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Planning prep for the new year

December 15, 2017

The holiday season is upon us and as the year is coming to an end, your wedding planning may be on hold until the new year. If you haven’t started planning your summer 2018 wedding, you’ve still got time.

We have put together a list of things to start working on as soon as the holiday festivities are over. We cover the most important reservations that you must secure before you lose some important vendors and dates due to unavailability:

Wedding Binder

Create or buy a wedding binder that will hold all the important details of your wedding in one place. Use it to stay organized, store your contracts and receipts, and add any articles or ideas that you may want to use later. It might seem a little bridezilla, but it’s really a great planning tool.

Budget

Create a budget for your wedding and stick to it. Determining your budget will enable you to decide on the type of venue you want, if you can afford a reception, the number of guests you can invite, and the level of luxury implemented in your wedding components.

Guest list

A guest list will help you determine your budget, your wedding party, and the size of the venue that you may need. Leave room to include the full names of your guests, contact information, and addresses. Include an RSVP section as this will be your master guest list which you can make copies of for your vendors. Purchase your invitation cards, or plan your online invites, as soon as your list is finalized.

Venue

Securing a venue is the first booking that you must focus on. Your venue(s) will host your ceremony and reception. Many venues get booked years in advance and if you still haven’t booked one yet, it is time to start making inquiries regarding availability and quotes. If you are planning to have the wedding at a private residence, then it would a good idea to inspect the house and the backyard and front yard. Familiarize yourself with the space and put yourself in your guests’ shoes. What would they need? What do you want them to see once they come in and what path do you wish for them to take to get to their seating area?

Photographer/Videographer

A wedding should always be documented. Decades from now, you, your children and your grandchildren will want to see you on your special day. Ensure that you book a photographer ahead of time, the good ones get booked fast. If you have a friend who is good with a camera, you could ask them to document the day for you.

Book your Officiant

Officiants are usually booked a year in advance for weekend dates. Booking early means you will have more choices.

Entertainment

The entertainment will depend on your musical taste and your guests. If you have always envisioned a live band at your wedding, it is a good idea to try and watch them performing at another event before booking them. Another option is a DJ who will offer a large selection of music. Consider if you need music over dinner or during the ceremony itself.

Caterers

If your venue does not offer catering options then you may want to meet with several different caterers. Competition is high in the catering industry, so you may be able to get a lower price for what you’re seeking in terms of quantity and quality, if you check several companies. Keep in mind the dietary restrictions and allergies of your guests.

Wedding Timeline

Create a timeline of all the events that will unfold during the wedding day. (ceremony start time, dinner, first dance, cutting the cake, etc…) Punctuality is important for vendors and your guests.

Purchases

It’s not too early to work on some of your other purchases as well. A wedding dress/suit may need alterations or tailoring. Your ideas for flowers can be discussed with a florist to ensure they are feasible. Wedding cakes can be tasted in advance and designs discussed.

Each wedding is unique and has all sorts of small details that make it special. This list contains only the essentials that you should consider well in advance. There are many more elements that can be added to customize your wedding as you move through the planning process.

Should I DIY my wedding?

September 29, 2017

As wedding season winds down for this year, next year’s brides (and grooms) are just getting going with their planning. They are deciding on colours, themes, venues, officiants, invitations, table centrepieces, favours, and more! And more importantly, they are deciding which wedding projects they want to tackle themselves. The do-it-yourself movement is huge in the world of weddings.

The internet is full of wedding décor inspiration – much of it handmade. Hit a few blogs or magazine sites and you’ll see stunning, Pinterest-worthy projects.  Even the least crafty soul will want to run for the burlap ribbon and scissors.

If you are thinking about a do-it-yourself wedding, here are some things to consider.

Consider why

Why do you want to DIY? Is it because you’re on a budget and want to save some coin? You love to craft? You think you can’t get your signature look any other way? Whatever the motivation, make sure you achieve your desired end result. Preparing for your wedding should be enjoyable and satisfying, so if the headaches and stress of DIY are going to outweigh the positives, step away from the glue gun!

