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

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Saturday, December 26, 2009

Coco Chanel in WedLuxe Magazine

By now, many of you will have seen the spread we were asked to produce back in the fall for WedLuxe magazine's Designer Issue. Photographer Jackson Huang of Ikonica, Florist Extraordinaire Lidia Tacconelli of Fiori Floral Designs and I were given Coco Chanel as our muse and inspiration for our assignment. What an honour.

I snapped behind-the-scenes photos that day with my trusty iPhone which I'm attaching below, along with some of the professional photos taken by Jackson and Gillian Williamson at the Ikonica studio that day. You can see the real deal in the magazine or by clicking here for the online version.

This is the beautiful double-page spread that opens our feature. We imagined an intimate wedding, more sexy dinner party than grand affair; one that might have taken place in Coco's own apartment in Paris... The gorgeous 3-seater sofa is part of the new "En Provence" collection available to rent from Contemporary Furniture Rentals.

... And this is the scene on the other side of the table: Lidia had sewn a beautiful black fringe on the front of the tablecloth -- the trouble was it was so heavy that it kept pulling everything forward. We ran around the Ikonica studio looking for things that would weigh it down to stop the pull of gravity. Paint cans, tool boxes; just about anything with heft was put into not-so-glamorous service!

This shot is of our bridesmaid, Audrey, sitting at the table. This photo is particularly special for me because she is wearing a vintage dress that once belonged to my grandmother. The weirder thing is that I found it, along with some other extraordinary gowns, in an old trunk just days after Angela from WedLuxe asked me to produce this feature... I had totally forgotten they even existed.

This is Jackson, working out the lighting and the layout of the shot you see above.

Lastly, this is Yumiko laying the black and white "marble" floor. In reality, this was printed on vinyl, complete with the natural striations normally found in marble by our friends at Emerson Design. They also printed the banners in the background and the fabric runner going down the centre of the table that the menu was featured on. Because it's all printed digitally, the process is remarkably cost-effective and the possibilities that you can create are almost limitless...

More Fun with Coco

Here's the fantasy shot: Our male model, Michael, who we dubbed 'The Hotness" looking rather enticing in behind the place cards and in front of the fountain of pink champagne. The staircase banner was also printed by my friends at Emerson Design.

... and here's the reality shot: It wasn't pink champagne at all, but ginger ale with a few drops of red food colouring added to each bottle. Here's Lidia filling the glasses and balancing them rather precariously on top of one another. Not to worry, though: we all shared some of the real stuff at the end of the day -- you can see it here in the vintage champagne bucket, lent to us by the fabulous Peter Somers of Contemporary Furniture Rentals.

This is a shot that didn't make it into the final spread: our bride, standing ON the table, showing off the bouquet and the runner with the printed menu running across it. I love the single feather that fell off her dress, landing perfectly (and unplanned) onto the salad plate.

This is Toyo, the stylist from Judy Inc., adjusting our bride, Sarah. The shoes are by Valentino.

Finally, this is my dog, Miss Jinx LaRue, posing in pearls and diamonds with the gorgeous cake, designed by Roxanne Wickware of Roxycakes. Gillian from Ikonica took this photo to simply to humour me; I had no idea that Jinx would make it into the magazine... appearing twice, no less!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Art Basel Miami Inspiration

Every December, our annual trip to Art Basel in Miami is a highlight of my year. The city just comes alive during this contemporary art fair -- the creativity and artistic vision that is literally on every street corner is intoxicating, rejuvenating and plain old inspiring. After a hectic wedding season, those 5 days in Miami going from exhibit to exhibit are just what I need to get revved up for another year of parties and weddings. The creativity is literally everywhere -- these (admittedly bad iPhone photos) were taken when we saw more installations on the side of the road in the Wynwood District. In spite of the fact we were tired, hungry and on our way to dinner, we all jumped out of the car to experience yet another version of 'art' because you just can't seem to get enough of the colours and overall vibe in the city that week. The sun seems shinier and the drinks taste better when you're experiencing the power of the human imagination...

