Destination Wedding on the Beach at Home

By Rev. Alan Viau

Destination weddings are increasing in popularity. Unfortunately, not all your friends and family can attend them if it involves air travel. Why not bring the destination home and have some fun with it?

Destination weddings comprise about 15% of all nuptials. They capture your imagination for a romantic getaway event. One consequence of destination weddings is that not all your friends and family can attend. Some couples use a destination wedding for the purpose of having an intimate affair.

If you do want to have a larger gathering of friends and family,  you can bring your destination wedding home. Fran and Dave brought the beach to their house for a tropical theme wedding.

Dave is a mural painter and created a wonderful backdrop for the wedding ceremony. He obtained some sand from the local Home Depot and made a beach front complete with shells on the floor. Drinks and desserts were all beach-themed as well. Believe me with freezing weather outside, it was fun to fantasize being on a Caribbean island.

Fran was accompanied down the stairs for her procession and walked between lit up decorative bags on the floor. We all got comfortable on the ‘beach’ for the ceremony. Both Fran and Dave spoke loving words about what each meant to the other. There was a musical interlude where a friend sang and played guitar. We took a break to sign the register and refill our champagne glasses.

I performed a handfasting ceremony where the couple exchanged vows and then rings. The declaration of marriage and kiss were met with much enthusiasm and the crowd of gathered friends and family were anxious to congratulate them. I gingerly stepped off the ‘beach’ and shook my socks free of sand.

So if you can’t go to the beach, have the beach come to you. Have a themed wedding at home instead.

All Photos by Alan Viau



4 Ways for Wedding Planners to Stand Out from the Crowd

Being able to help a bride make her big day even better can be fun, but event planners know that there’s a lot of behind-the-scenes hustle required before, during and after the wedding and reception.

If you’ve been at this for a while, you understand that along with the joy of helping make dreams come true, there’s high responsibility and pressure. Rather than being a fairy godmother/father who makes everything beautiful, you are sometimes transformed into a problem solver who does everything from tracking down lost groomsmen to vacuuming tossed rice or confetti.

Interestingly, to some, one of the challenging parts of the business is getting the word out about who you are and how great you operate. Here are some suggestions on how to stand out in the crowd:


Word of mouth is the best but it only can go so far, especially if you work in a competitive community. When advertising, remember to think local – Ottawa Wedding Magazine is a recognized and affordable way to reach local brides.  Many bridal sites also offer online vendor directories, sometimes with a free basic listing or an up-sell for a premium listing. Ottawa Wedding Magazine offers a comprehensive listing service that is very popular with couples looking for help planning their weddings. Others charge a membership fee to all vendors but offer to aid them in getting the word out.

Get Certified

Because anyone can set up shop as a wedding planner, you will be more appealing to potential clients if you have additional, specialized training. For instance, you can become certified with an organization like WPIC (Wedding Planners Institute of Canada) which shows that you have a certain degree of training and agree to follow the group’s guidelines. Programs like this offer training, career support, certification and ongoing membership and employment resources.

Network, Network, Network

Along with organizations like WPIC  there may be other formal or informal wedding associations you can join —maybe just a group of local vendors who like to work together, compare notes about local weddings and refer business to each other when brides ask, “Do you know someone who does X?”

Get on Pinterest

We’re assuming you already have a website, blog or Facebook account to better connect with your online customers. But many in the wedding business say the social network that matters most is Pinterest. If you haven’t checked it out, it allows you to ‘pin’ or post photos about any topic you want; either your own or ones you like online. You can show off weddings you’ve arranged, the skills of vendors you like to work with, beautiful gowns, fun décor, favors or anything else clients might enjoy. Your captions also can drive business back to your site for more info. Check out Ottawa Wedding Magazine’s Pinterest

Identify Yourself as a Wedding Expert

Ask the local paper or TV station if they ever need local sources for wedding stories (or submit your articles for consideration on Ottawa Wedding Magazine’s online site here). Offer to write an occasional column, even as a freebie. Then you can use this experience in your marketing efforts and refer to yourself as a published wedding columnist or a TV wedding expert.

I Want a Church Wedding Without the Religion

By Rev. Alan Viau

Do you want a church wedding but are not thrilled with the religious requirements that comes with it? Brides and grooms today can have a church located wedding without the religion. There are more options than you think.

For some couples, part of their dream wedding is to have a marriage ceremony performed in a church. It is considered traditional just like marriage is traditional. However, religious organizations can ask for all sorts of requirements from a bride and groom before agreeing to marrying them in their place of worship.

Some of the most common requirements are:

  • You belong to their membership and follow their religion
  • You both attend a premarital course
  • You need to pay for the church rental, their organist and custodial services
  • You can’t have pictures taken during the service
  • You need to use their standard wedding ceremony with little choice in personalizing it
  • You are faced with rules about using decorations

These can be show stoppers for couples. Luckily there are options available where you can have a church located wedding.

