3 Tips to making a statement with your Bridal Shoes

Every bride should feel amazing on her Wedding Day – and if you’re like most women, nothing makes you strut your stuff quite like a great pair of shoes.

Your bridal footwear offers the perfect opportunity to showcase your personality and have some fashion fun on what can otherwise be a very traditional occasion. But blisters are never in style, so the first thing to consider is comfort.

You’ll be in your wedding shoes all day and may be dancing in them all night, so whether they’re stilettos, ballet flats, or even UGGS, your wedding foot wear needs to be a good fit.

TIP: If your shoes are not comfortable when you try them on, they won’t feel better after a day on your feet.

UGGS
UGGS offers a line of Bridal Boots for brides looking to keep their feet comfortable and cozy!

TIP: Take the length and style of your gown into consideration when selecting your shoes.

Short or tea-length gowns are a great excuse to showcase your personality through a shoe with colour or a pattern. Adding a splash of colour can also be fun under a long, more traditional dress.

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If you’re opting for a non-traditional dress, make a splash with some sparkley shoes! (Venue: Elm Hurst Inn & Spa, Carriage House / Photo Credit: Painting with Light Photography)

TIP: Spike heels may not be the best choice if you’re wearing a delicate lace gown – and skinny stilettos are a definite no-no for the beach or garden setting.

Some brides take it one step further and have custom-designed shoes made especially for their wedding day – like these created for an Elm Hurst bride by Figgie Shoes.

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These one-of-a-kind shoes were inspired by our very own Elm Hurst Inn & Spa.

Others prefer a more relaxed look and wear sneakers or a favourite pair of cowboy boots under their formal attire.

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These groomsmen kept it causal in matching sneakers….Venue: Elm Hurst Inn & Spa.

Whatever you choose, remember it’s your day. Don’t be afraid to kick up your heels and have some fun!

Partington Photography - Fountain play August 2012
This Bride kicked off her heels to go barefoot in our fountain! (Venue: Elm Hurst Inn & Spa / Photo Credit: Partington Photography )

Whether you choose to dance barefoot in our fountain or hit the dance floor in designer stilettos, the dedicated wedding professionals at Idlewyld Inn & Spa and Elm Hurst Inn & Spa will make your Wedding Day one to remember.

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Simple Strawberry Ice Cream

The long, hot days of summer are slowly winding down. But that doesn’t mean we can’t still enjoy everyone’s favourite summer treat – Strawberry Ice Cream!

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Enjoy strawberry season in southwestern Ontario while it lasts! 

There’s no better way to savour the local strawberry harvest, and making your own at home is easier than you might think. There’s no need for special equipment…and the results are well worth the effort.

ingredients
Just a few simple ingredients…

Strawberry Ice Cream

Equipment:

  • Medium sauce pan
  • Food processor
  • Freezer-safe bowl (metal loaf tins also work)

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups fresh strawberries, washed and hulled
  • 1 ½ cups heavy cream
  • 1 ½ cups whole milk
  • 2 egg yolks
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp. vanilla extract
add-strawberries
No need to chop the strawberries too small….

Method:

  • Finely chop strawberries in a food processor & reserve.
  • Combine cream & milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat, cook until mixture almost boils, about 5-8 minutes. Reduce heat to low.
  • Beat egg yolks, sugar, and vanilla extract in a small bowl until yellow and smooth, 1-2 minutes. Add 4 tbsp. hot cream/milk mixture and stir until combined.
  • Gradually add egg yolk mixture to warm cream mixture, stir continuously to prevent eggs from curdling. Cook over low heat until the mixture slightly thickens and coats the back of a spoon, 3-4 minutes. Cool completely.
  • When cooled add reserved strawberries, stir until mixed.
  • Pour into ice cream freezer-safe bowl and freeze for around 2 hours.
  • Transfer ice cream into an airtight container and keep until you are ready to enjoy!
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Strawberry Ice Cream is the perfect sweet ending to any summer meal. 

There’s always room for dessert at Elm Hurst Inn & Spa and Idlewyld Inn & Spa….what’s your favourite way to end a meal?

