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February 13, 2015

Tom & Lisa’s Toronto Wedding | Hamstra Photography

{ Distillery District Wedding: Tappo Wine Bar }

Some couples just have it, you know? And, when you combine that kind of love with a bride wearing a champange coloured dress, you know you have to share their wedding with the world!

Tom and Lisa’s wedding was held on a gorgeous October evening at Tappo Wine Bar in Toronto’s hip Distillery District. The perfect location for these lovebirds to tie the knot!

From the Photographers:

When we sat down with Lisa and Tom to discuss the plans for their wedding day, we asked Lisa if there was anything special that tied their wedding day together – we quickly determined it was champagne! From her champagne coloured dress, to the champagne diamonds in her wedding bands; even the ceremony was closed with a champagne toast. It was such a fitting theme for this effortless love-struck couple. Everything about their day was an honest celebration of hope and love found. We were so thrilled to be part of Tom and Lisa’s special day – cheers!

wedding ring - hamstra photography

Hamstra photography - beauty details - earrings- Toronto wedding 1

Hamstra photography - Toronto wedding- bride

Hamstra photography - Toronto wedding- bride groom - champagne

Hamstra photography - Toronto wedding

feet - hamstra photography

Hamstra photography - Toronto wedding-Distillery District

Hamstra photography - Toronto wedding-Distillery District3

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Thank you Sarah for sharing this beautiful wedding with us! You captured it perfectly!

Check out Hamstra Photography for more of their beautiful work!

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February 3, 2015

The Bold Truth: Venue vs. Wedding Coordinators

{ the low-down on what it really takes to plan a wedding }

Authored by: Lisa Hardie

We throw around the term ‘Wedding Planner’ a lot around here; after all, it’s what we do.

But what’s becoming apparent these days in Wedding-Planning-Land is that what we do is largely misunderstood by the very audience we do it for.

Most brides think wedding planners are a lavish luxury, available exclusively to those with jetplane-sized budgets. They may understand that there are lots of reasons to hire a wedding planner, but they also seem to think that just because their venue coordinator boasts a wedding-planning certification they’re home free. Truth is, these roles are extremely different.

Here’s why.

Venue Coordinators

Venue Coordinators work for…. that’s right, the venue. – NOT you. Please don’t confuse this!

Venue Coordinators are the liaison between you and their in-house operations team.

Venue Coordinators will always do what’s in the best interest of the venue.

Don’t get us wrong – we love our Venue Coordinators. These talented folk end up being our right-hand in executing seriously stunning weddings…. but ultimately, Venue wedding planners have one main role: to enact their contracted services…  and these are items exclusively associated with the venue.

Once your dinner’s been served these guys often head home for the night (unless explicitly otherwise stated in your contract). This leaves you with minimal support for the remainder of the night – a banquet manager or head server who’s busy making sure food and beverage are taken care of. Sure, your late night buffet will come out more-or-less on time (well, except for that one wedding of ours when the venue just forgot to order Late Night all together)… but you’re on your own for everything else: an Advil, blister band-aids, and figuring out which limo your overnight bag ended up in.

Another thing to keep in mind when working with a venue coordinator is that depending on the space you’ve booked, they might be floating between more than one wedding on your special day. How’s that for things potentially going awry?

B+M 86


Wedding Planners

As wedding planners, our role is to mitigate risk.

We don’t only play a role in the pretty parts of designing your big day or the serious parts of negotiating it…. most importantly, we’re your right hand on the day-of…. while you’re busy being in love, we’re busy making sure everything stays on point and on time.

Not to pat ourselves on the back or anything, but we play a pretty big role when it comes to anticipating and resolving things that spin things sideways. The moment you hire a wedding planner, we become your real-world problem solvers, schedule-planners, event designers, a built-in relationship and family therapist, dress-picking girlfriend and partner-in-wedding-planning crime.

We don’t work for a venue.

We work for you.

Planning a wedding is pretty stressful. We promise, that stress will exist regardless of how much we plan, negotiate and problem-solve… but we make sure you’re not dealing with it alone.

Remember that one time Laura wrote a post about being a seasoned wedding planner? No? You should read it, here.

Spare your sister.

And don’t expect your Venue Coordinator to be your Wedding Planning Fairy Godmother!

