How to be a rad wedding guest

From the wedding of Julia & Brian, taken by yours truly and recently featured in Ruffled Blog

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INTERESTED IN LEAVING A LASTING IMPRESSION?

Some people are professional wedding goers and I'm not talking about those of us actually hired to help the day unfold, I'm talking those guests that have RSVP'd to endless weddings in one year and have seen it all from the seats of the ceremony setting to the reception area. But, then again not all of us attend these beautiful functions regularly and so when you do, it's really quite new and special. Regardless of being a pro-guest or a newbie at this sort of event, I have to say there are some things that people really ought to know because the way you act can truly have a lasting impression. And, let's hope it's always a good one.

I've collected some tips, tricks and valuable pieces of advice from a variety of people who really know weddings.  These people include wedding guests who've been to over a dozen weddings, a few wedding planners, a bridal shop owner, past brides & grooms, a makeup artist and a few photographers. 

Whether you are looking at attending as guest and want an inside scoop, or you are a bride or groom hoping to give someone the hint on how you'd like to act, there is something in here for everyone. And if you take only one thing from this whole post, let it be this incredible piece of advice from one of my past brides.

Weddings are a celebration of love, but not just the love between the couple getting married. It's the love they have for you in including you in their special day and choosing for you to be there. Whether you are a close friend of the couple or just a +1, the best thing you can do is to make sure you actually "show up" to the wedding. By that, I mean - be there in presence and enjoy the event, from the potentially too long ceremony to the awkward table conversation at dinner, to drinking & dancing. Find the fun in whatever happens & commit to enjoy the night! The more present you are, and the more fun you have, the more the couple will appreciate you for being there and making their day that much sweeter! - Amanda Melvin (past bride, photos from her amazing Hora just below)

REMEMBER WHOSe DAY IT IS

When you get an invitation to a wedding, that means that there was a conversation about you. Someone brought up that you were important in a way that was meaningful enough to them to have you there to witness this day. Remember that.

When asking the owner of Lover's Land (a bridal boutique in Toronto) about who should be invited to a wedding, Danielle Gulic said, "People who support your relationship! And that mean something to you!". And so as a guest, be that person.

And, remember, whose wedding it is. It's not yours. It's theirs. It's the wedding of two people who love each other and want to celebrate that love and think you are special enough to them to share it. 

Be honoured you were invited. 

Not everyone can be invited. There is a venue max and this sometimes nixes people we'd like to have there.  Don't cause issues, don't complain about their venue, how far it is for you to travel from, or how hard it was for parking. There were reasons for their choices, endless conversations and hours. It was the choice they ended up making. Respect that. 

Have no expectations except to have a great time. And good times come from good attitudes. Remember that the couple spent months planning their day so don't get hung up on things that seem off to you; they made decisions based on tons of factors that you can't see or aren't considering. - Ashley Readings (H&MUA)

At a recent wedding, a grandmother walked into the venue angry that the venue was difficult to find. She wasn't late but took our her frustrations on the bride. It almost put my bride into tears. We were just at the tale end of photos when it happened, so instead of continuing, I brought them to the bar at the venue, sat them down, ordered them a drink and wouldn't let anyone near them for a while (I was on bodyguard duty ).

They needed time to calm down, re connect and move on past this experience. Weddings are real days with real people. The couple getting married has so much to think about, so don't add anything to what is already going on with them. Add to their experience in a good way. Not a way that darkens their day.

People have an amazing ability to remember these events and on someone's wedding day, sometimes it's these moments of stress that live on stronger than the rest. Don't be that person who puts a cloud over their memories.

Remember this one piece of advise, be nice. 

If you have to go to a place you aren't familiar with, ask someone who is or do your homework. You are a grown up. You've gotten through life so far, this shouldn't be that hard. If you are asked to walk on the wedding day, get into it, there is probably reason behind it. If you are asked a question during a wedding, answer enthusiastically. If you are given confetti to throw during the ceremony, do it! Add some celebration, plus it's a total photo op and there's nothing like something being documented terribly wrong for them to always remember.

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BE NICE TO THOSE PEOPLE MAKING THE DAY HAPPEN

Being respectful and nice to the people helping the day happen is such an important part of the day. These people have been going all day and are going to be going all night. They might not get a chance to take a moment to eat or pee. Truly. Like actually. They are working hard to make sure all the people they need to make happy, are happy.

