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Weddings

A Wedding for All Seasons

A Wedding for All Seasons

Meeting someone's entire extended family on a first date could be construed by some as moving a little quickly. It can also be a bit nerve-wracking. But after an intimate three-hour dinner with Jamie Koffler at Toronto's Guu restaurant, Meryl Acker was game. After all, she was smitten. 
 

As it turns out, it took a few chance encounters for Jamie, who had first met Meryl back in 2013,  to get the courage to ask her out. “She was captivating, smart and beautiful, with a very intriguing giggle,” he said. Little did he know that Meryl had been anxiously waiting for him to make his move. “He was effortlessly kind to everyone around him and his personality is contagious,” says Meryl, “I was hooked from the moment we met.”  So when Jamie suggested drinks, she insisted on dinner— the very next night. 

Meryl's dress was Ines di Santo, while Jamie wore a custom two-tone three-piece suit.

 
 
 

From that first date, the relationship progressed quickly.  Although they both have demanding jobs  — Meryl as a research co-ordinator in rare disease at SickKids and Jamie, running a custom home-building business — their work has never stopped them from making time for each other.  

 
 
 

Within a few months,  they knew each other was "the one." For Jamie, that revelation came when he couldn't wait to get back from a family vacation to see her again.  For Meryl, it was hearing Jamie's mum describe how, when Jamie was young, he would get so nervous telling a white lie that he would instantly pass out.  The story stole her heart, and so did he.

The dress code was cocktail attire for a more casual vibe amidst the grandeur of the Four Seasons ballroom. 

Last summer, the couple were hiking at Georgian Peaks, an alpine ski resort with the highest vertical drop of any resort in Ontario. Though it was Meryl's idea to go there for a weekend, what she didn't realize was that Jamie had already planned a proposal. On the morning of June 30th, they went for a hike, and as they neared the top, she saw a beautiful wooden deck with the words “will you marry me?” written with small stones. Jamie had planned everything, including chilled bottles of rosé, a picnic and photos of them together to celebrate after she said yes.

 
 

Just three months later, on November 3, 2018, they were married at the Four Seasons Hotel in Toronto, with the help of wedding planner extraordinaire Ashley Lindzon.

     

    For a truly unique take on the seating chart,  the couple had polaroid photos of every guest placed under a large banner that read, ‘our favourite people'. "I was told it would be a difficult feat, but we made it happen!," says Meryl.

    “Our inspiration was an elegant garden with rustic accents,” says Meryl. That involved creating a romantic and textured look with Jackie O Florals' white lisianthus, white roses, ranunculus and tulips set against dark leafy greens. They incorporated blue and grey accents onto their wedding cakes, chargers and seating chart wall, and touches of gold on the tables with Cutipol’s white and gold Goa cutlery and bronze lanterns for a moody ambiance.

     
     

    Guests dined on steak tenderloin, branzino and truffle mushroom risotto catered by the Four Seasons.

     

    Not one but three wedding cakes were made by E & R Sweetery— two, 2-tiered blue and grey funfetti cakes and one 4-tier chocolate and banana cake. At the end of the evening, Maker Pizza was on hand for a late-night snack. Many guests ended up on the dance floor with pizza slices in hand. 

     
     
     
     
     
     

    Guests were entertained over cocktail hour by a sax player and DJ. Then The Megan Boys were on hand, playing classic oldies, Motown, and contemporary music as guests danced well into the night.

    No Jewish wedding is complete without the Hora, where (strong) guests hoist the bride and groom high above the crowd on chairs to the music of Hava Nagila.

     

    A couple of days after the wedding, Meryl and Jamie took off on a minimoon to Tulum, Mexico, where they stayed at the Nomade Hotel. They are planning a longer honeymoon to Indonesia and Thailand this summer. 

    Meryl & Jamie's Favourite Gifts

     

    The newlyweds, who love to hike in the summertime and downhill ski in the winter, are settling into their life as a married couple. When not outdoors, they love the simplicity of everyday life, like making dinner together, and getting cozy on the sofa watching documentaries and Jeopardy. When they do entertain, it's at home with close friends. Along with cocktails and great bottles of wine, they enjoy cooking fish with lots of salad, served on English country-style table settings.

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    A Dreamy Wedding in Paris

    A Dreamy Wedding in Paris

    When Karelle Steiner offered to set Christopher Golda up with one of her friends, little did she know she’d end up marrying the man she’d just met. Chris, who had flown into Toronto from his adopted town of San Francisco, had joined a friend for drinks at Bar Raval when he met Karelle, who had come along with his friend. After a fun evening over Negronis, the pair exchanged numbers, and Karelle promised to start matchmaking. Chris, on the other hand, only had eyes for the brunette beauty he'd just met.
     

    Above:  Getting ready - Chris wore a tuxedo by Dior. Below: Karelle is surrounded with love; the private residence where the pair were married is located in Paris' 8th Arrondissement.

     
     
     

    Chris pursued Karelle immediately, and after some hesitation around dating someone long-distance, she eventually agreed to dinner. Chris, an entrepreneur and investor in Silicon Valley,  flew back a month later to woo Karelle. After numerous texts and Facetime calls prior to their first date, nerves were running high.

