeting that these two (a doctor and a lawyer by day who are BOTH hard-core, die-hard, internet-ninja fashionistas in their spare time) would open my eyes to a whole new world of fashion. 

Every element of their wedding was a carefully thought-out expression of them; both as individuals and as a couple. And perhaps nowhere was that more apparent than the energy than what went into what they would each wear that day! They, like a lot of Indian couples, flew to The Motherland to find their outfits. Unlike a lot of couples though, these two made a beeline to the atelier of the famed fashion designer Tarun Tahiliani. To their great delight, they were able to meet him in person and then spent the next few months working together to create their ensembles that best expressed their unique sartorial point of view.

What follows reads more like an editorial fashion shoot than a real wedding, but I suppose this is the natural outcome when the bride and groom are two of the most stylish people I've ever had the pleasure to work with:

One of the very first things Anjli purchased was this Alexander McQueen clutch and she carried it everywhere that day, carefully, like she was holding a fragile egg. That purse was never out of her sight or clutches! There is actually a pretty funny story about how she got this purse, but she might kill me if I were to tell it here to the world...

Next up, some details from Parambir's fashion statement. Gotta love a guy who is 'man' enough to wear pink on his wedding day!

The following pictures are perfect examples of Bling Done Right: look at the detail in the lengha (skirt) -- there's sparkle, but just the right amount and in the right places. The necklace was a gift from Anjli's grandparents and was part of Chanel's Maharaja collection that year.

Photographer George Paatashvili of Studio 2000 was chosen because of his great eye for fashion, colour and composition. He had fun whisking Anjli and Parambir around the AGO for a private photoshoot before the ceremony:

The Sikh ceremony took place under the iconic staircase designed by starchitect Frank Gehry:

After the ceremony, it was time to change into the reception outfits. Parambir switched it up and donned a Tom Ford tuxedo and shoes and Anjli put on another magnificent Tarun Tahiliani creation. As a side note, this is probably the first time I've seen a groom put as much (if not more) thought and effort into his wedding day attire...

I am so grateful to our photographer, George, for capturing so many closeups of the detail and extraordinary craftsmanship in Tarun Tahiliani's creations. And I'm even more grateful to Anjli and Parambir for introducing me to a designer I previously knew nothing about; up until then, I thought all Indian wedding fashion meant rhinestones galore and a "more is more" mentality. How cool that there is someone like Tarun who has broken away from all that and who is doing it so artfully.

Not only that, you guys looked like rock stars on your wedding day. What a privilege to have been a part of it.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Zahra & Don, Take Two

This is the story of a boy and girl who fell in love, got engaged, planned their wedding and then abruptly called it off, three weeks before the big day. 

Rather than their tale ending right there and then (as I believe, statistically, most do), I'm happy to report that they went away, worked on their relationship and made everything right. And 11 months later, we all picked up where we left off and had the most glorious day. Here's the recap; almost two-and-a-half years in the making...

The importance of having great chemistry between a couple goes without saying; but it's equally important to have it with your wedding planner too. It was true love between the three of us from our very first meeting and we quickly discovered that we shared the same zany sense of humour. So when we were discussing what to do with the invitations the second-time-round, Zahra lamented that "her first invitations were so perfect, she couldn't think of a thing she could improve," That's when I suggested that we do the exact same invitation, only with the old date crossed off and the new one 'written' in. We howled at the idea and then decided it was the perfect solution and, with the help of Christine Flynn from Love the Design, we did just that! Letter pressed and all!

So now, the big (new) day was upon us and everything was how it should be: an amazing couple was finally prepared to proclaim to their friends, family and themselves that they were ready for the next part of their adventure. We gathered at the Royal Conservatory of Music and started it off with one of the most memorable and meaningful wedding ceremonies I have ever witnessed.

When we originally toured the venue together, Don mentioned that he had spent 10 years of his youth taking piano lessons there -- that's when I stopped, looked at them and said, "You need to play her down the aisle." And that's just what he did. He went home, dusted off the old piano and started practicing again. For over two years, we didn't tell ANYONE of our plans -- Zahra says that, to this day, it was the hardest secret she's ever kept. 

It was so top secret that the day before the wedding, we held two rehearsals! The first was the real one with just Z&D, their officiant, the photographer and videographer in attendance. To any future brides out there reading this, trust me: you'll always get the best coverage when your photographer and videographer know what's coming. Anyway, I digress. The other reason for the real rehearsal was for me to get the timing right: Don chose to play Bruno Mars' "Just the Way you Are" for Zahra and he wanted her to arrive at the top of the aisle at the exact moment where the lyrics say "And when I see your face, there's not a thing that I would change..." I had to send Zahra on her way so that she could be AT the right place in the room, IN the right place in the song for Don to look up and see her face for the first time on their wedding day.  

