Wedding Season: Sweet and Salty Salad

saladThis Sweet and Salty Salad is as tasty as it is pretty to look at. It has a satisfying crunch and an appealing mix of flavours. The colour combo is perfect for Canada Day, wedding showers, pre-wedding gatherings and the rehearsal dinner.

Better yet, it’s super nutritious. The wheat berries have a nice, nutty flavour and they add boosts of protein and fibre.
You can modify quantities to your liking and switch up ingredients, based on what’s handy. Just try and keep the sweet and salty ingredients (dried cranberries and feta) in the mix, and you’ll have a hit at the dinner or buffet table.

Sweet and Salty Salad

5 cups baby spinach or kale (or a mix of both)

1.5 cups of cooked wheat berries

1.5 cups of quinoa

1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained (optional)

1 cup chopped, cooked chicken (optional)

½ cup green onion, finely sliced

½ cup feta cheese

cup dried cranberries

¼ cup sliced almonds, toasted

Lemon Vinaigrette

¼ cup fresh lemon juice

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed

pinch salt, pepper, sugar (optional and to taste)


Add the spinach/kale to a large bowl and mix in the quinoa and wheat berries. Toss in the green onion and then mix in the chickpeas and chicken if using. Top with sprinkles of feta, cranberries and almonds. Mix dressing in a separate container and serve on the side.


Make Thank-You Notes a Priority



thank you

After the whirlwind of your wedding—the engagement, the months of planning and organizing, the showers, rehearsal dinner and hoopla of the big day—and the excitement of your honeymoon, you wouldn’t be alone if you wanted to chill out and do as little as possible for long while.

But there’s one thing you absolutely do not want to skip or delay: sending thank-you notes.

Show people your gratitude. Take the time, with your new Other Half, to send cards to all the people who helped make your celebration special. Even if you’ve personally thanked people, a written card is still a must. The list should include:

Each person who gave you a wedding gift

Each person who gave you a shower gift

Those who gave you monetary gifts. (Even if they contributed to a group gift or cheque, they should get an individual thank-you.)

Anyone who hosted a shower, event or gathering related to your wedding, including the rehearsal dinner.

The members of your wedding party

Your parents, particularly if they financially contributed to your wedding. Even if they didn’t, you still want to thank them for their involvement in this special time in your life.


A personal, handwritten note on an attractive card is always appreciated. Don’t try to cut corners with this. As it’s noted on the Emily Post Institute website, “No fill-in-the-blank cards, no pre-printed cards, no phone calls, no emails, and no generic post on your website! Personal stationery or store-bought thank-you cards are best.”


The cards should be sent out within a few weeks of your wedding. Don’t put off this significant task. In fact, some of the cards can actually be started before the wedding. You can address many of the envelopes and write notes to those special folks who hosted pre-wedding events, such as showers, or who volunteered to help out with certain tasks.

You’ll feel a lot better once all those thank-you notes are in the mail and you’ve let people know how much their involvement meant to you. Then you can relax.




A Flash of Red for Your Wedding


Do you love seeing red?

Are you jazzed about donning patriotic colours — red and white — for Canada Day, July 1? In honour of Canada’s spectacular birthday celebration in the nation’s capital this Friday, we’re offering you some inspiration for your own big celebration, courtesy of the colour red.

Bold and eye-catching, red is a primary colour with lots of different hues in its spectrum, from burnt orange, pinkish red and burgundy to scarlet and cinnamon (brownish red). Its shades can be cool, with blue tones, or warm, with gold tones. And, as Wikipedia notes, Since red is the color of blood, it has historically been associated with sacrifice, danger and courage. Modern surveys in the United States and Europe show red is also the color most commonly associated with heat, activity, passion, sexuality, anger, love and joy. In China and many other Asian countries it is the color of happiness.[5]

You can give your wedding day look some extra polish and shine with a mani-pedi in a beautiful shade of red.  British Vogue recommends Dior’s Rouge 999, Rimmel 60 Seconds Super Shine in Double Decker Red, Russian Roulette by Essie and others.