Be conscientious of what's going on before you try to get the photographers attention to take your photo. Chances are, if the bride is dancing with her dad, it's not a good time to ask them to take a snap of you and your honey.  - Frances Beatty (Photographer)

Manhandling the staff, a planner or photographer is not something you should be doing and happens way to often. People have names too and if you don't know it calling them "Hey" or "Camera girl" maybe might not be the best thing. Giving the photographer cut eye while they are attempting at taking beautiful candid photos that will be something treasured by the couple, isn't really all that nice to the photographer or the couple who has invited you to be there.  I sometimes want to wear a sign that says "these photos are not for my personal collection, they are for the bride and groom." But alas, that's not really gonna go with the cute outfit I wear to blend in and still work my butt off.

Be respectful of the couple's wishes, be respectful of the staff and all vendors - they're working really hard.  - Jennifer Van Son (photographer)

UNPLUGGED MEANS UNPLUGGED

A lot of people don't seem to understand why a couple is asking for their wedding to be an unplugged wedding. And, some guests are completely defiant and just ignore all requests that they put their phones or cameras down. Bringing a camera too big to fit in your purse maybe should be the sign that you should leave it at home.

A bridesmaid once told me she didn't understand why they couldn't take photos during the ceremony (often that is the only time this request is being made) and so myself & my bride explained it. Explaining the reason behind the ask is often so valuable.

For my own wedding, all the cellphones & cameras were collected into a basket as they entered our ceremony area. All of our 27 guests witnessed our wedding from their own eyes, with no distractions. And, each time I looked towards this intimate group of people, I made eye contact with each and everyone of them. It meant so much to me. I wanted everyone to be present during our ceremony. I wanted our guest hands to go to where they would go naturally without being distracted with phones and cameras. My mom and dad held each other which is such a tender thing to me because they are the symbol of partnership. My good friend Jen held her hand on her heart with the other holding my bouquet. My photographer Nessa K has photographs (just here below) of our loved ones being completely present during our ceremony, no phones in hand, no distractions at all (well except our dog Lucy being held by my brother). You could feel it all and we cherished this part of our day so dearly.

Weddings are intimate regardless of the size because it's an intimate event taking place. It's about the connection of the people there. It's not about technology. And it's not even so much about the photos being "ruined" with a flurry of cellphones and people jetting out in front of the bride to get the shot with their ipad (although I mean this isnt really the photo you paid a few thousand dollars for your photographer to capture), but it's also the experience you want everyone to have. You want everyone to be present!

"Put your phones and cameras away. Unless for some reason there isn't a hired photographer on site, chances are they've got it covered. Couples spend a lot of time researching and a lot of money on their photographers and/or videographers, partially so their guests can focus on enjoying themselves. You aren't really present when you have a device in front of your face and you're there because you're important to them and they're important to you. Besides potentially ruining a photo the professional is about to take, you're always stealing away the couple's chance of seeing your beautiful face in the photos or when they look out towards you. Don't steal that from them." - Frances Beatty (Photographer)

One of the best cases in point to show how disruptive it can be when someone other than the hired photographer or videographer decides to take on being the photographer/videographer comes from an intimate wedding this past year.

In the photography world we often have endearing nicknames for these people and we try to find them before anything happens to explain how disruptive it can be if they are out of their seats during these key moments, especially if the couple has asked for them to be in seats and cameras put away.  Sadly I wasn't on to this guy who stayed under the radar until he made his very memorable appearance while my couple walked down the aisle and then had them walk around him because he stood almost in the middle.

At first he was called "Zebra Man", but then the father of the bride named his good friend of 40 years +  "the Shooter". The nickname came from him yelling at me during bridal party entrances, "I'm a shooter, I'm a pro shooter", when I asked him to move out of the way of the couples, and myself so that I could do my job. Despite all the moments he was front and center, his shining moment came after being told to stay in his seat for the rest of the reception and he decided that he would just bring his seat onto the dance floor for the Father/Daughter dance. At the very end, he shoved his Go-Pro right into the bride and fathers face. What a way to let them have an intimate moment right?! 