When it comes to your wedding day, it’s a wedding planner that steers you in the directions you should go. We help you pick vendors and help you make smart spending choices and answer your dozens and dozens of emails about how many cupcakes you should order. We’re also the ones that need to assure you no one will care about whether you use the 60lb or 90lb cardstock for your place cards. Oh, and we’re the ones that teach you what place cards are and how they’re different from escort cards. It’s basically our job to take your wedding planning dreams and turn them into wedding day realities.

No big deal.

Except, for… it’s totally a big deal!

By the time you wake up on Wedding Day Morning, we’ve already carefully curated your design elements and worked alongside your vendors to make it come to life. We’ve meticulously planned your entire day-of itinerary – not just from the moment you arrive at the venue! We’ve ensured you’ve scheduled breakfast, reminded your wedding party not to have any staining sauces on your lunch sandwiches, and we’ve packed stain remover just in case someone forgets.

We’re the ones that text your Maid Of Honour to make sure you pack your flats for when your killer stilettos start to pinch your toes (we all know they will).

We’re the ones that remind your Best Man to grab the rings before they head out to the ceremony.

We’re the ones that bribe your Flower Girl with gummy bears to stop crying and walk down the aisle.

We keep your family on time and set out the 200+ burlap-wrapped mason jars to create a tablescape more sunning than anything you planned for.

Oh.. and we were the ones that told you a month ago that we definitely don’t need more than 200… so you could tell your mum to tell her friends to stop making them.

B+M 100

So, does it make sense now?

It’s not that we don’t like Venue Coordinators, quite frankly, we love them. They’re the behind-the-scenes, unsung heroes of your reception – the ones running back into the kitchen to get a vegan option together for your friend from 2nd Year who decided a week before your big day that she’s swearing off meat forever. Together with your Venue Coordinator we make judgment calls on service times when you uncle’s speech runs way past the time you gave him to speak and we decide together what the best course of action will be for gently cutting off that rowdy date your cousin brought.

Basically, together with your Venue Coordinator, we’re the team behind Team You – we make things happen on your behalf and when things go wrong we do our best to make sure you never find out.

Seems like a pretty solid investment to us.


Lisa Hardie is a Hamilton-based Bridal Lifestyle Blogger and Wedding Planner. Connect with her at lisa@weddinggirl.ca

Like Lisa’s Facebook Page, and follow her on Twitter, and Instagram as well!

Lisa Hardie WeddingGirl.ca Hamilton

{ Blog Love: Photo Credits }

Taylor Jackson Photography / Serena Swan Photography

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January 20, 2015

One King West Open House | #ShadesOfWhite 2015

#ShadesofWhite Open house: Jan. 18, 2015

The WeddingGirl.ca team was so excited to be a part of planning and hosting the annual open house at One King West Hotel & Residence in Toronto this weekend.


With our expertise and knowledge of the wedding industry, our team was able to bring some new and exciting ideas to the table. We partnered with Gown and Glory consignment boutique, and hosted Toronto’s first ever Wedding Gown pop-up shop! It was a hit with our brides, and some even walked away with their wedding gown!

gownandglory- shadesofwhite -onekingwest-toronto bridal

There was a Henna room for brides & their guests to experience a little bit of the South Asian culture. The colours were stunning and the team over at South Asian Wedding Boutique spent so much time perfecting every detail! Also a big shout-out to our wonderful henna artist, Deepali of Henna Kreations! She does amazing work!

henna room-photo Baffi collection - onekingwest -toronto

The Fifteen Hundred bridal suite was dolled up with fancy florals by Fraiche flower studio, bridal jewellry by AE Bumble, delicious smelling soaps and other toiletries from the Sweet Pea Soap company. We had some of the beauty experts from Visage Yorkville glamming up the brides and giving some wedding day beauty tips.


If you’ve ever been to One King West, then you’ll know that one of the coolest elements of their lobby is the staircase into the original bank vault. One of our team members put together a Groom’s Lounge, decked out with specialty pieces like wooden pocket squares from Baffi collection, Aristocrats handmade bow ‘n ties, and playing tables from Wildcard Experience.

thevault onekingwest -toronto- open house -wildcardexperience

Each room had a special touch from the talented designers at J. Company designs. Their team worked tirelessly to make sure each item was in place and the guests were absolutely ‘wowed’ by their work! We are so thankful to have a team like this to execute the BIG ideas always have! Chairs were provided by our friends over at Detailz Chair Couture.