Red shoes? Why not? But you’re better off and more fashionable if you skip the tights and let your bright red pedi shine through those peep toes.



Fresh, exotic red blooms in your hair can be soft, romantic and super pretty. Be sure they’re properly affixed to your hairdo and also that they’re properly prepared so that they don’t wilt before the reception even starts.




Red bridesmaid dresses can be very attractive and flattering. Pick the shade and style carefully and you’ll have a winner your besties will want to wear even after your big day.




If you’re planning a ultra casual, hip affair, consider a red bowtie and/or waistband to go with a fresh arrangement of red blossoms. And how about that red lipstick? You can get it to perfectly match your mani-pedi.



You can also easily incorporate shades of red into your wedding decor to create a look that’s whimsical and romantic, bold and chic or classic and elegant. It’s a versatile colour that’s easy to use to create a memorable wedding style statement.

Jessica and Erik


Beautiful Union

An intimate wedding for a storybook romance

by Iris Winston
photos by Miv Photography

 Jessica LaBonté and Erik Bédard were drawn to each other upon first sight.

“My life is like a fairytale now,” says Jessica. “There was instant chemistry when we met, but we never thought it would come to anything because we lived such different lives.”

When they met, Jessica was a massage therapist and teacher who lived in Gatineau, Quebec. Erik, then a professional Major League Baseball player originally from Navan, Ontario, was spending eight months of every year on the baseball circuit in the U.S.

“We met through mutual friends in 2007, and we dated a little in the off-season, then kept in touch through the baseball season and dated again in the next off-season, but we weren’t really serious then. By the next season, we realized we were getting attached and had to make a decision.”

“Because I was travelling a lot, it was hard at first,” says Erik, “but the more time I spent with Jessica, the more I fell in love with her.”

“Also,” says Jessica, “I wasn’t coming into the relationship alone. I was a single mother. My son, Maddox, was two when Erik and I met. It was very important to me to find someone who would be really good to him.”

And that, she says, is exactly what happened.

“They really bonded after Maddox and I went to visit Erik when he was playing in Seattle,” says Jessica, adding that, from then on, their future was set as a family.

“Maddox is a great kid,” says Erik. “The more I got to know him, the more he became like my son. Now, I love him like my own.”

Soon after the trip to Seattle, Jessica and Maddox moved into Erik’s house in Cumberland.

“The house is beautiful and very special,” says Jessica, explaining that Erik’s father was the contractor. “He did a wonderful job and we love everything about our home.”

In July 2013, Erik, who was not taking part in MLB All-Star Week, was home for four days.

“It’s always a highlight of our year to be able to come home as a family for those four days,” says Jessica. Adding that one of their favourite times is having their morning coffee in the kitchen, “surrounded by windows and looking out at nature. This was when Erik got down on one knee and proposed,” she recalls. “It was very exciting and the ring he had made for me is so beautiful — a three-carat round diamond surrounded by two rings of diamonds.”

From that point on, Jessica says, life turned into a whirlwind, as she had just three months to plan for their wedding, set for November 2, 2013.

“We had to get married in the off-season, and as Erik’s other passion besides baseball is hunting, we couldn’t get married in October. As fall is my favourite season, I wanted it to be in the fall.”

Once the date was set, Jessica began her search for that perfect dress. She decided on a custom-made form-fitting lace gown from McCaffrey Haute Couture on Sussex Drive.

Next the couple had to decide on a venue. “We looked at some places,” says Jessica, “but nowhere gives me the feeling I have when I’m home, so we decided to celebrate our marriage in our favourite place in the world — our house.”

The couple exchanged vows in Paroisse Saint- Hugues, travelling to and from the church in a 1954 Rolls-Royce they hired for the occasion. They returned to their home for a dinner catered by Urban Element.