Remember that you are important to the bride & groom, otherwise you wouldn't be there!  Put down the phone, the camera, the iPad, be present and feel all the warm fuzzy feelings at least during the ceremony.  - Jennifer Van Son (photographer)

The above photo to the left was from Raf & Matt's intimate Toronto ceremony before their Italy wedding. Because of this photo, and seeing how everyone had their phone out, Raf & Matt decided to put a STRICT no phone policy on their Italy wedding so this wouldn't happen twice. And, if you need more reason to have an unplugged ceremony and photos aren't cutting it, check out this amazing video!

Plus, if your hands are busy how ever will you clap for them at the kiss and throw the confetti??

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GIFTS

FROM THE PARENTS.

If you are a parent gifting the wedding to your children, think about this for a second. Who’s wedding is it? It's theirs. This is the kindest thing in the world to pay for your children to have a dream wedding. But, that’s just it then, let THEM have THEIR weddings.

I get the insider scoop and this year along almost every single one of my weddings where the parents have paid for it, the couples has shared with me how they end up not losing the care for their wedding. All they want is for it to be over with so they can be done and gone on their honeymoon. The weddings become the wedding of the person paying for it, with all decisions approved through them and the couple gets lost in the shuffle, stuck in the middle of the drama or the family politics of who’s invited and so on. 

You had your wedding (and if your own Mother or Mother in Law planned it all for you, think back about how you felt?!) and you even have the option of a vow renewal too. If you are being kind enough to pay, be kind all the way through, let them make their choices. Now I’ve if they are opting for gold everything coated with diamonds then yeah, put your foot down, but otherwise, think about the big picture and remember what lasting impression do you want to leave on them on this big chapter of their lives.

Set a budget, and walk away from the expectations on how that money is going to be used. We don't give gifts only to ask the person receiving the gift how they will use it or spend it.  If you are helping pay for the wedding, tell them the amount you are comfortable with and what it's for, OR give an amount and don't have expectations. Then no fuss and everyone's happy.

GUEST GIFTING.

Weddings are not cheap and the couple has most likely spent a fair amount on this celebration they have invited you to share in. But not everyone is coming from the same place. Asking on whether gifts should be something people do, Danielle Gulic from Lover's Land shared her feelings that gift giving should be up to the guest, "Whatever the guest prefers! There are no obligations! Gifts should not be expected!!".  And, I agree with that, but think that it's important to make sure you are representing your friendship or relationship with what you are giving, if giving or not. And if nothing is being given, maybe some token of love should be extended, like a hand written card?!  While nothing should be expected, leaving nothing while attending someone's wedding can often have them questioning how you feel about them and their new relationship.

I believe that Jennifer Van Son (photographer) said it well when she said, "Umm... Personally I wouldn't recommend showing up empty handed.  I just feel like that could get super awkward down the road lol!".  I think both are wise and as a guest you should do what feels most comfortable to you. Gift giving can be hard, let me tell you, as a bride receiving gifts or being asked what we wanted, I didn't even know where to start with this, and would have been completely happy with just a card (and we saved each and every beautiful card we received).

One company that I've discovered that really takes the questions out of buying a gift is Zola. I so wish I knew about them when I was engaged and planning our festivities.

"Zola is reinventing the wedding planning and registry experience. Wherever love leads you—from engagement to wedding, and decorating your first home, we’re there, combining compassionate customer service with modern tools and technology that include your wedding website, registry, checklist, guest list and more."

Here are some handy tips from them about the registry, their services, how much to give, when to give and the inside scoop on giving cash.

Quicky tips

Be on time.

Arrive to the Ceremony On Time. If the time on the invitation says 5.30p, plan to be in your seats by 5.15p at the latest. Allowing extra time for parking and walking so you're not squeezing into the back row or stressing the bride out moments before she's going down the aisle.  - Laura Olsen (Wedding Coordinator)

Dress to impress.

See my previous post about guest attire here or hop over to Lover's Land where they have ready to wear pieces for ladies going as guests, as well as amazing Bridal Dresses and other pieces. The Two Birds Bridal pieces are great pieces to wear as a bridesmaid then as a guest later on too!

Think about the Newly Married Couple.

Be there for your loved ones. It is so common for the couple to not find enough time to get a drink or something to eat, if you're able to grab them a drink when you're getting yourself one, or grab them a plate of cake. It was one of the greatest gifts my friend gave to me on my wedding day. I would not have eaten a single bite from our buffet had it not been for him making me a plate.  - Frances Beatty (Photographer)

Get Home SAFELY.

