Win Place or Show

A-0335 Toronto’s latest star is our bride, Ashlee B. She’s not only a star in this blog but she is one of our brides that gave Valencienne a tremendous testimony on our video. ‘’The Making of a wedding gown’’ Shot by Andrew and Emily of Honey and Dear. Ashlee is outgoing, gregarious and full of life. When we met it was like we had known each other forever – her easy going style and personality was infectious and we became fast friends. When she first arrived we sat down to discuss the theme of the wedding, where it was, what the colors would be, formal or not formal and it was then that the discovery was made that Ashlee was a very renowned horse trainer. She spent six months of the year in Florida and the other six months between woodbine racetrack and her family farm, Colebrook, where she trained her beloved horses. I also learned that she had two huge passions in life, her fiancé Jack and her horses (not sure which order this should be in LOL). As the meeting progressed she said, with a big smile, we are getting married at the farm beside the paddocks so my horses can watch the ceremony. The reception is going to be in the center of the training ring and it will be stunning!!!!!! I looked at this smiling, bright-eyed girl and thought, ‘that’s quite a contradiction’ but I would certainly take that bet. Getting excited, I was eager to hear about about the wedding gown plan because by now I know this girl definitely had a plan but needed a designer to make the gown  come to life. One of the ideas was that she wanted the back to tie up to mimicked a braid – somewhat like when a show horses mane is braided for  big event . The sketch evolved and Ashlee throw her hands up and screamed that’s it!


   Her sister Amy said, ‘I told you Kim would understand you’. Ashlee’s Mom sat quietly observing our exchange and then asked if I could make her a gown. She said that she too had her own ideas of her perfect mother of the bride dress and I soon realized that I was in the company of three very strong women with definitive ideas. This was going to be a winning combination and a very special relationship, one that would hopefully go beyond Valencienne.


It’s a word that means different things to different people and on this day, the 10th of September 2011, it meant many things to Ashlee – she was Marrying the man of her dreams – Jack.

D-0708 She had trained her  horse ‘’Reconnect’’ throughout the year while she planned her wedding and entered it into the stakes race at Woodbine the very same day of her wedding. With the stars aligned for Colebrook farms her horse came in first to win the Stakes race. What a rush to be getting a bride ready for her wedding, only moments away, while the bride and bridesmaids are tuning in to the TV, hoping to get a glimpse of there prize horse. Her father, ‘Mr B’ was driving around  nervously in his golf cart making sure everything was perfect. He had been preparing the farm for months previously and it was clear that this whole family seeks perfection. I could not wait to see what the stables and training arenas looked like after they had been transformed by the Decor company ‘To suit your fancy’.



The grounds of Colebrook farms is set amongst a magnificent country side. They house a few hundred horses, many training facilities, and lots of land for the horses to roam. Its a magical place and no wonder why Ashlee told her dad as a little girl that when she gets married it would be here. What she probably did not mention to Daddy was that the farm would need hundreds of hours of work to make it Country Elegant. Looking at the pictures below I think we can agree Ashlee got her dream wedding.00890112 (1) D-0791D-0779 (1)D-0644 (1)   D-0774 (1) C-0569


Well weddings are all about the show, the beauty is in the details like the dress, the decor or the flowers. A wedding day is a production in many cases – they can take over a year to plan. Ashlee’s wedding gown had 18 meters of silk peau du soie that was from Italy and it took a number of months to arrive. The embellishment was designed by Valencienne and it was created in Dubai. The silver thread embroidery is actually silver bullion and took four months to create. The crystal work was all Swarovski and was ordered from Austria. Ashlee’s wedding dress actually took ten months from start to finish however ‘Mrs B’s mother of the bride gown only took five months.

It was a beautiful, double faced Aubergine colored peau du soie. The top neckline and cap sleeves where encrusted by hand with Swarovski crystals, seed and bugle beads which took over two weeks.

C-0497A-0034 A-0323   0147 (1)  Each year I have a chance to design many extraordinary wedding gowns for clientele from Toronto and for people who fly in from different parts of the world. My brides always ask, ‘ how do you continually come up with new ideas?’ and I say ‘I really cannot explain it’. The ideas just keep coming (thank God) …however as I write this blog I realize that my answer is too simplistic of a comment, it is not about THE WEDDING DRESS for me, Its all about the people involved, they inspire me to strive for perfection.


I love to tell stories to my brides – appointments are usually one hour but very often go longer.Its so important to create special relationships – I like to hear my brides talk about their jobs, holidays, home renovations, pets, etc. I like to hear about their taste in fashion, what books their reading and what really makes them ‘tick’ as a person. During that conversation, the dress is born. It is at that moment that the magic happens, that moment that every bride longs for. When they see the dress come to life right before their eyes because a creation has been designed especially for them and their individual personality.

Ashlee is a dramatic person – when she talks she is so animated it just makes you smile. The video  honey and dear made for Valencienne was not rehearsed, that was pure Ashlee doing what Ashlee does best – she engages people with her vivacious personality. She is strong yet she is feminine and has an inner strength that is very powerful and I felt that I  had captured Ashlee’s unique personality in this gown. ‘Mrs B’  told me, the other day that it was the absolute most perfect wedding gown for Ashlee and it could not have been better. That type of complement fills me with such pride because, although I design the gowns, it makes me proud of my incredible staff that take such pride in making our bespoke gowns.IMG_1013 I feel so blessed to have these special relationships. So in closing Thank you Ashlee and ‘Mrs B’ for helping me realize what makes me tick and in essence, what keeps me in the race.

      The beautiful wedding photography was shot by Zack of  Mango Studios

       Video by Andrew and Emily of Honey and Dear

       The wedding coordinator was Stephanie Gareri of Do this do that

       The Decor and Flowers was by To suit your fancy

       Wedding location Colebrook farms 

        Wedding dress and Mother of the bride gown  Valencienne Bridal