Are you getting shivers yet?

So then we held the fake rehearsal, where we were joined by the wedding party and the families. I was surprised that only one person asked if the piano was going to stay in the room for the next day, to which I replied that "I wasn't able to get it out of the room (partially the truth), so we're just using it as a prop, since we're in the Royal Conservatory!" And he accepted this answer... 

So on the big day, the ceremony started, everyone came out as planned, to a cello and ukelele. The parents, the groomsmen, Don, the bridesmaids, the flower girls and then, only when they were all in place, did Don walk over to the piano, sit down, lift the lid and slowly start to play.  

We sent Zahra on her way and she surprised me by doing something she hadn't done the day before in our rehearsal: she kept her head down all the way to the top of the aisle until the exact moment in the song where Don was to look up -- only today, they BOTH looked up at that time and the reaction was crazy! Everyone started crying -- and I mean everyone -- grown men, elegant women, crusty grandmothers, all doing the full-on Ugly Cry. If it hadn't been so darned moving, I probably would have been laughing my head off at the room full of bawling guests!

When Zahra reached the piano, she stood behind Don and placed her hand on his shoulder while he finished the song. As it got closer to the end, she joined him on the bench and then he smiled at her, the signal for her to reach down play the last, single note. It was monumental.

So this brings me to my take away lesson from this wedding: as the spectacle and production values associated with weddings these days seem to be spiraling out of control, I think this is the perfect illustration of how the simplest and most honest experiences often resonate the loudest. Now, don't be fooled into thinking this was any kind of low-budget, DIY wedding, because it certainly wasn't... but even though the decor was stunning and the food was delicious, what part of this wedding do you think every single guest will remember forever? 

Yup. That processional... and the best part? 

It didn't cost a thing.

Alas, I'll stop now before you get even more emotionally invested in this tale, as this was a SpectacularSpectacular, after all, and there are still many more great things to share from Zahra and Don's wedding with you all... albeit not quite as sentimentally charged as what I just described above!

Design-wise, Lidia Tacconelli and I were thrilled when Zahra told us she loved yellow... it's such a happy, joyous colour and I think it's a shame that more people don't use it. Anyway, Lidia seemingly purchased every single yellow garden rose in the province to pull of this simple but effective design; the consistent and graphic repetition of black, white and hits of yellow worked beautifully in the stark, modern room at the Conservatory. Some of the roses were so big, people thought they were peonies!

Bobbette and Belle made the cake and incorporated our flowers into the design -- look at that sugar flower! I would have sworn Lidia had plucked it right off one of the tables...

Finally, I'll leave you with one of my absolute favourite design features: we arranged the chairs at the tables like the keys on a piano, as an homage to Don and his performance earlier in the day... I don't think one single guest noticed this small detail, but I can tell you that it delighted Zahra, Don and myself to no end! Partners in crime, from beginning to a sort-of-end, to back in cahoots and then, finally, to happily ever after. It was an honour to share every up and down (but mostly up) moment with you both...

What was it I was saying about chemistry? Just look at these two...

Special thanks to our friend Jackson -- you were there to document our entire journey together: from the engagement session, to the disappointment, the eventual perfect day, the trash-the-dress session, and now, little baby Story's portraits. Thank you!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Ashley and Scott in WedLuxe Magazine

Seeing our weddings appear in this gorgeous, glossy magazine never gets old!

The latest issue of WedLuxe is on newsstands now, so please check out our feature of Ashley and Scott's spectacular wedding last summer on the bluffs overlooking Lake Ontario. Or, click on this link to read the online version -- this one was a beauty!

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Most Perfect Day for a Wedding

Some couples have all the luck when it comes to weather on their wedding day, but I have to say, this one might have been the most glorious day ever. All the elements fell into place: a picturesque church, a one-of-a-kind-tent at their cottage, a stunning bride and one of the most rockin' parties I have ever witnessed. You can read about how we built the tent for this couple in the previous post, but in the meantime, take a look at how Bruce Patterson and his team at Cloud Nine Creative captured the magic that happened that day. Keep an eye out for the charming church, perched on a cliff and the late afternoon light that shone on Patrick and Fernanda as they were boating back from their ceremony to the cottage -- it was almost otherworldly... Turn on your speakers and enjoy!