Pre-arrange your designated driver or a ride home. There is no excuse for drinking and driving, and your future self will thank you for taking care of it before you start enjoying yourself. - Frances Beatty (Photographer)

PAY ATTENTION.

Pay attention during the speeches. I know I know, it's not always your favourite part of the night, you're there to dance, but it's not easy getting up in front of a group of people to pour your heart out, it's even worse if you can tell that you're not holding people's interest. You'll probably learn a thing or two about the couple you love so much by listening to them. - Frances Beatty (Photographer)
Cry, laugh, and then party hard but without acting like a jerk.”  - Jennifer Van Son (photographer)

RSVP.

RSVP On Time. When the reply date is September 1st, this means you should be getting your reply card in the mail well in advance of this deadline so it is received by the requested date. The reply by date isn't arbitrary, but rather it gives the couple sufficient time to prepare required final guest counts for their vendors to prepare the final details. So by replying late, it often creates a snowball effect as nothing can be confirmed without the final number of people replying. -  Laura Olsen (Wedding Coordinator)

Dietary Restrictions

If you have dietary restrictions, eat beforehand. I have sat through so many terrible banquet meals and while it can be a bummer to be an after though, most chefs don't eat with my restrictions so don't get it. I eat before I go anywhere and hit the sweet table hard after dinner. - Ashley Readings (MUAH)

BE INVESTED

I think the key to being an awesome guest is being invested in the wedding. Be present, be excited for the couple, celebrate their love and marriage and most importantly be there to create memories that last a lifetime. - Ashley Lindzon (Wedding Coordinator)
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Friday Favourites | MaJor Treat, Bahamas, East Room, Alex Brott & Beauty Babe Lounge

This is a big ol' Friday Favourites and just making it under the deadline before the Friday thing ain't true aka it's almost Saturday (where did this day go?!)

In this post of "Friday Favourites", I am going to tell you about a new amazing coffee shop in Queen west, then go into my love for the band Bahamas. Then, there will be a highlight on the east end venue called "The East Room", followed by that, I'll tell you a little bit about real estate and the most inspiring #bosswoman in the realty world, then I'll finish it off with a beauty secret I can't live without; my lashes & the galthat does the best lashes in all of Toronto!!

All the things are pretty wonderful to know about, but in the case you aren't into every section, find the spot you are interested and dive in. There is something in here for everyone.

Next week, I'm doing a Friday Favourites dedicated to all things weddings so if you happen to be someone going to a wedding or having a wedding, be sure to come back!

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But first, coffee: Major Treat Coffee

Major Treat is the newest addition to the Queen Street West strip. You’ll find it nestled inside the new Town Barber Shop. It’s the red front trim that stands boldly among the rest of the shops and just in case you are colour blind, it’s a few doors down from The Drake.

If you’ve read my last FF then you’ll know my love for my baristas and so it will make since that I’ve followed Steve, who used to work at Crafted, to his new coffee shop home, Major Treat (although one would say he followed me considering its about a hop skip & jump from my door to this new shop).

Why I love it: Steve, Chris (one of the owners plus partner/husband to my favourite Bridal Shop owner Danielle Gulic from Lover's Land), Becky, the sign, the decor, the proximity to my home, Lucy can go in too and they have treats for her. Plus, more importantly the coffee is great and Steve knows my usual, always.

My usual: Americano. Obviously, have we met?! In the big cup and I’ll always ask for the skim he hides in the fridge.

In case I've peaked your curiousity, here is a bit more about Major Treat from the main barista man Steve.

Where did major treat come from:  Chris thought of the idea years ago. One of his fave bands is Minor Threat... Thought it would be funny to have a cafe called Major Treat

How did you become the face of Major Treat: I'm the main guy cause I was Chris' fave barrista and he thought if you are gonna open a cafe just hire your favorite barista. 

What's your fav caffeinated beverage: Drip coffee, many cups of it, then espressos

Describe major treats looks, design: The design of the logo is a play on Minor Threat logo. The cafe was built to be super functional in a small space and to fit the style of Town Barber who we share the space with.

Who do you work with: I work with my friends Becky, Aaron, Bee, Bobby, and Campbell and sometimes my pal Katie fills in on Sunday mornings if I'm in a pinch.