 

Business travel tips to keep you on top of your game

Skype and other video conference programs have made it easier to conduct business across the miles, but nothing will ever replace the face-to-face meeting. Missed connections, lost luggage, dead cell phones, and just having to adjust to unfamiliar surroundings can all make life on the road less than fun.

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At Elm Hurst Inn & Spa, we welcome business travelers from around the world. 

While business travel may never be entirely hassle-free, we’ve compiled a few simple tips to help you stay on top of your game – wherever work takes you.

Ditch the suitcase
Any frequent flyer on a tight schedule will give you the same advice – don’t even think about checking your luggage. A good carry-on roller bag should be able to hold everything you need for at least a week away. This one tip will save you from endless time wasted at the baggage claim, or arguing with an airline over your lost piece of luggage.

Pack strategically
When you need to live out of a carry-on, it’s essential to pack clothes that are versatile and work together. Choose one neutral in a dark shade, and one accent colour. Then add a change of shoes and a few light accessories. If you travel often, create a master packing list to use over and over again.

Charge up
Make sure all your electronic devices are fully-charged before you leave home. Your laptop case can hold a portable charger and an extra charger for when you arrive, but there’s nothing worse than having your laptop die when you’re trying to get some work done on the road.

Bring healthy snacks
If you’re lucky, your hotel will have great food on site – but you never know what you’ll find on the road. Natural granola bars, protein bars, trail mix and dried fruit are all healthy choices to see you through until your next meal. And don’t forget to stay hydrated!

Watermelon Salad
Guests at Idlwyld Inn & Spa can choose from a variety of refreshing salads. 

Make the most of your travel time
Listening to audio-books and pod-casts is a lot more productive than scrolling through social media while you wait!

Blue bed
A good night’s sleep is the best cure for jet lag. 

Zap the jet lag
Adjusting to a new time zone can be tricky, and everyone reacts differently. Some people swear by sticking to their routine, while others adjust their watches as soon as they hit the airport to mentally prepare for the change.  A good night’s sleep and an extra shot of espresso can also do the trick!

At Elm Hurst Inn & Spa and Idlewyld Inn & Spa, we enjoy welcoming business travelers from near and far. If you have a favourite travel strategy, please share it below!

5 Makeup Tips for Summer Brides

Summer wedding season will soon be in full swing. If you’re one of the lucky ladies who will be tying the knot this summer, you’ve probably already picked out your dress, sent out the invitations, decided on your wedding theme, and finalized your menu. You may even have had a trial run with your hair stylist.

But what about your bridal makeup?

Bridal Makeup - After
An Elm Hurst Bride – ready for her day in the spotlight!

Whether you never leave home without your lipstick or prefer a more natural approach, you probably want your wedding day makeup to differ from your everyday look – without being so different that you no longer look like yourself.

The hot, humid weather in southwestern Ontario can also make achieving a flawless face a challenge. But if you follow these few tips, you can achieve and maintain a picture-perfect face, even as the temperatures rise:

A makeup trial is a must
Always, always have a makeup trial before your wedding. This is your day, and you don’t want any unexpected surprises!

Your makeup should reflect your personality, and your wedding theme. Going gothic? Then you’ll want darker shades with metallics. Planning a country celebration? Lighter shades will give you the natural glow you’re after.

Bridal Make Up - During
Make time for a trial run….

Sit down with your makeup artists and discuss how you would like to look. Bring pictures and examples. Have a favourite lip colour? Bring that too!

Bridal skin boot camp
The estheticians at Elm Hurst Inn & Spa and Idlewyld Inn & Spa recommend that you start any facial treatments at least four to five months before your wedding day. Why so far in advance? Your skin takes about two months to adjust to new facial products – this way you will avoid any redness or breakouts on your big day.

Begin with a basic facial, such as our Balancing Facial from Eminence Organics Skin Care. This 60-minute treatment is customized for your skin type and begins with a consultation with your spa therapist – a great time to discuss any concerns that you have with your skin.

Dead Sea Facial
Treat your skin to some love with regular facials.

