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

About Us

My photo

Monday, May 21, 2012

What is 'à la Piscine?'

Last month, my sister and I had the privilege of visiting our Auntie Liz at her home in the South of France. It was only 8 days, but my God, we packed a lot into our limited time together. Her house is near St. Tropez, but we also spent a night at the famed Negresco Hotel in Nice and it was while we were there that we were first introduced to 'à la Piscine.' 

We were out for my sister's birthday dinner and thought a glass (or two) of champagne was in order. We noticed you could get a regular 'coupe' (glass), or the à la Piscine (by the pool, in French) version for an extra 3 Euros. Curious, we asked our server what that was...

He explained (in French) that it was served with ice, which immediately went nowhere with us. (I was thinking -- they want to charge me 3 Euros to put ICE in my champagne? No way!) Not to mention that it would dilute the magical elixir... He tried a little harder, telling us it was "extremely popular in France," but still, we didn't bite. 

We returned to St. Tropez and really didn't think about it again until we were sitting at Senequier (pictured above) at the Port, having our daily glass of rosé with lunch and noticed we had the option to have it à la Piscine too! So, it wasn't just champagne the French were adding ice to these days, it was rosé as well? What on earth? But still, we didn't try it...

By now you may be wondering where this post is going and what it might have to do with the events we help plan. Well, your patience is about to be rewarded...

When we returned home to Canada, we were telling the rest of our family about this crazy French Trend we kept seeing -- only THIS time, my sister decided to Google it and we were shocked to read the key piece of information the server in Nice neglected to mention: the "ice" is actually frozen little cubes of champagne! Or rosé, depending on what you're drinking... Now the extra charge for "ice" made sense: frozen alcohol, floating in the alcohol! Oh la la! 

Needless to say, we wasted no time getting to a liquor store to purchase specimens and have just spent the entire long weekend perfecting the technique, because I plan to serve this at all my parties this coming summer! 

Here's what we learned, after bottles and bottles of experimentation, all in the Name of Science:

1: It takes almost half a bottle to fill an ice cube tray (and really, this tray's partitions were too small -- you want to make bigger cubes).

2. We tried it both in the old-school coupe glasses and the more modern flutes; it works (and for some reason tastes better because of the ice-to-volume-of-champagne ratio) in the taller glasses.

3. You'll want to make a fair bit of "ice" -- because the alcohol content won't let it freeze completely; it therefore melts faster than regular ice.

4. It works beautifully with rosé too. I love how the cubes look like little blobs of jelly...

5. The French are really on to something here: for the hot summer months, both of these drinks tasted that much more refreshing, just because they were colder. And somehow, the frozen cubes added a little bit of je ne sais quoi  that we never realized was lacking before!

6. Vive la France!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Lindsay + Jamie: Before and After

We had such great response to our previous 'Before and After' post that I thought we should do it again, this time with the wedding of Lindsay and Jamie that was so beautifully captured by Anthony Manieri of 5ive15ifteen Photo Company and gorgeously featured in the Winter/Spring edition of WedLuxe magazine. I've started this post with an 'after' shot first (because it just looks better as the first image!), but from here on in, we'll go to 'before' pictures first...

Here's the view, looking in the same direction, taken the day before, just as they were starting to rig the ceiling with all the AV equipment. This is the order in which a tent wedding comes to life: 1. Floor, 2: Tent, 3. AV/electrical and chandeliers, if required, 4. Draping, 5. Carpet, 6. Furniture, 7. Floral/decor and finally, 8. People!

Now we move to the big day itself... You can see that the ceiling is draped, the carpet and tables are laid and Gisele and Co. are starting to load the floral in. Way off in the distance, you can see the chairs are already in place for the ceremony later that afternoon...

This shot shows how everything came together on the tables... our 'Garden Inside a Tent' concept come to life... I always say that once clients have planned a wedding, they'll never attend another one in quite the same way! After you've spent months and months on every little detail, down to which rose will sit in which way on which linen napkin, you notice things you never would before planning your own...