     

    Above: Karelle never wanted a traditional wedding dress, and after lots of digging, found a pink gown from Vera Wang.

    A little over a month after they'd met, Chris took Karelle to Edulis, a restaurant she describes as “the most romantic space in Toronto.” The pair hit it off, and their long-distance romance began.

     

    Above: Karelle strikes a pre-ceremony pose with the Gendarmerie. 

    Fast forward to six months later, Karelle and Chris had become serious and knew their natural next step was for Karelle to move from Toronto to the Bay Area. Soon after moving in, they quickly realized they were meant to be together (Karelle also began working and currently consults for Serena Williams’ clothing line). In the weeks leading up to his proposal, Chris had been dropping hints every week in the form of visual collages. In June 2017, he then whisked his love away on a surprise trip to Southern Utah. After a horseback ride, the couple arrived back at the hotel where a sunset proposal was, as Karelle describes, "planned and executed to perfection."

     

    The lovebirds began planning their wedding, and decided on Paris, where they secured a private mansion near the Grand Palais for their venue. The dress code? Creative Black Tie. 

     
     
     

    In order to pull off a wedding across the pond, the couple enlisted the support of Billy Folchetti of Luxe Paris Events.  The venue, which Karelle describes as "over the top, already,” was so spectacular that the bride decided that flowers – not even a bridal bouquet – weren't needed. What she wanted instead were as many candles as possible. In fact there were so many that Karelle half-jokingly recalls worrying her dress would go up in flames walking down the aisle.

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

    Post ceremony, guests dined on a quintessential Parisian menu of sea bass tartare, duck breast stuffed with foie gras, and a cheese cart at the end of the meal.

    The couple – who are passionate about wine – had a grapevine centrepiece at each table in lieu of flowers. They also placed a huge focus on what their guests drank, selecting producers that were meaningful to them and bringing in the wine six months prior to the wedding, and storing it with a friend.  

     
     
     
     
     

    The newlyweds, who had originally planned on no speeches, both admit that after relenting, were among the day’s most memorable moments. Adds Karelle, “I think even our wedding planner shed a couple of tears.”

     
     
     
     
     
     

    Above: The wedding cake was a classic croquembouche – a traditional French wedding cake and also what Karelle’s parents served 35 years ago when they were married at Toronto’s Rosedale Golf Club. Post-dinner, guests interspersed the many candles with disco balls and danced well into the night. 

     
     
     

    Karelle and Chris' Favourite Gifts

     
    Their favourite gifts include their Rina Menardi dinnerware, Georg Jensen's Grand Champagne Cooler (“perfect for entertaining,” explains Karelle) and spool candlesticks, which she describes as “beautiful centrepieces in their own right.”

     
     
     
     

    The newly betrothed spent a few days in Paris before flying to Bali and Japan for their honeymoon. Now back home in San Francisco, Chris and Karelle entertain regularly, an activity that helps Karelle meet new people, and something that fuels her creative side, whether it's adding large, impactful branches to their vases, or thinking up unique centrepieces.

     

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    Love in B.C.'s Coast Mountains

    Love in B.C.'s Coast Mountains

    “It sounds cliché but I knew how I felt the first time we met,” says Jeff Kuzyk of his new bride Mary-Beth Schwalm. This was despite the fact that Mary-Beth was wearing a vintage Leafs jersey while Jeff is a die-hard Canucks fan.  It was Vancouver, 2009, and both were working on the movie Sucker Punch. Mary-Beth was a production assistant and Jeff was in lighting. “He would often stay late at work to help me wrap the studio so he could say goodnight or walk me to my car,” recalls Mary-Beth.
     
     
     

    Jeff loved how outgoing Mary-Beth was, a quality that was particularly attractive to him. “She is someone who feels comfortable in every situation and can jump into any conversation,” he says, not to mention also being beautiful and funny. In turn, Mary-Beth loved how kind and thoughtful Jeff was. 

     

    Admittedly, their first date was a bit rocky. It began when the two were stuck in gridlock en route to Stanley Park's Aquarium, only to find out it was closed due to a freak power outage. Later in the day, when Mary-Beth realized she'd forgotten her cell phone in Jeff's car, the couple decided to try again, this time with a movie. And yet, the couple chose Twilight - on opening weekend. 

    The couple walked down the aisle as the Troggs 'With a Girl Like You' played and flower petals floated around them.

     

    Rocky first dates aside, once the two became a couple, things moved quickly. “My weekend bag quickly turned into half a closet,” says Mary-Beth. A few months into the relationship, Mary-Beth’s luggage broke just as she was preparing to fly home for Christmas. Jeff showed up late at night after a frantic phone call, with new luggage, wine and a gift. It was at that moment she knew she wasn’t going anywhere without Jeff by her side.

    Mary-Beth wore a Lanvin dress (found in New York) with Valentino Tango Pumps.  Jeff's suit (and matching flask) is from Suit Supply.

