May 12, 2023
You know you need a credentialled wedding officiant to make your ceremony legal. But what kinds of things should you talk to your officiant about before the wedding?
Their credentials: You can inquire how they are credentialled and ask to see proof. In the province of Ontario there is a government list where you can search for anyone registered to conduct marriage ceremonies. https://data.ontario.ca/dataset/registered-marriage-officiants
The legal bits: When are you planning on getting your marriage licence? (In QC it’s the officiant who acts as the licensing agent). Your officiant will appreciate it if you can send them a clear photo or scan of the licence in advance so they can prep some of their paperwork.
The ceremony language/script: The legal requirements for a wedding ceremony are simple and minimal (question of intent for each partner, sign the paperwork, pronounce you as married, and in Quebec the Civil Code must be read). The rest is up to you. Bring your officiant your favourite poems or readings to include in the script. (They may have suggestions as well if you don’t know where to start.) Talk about any anecdotes or shared experiences or hobbies that you’d like to be mentioned in the ceremony. Discuss ways to honour loved ones who have passed. Talk about cultural traditions you’d like to include.
Tone: Lighthearted and relaxed? Formal and distinguished? Let your officiant know what tone you are hoping to strike, and they will do their best to accommodate.
Colour and theme: Officiants are often happy to dress to complement a couple’s chosen colours or theme. Is it a Western and denim theme? Black tie with a touch of purple? Hawaiian shirts? Feel free to talk about how the officiant should dress.
Mechanics and logistics of the day: Tell your officiant who is responsible for music and/or microphones. How many are in the wedding party? Who will have the rings? Who are the witnesses?
Rehearsal (if you are planning one): Do you need your officiant there? Do you need them to run the rehearsal? What dates/times are you considering?
Additional questions: Don’t be afraid to ask for advice. Your officiant probably has a great deal of experience and may be able to suggest ways to handle potentially difficult situations. For example, divorced parents who don’t get along, blended families, multifaith unions, an uncle with a drinking problem who may make a fuss, etc. You can also talk to your officiant about your feelings or fears. If they know you are anxious about speaking in front of a crowd, they can help.
Your wedding officiant will try to make your day everything you want it to be. They are more than just the person who “signs the papers,” they are a great asset to your wedding planning, your personal cheerleader, and an understanding ear.
February 15, 2023
Last year was a banner year for weddings. The pent up demand that built through two years of Covid was released in a flood of nuptials. Wedding vendors were booked up, venues were in short supply, and couples were squeezing their ceremonies into unconventional dates and locations. So what does 2023 hold?
Sustainability and live plants
Couples continue to become more eco-conscious. People are skipping the extraneous stuff – no programs, no welcome bags, no cheap plastic flip flops for the reception, and no takeaways or thank you gifts unless they are edible, plantable, or at least compostable. Fireworks are also losing their appeal as they are pollutants and can had negative effects on animals. Live plants are always a beautiful table centerpiece and you can give them out at the end of the event (think something vibrant and lush, not so much the succulents from past years). Live plants may also feature in the ceremony backdrop or aisle decor, giving the couple the opportunity to use those shrubs and flowers to spruce up their yard afterwards.
There continues to be a lot of variation, but this year there is an influx of inspiration from the 1960s, including the minidress. You will continue to see fringe, but less bohemian and more luxe. More high necklines as well, in both lace and fabric.
Whether they are pool-side for the ceremony or hitting the pool for the reception, couples will be embracing summer. It can be kept classy and modern, but the pool party prefers to live in the land of retro vibes, bold décor, and over the top umbrella drinks. The couple making a splash for the camera in their wedding garb? Maybe! (Just be careful a water logged dress or suit doesn’t drag you under.) The only sticking point for pool-side fun is the weather.
Beyond charcuterie boards
We’ve seen the idea of grazing nibbles expanded for receptions. Cocktail style receptions offer the flexibility for everyone to get face to face with the wedding couple and guests aren’t stuck chatting with only the folks at their dinner table. While charcuterie boards are still popular, we’re now seeing breakfast boards, dessert boards, butter boards (a trend which spiked on social media last fall), pizza boards, poutine boards, and themed boards for holidays. For folks who aren’t yet ready to go back to buffet-style dining for fear of germ spreading, individually portioned charcuterie boxes or cups may be just the thing.