Were you there?

What was your favourite part?

We’re so grateful for the help of these fabulous people:

Sarah TypesBB BlancThe Wedding Opera wedding blogPure Storm Studios, Emily Christine Photography, Dan Osadtsuk Photography Co.Serena Swan PhotographyToronto Popcorn company, Lemon Lily and Le Dolci for entertaining our guests, capturing the day, and providing everyone with incredible swag bag treats.

{Photography by Dan Osadtsuk Photography, the WG team, and vendors}

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January 14, 2015

Kristin & Warren | Muskoka Wedding

 { a True North love }

Today’s Indie-inspired blog feature comes to us from beautiful cottage country, Muskoka, in northern Ontario.  From the picturesque natural backdrops to the beautiful little group of gorgeous flower girls, every detail of this wedding will make your northern-loving heart pitter-patter.

The question is, though… would you be brave enough to get into a canoe on your wedding day??

Vine Birch Wedding Decor Muskoka

Bridal prep Muskoka Wedding Dan Osadtsuk Photography

dress Shot Muskoka Wedding Dan Osadtsuk Photography

Muskoka Wedding Dan Osadtsuk Photography

Blush Bridesmaids Flower Girls Romantic Wedding

Dan Osadtsuk Photography BRidal Portrait

Muskoka pier wedding ceremony blush khaki rustic

Blush Coral Bridesmaids peonies

Jewish Alternative Eco Rustic Wedding Lakefront Muskoka

With this ring i thee wed Dan Osadtsuk Photography

Bride Groom First Kiss Muskoka Wedding

Jewish Wedding Planner Muskoka

Muskoka Wedding Chairs Photography Dan Osadtsuk

Moonlight wedding pier muskoka waterfront romantic wedding photography

Muskoka Jewish Wedding Reception Party

Muskoka Wedding Photographer Dan Osadtsuk

Sparkler Newlyweds Bride Groom First Dance Dan Osadtsuk

{{ blog love }}

Photography Credit: The Dan Osadtsuk Photography Co.

Venue: Severn Lodge

Wedding Planner: Kristin Bloch

Floral / Decor: Berries & Blooms
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January 13, 2015

Oliver & Bonacini acquires The Carlu | Toronto Wedding News

Filed under: Bridal Blog,Real WG Weddings,Vendors,Venues,WG Media,WGx — WeddingGirl @ 2:49 pm

{ have you heard? }

One of Canada’s highest-profile restaurant and events company will assume operation of one of Toronto’s downtown historic event spaces.

OLIVER & BONACINI RESTAURANTS - Oliver & Bonacini acquires

Earlier today, Oliver and Bonacini (O&B) announced the expansion of its events portfolio to include the iconic and grand-scale Toronto venue, The Carlu.

Originally opened in 1930 as “Eaton’s Seventh Floor,” The Carlu was designed by French architect Jacques Carlu. In 2003, the space at 44 Yonge Street in College Park was reopened as “The Carlu” event venue after an extensive renovation led by Jeffry Roick and Mark Robert. Now recognized as one of Toronto’s best examples of Art Moderne architecture, The Carlu has been designated as a National Historic Site of Canada, and has played host to royalty on several occasions, as the preferred space for high profile social fetes, conventions and corporate celebrations.

Managing director at The Carlu said,

“The Carlu has long been considered the gem of Toronto’s event scene, with a sterling reputation as one of Canada’s premier event destinations. With O&B’s extensive portfolio of venues, and their consistency and excellence of cuisine and service, The Carlu was a natural fit. We are confident that they can lead the venue to even greater heights,”

In recent years, O&B’s growth in the event sector has included the historic Arcadian event complex at Hudson’s Bay Queen St., Toronto; Malaparte at the TIFF Bell Lightbox, Toronto; the Toronto Region Board of Trade; Windermere House, Muskoka; Westin Trillium House, Collingwood; and most recently, Trump Toronto. O&B is also actively working on newly constructed event spaces in Calgary and Montreal that will be introduced over the next 18 months. A key goal of the company is to develop an extensive “one-stop” portfolio of top-level event spaces to accommodate every client need, from social and wedding requirements, to full-service corporate conferences and events.