     

    Fast forward 8 years. It was the morning of a birthday dinner for Mary-Beth. Jeff got up early (Mary-Beth assumed it was to watch FIFA soccer) and later came back to bed and blindsided Mary-Beth, who claims she was still wearing her eye mask when he popped the question. The couple celebrated that evening with friends at Terroni, followed by a party down the street at the Quail, and began to plan their summer wedding.

     

    The couple were married a year later at North Arm Farm in the small village of Pemberton in the Coast Mountains north of Vancouver, close to Whistler. Despite opting for an informal wedding, they nevertheless suggested that guests “dress to impress.” 

     
     

    Working with Blue Violet Events, the vibe was a cross between preppy and rustic chic. This included bocce ball and croquet, lace parasol umbrellas, and for each guest, a custom beer koozie with the slogan "Gettin' Kuzy.” Place cards were hand painted in water colour by Faven
    Lettering
     and a vintage white mail box read "P.S. I Love You.”

     
     
     
     

    The family-style dinner was catered by the working farm where the wedding was held. Guests dined on heirloom tomatoes with burrata, a Cavolo Nero salad (replicated from Toronto's Gusto 101), grilled salmon caught from a nearby stream and flatiron steak with smashed potatoes. To keep guests cool given the hot summer weather, Le Pop Stop arrived with their artisanal popsicles, and the evening ended with late-night McDonald's.

    The couple decided to forego an immediate honeymoon and are currently planning two trips, the first being a ski trip to Lake Louise (the couple are avid skiers) and the second, somewhere warm and beachy.

    One of the couple's  favourite moments was when Mary-Beth's bridesmaid, Chase Cohl, performed an acoustic version of Stevie Wonder's 'Signed Sealed Delivered I'm Yours' as the couple signed post-ceremony papers. 

     
     
     

    Now that life is back to normal, the newlyweds - who both continue to work in the entertainment industry (Mary-Beth works in corporate strategy at a Canadian media company, and Jeff continues to fly between Toronto and Vancouver on film projects) - spend many weekends skiing at Craigleith, and when they entertain, they do so up north with fondue, raclette, charcuterie and lots of wine.

     

    MARY-BETH & JEFF'S FAVOURITE WEDDING GIFTS

     

    Dede Johnston's Skier Mugs

    Marble Butter Keeper

    Jim Lorriman's Recycled Dock Chargers

     
     

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    A Stylish Wedding in the Rocky Mountains

    A Stylish Wedding in the Rocky Mountains

    Rocky Mountain High

    Three weeks before he proposed, Dave Emond took his partner Matthew Lowe on a birthday helicopter adventure near Canmore, Alberta. Matt, who had always wanted to ‘get behind’ the Three Sister Mountains behind Canmore, loved every minute. One might think it would have been the ideal place to propose, but the couple, who value day-to-day life over special occasions, are much happier with their story. It was a random Thursday in April 2016, over take-out pizza and a bottle of their favourite bubbly, when Dave popped the question. Pizza, champagne and a proposal? Priceless.

    Above: The couple chose the Emerald Lake Lodge, which sits in a hidden alcove of British Columbia's Yoho National Park, for their wedding celebration. Below: Pre-wedding prep. 

     
     
     

    Matt and Dave had met a decade earlier over sushi in Toronto's Yorkville neighbourhood. The two, who were living in Ontario at the time, had only just met, yet they ended up talking nonstop in their booth, recognizing something special in the other, not wanting their date to end. They meshed so well from the very beginning that their relationship progressed quickly.  As Dave explains, "it took me over a decade to propose because we were too busy having fun and living life together!"

    The two, who both work in the Financial Services industry, eventually made their way to Calgary, drawn to the breathtaking rocky mountains, fresh air, and weekends at their Canmore property biking, skiing, and après-skiing.

    Above: The couple exchange vows overlooking Emerald Lake.

    Mountain Chic was the dress code, and the couple led the way with tuxedos from Suit Supply.

      Once engaged, the couple moved quickly to plan their dream wedding, choosing the spectacular Emerald Lake Lodge as the backdrop for their wedding weekend extravaganza. Taking over the entire lodge for their 119 guests, the weekend was pure magic for everyone given the intimacy of having the place to themselves.

       
       
       

      The couple worked with a team of professionals overseen by event planner Lynn Fletcher to create a chic, woodsy atmosphere that set the stage for a cocktail reception followed by a 4-course menu that included charcuterie, Bison Short Rib Gnocchi, and a main course of Elk Wellington with a Wild Mushroom Jus.

       
       
       
       
       

      One of the best moments of Dave and Matt's wedding weekend was a pre-wedding Polar Bear swim. The couple convinced over 30 of their guests to take a dip in glacier-fed Emerald Lake, surrounded by snow-covered mountains and enveloped in water whose temperature was a frigid 2 degrees. The event proved to be a highlight for both those who swam and those who watched.

       
       
       

      Above: Among the couples favourite wedding gifts are Dede Johnston's Skier dinnerware and Abbeyhorn's Stag Antler Candelabra.