Rent a Church

There are some churches that let you rent their space to have a non-religious wedding. I have performed weddings at Southminister United Church for example. They let you rent out their venue and you provide the officiant, decorations, musicians and photographers. It is worth asking a church to see if they would allow to you book their space.
All Seasons Weddings has a church in Kenmore

There are also former churches that are available. All Seasons Weddings has a beautifully restored former church available. St. Brigids in downtown Ottawa is a converted Catholic Church that is available as well.

Book a Venue with a Church

Some wedding venues have a church available where you can easily move from the ceremony to the reception. Beantown Ranch has a charming country chapel on their site. Once the ceremony is completed, it can be converted to a cocktail area.
Chapel at Beantown Ranch

The Cumberland County Museum has an old country church as part of their exhibits. You can have your wedding there and easily move to a tented reception area on-site. At The Schoolhouse in Munster has access to a church across the street from its reception facilities.

With these possibilities, you can have your dream wedding at a church without all the requirements that come with a religious institution. It really is the best mix of traditional and modern weddings to be able to personalize your wedding including having your own church location.

Photos by Alan Viau

Wedding Open House at the RA Centre/Rideau Tennis Club

Saturday, March 1st 1:00 p.m. to  3:00 p.m.

Location: RA Centre- 2451 Riverside Drive, Ottawa, ON

RA Centre/Rideau Tennis Club – Wedding Open House

Please join us on Saturday, March 1st in the Clark Hall ballroom for delectable hors d’oeuvres and desserts prepared by our Executive Chef. View our reception rooms and have your wedding planning questions answered by our experienced Wedding Coordinators. Draw for a fabulous “Let’s Celebrate!” couples package.

RSVP required: Please call Terri-Lee at (613) 736-6221 or e-mail: to reserve your place today!

For more information please visit us on-line at:

Religious Elements in Your Wedding Ceremony

By Rev. Alan Viau
Photos by: Andrew VanBeek

We all come from different places and backgrounds. I often get asked if religious elements can be added to a ceremony. My answer is … of course!

It may be a difficult decision to have your wedding ceremony outside a church setting. There are various reasons for choosing a non-religious location for your vows. Perhaps your fiance is of a different cultural or religious background than you are. You may not feel comfortable with the doctrines of your birth religion but still feel the need for religious representation. Your church may have you facing a wall of requirements which you don’t feel comfortable with, or don’t ring true with you. Or maybe you are feeling pressure from your families for not holding your wedding in a church.

I talk to couples about this dilemma often, and try to arrive at a solution that makes them feel comfortable. Personally, I will accommodate any religious inclusion in wedding ceremonies I perform. I’ve performed weddings with B’hai, Hindu, Christian, Muslim, Wiccan and Buddhist elements – because that’s where the couple’s spirituality is.

Brides and grooms need to speak openly about spiritual beliefs to a potential officiant. They need to find out if the officiant is willing and able to add the desired religious elements to their ceremony. For example, Humanist officiants can only have secular references in the wedding ceremony. Other officiants may have a personal preference whether to include or exclude some religious traditions. This is perfectly allowable under the Ontario Human Rights Code under freedom of religion, so be open about your desires.

As I said earlier, I go with whatever the couple wants – because it is their wedding and their beliefs. Last weekend, I officiated two weddings where the couples wanted specific Christian references. In those cases, I usually find that a prayer and the inclusion of the Lord’s Prayer satisfies most needs. If they want more, then why not?

I was particularly touched with Jennifer and Michael’s wedding at the Courtyard Restaurant. I was teamed up with photographer, Andrew Van Beek,  and pianist, Kimberley Dunn, both with whom I’ve worked many weddings. This was a bilingual wedding, and I switched from English to French in various sections. One reading was read directly from Jennifer’s birth Bible. Kimberley sang and played an inspiring Ave Maria between readings. The audience was invited to recite the Lord’s Prayer in the language of their choice.

What really touched me was when Jennifer asked me to sign her birth Bible on this special occasion. I tell folks that after 10 years and almost 1000 weddings, I still come across things that are new and hit me in the heart, as this one did. “Best Wishes on Your New Journey and Adventures In Married Life”… Amen

Birth Bible on the Signing Table. Photo by Alan Viau

Wedding Veil Options

By: Diane Farquhar, courtesy of I Just Said Yes

There are so many different types of veils out there to compliment your gown. Some of which to get just the right look should be left up to a veil designer. I will touch on few of the most popular.