Couples doing whatever the flip they want
Since Covid, there has been an ‘anything goes’ approach to weddings. Couples are emboldened to make their day all about what they want, not what people expect. Weekday weddings, morning weddings, backyard weddings, tiny weddings, these are all choices that are here to stay. Couples are continuing to select traditions that are meaningful to them and reject the rest. And we’re here for it!
January 27, 2023
These days, most anything goes when choosing a date for your wedding. Traditional Saturday event? Thursday evening? Halloween? Sunrise ceremony on a Monday? Whatever you want, you can make it happen. When picking a date, you may want to consider the following:
Take a look at your guest list. Will some be travelling from out of town or even out of the country? Try to be sensitive to people coming from farther away. They may have to take extra days off work and/or spend hours driving/flying. If everyone is local, a Thursday evening may work just fine.
One thing to keep in mind is that your date will affect your wedding costs. Check with vendors to see. Long weekends and holidays may have premiums. Saturday afternoons in the summer and fall are prime wedding days so you can expect to pay full price for everything. If you have the flexibility to choose another day of the week or a morning ceremony, you may pay less as vendors try to fill their schedules on less busy dates. It’s not just prices to think about. Availability can be an issue. A top venue or photographer may be booked years in advance for prime dates, but if you have flexibility with your wedding date you might just be able to snag your dream location.
Potential for conflict
Choosing a date on Thanksgiving weekend or New Year’s Eve could make sense as people will normally be gathering anyway. But keep in mind that friends may have their own family traditions and celebrations they are not willing to give up to attend your wedding. Big events in your wedding city/town should be considered as well, whether a festival, a convention, or something else. These big events can affect venue and hotel availability. Also, remember that July to Thanksgiving are prime wedding weekends. If you are choosing a date in that window, make sure you check with your friend group to ensure nobody else is planning their wedding for your date. Get your invitations (or at least a “Save the Date” card or email) out early so everyone knows when your big day is!
Many couples like to select a date that has additional special meaning, like the anniversary of their first date or another milestone in their relationship. Some also look at wedding dates of parents or grandparents as a nod to family history. On the flip side, try to make sure your wedding doesn’t coincide with a sad or painful memory anniversary for any of the major players – like the death of a parent or sibling. You might also consider world events. It took quite a few years before couples wanted to get married on 9/11 again.
By the numbers
Aligning or repeating numbers is appealing to some folks. Maybe it looks cool on an invitation. 2/22/2022 was a big one, for example. Some people like 4/20 and its association with cannabis culture. Many people believe in lucky or unlucky numbers. The Chinese community thinks 4 is unlucky, while 3, 6, and 8 are lucky. 9 is unlucky in Japan. Some people think Friday the 13 is unlucky. Several cultures think of 7 as lucky. And some people are into numerology and have their own personal lucky numbers.
If you have enough time to plan your wedding, go ahead and pick whatever date you want. You can try to be respectful of others, but you’ll probably never be able to please everyone. As long as the people who are important to you will be there, go for it!
October 24, 2022
You see it all the time – people viewing the world through their cell phone cameras. For example, recording video of a fireworks display, taking a million photos of an iconic landmark and fiddling with filters trying to get that one ‘gram-worthy shot, and, unfortunately, taking non-stop video or photos of a friend’s wedding ceremony. In all cases, these people are missing out on being in the moment and having the fullest experience. So how do you make them stop for your wedding?
Ask nicely….and more than once
Set your expectations from the beginning by mentioning in your invite that you are having an unplugged or device-free ceremony. Explain that you have hired a professional photographer or appointed a specific friend to capture the event. If you are having wedding programs you can mention it again there by saying, “Thanks for respecting our wish to have a camera and phone-free ceremony.” You could also set a sign at the entrance of your ceremony venue to remind people. Finally, ask your wedding officiant to make an announcement before the ceremony begins telling guests to put their phones on silent and put them away so they can be fully present and enjoy the moment with you.
Or try for a compromise
Another option is to ask guests not to take photos until you have been pronounced as married. The officiant could announce at the beginning of the ceremony that cameras and cellphones should be stored until the end of the ceremony when the couple will spend a few moments posing for guests’ photos.
What about people sharing “unsanctioned” photos online?