Who owns it: Chris Hammell and Martin Farkas own it together. They are the best.

What do you offer or what should people know: Really good coffee. All the coffees. Oh, and we are cash only ;)

FUN FACT: It also serves as a cool background for some bad a** wedding photos, especially when you have the coolest couples who know the owners and love grabbing a coffee there whenever a hair cut is on the books. Here's some frames from last weeks wedding with Michelle & Rich; they are one of the most rad couples I've had the pleasure of working with!


On Music: Bahamas

My love for Bahamas isn't a secret. Anthony is all too aware of how I am a total fan girl when I see them in concerts & festivals.  But he even joined me side stage at Way Home two years ago/ We were so into it someone actually snapped a photo of us & posted it on instagram with the tag “side stage love for Bahamas”.

Ultimate experience: I see a lot of shows and meet a lot of musicians. The music world is deeply woven into my life (pre Anthony too, as this was part of the reason we just kept bumping into one another). There are three bands that I just couldn't manage to see live and if I ever met, I’d probably be too awkward to speak.

A few years back, my friend Vanessa texted me to ask what those bands were, knowing me all too well. “Bahamas, Tegan & Sarah, and the Lumineers”, I replied. She slyly changed the subject and then a few hours later, she asked if I could be ready to jump in a cab with her, no questions asked. “Sure” and so I did. We ended up in a building downtown and it wasn't until we were checking in and the woman at the front let me know what we were attending. CBC was having a live taping for Bahamas's new album. It was the first time he was going to be playing this album in front of a live audience, and an intimate audience of about 30 people. I tried to keep my cool while totally way too excited on the inside and ended up doing the thing I do when I watch Anthony play; which is basically trying to look calm & collected on the outside while trying to contain the way too much excitement on the inside and then end up glaring. If you want to see, spot me here, but really, just ignore me and listen to how amazing these guys are.

Intimate shows: The taping was the ultimate experience, but then for my birthday Anthony brought me to Massey Hall to see him again. Clever man, he knew that I knew it was sold out and we missed the chance to get seats, so he waited until my birthday, two days before the show, to give me the tickets and absolutely make my year. Good thing because the next year he was gone for my birthday and this year we aren't totally sure. Long story short, I'm kind of into birthday and you should REALLY see Bahamas live!

Fav song: Lost in the Light. I cant explain it. Just turn it up really loud and feel how good it is.


On spaces: East Room

Way back in January I decided that my studio and I had reached the end of our sweet adventure together.  I had worked out of my home my whole career, spending so much on it’s appearance ensuring it was perfect for clients and inviting them in with baked goods, good smelling candles and soft sweet tunes. Then Anthony moved in, and work really needed to have a separate home from my work. My studio was what I needed at that time. I think everything happens for a reason because once I decided that having a big ol’ space all to my self wasn't for me, everything aligned.

I decided to bring work back home, but I needed to keep our home only for us (and friends & family of course). SO - i was in need of a place to meet clients if a more official spot was needed. East Room was popping up all over my Facebook feed, my instagram feed and then finally I went there, met the crew and fell in love.

Being a member there is pretty lovely, not only is the space inspiring, but the people are also inspiring & fill that void of loneliness I had working alone in my own place.  PLUS: it also happens to be one of the hot new spots that the coolest of cool people are getting hitched at!

In a nutshell, what is The East Room: East Room is a membership-based co-working club connecting work, leisure and culture.

Let’s talk about this beautiful space: All our furniture and design is done in-house by sister company 507 Antiques, Design & Build.

What you should know about the members: Our membership base consists of 25 – 45 year old professionals. Our international scale of members is youthful, tech savvy, business oriented, and culturally aware. Our members work in many different areas of the modern creative world from art direction, branding, photography, film, graphic design, to marketing, fashion, public relations, travel, blogging, tech and more.

What’s on the books for ER:  The East Room is always growing and changing. We've just completed building third floor premium membership space and are continuing to build out additional space in the second floor. This will be followed by an all new event venue and club-working space in the basement.

Events, with a highlight on weddings:  East Room offers an East Room branded wedding which includes everything from curated florals, to valet, to furniture, catering, bar service, photographers, videos, DJs and more.

