The Ring – A Designer’s Perspective


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Yellow Sapphire & Diamond Halo by Linda Penwarden Jewellery

Next to buying a home, the engagement ring is the biggest, most emotional purchase a man will make. Learn all about what goes into the design and construction of custom jewellery when I present my interview with noted Toronto jewellery designer Linda Penwarden.


60 Female Chefs. One Worthy Cause


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With October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month I’m digressing from my usual wedding-themed posts to tell you about a wonderful annual event here in Toronto. It doesn’t attract as much attention as many fundraisers and that’s a shame because it’s an outstanding event in support of an outstanding organization.

Since it’s inception 17 years ago, Eat to the Beat has raised more than $3.2 million for Willow Breast Cancer Support Canada. It’s an evening that features delicious bites from 60 of Canada’s best female chefs,  tasty libations, and mouth-watering prizes. Eat to the Beat is a mecca for Toronto foodies and is consistently rated by Biz Bash as one of Toronto’s top events.

Some of Toronto’s most lauded names participate in Eat to the Beat and this year is no exception. Confirmed chefs for ETTB 2012 include Anne Yarymowich, Dufflet Rosenberg, Tobey Nemeth, and Joan Monfaredi to name just a few.  This year’s SpokesChef is Donna Dooher of Mildred’s Temple Kitchen. In this video Donna explains the very personal reason why she participates in this event every year.

Willow Breast Cancer Support was launched about 20 years ago with a mandate to provide encouragement, education and empowerment to everyone affected by breast cancer. Many organizations are fighting to find a cure; until that day comes Willow provides support today for those dealing with breast cancer.

I’ve volunteered for ETTB many times over the years and can guarantee you will have a great time. This year I am proud to provide a prize donation for their Silent Auction. If you love outstanding food and drink, great prizes and want to help those who are dealing with breast cancer you can’t do better than to attend Eat to the Beat.

This year’s event will take place on Tuesday, October 16 at Roy Thomson Hall. Tickets are available here.

If you would like to support Eat to the Beat in other ways contact Shana Coppen at 416-778-6314, xt 229. Or email Shana at

Thank you.

The B Word – Budget


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The B Word:  Budget

Grab a coffee. Or a beer. We need to talk. Yes, it’s time to discuss your wedding budget

Ah, that dreaded word.

Don’t like the word budget? How about your wedding spending plan?

Call it what you like, but there is no avoiding the fact that your wedding is going to cost money.

Once the excitement of being newly engaged starts to dim a bit you need to discuss together what kind of celebration you want and what you can afford. Every wedding presents a couple with a zillion details to consider. It’s easy to get carried away so focus on your priorities. Write them down. What’s important to you? What’s important to your fiancé? What’s important to you as a couple?

If your last name is not Weston, Thomson or  Rogers it is essential that you sit down with your beloved and discuss what you can realistically afford to spend on your wedding. A typical wedding in a major urban centre in Canada costs $21-25,000. That’s a lot of money and long gone are the days when the bride’s parents footed the bill. The average couple getting married today is older and self-supporting, but you will want to meet with your parents and discuss what they might be able to do to help mitigate your wedding costs. Most parents will want to help but do not push them to contribute more than they can afford. And whatever they offer, please be grateful.

Another idea for cost cutting:  hire a Wedding Coordinator. Yes, this is a shameless plug for my profession and, yes, hiring a Wedding Coordinator is an expense, but in the long run we can actually save you money (and provide peace of mind).

Sounds counter-intuitive doesn’t it? But here’s the scoop:  we who work in this industry know all sorts of ways you can save money on your wedding, from clothing to venues to stationery to food. Here’s just one example:

Like the travel industry the wedding industry has seasons. Everyone wants to get married on a sunny Saturday in August. (And good luck, by the way, getting Mother Nature to guarantee that sunny day.)  But get married on a Friday or Sunday in the off-season and you could save hundreds on your reception venue. You see, by breaking away from the herd a bit you just pocketed enough money to pay for your bridal bouquet and a few boutonnieres.

Going the DIY route is a tried and true cost cutter – or is it? Keep in mind the many, many hours you and your fiancé and/or bridal party will spend creating those charming centerpieces, place cards, guest favours, etc. etc. Chances are you all work fulltime. If this is your second or third ride on the marriage merry-go-round you may also be juggling aging parents and unruly teenagers. Your time is precious and valuable. Be realistic about a) how crafty you truly are and, b) the time commitment required. Even the simplest project might take much more time than you’re prepared to invest. And never underestimate the pain of hot glue from a glue gun on your delicate hands. I’ve been there. That stuff hurts.

