It's a little known fact that signature drinks are a cost effective way to reducing your bar costs for any function. But one bar option that is often overlooked is the Martini Bar.

The Martini has long been associated with class and sophistication. From the sleek design of its container to the hundreds of flavour and colour options to the unique styles of swizzle sticks and garnishes. But with that association of class and sophistication comes the assumption that Martini Bars are only for the elite or high-end functions -- racking up costs well beyond the average budget. Not so. In fact, Martini Bars can be a cost effective alternative to the traditional host bar.

Whether it is offering a dry bar in conjunction with a few Martini choices or having a vast array Martinis as the only option, Martinis can add flair to your function without necessarily driving up the costs.

How? It's simple really -- those who don't like Martinis will opt for the non-alcoholic beverages and those who do will have a blast choosing from the many chic options.

Our fave company here in Toronto is The Martini Club International Inc -- beverage alcohol experts and innovators in the field of mixology and cocktail design who provide unique themed cocktails for any function. Owned by Michelle Hunt and Laura Panter and the first specialized bar catering service in Canada, The Martini Club has provided unique themed cocktails for over seven years and for some very high-end clients including the Toronto International Film Festival, CTV, Alliance Atlantis and Sony Entertainment.

Armed with endless ideas, The Martini Club offers cutting edge cocktail design with a full array of unique flavours. Here are just a few that strike our fancy:

The Pumpkin Patch (well-chilled vodka rinsed with sake, sprinkled with toasted salted pumpkin seeds)

The Spring Fling (rum shaken with banana liqueur, pineapple juice and a touch of light cream, garnished with a pineapple spear and a maraschino cherry)

The Baroque Martini (Tanqueray Ten gin stirred over ice, served with Johnnie Walker rinse and garnished with a Gorgonzola-stuffed olive)

Death by Chocolate (dark creme de cacao blended with Kahlua, a wisp of chocolate syrup and a scoop of chocolate ice cream, topped with a float of cherry brandy and garnished with a maraschino cherry)

Don't want alcohol? The Martini Club also offers a wide selection of unique flavoured mock-tails including The Sunrise Blend, The Soda Shop Cola and The Cherry Ale as well as the more traditional bar fare like wine and beer.

The minimum booking rate for The Martini Club is based on four hours but you can have them remain for as long as you like for an additional per hour fee. They provide all the necessary liquor, garnishes and mixes for the feature cocktails (at cost!) as well as beer, wine, flat and sparkling water and including staff, bar management and mixologists (the number of mixologists is determined by the number of guests)! The cool factor? They also provide cocktail menus for your guests!

Martini Club rates are determined by a few factors including the number of guests but to give you a rough idea of cost, for a function with 100 - 130 attendees you can expect to pay approximately $2000 - $2200 for four hours of service.

Considering that the average "Bar package" for most venues sits at roughly $30 per head (tallying to $3000 for 100 guests), how could you go wrong with a martini bar that adds elegance and innovation with a touch of chic to your function and can be just as cost efficient if not more?




We all know how difficult it can be to get all your Bridesmaids to agree on one dress for your wedding, let alone the same colour or fabric. Either the style doesn't suit one particular girl, the size is completely unflattering for another, their self-chosen dresses don't match in the same shade or fabric or, let's face it, the dress is not something that they will ever wear again.

Here's one dress company that will not only make your gals feel fabulous and true to their individual personalities (not to mention give them a dress they can actually wear again) but will make you look like a God-Sent Bride.

Two Birds is based in the US and has created a dress that is perfect for ALL your Bridesmaids regardless of their shape, size or sense of style. That's right -- A dress -- ONE. This single, solitary gown, made from a blend of jersey spandex and nylon, is one-size-fits-all and comes in two lengths: calf-length and floor-length. Whether your Bridesmaids are size 0, size 16 or plus size -- heck, even if your Bridesmaids are pregnant -- this dress flatters any figure.

But the best part about Two Birds? This dress can be molded into TEN unique styles!

From the "Elizabeth" to the "Isabella" your Bridesmaids will have the option of wrapping the dress the same way for a uniform effect or choosing completely different styles -- and yet they will all be in the same colour and fabric! And no matter which style they choose (the 'Marissa' and 'Jessica' are our faves) Two Birds offers precise how-to instructions online. But your girls don't have to stick with the styles offered online. This dress is so versatile they can wrap it any way they like to create a unique and personalized look. The versatility combined with easily accessable instructions will give your gals a dress that they can wear again and again long after the wedding -- without looking like they're wearing the same dress again and again.

From the simplest of colours like Black or Aubergine, to the most complex of shades like Peacock, Rosewater and Deep Ocean, this sweet-deal-of-a-dress can also be accessorized with matching wraps and are priced at $270 U.S for calf-length and $290 U.S for floor-length gowns. Two Birds will ship orders to Canada -- the drawback is that they can't ship samples however, only orders.

But what to do about the Groomsmen? Well, Two Birds offers ties in two different lengths to match any of the gowns. Starting at $58 U.S each, these 100% Italian-Silk ties can even be monogrammed or paired with customized pocket square. But at that price, it's best that your leading man give these ties as gifts for his 'boyz'.

