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Theme weddings: yay or nay?

Fairy tale wedding theme

June 30, 2017

It can be great fun to run with a theme. From attire to decorations to food and favours, some motifs lend themselves to all aspects of your wedding planning. And yes, finding the perfect cake topper to complement your theme may be cause for a small celebration. If you are someone who enjoys the planning, a theme can seem like a good idea.

The officiants at All Seasons Weddings have seen and done it all – including many theme weddings. Officiants have dressed up as wizards and Santa and a Star Trek officer just to name a few. They have also presided over ceremonies in some unique and sometimes challenging locations, including a baseball diamond, a roller coaster platform at Canada’s Wonderland, and at the end of a muddy ATV trail.

If you’re considering a theme wedding, whether it be Harry Potter, Day of the Dead, the Great Gatsby, or something else that catches your fancy, here are some things to think about.

Don’t be upset if your guests don’t play along

If you are having hundreds of guests, they won’t all want to play your game. Some of them will just politely decline to dress up or get involved themselves. Others may just be puzzled by the whole thing – especially if your theme is drawn from current pop culture. Maybe grandma hasn’t read Harry Potter.

Remember the photos last a long time

While not as permanent as a tattoo, wedding photos have a way of sticking around. If you think you might ever get tired of explaining your wedding theme to curious relatives, or your kids, or grandkids, every time someone throws back to your big date on social media, maybe a theme wedding isn’t for you.

It’s better if it means something

A wedding theme should speak about your personality or your love story in some way. Maybe you both really love Game of Thrones. Is that enough to remind you in 25 years why you were wearing fur and chewing on a turkey leg with your direwolf by your side during your wedding reception? It has to mean something. Baseball makes sense if you met playing on a beer league team and bonded over your favourite pro team. Maybe all your dates were to superhero movies and your guests will know that you have both dressed as superheroes at Halloween since you were little. Maybe you are both world travellers with a bucket list of destinations you plan to visit together. Pull an element from your real life and go with it.

Make sure you have an officiant who is on board

While some officiants will be excited to dress up or change the ceremony wording to support your theme, others may not be comfortable doing so. These are questions you want to ask before putting down your deposit.

Getting carried away with a theme is a sure path to unnecessary expenditures

Those “have to have” extras that match your theme might seem like a good idea at the time of purchase, but have a way of adding up. Do you really need those Cinderella carriage table number holders or the fairy wings for the flower girl? Pick a couple of theme elements that won’t break the bank.

Sometimes less is more

A theme can quickly become overwhelming. Your guests may appreciate small nods to your motif, such as a creative line or two in your ceremony or a particular style of cake or hair accessory, more than a full blown Tim Burton-esque fantasy world.

Your theme can be fun!

After perusing the pages of bridal magazines and blogs you might start to think that weddings with themes are the norm. Phrases like “Wizard of Oz-inspired nuptials,” “whimsical Cinderella scene,” and “opulent 1940s styled wedding” abound. Don’t stress. Many amazing weddings take place without a theme. Focus on friends, family, food and your day will be memorable and fabulous.

 

Destination wedding? Elope in Canada first!

destination wedding

May 19, 2017

White beaches, soft breezes, gorgeous sunsets, there is no denying that tying the knot in a southern paradise has appeal. Before you get swayed by the idea of palm trees in your wedding pictures, however, think it through. Getting married in a foreign country can be complicated. It may be easier to have the legal paperwork taken care of in Canada before stepping on the plane to your sunny destination.

Elope at home first

  • Here are a few reasons why: To avoid having to get your documents translated into a language other than French/English.
  • Once documents are translated, some countries require you to have them legally certified by a professional, and legalized by the Embassy/consulate.
  • Documents may then have to be translated to French/English in order to register your marriage here in Canada.
  • There are more documents required in some countries than needed in Canada and some countries require a blood test!
  • Some resorts require minimum stays and a minimum number of rooms.
  • Some countries require couples to be in the country for a certain number of days prior to the wedding.
  • Friends/family that can’t make the trip to your sunny destination may come to a Canadian ceremony. Maybe Grandma is too frail to make the trip, but would still love to see you get married. Perhaps some friends don’t have the cash to join your vacation.
  • Much easier to correct a mistake on legal documentation if it occurred in Canada rather than dealing with authorities in another country, possibly in another language.
  • Easier to check legal credentials of Canadian officiants.
  • Greater possibility of the ceremony in language of choice (if French/English).
  • Ability to order a marriage certificate from your home province.
  • Two days of celebration, rather than one!

