The Covid-19 pandemic drove us online more than ever. Everyone from preschoolers to grandparents has learned how to Zoom, or use other video chat tools. Video also became a bigger part of social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, so it makes sense that we are seeing video as a bigger and more frequent component of wedding planning.
Here are some ideas to make sure you are making the most of the amazing technology we have available to us.
Save the date
We used to send cards by post, and while receiving a beautifully designed card on thick cardstock directly to your mailbox still carries a certain gravitas, it’s cheaper and quicker to let friends know online. Save the date videos have grown in popularity. It’s a chance for creativity and to hint at the type of event you are planning. For top-notch and completely customized results, you can hire a professional of course, but there are also video templates online for purchase, or even for free, where you can slot in some photos and your details and be good to go — or pop your iPhone on a tripod and freestyle your DIY.
Video shines when capturing a couple’s love and happy tears during a “first look” moment and some shots of the couple getting ready make a nice addition to a wedding video. Filming the venue before all the action begins also gives the couple a chance afterward to check out all the small details they may miss in the excitement – the perfect flower arrangements, a ring bearer having his tie straightened by his mom, or the look on grandma’s face as she arrives at the church.
At the Ceremony
This is where the lockdowns and restrictions have hit the hardest. We are limited in the number of guests we can have physically present, meaning that some of the important people may not get to be there for your vows. The next best thing is to have them attend virtually by streaming the ceremony.
Make sure that your officiant mentions those joining online, with particular attention to anyone who is very close to you (grandparents or siblings, etc.) You can also have someone from afar take part by doing a reading — just make sure you’ve got a big screen so the folks at the venue can see the person at home.
If you’re streaming the ceremony, make sure the device has a close-up and clear view, and use a tripod or solid surface to keep it steady. While the device microphone is probably good enough if you’re inside, an outside location may benefit from an external microphone (possibly with a baffle to limit wind noise) to make sure everyone can hear the words being spoken.
Here are a few other tips:
Check out the wi-fi in advance at your location. Ottawa Wedding Chapel offers wi-fi to all users.
Review the different platforms and services to find the right one (Zoom, Facebook, Facetime, Teams, Google Meet, Youtube Live). They have different limitations re: number of people, etc. There is a nice summary at the bottom of this article.
Do a test run with your equipment in advance.
Make sure everything is fully charged!
Password protect your livesteam or virtual “room.”
If you are hiring a professional videographer, you can include some reception moments in your video coverage, like speeches and first dances. If you are winging it on your own or have decided to only have professional video for the ceremony, appoint a trusted friend or relative to capture some of the reception fun.
You can set up a video station somewhere at your reception venue. This can be used in different ways. If you’re going live, it allows guests who are there in person to interact live with guests who are online. And it goes without saying that the wedding couple needs to make it a priority to stop by for a chat with virtual attendees. If it’s live, we also suggest having it be active only for a certain time, rather than all night long – virtual guests will tire quickly if there is too long in between visitors.
If you don’t want to livestream from the reception, a video booth can still be a fun way to collect video messages from the guests who are there. You may want to prepare a list of questions for them to answer so they’re not stuck for ideas. Video should be located in a quiet corner away from the speakers.
Wedding videos have come a long way. They are now often slick Hollywood-style productions with drone footage, and a variety of soundtrack tunes. Professional videographers are going to supply a professional product, so if actually hearing the vows and having everything in focus and smoothly recorded is important to you, you should spring for the experts.
You may also end up with a great video by asking for any tech-savvy teens to collaborate on shooting/editing. It will give them something fun to do, and you could wind up with a surprisingly good product – but you never know.
You may have seen the example (pre-Covid) of a GoPro strapped to a bottle of Fireball that caught a unique perspective of everyone who took a slug. (Google it; it was a THING.) Small cameras can be added to a bouquet, or the lapel of a suit to give an up-close perspective. A pet-cam will give you some silly footage from a down-low viewpoint. You can also think about creative placement such as next to the officiant’s face (or on the officiant) during the ceremony looking out at the couple and the guests. Other suggestions for innovative angles include having the make-up artist wear a camera while the wedding party is having their make-up done, or capturing some above the dancefloor footage.
Music is a great way to personalize your wedding day. From walking down the aisle to a first dance to the last song of the night, choose songs that you love and that represent you and your love story.