At the end of your treatment, your therapist will recommend products for home use.

We recommend having a facial every six to eight weeks prior to your wedding date. The night before the big day, have a relaxing cooling facial to help reduce any redness and relieve stress.

Sparkles. Foundation. Mascara.
Just say ‘no’ to sparkles. They look pretty, but they reflect light in photographs meaning you’ll shine in the wrong way!

Avoid using heavy, caked-on foundations or your face will be melting by mid-day. Stick to something light, especially during the summer months.

Waterproof mascara and eyeliner are a must! You don’t want streaks down your cheeks when you shed a few tears of joy.

2017 summer makeup trends
In the past, we’ve seen lots of smokey eyes in neutral shades of brown and grey, paired with nude lips. This year, many brides are returning to a more natural look, with various shades of pink a popular choice for both lips and eyes.

Brides who want to add a bit of drama to their look are pairing neutral eyes and cheeks with a pop of colour on their lips – think corals, plums, and even red.

And of course, the trend for full, natural brows continues. So brides, put down those tweezers and let your brows grow in before your big day!

Don’t forget to use a primer and fixative spray
Using a primer underneath your makeup is an absolute must. Primers fill in any skin imperfections, such as fine lines and wrinkles, giving your skin a soft, perfectly-smooth look for your makeup application.

Square Footage. Real estate. Taylor Klapsis. Spa. Santa Monica, CA.
Eminence Organic Skin Care’s Stone Crop Hydrating Mist will keep your face looking fresh…..

Fixative sprays are an essential step for any bride during the summer months. Eminence Organic’s Stone Crop Hydrating Mist is a great choice, and doubles as a refreshing toner. A light spritz over your makeup application will set it for a longer-lasting look. Then freshen up again between the ceremony and reception.

The trained spa therapists and estheticians at Elm Hurst Inn & Spa and Idlewyld Inn & Spa would be delighted to help you put your best face forward on your wedding day.  

Warm Chorizo Sausage and Medjool Dates with Heirloom Baby Spinach Salad

Spring has finally arrived in southwestern Ontario, and our thoughts are already turning to summer dining.

We are blessed to be located in one of Canada’s most bountiful regions, where an abundance of locally-grown fresh fruits, vegetables, and legumes are readily available throughout the growing season.

It’s one of the reasons why Elm Hurst Inn & Spa and Idlewyld Inn & Spa are famous for offering an inspired selection of fresh-from-the-farm salads.

This Warm Chorizo Sausage and Medjool Dates with Heirloom Baby Spinach salad is always a guest favourite.

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This Chorizo Sausage salad is a delicious combination of exotic flavours. 

Combining the spicy piquancy of Chorizo Sausage with the unexpected sweetness of Medjol dates and sun-dried apricots makes for an exotic combination that is hard to resist….

Try it for lunch, or a light dinner, and let us know what you think in the comments below!

Chorizo Sausage Salad
(Serves 4)

Ingredients:
2 Chorizo sausages cut into ½ pieces
8 Medjol dates, cut in half
3 oz. Heirloom baby spinach, red & green
4 tbsp. Sun-dried apricots cut in half
2 whole roasted red pepper, cut into spears
¼ sliced red onion
8 slices English cucumbers
8 baby tomatoes cut in half
Mix micro sprouts for garnish
Sherry-basil vinaigrette (recipe to follow) drizzled

Directions:
In a skillet sauté chorizo sausage, golden brown, finish in oven; add Medjol dates, roasted red peppers. Set aside; toss spinach with dressing, season with salt and pepper. Arrange spinach in centre of plate, garnish with sliced cucumber, baby tomatoes, Chorizo sausage mixture, red onions, purple radish sprouts.

 Basil-sherry Vinaigrette:
(Makes ½ cup)
¼ c. extra-virgin olive oil
3 tbsp. sweet sherry
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
¼ cup finely chopped fresh basil
2 tbsp. shallot minced
¼ tsp. salt, or to taste
¼ tsp. ground pepper or to taste

Directions:
Whisk together oil, sherry, lemon juice in a small bowl. Stir in remaining ingredients. Taste and adjust seasoning. Cover and refrigerate. Whisk or shake before serving.

