Over the years, we’ve had many wedding rehearsals at the Ottawa Wedding Chapel. From this experience we have concluded that: A rehearsal is great….
If it’s tricky.
With a large wedding party, a rehearsal is recommended. You are co-ordinating a lot of bodies who need to enter the wedding space, get to the right place to stand, and exit the space in an orderly fashion. If your venue has any challenges (wedding party will be spaced at varying intervals on a set of stairs for example) or is outdoors and you have a back-up rain plan you want to review, it makes sense to have a rehearsal. If you have a complicated wedding party entrance (separate songs for different people entering the wedding space or different musical cues for entrances), it wouldn’t hurt to review the timing with a rehearsal.
If you’re nervous.
Your wedding day is your day. If a rehearsal is going to give you peace of mind, do it! It can be calming to run through the physical motions of entering, walking down the aisle, and seeing exactly where everyone will be standing as you say, “I do.”
If the wedding party needs to bond.
Your wedding party might pull together friends and family from different parts of your life that haven’t previously mingled. A rehearsal is one way to get them all face to face and maybe have a few laughs before the big day. Have dinner afterward (or before) and keep people chatting.
There must be someone in charge. Without a leader, a rehearsal can drag on all night. Your wedding co-ordinator is an obvious choice if you have one. Your venue may have a co-ordinator who can help you out. Or you could appoint a friend or relative with an organizational streak and a commanding voice – preferably someone outside the wedding party. Make sure this director knows exactly what you want. You should aim to walk through the entrances and exits from the wedding space at least twice. More times if you are working out details of timing/music selection as you go.
What about the officiant?
You can have a useful and beneficial rehearsal without the officiant or celebrant present. After all, they already know where they are going to stand! All Seasons officiants will schedule a planning meeting with you about a month before the wedding, where they will go over all the ceremony details.
With that said, the officiant may be a natural choice to direct your rehearsal. They have a bounty of wedding experience and may be able to offer suggestions for where people should stand or how transitions could take place. They often have strong leadership qualities….and loud voices.
Things to avoid
It’s best to avoid having too many extra people at the rehearsal. It is nice to spend time chatting, but there is a task to accomplish. Invite the plus ones to dinner or drinks after.
Keep an eye on the clock. Even though these last preparations before the big day are exciting, don’t let the rehearsal drag on too long. People will burn out and quit listening. As well, your venue may cap you at an hour or hour and a half and you want to make sure you cover all the important details.
Don’t worry so much. Even with a lengthy rehearsal and carefully scripted plan, things may go awry. A flower girl who missed her nap may decide not to walk down the aisle or the ceremony programs might get left behind. Just breathe and carry on.
It’s your big day and you want to have fun. And you want your wedding guests to enjoy themselves. So how do you do it? We’ve got some suggestions to add some playfulness to your pledges.
Set the wedding tone in advance
Clever or witty invitations and RSVP cards will give guests a clue of what is to come. You could include a silly photo of the two of you. Examples abound on the internet.
Finding the right officiant is key. Interview officiants before booking to make sure you find someone who jives with your sense of humour. Your officiant should be agreeable to including some humour into your ceremony in the form of anecdotes about your relationship, some personalized vows, or a funny poem or reading. At All Seasons, you will find an officiant who will deliver a ceremony that suits you.
Create a program that include nicknames or fun facts about each member of the wedding party. Make it lighthearted by using some fun fonts or including a picture or artwork.
Aisle of smiles
There’s room for humour in your ceremony procession too. All Seasons officiants have seen some wacky and wonderful stuff, from a bearer of rings dressed as a bear to a burly six-foot “flower boy” who danced down the aisle tossing flower petals as the replacement for a young flower girl who couldn’t make it. There are also a ton of cute signs you can make to have kids carry as part of the procession.
Make a joyful noise
Provide noisemakers or bells to guests to use at the ceremony when you share your first kiss and at the end when you are formally announced as a married couple. Bubbles are also fun for young and old guests and can make for some nifty photos outside.
Lead the way by taking some lighthearted and goofy pictures with your wedding party. It will get you laughing at yourselves and each other. A photo booth with props can encourage guest shenanigans at the reception. Create a wedding hashtag so everyone can share and get in on the fun.
Set the example at your wedding reception. Let loose and show your guests you’re ready to have fun; they will follow. You could co-ordinate a fun first dance or play the “shoe game” or do something else to get guests giggling.
Let the small stuff roll off you
Chances are, not everything will go perfectly. Despite the best planning, there can be hiccups on your wedding day. Make the decision ahead of time to go with the flow and try not to let a small mistake or problem take the fun out of your wedding. Go into the day with a relaxed attitude and a smile and you’ll be laughing until the last dance of the night.
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.
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 kids can walk mom down the aisle. Add bubble blowers, bell ringers, or sign carriers to the procession.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.