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

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Monday, December 20, 2010

Daniela and Marco in WedLuxe Magazine

We are especially proud to have the wedding of Daniela and Marco appear in the pages of WedLuxe Magazine because this particular couple came to us when they fell in love with another wedding we'd organized in that very same magazine! T.H. Jackson Huang of Ikonica, Lidia Tacconelli from Fiori Floral Designs and Julie and Christian from Pantry Press were part of the same team on that original wedding... it was such fun to work with these amazing professionals on something that was rooted in the same colour scheme, but executed in a totally different and modern way.

This time around, the venue was the sophomoric Royal Conservatory of Music. The light, the windows and architecture all work together for guests to experience a place like no other in Toronto.

A small glimpse at the menu that Pantry Press designed, based on Chef Arpi Magyar's culinary offerings. Each menu also worked as a place card, with each guest's name featured at the top.

We custom-designed creamy white lucite containers to hold the floral and candle components for this event. We tried to get the colouring as close as possible to the white Victoria chairs from Contemporary Furniture Rentals!

Finally, a beautiful photo of our fantastically fun couple. Thank you for one of the most entertaining and laughter-filled planning experiences we have ever had. We look forward to years of friendship between us ahead. And, yes, Marco, everyone thought you looked Ridiculously Good Looking on your wedding day...

Friday, December 17, 2010

Daniela and Marco: Some Fun Details

Now that you've seen some of the beautiful room shots, we thought you might enjoy seeing some of the details that didn't make it into the magazine... Because this wedding reception was being held at the Royal Conservatory of Music, we thought we should embrace some of the elements that could be found within the hallowed halls of what is arguably Canada's finest music school.

During cocktail hour, all the hors d'oeuvre were passed by waiters on cymbals. This particular photo shows Couture Cuisine's mouth-watering crispy fried shrimp with a kadaifi crust. Oh my...

This photo cracks me up: it was taken long before the guests arrived... Kristin Campbell, the Facilities Rental Manager snapped this photo of the cymbals going through the dishwasher at the RCM on her iPhone!

Escort cards were slotted in between the strings of three beautiful, ornate harps. The harps were handily situated at the top of the stairs, so they were the first thing the guests saw as they entered the Atrium where the dinner took place.

Finally, a detail that was a small, inside joke for our bride and groom. Pantry Press did up these cheeky signs to go on the back of Daniela and Marco's chairs. The original artwork from the letterpressed invitations was carried through the entire day; from the escort cards, to the menus and beyond...
Ikonica's T.H. Jackson Huang was the natural choice to photograph this wedding. Not only is he a gifted photographer, he spent years of his youth studying and practicing violin at the Royal Conservatory! Thank you, to Jackson and his team for capturing this magical day so beautifully.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Med School Reunion, 1.0

We were recently asked to help organize a 10th Reunion for the University of Toronto Med School Class of 2000. The dramatic Fermenting Cellar in the Distillery District was chosen to host this very glamourous party... The colour scheme came from the time of year (Fall) and how well orange plays off the linens we chose, a cheeky take on doctors' scrubs...

Orange is my favourite colour and because most brides don't tend to share that sentiment, I love to use it in corporate or other social gatherings whenever I'm allowed. It's such a warm, wonderful hue -- and , most importantly, it flatters all skin types in photographs!

Lidia Tacconelli of Fiori Floral Designs shares my love of the colour and went to town with every orange flower she could get her hands on. The arrangements were bold, bountiful and bursting with personality. At the end of the evening, we arranged to have all the flowers delivered to Princess Margaret Hospital so that even more people got to enjoy the riot of orange.

This is a fun shot down one of the tables... the two metal structures at the end of the table (that those of us in the industry have dubbed The Boobs) were once used in the liquor-making process, right there in that very room, in it's past life as the Fermenting Room for the Gooderham and Worts Company.

Over 100 graduates and their guests gathered for what they referred to as a very "In Style" party. When I heard that, I knew we had done what the Class Organizer had asked of us. In our initial meeting, he requested a truly Spectacular party... one that inspired so much talk, it would ensure all the people who didn't come to this reunion would surely be there for the next!

Med School Reunion, 2.0

As with any great party, it's the details that make all the difference. We thought we'd share some with you here:

This was the booklet we designed to sit at each place. It worked 3-fold: the front (pictured here) showed the "logo" we designed for the reunion, the back listed out the menu for the evening and the inside can be seen in the next photo...