Andrew Oliver, president of Oliver & Bonacini Restaurants quotes:

“We’re very excited to be managing this magnificent venue and couldn’t be happier to be bringing our passion for food and service to The Carlu’s distinctive setting of elegance and grandeur.  We have great respect for what’s been accomplished at The Carlu. Working with The Carlu events team, we look forward to continuing the legacy of excellence that has been upheld throughout the years.”

The official transition of The Carlu management to O&B will take place on March 2, 2015.

The Carlu Stock

Don’t worry, Brides:

All existing catering and venue contracts at the venue will remain in place and be honoured, with clients continuing to work directly with their Carlu event specialist to coordinate all logistics.

Effective immediately, clients will also have the opportunity to book O&B as their caterer for all future events.

For more information please visit:

Website: OliverBonacini.com

Twitter: @OliverBonacini

Facebook: OliverBonaciniRestaurants

Instagram: @OliverBonacini

{About O+B }


Oliver & Bonacini (O&B) is recognized as one of Canada’s leading fine dining restaurant, events and catering companies, operating 12 unique and innovative restaurants in Ontario. Operations include à la carte dining, quick service dining, catering and special events. Restaurants include AmericaAuberge du Pommier, Bannock, Biff’s Bistro, Canoe, Canteen, Jump, Luma, and Oliver & Bonacini Café Grill (Toronto, North York, Blue Mountain, Oakville).

Operations are supported by an in-house bakery and chocolate/confections shop, O&B Artisan. The company’s private dining and events division, Oliver & Bonacini Events and Catering, manages a number of large-scale event facilities, including Arcadian, Toronto Region Board of Trade, Malaparte at TIFF Bell Lightbox, Windermere House on Lake Rosseau in Muskoka, and the Trump International Hotel & Tower Toronto (in collaboration with INK Entertainment).

In 2011, Oliver & Bonacini partnered with Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC), completing their first project in spring 2012 at Hudson’s Bay Queen Street store, Toronto. They are currently in development with a second grand-scale project slated to open in late 2014 at Hudson’s Bay Calgary Downtown.

In 2013, O&B was named a preferred catering provider to the Royal Ontario Museum, Design Exchange, The Round House at Steam Whistle Brewing and all INK Entertainment event venues, in addition to launching its own direct-to-venue catering service, O&B Caters. Oliver & Bonacini credits its success to the development of a strong company culture, where excellence of food quality and service are valued above all else.

{ About The Carlu }



The Carlu is an historic event space in Toronto. Known for many years as the “Eaton’s Seventh Floor”, The Carlu is one of Toronto’s best examples of Art Moderne architecture. In 1930, the Eaton’s department store chain opened “Eaton’s College Street”, an imposing Art Deco store at the intersection of Yonge Street and College Street. The matriarch of the Eaton family, Lady Flora McCrea Eaton, retained the noted French architect Jacques Carlu to design the seventh floor of the edifice. Between 1931–1965, the venue was home to the Eaton Operatic Society, and played host to major performers of the day, including Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington, and Frank Sinatra.

In 2003, the seventh floor was reopened after an extensive restoration. The raked floors were removed from the auditorium to return the space’s original movable seating. Other modifications had to be made to the auditorium so that modern acoustical equipment could be used. Even the original Lalique fountain, which had long been believed lost, was restored to its place at the centre of the Round Room. The venue’s new name was chosen to honour the architect that had originally designed the space. Since its re-opening, The Carlu has hosted numerous high-profile events, including concerts,
galas, weddings and fashion shows.


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January 11, 2015

#WeddingGownPopUpShopTO :: Toronto’s first-ever!

{ Bridal Pop-Up Shop, January 18th }


The countdown is officially on for Toronto’s first ever wedding gown pop-up shop at the luxurious One King West Hotel!

Gown and Glory Consignment Boutique is setting up racks upon racks of amazing designer dresses available (first-come-first-serve) for amazing discount prices! These new, sample, and previously-loved gowns are reduced by up to 80% off their retail prices!