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Single-Flower Bouquet

The Local Favourite: The Late-Spring/Early-Summer Peony

The-a-Little-More-Exotic: Gloriosa Lily

The Classic: Phalaeonopsis Orchid

There is something so simple yet impactful about choosing a single flower and using it over and over again in your bouquet. Here we've shown some of our favourites... all designed by the wonderful Bill Fulghum, formerly of Church Street Flowers and now of William Fulghum Designs. The single-flower bouquet adds colour and drama but doesn't fight with the dress... and, most importantly, photographs so beautifully...
Photography credits: Leigh Tynan for the first and Storey Wilkins for the last two.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Sneak Peek at our New Colours

We're updating our colours for our corporate identity -- a relatively inexpensive way to get a whole new look! We've had the old ones for 5 years now and it's time for a change. The main colours are putty and persimmon; I chose the combination from a decorating magazine: there was a persimmon couch next to a putty-coloured wall and I knew at once that it was the new look for our company. I always tell brides to look at everything when they're searching for their wedding colour palette, not just the wedding magazines -- and this is the perfect point in case. You'd be amazed where you can find your inspiration; we had a bride that picked hers from a wallpaper she saw in a restaurant! Our new colours should go live on the website either today or tomorrow, so check back soon!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Fifty is the new Twenty-Five?

With this post, I'm going to try a new format: describing the photos as I go along. We did a 50th wedding anniversary party last month and what a wonderful celebration it was! Given that we make our living planning a lot of weddings, I was amazed when I heard a speaker give the following statistic that night: Only 5% of all marriages in North America make it to 50 years together -- isn't that crazy? What a milestone this particular "Bride and Groom" have reached! For the party, the invite definitely set the tone for the joy and merriment that was to come...

The bride and groom love to dance... so we put together a package that included the invite printed on a real 45-rpm record, a necklace to identify which part of the family that recipient was from and, lastly, cab chits to and from the party. On the front of the package, we showed a bunch of fun facts from 1959, the year they were married.

We kept the theme going on the back of the menu where we included more trivia from each decade they've been married. During the dinner, we had professional dancers do a dance with each corresponding decade and, needless to say, much shimmying and boogieing ensued.

To see the bride and groom celebrate with all their siblings, children and grandchildren was a marvelous thing to witness -- 3 generations of one family coming together to eat, drink and dance the night away -- and a wonderful reminder of why we wedding planners do what we do! Love!
Thanks to Leigh Tynan for capturing all the warmth, love and FUN in the room so effortlessly.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Not Quite Your Mother's Heels...

Thought I'd share a couple of the fabulous works of art some of our recent brides have been sporting with fellow shoe-obsessed readers out there! Question, though: is it just me or are our brides' heels getting higher and higher? It always amazes me that the ladies that wear these platforms seem to be able to last all day and night in them -- I am not nearly that talented (or coordinated!), I can assure you. Good thing, given that some of these shoes cost more than my mortgage payments, they can be worn again and again after the wedding day...
A big thank you to Mike and Rebecca from 5ive15ifteen for capturing details like these...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A Gift that Makes Scents

Brides are always asking us for suggestions for bridesmaids gifts and now, one of our very own clients has come up with the perfect idea! Aromachology is a new perfume line whose formulations use an innovative scientific process to create a customized fragrance to fit each client's personality. How cool is that? Each person fills out a quick "Scent Profiler" questionnaire which puts them in one of 5 distinct personality groupings; then they get to choose up to 3 different top notes to make a completely unique and custom fragrance. What a great idea for a party as well... the lovely ladies at Aromachology will bring their scent bar to any place you and your friends are gathered to celebrate! Details can be found at their website.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Kookoo for Coconuts

For the morning-after-the-wedding Hangover Brunch this past weekend, we offered our very groggy guests some instant relief at their very own Coconut Station! When I heard that coconut water was one of nature's greatest electrolytes, I thought this would be the perfect thing for wedding guests needing a little pick-me-up after a night of partying. Amazed onlookers watched as Chef Neal Noble from Noble Culinary wielded his cleaver with frightening precision, then delicately inserted a eco-friendly straw and -the perfect finishing touch- a paper umbrella! It was hilarious to listen to guests' comments while sipping from their individual coconuts -- most people were surprised to learn how mild the water tastes; so many thought it would be more like coconut milk or that dessicated, dried stuff on cakes and pies. For the really adventurous though, when the water was finished, Chef Noble would crack the whole shell open and offer a bio-degradable spoon to scoop out the coconut meat. Our Coconut Station proved to be the biggest hit of the day with some guests coming back for seconds and thirds!
A big thank you needs to go out to Tina from Noble Culinary for telling me about this amazing idea and then getting such a luverly-bunch-of-coconuts!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Veni, Vidi, VINO!