We scanned the yearbook photos from 10 years ago and got each attendee to write in where they were practicing now, what their specialty was and what their favourite med school memory was. We thought this would be a fun memento for people to take home with them to read up on their fellow classmates in the likely event they weren't able to connect with each and every one of them that night.

Here's a shot of the parting gifts: a bottle of "vitamins" for each attendee and a group photo taken earlier in the night. Each photo was in a custom-designed folder, made to look like one in a doctor's office, with a tab at the top with the class name.

Here's a close up of the bottle of "vitamins," a.k.a. chocolate truffles, courtesy of our chocolateer friends at Eitelbach. We had the class rep write out the latin prescription for "take one truffle, three times a day." We then added, "take 3 and call me in 5 years;" their next scheduled class reunion!

And finally, a detail that few probably found as funny as we did: antique medical illustrations on every stall in the bathrooms. A foot here, an aorta there... we thought this would take the former students RIGHT back to their days in the classroom!
A very hearty thank you to Nicole White from Tynan Studio for the photos.

Monday, October 18, 2010

New Website Photos: A Sneak Peek

Embarrassingly, it's been almost 2 years since we've updated the photos on our website. Alas, it isn't for a lack of fabulous weddings, parties or celebrations... it's simply about finding the time to actually make it happen! Our webmaster guru, Todd, is in the process of updating our pictures literally as I type; but it never goes quite as quickly as an Instant-Gratification-Girl like me would like. So in the meantime, I thought you might enjoy a snippet of some of our favourites:

Photo credits:
Photos 1, 3 & 4: Courtesy of Storey Wilkins, Storey Wilkins Photography
Photo 2: Courtesy of Rebecca Palladina, 5ive15ifteen Photo Company

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Perfectly Pressed

I've been lucky to work with some pretty special vendors over the course of my career and thought it was high time to dedicate a post to two of my favourite people of all: stationers Julie Gibb and Christian Morrison, the husband and wife team that own Pantry Press, purveyors of fine letterpress. For invitations and subsequent menus, programs, place cards etc., you would be hard pressed (pun very much intended) to find anyone better out there. There are many, many examples I could show of their beautiful, handmade work but thought I would highlight some of the pieces they created for Kirsten & Jamie's wedding last March at the Canon Theatre.

Julie created this lovely program for the ceremony: it's a little hard to tell here, but the letterpressed cover with the title, "I Do," was then covered in a layer of glassine that wrapped around the cover, like a book jacket. Julie then took every single program (all 250 of them!) and ran it through her sewing machine so that the spine bound the pages together with a beautiful gold thread.

This is one of my favourite shots that photographer Storey Wilkins captured that day, taken while Kirsten and her bridesmaids were getting ready in the not-so-glamourous basement of the theatre. The ladies had their very own Green Room and each of the bridesmaids had her own makeup station, surrounded by bright lights. It may not have been fancy, but it certainly was authentic down there! This photo was part of the feature on this wedding in the current issue of WedLuxe Magazine.

When guests first arrived at the beautiful Yonge Street entrance of the theatre, the first thing they received were their escort cards. I love the authenticity Julie and Christian were able to achieve, right down to the perfect perforations on the sides. We had real theatre ushers handing these out, from boxes marked A-I, J-R, S-Z! The backs were also printed with the date and place of the wedding.

One of the first things I arranged when we decided to move forward with this unusual wedding venue was to arrange a tour for all the vendors who would be involved so they could see exactly what we were going to do. Julie and Christian turned up armed with a camera and took lots and lots of detail shots, all around the theatre, which ended up on various parts of the stationery created for that day. The inspiration for the menu came from the jaw-droppingly beautiful golden dome in the ceiling of the theatre itself.

And finally the funniest element they created for the day: I had the idea to call Chef Arpi Magyar's late-night take on the Egg McMuffin "The Kirsten McFirsten," (based on the bride's 'married' name of Kirsten Firsten) then Julie and Christian ran with it, going so far as to add: "I'm Lovin' Him... I'm Lovin' Her" to the design. McFabulous!