Flattering, fashionable and flexible these dresses will provide your Bridesmaids with a look they'll love while giving you the overall look YOU want for your big day.

Compromise not required.


There are three types of gals when it comes to shoes: those who love shoes (you know who you are, the girl with piles upon piles of shoes in your closet -- some of which you haven't worn more than twice), those who like trendy shoes but will only buy them if there's a sale or if necessary and those who don't give a damn about what's on their feet (you know who you are, the girl with the heels that you bought four years ago with the scruffed up tips).

Regardless of which type of shoe-gal you are, deciding on what to wear on your feet at your wedding is always a conumdrum. Do you match the formality of your dress to your shoes? To you go with comfort? Do you purchase "bridal shoes" or do you buy simple white sandles?

Here are some tips to keep in mind when choosing what to dress your feet in:

1. Your guests will see the tips of your shoes. Keep in mind that no matter how long your wedding gown, 90% of the time the tips of your shoes will peek out from under the hem while walking. So whether you decide to go bling or bargain, ensure that at the very least, the tips of your shoes are clean and not scruffed or that your toenails look good.

2. Comfort must take presidence over style. We all know that you want to look fashionable, but wearing those five inch stiletto heels with the diamond strap for 12 hours can kill a girl.

If you're all about the bling, buy the fancy shoes to wear for the ceremony and photos only and keep a pair of white flip-flops/ballarina flats/keds/flat sandles for the reception. Your feet will thank you later. You can always change back into them for your first dance or the garter toss. For those who are all about the comfort, white ballarina flats, white formal sandles sans heel or kitten heels work well. They're formal enough that should someone actually see your feet under that mass of fabric your footsies will still look good, but provide the ultimate comfort for the entire day.

3. Slingbacks can be the shoes from hell. Yes the slingback look is sleek and fabulous, but they can be the absolute worst type of shoe to wear on your wedding day. If I had a dime for every bride with slingback heels whose strap bothered them on their wedding day I'd be a very rich woman.

If you must choose slingback heels to wear on your wedding day make sure they are the ones with the straps that buckle together. The buckle ensures that the strap stays in place. Without that nifty little contraption you have no security and are faced with the repeated problem of the strap sliding down your heel. This happens especially in the warmer months when your feet tend to prespire slightly.

4. Your shoes don't have to be white. If our everyday fashion trends dictate that your shoes don't have to match your outfit, why should the "matchy-matchy" rule apply on your wedding day? You can still have fun with your shoes without having to go with the pure white look. Go for silver or if your dress has blush beading why not choose fuschia or pink strappy sandles? Or for the more subdued gal -- a blush coloured peep-toe shoe? If you're dress encompasses a green sash, why not incorporate a funky pair of green pumps? Or if you're head to toe in white, purple bling-y sandles create some drama among all the virgin white.

This is an especially great option for those gals with a shoe fetish. If you love wearing the latest trends in shoe colours and styles, why in the world would you hide a piece of your personality and wear plain white?

5. You will likely only wear these shoes once. Let's be realistic for a moment. How many of us wear white dresses on more than two occasions, if at all? Given that stat, the chances are that you will wear your "bridal shoes" that same amount of times. When looking for bridal shoes keep in mind how many times you will wear them after the wedding day and then decide if the price is justified. If you know that you will only wear them once or twice, opt for a less expensive shoe that you can wear again with a cute summer dress. I have seen so many brides shell up to $200 for a pair of "bridal shoes" only to have those shoes canoodle with their wedding gown in a box for the rest of their lives.

Whether you're bling or bargain, here are some of Et Lofte's favourite looks for this season:

"ALAURA" from Celebration Shoes - pointed toe, buckled slingback and decorated with Swarovski crystals. *bling*

"KLARISSA" sandle from Payless Shoe Source - intertwining metallic upper straps. *bargain*

"POWELL" from Celebration Shoes - ivory duchesse silk with pastel sequin trim *bling*

American Eagle Cameo Mary Janes from Payless *bargain*

American Eagle Cameo Mary Janes from Payless

"BLUSH" by Celebration Shoes - satin with sparkle straps *bargain*




The martini has a long standing tradition of being the drink of choice for chic and sophisticated parties. When one thinks of glamourous metropolitan parties, sexy lounges and high-class appeal the martini always comes to mind. Perhaps its the delicate-yet-funky shape of the glasses, the smoothness of the liquid, the stylish accessories and garnishes or the fancy names that they're presented with -- It's all about the presentation.

The incorporation of the martini into functions of any kind has primarily been trapped at the bar. We often leave it to the bartenders to shake, stir, pour and create martinis for our guests, but these "signature martinis" are often nothing more than a traditional martini with a name that suits the function.

But there are ways to bring a new world of martinis to our receptions -- a way that entertains, visually entices and satisfies the palates of any guest. Meet The Martini Club.

The Martini Club has provided unique themed cocktails for countless high-calibre events and celebrity parties including the Toronto Film Festival Academy Awards banquet, Alliance Atlantis and Colin Cowie Lifestyle.