There will be dresses for every size and ever budget, ranging from sizes 2 to 24 – and available to touch, feel, and try on. All of these glittery gems have been carefully curated by fashion expert Angela Kerry – all current designers, and all available to go home with their new Bride this weekend!

Photo 1

NEW Callista, style 4190, Size 20. Retails $1425 – event pricing $825

Gown and Glory’s inventory includes popular designers such as Maggie Sottero, Allure, Alfred Angelo, Sophia Tolli, Pronovias, Casablanca, Enzoani, Essence of Australia, Paloma Blanca, Alfred Sung, and Mori Lee – to name a few.


{ < $1000 }

Here’s a sneak peek at just a few of the amazing gowns priced under $800.


Watters, Emerson, Size 6. Retails $1850 – event pricing $725

 Allure wedding dress gown and glory

Allure 2606, Size 14. Retails for $1600 – event pricing $725

Mori lee wedding dress gown and glory

Mori Lee, 153, Size 4. Retails for $1450 – event pricing $650

Allure wedding dress-2 gown and glory

NEW Allure, 8862, Size 12. Retails for $1180 – event pricing $675

Mia Solano wedding dress gown and glory
NEW Mia Solano, M1225, Size 8. Retails for $1100 – event pricing $700

{ < $500 }

Here’s a look at just a few of the gorgeous gowns priced at $500 or less.


NEW Vera Wang White, VW351044. Size 12. Retails for $728 – event pricing $425

Sophia tolli wedding dress gown and glory
Sophia Tolli, Y1902. Size 14. Retails for $1200 – event pricing $475

Gown and Glory’s dresses are all unique, from various designers and from collections within the past three years, giving you many styles to choose from. The Pop-Up-Shop will be showcasing bridal fashion’s hottest trends: from lace, tulle skirts, cap sleeves and much more!

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NEW Martina Liana, style 441. Size 10. Retails for $2400 – event pricing $1550

There are some HUGE deals to be had, and you may be lucky enough to go home with one of these amazing pieces!

Pronovias Idilio

NEW Pronovias, Idilio by Manuel Mota, size 8. retails for $5000 – event pricing: ONLY $1200!

Enzoani Finley wedding dress gown and glory

Enzoani, Finley, Size 10. retails for $3200 – event pricing: ONLY $825!

The entire inventory will be updated the week before the event on www.gownandglory.ca, categorized by size. Check out what’s in stock before you stop by the pop-up shop and make notes of some of your favourites.

Amazing gowns.

Amazing prices.

All at an amazing venue! – how can you go wrong?

Join us on Sunday, January 18th, 11am -4pm in the King Gallery

1 King Street West, Toronto


If a more intimate one-on-one shopping experience is what you prefer, private appointments are available at Gown and Glory Consignment Boutique.
Contact Angela, angela@gownandglory.ca, 416-573-4240 to book a time that works for you.

*HST is applicable on all listed prices.

Cash or Credit Card will be accepted on site.


RSVP for the Pop-Up Shop by visiting EventBrite to secure your fitting time!



Gown and Glory Consignment Boutique Logo


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December 6, 2014

Wedding Budget Tip: Gutting your Guest List

{ managing your numbers, without hurting feelings }

… because, contrary to popular belief, your Dad’s cousin-twice-removed does not need to watch you say “I do.”

Vintage Rustic Wedding Guestlist Redfield Photography

The ring.

The question.

The tears.

The ring-shot-selfie on Instagram.

And then….

“Who’s coming?”

One of the very first questions (aside from the big one) at the onset of planning your wedding is who to invite. And, surprisingly, it’s usually much harder to answer than you’d think!

Countdownevents.com Wedding Guestlist quiz

These are just a few of the questions you’ll ask yourself, or other people will ask you. And it can be pretty stressful, trying to decipher between who you should or shouldn’t invite, especially when others around you will likely chime in with their own opinions.

It’s important to remember that the bulk of your wedding budget will go toward your reception, so one way to manage your budget is to effectively manage your guest list.

Yup, a daunting task, for sure, but with more and more couples paying for their own wedding, or having both families helping out with the bill, your guest list and size will undoubtedly affect everyone involved.

Did you know that wedding etiquette dictates that if your parents are paying for a certain percentage of the wedding, they’re entitled to curate a certain percentage of the guest list?