       

      When it comes to their entertaining style, these newlyweds describe themselves as eclectic, preferring casual elegance over anything too formal  - or informal. To them, it's all about paying attention to the details. "That's why great champagne and pizza delivery is one of our favourites," adds Dave. "And now, we have so many beautiful items to enjoy them with."

      Photography by Carey Nash.

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      A Fashionable Wedding in Toronto

      A Fashionable Wedding in Toronto

      A fabulously fashionable wedding

      It’s not every day that Kanye West walks into the same restaurant you’re dining in. But when it happens twice, and the second time is right after you’ve become engaged, you know something is up. For Ryan Gozlan and Lisa Renard, who were set up on a blind date, they took it as another sign of chance meetings gone right.

      Above: Lisa wore Christian Louboutin stilettos. Below: A quiet moment before the ceremony.  

      Below: Pre-wedding prep.

       
       

      ‘I did a double take to make sure I was at the right address, because she was so beautiful,’ explains Ryan Gozlan, describing the first time he laid eyes on his blind date and future wife. 'But when we got into my car, she barely spoke. I thought she had little interest in me, and this date was going nowhere fast.’

      He was dead wrong. Lisa Renard, for whom this was her first (and last) blind date, was shy and nervous. Ryan was dark and handsome, and seemed like a ‘bad boy’ - and Lisa feared this date was a bad idea. Once the couple arrived at their destination - the rustic Italian restaurant Enoteca Sociale – conversation began to flow. Towards the end of the evening, Lisa and Ryan were so at ease with each other, they were sharing food off of each others’ plates. ‘I knew she was the one when she ordered Miami Ribs,’ says Ryan. ‘Not only is it a favourite in our family, but how many girls order ribs on their first date? I knew right then that Lisa was a keeper. She was the one.'

      Within three months the couple had moved in together, and Lisa, who had been so tentative at the beginning, watched as Ryan played ‘super uncle’ to his niece and newphew. 'I knew he’d be a great father someday,’ she says. In the summer of 2016, Ryan proposed, which he describes as the most nerve-wracking thing he’s ever done. ‘I decided to do it in Paris, but didn’t want a run-of-the-mill engagement in front of the Eiffel Tower,’ he explains. I decided to do it over something Lisa and I both love doing: eating.’ He chose Ferdi, the casual and chic right-bank restaurant they both love. A favourite among the fashion set, it also has what many think is the best burger in Paris. Lisa remembers asking Ryan why he was sweating as he was rushing them to the restaurant, unaware of what was about to happen. With a glass of rose in hand and a pounding heart, Ryan got down on one knee, and proposed to his beloved. Lisa, who had been speechless a year prior when the couple bumped into Kanye West at Ferdi, was once again tongue tied. Engaged less than ten minutes, Kanye West walked into the restaurant and upon hearing what had happened, embraced the couple. As Lisa says, ‘What are the odds?’ and went on to describe the event with the utmost simplicity: ‘BEST. ENGAGEMENT. EVER.’

      The couple chose to marry at the Art Gallery of Ontario.

      Looking for something timeless, modern and unique, the couple initially wanted to marry in Europe. However the tug of family - especially grandparents - became too strong, and they decided on the Art Gallery of Ontario, with its stone columns, Frank Gehry-designed spiral stairwell, and the stunning Walker Court, where the ceremony took place. 

       
       
       

      260 guests walked into Walker Court, which was transformed into a European Garden - inspired by Chanel’s 2005 Garden-Themed Met Gala - for a black-tie wedding. With the help of neighbour and friend Meg Pinto of Parterre Flowers, Walker Court was lined with boxwood hedging. Pinto also built the couple's chuppah from scratch using chicken wire. The crown moldings and glass ceiling contributed to feeling of being in a garden. Lisa and Ryan - who share a passion for fashion (Lisa is a former fashion intern and emerging fashion stylist and Ryan works for his family's jewellery business), were influenced by Christian Dior as they planned their day, from the invitation - inspired by the 2017 Dior cruise fashion show - to Lisa's dress, custom-designed by White Toronto and hand-made by Isreali designer Inbal Dror. Its bustier top and skirt had a removable overskirt that opened in the front, and that was exchanged later in the evening for a tulle skirt.

         
         
         
         
         

        With the help of wedding planner Angela Zaltzman of A to Z Event Management, guests were treated to an Italian-themed dinner, inspired by the couples' favourite eatery in New York, Carbone. Claudia Egger of Frangipane created a chocolate + vanilla buttercream and a salted caramel + white chocolate buttercream wedding cake.

        The newlyweds began their honeymoon in Paris and from there travelled to the south of France, and then on to Rome.  As Lisa recalls the trip, she describes it as 'epic....the best trip of our lives.'

        Ryan wore a Dior Homme tuxedo with matching Dior bee cufflinks, a Gucci Bowtie and Christian Louboutin shoes. 

         
         
         

        Lisa and Ryan decided to mix Dibbern's Pure Whiteand Carrara dinnerware, and paired it with David Mellor's Odeon flatware and Zalto Universal wine glasses.