Fernanda + Patrick Highlights from Cloud Nine Creative on Vimeo.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Story of a Little Floating Tent

Once upon a time, we had a client with very steep property in cottage country... when the tent guys went to measure, they pointed to the water and joked, "we should just put the tent out there." The client, being something of a man of vision, jumped at the idea. And thus begun our odyssey to figure out how to not only make this happen, but to make this exacting man happy.

The first plan was to build the deck (or in non-event-speak: the tent floor) on top of scaffold, which would lie on the lake bottom. This presented us with all kinds of issues, the first being obtaining permits from the Department of Oceans and Fisheries in case we disturbed the natural habitat of any creatures who live below amongst the rocks and gunk. The second was that we found out that the lake bottom wasn't very solid at all; it turned out that our client had had to drive-pile almost 45-feet down to find bedrock when he erected his boat house. That seemed a little excessive for our One Night Affair... and so our quest continued.

Next, we looked at renting barges, tying them up together and putting a tent up on them... but the main challenge was that barges are in high demand in the summer months, being the workhorses that carry equipment and materials to properties under construction -- and, as we discovered, no barge operator was willing to give up three barges for the more than three weeks we'd need them. Not to mention that barges aren't very pretty. Yes, I said it: they're generally scuffed up, different and/or multi-coloured, with stuff all over their decks and sit very high above the water. Our aesthetically-minded client didn't care for this option at all.

That was when his landscaper suggested contacting the people that manufacture floating docks, and that's just what Dennis Large of Advanced Tent did. Experts were consulted (it turned out there were none -- as no one had ever tried anything like this before) engineers were called in, measurements and calculations were made, budgets were approved and finally --finally!-- the big day arrived. And I'm not referring to the wedding day... It was Let's Build a Tent on Water Day! The first to arrive? The pontoons: over 70 were brought in on a barge one sunny day, about a month before the wedding itself. The next few photos document how Dennis and his boys brought the vision to life:

Here are some fun stats about what went into it to make it float:

- 9 x 2000 pound weights went into the water to anchor the structure
- 75 pontoons: 18" in diameter and 24' in length
- 360 2 x 8 x 16's 
- 900 1/2" bolts
- 160 sheets of 3/4" plywood
- Dozens of trips to the closest hardware store, 30 minutes away
- Several involuntary 'slips' into the water

And so the boys went forth, connecting the pontoons together to slowly start building our floating palace. You can see it coming together now:

The finished deck measured 50' x 100' -- a full 5000 square feet of 'blank canvas' for Event Designer Bill Fulghum to conjure up his magic and bring the all-white vision our bride requested to reality.

So now it was time to build the floor and then erect the structure itself... 

Next came the rigging, draping and carpet. For the record,  white carpet in tents drive me crazy -- every single person has to put little blue disposable booties on once the plastic cover comes off; it makes setting up tables, chairs, plates, glassware, decor, bar ware etc. so much more work! 

The next picture is one I've already posted, but here it is in new context:

This was the view from the tent as the bathroom trailer came into the bay; you can see where we are in the progress of things: the drape is up, the railings are on, the wiring for lighting & sound and plexi shelves has been completed and the plush, white carpet has been laid. In case you missed my previous blog post about floating toilets, there was simply no place to put a 32' unit on this property. Plus, I figured if the tent is going to float,  we might as well do the same with the bathrooms!

So that brings us to the big day itself. This was our first time working with the internationally-celebrated photographer Jerry Ghionis and his wife Melissa and they captured the following beautiful photos:

Our bride had been inspired by another all-white, tented wedding we'd done a few years before that appeared in the Summer/Fall 2009 issue of WedLuxe magazine (click here to see it). No matter what chandelier/lighting alternatives we showed her, we couldn't sway her from the floating plexi shelves, hovering above the tables, laden with candles!

Here's a fun shot, showing one of the plexi shelves with the hundreds of glass balls that hung over the dance floor in the background. They alternated with candles or phalaenopsis orchids inside.

These are some floral details. Every woman got a single orchid at her place setting and the troughs running down the centres of the tables alternated: two rows had roses bordered with ferns and one had roses with baby's breath -- a flower that, apparently, has great symbolism in our bride's native Brazil.

Finally -- the Grande Finale -- fireworks out on the lake, with a great view of our Little Floating Tent from the water.

Hard to believe all this effort goes into one (albeit perfect) night, isn't it? But that's what we do and, quite honestly, challenges like this are what float our boats. Or in this case, float our tents...

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Gabi's Getting Married!!!

Wheeeee! Our very own Gabi and her Mr. Right got engaged earlier this month on a ski hill in Telluride, Colorado! I see a great opportunity for us to follow along as The Planner becomes The Bride and she plans her own wedding for August of 2014... Watch this space... this is going to be fun!