You know your guests best. Do you have the type of friends and family who carefully curate or those who post their entire camera roll (including the blurry ones)?
If keeping the lid on wedding photos until you have a chance to view and select your own preferred shot is important to you, you may want to take steps to help that happen.
First, ask your photographer if they can provide a couple of sneak peek shots so you can get a sanctioned photo out on social media quickly, ideally the next day. Another option is to take a “just married” selfie and get your own photo out first that way.
Follow the steps above for an unplugged ceremony. You should also think twice about a wedding hashtag – which will encourage people to post photos.
You can let guests know ahead of time that you would appreciate them not sharing photos online until you have had a chance to post your own. The same as asking for an unplugged ceremony, your options for asking and reminding guests not to post on social media are in the invitation, in the program, via a sign at the venue, and an announcement before the ceremony begins.
You can also review your social media settings and adjust your privacy so people can’t tag you or tagged photos won’t show on your FB or Instagram pages.
Best of both worlds?
If you do want friends and family to share photos from the reception, you can reveal your wedding hashtag at the reception venue. You can also create an Instagram-worthy backdrop or seating area and have a sign encouraging people to take photos.
There will always be one
No matter what you say or do, there will always be someone who doesn’t play by your rules. Try not to get upset. Maybe they are truly addicted to their phone. It’s their loss for not taking time to be in the moment with you. And a good photographer can work around them.
September 8, 2022
Wedding arches are a big décor trend and it seems like they will stick around. And why not? It’s an easy way to have a big impact on your ceremony space.
An arch is a way of drawing the focus to the spot where you will exchange your vows. They are especially helpful if you are getting married outside where there is no obvious focal point or at a venue where it’s essentially a blank canvas.
Two takes on the same pergola at the Ottawa Wedding Chapel
An arch can help you incorporate the colours and theme that you have selected for your day. From bo-ho to sleek and modern, an arch is a set-piece that helps create the ambiance you want. You can use pretty much any material — wood, metal, fabric, live plants, etc.
Your arch can also serve as a backdrop for photos after the ceremony as well. Guests won’t be able to resist snapping a few frames in front of it.
You can rent all sorts of backdrops, flower walls, and arches. Wedding groups on social media or buy and sell sites like Kijiji are also a good source for ready-made items. Of course, if you’re handy you can DIY it and have it to keep or sell to someone else. If you are buying or making a sturdy structure, you can add it to your garden or patio after to extend its life.
You don’t have to break the bank — simple can be very effective. You may be able to use something you already have or something you can thrift or make — sheer curtains, old wooden ladders, paper flowers, a tree branch, etc.
The sunflowers here are a perfect tie-in to the couple’s splashes of yellow.
Keep the weather in mind as you plan. There could be rain or wind and you don’t want your arch to tumble — make sure it’s stable and possibly staked to the ground. Wind can also play havoc with draped fabric.
If there is a view or horizon, pay attention to what vista your arch frames — it’s going to be in a lot of photos. You may want to work the angles to avoid a highway with traffic or the back of a building for example. And while you may think of a wedding arch as having a lot of height to draw the eye, you can create something lower to the ground (especially if you have a view with mountains in the background). An existing flowerbed can be your focal point with some added pillars or use potted perennial plants to create a low-rise semi-circle. You can use the plants for landscaping at your home afterwards or gift them to the members of your wedding party.
In the end, make sure that the focal point of your ceremony location is something that brings you joy when you look at it. The personality of the couple should be apparent — so don’t be concerned with sticking to something flowery, if that’s not what you like. Get creative and playful. Make it as steampunk, anime, forest elf, comic book, futuristic, or Day of the Dead as you like. It’s a key visual for your day.
March 2, 2022
Whether you are eloping or having a huge wedding, you are going to need official witnesses for your ceremony to sign the legal marriage documents.
You will need two – one to sign for each partner. At every wedding there must be at least five people present: the couple, two witnesses, and the officiant. In Canada, witnesses must be physically present, they can not be present by video.
Witnesses must have the mental capacity and language skills to understand what they are witnessing and signing. They may not be impaired by drugs or alcohol. Some provinces have rules around age, for example in BC witnesses must be 19+, in Alberta 18+, but in Ontario it’s up to the officiant’s discretion (we still recommend 18+).