Julie and Christian are some of the kindest, most thoughtful people you could ever be fortunate to work with. Julie handles the design aspect of the business (though her husband is also a graphic designer -- he would want me to mention that!) and Christian tends to the letterpress; painstakingly running every piece through the press, one element at a time. It certainly isn't a very fast or modern way to make a living, but the artistry and love that they bring to every product they produce is a throwback to a slower, more gracious era. Every time I pick up one of their wonderfully tactile, letterpressed invitations, I am grateful that they are keeping this time-honoured craft alive. Lastly, potential clients, take note: Christian makes a mean latte too!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Back to the Barn

A few years ago, we worked on the amazing wedding of Kaleigh and Iain that took place at the family farm about 90 km from Toronto. The jaw-dropping ceremony took place at 4:30 in the afternoon, just as the fading light was streaming in through the slats in the side of the barn. Magic. So when Kaleigh's sister got married recently, we knew we had to do something different, given that a lot of the same friends and family would be in attendance. This time, the marriage itself took place at a quaint Anglican Church in a nearby village. Afterwards, guests came back to the farm where the barn played a totally different role: as host of an intimate, 4-course feast cooked up by North 44.

Celebrating the end-of summer was our goal, both in the decor and in the menu. Hundreds of battery-operated pillar candles lined the walls inside the barn (and lest you think I'm joking, I assure you, there were hundreds -- many were actually lit the day before as they were put in place; some as high as 16 feet up in the air). We couldn't risk having real candles anywhere near all that wood...

I snapped this photo of the North 44 chefs in our host's vegetable patch, picking the tomatoes that would be featured in the first course. Sometimes having the iPhone in my pocket comes in really handy...

And here are the fruits of their labours -- these tomatoes were like candy, they were so sweet and ripe. North 44 Executive Chef Sash Simpson was ecstatic with the bounty he got to create with. There really is no better a time of year for tomatoes, is there?

I thought this photo of the makeshift kitchen, tucked into the drive shed next to the barn, was fun to share... there is so much charm and history on the property that even the kitchen was cool. Take note of the overhead lamp shade -- yes, it's a metal bucket!

Finally, the view from outside while dinner was going on inside. It was actually quite chilly at this point in the evening and I begged Storey Wilkins to go outside to snap this photo. So nippy, in fact, that some guests voiced their displeasure that the big barn door was open, so Storey had to work very quickly!

I love this photo showing the light radiating from within the barn and am thrilled that it was a completely different effect from the last time we held a celebration within it's storied walls...

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

99 Bottles of Veuve on the Dock

At our wedding this past weekend in Muskoka, 170 guests consumed 126 bottles of Veuve Clicquot... that has to be some kind of record, doesn't it? Fantastique!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

La Vita e Bella

Last year, we had the pleasure of coordinating the wedding for our Sunniest Bride Ever (who also happened to have one of the best "how did you meet each other?" stories we've heard): She and her fiancé literally bumped into each other on a street corner. As in, bam! When he asked why she was so happy, given that he'd almost flattened her, she replied "because life is beautiful and I'm always this way!"

So when it came time to start planning this wedding for Miss Sunshine to our dashing, charming and worldly Italian groom, it was no surprise when she chose a night in Tuscany as her inspiration. The Boiler House restaurant was filled with simple blue glazed terracotta pots filled with simple, cheery sunflowers. (Truth be told, since some of the courses were to be served family-style, there was no room on the narrow tables for anything more elaborate -- but the effect was simple and joyous). We brought in the chairs to complete the look and -voilĂ - bellissimo!

Pantry Press printed the menus on yummy, sunflower-yellow vintage paper from the 70's they had bought from a supplier years before and had had lying around the shop... I guess the colour hadn't exactly been in high demand before this bride walked in...

Elaine from The Vintage Gardener down in the Distillery District did all the floral work and managed to capture the feeling our bride was going for perfectly.

By this point in the post, it probably won't surprise you to learn that our bride's favourite drink is a Shirley Temple. What surprised us, though, was how popular the drink was with guests! Perhaps it's one of those happy-childhood-memory things that immediately takes you back to drinking 'cocktails' with your parents at Fancy Restaurants... I don't know. Regardless, we ran out several times and the bartenders scrambled to keep up with the Shirley Temple demands! Just when I think I've seen it all...
Photo credits: Storey Wilkins Photography. Brava!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Prest-O, Change-O

At every event we help organize, we always try to make our designs do double-duty -- we can't help it; at the end of the day, we're practical girls! With this very purple wedding we did last year, we envisioned an escort card table that would turn into a late night dessert station as the evening progressed.

Lidia Tacconelli and I designed thick, lucite 'boxes' that spanned almost the entire width of a 30" table and then set to filling them with delicate, white dendrobium orchids. In the end, it took almost 6000 of them to achieve the look we had imagined.