         
         
         

        Now home, the couple are focused on LRG, their full-service fashion concierge business, where the duo source highly-coveted and hard-to-get fashion items for clientele around the globe. When they're not working, Lisa and Ryan love to entertain, their style being - you guessed it - effortless and fashion-forward. Always ahead of the trends, the newlyweds want all the details in their home to reflect their style and passion. 

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        A Modern, Minimalist Wedding in Toronto

        A Modern, Minimalist Wedding in Toronto

        When it comes to hosting 180 people, sometimes less is more. For Alexa Roland and Rob Yelavich, a modern couple with an elegant aesthetic and an eye for detail, the goal was a celebration that reflected their modern style and love of simple, natural things. The result? Pops of detail that made the simple nothing less than sublime, leaving guests with a feel for who they are and what they love.

        Above: Alexa chose gold shoes by Aquazurra. Below: Some finishing touches for Alexa, who wore an Oscar de la Renta dress underneath a Monique L'Huillier skirt. Rob wore a custom midnight blue Lardini suit and a Lanvin tie from Nicolas. Alexa and her mother Ellen share a moment before the activities got underway.

         
         

        “She took my breath away,” says Rob Yelavich, describing his first impression of Alexa Roland. The two, who had been introduced by mutual friends, spent their first date at Toronto's Buca restaurant, and over the course of the evening, Rob became enchanted with his date's intelligence, thoughtfulness and passion for the environment. Alexa, who works in marketing for a sustainable agricultural startup, couldn't believe how much she had in common with Rob. Not only did they realize they had gone to the same schools, they also had many friends in common, wondering why they hadn't met before. It also didn't hurt that the man before her was tall, dark, handsome and extremely kind.

        On that very first date, both Rob and Alexa knew they were for each other. As Alexa explains, "We just felt so comfortable with each other....however cheesy that sounds." Rob, who runs his own company specializing in medical monitoring for seniors, proposed to Alexa in the couple's apartment in Toronto's Annex neighbourhood. He then recreated their first date, taking Alexa to the very same table at Buca where their story began two years prior.

        The couple exchange vows at Grace Church on the Hill.

        The Wedding Party: Rob is  flanked by his two brothers, while Alexa is joined by her sister.

        Below: the reception begins at Toronto's Royal Conservatory of Music.

         
         
         

        Alexa and Rob fell in love with the modern and minimalist space of Koerner Hall at Toronto’s Royal Conservatory of Music, which was also large enough to accommodate their 180 guests. They transformed the space with the help of Todd Caldwell of Emblem Flower Studio, turning the minimalist space into an ethereal and natural, yet modern space using live trees, moss, ferns and Queen Anne's Lace.

           
           
           
           

          Guests dined on a menu catered by North 44 Restaurant, including pea soup, branzino, steak with chimichurri sauce, quinoa cakes with ratatouille, and poached peaches with fresh cream and raspberries. The couple chose a carrot cake for their wedding cake, and for a late night snack, offered mini sliders, fries and popsicles.

           

          Surrounded by their favourite people, Rob and Alexa danced into the wee hours of the morning with DJ Bello and a live saxophone and singer. 

           
           
           

          The newlyweds travelled to Spain, Portugal and Croatia for a two-week honeymoon, before returning to start their new life, which includes Saturdays at their local farmer’s market and lots of walks with their new dog Stevie. Alexa, who loves to cook, prefers casual entertaining with friends and family, opting for (surprise!) modern and minimalist tableware to reflect their aesthetic.

           
           
           

          Among some of the couple's favourite gifts are Georg Jensen's Bloom Servers (above), Ichendorf's Venezia wine glass and Jensen's Alfredo Carafe for water.

           

          Photography by Rebecca Wood.

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          A Sophisticated City Wedding in Toronto

          A Sophisticated City Wedding in Toronto

          When he showed up at Camp White Pine back in the early ‘00s, Ryan Wood met a girl named Betsy. "She was super cute with the most adorable freckles,” he explains, "and I had an instant crush." Betsy Belzberg, three years older than Ryan, didn’t quite look at him the same way, but remembers him - even as a young tween - as “mature beyond his years.” Betsy and Ryan became friends and stayed that way for well over a decade. 
           
           

          As young adults, Betsy and Ryan would bump into each other now and again at parties, and a recurring pattern took place. Betsy would think to herself: “Why can’t I find someone like that my age?” while Ryan likens his experience to "A magnetic field drawing me toward Betsy." Every time, the two ended up talking late into the night.

          Betsy shares a moment with her parents Cathy and Murray Belzberg.

          In 2013, Betsy, now a family lawyer, and Ryan, who works in real estate sales & development, both found themselves single at the same time. At this point, the two were in touch regularly, and when they realized they were both going to be staying at the same hotel in Miami over Christmas, they made a plan to connect. And connect they did: the two ended up spending every day of their vacation together, at the pool by day and over drinks at the hotel bar every evening.

           

          Above: The couple exchange vows under a hand-made chuppah.

