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.
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.
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!
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.
Over the years, we’ve had many wedding rehearsals at the Ottawa Wedding Chapel. From this experience we have concluded that: A rehearsal is great….
If it’s tricky.
With a large wedding party, a rehearsal is recommended. You are co-ordinating a lot of bodies who need to enter the wedding space, get to the right place to stand, and exit the space in an orderly fashion. If your venue has any challenges (wedding party will be spaced at varying intervals on a set of stairs for example) or is outdoors and you have a back-up rain plan you want to review, it makes sense to have a rehearsal. If you have a complicated wedding party entrance (separate songs for different people entering the wedding space or different musical cues for entrances), it wouldn’t hurt to review the timing with a rehearsal.
If you’re nervous.
Your wedding day is your day. If a rehearsal is going to give you peace of mind, do it! It can be calming to run through the physical motions of entering, walking down the aisle, and seeing exactly where everyone will be standing as you say, “I do.”
If the wedding party needs to bond.
Your wedding party might pull together friends and family from different parts of your life that haven’t previously mingled. A rehearsal is one way to get them all face to face and maybe have a few laughs before the big day. Have dinner afterward (or before) and keep people chatting.
There must be someone in charge. Without a leader, a rehearsal can drag on all night. Your wedding co-ordinator is an obvious choice if you have one. Your venue may have a co-ordinator who can help you out. Or you could appoint a friend or relative with an organizational streak and a commanding voice – preferably someone outside the wedding party. Make sure this director knows exactly what you want. You should aim to walk through the entrances and exits from the wedding space at least twice. More times if you are working out details of timing/music selection as you go.
What about the officiant?
You can have a useful and beneficial rehearsal without the officiant or celebrant present. After all, they already know where they are going to stand! All Seasons officiants will schedule a planning meeting with you about a month before the wedding, where they will go over all the ceremony details.
With that said, the officiant may be a natural choice to direct your rehearsal. They have a bounty of wedding experience and may be able to offer suggestions for where people should stand or how transitions could take place. They often have strong leadership qualities….and loud voices.
Things to avoid
It’s best to avoid having too many extra people at the rehearsal. It is nice to spend time chatting, but there is a task to accomplish. Invite the plus ones to dinner or drinks after.
Keep an eye on the clock. Even though these last preparations before the big day are exciting, don’t let the rehearsal drag on too long. People will burn out and quit listening. As well, your venue may cap you at an hour or hour and a half and you want to make sure you cover all the important details.
Don’t worry so much. Even with a lengthy rehearsal and carefully scripted plan, things may go awry. A flower girl who missed her nap may decide not to walk down the aisle or the ceremony programs might get left behind. Just breathe and carry on.
It’s your big day and you want to have fun. And you want your wedding guests to enjoy themselves. So how do you do it? We’ve got some suggestions to add some playfulness to your pledges.
Set the wedding tone in advance
Clever or witty invitations and RSVP cards will give guests a clue of what is to come. You could include a silly photo of the two of you. Examples abound on the internet.
Finding the right officiant is key. Interview officiants before booking to make sure you find someone who jives with your sense of humour. Your officiant should be agreeable to including some humour into your ceremony in the form of anecdotes about your relationship, some personalized vows, or a funny poem or reading. At All Seasons, you will find an officiant who will deliver a ceremony that suits you.
Create a program that include nicknames or fun facts about each member of the wedding party. Make it lighthearted by using some fun fonts or including a picture or artwork.
Aisle of smiles
There’s room for humour in your ceremony procession too. All Seasons officiants have seen some wacky and wonderful stuff, from a bearer of rings dressed as a bear to a burly six-foot “flower boy” who danced down the aisle tossing flower petals as the replacement for a young flower girl who couldn’t make it. There are also a ton of cute signs you can make to have kids carry as part of the procession.
Make a joyful noise
Provide noisemakers or bells to guests to use at the ceremony when you share your first kiss and at the end when you are formally announced as a married couple. Bubbles are also fun for young and old guests and can make for some nifty photos outside.