It’s a lot to think about. Do your homework to find the hidden costs of your destination of choice. In the end, it may make more sense to conduct a small elopement ceremony on Canadian soil so your destination wedding really will be a walk on the beach.

Kids included! Wedding ceremony ideas

Involve kids in wedding ceremony

March 31, 2017

Sometimes couples have kids before they get married; with each other or from other relationships. When this is the case, the marriage ceremony takes on a whole new dynamic. It may be a blending of families. Aside from the obvious roles of flower girls, ring bearers, and junior bridesmaids or groomsmen, there are a ton of other great ways to include the kids.

Take part in the vows

You can mention your children by name in your wedding vows, or even have the officiant address a question to them. For example, “Do you promise to work together and share your love with this new family being created today?”

Token or gift

You can include gifts for the kids in the ceremony to give them something tangible to remember the day and provide a feeling of inclusion. It can be jewelry, a rose, or some other token.

The procession

The kids can walk mom down the aisle. Add bubble blowers, bell ringers, or sign carriers to the procession.

Signing

In Ontario, the Record of Solemnization is the portion of the marriage licence that you sign and keep after the wedding. (The officiant sends the other signed portion to the government for registration.) It is a keepsake and not a legal document, so it’s okay if the kids sign too.

Sand ceremony

At the Ottawa Wedding Chapel, many of our officiants love to use a sand ceremony as a visual representation of the blending of families. Each member of the family has a colour of sand in a container. They slowly pour them into a clear communal container making a colourful final product that can be kept and used to remind the kids of their important place in the family. Just as the grains of sand can never be separated into their individual containers again, so the family will be joined together.
This ceremony can also be done using candy if that will keep the kids’ attention!

Caution!

Keep in mind short attention spans when planning for kids to take part in your ceremony. Standing up at the front on display for the entire ceremony might be too much for some kids. And the pressure of all those eyes might bring on a bout of shyness. On the other hand, some kids will go to town once given the spotlight – they might carry on and be disruptive to the remainder of the ceremony. Be sensitive to the personalities of the children…. And of nap times, a tired child is often a grumpy child.

Please consult with children before assuming they will want to take part in the ceremony. You don’t want them to feel resentful of having to participate. The second marriage of a parent can be an emotional event, even if the child has a good relationship with the incoming step-parent – your child might prefer not to be at the centre of attention as they struggle with the feelings of the day.

By working together with your officiant and consulting with your partner and the kids, you will be able to find a ceremony that will fit your family perfectly.

Chapel features beautiful stained glass

Stained glass flowers

March 24, 2017

There is nothing that can compare to the beauty of light falling through a stained glass window. At the Ottawa Wedding Chapel we have some of the most beautiful stained glass in the area. Featuring flowers, rather than religious iconography, our windows have a wide appeal.

Long History

Stained glass is a form of painting that began over 1,000 years ago. One of the oldest known examples of multiple pieces of colored glass used in a window were discovered in Jarrow, England at St. Paul’s Monastery, which was founded in 686 AD.

The glass makers were called glaziers, and while most never left a signature or identifying mark on their artwork, during the middle ages they belonged to very powerful “guilds.” Companies that built stained glass would be under contract with these guilds and could not produce windows without an “official” glazier being on site. Metallic salts were added during the glass making process to produce glass of different colours.

A stained-glass window consisted of pieces of coloured glass held together in by a web of lead. In early days, the glass had details such as faces and hands painted and fired on to it in black or brown paint.

About the year 1300, stain was discovered that had the ability to turn white glass yellow or blue glass green after it was fired, opening up more colours and shading options. The term “stained glass” derives from this silver stain that was applied to the back side of the window.