Some of the easiest ways to set guest counts? Base it on maximum capacity for your venue (if your reception space only seats 80, you can NOT invite 81 hoping that someone will say no!), or you can base you numbers on budget – a solid place to start.

Robin Hood Wedding Guestlist seating chart


{ follow these steps }

Get started on creating your initial guest list by making four separate lists. They’ll eventually come together to become your overall list – but this approach makes the process far less overwhelming.

1. Must be invited

This list will include immediate family members, friends and close relatives.


2. Want to invite

Here’s where you put your co-workers, childhood friends, etc.


3. Parents’ of the Bride’s list


4. Parents’ of the Groom’s list


- and ask both sets of parents to use the same #1 and #2′s in their own lists – Must’s and Want’s.

If the combined lists garner too many people then begin to trim the parents ‘wants’ (after all it is your wedding, not theirs).

If the number is still too large after that, then you begin to trim your own ‘wants’. Many couples start with casual colleagues, then distant relatives, then your Starbucks barista that you accidentally invited that one night while waiting for your skinny latté.

The bottom line:

There is usually no way to include absolutely everyone on your wedding guestlist unless you increase either your budget or your venue capacity (oftentimes either and/or both are just not realistic). Don’t forget that weddings aren’t an expression of IOU’s. Just because someone, somewhere, invited you to their wedding years ago (and you haven’t spoken since) doesn’t mean you are obligated to invite them to yours (and make sure your parents know this as well).

Don’t be sorry for not wanting to invite someone to your wedding!

This is the single most elaborate party you will likely throw in your lifetime….

You’re allowed to be choosy about who gets to come!


And o you have your final list together, ensure you obtain everyone’s full name, address and phone number (get the list owners to provide this to you in a timely manner). You’ll want this information on hand when it comes time to mail the invitations (usually sent two to three months before your wedding date). Phone numbers will come in extra handy when it’s time to follow-up with those who haven’t responded for the RSVP date (and, we speak from experience when we say that a surprisingly large number of guests won’t RSVP on time!).


Don’t forget…

Getting engaged, while exciting and emotional, also brings with it a substantial amount of unfamiliarity and stress. If you think a buffer might be helpful between you and your parents to keep your guestcount in check, have everyone sit down together with your wedding planner to talk about the Do’s and Don’ts of who gets invited. Oftentimes parents respond well to the reasons we give for why the paperboy’s second aunt probably doesn’t need to attend. Not only that, once your guestlist is in check, we’ll be helping to field questions from family about itinerary, big-day directions for your wedding party, and keeping all of the MC’s joke-etiquette questions from flooding your Inbox.

Remember, it all starts with falling in love…. everything else… well, that’s just knowing who to ask for help!


Lisa Hardie is a Hamilton-based Bridal Lifestyle Blogger and Wedding Planner at WeddingGirl.ca. If you have any questions or are thinking about hiring a Wedding Planner, make sure to email her at lisa@weddinggirl.ca.

You can also be friends with Lisa on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter, and Instagram as well!

Lisa Hardie WeddingGirl.ca Hamilton


{ blog love }

Redfield Photography | Countdown Events | MarthaStewartWeddings.com

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December 1, 2014

Current Project: #WGLookbook

A sneak peek of our latest shoot…

Even though wedding season is “over”, our schedules are filling up faster than ever with exciting projects and planning with our next season of couples. One of the projects our team has been working on is the WGLookBook! We are gathering local vendors and every day women, to pull off some seriously stunning bridal looks.

If you missed out last time, you can check out a behind-the-scenes look from our first photoshoot here.

Our recent shoot took place at the AGH – Design Annex store, and around the city of Hamilton.

Here’s a sneak peek at what we were up to;





hamilton photoshoot weddinggirllookbook


Of course none of this would have been made possible without the incredible vendors who joined us! Thank you from the WeddingGirl team!

{Vendor Love}

Gown & Glory

Revival Bridal Boutique

Solee shoes

Hattitude Jewelry

Fraiche floral studio

Emily Christine Photography

Julia Park Photography

JCompany Designs

Helix Candles

Savvy Sendables

Creation of Beauty

Salon Lily

Our beautiful models, Sarah & Katie

_ _ _

Leah Sandhu is a Fusion Wedding Expert and Bridal Lifestyle Blogger at WeddingGirl.ca.