Lead the way by taking some lighthearted and goofy pictures with your wedding party. It will get you laughing at yourselves and each other. A photo booth with props can encourage guest shenanigans at the reception. Create a wedding hashtag so everyone can share and get in on the fun.
Set the example at your wedding reception. Let loose and show your guests you’re ready to have fun; they will follow. You could co-ordinate a fun first dance or play the “shoe game” or do something else to get guests giggling.
Let the small stuff roll off you
Chances are, not everything will go perfectly. Despite the best planning, there can be hiccups on your wedding day. Make the decision ahead of time to go with the flow and try not to let a small mistake or problem take the fun out of your wedding. Go into the day with a relaxed attitude and a smile and you’ll be laughing until the last dance of the night.
White beaches, soft breezes, gorgeous sunsets, there is no denying that tying the knot in a southern paradise has appeal. Before you get swayed by the idea of palm trees in your wedding pictures, however, think it through. Getting married in a foreign country can be complicated. It may be easier to have the legal paperwork taken care of in Canada before stepping on the plane to your sunny destination.
Elope at home first
Here are a few reasons why: To avoid having to get your documents translated into a language other than French/English.
Once documents are translated, some countries require you to have them legally certified by a professional, and legalized by the Embassy/consulate.
Documents may then have to be translated to French/English in order to register your marriage here in Canada.
There are more documents required in some countries than needed in Canada and some countries require a blood test!
Some resorts require minimum stays and a minimum number of rooms.
Some countries require couples to be in the country for a certain number of days prior to the wedding.
Friends/family that can’t make the trip to your sunny destination may come to a Canadian ceremony. Maybe Grandma is too frail to make the trip, but would still love to see you get married. Perhaps some friends don’t have the cash to join your vacation.
Much easier to correct a mistake on legal documentation if it occurred in Canada rather than dealing with authorities in another country, possibly in another language.
Easier to check legal credentials of Canadian officiants.
Greater possibility of the ceremony in language of choice (if French/English).
Ability to order a marriage certificate from your home province.
Two days of celebration, rather than one!
It’s a lot to think about. Do your homework to find the hidden costs of your destination of choice. In the end, it may make more sense to conduct a small elopement ceremony on Canadian soil so your destination wedding really will be a walk on the beach.
Sometimes couples have kids before they get married; with each other or from other relationships. When this is the case, the marriage ceremony takes on a whole new dynamic. It may be a blending of families. Aside from the obvious roles of flower girls, ring bearers, and junior bridesmaids or groomsmen, there are a ton of other great ways to include the kids.
Take part in the vows
You can mention your children by name in your wedding vows, or even have the officiant address a question to them. For example, “Do you promise to work together and share your love with this new family being created today?”
Token or gift
You can include gifts for the kids in the ceremony to give them something tangible to remember the day and provide a feeling of inclusion. It can be jewelry, a rose, or some other token.
The kids can walk mom down the aisle. Add bubble blowers, bell ringers, or sign carriers to the procession.
In Ontario, the Record of Solemnization is the portion of the marriage licence that you sign and keep after the wedding. (The officiant sends the other signed portion to the government for registration.) It is a keepsake and not a legal document, so it’s okay if the kids sign too.
At the Ottawa Wedding Chapel, many of our officiants love to use a sand ceremony as a visual representation of the blending of families. Each member of the family has a colour of sand in a container. They slowly pour them into a clear communal container making a colourful final product that can be kept and used to remind the kids of their important place in the family. Just as the grains of sand can never be separated into their individual containers again, so the family will be joined together.
This ceremony can also be done using candy if that will keep the kids’ attention!
Keep in mind short attention spans when planning for kids to take part in your ceremony. Standing up at the front on display for the entire ceremony might be too much for some kids. And the pressure of all those eyes might bring on a bout of shyness. On the other hand, some kids will go to town once given the spotlight – they might carry on and be disruptive to the remainder of the ceremony. Be sensitive to the personalities of the children…. And of nap times, a tired child is often a grumpy child.
Please consult with children before assuming they will want to take part in the ceremony. You don’t want them to feel resentful of having to participate. The second marriage of a parent can be an emotional event, even if the child has a good relationship with the incoming step-parent – your child might prefer not to be at the centre of attention as they struggle with the feelings of the day.
