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Making the most of a small wedding

Small wedding couple

October 16, 2020

First and foremost, enjoy the ride!

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.

Saving money

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.

Wedding CookiePersonal touch

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).

Package deals

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!


Vital vow advice – To write or not to write

March 12, 2020

Groom reading vows to bride

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?

You bet!

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.

Happy Holidays!

December 19, 2019

Winter wishes to you


Best wishes to all of our couples past and future from the Ottawa Wedding Chapel. We hope your Christmas is merry and bright.

Our office will be closed from Dec 20 through to Jan 1. We look forward to answering your calls and emails when we return.

Honouring loved ones during your wedding ceremony

November 27, 2019

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?

With words

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.

With music

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.

With photos

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.




How to have the best wedding on a budget

October 17, 2019

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.

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.

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.

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.

Getting married: tasks for everyone who wants to help

April 12, 2019

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.

7 Trends for 2019 Weddings 

March 12, 2019

Winter is wrapping up, your venue is (hopefully) bookedit’s time to get into the heavy-lifting of planning your wedding. Planning should be fun. Take a look at the trends we see rolling out for 2019’s wedding season. 


Vibrant Colours  A bright start to your future! 

Brightly coloured flowersNeutral, clean, plain colours have been on-trend for weddings but starting in 2018, colours have started catching on. We aren’t just talking about any old colours, think vibrant and bright like orange purple and green.  



Wedding day hairdo straightened out. 

Woman with braided hairBraids and floral head pieces are some of the favourite choices for brides these days. Whether you’re wearing your hair in an up-do or down, there are so many ways to play with braids and flowersAnother trend has brides trying their favourite do(s) before their wedding day to see which style suits them and their hair-type best. Rather than choosing one style and making it work this gives you the confidence of knowing your chosen style will work for you on your wedding day.


Paper flowers  nwater required. 

Paper flowersWhile we’re on the topic of flowers, what do you think of the flower paper trend? Not only is it popping up in wedding décor, brides are also using paper flowers to make their bouquets and boutonnieres. If you’re thinking of getting involved in a little DIY for your wedding day, this may be the perfect choice for you. 



Veils  What’s behind them anyway? 

Wedding couple with veilVeils, which were out of favour for a number of years, are finding their place on brides once againWe’re not talking the short, shoulder length, white veil either. They are really making a statement with colours and patterns but especially huge, cathedral-length veils. They can add a new dimension to the look of your dress and the reaction of your guests as you walk down the aisle. 


So how do you like them…pineapples? 

PineappleThere is always a new, fun way to embrace a trend and you are certain to be on point if you use pineapples. While traditionally pineapples were the symbol of royal privilege, they have become a symbol of social events, friendship, and most importantly, hospitality. Leave one outside your door if you are receiving visitors or consider using them as a centrepiece on your wedding day. 


Save the date videos – setting the tone. 

Save the date cards and postcards are no longer the in-thing. A far more expressive and fun way to let your guests know they are going to be invited to your wedding is a fun video reminding them of what’s to come. Easy to share and sure to set the tone, this is your chance to showcase your creativity and to start telling your story. 

First look, forever memories. 

Traditionally, the first time the groom gets to see the bride is once she walks down the aisle. Couples are now choosing to see each other before the ceremony. This is a great time to take pictures without your guests around, and for you to really enjoy the intimacy of the moment you first set eyes on each other. 

Preserving marriage memories at Christmas

December 21, 2018

Those newlyweds (or long-time married folks) who celebrate Christmas or have a “holiday tree” may want to consider further preserving the memories of that special day with a tree ornament.

The selection is bountiful, with something to please all styles of Christmas décor.


For the rustic tree, this wood slice with your names and dates burned in from etsy.




For the vintage tree,  these beautiful and stylishly dressed birds from Gingerbread World,





For the elegant tree, this tiered wedding cake under a cloche from Hallmark





And, of course, there is a slew of do-it-yourself options for crafters of various skill levels. You can use your invitation to make either of these stylish ornaments. An empty glass or plastic ornament can also be filled with a little sand from a honeymoon trip as a keepsake.







If you’re looking for more ways to weave your wedding memories into the holidays, some brides have turned their wedding dresses into Christmas tree skirts.




Whatever you choose, including a wedding memento with your holiday decor will keep those memories close at hand.

We at the Ottawa Wedding Chapel wish you and your loved ones the very best of the holiday season. Take time to enjoy with your family and friends.

Does practice make perfect? When to have a rehearsal

Wedding Rehearsal

June 1, 2018

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.

Love and Laughter: Make sure you and your guests smile through your wedding day

Wedding fun

April 27, 2018

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.

Awesome officiant

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.

Witty words

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.

Photo frenzy

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.

Reception connection

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.