Some of the most powerful art produced in the Romanesque and Gothic time periods were religious visual stories, in French cathedral windows. Advances in construction made it possible to make larger windows. Because of this the craft underwent a revival and was used as a storytelling medium, consisting mostly of biblical scenes.

Stained Glass collage

Modern Glass

In the 17th and 18th centuries, glass making was in decline. It wasn’t until the 19th century that another revival took place. Less expensive production methods made it more accessible to a wider range of people. US inventor Louis Tiffany used copper foil and solder to connect the glass pieces instead of lead. This development also allowed for a higher level of detail. His company, Tiffany Studios was a huge success and Tiffany lamps became especially popular.

Now stained glass has reached the masses, with home glass studios common for hobbyists. Regardless of its popularity, a beautiful piece of glass lit by the sun remains a breathtaking view.

The stained glass windows at the Ottawa Wedding Chapel are remarkable for their design. They provide a calm, soft natural light without an overbearing “churchy” feel. They are a wonderful backdrop for photos. If you are looking for a more spiritual presence, the chapel does have one large window that features a cross.

Outdoor wedding success comes from planning

outdoor wedding

March 10, 2017

Outdoor weddings are often fun and are enhanced by the beauty of nature. Being outdoors presents a lot of advantages, but there are also many factors that may cause calamity.

Here is a list of things to consider:

1. Bad weather is your worst enemy
Bad weather will ruin your wedding, if you are not prepared for it. Make sure to have cozy blankets ready in case the temperature drops, shade areas to combat the heat. Umbrellas and cover areas will also come in handy, so unexpected showers don’t take you and your guests by surprise.

2. Care packages
Be prepared with all the essentials your guests may need for an outdoor wedding. You might include include blankets, sunscreen, band aids, emergency contact list, bug repellent, flashlights, fans, bottles of water, and flip flops for the sake of dancing!

3. BYOA
Some venues allow guests to bring their own wine to weddings for a flat fee paid by the host of the event. This is a great method to save money and allow your guests to enjoy the alcoholic beverages which they prefer the most. If you are having a wedding in your backyard or estate, then this option would offer a variety of selection. You would have to provide the glasses and maybe a self-serve bar area.

4. Tell your guests where to go
Regardless of the layout and theme which you have for your outdoor wedding, make sure that your guests are clear on where to go and what is expected of them. Provide clear signage to where everything is from the bar to the bathroom.

5. Wind-proofing
Do your best to windproof your décor as a gust of wind can make everything go flying, including food and beverages. You don’t want a big spot of red wine on your wedding dress!

6. Manage the heat creatively
A hand held fan may a blessing during a hot outdoor wedding ceremony. Be creative by putting your wedding program on a fan; your guests will memorize your wedding program by the end of the ceremony. Make sure to keep your guests hydrated — not just beer and wine! An ice cream cart with a selection of frozen treats would be a hit with guests, because who hates ice cream?

7. Save the Flowers!
Ask your florist to mist the flowers if you are expecting a very hot day.

8. Lighting
If your wedding plans will plunge into the darkness of the night, then string lights may be the best option for you. They are easy to set-up, and if you have trees around then you can create a magical forest feeling for your guests. Placing camping lanterns underneath table clothes will enhance that magical feel.

Pop-up Wedding Recap

Pop-up wedding

March 3, 2017

Despite the biggest snowstorm of the season, four couples tied the knot at the Ottawa Wedding Chapel on Sunday February 12 in our first ever pop-up wedding event. There were snowflakes caught in fancy updos, cheeks rosy from the cold, one late bride, and some chapel staff members stuck in the parking lot at the end of the afternoon, but the snow didn’t stop the show.

Four different love stories celebrated in one day made for an amazing experience. Each couple was unique — from the camouflage-themed wedding rings and bouquet to an elven princess. They wrote their own vows and proclaimed their love in front of a couple of people that are close to them — best friends in one case, parents in another case, and their children in a third case.