What is your favourite summer salad?

The patios at Elm Hurst Inn & Spa and Idlewyld Inn & Spa are open for alfresco dining all summer long! 

3 steps to holding an eco-friendly meeting or conference

Business conferences and meetings are a great opportunity to showcase your company brand – and your commitment to sustainable practices.

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Make your next meeting or conference an opportunity to showcase your company’s commitment to sustainable practices.  (Photo: The James Harris room, Elm Hurst Inn & Spa)

Hosting an eco-friendly meeting demonstrates the values of your business, and can make a lasting positive impression on your employees and customers. And that just makes good business sense.

Here are a few simple suggestions to add some green to your next meeting or conference:

Book a green venue
Reduce carbon emissions by choosing a venue that is close to home, or in a central location with easy access to public transit.

You can also encourage your team to go green by offering incentives for ride-sharing. Or, provide a shuttle service to and from your venue so people can leave their cars at home.

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Located in the heart of London Ontario’s ‘Old South’, Idlewyld Inn & Spa is a short walk to one of Canada’s most vibrant neighbourhoods.

Look for conference venues that integrate environmentally-sustainable elements into their day-to-day operations through recycling and composting, the use of water-saving equipment and techniques, and through the use of pourers for sugar and cream and small serving dishes for butter and jams.

Eat local and drink from a glass
Choose a venue or caterer committed to cooking with local, seasonal products. Then, cut down on your food waste by taking a close look at consumption at past events. Arrange to have any leftover food donated to a local shelter or food bank, and consider providing a compost receptacle next to the traditional recycling and waste cans.

living-herbs-from-the-herbman-and-lettuce-from-verlinden-farms-of-norfolk-county
The Elm Hurst Inn & Spa and Idlewyld Inn & Spa are proud to support local farmers. 

Don’t be afraid to ask your venue to provide pitchers of water instead of bottled water to help eliminate plastic waste.

Go paperless (as much as possible)
With online registration and promotional tools like Facebook and LinkedIn, it’s easy to get the word out without using paper invitations and registration forms.

Create an event website – or mobile app – instead of a printed program. This is also a great (and green) way to provide attendees with any last-minute updates.

Choose recycled paper and environmentally-friendly inks for any printed materials you just can’t do without – and don’t forget to collect lanyards for use at future events.

The corporate sales team at Elm Hurst Inn & Spa and Idlewyld Inn & Spa can help you ‘green your meetings’ in style.

Wedding Planning – Where to Start

The holidays are a popular time for couples to get engaged. And if you were lucky enough to find an engagement ring under the Christmas tree, you may be starting the New Year with visions of wedding planning dancing in your head.

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If Santa brought you an engagement ring, you may be busy planning your dream wedding! Photo credit: HRM Photography. Location: Idlewyld Inn & Spa 

Although you may have been dreaming about your big day for years, organizing such an important celebration can seem like a daunting task.

At Elm Hurst Inn & Spa, and Idlewyld Inn & Spa, our wedding coordinators have helped thousands of Brides plan their dream wedding.

So if  wedding plans have you feeling overwhelmed, take a deep breath, and read our advice on where to start:

Set the date(ish)
There’s nothing like having a deadline to make you focus! Choosing a date will help you build a wedding planning timeline, and will make it easier to make concrete plans like choosing a venue, booking a photographer, and buying your dress.

Of course, it’s not as easy as simply picking a day out of thin air.

Is your heart set on an outdoor ceremony? Then you’ll probably want a summer wedding. Are you working with a tight budget? Then you may want to consider a winter wedding to take advantage of off-season pricing.

erika-and-chris-hill-dudek-photography
A Winter Wedding can be a beautiful and budget-friendly choice. Photo credit: Dudek Photography. Location: Elm Hurst Inn & Spa.

If you’re planning a large event, you’ll need to leave ample time for preparation – and you may want to check with important out-of-town guests to see what dates might work best for any travel plans.