How many songs do you need for your wedding ceremony? At the Ottawa Wedding Chapel, we normally say three – one to walk down the aisle, one during the signing portion of the ceremony, and something joyful and peppy at the end, after you are formally announced.
There can be extra songs added of course. Some couples have a separate tune for the entrance of the parents, attendants, flowers girls, etc. and then switch to a different song just for the partner walking down the aisle.
We do, however, caution you against using too many selections at the beginning. Unless your entrance is a particularly long walk, each piece is heard for just a brief period and too many changes will make it sound choppy and could also be challenging for whoever you put in charge of the music.
The songs you select are up to you. While you can walk down the aisle to classical favourites Pachelbel Canon in D or Mendelssohn’s Wedding March, don’t be afraid to spice it up a little. Select something from a favourite movie soundtrack or a song you sing to each other when it comes up on your playlist. You have permission to be quirky or even silly. You might have your guests thinking, “That’s so them!” when they hear the first few bars. We had one couple who played the Jeopardy! theme song during the signing of their marriage licence. Another couple selected a children’s song that their kids loved as their final song and they all danced down the aisle together at the end of the wedding.
Live music – Live music is always a treat. From a harpist to a violinist to bagpipes, we’ve seen all types of live music. If you would like to have someone sing (the acoustics in our chapel are amazing), the best place to incorporate that is during the signing of the marriage documents. It can be a bit of a lull in the ceremony while the couple and witnesses are taking their turns to sign. A live music performance is more likely to keep your guests engaged.
If you are using a DJ, take the time to chat with them about the kinds of music that you like. Also remember that they are professional and through experience they know what normally keeps a dance floor full, so resist the urge to micromanage. Allowing your guests to make requests is one way to make sure they get their fave songs.
If you are simply creating your own playlist, give some thoughts to the ebb and flow of music and group a few similar songs together. If you get Aunt Jeanie out of her seat to bop to a Beatles song, don’t follow it up with something harsh and modern. You’d like her to stay on the dance floor for a few turns.
The downside to a pre-selected playlist is that guests aren’t able to make requests. And we’ve all been at parties where the playlist gets hijacked by someone with a specific musical taste. A professional DJ keeps that in check.
The songs that you select for your first dance as a couple and any dancing done with parents, should be meaningful to you. Don’t worry about being proper or meeting expectations. You can go with a heavy metal ballad, or reach back in time to the 60s, or pick a cover by a band that nobody else has ever heard of. These are your memories.
And if, on the other hand, Perfect by Ed Sheeran or All of Me by John Legend really speaks to you, don’t be phased by the fact that it has been used countless times before. Embrace it!
Music can also be used as the soundtrack to a slideshow at your reception or to accompany the introduction/entrance of the wedding party. This is a great time to flex some musical humour.
Dinner music – If you opt for music during dinner, keep in mind that it will be a background sound. Instrumental is great or soft rock type tunes. Save the pumping dance music for later on.
You can also leave your guests with a musical history of your relationship. CDs may be past their prime, but you could provide a jump drive with digital tunes or a Spotify play list that includes music from your youth, tunes from your courtship, and culminates with the song you selected for your first dance.
Music is tied so closely to memory. Hearing a song later can evoke a specific time and place. Make sure that the music you select for your wedding day is meaningful and will help you relive amazing memories in the years to come.
No matter the holiday you are celebrating, we hope you are able to spend it with someone you love. We wish you warm cozy nights, sunny days, tasty food to nibble, games and conversations (online and off) to connect with friends and family, and health for the year ahead. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the Ottawa Wedding Chapel.
Our office will be closed from Dec 18 to Jan 3 and will reopen on Jan 4. New requests through the website will be answered. If you are having a wedding emergency or wish to be married before Jan 4, you can call our office and be connected to our emergency line.
We’ll be hosting a few small ceremonies over the holidays to help bump up our Christmas cheer. 🙂
More and more, we’re spending time thinking about the effects of our life choices on the environment. Why should your wedding be any different? As a (hopefully) once-in-a-lifetime event, weddings can get crazy and extravagant and wasteful. Even if you aren’t willing to commit to everything on this list, we hope you will at least think about the impact of your wedding and try to take some steps to make it greener.
Keep it small: A trimmed down guest list means less of everything – less travelling, less waste, less energy used.