The Money Shot: Gabi kept the vinyl tent sides on to keep guests out until Anthony had finished taking photos. This picture shows the massive floral pieces hanging over the dance floor; they were covered with hydrangea, roses and phalaenopsis orchids and the actual structures mimicked the boxes on the tables that held the topiaries.

And finally, our charming couple, twirling around the dance floor for their First Dance... To read their wedding story as it appeared in the pages of WedLuxe Magazine, click here.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Lindsay + Jamie: The Lovely Details

We always hope and wish for good weather for ALL our clients, but there are some weddings that just wouldn't be the same if it rained -- and this was one of them. The ceremony spot, quite literally, clings to the bluffs, hundreds of feet above Lake Ontario; there is no other venue quite like it in Toronto. The rain plan would've seen the ceremony take place inside the club house -- which would have been heartbreaking! Happily, the skies were bright and the sun was shining down on this gorgeous day last August.

I love these sun-dappled photos of Lindsay being escorted by her father to the altar where Jamie awaited. Poor Gabi drove herself crazy following the weather reports all week -- I kept reminding her that the ONLY time that mattered was a 2-hour window on Saturday afternoon!

Now THIS is a kiss! I always think (after the fact), that I really should suggest that my clients practice their Big Kiss beforehand... So many are fast and furious, when really they should be slow, deliberate and almost sensual. Clearly, Lindsay and Jamie needed no such advice...

The ceremony programs doubled as fans; while hardly an original idea, it's downright genius on a sweltering summer's day. One of my favourite details was found on the back, where the wedding party was listed out. It looked so formal and serious, but next to the Best Man's name it said: "My Brotha from Anotha Motha."

 Event Designer Bill Fulghum designed a gorgeous lattice structure that Gabi painstakingly tied all the placecards to. The bows had to be tied in a way that guests could easily untie them using one hand (while holding a yummy cocktail in the other)!

Pulling off a wedding of this magnitude in such a short period of time takes A Village. Very special thanks must go to all our partners who helped create the wedding of Lindsay and Jamie's dreams: Event Designer: Bill Fulghum, Florals: Gisele Sterling, Invitations and Day-of Stationery: Pantry Press, Tent: Advanced Tent, Draping: Micki's, Audio/Visual: Visual FX, Cake: Roxy Cakes, Rentals: Contemporary Furniture Rentals and Chair-man Mills, Band: Lady Kane and last but certainly not least, our Sexy Beast of a photographer: Anthony Manieri from 5ive15ifteen Photo Company.

You can read the story that appeared in the Winter/Spring edition of WedLuxe Magazine by clicking here.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Spring Has Sprung!

Ahhh... the Prima Vera of Spring! There's nothing quite like it, is there? A season of renewal, hope and happy thoughts of warmer days ahead. We did a rehearsal dinner this past week at Jamie Kennedy at the Gardiner Museum that felt so fresh and spring-y, I just had to post about it; even if all I have at this point are my less-than-perfect iPhone photos.

I've always wanted to do a party with ferns -- yes, all and only ferns -- and was so happy when our client enthusiastically agreed. Lidia Tacconelli of FIORI did up long, woven metal baskets, filled with 3 different kinds of ferns and interspersed a few mushrooms within to surprise guests as they sat and ate their yummy meal. The result was unexpected, fun and whimiscal... just like the bride herself.

This is a closeup of the cheery wallpaper Lidia sourced to run up and down the tables. It added a real pop to the overall effect, plus it introduced several shades of green for us to incorporate throughout the design.

This photo is fun because you can see virtually every shade of green that we played with: the front and back of the place cards, the menus tucked into the napkins, the wallpaper, the planters of ferns, the votives and, finally, the linens underneath. We always design parties so that the different layers of the experience get revealed to guests at different points of the evening. And we always add many interesting things to look at in case the person seated next to you turns out to be a dud!

Chef Kennedy even incorporated my fern theme into the menu by putting fiddleheads into the salad course!  A small detail that probably few noticed, but thrilled me to no end. I love to have little touches like that interspersed through our parties.

The overall effect was so happy and joyous; everything a party in springtime should represent. Plus it was the perfect kickoff to a busy weekend of All-Things-Wedding... if this was the rehearsal dinner, can you imagine how great the wedding itself was?