“We had always said that we wanted our wedding to be small and intimate, so we had just 30 people for the dinner,” says Jessica. “Our parents, my sister, Erik’s brothers and our three best friends and their spouses. We had the table set up in a big rectangle so that everyone faced each other and we all danced to a wedding song.”

Later, they were entertained by jazz singer Kelly Lee Evans, then joined by more friends and continued the celebration with a DJ and more dancing.

“Everything went without any glitches,” says Erik. “And we had so much fun. Our wedding day was one of the best days of my life. I never thought it would stand out as it does.”

The joy of their special day continues every day, says Jessica. “The man I married is the most genuine person with the kindest, biggest heart. And the way he is with Maddox is the greatest gift of my life. My life truly is like a fairytale.” W

Wedding Style: Something Blue

Do you have a “blue crush”?
If you do love blue, it’s easy to understand. As Wikipedia notes, “In US and European public opinion polls it [blue] is the most popular colour, chosen by almost half of both men and women as their favourite colour.[4] ” What’s more, “Blue has been used for art, decoration and as a clothing dye since ancient times.”

So it’s not surprising “something blue” is included in so many weddings. After all, the custom is part of a centuries-old tradition, based on a rhyme that dates back to the 1800s and the Victorian era:

Something old, something new,
Something borrowed, something blue,
And a silver sixpence in her shoe.

The sixpence was a coin that people used in Britain between the 17th and 20th centuries. And although most modern brides do incorporate “something old, something new,
something borrowed, something blue” into their ensembles, the coin-in-the-shoe part has largely fallen by the wayside for reasons of comfort and function. (A coin in your four-inch platform heels when you walk down an aisle in front of a crowd? Might not be the best plan.)



But gorgeous, drool-worthy sky-high bright blue platforms under your dress? Hella yes! Now we’re talking!



You can put your blue front-and-centre too, in your bouquet. There are plenty of options for blue blooms both in the flowers carried and in the florals used to decorate.



Blue bridesmaid dresses are another option. There are loads of shades from which to choose, from a dusky shade of almost-violet to navy to blazing-bright sky blue.



Blue decor accents? Yes please. Fabric florals and  blue ribbons are just a couple of the countless captivating choices.



Glamorous seating and table arrangements really elevate the whole tone and style of a wedding, taking it from “nice” to fabulous. Bowties on chair covers can make that happen. These can be rented, perhaps. Ask your wedding planner.



Planning to change out of your spectacular (but a tad heavy, not to mention a wee bit itchy) gown as the night goes on at the reception? Make a style statement! And, yes, blue can be part of it, if you choose.



Finally, if vintage is your thing, head off to your happily-ever-after in memorable style — and with a touch of beautiful blue.

Best #Ott Spots for Wedding Photos



by Pam Dillon

On any Saturday from about May through October, at outdoor spaces across the region, you’re apt to see brides and grooms in all their finery smiling for the camera. Luckily in the Ottawa region, we have an abundance of gorgeous, scenic spots that are perfect for wedding photography. Dramatic, urban-hip, elegant, rustic, boho, glamorous … whatever the look  you’re hoping to achieve, there’s a spot or 10 where you can “nail it” with panache.

Do you know, yet, where you want to take your wedding photos?
Here are just a few of the popular spots in the area:




The Museum of History, at 100 Rue Laurier in Gatineau, offers all sorts of potential for memorable images. There’s striking, modern architecture, lush, expansive green space along the waterfront (with beautiful vistas!) and the Parliament Buildings are in the distance.




When you want a street-chic vibe, you can’t go wrong with Maman.  The huge, iconic spider sculpture by artist Louise Bourgeois is in the outdoor at the National Gallery of Canada.




In fact, if you have plans to make your images happen downtown, you may be able to have pics from more than one location. The Rideau Canal, Sparks Street and the steps and locks beside the Chateau Laurier are all picturesque locale with lots of potential.