Travel: Travel has the biggest impact on your carbon footprint. It makes sense to host the wedding in the location where the fewest number of people have to travel long distances. Skip the destination wedding. Keep your ceremony and reception close together to limit travel or consider supplying group travel (party bus anyone?). Also think about your honeymoon. A local getaway, cycling adventure, train travel or sailing are all greener options.
Vendors that match your sensibilities: There are some who specialize in green weddings. At the very least ask questions of your vendors and let them know low-waste and sustainability are important to you. That’s how we change the status quo, making our preferences known and deciding with our dollars!
Wedding favours: Consider skipping them altogether or having something compostable like fancy cookies, flower seeds, tree seedlings, locally made maple syrup in a glass container, etc. Buy from a local business or DIY. Or in lieu of favours, let guests know that you are making a donation to an eco charity.
Décor: Rent or buy second-hand and resell when you are finished. Look for natural materials instead of plastic. Avoid balloons, especially balloon releases where you are sending pieces of plastic into the air with no knowledge of where they will come down or who/what may find them.
Rings: Buy ethically sourced gemstones, and if possible, consider a creation from a local jeweler. Some jewelers will reuse gold or stones you already have to make something new. A vintage family ring can be a lovely idea as well and can be resized if needed.
Flowers: Focus on blooms that are locally grown and in-season to cut down on shipping. Or go for a boho wildflower bouquet you gather yourself.
Clothing: For the happy couple, think about rentals, second-hand/consignment, or consider sustainable fabrics from local/national designers. Let wedding party members wear something they already own or at least let them select the outfit if you want them to purchase something new so they will be more likely to keep it and wear it for years to come. Princess Beatrice recently got married in a gown that was pre-owned by Queen Elizabeth II. Even the royals are embracing second-hand!
Dinner: Ask your caterer if they use local products and what they do with food waste. Consider local wines and beer. A plated meal produces less waste than a buffet.
Tablescape: Potted plants or succulents can make for stunning tables, and guests can take them home at the end of the night. Think about locally available flowers and greenery and other natural materials like woodcuts, pinecones, apples, etc.
So, get your thinking cap on and spend this winter imagining all the green and sustainable options you have for your wedding day.
Small, intimate weddings are a developing trend forced upon us by the Covid-19 pandemic as it has become impossible to stage large events where all your friends and family can mingle together and celebrate. However, many couples have found the silver lining to these small events, with some even saying it was a relief to be able to step away from planning a big wedding.
Planning a large event is stressful and while a smaller event also requires planning, it gives you the opportunity to be more flexible and perhaps enjoy the journey even more.
Loving all your guests
One of the best things about a small wedding is the freedom to invite only those you actually wish to attend. No need to debate inviting the layers of cousins or friends of your parents. A small wedding lets you focus on the ones you know and love. Knowing you will be surrounded by only your closest friends and family relieves the pressure of doing things conventionally or “properly” or living up to certain expectations. You can be yourselves as your guests already know your quirks, likes, sense of humour and personalities.
A smaller guest list equals a smaller budget. Have a lovely wedding and still have cash in the bank for future travel or a down payment on a home or a car? What a great idea!
Focusing on a few luxury details
If you love flowers, make them a focus. If you are a foodie, make that your priority. Or live music. If you couldn’t care less about the wedding cake, opt for another dessert and your guests will never miss it. Forgo anything that isn’t meaningful to you. Photo booths, save the date cards, formal invitations, a DJ, or first dances can all be skipped. Bottom line: focus on the elements that are important to you as a couple and that will help create lasting memories.
Treating your guests well
A smaller guest list may give you the funds to step up the catering — spring for the extra course or the more expensive entrees. You can employ a private chef to prepare a custom menu of all your favourites. Shine a light on creative mixology with some signature cocktails. Leave a handwritten note at each place setting to let the guests know what they mean to you. Consider a car service to get everyone home so no one has to be the designated driver.
Flexibility of venue
With a smaller group you can get creative with the venue. Talk to your favourite restaurant, small gallery or museum, or consider locations that your own families may have access to like cottages or ski chalets. Think about your favourite outdoor spots. Transform your backyard. A small group has the mobility to shift to a plan B at the last moment if there is rain. You have the chance to select a ceremony location that means something to you.