          Once home, the two had their 'official' first date over coffee and a movie, and within three weeks of returning from Miami, Betsy knew Ryan was for her. As she explains, “I almost needed a muzzle to stop myself from blurting out ‘I love you’ every time we were together.” Ryan, who knew he loved Betsy from the day they met at camp, tried to play it cool for as long as he could, and clearly, his strategy paid off.

           
           
           
           

          Above: The couple's Jewish wedding ceremony ended with a traditional bang: stomping on napkin-wrapped glass is a symbol of the finality of the marital covenant. Just as the broken pieces of glass can never be put back together and returned to its former state, so the covenant of marriage irrevocably binds the new husband and wife in their new state of marriage.

          Fast forward three years. Ryan arranged a photoshoot with Toronto photographer Trish Mennell, telling Betsy it was gifted to him, when in fact it was part of his elaborate plan to stage his proposal. After 30 minutes of taking shots, Trish invited the couple to pose under a skylight, and asked Ryan to crouch next to Betsy. As she helped the couple get into their pose, she gently pushed Ryan into a kneeling position and handed him a box. The rest was up to Ryan, who, on bended knee, asked his beloved to be his wife.

             
             
             
             

            Betsy and Ryan decided to marry in Toronto, inviting 250 family and friends to the Omni King Edward Hotel for a black tie ceremony. As Betsy explains, “The King Eddy is a gorgeous and regal venue, anything less than black tie wouldn’t have done it justice.”

             
             
             

            With the help of wedding planner Karen Jacobs and the decor team at Stemz, the couple focused on gold hues to complement the gilded accents in the hotel’s Crystal and Sovereign ballrooms. Given the beauty of these rooms, there was little need for extensive décor, so they focused on creating a spectacular chuppah out of gold intertwining posts wrapped with twinkling lights and topped with gilded leaves.

            Above: Guests dance the hora, a wedding dance that symbolizes the rhythm of a healthy relationship. Below, the bride and groom are lifted up during the traditional Jewish chair dance, representing the king and queen of the night.

            Post ceremony, guests dined on a vegetable tower with marinated goat cheese, beef tenderloin with fingerling potatoes and roasted asparagus, flourless chocolate cake and apple pie à la mode. Late night snacks included grilled cheese sandwiches, fries, a smoked meat station with Belzberg family home-made pickles, and Haagen Dazs ice cream bars.

             
             
             

            Describing her wedding as “The best day of my life,” Betsy remembers not wanting the day to end. When it came to their honeymoon, the newlyweds flew to South Africa for three weeks, and explored Cape Town, wine country, Kruger National Park and Benguerra - an island off the coast of Mozambique. In their new life as a married couple, Betsy and Ryan love to entertain, hosting friends and family frequently. They prefer a non-traditional table filled with unique and interesting pieces such as their Jim Lorriman one-of-a-kind Spalted Maple salad bowl and Rablabs Agate coasters. When it comes to their style, their philosophy is all about contrast, believing entertaining can be both elegant and casual at the same time. 

             
             

            No two are alike: Among some of their favourite gifts, ANNA by Rablabs' Pedra Agate Coasters (left) and Jim Lorriman's Spalted Maple Salad Bowl (above).

             

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            A Summer Wedding in Toronto

            A Summer Wedding in Toronto

            Cam describes Jen (surrounded above by her bridesmaids and parents) as beautiful, mature and spunky. 

            Cam Penman never thought that a lost cellphone would help him find the love of his life. But after spending a festive evening at Toronto's Drake Hotel in the Spring of 2014, he stepped into a cab and found a lone phone. After calling the number, he found its owner, who also had spent the evening at the Drake with friends. The next morning, Jennifer Richardson, happy to have been reunited with her phone, was so intrigued by Cam that she texted him later that evening to thank him and to invite him to lunch. "Why don't I take you for dinner," he replied. The rest, as they say, is history.

             

            Jen describes Cam as "a true gentleman."

            Wedding Day accessories.

             

            Cam, an operations manager at the TTC, took Jen to Toronto's Union restaurant for their first date, where Jen was attracted to Cam's grounded charm. For two people who knew nothing about each other, they quickly realized how much overlap they had with respect to common friends and interests. Jen, who teaches music with the Toronto District School Board, describes it as feeling both "exciting and new and yet comfortingly familiar."

             
             

            Cam, who has a deep love of golf and aviation (he has a pilot's license), knew Jen was 'the one' within the first few dates. As Jen describes it, "we fell hard and fast, but at the same time knew it was meant to be by how calm and grounded we felt at every stage." On a Valentine's Day weekend trip to Montreal, Cam and Jen went back to their hotel after dinner to change into warmer clothes. Lilies and rose petals were scattered over the entire room, Champagne was on ice, and when Jen, still in disbelief, turned around to look at Cam, he was waiting on one knee.

            Above: Jen and Cam recite their vows overlooking the Rosedale Golf Course. Below: Jen and her bridesmaids share a laugh post-wedding.