To have Leah’s creative input and meticulous attention to detail for your celebration, make sure to Get In Touch! Have a question? Email me leah@weddinggirl.ca

Find Leah on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest

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October 17, 2014

Grand Bahia Principe Jamaica | #WGxWANDERLUST

{Grand Bahia Principe Jamaica, Runaway Bay}

Authored by: Lisa Hardie

As Mary and Linda set off to beautiful Jamaica, I am here sipping on a tea reminiscing about the trip I took to Jamaica back in May. And let me tell you; it was paradise.

I am there in spirit, ladies!

I turned into a wandering WeddingGirl when my husband and I took a kid-free trip in the Spring, and it was pure bliss (because having some alone time is hard to get sometimes!). We spent a week in Runaway Bay, surrounded by lush green mountains and blue skies (much like Linda was when she went to St. Martin).


Runaway Bay is a town in Saint Ann Parish on the northern coast of Jamaica and is considered one of the most naturally beautiful places on the island. There, we stayed at the beautiful Grand Bahia Principe Jamaica.


When you walk into the grand lobby of the resort, you’re greeted with nothing but smiles from the resort staff. The service at this resort was nothing short of exceptional. They truly aim to please; especially when the first thing they hand you is a welcome drink.

The resort itself is family-friendly and I was actually surprised at how many children were at the resort (including many infants). Having said that, we hardly noticed they were even there. There were no screaming or crying kids, there are plenty of kid-friendly activities, and the resort is so big that we hardly ever saw them. I guess that can happen when your resort has 850 rooms.

There are a lot of activities to do at the resort; this includes windsurfing, tennis, snorkelling, catamaran, kayaks, and bicycles. You can also check out the shopping centre or the nightly entertainment.

Or you can simply lie by the pool all day, for about three days in a row like I did. Bliss I tell you.


There are also plenty of things to do outside of the resort. We went on a tour to Ocho Ríos; a botanical garden tour, a visit to a local flea market, a visit to Dunn’s River Falls, and a truly authentic Jamaican Beef Patty make for a pretty great day. If you’re looking for a more relaxed excursion, take a raft ride down Martha Brae River.



The resort is also somewhat of wedding experts. There were a several weddings taking place there, and we even managed to catch a proposal in progress. It was magical.

Imagine getting married in a beautiful beach gazebo, followed by a lovely dinner on a lit beach patio. The food itself is amazing, and with five different restaurants to choose from you have plenty of options. Of course, staff members will be there every step of the way to provide you with prompt, excellent service.



I encourage you to check out this beautiful resort. The warm weather, amazing people, and stunning resort will be there to greet you – as well as the amazing sunsets!




If you’re interested in a destination wedding, be sure to get in touch – we’d love to help plan YOUR dream destination wedding!

To view more photo’s, follow me on Instagram! You can also find me on Facebook and Twitter.


Lisa Hardie WeddingGirl.ca Hamilton

Lisa Hardie is a Bridal Lifestyle Blogger and Wedding Planner at WeddingGirl.ca.

To have Lisa’s creative input and meticulous attention to detail for your wedding, make sure to email her at  lisa@weddinggirl.ca.

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October 6, 2014

Once Upon a Time in Paradise

“I would rather own little and see the world than own the world and see little of it…”

Authored by Laura Arbelaez

Laura Arbelaez Cayo Santa Maria Cuba Memories Paraiso Azul Beach Resort Wanderlust Travel Tourism Traveller

Laura Arbelaez Sunwing Vacations Memories Paraiso Beach Resort Cuba Travel Tourism Traveler Blogger

As some of you know, once upon a time, I went to school for Interior Design. Before you say anything, no, it is not at all like in the movies or reality TV shows, THEY make it look easy! It is a lot of fun, but it also takes a lot of research, practice, and HARD work, lots of if! So it is no surprise that by the time I graduated, I was exhausted. After a few months of staying at school all night way too MANY times, eating pizza at 2 am everyday (because it is about the only thing that delivers at this time!), microwavable food for every meal, and #ZombieWalking from one class to the next and from one project to another.. it was no surprise that I was ready to take some time to recover.