Take the opportunity to DIY and give things a personal touch. Baking heart-shaped cookies or making strawberry jam as a takeaway for 150 guests seems overwhelming, but you could probably do it for 15 people. Your table(s) will only need a few centrepieces rather than dozens, so it’s a great way to give your table a personal stamp without a huge time commitment. Or design your own focal point for the ceremony (an archway or backdrop).
A small wedding gives you the ability to take advantage of pop-up wedding opportunities. During the Covid-19 pandemic many wedding venues and planners have pivoted to provide luxury wedding packages for small groups at a reasonable price. If you had dreams of a swanky venue or top-notch planner that were just out of reach financially, a package deal like this may be just the thing.
Focus on the ceremony
A smaller guest list doesn’t necessarily mean a quick, get ‘er done ceremony. Every aspect of your day should get the royal treatment. You might want to include a sand ceremony, candle lighting, handfasting, or wine or rose ceremony. You can have some important guests participate by reading a poem or other special reading. Don’t forget to live stream for guests who can’t make it.
Small weddings are now a trend and we’d love to see them stick around. By embracing your own wee wedding, you’ll soon realize there’s a lot to love about going small. And if you must, throw a big bash in a year or two when large parties are once again allowed. It will be both less expensive and less stressful!
You should definitely consider writing your own wedding vows, and here’s why.
Your ceremony helps to set the tone for your entire wedding day, so it should represent your relationship and your personalities. The centrepiece of the ceremony is the wedding vows — the promises that you and your partner will make to each other.
Your own words will feel more natural than a pre-scripted selection. The ceremony may feel like a blur and speaking your own words can help you focus and truly experience the moment.
Personalized vows will also hold the attention of your friends and family and make them feel as though they have a window into your love story.
What should vows include? Rule No. 1 – Be genuine.
Traditionally, vows include some reference to good and yes, not such good times, as well as a promise to love and cherish each other, but there is room for so much more.
You could include some of your favourite qualities about your partner or favourite things about your relationship.
You might talk about how or when you met (without bogging things down with a long story).
Perhaps include reference to your faith, your kids, or to other things that you share — a love of videogames, tennis, NASCAR, etc.
Beware of in-jokes or overly personal details. Do be quirky or silly and showcase the uniqueness of your relationship, but don’t leave the guests thinking WTH?
You should include some promises, these are vows after all, but think carefully about promising perfection. Your promises should be realistic.
You may want to acknowledge that you are aware your future together may not always be a bowl of cherries and add some thoughts on getting through the difficult times together.
Be genuine, be heartfelt but most importantly, make sure your vows are for each other, not aimed at getting a laugh (or tears) from the guests.
Think about delivery
We suggest keeping your vows to less than 2 minutes each – it’s more time than you think.
Make sure that as a couple your vows “match” to prevent a situation where one partner writes a lengthy speech that strikes a romantic tone, while the other is short and snappy and goes for the laughs. To achieve this, you should sit down with your partner and discuss tone and length. Then call your wedding officiant into action. If both partners send their written vows to the officiant, they can read them through and make sure they are well-balanced.
Write them well in advance, not the day before. This will give you time to practice. Practice reading your vows in front of a mirror and out loud as they will sound very different when spoken, not simply recited in your head.
Speak slowly and clearly. You don’t need to have them memorized, but you should practice enough that you won’t stumble, and it would be nice look up at your partner a time or two as you speak.
Got more tips?
Make sure that your officiant has a copy of your vows in their ceremony. That way if your cue cards with your written vows are misplaced the day of the wedding, there will be no need to panic.
Need inspiration? The internet is full of it. You don’t have to write from scratch – you can modify something that you find somewhere else. From Dr Seuss-inspired vows, to vows sung or rapped, to promises sweet, funny, or heartfelt, you can find something to match your personality online.
While most couples find the prospect daunting (and for good reason), if you think you’d like to speak from the heart in the moment and go unscripted, we urge you to prepare a back-up in writing. Should your mind go blank with the potential stress of the day, heightened emotions, or nerves, it’s a good idea to have something written so you won’t be left stammering.
What if I really don’t want to speak in front of a crowd?
If you or your partner are very shy or anxious about the idea of making declarations of love in front of a crowd, your wedding vows can be presented to you in question form. This means the officiant will do all the heavy lifting and read the vows to you as a question. All you have to say is, “I do.”