A wedding is just one day; a joyful celebration to start your new life together. No couple should start that journey in debt. But remember this:  no matter what your budget, your wedding can and will be beautiful. All it takes is open communication, a little imagination and flexibility.









The Colour of Your Love


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Photo Courtesy of Mango Studio

A Beautiful Use of Colour
Photo Courtesy of Mango Studio

If you wanted to send me over the moon when I was a kid all you had to do was give me the biggest box of Crayola Crayons. That box contained 64 beautiful colours and I still remember my favourite was Peacock Blue. Those crayons and a giant pad of newsprint paper and I was happy for hours. Lost in the worlds created by my young imagination.

Colour has always made me happy. Still does. Many things inspire me as I work with couples to design a beautiful wedding day, but colour will always be at the top of the list. We are all affected by colour – often without even being aware of its affects on our brain and mood. Colour can make us happy. (Hello Orange!) Calm us down. (Thank you Blue.) Alert us to danger. (Red, you saved my life!)  Colour is powerful and is one of the most important elements you’ll use to create your perfect wedding day.

It’s been said that the human eye can perceive 10 million different colours. So how in the world do you choose a colour scheme for your wedding? Complementary?  Monochromatic? The pop of primary colours? Soothing pastels? Rich jewel tones?

Feeling a tad overwhelmed? Don’t be. Help abounds for the colour-challenged – no Fine Arts degree required. Two of my favourite on-line colour resources are The Perfect Palette and Colour Lovers. Each illustrates many examples of beautiful colour combinations.

I also recommend you check out the film (courtesy of Honey and Dear and The Wedding Co blog) of this recent Toronto wedding. You’ll see how the elegant grey and soft apricot colour scheme has been used to perfection. Note how the bridesmaids’ and groomsmen’s attire blends beautifully with the flowers, the stunning chapel and the reception venue. The gorgeous florals extend and enhance the colour scheme. The overall effect is stunning.

For your own wedding consider the feel and mood you wish to convey. Think about the formality of your wedding, the architecture and decor of your ceremony and reception venues, the season in which you’ll be married.

Your perfect palette is out there. It might be in a box of crayons, a Pantone colour fan, or it might be in the bridal colour trends of 2013.

Your Wedding Theme: Unique or Just Weird?


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On August 10th the Huffington Post tweeted a link to:   “…Supercute, 12 superhero themed weddings.” Shortly after they tweeted a link to a Dr. Seuss themed wedding. One of my wedding planner colleagues is scoping out ideas for a couple wanting a Disney themed wedding.

Superheroes, Dr. Seuss, Disney: What is going on here? These themes are perfect for a child’s birthday party. But a wedding?

Well it seems I’m not alone in wondering if the modern wedding is getting out of hand.

Recently I was a guest on the CBC radio programme Here & Now. The topic of discussion? Wedding trends. Where do they come from and have they gone too far. (You can listen to the segment here.)

So, when does unique and personal cross the line to become silly and self-indulgent? Or, possibly outright offensive? (Would you be comfortable attending a wedding with a Fifty Shades of Grey theme? Me neither.)

My job is to work with couples to help them create a wedding that is unique, meaningful and fun. It is also my job to gently rein them in if they venture too far out there. Yes your wedding should be a reflection of who you are as a couple, but when you look at your photo album five, 15 or 40 years down the road you don’t want to look at each other and scream, “What were we thinking?!”

If you use good taste, good manners and a reasonable budget as guidelines you can’t go too far wrong. And remember: class and elegance are always in style.

If you’re interested in reading more you might enjoy this article, published in the Globe and Mail last week. It digs deeper into the personalized wedding backlash.


The Gatsby Influence


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Aussie director Baz Luhrmann’s film adaptation of The Great Gatsby is scheduled for release on Christmas Day 2012 and we’ve been seeing the Gatsby influence on wedding fashion for a few months now.

Check out this Gatsby-esque photo shoot, courtesy of Style Me Pretty. I do love the bride’s dress.

Photo courtesy of

The film boasts a terrific cast:  Leonardo diCaprio, Carey Mulligan, Tobey McGuire amongst others. Interested? Here’s a link to the official trailer: