The heartbeat of the Wedding Reception

 

No doubt about it: Music is the heart and soul of a party. Good music can transform a dead end street; lame music can ruin a wedding wherever it’s held so for just a few minutes or even a few hours forget about everything else and focus your undivided attention on your music provider. 

Check out wedding bands and DJs factoring in the type of entertainment that suits your taste, budget, space constraints, guest list and favourite dance music and don’t take forever making a decision because live bands and DJs can get booked up to a year in advance. 

Whether you decide to go with a DJ or a band it is they who will breathe life into the party. The goal is to get people out of their seats and onto the dance floor.

Consider the crowd:

The type of music you choose will set a tone for your wedding. Think about the general demographic of your guests and what genre best reflects the kind of fun you want to have, your personality and your personal taste in music. For example, big band sounds are generally best live and the way the music is delivered; by live band or DJ also affects the ambience. 

 

Stefan Jez of Uptown Xpress Productions Mobile DJ Entertainment is all ears when it comes to the wedding couple’s directions with regards to entertainment “The focus is always, always on what the couple tells us. Whether it’s different types of music, ambient lighting, dance floor lighting, or animation it’s our business to make it a night remembered for how fun the entertainment was.” 

Mix it up:

He’s rock and roll but you’re rhythm and blues? No worries! Musical variety is the main ingredient to “a good time was had by all” so whichever way you go, band or DJ, they’re sure to bring a playlist that includes a solid combination of fast and slow, old and new tunes.

 

Choosing a band for the wedding entertainment is like saying “yes” to real musicians putting on a show.  For example, Tommy Green, Director of Preville Big Band says, “having live entertainment is an invitation to a vibrant emotional connection between the musicians and the guests. We even bring the trombones right out on the dance floor while playing In the Mood and the guests eat it up!” 

For those with a very mixed crowd of young and old who aren’t opposed to spending a little extra a band can wrap things up at midnight and then a DJ can go on at 12:30 for a couple of hours. In any case, whatever you decide if money’s an issue then don’t skimp on the music. One less platter at dinner or a slightly smaller centerpiece for the tables won’t affect the party but mediocre music could mean mediocre fun.

 

Consider these questions for the consultation:

– How long have you been in business?

 – Is there somewhere I can visit to see you live?

– Can I see a video of one of your performances?

– How much time do you need to set up?

– Have you ever worked at my wedding location before?

– Who will act as the emcee?

– Can you recommend a specific routine or order of events?

– Will you take requests from my guests?

– Will you learn a special song if I ask you to?

– Can I give you a “Must Play” and a “Do Not Play” list?

– What is your fee structure?

– Is there an overtime charge?

– How much is the deposit?

– When is the balance due?

– Can you play music for the ceremony and music during the cocktail hour?

– How many hours of playing are included for a wedding?

– How many breaks will the band or deejay need?

– Do you provide live or taped music during your break?

– Should I provide food for the musicians or deejay?

– What will you wear?

Photography by: Tricia Victoria Photography

Beauty Countdown for your Wedding Day

When considering your beauty preparation for your big day, you will definitely want to plan ahead. Overloading on beauty and grooming days before your wedding can not only also increase your stress but could also leave you looking and feeling less than perfect it on the very day you want to look your absolute best!

First things first: Your Skin

Everyone wants beautiful, healthy glowing skin that simply radiates with bridal happiness. To help your skin achieve that perfect glow, schedule a series of monthly facials starting at about four months before your wedding. It’s advisable to book your last facial no closer then two weeks before your wedding.

If you tend to have breakouts or you want to fix dark spots, redness, or fine lines you could consult a dermatologist about six months before your wedding, as most products require a few months to really work. If you don’t have that much time go as soon as you can.

 

Three Months: Your Hairstyle

Now is the time to decide on the length, shape and style of hair you want for your wedding day. Starting early will allow you the time needed to grow your hair if needed. You will also have time to experiment on what looks good with your dress. 

If you’d like to add color or highlights to your hair, starting a few months early will give your hairdresser enough time to perfect the look and fix anything that might go wrong.

It’s also a good idea to treat your hair to weekly deep conditioning treatments, as this will have your hair healthy, bouncy and shiny the day of your wedding.

Two Months: Your Trial Run

Every bride should get a trial run hair, makeup and spray tan session well before the wedding day. Now is the time to pick our your color preferences, decide on how much product you’re comfortable wearing, and to see if that up do will actually work with your dress or if your should wear your hair out.

If you opt to go with a spray tan, now is the time to test it out and make sure you get the right hue. You might be pretty used to applying self-tanner, but for this momentous occasion you might want to trust the job to a professional. That is why a trial run is so important; you want to be sure that you come out sun kissed and not overly orange. Getting it done ahead of time will give the tan enough time to fade if you’re unhappy with the results.

One Month: Your Smile

Having a picture-perfect smile, with beautiful sparkly white teeth for your wedding day is a must. 

When it comes to teeth whiteners be sure to consult first with your dentist before choosing an over-the-counter product since some products may irritate gums and lips and may cause swelling.

There are a few things you could do at home to help whiten your smile, such as eating raw veggies like carrots and celery which help to remove surface stains or even rubbing your teeth with strawberries or lemon and rinsing with cool water. Staying away from food and drinks that stain your teeth is also advisable. 

One week: Your Body Hair

Body hair removal is a personal decision, however if you do decide to remove body hair you really don’t want any bad reactions showing up on your big day! Stick to what works best for you whether that is waxing, shaving, hair removal creams or epilating (keep in mind epilating usually requires a longer period of 3-6 sessions at 6-8 week intervals).

Getting your eyebrows plucked versus waxed is recommended as plucking is more gentle on the skin, is more precise and creates a better overall shape. Try patting your freshly tweezed areas with rubbing alcohol to prevent breakouts and apply a moisturizer after to help sooth redness and possible swelling. Getting your brows done a few days before will allow your skin time to adjust and ensure that redness and swelling to go away before your wedding.

One Day: Your Hands & Feet

Beautiful hands and feet are crucial on your wedding day particularly for all those close up photos! Giving yourself a 24-hour period to get your hands and feet done means your polish will have adequate time to dry and harden. If you’re worried about messing up your polish or chipping a nail a good alternative to a regular manicure is getting gel nails or shellac that will last you until you get back from your honeymoon. Be sure to keep your hands moist throughout the day and during the night so that they are smooth and healthy looking the day of your wedding. 

Last Night: Your Sleep

Go to sleep!! The term beauty sleep is not just a cliché. Not only will a solid 8-10 hours of sleep have you looking refreshed and rested in the morning, a good night’s sleep will also help to ease pre-wedding jitters. So turn off the TV, get off the computer, put away the smart phones and tablets and get your beauty rest!

My Big Fat Greek Wedding

I never wanted a big wedding. A pretty dress and my handsome groom were all I needed to get the deed done. This was my first thought – my very delusional first thought the day I got engaged. Fast-forward 342 days later, and I had quite a different matrimonial experience. Of course, I still got the handsome groom, but the pretty dress turned into a larger-than-life ball gown. Throw in 300 pink peonies, 100 white roses, 190 invitations, 400 guests, 40 centerpieces and 1 pair of the most adorable fuchsia shoes, and you get the biggest, fattest, Greekest wedding this side of the Atlantic.

The day was beautiful, my party was rockin’ till the wee hours of the morning, and every guest left with a sparkly ribbon- and crystal-decorated favor box in their hands and a big smile on their face. But let me tell you, getting 400 smiles is no easy feat. It takes more than a few shots of Ouzo and a circle dance or two. In fact, it took a whole year of stress, sweat, tears, and a touch of that Mediterranean communication skill the rest of the world calls yelling to pull off a day that left everyone – including this bride – happily partied. 

Staying Cultured

Our goal was to have a traditional wedding with a few twists. So we had the typical religious ceremony (which we both wanted), but come reception time we threw nontraditional touches into the mix. We made sure our wedding reflected who we were as a couple in the midst of all the Greek-infused hoopla. So, here’s what we did to make sure the night was a blast for every guest… and that the party reflected our personality as a couple – spunky, spontaneous and semi-traditional. 

Bye-Bye Receiving Line!

Everyone hates the dreaded receiving line, and as the bride I hated the thought even more. Imagine planting 400 double-cheek kisses (that’s 800 kisses!) in one night? Plus, I didn’t like the idea of making people line up to hand me my gift like they’re in some sort of production line. So, we killed the receiving line. Another bonus is that this got everyone eating sooner than usual, which eliminated the potential crankiness that would have happened had they been forced to stand in that mile-long gift-deposit waiting line. 

Dine’n’Dance

Sure, eating is fun, but after five courses of face-stuffing, eating makes you tired. I decided from the get-go that there would be no time for yawns at my wedding. I made sure my guests were thoroughly entertained throughout dinner. First dance to uniquely awesome song? Check! Performance by drop-dead gorgeous belly dancer? Check! Performance by just as beautiful decked-out Brazilian dancers?

Check again! There was no time to be bored, and that’s just what we wanted. It also got the party started earlier than usual, making the dance floor a madhouse from the beginning of the evening – complete with stereotypical plate-breaking.

Keep it Short

Of course everyone at your wedding is happy for you – they wouldn’t be there if they weren’t. But I’ve realized from attending my fair share of weddings that no one cares about the funny things the couple did as children or the best man’s fondest drunken memories of the groom. All you have say is a short thank you to your guests, parents and bridal party, send a specific shout-out to all the out-of-towners for making the trek and maybe say something sweet to your new spouse. Then shut off the mic and let the drinking, eating and dancing resume. At least, that’s what we did, and everyone seemed thankful for it.

Can I get a Volunteer?

In fear of having a room full of bored guests, I did my best to make sure they were all involved in the party. The Brazilian and belly dancers made guests of all ages get up and awkwardly wiggle their hips; the centerpiece giveaway game had guests duking it out over the oversized peony-and-rose-stuffed champagne glass in the middle of each table; and the photo booth had guests donning costumes and making fools of themselves for the camera. There were happy faces at every turn – mission accomplished!

Midnight Snack

Cocktails and a five-course meal followed by the traditional plate of lamb on each table is definitely not enough for a room full of Greeks. The sweet table was the finishing touch to our night. After our wedding cake had been eaten, long tables that lined four walls of the lobby area were filled with food – from cakes and chocolate fondue to pizza and sausages. Being the foodies that we are, we believe that if you keep people fed, you keep them happy – and we were right.

 

Say Cheese!

Be warned: This tip is for all you non-traditional brides out there. My husband and I decided to take to our photos before the actual ceremony. That’s right, we saw each other before the ceremony (oh the horror!). Our logic was that this way our guests would get to head to the reception right after the church and get their party on. If you make people wait a few hours, they get tired and they leave early. Not only did this work out perfectly, but it also had the perk of letting us share a personal moment when we first saw each other without the uncomfortable glare of 400 pairs of eyes. And we were able to capture the precise moment in photo. It’s truly one of my favorite, most romantic memories of the day.

 

Your own big, fat day

Throwing a big wedding is hard work. You have to balance taking care of hundreds of guests and making sure everything goes off without a hitch. But no matter what your culture or traditions, it’s possible to turn this mega out-of-control party into the single best day of your life.

4 Beautiful Honeymoon Spots

While some couples enjoy lounging under the scorching sun following their “I dos,” others are looking for adventure and excitement, and everyone wants to enjoy their honeymoons at a first-rate resort. So Bride & Groom Canada presents readers with four unique yet universally luxurious hotspots for post-wedding bliss.

Buccament Bay Resort

The new Buccament Bay Resort is set to open this year as St. Vincent’s first-ever five-star luxury property. The 338-room resort, the first resort to be managed and maintained by Harlequin Hotels & Resorts, will include the Liverpool Football Club Soccer School, Pat Cash Tennis Academy, Harlequin Fitness Centre, and the Diving & Water Sports Centre, not to mention several bars and restaurants, the Harlequin Performing Arts Academy, and the Alaia Spa (which is a tropical paradise surrounded by fresh water channels that can only be reached by taking a private bridge). There’s nothing like the turquoise water surrounding the islands and cays known as “The Jewels of the Caribbean.”

Couples will love the beachfront settings and cocooning themselves in lavish and exquisite accommodation. After a day of R&R, there are numerous dining options. There’s Arlecchino, the resort’s elegant Italian restaurant, which will serve a delicious array of classic and contemporary Italian cuisine, or guests can enjoy fresh, mouthwatering local seafood and juicy steaks at Jack’s. Ginger & Co. offers an eclectic array of Thai, Japanese and Chinese food prepared in an open kitchen at their Asian fusion restaurant, and at Trader Vic’s Restaurant (the first in the Caribbean), their array of food blends flavours of Pacific Island, Oriental and American cuisines. The resort even has its own coffee shop and nightclub.

Local activities of choice: Visit the Botanic Garden founded in 1765, the oldest in the Western Hemisphere; climb to the top of La Soufriere, an active volcano that last erupted in 1979; check out Wallilabou Bay, which was used as the fictional location for Port Royal in the blockbuster Disney film “The Pirates of the Caribbean;” see the cannons at Fort Charlotte, or swim at Owia Salt Pond, a bathing pool enclosed by lava peaks and ridges.

Teton Mountain Lodge

A quintessential Jackson Hole spot, Teton Mountain Lodge is the perfect getaway in the winter (for skiing) as well as in the summer (for hiking, horseback riding and more). Located less than a mile from Grand Teton National Park (and within an hour of Yellowstone National Park), guests can spot elk, moose, bear and other wildlife on a day trip to take in the surrounding mountains and forest. Emulating the grand scale and rustic elegance of the Yellowstone National Park lodges, the Lodge features refined furnishings, stone fireplaces, oversize baths, state-of-the-art kitchens, hardwood floors, tasteful lighting, and classic millwork. It’s also well-known for its Solitude Spa, which includes a rooftop hot tub with panoramic views, and is inspired through design and treatments to reflect the restorative and healing powers of water.

Don’t forget to indulge in their world-renowned cuisine at Cascade – you can’t leave without trying their Bacon Bloody Mary. Local activities of choice: A guided tour of Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks; rafting along the Snake River; riding horseback through the National Forest, or experiencing Jackson’s “Last of the Old West” charm at the local rodeo.

Three Camel Lodge

What’s more exotic than renting a luxury “ger” at the Three Camel Lodge for a honeymoon? Located in the heart of the Gobi and constructed according to environmentally and culturally sustainable development guidelines, the gers are built in traditional Mongolian style (without a single nail) and offer all the luxuries of a modern world-class resort. The Lodge’s 20 deluxe gers include a private bathroom with a toilet and sink, a fireplace, a king-size bed and amenities such as felt slippers, Mongolian-styled bathrobes and locally produced toiletries and camel-milk moisturizing lotions. Each ger has a southward-facing door, a nomadic Mongolian tradition, providing an unobstructed view of the desert and the Gobi-Altai Mountains. The gers provide an authentic taste of Mongolian culture and allow travellers to visit the remote Gobi Desert in comfort, providing ideal sleeping conditions in the silence of the desert night. There’s also room service.

The on-site Bulagtai Restaurant, named for the ancient volcanic outcrop that shelters the Lodge, uses locally grown organic fruits and vegetables, dairy products produced by local nomadic families, and organic meat from Mongolia’s free-range livestock herds to create regional dishes and traditional specialties. The Thirsty Camel Bar, which is housed in a naturally geo-cooled room below the restaurant, boasts a wide selection of beers, wines, spirits and soft drinks. There is also an on-site laundry service and a spa staffed by professionally trained massage therapists.

Local activities of choice: Take an excursion into the Gobi led by their professional guides (either by jeep or helicopter), or explore the area riding atop a two-humped Bactrian camel; travel with a palaeontologist from the Mongolian Academy of Sciences to the cliffs to search for and excavate dinosaur fossils, or take a Mongolian cooking class.

The Queen’s Gardens Resort

The Queen’s Gardens Resort is Saba’s leading luxury resort and is an upscale, casually chic yet elegant hotel, with magnificent vistas in the rain forest, the mountains and along the Sapphire blue Caribbean Sea. The resort features 12 spacious and elegant suites, each occupying a complete floor of a guest building. Most suites have a panoramic view of the area and feature a private Jacuzzi in a breathtaking setting over the Caribbean Sea or the Saba Rain Forest. At Queen’s Gardens Resort it’s all about getting pampered, from wining and dining at their restaurant, which offers a mix of Caribbean dishes and a fusion of east and west cuisine with a French influence along with an extensive and exclusive wine list to relaxing in the lounge that is sheltered by 100-year-old mango trees. There’s also scuba-diving, snorkelling or hiking on one of the many beautiful trails Saba has to offer. The resort offers massages and yoga as well as a swimming pool, fitness room and library. Local activities of choice: Go on a sunset cruise in The Caribbean; take a cooking class; make your own jewellery at the Jo Bean Glass workshop; take a hike through beautiful villages or the remote backcountry.

For the couples who need to decompress in the sun, sand and surf, Buccament Bay Resort in St. Vincent and Queen’s Gardens Resort in Saba are the perfect go-to locales. However, if adventure and outdoor play is what they are seeking, then it’s off to Jackson Hole’s Teton Mountain Lodge or Three Camel Lodge in Mongolia. Each offers a relaxing, sumptuous environment for a honeymoon. Anyone can find post-wedding bliss at these romantic destinations.

They heart NYC

Home Alone 2: Lost in New York may not be the most romantic movie ever, but it set Katherine Moane on a romantic course she could never have predicted.

After seeing it, Katherine fell in love with the idea of New York City at Christmastime. Finally, she got her wish. She and then-boyfriend Greg Foxwell, both 30, were on a stroll through Central Park four days before Christmas when Greg surprised her at the famous Bethesda Fountain.

“In front of the fountain,” Katherine recalls, “he stopped a couple and asked them to take our picture. Then he got down on one knee and proposed.” Katherine says that, even though her friends at home had been insisting she was going to come home with a ring, she was convinced it wasn’t going to happen, so his proposal took her by surprise.

And yes, there are pictures of the proposal – smart thinking Greg! Katherine says there is also a 20 second video of her reaction, tucked away unnoticed on her camera until recently.

A New York theme seemed natural when it came time to start planning their July 29th wedding.

“The only thing we knew is that we wanted a great party with delicious food,” Katherine said.

They decided on The Manor, a romantic, Tudor-style venue.

“I was so pumped to marry the woman of my dreams,” Greg said. “When Katherine walked down the aisle, I had tears of joy. She looked so stunning, and I’d never felt so happy.” 

The couple wrote their own vows, which Greg said were easy to say with conviction, looking straight into one anothers’  eyes. “They were coming from the heart,” he said. 

After the ceremony, at PeterandPauls.com catered to the 180 guests with a cocktail hour featuring seafood hors d’oeuvres, followed by a sit-down dinner of a salad with goat cheese and candied pecans, heart-shaped agnolotti, a choice of filet mignon or spinach and asiago-stuffed chicken with roasted potatoes, and tartufo for dessert. Their signature drinks included The Fifth Avenue and the New Yorker. 