If you are looking for an alternative wedding venue, want to have a space that is mega cool with little work needed to make it beautiful cause it’s already so freaking cool, please get married here and hire me to document it. 


On people who inspire me: Alex Brott from Sage Realty

When I first heard about Alex, she was described as the gal who wears band shirts & ripped jeans, who has a gigantic dog and can stage/sell the sh*t out of a home. I first met her when I found out she had been pushing for me to get the second floor of the mystery building on Ossington crunched between Repasado Tequila Bar and Town Motto. Soon I met her, and realized we had a whole bunch of people in common including her dad, who at the time she entered my life, had been the conductor for the orchestra that played along with my husbands band when they performed at the Junos.

Alex soon became my rock. And, my inspiration to the ultimate girl boss and most kind hearted human I know.

Then, Alex became my real estate agent who magically got us the first place we put in an offer on (which apparently I’m not suppose to tell anyone lol) and took over my studio space (as well as bought most of my studio furniture which made our move easier than easy). And, even though I'm not one floor above her, I still have the pleasure of seeing her for super yummy lunches, always on Ossington.

Here is a little more about this fabulous woman!

How did you get into this:  The truth is, my life would be entirely different today, had I picked ‘heads’ in a coin toss (’Tales’ was to be a teacher). I was working in the music industry in strategic partnerships. Great perks: concert tickets, access to all the music, never wearing a suit to work unless, (obviously) it was denim or velvet or leather, late nights in historic venues with interesting, talented, creative, inspiring people. I even brought my dog to the office (Jake, RIP buddy). It was a blast. Quite simply, one day, I woke up and wanted more. I wanted to be fulfilled in some way that had more meaning to me. I really was the happiest when I was helping other people solve problems. My mom and I would talk about it on the phone all the time. Teaching and real estating...so different, but oddly, many similarities in the ‘fulfilling’ department. So one day we just flipped a coin. The next day I left my job. And holy shit. 10 years later. Here we are. 

Whats your owning story: I’m in real estate. So I own my business, but not the company whose name under which I operate (which in my case, is SAGE - which is an amazing banner to fly under). I have the best business partner/lifeline/pep-talk giver/cheerleader Heather Hadden, and together we own The Brott Hadden Group real estate business. Every day we want more. We want to build the business and take over the world with beautifully presented, well marketed properties. We want nice, great people, with great taste to buy these homes and live happily ever after. We are constantly strategizing and figuring out ways to make our business stronger and better.

Why staging: BECAUSE IT REALLY WORKS. Sorry for yelling. I’m passionate about this. Especially in a city like Toronto where so many people are design savvy and actually care about interior styling in their own home. They watch HGTV every chance they get so they can brag to everyone they know that they are basically a ‘designer’. People really really care. And when they walk into a home they’re looking at, they need to be struck in their hearts, with a lightening bolt of desire for a dream life without clutter, with the artwork they would totally get, if they could afford it, or had the time to shop for it, the kitchen is totally clean without anything on the counters - so you remember you have counter space, maybe there is a chair to read in that isn’t covered in clothing, the tchotchkes are the perfect heights, the books are arranged by colour and/or size, the vibe of house that people can relax in because its just so….easy to look at. We all know that no house looks like this in real life. That you kick off your shoes and throw your keys on any surface. On your way to the fridge, you may trip over a phone charger and with some luck, the cushions on your sofa haven’t melted into the floor. WE JUST WANT TO LIVE IN THE DREAM! Can we just have the dream for five minutes!!? Here’s what happens next, people fall in love (with this dream) and your house sells for heaps of money and everybody is happy. The end. It’s the best. Everybody wins. I believe you get 30% more money when you stage. So there’s that too.

What’s your approach: Be authentic. Give people your everything. If you’re working with sellers, make the house look the best its ever looked (see above RE: staging), market the property like your life depends on it. Make the best quality product to give to buyers so that they leave there subconsciously feeling the house is quality. Leave no question unanswered. Nothing is unsolvable. If you’re working with buyers, give them all the information you can get your hands on, find experts for any concerns and always make sure they can get in the door as soon as possible. Most importantly, always always manage expectations. 

Dream clients: People who know what they want. People who are kind and communicative. People who love to laugh. People who appreciate good coffee. Whether you’re buying or selling, there is a ton of stress, money, time and emotion involved so there's got to be a good connection between the agent and the Client. 