Time

Make sure to leave yourself enough time to accomplish these do-it-yourself tasks. Depending on the number of DIY projects and their complexity, the time investment could be significant. If you don’t have a lot of free hours in your regular schedule, DIY may not be for you. Brides who are crafting paper flowers or decorating their own wedding cake shaped cookie favours the night before their nuptials are, for the most part, grouchy brides. If you are a natural procrastinator, this can add an extra layer of stress to your wedding preparations. So, start early, like now, for next summer.

Don’t overestimate your abilities

If you’re not a crafty person, don’t expect to become one overnight. Some projects are tougher than others. Take a look at pinterestfail.com to see just how wrong things can go! That’s not to say that you shouldn’t try, but choose one or two wedding projects you think you can realistically accomplish.

Support team

It’s a great idea to have back-up. If your bridal party is full of competent crafty folks, by all means, throw some wedding bee nights and work together on your handmade invitations or wedding favours. It’s a great way to build anticipation for the big day and bond with your best girls/guys. Remember though, some bridesmaids are just better at “tying one on” than tying bows!

DIY projects can be a great way to involve people outside of the bridal party as well. When you can’t have all your friends and family in your wedding party, you might be able to find special projects or tasks that will make them feel included. Make sure it’s a job that’s suited to them!

Expense

Just because you’re making it yourself, doesn’t make it less expensive. If you don’t already have some of the tools and supplies, you can quickly rack up a big bill at your favourite craft shop. Consider your finances and the raw materials you may already have access to. Maybe you have a rural connection that can supply some rustic wood. Perhaps you have a stash of empty mason jars. You could save soup cans and spray paint them gold or plant succulents in cheap thrift store teacups. The best way to save money is to use what you’ve got or source some of the raw materials from your circle of friends.

Capitalize on the work of others

Your local Facebook wedding groups and Kijiji ads are full of the homemade props and décor of brides whose weddings have come and gone.  Sometimes they are great deals. Keep an open mind when viewing these sorts of items. Even if they don’t match your colours or aesthetic exactly, think about how you could adapt or revamp them to suit your needs.

If you’ve considered all the facets of a DIY wedding, and still think it’s the right move for you, good luck with your crafting! Enjoy creating something special and personalized that’s just for your unique day.

 

 

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.

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.

Who is this wedding for?

September 26, 2016

Just married couple on bikePlanning a wedding can be stressful for couples and it may cause a lot of strain in the months leading to the big day. In our long experience helping plan weddings and managing officiants all over Canada, we noticed that things do not have to be stressful. Couples sometimes need to take a step back and say, “who is this wedding for?” Some couples get so lost in the planning process and the coordination between the two families, that they forget the whole purpose of the wedding is to make the great love that they share official!

While it’s great for your families and friends to feel involved and want to take part in the excitement leading up to the wedding, ultimately the day should be about you and your fiancee and you should plan a ceremony and reception that you will enjoy.

Even if you stress over extensive planning, things can still happen. Sometimes weddings go wrong due to unforeseen circumstances. Here are a couple of examples of  brides who overcame impossible odds to make their wedding dreams come true.

The first story is about a bride who had the misfortune of her limo having a flat tire on her way to her wedding. Most brides would have started panicking, but this bride had a very simple solution. She got herself to the side of the road and stuck out her thumb, aiming to hitchhike to the ceremony (in her wedding dress). Angelique may have arrived half an hour late, but she got there in style on a motorcycle! She had waited 11 years to marry the man of her dreams, and was not going to wait one more day.

Another inspiring story is about Kevin and Carmen Shanahan who wanted to have a wintry wedding. They were thinking of a ceremony in front of a fireplace and a menu including hot cocoa. They were not expecting a blizzard on the biggest day of their lives. Carmen and Kevin refused to cancel their wedding and decided to go ahead. The upside of the uncooperative weather? Magnificent pictures, with the couple appearing to be in a winter wonderland.

The way we see it, couples should focus on planning a wedding they are going to love rather than trying to please everyone who thinks they should have a say. Even with perfect planning, you certainly can’t control every aspect of the day, but feeling comfortable with your plan and going into the day with a positive attitude will ensure that whatever obstacles come your way the wedding will be full of fabulous memories.

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