Witnesses can be family or friends, or they can be strangers. They do not have to be Canadian citizens or live in Canada.
There is no obligation for your honour attendants (best man/maid, maid/man of honour) to act as witnesses. If you would like to recognize someone else important to you by having them sign as a witness, the officiant can call them up at the appropriate time.
All that witnesses have to do is sign their name on the legal paperwork. They also need to provide their home address for the officiant’s records or marriage register. Should something go wrong with the process of registering the marriage (lost in the post, etc) it is possible that witnesses could be called on to sign/testify that they witnessed the marriage and agree that both parties were consenting, on the date it took place.
If you are planning an elopement and do not have witnesses for your wedding, your officiant may be able to supply them. Our chapel and All Seasons Weddings both offer this service for an additional fee. If you are eloping in a public place, you can try to find witnesses on the spot.
If you are planning something unusual or a location that is difficult to reach (requiring hiking, snowshoeing, paddling, etc) double check that your witnesses are on board, or take those factors into consideration when selecting them. You want someone who is delighted to be standing on top of a mountain with you, not someone who doesn’t have the proper gear or stamina.
No matter if your witnesses are your best friends or complete strangers, your wedding will hopefully be a memory you will carry with you forever.
January 19, 2022
Getting married can be stressful and getting married in the time of Covid-19 has amped that stress level way up. We’ve put together some tips to help keep you focused and avoid spiraling off into the stress abyss.
Decide what is important to you
What do you want to remember about your wedding day? What do you want your guests to remember? Set some end goals and then work backwards. When questions come up and you feel pressured to make decisions, go back to those goals and use them to give yourself permission to let some things go. If you’ve decided dancing to boppin’ tunes with your friends and a killer dessert are at the top of your priority list, you can get the cheaper napkins or pass on buying fancy shoes/wedding favours/fresh flower centrepieces and not give it a second thought.
Covid Caveat: In a landscape of changing regulations for social interactions, decide what is a deal breaker. Do you require dancing? Drinking? Can you be happy with 20 guests or will you hold out for 200? Talking about it in advance can make it easier if the time comes and you have to decide to move forward or postpone. Take it a step further and make a tiny wedding back-up plan. You can’t control the Covid situation. You can be prepared to manage your wedding to fit regulations.
Keeping things smaller to start with
A smaller wedding can end up being easier to plan and less expensive as well, so it might be less stressful to start with. We have certainly seen couples with small Covid weddings say it was a blessing in disguise – they had a ready-made excuse for not inviting far flung cousins and work acquaintances and it kept them focused on what was really important to them. Keeping your wedding party tiny can also prevent drama and keep the day-of logistics simpler.
Manage family expectations
Pleasing family can be a huge stressor. As much as possible, try to be firm with your wishes and let family know from the very beginning of planning what they can expect. If parents are paying, negotiate the areas where they will have a say. Be upfront and honest about what is important to you – and what stresses you out.
Build in time to your wedding day schedule to relax
Space out appointment times, taking into consideration that hair or make-up can take longer than anticipated. Plan for lunch. Sitting down and eating something will give you time to breathe and enjoy the company of your wedding entourage. Not to mention that food will help keep you fueled for the big event to come.
Some couples like to remove themselves from the hubbub right after the ceremony and find a quiet place where they can spend a few moments in just each other’s company. See what options there are at your venue. Some venues have a suite for your use where you can sneak away and chill out for 15 mins in the middle of your reception with nobody trying to take your picture.
Take a break
Make sure planning doesn’t take over your life. You need time to take care of yourself and time to spend with your partner not talking about your wedding. Schedule date nights where wedding talk is off limits. Lunch with friends and tell them ahead of time that you don’t want to talk about the wedding. Schedule a relaxation massage in the week before your wedding.
Get help and delegate
You are only one person. Even if your future spouse is on-board to plan and organize by your side, you are still only two people. Face the fact that maybe you can’t do it all and get help. You can hire a planner (even a consultation for couple of hours with a professional might help you get a better handle on your to-do list and give you a solid plan for moving forward) or enlist family and friends to help. When delegating to someone, be specific in your requests and budget, and then try to let go of the need to control that task.