We had a great time planning this surprise 50th birthday party for a serious wine lover... and, darn it, having to taste all the wines we would serve that night was such a difficult part of the job! The invitation (above) was die cut in the shape of a bottle and we joked that the honoree had now reached "Vintage Status" and that he was "full-bodied, well-balanced, silky and smooth with a great finish." Wine expert Tony Aspler was on hand to conduct intimate wine tastings and North 44 catered with food that almost (almost) surpassed the wines that evening. The theme carried through to the cake (made by North 44 pastry chef Julie Montgomery) -- the entire thing was edible -- even the 'wood' shavings as well as the outer crate.
Thank you to Leigh Tynan of Tynan Studio for the photos.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Back Door Bride

In the spirit of showing you behind-the-scenes at events we've done, these fun photos were taken at a wedding we did at The Carlu, Toronto's finest example of the Art Moderne style of architecture and design. The Carlu is a sleek, sophisticated and extremely well-run venue, but a tough place to sneak a bride into without guests seeing her before the ceremony unless she's there well before the guests start arriving. Due to time constraints, that wasn't going to be possible, so we had the grand idea of bringing Gillian and her bridesmaids through the underground parking lot and up the freight elevator. You can see from the pictures that we had a great group of ladies who embraced this idea wholeheartedly and got right into the spirit of things... and the fabulous Storey Wilkins was more than willing to go along for the (literal) ride!
Special thanks to Gill & Dan and your fantastic wedding party. That was a whole lotta fun!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Dog Days of Summer, Part Deux

This post is for any would-be event planners who think our world is only about glamour and fabulous parties: Cut to the day after the wedding described in the post below. I am sitting (after 2 hours of sleep) in the tent, on a case of beer. For the people who know me, that is probably a pretty funny image in itself, but I digress. I have a plastic bag over my right hand (there wasn't a rubber glove to be found on the island) and am clutching a rag soaked in paint remover, attempting to remove footprints of floor stain from the dance floor before the barge arrives to take the rentals back to the mainland. How did these footprints get there? Well, this wedding happened to take place over the Canada Day holiday and we ran out of stain while preparing the tent floor. Because stores were closed, we were delayed in finishing the staining... and this meant it didn't have time to dry properly before tables had to be set, linens laid and flowers placed before guests arrived. Cater-waiters, florists and everyone else setting up the tent managed to track their prints ALL over the dance floor... luckily, the colour was almost identical, but there was no way I could let it get returned in the condition it was in.
I thanked Leigh Tynan (below) for the great photos but was secretly relieved she wasn't there to capture what was surely one of the more ridiculous moments (okay, make that hours) in my illustrious career!
Photo by Leigh Tynan, Tynan Studio

Dog Days of Summer, Part One

Nothing says 'summer in Ontario' like a wedding in Muskoka. And nothing says 'logistical challenge' like a wedding on a private island in Muskoka... Behind the beautiful photos are months of preparation: tents, flooring, lighting, power, flowers, florists, tables, chairs, ovens, plates, glassware, chefs, catering staff, DJs and their equipment, alcohol (lots and lots of alcohol), musicians, officiants... all these things have to be barged over in a delicate dance of precise timing, the favour of the Weather Gods and plain old good luck. Once everything is in place, the next step is to get all the guests there! A few magical hours later, it's all over and the work begins again to get all of the above OFF the island... If this sounds like a lot of work, it is a lot of work but the chance to share a unique place you love with your family and friends is worth all the effort in the world... then throw in a glorious sunset for good measure and you've got an experience few people will forget anytime soon!
A great big thank you to Leigh Tynan who not only took the gorgeous pictures but also schlepped stuff on and off the supply boats! Talk about team spirit!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Party In the Trees

I gasped out loud when I read about The Yellow Treehouse a couple of months ago in Metropolitan Home magazine. Talk about taking our Swiss Family Robinson fantasies to new heights! This project was originally commissioned as a publicity stunt by the Yellow Pages -- everything used to construct it can be found in their book -- and built in a giant redwood forest in New Zealand. At first it was used as a temporary restaurant (and, not surprisingly, booked out solid for it's run) but now it's used exclusively for private parties... can you imagine? Read more about the project (and the fascinating construction process) at the official website.
Photos credited to Lucy Gauntlett at Yatzer.com

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Pictures you Didn't See...