Later in the evening, we colour-blocked the fruit to correspond with it's matching tart... and we asked the chefs at The Granite Club to scoop the fruit into bite-sized balls that could easily fit onto the skewers we provided on the side...

Guests loved that they could wander around easily with the skewers instead of cumbersome plates and the tarts were a big hit too. You can read more about this wedding in WedLuxe Magazine or by clicking here to see the online version.
Thank you to Storey Wilkins for always shooting our details so beautifully.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

In Search of the Perfect Manhattan

This particular post may cause some readers to think they're on the wrong site, because today I got... dare I say it... downright domestic. The impetus? Trying to recreate the perfect Perfect Manhattan cocktail I had when I was last in, you guessed it, Manhattan.

The background: my sister and I started to drink them on a lark one night, as homage to our late mother. The manhattan had been her cocktail of choice, so when my sister ordered them for us, I was a little bit terrified: I had never enjoyed them when our mum had let us sip hers when we were growing up. As in, not ever.

My sister laughed at me choking down the first taste and gave me the sage advice that it takes until the fourth (yes, fourth) sip to begin enjoying them. Not only was she right, it has become my signature cocktail too; I have since done my best to try almost every version known to man. I now know that I prefer a Perfect Manhattan (equal parts sweet and dry vermouth) and I like it made with bourbon, not rye.

But then I went to New York. And one night at the Gramercy Park Hotel changed everything.

The answer: Brandied Cherries. From France, no less. Of course they were.

And yes, birds sang, the earth moved and angels appeared -- they were THAT much better than the regular, super sweet maraschino variety.

So, I'm not really sure what possessed me to get all Martha today -- it could be the fact that cherries are in season at the moment. Red, ripe and beautiful. It could be that I've never sourced the right ones since that fateful night in New York. But the other day, I became someone that my friends wouldn't recognize: I went online and Googled how to make them myself. Cut to today: Freshly washed cherries, a recently purchased cherry pitter (who knew?) and a whole lot of enthusiasm.

In case you don't know what a cherry pitter looks like, I took a photo, along with the mandatory rubber gloves. (While every website had a variation on the basic recipe, the one thing everyone could agree on was the necessity of rubber gloves!) Too bad mine were about 3 sizes too big... it made the job that much slower. Plus I chose to keep the stems on (more of an aesthetic thing than for any other reason), so it took even longer to get the job done.

The result: A glorious bowl of de-pitted (is that a word?) cherries, soaking in 2 cups of fine French brandy. And the little bowl next to it, proudly showing the fruits of my labour. Pun intended. The cherries will soak overnight and then tomorrow I will tackle the next steps: making a simple syrup and then bottling them. Who knows? This might be the start of a brilliant new side business... I'll keep you posted when I finally get to try one in my first Perfect Perfect Manhattan. Supposedly around 6 weeks from now...

The Talented Mr. Greenberg

I thought it was high time to devote a post to my friend the photographer Michael Greenberg of Phototerra Studios. When the family for this particular wedding and I were in Montreal interviewing photographers, I came out of the meeting with Michael and said to my clients, "We would and should be honoured to work with that man." Sure enough, the photographic results that came from that very special September weekend in Mont Tremblant, Quebec are a testament to the beauty of the surroundings, the love within an incredible family and, most of all, Michael's rare talent.

Since that wedding, I've had the pleasure to get to know him a little more. A former doctor and classical pianist (with a brief stint in the Israeli army thrown in for good measure), he brings a pretty interesting life experience to every photo he takes. Above all, he is one of the most humble and unassuming talents I've ever met. In fact, he's probably blushing right now, if he's reading this for the first time...

It's been really interesting to watch the world catch on to his gift too; you can read some of the accolades and articles being written about him on the Phototerra blog. He travels regularly between Montreal and Toronto, where they also have a studio, as well as jetting off to far parts of the globe to capture weddings and 'stuff' that he documents on his own personal journey.

Some long-time readers of this blog will recognize this setting from a previous post I did. I still get the shivers when I think back to this time. You can click here for a shortcut to the story.

I'll end this post with one of my favourite photos Michael took from the entire weekend. On the Friday night, we held a cocktail reception at the top of the mountain. We served pink champagne at the base, then guests climbed on the gondola and were whisked to the top, where a smorgasbord of Quebec cheeses and charcuterie awaited. This picture is of the emergency stop for the gondola -- I, of course, love what is implied in this photo... the truth is that the gondola operators were not responsible for the glassware left on top!