Birdcage veil, which is perfect for the outdoor wedding. Imagine, yourself in a beautiful tea length wedding gown with a sweetheart neckline. The Birdcage veil would add the final touch with the french netting it is made of and you can add a feather and or flower to it. Wear it off to the side or across  the front of your face. veil the longest of the veils. Standard is 108′ in length, some even made longer. Great for that big church wedding. Embellishment can be added to compliment your gown.

Mantilla the Spanish veil. Popular lengths are fingertip length 42′ or cathedral length with the wide trim all along the edges of the veil. Goes well with your more simple gown.

The Bubble veil is one that can be made with a lot of flare around the face. A veil that would look good with any gown.

Then of course you have the shoulder, elbow, fingertip and chapel length. Which are all very popular. Can also be designed with a blusher or removable one. All of these veils can be designed with trim and embellishments to compliment your gown.

There is one veil out there that seems to be making a come back. That would be the Juliet cap from the 1920′s. Perfect for the Vintage look.

Some of these styles can be seen in my Etsy shop  I will be adding the Juliet cap to my shop in the next month.

Bridal Shower Themes

by: Samantha Taylor

It is the maid of honor’s duty to organize the bridal shower and to ensure that the party is everything the bride expected. The best way to ensure that everyone will have fun is to create a theme around the bridal shower in which everyone can participate in. The following is a list of fun and exciting themes for bridal showers.

Choose the one that suits the bride the best:

1. Lingerie Bridal Shower – The lingerie theme has become more and more popular in recent years. This type of shower is typically for a younger bride who will be comfortable with the risqué nature of a lingerie bridal shower. Each guest, in lieu of bringing a traditional wedding shower gift, will bring a piece of lingerie for the bride. The groom will reap the benefits of a lingerie shower as well. Chances are the gifts will be put to great use on the honeymoon.

2. Gourmet Bridal Shower – A gourmet bridal shower is perfect for brides who love to cook and sample different kinds of food. Instead of serving traditional snacks like cheese and crackers, ask each guest to bring a gourmet-related dish. Sending out invitations in the shape of foods or hand deliver invitations in an apron to add a little extra pizzazz to your shower.

3. Around-the-Clock Bridal Shower – This is a relatively new bridal shower theme. It requires each guest to bring a gift that the bride and groom can use at a specific point throughout the day. For example, on one person’s invitation it might read 3pm; while on another’s it may read 1am. The gifts are distributed clockwise according to the hours each guest is assigned.

4. Room-of-the-House Bridal Shower – Similar to the “around-the-clock” theme listed above; this theme requires each guest to bring a gift in relation to a specific room in the house. One guest might be assigned the kitchen; while another might receive the bedroom. Each guest would have to choose their gift pertaining to the room on the invitation.

5. Stock the Bar – This theme requires each guest to bring wine, beer, spirits or liquor; which the couple can use to stock their bar at home. You may want to assign each guest a different kind of liquor to ensure that the couple doesn’t end up with 10 bottles of tequila!

The bridal shower theme you choose will have a great impact on the success of your bridal shower. Make sure the theme is suitable for the personality of the bride; otherwise she may be disappointed with the outcome. Also take into consideration the types of gifts the couple could most use. If they already have a stocked bar, a “stock-the-bar” shower won’t be a helpful theme. The outcome of this shower may determine whether or not you’re ever asked to throw another one. But remember, above all, have fun!

About the author:

Samantha Taylor spent several years working in the weddings industry as a wedding planner. When she isn’t being a mom of two wonderful children, she works as a freelance writer for – a site that offers information about everything wedding related – from ways to propose to renting a wedding dress and more.


Wedding Day Beauty Prep

5 steps to your most beautiful bridal self

Two words: wedding photos. As well as the romance and laughter of your special day, photographs will capture your glowing happiness, too. So six months before the wedding, Beauty expert Janine Falcon shares how to get started on the following five steps to your best hair, skin and smile.

1) Get hair into shape. Save dry, damaged and brittle hair with a regimen of reparative shampoo, conditioner and hair masks, starting now. Try weekly treatments with coconut oil, which hair absorbs easily for improved shine and resilience.

2) Take skincare seriously. Breakout issues? See a dermatologist for specialized help. Or maybe a nutritionist or naturopath can assist — what you eat shows up on your face, especially if you have certain food sensitivities, such as dairy or gluten.

Makeup glides flawlessly onto skin that has recently had a good facial. Book one ASAP to see how your skin likes it; if skin says yes! book another for a week before your wedding.

3) Lash out. Grow a thicker fringe in time for “I Do” with a lash-enhancing prescription such as Latisse (, which has proven dramatic results. Or stock up on fluttery lash clusters such as Quo Indivdual Lashes #811 ($7.50 at Shoppers Drug Mart) for your wedding day.