Drinks were just the beginning of their romantic theme. Katherine hand-made each of 18 centrepieces herself. “It was a lot of fun making them,” she said, “but exhausting. I spent two years and two trips to New York gathering centrepiece stuff!” There was a Big Apple table. At one New York Times themed table, each guest got a mock-Times with a personalized article. Her girlfriends occupied the Sex and City table complete with boas and high heels, and the kids’ table featured the I (heart) New York logo on a T-shirt for each. The cake, made by a former student of teacher Katherine’s, was modelled after the New York subway line. 

The bridal party – 18 in all, including the happy couple – partied the night away at The Manor, and it’s safe to say the marriage will be just as big a success. After all, you know what they say about a New York-themed wedding – if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere!

Toting tykes

The tradition has always been that flowergirls make their way down the aisle scattering petals while little ringbearers in mini suits proudly display the rings for their walk, but what if you’re looking for something a bit more unique? While these are classic ideas for the kids’ roles, why not switch things up?

In one feature in our upcoming issue of Bride & Groom (January 2014) we talk about a couple who had seven flowergirls and ringbearers at their wedding (the bride and groom had loads of nieces and nephews), so instead of divvying up who would toss petals and who would carry the rings, they asked all the kiddies to blow bubbles as they walked down the aisle instead.

Here are some other fun ways to make the tykes at your ‘do stand out:

For the little ladies…

Girls love flowy, pretty things, so arm them with a ribbon wand and have them “swirl” away as they take to the aisle. Instead of baskets of flower petals they could carry flower balls, or for a whimsical touch, they could hold a small bunch of pastel balloons that match the accent colour of the bridesmaid dresses.

If the flowergirl is a bit older, have her hand out beautiful individual flowers to guests as she walks down.

For the gents…

I’ve seen a lot of adorable variations to having ringbearers carry the bling on a pillow… little boys have been given slews of alternatives, such as carrying the ring in a gorgeous box or secured to something that mimics the overall theme of the day (in a seashell for a beach wedding or on a piece of wood or bed of moss for a nature-lover’s ceremony).

Ring bearer bowls in white clay are clean, chic and so classy. They can be stamped with any words or phrases you like, and you can keep it afterward on the side of a sink to safely hold your wedding rings. We love the wide range of choices from Paloma’s Nest.

 

For the pair…

If your flowergirl and ringbearer are younger, have them go down the aisle together (they might be a bit more cooperative if they follow the adage “safety in numbers”). They could share carrying a sign or fly flags with cute sayings (“Here comes the bride” or “This is your last chance to run,” as seen here from Beaucoup).

Getting in shape for your wedding

 Between the tastings, the bachelorette at your favourite Mexican resto and the dessert-themed bridal shower, you suddenly find you can’t breathe when you’re in your dress.

After having a major breakout and before a major meltdown, a bride’s biggest fear is not fitting into her wedding dress on the big day. If you’re looking to shed a few pounds in a relatively short time, then you need to keep reading. 

Christina Serpa is co-founder of Body Physix, a personal training, yoga and Pilates studio in the east end. Serpa has helped countless brides get fit and into their dresses, and offered B&G readers five common mistakes to avoid when getting in shape for your wedding. 

1. Purchasing a dress that is too small with plans on losing weight to feel comfortable in it. 

You can find a dress to suit your body type. However, if you’ve already made this mistake and still have 12 weeks before your big day, Serpa recommends this: “Go to a certified nutritional specialist and develop a realistic eating plan to reduce your calorie intake and keep cravings at bay. Avoid fad diets, and try to burn calories through high-intensity core and cardio work with emphasis on using your whole body.” 

2. Going to the gym five to seven days a week when you weren’t doing that before 

“If you are going from zero to five, you are stacking the cards against yourself,” Serpa says. “If you only have three times at 40 minutes a week, then that’s fine – it is better than nothing and you will actually stick to it.” 

3. Going to the gym without a plan 

“You need a program and a proper evaluation,” she recommends. “You can really cause your body damage [if you don’t]. Consult a certified medical practitioner and get the OK to begin your weight-loss plan. Ironically, most of the men who come to us do so only after they’ve hurt themselves lifting with bad techniques and crash dieting.” 

4. Thinking trainers and dieticians will guarantee success 

Sure, you can see a personal trainer like Serpa three times a week. “But what about the rest of the week? In essence you need to surround yourself with people that support and help you as much as possible. Most people feel defeated if they go it alone. Get the wedding party involved in your transformation – the more support and excitement, the better.” 

5. Thinking that only exercise or diet will help you look your best 

“No no no! It takes time to see a trainer and nutritionist, go grocery shopping, and actually begin your “new lifestyle.” The better you plan your weight loss plan, the more likely it will succeed. It is just like your actually wedding day – the more prepared and organized you are, the easier the transition will be.” 