Some brides took advantage of our beautiful fresh bouquet from Blooms by Beyond the House in Russell, Ontario. It was a lovely collection of dusty pink roses, white hydrangeas, soft pink lilies,and greenery. It was subtle enough not to overpower our diverse brides, but still some gorgeous eye candy for the photos.

All couples received two 5×7 prints from Photography by Margaret Link to take home with them and most decided to purchase a CD full of edited photos from their wedding as well.

Our lovebirds celebrated with a glass of sparkling wine and some treats created by Homecoooked Meals To Go after their ceremony was complete. There was bite-sized strawberry cheesecake, mini butter tarts and chocolate turtle bites. Delicious!

Get in on the next Pop-up event!

We are so pleased to have been a part of the weddings for these four couples. Enjoy a few photos from our Pop-up wedding event.

Pop-up wedding event

It was such a success, we’re considering doing it again. If this sounds like something you might be interested in, drop us a line and let us know. We’re collecting a list of potential pop-up sweethearts.

Make your ceremony your own

All Seasons officiant Brigitte Samson conducting a winter ceremony

February 10, 2017

There is a lot of flexibility when it comes to the words and actions that you use to proclaim your love and support to your spouse at your wedding. The right wedding officiant will be willing to perform a personalized and beautiful ceremony that will represent your love story.

If you would like to have traditional elements such as the bride’s father walking her down the aisle, vows that include words such as “in sickness and in health, richer and poorer,” a reading of 1 Corinthians (Love is patient, love is kind…), or a kiss to seal the deal, then by all means, include them. However, there is no reason to feel bound by convention.

The ceremony can include stories and jokes, it can reference your favourite movies or the activities, sports, or hobbies that brought you together or helped your relationship grow. Throw in a favourite song, dance down the aisle, or read a poem. The right officiant will be flexible and understanding and want to work with you.
Legally, the ceremony must include a question of intent to each partner (Do you bride, take groom to be your husband?), the signing of the marriage license by the couple and two witnesses, and the officiant pronouncing the couple as married.

Ask for what you want

The point is, most of the ceremony content is up to you. Don’t be shy! Ask your officiant for what you want. Choose an officiant who will listen to your vision and help you make it a reality. Some weddings officiants are willing to go even further and will dress the part for a theme wedding!

There are great ways to include your children in your wedding. Sand ceremonies or rose ceremonies can make kids feel included and can offer a visual representation of the new family being created. Children can also sign the “record of solemnization” portion of the marriage licence. It is the keepsake portion of the licence that you will keep.

Pets can be included too. Make sure you find an officiant who will be comfortable with this and make sure you have someone to help pet-sit after the ceremony – after taking some cute fur-baby wedding photos.

A good officiant will be able to make suggestions for your ceremony content, work with you to develop the ceremony you want, and then manage the flow of the ceremony on the big day by soothing nerves and high emotions and reminding you to look at your partner – the reason for the festivities in the first place. On your big day, let your personality shine!

Making wedding shows count

Friendly All Seasons Weddings officiants

January 13, 2017

‘Tis the season for wedding shows. All the couples getting married next summer or in 2018 are gearing up their planning and looking to book vendors and tackle DIY projects in preparation for their approaching nuptials.

The Ottawa Wedding Chapel and All Seasons Weddings will be at a variety of shows across Ontario in the coming weeks. These shows are a great opportunity for us to meet potential couples and answer their questions.

Here’s a couple of tips on making the most out of a wedding show.

  • Check for early bird tickets (if there is a charge to get in).
  • If there is a swag/goodie bag for the show, take a careful look through it. Sometimes there are coupons to save you money!
  • Pre-plan your show. Look at the floor plan, if available, or at least the vendors list. Highlight the ones that provide the services you need.
  • Be ready to compare. Do your homework by finding regular prices for services you are interested in. That way you will know how good those “show specials” are.
  • Wear comfy shoes!
  • Create a new wedding email account. This will keep all your wedding-related info in one place and keep your personal account spam-free. You can use it to enter draws as well.
  • Have your name, email address, phone number, and wedding date on address labels. There will be lots of draws to take part in and these are the details companies will be asking for on their ballots. Stick your info on the ballot and save writing it over and over!
  • Use the camera on your phone. Take pictures of anything inspirational and anything you don’t want to forget.
  • Have fun! Take someone with you who will help you enjoy yourself and not stress you out.