Dream place: It has one level, 20’ ceilings with factory leaded windows, heated floors, a fireplace, a pool I don’t have to maintain, huge wild gardens all around it, nondescript and overgrown from outside and magical on the inside. Also, there's a retractable roof and valet parking. Considered moat with dragon. OK still considering. 

What should people know when buying home: Numero Uno: Get your financing ducks lined up right away because the moment you start looking for places, you will find stuff you love. Get out there and see places with your own eyeballs. You’ll never know unless you’re standing inside the door and your thunderstruck. Be prepared to move lightening fast on a property you love. Don’t settle. Houses are like trains, there will be another if this one isn’t hitting you in the heart. Never underestimate good neighbours. Home Ownership is not like renting. Things will not be perfect and you will have to deal with those things. But everything is solvable. And everything will be OK. First timers? Stop romanticizing your ‘first home’. This is likely your 5 year pit stop. Get something you know you’ll be able to sell in a few years. If you have a kid, get something with parking. Get the flood insurance. 

Myths? Truths?:  Myths: Real Estate agents have crystal balls. Truths: Real Estate agents do not have crystal balls. 

Real Estate is not for the faint of heart. It is a 24 hour a day, 7 day a week situation. You are constantly bailing on people you love and praying that they understand it's because you love your job and if you don’t do that thing, right at that moment, your people may lose the house they love and the world will actually come to an end.  There are real, real estate emergencies which can include but not limited to: floods, cats getting out and running away, frozen lock boxes, frozen pipes, walking in on people in compromising positions, car/house/everything keys going down hvac vent, vibrators left in the middle of the bedroom floor during open house, kids hot boxing the house they don't want their parents to sell...sometimes it's a real gong show at this end. 

Why do you love what you do?  It's very cool to be part of this massive decision with people. It's a big deal and a lot of excitement. I friggin' love it. I love my Clients. The moonbeam in me believes that fate lines us up because we match somehow. That slam dunk feeling when your people get the deal, or you get a great offer, or you work with great Clients you love, or great Agents you love, and it all comes together. When everything went sideways and somehow…you manage to pull it together and save the day. And because sometimes you fail. But you fail forward. And you remember your error the next time and you pat yourself on the back for not making the same mistake twice. It fulfills me more than I could have ever imagined. Really feel like I definitely won that coin toss. 


On Beauty:  Lash Extensions at Beauty Babe Lounge

When lashes entered my life: About 6 years ago in Costa Rica, my all too fabulous fashionista friend Olga and I went on a yoga detox retreat. It’s not really my thing (only because, well, I really like to chew food) and the last night of the retreat myself and two other girls broke into the kitchen so we could eat something that wasn't room temperature, wasn't picked directly from the earth and was something I could actually chew instead of just sip. I found a piece of bread, toasted it, slapped on some butter and it was the best thing I’ve ever eaten, ever.

Anyways, back to the trip; the other thing that happened was that she would tease me each morning as I ventured down to the yoga tent in my lulus, hair tied back and tons of mascara. Mascara right before I did some hot sweaty yoga. OH YES. You would NEVER find me without it. I have blonde itty bitty tiny eyelashes that basically make it look like I’ve never slept a day in my life. She had permanent lashes at the time and tried to convince me of the beauty of them. I am not really all that high maintenance, so I wasn't sure I was into the monthly refills. But then, the more I thought about, I realized that I was low maintenance/high maintenance; like the kind where you do a bunch of things to yourself like once a month and then be totally lazy all other days because this magical thing once a month allows for this.

My adventure with lashes: First, there was a gal who was WAY too far away, but so good. Eventually, we ran our course and I wanted to find someone who was closer and it wouldn't involve a sometimes 4-6 hrs adventure, half a tank of gas with a 407 bill to boot. Then there was a shop down the street from me, like walking distance, like SO CLOSE, but within two days chunks of eyelashes were gone and so was the money I had invested in them. Then, I went further down Queen to a place where I spent more time with my eyes closed wondering where the heck was the girl who was just doing my lashes was; as every 20 minutes she’d vanish for 10 minuets. Then, I found Wendy. Wendy & I met at a shop where she was doing lashes and I was hooked. When she opened her own shop, I couldn't be prouder of her.