Of course, for formal grandeur, wedding-day couples flock to the grounds of Parliament Hill. There are lots of great options, particularly at the back with its stonework, striking architecture and view overlooking the Ottawa River.




Another extremely popular venue is the Central Experimental Farm’s ornamental gardens and Arboretum. The flowers, trees and idyllic, verdant landscape and hardscape elements offer loads of possibilities.

East of downtown, Rockcliffe Park is a popular destination for wedding photographers, and  in the Carleton University area Hog’s Back Park and Mooney’s Bay Park have plenty of scenic potential. Hog’s Park has party, but you do have to walk a bit to get to the falls backdrop.

West of downtown, Andrew Haydon Park has lots of potential. It’s along the Ottawa River off Carling Avenue.

Whatever end of town is most convenient, based on your ceremony and reception, it’s worth scoping out sites beforehand and discussing options with your photographer.


Outdoor Wedding Essentials

outdoor wedding


Is the countdown on for your outdoor wedding? Not only is this an exciting time, it’s also the perfect opportunity to put some provisions in place to ensure your big day is memorable for all the right reasons. The best—most unforgettable, fun and fabulous—outdoor wedding is a well planned one.

1 – Consider the elements. After all, this is Canada, eh? … so plan for every contingency. Also, since the weather can never be determined in advance, and it can certainly be variable (even within the same day), you have to be willing and able to deal with unpredictability and the possibility there may be a last-minute change in plans.

Rain: Do you have a spot booked in case of rain and do your guests know where it is? Will it accommodate your crowd and seating arrangements?

Wind: clips for tablecloths can be purchased at the dollar store and you can also create pretty table weights to keep your table settings where they are supposed to be.

Sun: If your guest list includes children or older people, have a few sun umbrellas on hand, bottled water, a couple of bottle of sunscreen and a few pairs of sunglasses. Depending on the wedding and style, brides and grooms have provided everything from cheap sunglasses to flip flops as part of the fun of the day.


outdoor wedding


A tent is a popular option. They can be quite attractive and sturdy, so you can hang sparkly lights, balloons or whatever decorations you choose and dance through the night even if there’s wind or rain.  If  you’re in an area surrounded by trees, consider having non-toxic bug repellent at hand, along with a few wraps in case the temperature drops later in the evening.

2 – Consider going easy on the formality and making it very unique and fun. A bucket of sparklers for a twinkly sendoff, lawn games, snack and drink tables, and casual seating arrangements can all be part of the celebration. Citronella candles, rustic flower arrangements and DIY signage can add to the charm.


outdoor wedding


3 – You can also opt to have the vibe of an outdoor wedding, but with the dinner and reception in a barn, pavilion or weather-safe, semi-indoor locale. That way you can have all the charm, minus the stress.


Latest Wedding Trends You’ll Love

What’s hot? What are the most chic, “in” and popular choices in wedding style and fashion these days?

Pinterest tells us what. In its record of 2016 wedding trends, the popular idea-sharing website lists top picks that may well inspire some of your decisions for your wedding day. Here are some of the “biggies on the list:




Non-Traditional, Non-Religious Venues 

Beach? Backyard? Park or barn? Why not? Choose the venue that fits your style and your attitude. After all, you don’t need pews or an organ to say, “I do!” A word of caution though: If you’re planning an outdoor affair, be sure to have Plan B in place in case it rains. It’s no fun walking down the aisle through puddles.



Food Trucks

Tacos? Pizza? Asian fusion? Yes please! Food trucks are hugely popular, fun and casual options for wedding catering.




Mismatched Bridesmaid Dresses

Your besties in your wedding party don’t look alike, so why do their dresses have to be the same? They don’t. Pick a colour or style and let your bridesmaids choose the fit that works best for them. Poofy sleeves be gone!




Frozen desserts

If you’re having a summer wedding, plan a delicious, icy-cold dessert that will help your guests chill out before the dancing begins!