By working together with your officiant and consulting with your partner and the kids, you will be able to find a ceremony that will fit your family perfectly.
Outdoor weddings are often fun and are enhanced by the beauty of nature. Being outdoors presents a lot of advantages, but there are also many factors that may cause calamity.
Here is a list of things to consider:
1. Bad weather is your worst enemy
Bad weather will ruin your wedding, if you are not prepared for it. Make sure to have cozy blankets ready in case the temperature drops, shade areas to combat the heat. Umbrellas and cover areas will also come in handy, so unexpected showers don’t take you and your guests by surprise.
2. Care packages
Be prepared with all the essentials your guests may need for an outdoor wedding. You might include include blankets, sunscreen, band aids, emergency contact list, bug repellent, flashlights, fans, bottles of water, and flip flops for the sake of dancing!
Some venues allow guests to bring their own wine to weddings for a flat fee paid by the host of the event. This is a great method to save money and allow your guests to enjoy the alcoholic beverages which they prefer the most. If you are having a wedding in your backyard or estate, then this option would offer a variety of selection. You would have to provide the glasses and maybe a self-serve bar area.
4. Tell your guests where to go
Regardless of the layout and theme which you have for your outdoor wedding, make sure that your guests are clear on where to go and what is expected of them. Provide clear signage to where everything is from the bar to the bathroom.
Do your best to windproof your décor as a gust of wind can make everything go flying, including food and beverages. You don’t want a big spot of red wine on your wedding dress!
6. Manage the heat creatively
A hand held fan may a blessing during a hot outdoor wedding ceremony. Be creative by putting your wedding program on a fan; your guests will memorize your wedding program by the end of the ceremony. Make sure to keep your guests hydrated — not just beer and wine! An ice cream cart with a selection of frozen treats would be a hit with guests, because who hates ice cream?
7. Save the Flowers!
Ask your florist to mist the flowers if you are expecting a very hot day.
If your wedding plans will plunge into the darkness of the night, then string lights may be the best option for you. They are easy to set-up, and if you have trees around then you can create a magical forest feeling for your guests. Placing camping lanterns underneath table clothes will enhance that magical feel.
There is a lot of flexibility when it comes to the words and actions that you use to proclaim your love and support to your spouse at your wedding. The right wedding officiant will be willing to perform a personalized and beautiful ceremony that will represent your love story.
If you would like to have traditional elements such as the bride’s father walking her down the aisle, vows that include words such as “in sickness and in health, richer and poorer,” a reading of 1 Corinthians (Love is patient, love is kind…), or a kiss to seal the deal, then by all means, include them. However, there is no reason to feel bound by convention.
The ceremony can include stories and jokes, it can reference your favourite movies or the activities, sports, or hobbies that brought you together or helped your relationship grow. Throw in a favourite song, dance down the aisle, or read a poem. The right officiant will be flexible and understanding and want to work with you.
Legally, the ceremony must include a question of intent to each partner (Do you bride, take groom to be your husband?), the signing of the marriage license by the couple and two witnesses, and the officiant pronouncing the couple as married.
Ask for what you want
The point is, most of the ceremony content is up to you. Don’t be shy! Ask your officiant for what you want. Choose an officiant who will listen to your vision and help you make it a reality. Some weddings officiants are willing to go even further and will dress the part for a theme wedding!
There are great ways to include your children in your wedding. Sand ceremonies or rose ceremonies can make kids feel included and can offer a visual representation of the new family being created. Children can also sign the “record of solemnization” portion of the marriage licence. It is the keepsake portion of the licence that you will keep.
Pets can be included too. Make sure you find an officiant who will be comfortable with this and make sure you have someone to help pet-sit after the ceremony – after taking some cute fur-baby wedding photos.
A good officiant will be able to make suggestions for your ceremony content, work with you to develop the ceremony you want, and then manage the flow of the ceremony on the big day by soothing nerves and high emotions and reminding you to look at your partner – the reason for the festivities in the first place. On your big day, let your personality shine!