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 have 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!
More and more, we’re spending time thinking about the effects of our life choices on the environment. Why should your wedding be any different? As a (hopefully) once-in-a-lifetime event, weddings can get crazy and extravagant and wasteful. Even if you aren’t willing to commit to everything on this list, we hope you will at least think about the impact of your wedding and try to take some steps to make it greener.
Keep it small: A trimmed down guest list means less of everything – less travelling, less waste, less energy used.
Travel: Travel has the biggest impact on your carbon footprint. It makes sense to host the wedding in the location where the fewest number of people have to travel long distances. Skip the destination wedding. Keep your ceremony and reception close together to limit travel or consider supplying group travel (party bus anyone?). Also think about your honeymoon. A local getaway, cycling adventure, train travel or sailing are all greener options.
Vendors that match your sensibilities: There are some who specialize in green weddings. At the very least ask questions of your vendors and let them know low-waste and sustainability are important to you. That’s how we change the status quo, making our preferences known and deciding with our dollars!
Wedding favours: Consider skipping them altogether or having something compostable like fancy cookies, flower seeds, tree seedlings, locally made maple syrup in a glass container, etc. Buy from a local business or DIY. Or in lieu of favours, let guests know that you are making a donation to an eco charity.
Décor: Rent or buy second-hand and resell when you are finished. Look for natural materials instead of plastic. Avoid balloons, especially balloon releases where you are sending pieces of plastic into the air with no knowledge of where they will come down or who/what may find them.
Rings: Buy ethically sourced gemstones, and if possible, consider a creation from a local jeweler. Some jewelers will reuse gold or stones you already have to make something new. A vintage family ring can be a lovely idea as well and can be resized if needed.
Flowers: Focus on blooms that are locally grown and in-season to cut down on shipping. Or go for a boho wildflower bouquet you gather yourself.
Clothing: For the happy couple, think about rentals, second-hand/consignment, or consider sustainable fabrics from local/national designers. Let wedding party members wear something they already own or at least let them select the outfit if you want them to purchase something new so they will be more likely to keep it and wear it for years to come. Princess Beatrice recently got married in a gown that was pre-owned by Queen Elizabeth II. Even the royals are embracing second-hand!
Dinner: Ask your caterer if they use local products and what they do with food waste. Consider local wines and beer. A plated meal produces less waste than a buffet.
Tablescape: Potted plants or succulents can make for stunning tables, and guests can take them home at the end of the night. Think about locally available flowers and greenery and other natural materials like woodcuts, pinecones, apples, etc.
So, get your thinking cap on and spend this winter imagining all the green and sustainable options you have for your wedding day.
Small, intimate weddings are a developing trend forced upon us by the Covid-19 pandemic as it has become impossible to stage large events where all your friends and family can mingle together and celebrate. However, many couples have found the silver lining to these small events, with some even saying it was a relief to be able to step away from planning a big wedding.
Planning a large event is stressful and while a smaller event also requires planning, it gives you the opportunity to be more flexible and perhaps enjoy the journey even more.
Loving all your guests
One of the best things about a small wedding is the freedom to invite only those you actually wish to attend. No need to debate inviting the layers of cousins or friends of your parents. A small wedding lets you focus on the ones you know and love. Knowing you will be surrounded by only your closest friends and family relieves the pressure of doing things conventionally or “properly” or living up to certain expectations. You can be yourselves as your guests already know your quirks, likes, sense of humour and personalities.
A smaller guest list equals a smaller budget. Have a lovely wedding and still have cash in the bank for future travel or a down payment on a home or a car? What a great idea!
Focusing on a few luxury details
If you love flowers, make them a focus. If you are a foodie, make that your priority. Or live music. If you couldn’t care less about the wedding cake, opt for another dessert and your guests will never miss it. Forgo anything that isn’t meaningful to you. Photo booths, save the date cards, formal invitations, a DJ, or first dances can all be skipped. Bottom line: focus on the elements that are important to you as a couple and that will help create lasting memories.