Bridal Lingerie to Knock Your Partner’s Socks Off



Yes, the perfect dress is important. But when the party’s over, you also want to look and feel fabulous for your wedding night. In fact, every single night of your honeymoon. This is no time for cutesie nightgowns. Now’s the time to “wow” in lace, satin, frills and not much else!

What to wear? Here’s what. Lace bustiers and sheer gowns, ruffled corsets and sexy chemises, bootie shorts and erotic teddies. Got your attention?

How about silky stockings and garter belts, satin robes and high heels, full-length gloves and barely-there thongs? So many choices, so little time … Classy, sassy or downright sultry, you get to decide how your fantasies will play out. And here’s some help to make them happen: offers some of the best bridal lingerie sets in the world. These sensual, sophisticated bridal sets are made of high quality materials and are offered in a variety of styles to match your mood and personal choices.

Vixen? Siren? Temptress? Kardashian?
Embrace your inner goddess!

From simple, satin maxi length gowns to sexy wedding party costumes and accessories, there’s an enticing variety of looks to complete your honeymoon wardrobe.

In fact, you can choose a complete bridal eveningwear trousseau and keep the wedding celebration right on going.

You can also order sexy gifts for your wedding party, such as hot Bridesmaid Boy Shorts in a rhinestones and heart print that will keep your besties beaming.

Whether you’re planning a boho outdoor garden wedding, a formal affair with all the traditional touches or a deluxe destination wedding, there are bridal lingerie sets to complement your style.


Pre- Wedding Workouts

aLook and Feel Great on Your Special Day

by Sarah Mulaner

In the weeks and months leading up to your big day, it’s hard to keep a balance between life, work, planning and relaxation. Here are a few tips for looking and feeling your best before and after the big day.

Eating the right amount of calories your body needs will play a big role in keeping your energy levels steady. Start by being prepared – bring small, healthy snacks with you for when your plans take longer than expected, eat frequently, choose clean foods and drink lots of water throughout the day. Feeling full will help you avoid binges, so eat quality food often to stick to your nutrition goals.

Use activity to keep your metabolism high. Daily activities like taking the stairs as opposed to the elevator do help, but the best cure is a quick burst of tough cardio a few times per week. Running is great – a fast, effective way to burn a great deal of calories – but why not participate in a spinning class a couple of days per week?

It’s a great stress reliever and will help you get a lean, fit body. If you don’t have a gym membership, start with walking or hiking. Skipping is another great way to burn calories quickly.

Don’t forget resistance training, especially for the upper body (think strapless dress) and core (for the bikini you’ll be wearing on your honeymoon). The plank is an excellent exercise to work both areas. Just hold the push-up position with good alignment for about 30 seconds. You can have your knees down if you like, or legs straight (which is harder). Couples who exercise together get to enjoy that endorphin rush when they finish their workout. What a great way to share some time and feel amazing! Bootcamp classes are offered in most places, and both men and women can participate. It’s a great workout for everyone!

Yoga is another wonderful stress reliever that will help you manage your many pre-wedding demands. You’ll get a full-body workout, flexibility training and an hour to yourself to relax and focus. Sounds good, doesn’t it? There are many different types of yoga classes to suit all fitness levels and interests, and maybe you can convince your hubby-to-be to start as well. Other mind-body options include Tai Chi and Pilates.

Many people find that after the wedding happens and life gets back to normal, there isn’t as much motivation to stick to a fitness routine or healthy eating. Making fitness part of your life will pay dividends to your health, wellness and fitness level, lower your stress levels and make everyday life more enjoyable. If you’re moving into a new area, a recreation centre is a great way to immerse yourself in local events. Use the gym, take a dance class, or try karate. Learning a new activity is a fantastic way to keep your relationship fresh, fun and fit! W

Sarah Mulaner is the owner of Imagine Fitness Inc. She has been a personal trainer for over 15 years and specializes in in-home and couple training.