Stay organized and don’t leave things until the last minute
Whether it’s with lists or charts, on paper or an app, checking things off is a great way to make sure that nothing gets missed. Knowing you are organized can also help keep stress at bay. If the idea of a list makes you break out into hives, maybe you have an organizationally inclined friend who would be happy to act as your coordinator, or hire a pro.
Roll with whatever happens on the day of
Keep your focus on the positives. There is a good chance that something won’t go exactly right on your wedding day. You can’t control all the external factors (weather, vendors messing up, accidents), but you can control how you respond. Remember that the guests don’t know how things are supposed to go. If there was no wedding cake they would assume it was by design rather than you forgot to pick it up. If something goes amiss, look at your partner and remember the purpose of the day. Everything else is secondary, so you might as well try to laugh at any hiccups along the way.
October 20, 2021
While wedding dreams may be made of castles, mountains of fresh flowers, horse-drawn carriages, gorgeous gowns, and sleek suits, reality is sometimes a little bit different. Nobody ever stumbles or has their stomach growl during a ceremony in the movies. Go ahead and plan a spectacular wedding day that will make your dreams come true. But also, we urge you to practice practicality. Here are some ways to do that.
You might love the crystal high heels or a have your heart set on a new pair of swanky dress shoes, but it’s important to keep comfort in mind. You are going to be on your feet a lot!
-Break shoes in before the big day – this goes for anyone from flower girls to groomsmen. Remember that high heels will make your feet ache if you’re not used to wearing them.
-Brides should practice walking around in their wedding dress and chosen shoes. Think about your wedding location. Will you need to climb any steps? Try some in advance. Figure out the most elegant way to pull your dress up out of the way. Heels will also sink into the ground if you are spending time on grass for your ceremony or photos.
-Bring another pair to change into later. Grooms and other wedding party members should consider this as well. You want to focus on making memories not trying to pretend your feet don’t hurt.
You have planned a wonderful wedding meal for your family and friends, but have you considered what you will eat the rest of the day? Many times, couples arrive to their wedding ceremony location stressed, hungry and thirsty.
-Plan a mealtime into your wedding day itinerary.
-Make sure you have some healthy snacks on hand in case you don’t feel like eating a whole meal.
-Drink water during the day as well. Write it on your schedule. In fact, hydrate yourself in the whole week ahead – your skin and the rest of your body will thank you.
-If you are having a cocktail-style reception (hopefully we’ll eventually be able to hold those again once Covid has run its course), appoint someone to get you a plate of food and deliver it to you. Every guest will want some face time with the newlyweds, so it can be tricky to slip over to the buffet table.
– Consider the kids. Kids may be unsure of fancy dishes they aren’t used to. If you’re not having a specific kids’ plate, make sure at least one part of the meal is straightforward and likely to be agreeable to kids. Maybe mashed potatoes or even bread. This author recently witnessed a wedding dinner where a teen guest ate only bread because everything else was “too weird.” We all know there are picky adults as well.
Don’t drive yourselves anywhere. You want to be able to enjoy a glass of wine or just kick back and not have the stress of worrying about parking or directions.
-Have someone to take you to the ceremony, and someone to take you home or to your hotel at the end of the night.
-Think about the items you need to transport from the ceremony location to the reception venue or home from the reception at the end of the night. If you are having things delivered by vendors like flowers and cake, you’ll need to have space to take leftover items away. Flower arrangements can take up a lot of space in a trunk and backseat! Appoint someone to transport the gifts as well.
-Don’t forget about the guests. To prevent drinking and driving and make sure everyone feels free to celebrate with you, consider arranging a ride home for people and provide info on public transportation access. A shuttle to the hotel where people are staying or a designated driver service can make a difference.
Other practical tips
-If a bride’s bouquet is arriving in a vase of water, have a dish towel or paper towels on hand to dry the stems before she walks down the aisle.
-Make sure your coordinator or a wedding party member has a little emergency kit (think extra hair pins, safety pins, straight pins for boutonnieres, some tissues, pain meds for surprise headaches, a bottle of water, etc.)
-Have a plan for what is happening right after the ceremony. You’re waking down the aisle, freshly introduced as a married couple, and then what? We’ve seen many couples falter as they aren’t sure what to do next. Discuss ahead of time with your photographer. Are you heading directly to a photo location? Are you greeting guests? If you’ve been streaming the ceremony to non-local guests do you want to stop at the camera and give them a few words of thanks for tuning in?