As part of my graduation present, mom and I made our way to paradise: Cayo Santa Maria – Cuba

Cayo Santa Maria Cuba Memories Paraiso Azul Sunwing Vacations Travel Wanderlust Blogger Laura Arbelaez Nature

Cayo Santa Maria Memories Paraiso Azul Beach Resort Laura Arbelaez Travel Blogger Wanderlust

The year 2012 – I had seen my fair share of hotel reviews and had been fantasizing about travelling for months now. We decided to book our trip with Sunwing Vacations (as it was very affordable and had heard fabulous things!). We stayed at Memories Paraiso Azul… it is about an hour and a half away from the airport, so if you are considering staying at this resort, keep that in mind! I was thrown off by the amount of people who were not happy about it. I love road trips, so I personally enjoyed the ride very much. I will tell you this, it is totally worth it.

Let me just say that this is not a hotel review. You can find that in our Trip Advisor Account!

Cayo Santa Maria Memories Paraiso Azul Beach Resort Hotel Review Trip Advisor Sunwing Vacations Wanderlust

This blog is all about the journey and the lessons learned on this trip! We all travel for different reasons… We travel to unlock a little piece of who we are. We travel to explore and discover nature. We travel to enjoy everything this world and its people have to offer or we simply travel to relax, after all, we all need a little “me” time from time to time!

I want to tell you that it is OKAY to travel and not leave your resort
(or only once)…

Because that’s what I did, and at the time that was exactly what I needed. A week in paradise to gather my thoughts, figure out my next move, spend some quality time with mom, get in touch with nature, enjoy the sun, long walks on the beach and some of the most breathtaking sunsets that I have ever seen.

Memories Paraiso Azul Cayo Santa Maria Sunwing Vacations Travel Wanderlust Blogger

Memories Azul Beach Resort Explore Adventure Travel Blogger Wanderlust Paradise Nature

Laura Arbelaez Travel Blogger Explore Adventure Nature Memories Paraiso Azul Beach Resort Wanderlust Love

Although I only left the resort once (to go to a “Tourist Town” – A town made entirely for tourists, Pueblo Las Dunas), I learned so much about Cuba. I immersed myself in the culture by talking to the hotel staff and the few locals in the town. I heard some of the most amazing stories. Stories that begin with, “Once upon a time…” and end in tears because that is how much they touch your heart. We talked about politics, western society, and education. We also talked about gardening, fishing, hard work, faith and the universe…

I fell in love with #Cuba and its people BECAUSE I see the passion they have for life, for knowledge. They truly are happy and grateful with the “little” they have.

Cayo Santa Maria Cuba Tourist Town Pueblo Travel Blogger Wanderlust Explore Discover

Cuba Cayo Santa Maria Travel Blogger Wanderlust

Cayo Santa Maria Tourist Town Bar Tower Las Dunas Travel Blogger Wanderlust

If you are not aware of this, all levels of education in Cuba are free. Everyone is highly educated even if they “don’t look the part.” You may be surprised to learn that your gardener is a teacher, a science major, or even a lawyer. Cubans are the most warm hearted, loving, beautiful people I have ever met. Which is why this trip was so important to me.

Today, I wish I had photographs that reflect everything I learned during my stay. Yes, the photographs that I shared with you are all beautiful. I just wish I had photographs of these conversations, of those moments that I treasure so much, moments and people that changed my life. I wish you could see it all.

Cuba was a little reminder – Count your blessings, give thanks and be happy, TRULY happy!

Laura Arbelaez Travel Blogger Cuba Cayo Santa Maria Paradise Wanderlust Explore

If today I inspired ONE of you to travel, to visit Cuba and so many places like it, I would have done what I set out to do. This is an open invitation: explore and discover our magical world!

What are your travel stories? What have you learned so far? Find me and let me know!


Laura Arbelaez Wedding Girl Bridal Travel Lifestyle Blogger Social Media Stylist Wanderlust Wedding Planner

Have you been to Memories Paraiso Azul lately, would love to hear your thoughts! Lets take it further, have you or anyone you know gotten married at this resort? Message me for a chance to get featured in our website!


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WGx Photoshoot: Serena Swan Photography

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