4) Whiten your smile. Whiter teeth=brighter complexion. Ask your dentist about Zoom! WhiteSpeed (price varies, select dental offices), a treatment proven to whiten up to eight shades in 45 minutes. Or try an at-home professional whitening formula such as Zoom! DayWhite or Zoom! NiteWhite (price varies, select dental offices), which offer custom-fit trays and sensitive-teeth options. For instant touch-ups, slip a Zoom! Whitening Pen (price varies, select dental offices) into your wedding-day beauty kit.

5) Choose the right lip colour. Blue-based hues, such as Yves Saint Laurent Volupté Sheer Candy Glossy Balm in 04 Succulent Pomegranate ($39,, will make teeth look even whiter and brighter.

Now smile and say “happily ever after!”

Cruise Ship Weddings are Catching On

By Rev. Alan Viau

An at sea wedding is a very romantic notion. Many cruise companies recognize that these special events need special attention. Cruise companies are offering and upgrading their wedding packages to offer brides and grooms fabulous options for celebrating weddings aboard and at ports of call.

Thousands of couples flock to cruise lines to be married aboard ship every year. For example, Carnival Cruises performs over 2600 weddings each year. Most of the large cruise companies offer wedding cruises including Princess Cruises, Disney Cruise Line, and Celebrity Cruises. There is intense competition among the different cruise lines to  attract brides and grooms to have their nuptials aboard.

When it comes to the actual wedding ceremony, you can’t legally get married at sea. In international waters there is no legal jurisdiction, so there is no mechanism to recognize a wedding performed aboard ship. There is one exception where the Bahamas recognize legal weddings performed aboard ships which are flagged in their country. Therefore, Royal Caribbean International can have legal weddings at sea performed by the Captain.

Other cruise lines perform the actual wedding ceremony within the territorial waters of a country. They offer ceremonies performed both aboard ship on embarkation day or beachside in tropical ports of call. Ceremonies are performed by a the Captain or a wedding officiant (non-denominational official/minister or notary public). Many ships have dedicated wedding chapels.

The cost of a marriage license varies depending on where you are planning on performing the ceremony and you will need to look into the various legal requirements of the location where you are getting married before finalizing your plans. The fees and paperwork submission timelines vary, so be sure to do your homework well in advance of your wedding date.

You can bring your own officiant as well – I’m waiting for that to happen!

Wedding packages vary widely from cruise line to cruise line and wedding package pricing corresponds with the services you are purchasing. A basic 8 person package can be around US$1300 and a full blown experience can be up to US$5000. Most cruise lines seem to offer a good selection around the US$2000 mark.

Make sure you get exactly what you want by carefully considering all the details of each package. Some packages include the services of a personal wedding planner to assist the couple on their special day, as well as priority check-in and boarding for all wedding guests, plus other perks.

Couples can have shipboard celebrations which include a diverse array of lavishly presented culinary options and upgraded beverage service, along with multi-tiered wedding cake choices like chocolate ganache, coconut cream, and red velvet, all baked on board. Enhanced amenities such as a decorated wedding aisle and other traditional touches, along with upgraded champagne flutes and other keepsake items, can be included.

When I am looking outside at the snow storm and -20 C., a wedding aboard ship is really appealing.

All Photos Courtesy of Carnival Cruises.

Behind the Dress – Macy

Content derived from the Vera Wang Blog, Vera Unveiled.

Ivory and nude V-neck sleeveless lace mermaid gown with hand appliquéd Chantilly lace accents and guipure lace back.

Macy is a very soft, really sensual, feminine Luxe dress. It really highlights all the different ways I played with texture in this collection through a collage of so many gorgeous varieties of lace.

I used the mermaid silhouette as a way to combine the laces in an organic way. The body of the gown is made up of two types of laces: fern-patterned guipure lace on the back of the bodice, then pieced together with abstract corded rose lace the entire length of the front.

I placed the corded lace very precisely so that the curves of the exaggerated roses hit the body in all the right places—as a delicate modesty piece at the neckline, and then as a subtle waist-defining element. As that rose lace floats down the top layer of the skirt, suddenly there’s a rich explosion of Chantilly lace accents, all hand-appliquéd onto tulle on top of a nude under layer. It’s a very multidimensional way of collaging the lace. With all the different ways for light to pass through these layers of the skirt, you have such an incredible depth of color tones. And all from such a simple palette of nude and ivory.

This season many of my gowns feature a plunging V in the front and in the back. I really wanted to explore a new way of augmenting the shoulders, different from how a strapless gown would do it. I think having the lace-covered straps here is a wonderful way to accent the shoulders and back—the linear corded lace becomes a drawing against the skin.

Everything about Macy is so soft, from the construction, to the ethereal quality of the lace patterns—geometrically precise, yet still a totally romantic expression of lace.