Remember, no matter how hard you try to choose a date that will be convenient for family and friends, it may be impossible to please everyone. In the end, remember that it’s your day so choose a date that works best for you.

Make your guest list
Many of your most important planning decisions will be influenced by the size of your guest list. You can’t host 120 people in a venue that only holds 60!

The number of guests will also be the most important factor in setting your budget.

And even though not everyone who receives an invitation will be able to attend, we recommend choosing a venue that can comfortably accommodated most of your guest list.

Book your venue
Once you know when you’d like to get married, and how many people you’d like to invite, it’s time to start looking for a suitable venue. More than any other decision, your choice of venue will set the tone for the big day.

A formal ballroom will create a different atmosphere than a rustic barn, urban restaurant, or chic wine cellar.

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Your venue choice will set the tone for your celebration. Photo credit: Dudek Photography. Location: Elm Hurst Inn & Spa, Carriage House.

Save time by doing preliminary research online.

You should be able to narrow down your choices based on location, venue size, food and beverage options, and price. Then, it’s time to contact your top picks to find out about availability and to book a tour.

Once the date is set, the guest list is determined, and the venue is booked, other details – like the style of your dress, flowers, venue decor, and menu selection – should start falling into place.

Happy planning!

At Elm Hurst Inn & Spa and Idlewyld Inn & Spa, we are pleased to offer all-inclusive Wedding Packages to suit any budget. 

10 tips for a stress-free dinner party

Hosting a dinner party is a great way to build relationships and create a circle of friends that will last a life time.

And since December is such a busy month for social occasions, we thought it would be the perfect time to ask Elm Hurst Inn & Spa’s executive chef, Michael Davies, for some tips to help you make your evening a night to remember – minus the stress!

Plan ahead
Create a menu, write a grocery list, and make sure you are well organized. Prepare a familiar recipe, perhaps with a new twist. If a dish can be made a day ahead, save yourself some last minute stress. If you’re hosting as a couple, divide the duties beforehand, to avoid any last minute arguments.

Use your best
Why wait to use your best china, cutlery and linens? Seize the moment and enjoy the occasion!

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Now is the time to use your table linens and good china!

Decorate your table
Fresh flowers or candles make an instant impression. But make sure people can see over them.

Start on empty
Always start the night with an empty dishwasher and bin. It will make clean-up so much easier!

Get yourself ready first
This way you simply have to slip off your apron to greet your guests.

Break the ice with some cocktails
When guests arrive, offer them something special to drink. This will set the tone and get  conversation flowing. It’s also a great opportunity to discuss who will be the designated drivers.

Skip the appetizer
Instead of serving a formal appetizer, offer stationed or butlered hors d’oeuvres. This gives you and your guests more time to mingle.

cheese_platter
Offer a delicious cheese platter instead of a formal appetizer.

Have a seating plan
To keep things interesting, guests should be seated boy/girl/boy/girl, and couples should not be seated next to one another.

Stick to two courses
A soup or salad followed by a main course is plenty, takes less time in the kitchen (both to prepare and clean up) and will give you more time to sit down and enjoy the meal.

Keep dessert simple
Choose a dessert that can be prepared ahead of time, or that only requires some last minute assembly. Try a delicious scoop of ice cream served with some fresh fruit, or an assortment of pastries from your favourite local bakery.

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A simple scoop of ice cream with a few fresh berries makes a wonderful dessert.

Remember – it’s about fun, not perfection. And if you simply don’t have time to do it all yourself, book a table at the Elm Hurst or Idlewyld for some delicious holiday dining.

From all of us at the Elm Hurst Inn & Spa and Idlewyld Inn & Spa – Happy Holidays and Best Wishes for 2017! 

Harvest Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

When Chef Michael Davies first shared his Harvest Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe a few years ago it received rave reviews!

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Chef Davis’ Harvest Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies are always a delicious treat! 

We’ve recently had several requests for a repeat…so here it is again – just in time for Halloween….