Many of you have seen the super-stylish wedding that photographer Jackson Huang and his bride Saxon Grimes threw last August when it was featured in WedLuxe magazine. Now it's time to share some of the ones you didn't see...
No matter how much planning goes into an event, something inevitably goes awry. In this case, the elevator in the building where Jackson's spanking new studio is located broke down -- with guests heading to the tea ceremony inside! The fire department was called; doors were pried open and 5 people were rescued; happily with plenty of time to make it to the celebration.
Lisa McPeek of Jackson's team at Ikonica was quick to document the excitement -- I am so grateful for pictures like these because they show the whole story behind every event. Thank you Lisa!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Plaid Explosion

This was taken at the wedding of Doug Elliott to Greg Lawrence last summer. While Doug's name might not be familiar to a lot of you, he is the lawyer that took the same-sex marriage issue before the Supreme Court and fought that battle for over 10 years. In short, he is the person that made same-sex marriage possible in Canada. When he and long-term partner Greg decided to finally wed themselves, they asked all the male guests to dress in "Scottish Attire." I had no idea how many men would turn up in kilts -- with almost none being true Scots! During the reception, I thought it would be fun to get them all lined up at the edge of the cliff overlooking Lake Ontario and photograph this explosion of plaid. Except that by the time we got almost everyone rounded up, the sun was sinking fast and Storey Wilkins had to work quickly to get any kind of shot at all. Sadly, my other idea to have everyone turn around and then lift their kilts never came to fruition...
Thank you to Storey Wilkins who is always game for everything I thow at her...

Fun Place Card/Menu Idea

We did this for a rehearsal party awhile back -- since most of the guests were out-of-towners that night (in fact, most of them were out-of-country-ers), we decided to give them "Passports" to Canada when they arrived to the dinner. The passports worked twofold: The front said the guest's name and table number, then the inside held the menu (which we did like actual stamps in a passport). We had a lot of fun with this one; we even tucked a poem by e.e. cummings in the back; we didn't know at the time we designed it that he was the groom's favourite poet!
Apologies for the photos -- the first one is by a professional, the last two were taken with my phone!

Friday, June 26, 2009

The Day the Ice Went Out

Every year the residents of the village where my father lives take bets as to which day the ice will finally go out... and while I'm not sure if anyone ever makes any money off this highly-competitive 'sporting' event, this year my sister and I happened to be there the day it happened. She shot this very short video -- we have no explanation for how this effect even occurred, but I can watch it over and over again. It's true... I really need a life...

Sarah & Rob in WedLuxe

We were so excited to receive the latest issue of WedLuxe Magazine last week and this edition did not disappoint! We were thrilled to see that the wedding that won us the title of "Wedding of the Year" was featured so beautifully. This was a truly spectacular event... it took place on the family farm, 2.5 hours outside of Toronto last summer. The setting was magnificent; Event Designer Bill Fulghum outdid himself and Jackson Huang of Ikonica managed to translate the beauty and feeling of the day into his photographs so perfectly. This was a big production, made all the more challenging because of the distance from the city -- nothing could be forgotten! Over 120 worker bees were onsite day-of to make sure everything went according to plan. Our favourite part? The main tent was filled with over 5000 peonies -- it was difficult to even describe the scent accurately. About as close to heaven on earth as I can imagine... You can read all about it in the magazine, click on the web version or see more photos on our website.
Thanks, Jackson, for letting me use your photos left, right and centre!

Earth, Wind & Fire

We recently did the Mount Sinai Hospital Auxillary Gala and had the opportunity to work with the legendary Earth, Wind & Fire. For anyone who's ever had to fulfill a band's rider before, you'll know that some of the requests are pretty unusual (think only red M&M's etc.) but lead singer Philip Bailey had a great one. For every performance, he asks for 5 (yes, five) POUNDS of fresh ginger root. Now, for anyone who's ever bought fresh ginger, you'll know it's as light as air... I couldn't wait to see what 5 pounds looked like. Needless to say, it was a lot! I was assured that this item was non-negotiable and the ginger tea he makes from the root is what he attributes his ability to hit the kind of notes that only dogs can hear. I'm happy to report that my jaw actually dropped open at one point during the performance -- I couldn't believe what he was doing with his voice. It was pretty crazy. Click here to read the BizBash article.
Photo courtesy of BizBash.