Putting your best self forward on your wedding day

If you want to look your best in your dress (or tux), here are some ideas from personal trainer Christina Serpa: 

Drink one to two litres of water a day.

Walk everywhere as much as possible, including taking the stairs.

Try to decrease (not eliminate) some of the starches in your diet, such as rice, bread, pasta, and potatoes.

Increase the fresh raw vegetables in your eating plan.

Consume more natural fibre.

Incorporate cardio as well as resistance-type exercises into your routine.

A paradise destination wedding in Hawaii

For high school sweethearts Lindsay and Kevin Kerr, the last 14 years have been full of love but especially this past year of their engagement and wedding.

Kevin shared his joy in the magic lead-up to asking Lindsay to be his wife. “There was a series of commercials for a jewellery company that used to run where the husband put a necklace on his wife while she was sleeping, and much to her surprise, she found the sparkling diamond when she awoke. I started doing this with Lindsay a few years back like slipping a new pair of shoes on her while she slept and once I flashed a picture of her sleeping with the new camera I just bought her. When it came time to propose, following this theme seemed like the most appropriate thing to do.” The day he secretly picked up the ring, he was too excited to wait to have it sized and instead hid it under the bed, waiting for her to fall asleep that night so he could slip it on her finger.

“She woke up midway through and felt her finger. Still half asleep in the dark confusion, she asked me ‘what is this…is this your ring?’”

Lindsay chimed in, “I couldn’t believe it. What a surprise. I was so happy that we were able to have the moment together. And of course I said yes!”

 They opted for a destination wedding to keep the event intimate and enjoyable with close family and friends. Choosing Maui as their favourite place to be, along with the help of White Orchid Wedding, they set out to plan their special Hawaiian dream day. Selecting a summer wedding for ease of travelling guests, the couple visited six months ahead of the day, picking the ceremony location at a beachfront estate in Makena and the reception at the historic Haiku Sugar Mill.

Island floral, white roses and orchids were the feature, with purple and aqua accents playing off everything from their save the dates and invitations to candles and ribbons. Even a special fan embossed with their names and the date were thoughtfully placed on each of the chairs at the ceremony for guests to use in the tropical paradise humidity. The simple but elegant theme focused on the destination including bamboo chairs, bride and groom traditional leis, and a stunning display of 200 orchid petals lining the aisle. 

Planning a destination wedding was surprisingly simpler than they imagined with high praise to White Orchid Wedding for guiding them through it all, keeping them on track and in theme. Hawaiian traditional vows, exchanging of leis, island drums and musicians, hula dancing, amazing food – five bridesmaids and five groomsmen helped to host the perfect occasion for just over 100 guests. 

The only damper on the day was the blessing of rain and then even more blessed rain. For Kevin, waking up to the downpour was not in the plan. “Our wedding planner called, telling me to stay calm and asking if we should get a back-up tent for the ceremony.” After a lot of morning scrambling everything was covered, and by the time the bride arrived the sun came out beautifully for the mid-day ceremony. The rain staged a comeback for the reception but according to the bride it actually seemed to make everything a little more special.

“It was very humid and everything was glistening. Kids were tearing around soaking wet and everyone else simply enjoyed the food and good company.”

Most special for them was that both Lindsay and Kevin were blessed with sharing their Hawaiian wedding day with grandparents, all in their 80s, who were able to make the journey to Maui. This loving couple wouldn’t have changed a thing. “We didn’t have a gift registry – our gift was our guests, as that was all we wanted.”

Honeymoons on home turf

The hopeless romantics

If you’re a couple who loves roses and poetry, a romantic honeymoon is what you’re after, and the King Eddie hotel on King Street East in downtown Toronto is the perfect place to stay. Its historic façade and liveried doormen will make you feel like Audrey Hepburn. Head over to the Spa at the Elmwood for manicures, pedicures, and a sensual massage in a room just for two. It’s a quick cab ride from there to the Ritz Carlton for dinner at Toca (a mash-up of “Toronto” and “Canada”) to indulge yourself with pan-seared foie gras complete with “fairy floss,” which you’ll probably recognize as cotton candy. For dessert, the delectable double chocolate, Grand Marnier, or maple walnut soufflés are made to order. But the most romantic room at Toca is the cheese cave, where a consultant will serve you paper-thin curls of manchego while your sommelier pairs it with the perfect wine.

