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.
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.
The holiday season is upon us and as the year is coming to an end, your wedding planning may be on hold until the new year. If you haven’t started planning your summer 2018 wedding, you’ve still got time.
We have put together a list of things to start working on as soon as the holiday festivities are over. We cover the most important reservations that you must secure before you lose some important vendors and dates due to unavailability:
Create or buy a wedding binder that will hold all the important details of your wedding in one place. Use it to stay organized, store your contracts and receipts, and add any articles or ideas that you may want to use later. It might seem a little bridezilla, but it’s really a great planning tool.
Create a budget for your wedding and stick to it. Determining your budget will enable you to decide on the type of venue you want, if you can afford a reception, the number of guests you can invite, and the level of luxury implemented in your wedding components.
A guest list will help you determine your budget, your wedding party, and the size of the venue that you may need. Leave room to include the full names of your guests, contact information, and addresses. Include an RSVP section as this will be your master guest list which you can make copies of for your vendors. Purchase your invitation cards, or plan your online invites, as soon as your list is finalized.
Securing a venue is the first booking that you must focus on. Your venue(s) will host your ceremony and reception. Many venues get booked years in advance and if you still haven’t booked one yet, it is time to start making inquiries regarding availability and quotes. If you are planning to have the wedding at a private residence, then it would a good idea to inspect the house and the backyard and front yard. Familiarize yourself with the space and put yourself in your guests’ shoes. What would they need? What do you want them to see once they come in and what path do you wish for them to take to get to their seating area?
A wedding should always be documented. Decades from now, you, your children and your grandchildren will want to see you on your special day. Ensure that you book a photographer ahead of time, the good ones get booked fast. If you have a friend who is good with a camera, you could ask them to document the day for you.
Book your Officiant
Officiants are usually booked a year in advance for weekend dates. Booking early means you will have more choices.
The entertainment will depend on your musical taste and your guests. If you have always envisioned a live band at your wedding, it is a good idea to try and watch them performing at another event before booking them. Another option is a DJ who will offer a large selection of music. Consider if you need music over dinner or during the ceremony itself.
If your venue does not offer catering options then you may want to meet with several different caterers. Competition is high in the catering industry, so you may be able to get a lower price for what you’re seeking in terms of quantity and quality, if you check several companies. Keep in mind the dietary restrictions and allergies of your guests.
Create a timeline of all the events that will unfold during the wedding day. (ceremony start time, dinner, first dance, cutting the cake, etc…) Punctuality is important for vendors and your guests.
It’s not too early to work on some of your other purchases as well. A wedding dress/suit may need alterations or tailoring. Your ideas for flowers can be discussed with a florist to ensure they are feasible. Wedding cakes can be tasted in advance and designs discussed.
Each wedding is unique and has all sorts of small details that make it special. This list contains only the essentials that you should consider well in advance. There are many more elements that can be added to customize your wedding as you move through the planning process.
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!
A Parry Sound, Ontario woman has been charged this week with solemnizing weddings without lawful authority. Michelle Bottineau was charged after a couple she conducted a ceremony for complained to local authorities about not receiving their marriage certificate.
Authorities investigated and discovered that a second couple married by Bottineau was facing the same difficulties in obtaining their certificate. She was charged by local law enforcement with:
-Fraud under $5000
-Forging legal documents and credentials
-Pretending to solemnize weddings without lawful authority
The police suspect more illegal marriages, and they are reaching out to any couples who may have used the services of Bottineau.
We have seen other cases where con artists conduct fraudulent ceremonies for the sake of quick gain. While these couples will eventually have their marriages recognized by the province, they will experience delays in receiving their marriage certificate.
At the Ottawa Wedding Chapel and All Seasons Weddings we always advise our couples to consult the following directory which lists every licensed officiant in Ontario. A confirmation of your officiant’s credentials may save you a lot of trouble and paperwork in the future.