Treating your guests well
A smaller guest list may give you the funds to step up the catering — spring for the extra course or the more expensive entrees. You can employ a private chef to prepare a custom menu of all your favourites. Shine a light on creative mixology with some signature cocktails. Leave a handwritten note at each place setting to let the guests know what they mean to you. Consider a car service to get everyone home so no one has to be the designated driver.
Flexibility of venue
With a smaller group you can get creative with the venue. Talk to your favourite restaurant, small gallery or museum, or consider locations that your own families may have access to like cottages or ski chalets. Think about your favourite outdoor spots. Transform your backyard. A small group has the mobility to shift to a plan B at the last moment if there is rain. You have the chance to select a ceremony location that means something to you.
Take the opportunity to DIY and give things a personal touch. Baking heart-shaped cookies or making strawberry jam as a takeaway for 150 guests seems overwhelming, but you could probably do it for 15 people. Your table(s) will only need a few centrepieces rather than dozens, so it’s a great way to give your table a personal stamp without a huge time commitment. Or design your own focal point for the ceremony (an archway or backdrop).
A small wedding gives you the ability to take advantage of pop-up wedding opportunities. During the Covid-19 pandemic many wedding venues and planners have pivoted to provide luxury wedding packages for small groups at a reasonable price. If you had dreams of a swanky venue or top-notch planner that were just out of reach financially, a package deal like this may be just the thing.
Focus on the ceremony
A smaller guest list doesn’t necessarily mean a quick, get ‘er done ceremony. Every aspect of your day should get the royal treatment. You might want to include a sand ceremony, candle lighting, handfasting, or wine or rose ceremony. You can have some important guests participate by reading a poem or other special reading. Don’t forget to live stream for guests who can’t make it.
Small weddings are now a trend and we’d love to see them stick around. By embracing your own wee wedding, you’ll soon realize there’s a lot to love about going small. And if you must, throw a big bash in a year or two when large parties are once again allowed. It will be both less expensive and less stressful!
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.
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.
You want your wedding guests to feel pampered and well-fed, and you also want a chance to visit with as many of them as possible. A fancy sit down dinner will accomplish the first part of that equation, but not the second. The answer may be a cocktail style reception, that will allow your guests to mingle more. But will your friends and family still be well fed? Absolutely, if you do it right!
We recently served a charcuterie board buffet for 65 at the Ottawa Wedding Chapel. Not only does charcuterie allow you to include some high end and expensive meats and cheeses, without breaking the bank, it also avoids the potential disappointment of hot hors d’oeuvres gone cold. You can have something for everyone and allow guests to explore their palate, while still providing some standard favourites.
Charcuterie = tastes & textures
We tempted the guests at our recent reception with pumpkin hummus (fitting our fall-themed table décor) and locally made rhubarb chutney. These slightly unusual tastes were balanced out by more familiar cream cheese.
Charcuterie is all about providing a variety of tastes and textures, so we included soft and hard cheeses, spicy salamis and subtle cured meats, crisps and soft bread, fresh grapes and dried apricots, olives and nuts. Because the food is meant to be served at room temperature, there isn’t a rush to get everyone fed. Folks can nibble throughout the reception.
A cocktail style reception also allows you to hold your event in a smaller (and perhaps more affordable) space, because you don’t need so many tables. We had a handful of tall cocktail tables, as well as some seating around the outside of the room. You are also saving on the cost of servers – far fewer catering staff are required for a buffet style reception.
Passing on a traditional sit-down dinner also gives you the flexibility to change up other wedding traditions. No one will notice if you skip out on the speeches, for example. While you’re at it, why not forego the fancy, and expensive, wedding cake and instead have bite-sized portions of all your favourite desserts.
Charcuterie restaurants are still riding a wave of popularity, don’t be afraid to jump on it for your wedding reception. The benefits are many, one of the biggest being you will spend more face time with your guests.