             
             

            The couple decided to marry where they first met. A small ceremony and rehearsal dinner at the Drake Hotel was followed the next day by a traditional wedding at Toronto's Rosedale Golf Club for 150 guests. A warm and rainy August day set the scene, where the vibrant green of the surroundings was punctuated by layers upon layers of white. A patio ceremony preceded a cocktail reception, where the focus was on live music and a plethora of food stations. The overall vibe was a mix of formal and informal, where florists Cool, Green and Shady helped Jen and her mother realize a modern, fresh atmosphere that included with floating tea lights and loosely tied floral bouquets.

            Jen's Amy Bushel dress is from the boutique MRS. Cam's midnight blue tux is from Tiger of Sweden, an independent store on Toronto's Ossington Avenue.

             
             

            One of the best moments of the couple's day was outside having their photos taken, listening to the sounds of celebration at the clubhouse: laughter, glasses clinking and the voices of friends and family.

            Jen, who shares a deep love of music with her family, decided against the traditional father-daughter dance. Instead, Jen and her father played Make me do Anything you Want, the song her parents first danced to when they meet as teenagers. Later in the evening, Cam surprised and delighted everyone  drumming to Uptown Girl, capping off a perfect day. 

             
             

            The couple flew to Rome for the first leg of their honeymoon, and where they revelled in the details of their wedding day over pasta, wine and tours of the city. From there, they flew to the Maldives, where they spent a week in a hut on stilts above the Indian Ocean. The island - no more than 500m long and 50m wide - gave way to a heavenly rhythm of sleep, swim, eat - and repeat.

             
             
             
             

            Jen and Cam, who claim that if they could live at Hopson Grace they would (thanks, guys!), are partial to their modern drinking glasses from Match 1995 (left), which Jen claims "makes every drink feel special...they make drinking even water feel elegant."  

             

            The happy couple, who love spending time with family and friends both in Toronto and at Jen's family's cottage on Lake Muskoka, describe their entertaining style as a true mix of formal and informal. Their ideal weekend gathering is spent around the dining table with people they love, surrounded by a fire, lots of music, great food and of course, lots of red wine.

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            A Stylish Indian Wedding in Toronto

            A Stylish Indian Wedding in Toronto

            Do you remember your first date? Reema Patel recalls hers vividly, along with her first impression of Sumantra Datta-Ray at Toronto's gastropub The Oxley: stylish, down to earth and hilarious. On top of it all? He was an excellent cook. Reema was hooked. Sumantra, an engineer who manages the data and stats teams for York Region's waste program, noticed how punctual his stunning date was, and realized he'd "better not mess it up:" Reema, a law graduate who investigates complaints about the City of Toronto, was a keeper.

            It took a henna artist 4 hours to cover Reema's hands and feet in intricate designs (Sumantra's name was even incorporated).

            Reema paired her outfits with an assortment of heirloom jewellery, including an antique gold and velvet armband that she wore as a choker for the ceremony and her great grandmother's ruby and pearl matha patti (hair ornament) which she wore on her forehead. Sumantra splurged for a pair of  handmade Sabyasachi leather shoes with embroidered bugs with jewelled eyes. The cufflinks were his late father's, worn in his memory. 

             

             On a trip to Puerto Rico to celebrate Sumantra's birthday a year into their relationship, Reema, who knew about his family's tradition of eating Indian rice pudding for breakfast on their birthdays, had the chefs at the St. Regis Hotel make and deliver it to their room with coffee. At that moment, Sumantra knew he wanted to spend the rest of his life with his beloved.

            Above: The couple decided to wear traditional Indian attire for both the ceremony and reception, and traveled to Calcutta to purchase their outfits. Reema's red silk ceremony sari, with its gold threaded flowers and vines, is a replica of a sari that belonged to a 17th Century Maharani of Benares. Working simultaneously on a single loom, it took three weavers 5 weeks to complete. For the ceremony, Sumantra wanted to honour his late father's memory and had his wedding outfit recreated in Calcutta by his father's tailor. His vest was hand-embroidered with Gara embroidery, which is done by Parsis, a community from Persia who settled in India around 900 AD.

            Two years into their relationship, Sumantra proposed to Reema on the couples' rooftop patio, where he was waiting with a mural he had commissioned by a local graffiti artist, a buffet of snacks, 100 long stem roses, music and a custom replica of an art-deco emerald and diamond ring that had caught Reema's eye at an antique store.

             

            Reema and Sumantra exchanged vows at Toronto's Evergreen Brickworks. Reema is flanked by her parents, Reeta and Jay, our HG neighbours and owners of My Favourite Ice Cream.

             

            The couple invited 350 family and friends to celebrate with them over 9 days with the main event taking place at Toronto's Evergreen Brickworks.

             
             
             

            The food was catered by The Host, and immediately after the ceremony guests were offered kulfi (Indian ice cream pops) and shikanji (spiced lemonade). As an alternative to buffets often found at large Indian weddings, the couple created a more intimate experience by serving everything family style on long tables, where each place setting included a creative place card alternative - a preserved magnolia leaf.

             
             
             
             
             
             
             

            The non-traditional Indian menu included pani puri shots (fried hollow pastries filled with chickpea, potato and spicy water), pan roasted okra, eggplant with nigella seeds, saag paneer, dal panchrattan (5 types of lentils simmered together), chicken lanbabdar (a tomato, onion and coriander gravy) and goat braised in aromatic spices.