For the artsy couple

If your tastes run a little more boho, Toronto has a number of neighbourhoods that are destinations unto themselves. Start at the Distillery District for fresh pastries and espresso before wandering the cobblestones to check out chic art galleries and boutique stores (or take a Segway tour and find out about the neighbourhood’s Al Capone connection). Head over to Queen Street West, where you can check out the city’s most eclectic mix of vintage clothing stores, street vendors, and music venues, then walk another couple of blocks to grab lunch on Baldwin Street near the Art Gallery of Ontario, where your choice of ethnic and specialty cuisines include Ethiopian (the coffee is to die for), Japanese, Italian, Mexican, and Caribbean. Next, wander to nearby Kensington Market to visit one of the most vibrant neighbourhoods in the country, let alone the city. For an exquisite dinner, visit Canoe on the 54th floor of the TD Bank Centre – they have amazing views and even more amazing cuisine. The “Taste Campfire” menu is as charming as it is delicious – where else will you get the chance to top off a gourmet meal with white chocolate s’mores? Finally, retire to your room at Le Germain, a boutique hotel in the heart of the Entertainment District.

The adrenaline junkies

If your perfect honeymoon means barely setting foot indoors, Southern Ontario offers some of the best adventures around. Go caving or mountain biking in the Niagara Escarpment, or zip-lining in the Elora Gorge. Take a five-day bicycle tour from the shores of Lake Ontario east of Toronto to the Trent Canal. The gorgeous hues of fall add a romantic touch to canoeing, botany, bird watching, hiking, and kayaking. Check out ontarioutdoor.com for excursions as well as a variety of accommodations from charming B & B’s to true roughing-it camp sites.

Not only are these adventures surprisingly affordable, but many are within a couple of hours of the city, so if you’re a multi-faceted couple who love a little romance, a little urban adventure, and the great outdoors, you can do it all and be back at work next Monday.

Ottawa honeymoons on home turf

While an exotic vacation to a deserted beach may sound heaven-sent after the hoopla of a wedding, sometimes the money (or time off) just isn’t feasible immediately following the big to-do. Never fear: there are tons of romantic, intriguing, and downright fun things to do in your own backyard. Take a weekend after the wedding to enjoy a honeymoon on home turf and explore your city like a newbie newlywed.

For the hopeless romantics

If exchanging vows, kissing the bride, and feeding each other wedding cake was just the tip of the iceberg for you romantics, then Ottawa is the perfect place to keep the flame burning. Stay for a night or two at the luxurious Lord Elgin – known for its elegant setting. It’s also just steps away from hand-in-hand walks past the Parliament Buildings or along the Rideau Canal.

In wintertime go for a romantic skate on the canal or, in the warmer months, rent bikes for a jaunt along the waterway and through cozy neighbourhoods. Stop for a hot chocolate and Beaver-Tail, or set up a private picnic lunch. Enjoy an intimate meal at the Courtyard Restaurant or Taylor’s Genuine Food & Wine Bar, both of which are reputed for their cozy atmospheres and top-notch fare. 

For the history buffs

There are countless buildings in the Ottawa area that are steeped in history, but none is as unique and colourful as that of the Fairmont Chateau Laurier. Go all out and book one of their indulgent Presidential Suites, and then dine at their renowned Wilfrids Restaurant (try the chef’s local tasting menu).

Perhaps you and your new mate are major history buffs, and there’s no shortage of interesting museums to check out in the Nation’s Capital Region. The recently-renovated Canadian War Museum along with the Canadian Museum of Civilization both have amazing regular displays as well as ongoing special exhibits – check their respective websites for a full schedule.

For the adventurous duo

Maybe posh hotels aren’t your thing and you’d rather rough it – the Gatineaus are picturesque and there are slews of cabins you can rent for a one-of-a-kind nature experience.

Ottawa is a city known for its active community, and if you’re a couple who loves to get your adrenaline pumping, it’s time to attempt one of the many extreme sports offered in and around the region. Go white-water rafting down the Ottawa River with Wilderness Tours, where you can also rent kayaks for a smoother ride. In the warmer months you and your mate can take another plunge and go bungee jumping with Great Canadian Bungee, or if you’re really gutsy (and trusting), battle things out with Ottawa X-Treme Paintball. Sign up for a Sky Adventure hang-gliding lesson. This honeymoon will test and excite you – are you up to the challenge?

Once darkness has settled in, brave a Haunted Walk and explore some of the city’s more frightening and daunting points of interest for an evening you won’t soon forget.

Honeymoons on home turf: Manitoba

You’ve planned the dream wedding and made it through the big day without a hitch. The question is where to go next if the most feasible option is to stay at home. Fret not, newlyweds. In Manitoba, newly-married couples can still get into the honeymoon spirit by enjoying an adventure that’s both close to home and worthy of a new marital celebration. 

Elegance and art in Winnipeg

In the Winnipeg area, The Fairmont Winnipeg tops the list of luxury hotels most appropriate for a celebratory stay. Sitting in the city’s downtown core, it’s ideal for couples who want to unwind in the deluxe Fairmont Gold rooms or soak in the hotel’s fancy saltwater pool – on the roof no less. Romantic meals are found at The Velvet Glove, the only restaurant recognized as a Four Diamond CAA-AAA establishment.