You can still personalize the language. Simply co-ordinate with your wedding officiant.
Weddings are all about family. When families gather together, the absence of those who are missing can be keenly felt – especially if a family member has recently passed away. You can take some action that honours a missing family member privately, or recognize them in a more public fashion.
How can you incorporate a loved one who has passed away into your ceremony?
Wedding ceremony text is very flexible. There are certain requirements (a question of intent to each partner, signing the legal paperwork, and an official pronouncement), but also a lot of room for making the language reflect what is important to you. Your officiant can add a few lines, a poem, or a prayer about remembering the person or persons who are being missed. There can be a moment of silence if you like. Discuss your thoughts with your wedding officiant. They can help you determine which words will work best and where they should go.
With a candle lighting
Someone can light a candle at the beginning of the service in memory of the person or persons who have passed. With the light shining throughout the ceremony, the loved one will be present in everyone’s mind. This works best for indoor ceremonies as you don’t want to risk the wind blowing out the flame.
With a reserved seat
Keep a seat near the front reserved and lay a flower there at the beginning of the ceremony. You can also place a photo of the person on the chair or use some other memento, such as hanging their jacket or hat on the back of the seat.
If there is a song that reminds you of the person, you could play it during the signing of the licence, or even as you walk down the aisle. Music is associated strongly with memories.
A bride can carry a small photo of the deceased with her as she walks down the aisle. A photo and/or some words of tribute can be added to the wedding program. A photo display can also be set up at the entrance to the ceremony location. One great option is to use old wedding photos of parents and grandparents — it recognizes your heritage, whether all those family members are still with you or not.
With some other action
Couples are encouraged to think of other ways to remember their loved one. If the person was of Scottish heritage, there could be some touches of tartan (ties, pocket handkerchiefs, ribbon on a bouquet/boutonniere) as a visual cue. A grandmother’s favourite flower could make up the bouquet. A groom could wear his departed father’s cufflinks or ring.
Honouring loved ones who can’t be with you on your wedding day is respectful and can be done with a delightful and light touch. It needn’t bring the mood down. A wedding is a major memory-making occasion and it’s a wonderful gesture to pay homage to people and memories from the past.
Wedding costs have a way of ballooning out of control. Few couples plan a wedding without a budget, but creating a budget isn’t simply knowing you have a set amount to spend then maxing it out. Here are some helpful suggestions for managing your budget and getting the most for your money.
Decide what is important to you Sure, you’d like to have it all…but if you can’t, you need to decide what areas are most important to you. Is it the wedding gown? An abundance of flowers? A top-notch photographer? On the other side of the equation, what are you willing to let go of?
Pass on some things altogether If a fancy wedding cake isn’t high on your list of priorities, just don’t do it. Serve cookies instead. You can also pass on bouquets, a photo booth for the reception, and a limo or vintage car rental. Keep in mind that a “wedding dress” doesn’t have to come from a bridal boutique.
Research Once you’ve decided how much you have to spend, start researching. Get a real sense for how much things cost. You may want to play high end, low end. What’s the cost of your dream venue? What is a low-cost alternative? With some real numbers in front of you, it is easier to make decisions. It also saves you from getting mid-way through your planning and realizing that you haven’t earmarked nearly enough for a particular category.
Trim your guest list You may think you want every single person you know at your wedding, but a more intimate wedding can be really lovely. Ask yourself, “Will this person be in my life in five years?” And “When was the last time I saw them or had a real conversation with them?”
It’s totally fine to keep the ceremony and dinner to a more manageable number and then open the doors for the reception.
Be flexible If you can be flexible with your date, you can save on the venue, catering and other vendors as well. Stay away from Saturdays. Considering a venue that is not right downtown can save you cash too. There are many great venues within a reasonable drive and wedding vendors located in the suburbs or rural areas may be willing to beat the price you’ll pay right in the city.
Host at home Booking a wedding venue can cost a lot. See if you have an appropriate space within your circle of friends and family. It could be the party room at your condo, or the home of a relative. If you are looking at a venue, consider an all-in-one location that can accommodate your ceremony and reception.
Use recycled décor There are a plethora of wedding groups on social media where couples are reselling their décor and other wedding items. If you’re flexible in your design and creative in your thinking, you can set yourself up with centrepieces, seating charts, signs, and other decorations for much less than you would spend buying new.