Harvest Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes 35 large cookies

Ingredients:
– 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
– 1 cup white sugar
– 1 cup golden yellow sugar
– 2 large eggs
– 1 tsp vanilla extract
– 1 cup fresh pumpkin puree (canned will do in a pinch!)
– 3 cups all-purpose flour
– 2 tsp. baking soda
– ½ tsp salt
– 1 tsp ground cinnamon
– ½ tsp ground ginger
– ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
– ¼ tsp ground cloves
– 2 cups milk chocolate chips

mixing
Scare up a batch of these treats for Halloween! 

 

Directions:
– Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray cookie sheets with non-stick spray or line them with parchment paper.

– Using a mixer, beat butter until smooth. Beat in white and brown sugars, a little at a time, until mixture is light and fluffy.

– Beat in eggs one at a time; add vanilla extract and pumpkin puree gently mix.

– Mix together all dry ingredients and add to the wet mixture slowly until all mixed. Add chocolate chips.

– Scoop dough onto prepared baking sheets and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until cookies are browned around the edges.

– Remove cookie sheets from the oven, allow to cool and rest for 2 minutes. Remove from tray with spatula, cool on baking wire racks.

– Cover with your favourite icing [optional]. We used buttercream and grated pumpkin.

These make a delicious after school snack paired with a glass of milk. Or enjoy with a cup of coffee, your favourite tea, or even hot apple cider.

Chef Michael Davies has been the Executive Chef at Elm Hurst Inn & Spa in Ingersoll, Ontario since 1996. His stepson, Chef Trevor Stephens is the Chef de Cuisine at Idlewyld Inn & Spa in London, Ontario. 

 

Make the most of wedding show season

 

If you’re planning a wedding, you probably already know that wedding show season is in full swing. And with so many vendors under one roof, attending a bridal show can be a great place to look for new ideas, scout out the latest trends, and meet local wedding professionals. But it can also be a bit overwhelming.

effie-at-canadas-bridal-show-in-toronto
Inn Manager, Effie, representing Idlewyld Inn & Spa and Elm Hurst Inn & Spa  at Canada’s Bridal Show, with Ontario’s Finest Inns

So here are five tips to help you get the most out of the experience:

Do some homework
How many vendors will be in attendance? Some shows are held in large convention halls with hundreds of booths. Others are more exclusive ‘boutique’ affairs.

Most will have a website where vendors are listed. Take some time to check it out to get a sense of the size of the event, and to identify vendors – florists, photographers, deejays, venues – that you don’t want to miss.

Many events also allow you to register in advance, offering ticket discounts and other incentives.

london-bridal-shows-prizes
You can even win some great prizes, like these from the 2016 London Fall Bridal Show!

Don’t be shy
After you’ve decided which vendors catch your eye, the best way to see if this is someone you’d really like to work with is to strike up a conversation. Bring a list of questions, but don’t be pushed into making an on-the-spot decision. Most vendors will be happy to set up an appointment at a later date to discuss details in a more relaxed atmosphere.

Bring business cards or labels with your contact information, wedding date, phone number and email address to leave behind. Many vendors offer draws for prizes. You may be the lucky one!

Don’t miss the fashion show
Everyone loves the glamour and excitement of a fashion show, and they are a big part of most bridal events. Check the times to make sure you get a front row seat!

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The fashion show is a MUST! (Photo: London Fall Bridal Show, 2015)

Bring a tote bag
Most vendors have brochures or other information to take home with you. Some even offer swag! Come prepared – your arms will thank you.

Bring a friend
Bridal shows are supposed to be fun, so make it a social event and bring a friend, your mom, or even your fiancée. Give yourself plenty of time to visit each vendor, enjoy the free samples, have some refreshments, and socialize. And don’t forget to wear comfortable shoes!

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Bring a friend and double your enjoyment of all the latest wedding trends! (Photo: London Bridal Expo, 2015)

If you’re planning a wedding in southwestern Ontario, come and meet our Wedding Coordinator and her team at the London Fall Bridal Show (London Convention Centre, September 17 & 18) or the London Bridal Expo (Western Fairgrounds, September 24 & 25).

Or visit the Elm Hurst Inn & Spa and Idlewyld Inn & Spa online!