             

            Above: Reema and Sumantra and their families. Below, Reema's sister Priya toasts the happy couple. Photography by Ikonica Images.

             
             

            The 5-tier cake from Oakville's Sweet Occasions was big enough to feed the 350 guests. Other desserts included jalebi (sticky Indian funnel cakes) and an Indian chai stand. Nous Designs constructed the ceremony roadmap and arranged the flowers and candles for the table settings. Their vision was based on Reema's reception outfit, a raw silk lehenga choli (long skirt + top), hand-embroidered with velvet roses and leaves purchased in Bombay. Sumantra's reception outfit was a black silk brocade sherwani woven with copper and gold.

             

            The couple headed to Sugar Beach in St. Lucia for their honeymoon, and are now settled back into newlywed life. When they're not working on their hobbies (Reema just wrote her first fiction novel and Sumantra is trying his hand at ceramics), their routine involves lots of entertaining (they love serving drinks from their favourite HG cocktail pitcher) with friends and family.

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            A Magnificent Wedding in Maui

            A Magnificent Wedding in Maui

            #twobridesarebetterthanone

            When Alanna Smith walked out of the hot yoga class she had just taught back in the Fall of 2011, she spotted a gorgeous woman casually leaning against a wall. Immediately intrigued by the beauty in front of her, she proceeded to lose her footing over a pair of sneakers and fell into the wall.  Little did she realize, she had just fallen in more ways than one.

            Above: Pre-wedding prep. Below: Some finishing touches for Sabrina, who chose a dress by Toronto designer Ines Di Santo. Alanna, right, wore a gown by Monique Lhuillier. A lucky wedding day rainbow is a Hawaiian symbol for blessings.

             
             

            The woman in question was Sabrina Storozuk. “I knew instantly she was going to be trouble,” Alanna recalls, adding, "in the best possible way.” Sabrina, whose mutual friend had told her about Alanna, strategically placed herself outside of her class in order to meet her. Her first impression that fateful day: “A mixture of intrigue, combined with a touch of the awkward,” she states, fuelled in part by Alanna’s magnificent stumble.

            The couple’s first date was an intimate dinner at home, arranged by Alanna. She prepared her homemade lasagne and served a chamomile grappa for dessert that she had recently brought back from a trip to Italy. As Sabrina, a self-described tech geek with no culinary aspirations or skills, puts it, “how could one not fall in love with her?!” On New Year’s day, 2016, while on vacation in Maui, Sabrina proposed to Alanna in a hammock at the Ritz Carlton Kapalua. Several hours later, after an afternoon of surfing, the two knew this was the only place they wanted their wedding to take place - they saw it as a dream to have their friends and family all together in their happy place to witness their union.

            Above: The couple exchange vows amidst a semi-circle of flowers, a clever alternative to an altar.

             
             
             

            Sabrina and Alanna's Hawaiian wedding took place last November, surrounded by pine trees, lush greenery, crashing waves and a big sky. As with many destination weddings, the gathering was an intimate group of 35 friends and family. Alanna and Sabrina opted for a formal wedding, but allowed their male guests to 'go local' and don traditional Hawaiian shirts. Right after the ceremony, the newlyweds arranged a coconut stand for their party, where freshly picked coconuts were trimmed with a machete, and then used as vessels for fresh coconut water, a strategic bit of hydration before the evening's libations. The wedding party then moved from the ceremony to Merriman’s, a well-known nearby restaurant famous for their cocktails, locally sourced ingredients and sunset views.

               
               
               
               

              The evening's celebrations began with a sunset cocktail reception overlooking the ocean, and featured a raw seafood bar, Hawaiian Ahi Tuna, Molokai sweet potato chips and plenty of Veuve Cliquot.

               
               
               

              Dinner was served family style, and included house-made cavatelli, Kona Kampachi (a Hawaiian yellowtail grown in the open-ocean off the Kona Coast of the Big Island) and grilled USDA prime ribeye with Maui onion & tomato chimichurri. In addition to their wedding cake, the newlyweds offered a dessert menu that included Maui gold pineapple & toasted macadamia nut bread pudding and a flourless chocolate cake.

               
               
               

              With such an idyllic setting, the newlyweds opted to stay on on Maui for their honeymoon. Once home, Alanna and Sabrina were excited to unwrap their gifts, among them their Dibbern Carrara dinnerware and caviar dish. Their life philosophy, "the best or nothing," applies equally to entertaining where they love to spoil their guests. They prefer to serve comforting, rustic meals, and scour the city for the just the right ingredients. They also spend the time to make their table beautiful. "It's becoming an obsession of mine to find just the right serving vessel and utensils for each dish," says Alanna, who prefers time away from screens. She chooses a life filled with activity, culinary projects and spending time with her new wife, friends, family, and the couple's dog Blue Puppy.  As she speaks of life with Sabrina, she declares, with a smile on her face, "Never a dull moment!"

               
               
               
               

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