Flowers Recently we hosted a wedding where the bride forgot her bouquet. We ran outside and cut a bunch of flowers from our yard. With a little ribbon, she had the perfect, free bouquet – no one realized.
Research can also pay off when it comes to flowers. See what is in season and locally grown for the date of your wedding. Talk budget with your florist and let them know that you are open to their recommendations to get the most bloom for your buck.
Go with non-floral centrepieces/décor and incorporate candles/twigs/greenery instead. Keep the blossoms in the bouquets. Forgo boutonnieres all together.
We’ve seen some great faux bouquets too, which gives you the option to re-use someone else’s flowers or create your own bouquet out of paper or fabric flowers, vintage brooches, buttons, etc.
DIY With some advance planning and elbow grease, you can do a lot of things yourself from invitations to wedding favours and decorations. Just be cautious about tackling more than you can reasonably handle.
Less expensive alternatives Try contacting the local university for music students to play during your ceremony or dinner. Vendors just starting out will often offer a lower price as they attempt to build their reputation and portfolio. If the venue has a built-in sound system, you can pass on the DJ and prepare your own dance-a-thon playlist. Use your judgement though……if photos are at the top of your priority list, it makes sense to book a professional photographer with solid reviews whose work you can view beforehand.
Swap a sit-down dinner for a cocktail reception with finger food You’ll pay less and have the added bonus of getting more face time with your guests. Also shrink the bar menu down to a couple of options to save further.
Leave ‘wedding’ out of your requests When contacting a caterer or other service provider, try not to mention the word ‘wedding’ as often there is a markup for weddings. For example, when ordering a cake, say you need a cake for 100 people, not a wedding cake.
Build in a buffer Building a little extra into your budget for unexpected costs will save you stress if an additional expenditure comes up.
Plan and plan some more Last-minute decisions don’t allow for space or time to think. A longer lead time gives you a chance to find sales and work on discounts.
When you get married it can feel like there are a million things to do…and it can feel like a million people want to help. There will be certain people that will expect to be included in the preparations – bridesmaids/men, best men/women, and perhaps parents or siblings. There may be other special people that won’t be central figures, but you’d still like to give them a little job or carve out some time for them on the big day. What follows is a list of tasks and activities that you can delegate or offer to make everyone feel involved. Just remember to keep tabs on who is doing what!
In the months, weeks, days before:
Creating ceremony programs (great for techie youth or grownups).
Crafting table centrepieces.
Creating or packaging wedding favours.
Wedding dress shopping. A grandmother or godmother would be thrilled to be invited along.
Making “goodie bags” for children attending the reception (going to the dollar store and selecting crafts/toys/trinkets, creating a special colouring page, etc).
Creating a photo collage to display at the reception.
Creating a slideshow or video with photos/video clips of the couple through the years to play at the reception. Great for a tech savvy teen.
Addressing invitations (or if you know someone paper crafty , making invitations from scratch).
Choreographing a dance for the reception. A great way for either partner (or both) to spend time with some special people. Kids will love this.
Airport pick-ups for out-of-town guest arrivals.
Before and during the ceremony
Picking up flowers/bouquets from florist
Placing some decorations at the ceremony location and/or reception venue.
Help the bride get dressed/hair done/make-up. Grandma might love to be part of the action
Place reserved signs for seats at the ceremony location
Ushering – it may have fallen a little out of fashion, but showing people to a seat is often appreciated by guests who don’t know where to sit at the ceremony.
Handing out programs at the ceremony or bubbles for afterwards.
Carry the rings (caution that small children may be unpredictable in this regard)
Being part of the wedding procession (ring security, flower girl, maid/men of honour and best men/maids)
Delivering a reading or poem during the ceremony.
Singing or playing an instrument during the signing portion of the ceremony.
Making announcements before the ceremony (couple have asked that guests not take photos during the ceremony. Join us for a group picture after the ceremony. Remember to turn off your phone.)
MC at reception.
Making a speech/toast.
Unofficial reception photographers (great for kids who will be on their phones all evening anyway) You can even make them a badge or card on a lanyard to display.
Responsible person to take care of gifts and cards.
Delivering bride and groom a safe ride to where they are spending the night.