Where can you find us?

Here’s a list of where you can find the Ottawa Wedding Chapel and All Seasons Weddings.

Jan. 13, Dream Wedding Showcase in Sault Ste. Marie, ON
Jan. 21, Bride and Groom Show in Kemptville, ON (Ottawa Wedding Chapel display)
Jan. 21 and 22, London Winter Bridal Show in London, ON
Jan. 21, Stanley’s Olde Maple Lane Farm Open House in Edwards, ON
Jan. 21, Old Montreal Weddings Open House (Hotel Place D’Armes) in Montreal QC
Jan. 22, Kingston Wedding Show in Kingston, ON
Jan. 29, Wedding Trends Show in Peterborough, ON
Jan. 29, Kortright Centre Open House in Toronto, ON
Feb. 26, Best Western Plus, Parkside Inn and Spa in Perth, ON
April 22, Women’s Day Show in Embrun, ON (Ottawa Wedding Chapel display)

Chapel Offers Handfasting!

All Seasons officiant Alan Viau performing a handfasting

January 6, 2017

Handfasting is the process of wrapping cords or ribbons around the wedding couple’s clasped hands and knotting them, symbolically binding their lives together. It has been popular over the last several decades with Wiccan and Pagan religions, but can now be found as a part of non-denominational or other religions’ wedding ceremonies as well. We’ve seen a few ceremonies at the Ottawa Wedding Chapel where the couple have included handfasting.

As far as historians can tell, handfasting dates back to ancient Celtic Scotland and was originally part of a formal betrothal ceremony (the precursor to today’s engagement). The couple pledged themselves to one another for future marriage. It seems likely that the term “handfast” was taken from the Old Norse “handfesta” meaning to strike a bargain by joining hands. It follows the same logic as our common handshake to seal a deal. Handfasting is also probably where the phrase “tying the knot” came from.

Modern-day Pagans and Wiccans were the first to revive the use of handfasting. They use the power of intent as part of the ceremony. The tying of the couple’s hands is a visual illustration of their intent to be bound together. The cords or ribbons may be braided or woven together in advance while carefully thinking of good wishes for the couple.

A full Wiccan handfasting ceremony might involve several cords. A cord could be draped across the couple’s clasped hands for any or each of the following: sharing of pain, sharing of laughter, sharing of burdens, sharing of dreams, using anger to temper the union, and honouring each other. Once all the cords are laid, they are tied together.

Incorporating handfasting

While sometimes a couple will choose a full handfasting ceremony, more commonly it is incorporated into their vows. We have seen an officiant say something along the lines of, “Please join hands. As your hands are joined with this ribbon, so are your lives, holding each other, caressing each other, supporting each other and loving each other.” The couple’s hands remain tied as they say their vows to each other and then the ribbon is removed without untying the knot. Another option is to give each guest (or maybe just your witnesses or children) a ribbon and have them all bind your hands together.

A possible downside is that you may need a rehearsal, especially if you are using more than one ribbon or cord, just so there is no fumbling on the big day. A rehearsal may result in an extra payment to your officiant.

Handfasting can be a beautiful addition to your wedding ceremony. It’s a great way to work in personalized vows or wording. The tying of the cords or ribbons is an illustration of your intent to bind your lives together. It may be something that your guests haven’t seen before. If you’re interested in adding handfasting to your ceremony, we’re happy to accommodate you at the Ottawa Wedding Chapel.

Happy Holidays!

Winter wishes to you

December 22, 2016

Our office will be closed from 4:30 pm on Dec. 22 to 8:30 am on Jan. 3. We’ll be back in January ready to help all of you who get engaged over the holidays!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from the staff at Ottawa Wedding Chapel and All Seasons Weddings and best wishes for a happy and healthy new year.