-If you are writing your own vows to read to each other, send them to the officiant (separately if they are a surprise for each other) so they can be included with the officiant’s ceremony script. That way if the cue cards go missing or the phone battery goes dead, there will be a copy for you to read from.
-If someone forgets the wedding rings, you can use an engagement ring or another normally worn ring as a placeholder so as not to make a big deal about it. Or borrow a ring from the officiant or someone in the wedding party.
-Have a simple wedding website where guests can double check date/times/locations/directions/parking info/Covid safety requirements. Sometimes paper invites get tossed or lost. The Knot has a great rundown of options: https://www.theknot.com/content/best-wedding-websites
-Make an emergency contact list including numbers for vendors, all parents, honour attendants (best maids/men), your planner/coordinator, and any other key players. Distribute the list and give vendors a specific point of contact for last minute issues. You do not want to be dealing with someone lost trying to deliver a cake before your ceremony begins.
We hope these little nuggets of wisdom will help you keep your feet firmly planted on the ground as you dream about your perfect ceremony and reception. Keeping sight of real-world issues can reduce stress on the wedding day and help you enjoy seeing all your plans come to life.
May 28, 2021
An elopement is a sudden secret wedding, often without parental consent. We’ve seen Covid-era micro-weddings referred to as “eloping” but usually these are just small weddings rather than true elopements. Parental consent isn’t such a big deal in modern times, but sometimes people still choose a sudden secret wedding.
Why get married suddenly? There can be lots of reasons. Maybe you have been together forever and finally decide to make it legal. You may not feel the need to have a lot of wedding fuss because you have been living your vows every day. Maybe your schedule is incredibly busy, and you don’t have time to plan a big wedding day. Or perhaps outside circumstances, such as pregnancy, job opportunity in another country, impending surgery or medical treatment, or end of life diagnosis will play a part. It’s also possible that once the decision to get married is made, you just don’t want to wait.
Why get married secretly? Some people don’t like the spotlight and the idea of standing in front of dozens of people declaring their vows is too nerve-wracking. If this is you, eloping might feel like a huge relief. You may have a challenging relationship with your family, or there may be other challenging relationships within your family. If you’re not convinced your divorced parents can be in the same room together without fireworks, eloping might be for you. It may be that your choice of partner is not approved by your family or friends. If people haven’t been supportive of your relationship, why would you want them at your wedding?
The good news is that eloping is a completely normal and acceptable way to get married. You don’t need permission from anyone!
What do you need to get married? In most of Canada, getting married is very straightforward (Quebec is the exception here.). You need a marriage licence, two witnesses, and a wedding officiant. The witnesses do not have to know you personally, they just are just there to witness you declaring your intent to marry your partner and the officiant pronouncing you as married. You don’t need to have rings or vows, flowers or toasts. All Seasons offers a “Make it Legal” package with its officiants at the location of your choice (your home, a hotel room, a park – you pick!) The Ottawa Wedding Chapel also offers simple, straightforward elopements (with a nicer backdrop than city hall).
Potential side-effects of eloping. You may end up with friends or family who are disappointed they didn’t get to celebrate with you. Weddings are still key milestones that many people feel should be shared. But guess what? Your family or friends can arrange a get-together without a wedding.
Don’t feel guilty if you decide to elope. Your reasons are your own and nobody should feel they have the right to dictate how you decide to tie the knot with your partner. Eloping can be exciting and romantic. Imagine saying “I do” with a Rocky Mountain helicopter ceremony or with an intimate ceremony at the location of your first date.
It will save you a pile of money that you can put toward travelling, purchasing a home, or even just paying down your debt. This alone is a good reason to consider it. The average Canadian wedding costs $29,450 according to Wedding Wire in 2020.
Eloping is less complicated and less stressful than a traditional wedding. There is no need to follow any tradition. Run off and get married on a Tuesday if you want! Get married in your pyjamas at home. Book a hotel for the weekend and spoil yourselves with massages and a fancy dinner, and squeeze in a wedding in between. What is important is that the two of you commit yourselves to your life ahead in a way that feels right to you.
Photos by Marcelo Chagas and Emir Kaan Okutan from Pexels
March 17, 2021
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.