The Royal Winnipeg Ballet)

Around the city, there are numerous options for romantic dining and entertainment. Besides The Velvet Glove, the South American-fused Hermanos Restaurant & Wine Bar, the French-themed In Ferno’s Bistro, and the Italian-inspired Bellissimo Restaurant are three culinary mainstays that can be counted on to whet romantic appetites with ease. On the entertainment side of things, a Winnipeg honeymoon would not be complete without a taste of The Royal Winnipeg Ballet or the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra.

SETTING A ROMANTIC MOOD AT ELKHORN RESORT SPA

 

In close proximity to Riding Mountain National Park, The Elkhorn Resort, Spa & Conference Center is a perfect match for couples who yearn for a local honeymoon that will give them a break from the city. When visiting the resort, couples can opt for a private chalet rental or a luxurious on-site guest room with desirable amenities like a fireplace, a Jacuzzi, and a gift certificate to the appetizing Mountain Grill Dining Room – all available specifically as a package for newlyweds.

Thanks to its inviting surroundings, Elkhorn offers an equal amount of excitement and relaxation, starting with the deluxe Solstice Spa that will add rejuvenation and loving energy to a honeymooning couple. A stay at the Elkhorn also brings with it opportunities for horseback riding, golf, hiking, and mountain biking with skiing being an added bonus during winter honeymoon season.

A nature-filled honeymoon in Churchill

Newlyweds in Manitoba can call on Churchill Wild for a lodging and wildlife adventure nestled along the Seal River and the Hudson Bay Coast. While the lodges can offer breathtaking views, the adventure lies outside where couples can be close to polar bears and belugas and have a front row seat for the Aurora Borealis.

The nature-fuelled escape of this uniquely Northern Manitoba adventure is further amplified by an accompanying culinary adventure that’s sure to delight. The founders of Churchill Wild have bestselling food authors in their immediate family, while their experienced lodge chefs have previously cooked for the Queen of England during her visit to the province. It all adds up to a gourmet Arctic cuisine of fresh local ingredients against a snowy nature backdrop that is sure to keep romantic hearts burning during this uniquely original local honeymoon.

Honeymoons on home turf

What couple needs an extravagant honeymoon when they have each other? For those who already live in British Columbia, a local honeymoon can offer the same culinary delights, requisite pampering, and first-class surroundings as an international getaway with plenty of opportunities for elevated romance.

BREATHTAKING VIEWS AND EUROPEAN CUISINE IN VANCOUVER

 

For Vancouverites, a honeymoon at home can equal a breathtaking adventure without venturing far from the downtown core. We like the idea of cozying up with the romance-themed package at The Fairmont Pacific Rim, one of the city’s newest luxury hotels, complete with wine, marble bathrooms, an extended checkout time, and views that brings newlyweds up close and personal with the mountains and harbours of the city.

There’s much fun to be had at nearby Stanley Park where a romantic stroll on the seawall and dinner at The Teahouse with a picture-perfect sunset backdrop are sure to get hearts aflutter. For those wishing to add a European touch to their tummies, we’d suggest a candlelight meal at the South-of-France influenced Provence Marinaside or the Italian-themed Cioppino’s Mediterranean Grill, both of which make the food in a couple’s honeymoon meal as satisfying and enjoyable as the company they’re with. 

Old-fashioned romance in Victoria

Victoria is a staple of timeless elegance. For couples who live there or can make the short journey over, it’s an ideal honeymoon backdrop. The Fairmont Empress has been the hospitality jewel of the city since its 1908 opening, and couples can expect the crème de la crème of comfortable surroundings, and romance each other with a multi-course meal at the Empress Room, putting them in the same company as classic Hollywood stars and British royalty.

Besides the allure of The Fairmont Empress, the aura of The Butchart Gardens never gets old, where 55 acres of floral beauty can keep the heads of any newlywed pair completely in the clouds. A horse-drawn carriage tour is a must, while the Blue Crab is the place to end the night with a perfect seafood meal and picturesque views. Couples wanting even more old-fashioned charm can also visit Il Terrazzo for a sensual courtyard atmosphere and fireplace dinner setting.

Alpine romance and honeymoon pampering in Whistler

The 2010 Winter Olympics put all eyes on Whistler, but nearby residents to the village realize the romantic potential that it has to offer for local honeymooners. Nita Lake Lodge is an ideal setting for newlyweds, given that it offers glimpses of the nearby lake and alpine beauty thanks to its prime location on the doorstep of Whistler Mountain. The luxury suites are made even more enjoyable by the lodge’s emphasis on spa relaxation and first-rate organic food from the kitchens of Aura Restaurant.

Whistler offers many couple-friendly romantic choices, but we like the Tuscan-themed creations at longtime local favourite Il Caminetto as well as La Rua, a prime destination for those couples craving seafood or steak. No Whistler honeymoon is complete without an alpine experience which – depending on season – can range from hiking to skiing.