The woman behind the lashes:  I think it’s important to know the person who you are pretty much seeing more than most of your friends. I have been seeing Wendy every 3-4 weeks for almost 3 years now. I try not to fall asleep during the appointment (it’s hard after a long week while laying there, eyes closed, all comfy with good music on!) and when I succeed it's pretty nice because we cover it all and she’s become a friend, and someone I really admire.

Here is a little interview with Wendy about her business and some FYI about lashes! She's the actual best. If you've ever wondered about lashes, she's the girl to go to! You'll be addicted asap!

How did you get into lashes:  I first heard about eyelash extensions in 2004 from a hairdresser right before I went on my trip to LA. Immediately I knew I had to try it, hoping to look glamorous for my trip. During the procedure my eyes were tearing, the fumes from the glue was burning my nose, and because I didn't know any better I assumed that's how it was supposed to be.  Once I was done it felt so heavy, I couldn't keep my eyes open, I could see chunks of glue clumping my lashes together.  It didn't feel good, but to actually have some lashes was amazing!! Years passed and I kept giving them another try and then another try at different locations. Every location did them differently, but they all felt the same...they all felt wrong. Frustrated, I decided to seek out schools that offered the course, the only reputable training at the time was Xtreme Lashes.  As a makeup artist I wanted to add lash extensions to my services, and give proper applications so that everyone else didn't have to experience what I had experienced before. After my first course, I took another advanced course with Xtreme right away.  I loved it so much I decided to make a career out of it, I stopped doing makeup and focused on solely on lashes.

How did BBL come together, what's it story: I always knew I wanted to have my own business, perhaps it's in my genes, my mom had a few businesses before. However, it was always at the back of my mind, I didn't have any real intention of starting it when I did. What really prompted me is when I was pregnant and on maternity leave, I thought about how I could be more available to my daughter. I knew working for someone else, I couldn't take off when she needed me, and that's when I decided I needed to branch out on my own.

Initially I wanted a name that was short and chic, also something that could expand into more services and not be limited to eyelash extensions.  While reading a beauty blog, they mentioned "beauty babes" a lot and I thought that's it!!  I could play around with the words, have different makeup and lash styles on the menu, it will be so fun.  And besides who doesn't want to look like a major Babe!?!?

I wanted a relaxed, warm and comfortable place for my clients to visit, surrounded my the calming colours of white and turquoise. Looking back now I think my favourite travel places have manifested itself into my work space :)

Who inspires you: I've always loved JLo, from her flawless no makeup makeup looks, to her glowing tanned skin, her super sexy style and of course her lashes are always on point.

The eye lash question: Mink or silk: I have clients coming in requesting only faux mink or only silk lashes. Well, here's the big secret...are you ready? They're the same thing! They're both made of polyester and depending on the manufacturer, they could call it faux mink or silk.”

After Care: Most new clients are under the impression that if you leave them alone and not wash them they will last longer.  Good lash artists will educate their clients on the proper after care of their lashes. Lash extensions need to be kept clean and washed daily with an oil-free cleanser. Keeping the lash line clean will prevent blepharitis "lash dandruff" which could cause damage to your natural lashes as they fall out prematurely. So please wash your lashes otherwise we won't have any natural lashes to apply the extension on.

Fun Facts: 

- They don't damage your natural lashes if done properly.

- You can still wear non-waterproof makeup, as long as it's not oil based, but you probably won't need to wear any makeup at all.

- Natural lashes grow and shed so you need to get refills to keep them looking pretty.

- On average, people will lose between 1 and 5 lashes every day. This is because at any given point in time, you have lashes in every stage of growth—from baby lashes just appearing, to mature lashes ready to shed. A single lash normally takes months to complete its growth cycle, but in fall and winter that cycle can shift, and lashes may shed more frequently (fact from Sugarlash pro).

Friday Favourites | Places, people & coffee

Friday Favourites | Places, people & coffee

Friday Favourites. Once or twice a month I am going to share some of my favourites with you. Favourites like my favourite place to grab a coffee, my favourite spot to escape to in Toronto, a favourite florals arrangement or local florist, my favourite band or current song on repeat, the best piece of wedding advice I can offer, my favourite boutique/shop, even a favourite beauty product that really has become a beloved part of my daily ritual. And also of course someone I find inspiring. I hope you'll enjoy!