Support Your Favorites in the First Ottawa Wedding Awards

By Rev. Alan Viau

The Ottawa Wedding Awards recognizes the leaders in the industry who have demonstrated the very best creativity, imagination, and service throughout the year. As voted upon by their peers and those whose lives they have touched, the winners in each category will be selected because they have taken their business to the highest level. With your vote, the companies that have established themselves as the best in the city will be determined.

A notice came out recently that Brian Henry, President and Co-Owner of Quality Entertainment, was announcing a big event – one that has never happened in Ottawa. The Ottawa Wedding Awards were launched in collaboration with Ottawa Wedding Magazine and Ottawa Conference and Event Centre.

Brian Henry

I asked Brian why he started the awards.

“It is an opportunity for couples to recognize those vendors that made their day special – a way of saying thank you. The best vendors make a big difference in people’s lives and we need to appreciate that as a community and an industry.”

In addition, Brian hopes to promote a forum for vendors to socialize and network so that as a collective we can improve the business we are in and generate ideas for the future. Brian is a tireless, positive influence on the Ottawa wedding scene. He never misses a social or business event.

About 100 vendors were nominated for the awards. Vendor voting started April 22 and ends May 13. So far there have been over 5,000 votes cast with many categories in tight contention. So now is your chance to make a difference by voting for those who made a difference in your wedding.  The system permits only one vote per IP address to minimize multiple duplicate entries.

The Ottawa Wedding Awards also announced its highest award,  Wedding of the Year, which will be judged by a panel of industry experts. Submissions will be accepted until May 9th at 12pm. Every individual submitting their wedding must be in attendance on the awards night. The winning wedding will be featured in Ottawa Wedding Magazine.

On May 28th, 2014 at the Ottawa Conference and Event Centre, all the winning vendors will be announced. As a supporter of this event, I will be there at the door greeting attendees. This is an exciting time for the Ottawa wedding scene, one that can plant seeds for a vibrant future.

Tie Choices for the Groom

By Rev. Alan Viau

Men are now choosing to wear a suit instead of a tuxedo for their wedding. Over the 10 years that I’ve officiated weddings, I’ve seen the suit trend growing. What really makes the look of the suit for the groom is the choice of accompanying tie.
The purple of the ties, pocket squares and glasses match the dresses. The girls’ orange glasses and flowers match the guys’ socks.

I was at the Ottawa Wedding Show where menswear vendors were displaying their fashions for grooms. Both had tuxedo rentals. However, the folks at Tip Top Tailors told me that an overwhelming number of grooms are choosing to buy a nice suit for their wedding.

Unlike 30 years ago when I started working and needed a suit every day, today’s workplace is more casual. Buying a suit is now for a special occassion. Today’s groom will shop and buy a suit that he can wear to his wedding and then can wear any other time. He can treat himself to something really nice.

Men tend to buy a dark charcoal suit for a fall or winter wedding. A lighter gray suit is preferred for a spring or summer wedding. Either choice is fabulous to have for any dressy event you’d like to attend after your big day.

Important for accessorizing your wedding suit are the right tie and pocket squares. You will want to choose a solid color option, not multicolored stripes or dots. For you wedding, a solid color tie and pocket square look more dressy and formal. There are so many colors available that you can match the color of your tie with your bride’s wedding colors if you wish. For example, if you look at Beau Ties Ltd selection, you can see that they have a great selection of solid colors.

And if you want a little more formal look still, you can go for a solid color bow-tie with matching cummerbund.

There are also stunning black ties and bow-ties available if you wanted to keep the traditional look with your suit.

So come on guys, get out there and splurge a little on yourself. Get a great looking and fitting suit with a splash of color to make you look dashing on your wedding day!

Don’t Miss the Handmade Bride Indie Wedding Show April 19

By Rev. Alan Viau

“Things are gearing up for the most wonderful, exciting, alternative, super fabulous, handmaking, eco-friendly, queer loving, sing-songiest wedding show in town!” says Meaghan Brunetti, show organizer and owner of The Handmade Bride shop in Ottawa.

Meaghan had a tough time planning her wedding as an alternative modern bride and saw a hole in the wedding industry in Ottawa. “I wanted to create a fun, relaxed environment where brides could come to shop for their wedding and where they could find high quality, handmade and gorgeous wedding stuff!” And so the shop and the show were born.

Meaghan has lined up 30 of the most unique and interesting indie wedding vendors in Ottawa for you to peruse on April 19th,  from 11am to 4pm at the Memorial Hall, 39 Dufferin Rd in New Edinburgh.

Here are three reasons to go to this show:

1) The Handmade Bride (across the street from the show) will be hosting a Maureen Patricia trunk show. (That means she will be bringing her whole collection to the shop as well as launching her new collection that day!)

2) The first 50 couples through the door get an awesome swag bag FULL of goodies like locally made caramels, handmade soaps, a CD of first dance songs, artisan marshmallows and other cool stuff!

3)A chance to enter to win a grand prize including a custom made infinity dress (so amazing for your rehearsal dinner and honeymoon!) from The Handmade Bride among other neat-o things.

The Handmade Bride Indie Wedding Show is a rare opportunity to purchase handmade items for your wedding, so come out and see what’s available.


The 3 Challenges for Amateur Wedding Photographers

By Rev. Alan Viau

I hear this answer often when I ask who is taking the wedding pictures, “A friend with a good camera”. A good camera does not a good photographer make. It would be like me climbing into a NASCAR saying I am a contender. I might be able to drive the car, but I won’t win the race.

Your wedding is important. Some deem it to be the most important day of your life. Certainly when I married my sweetheart, I considered our wedding day to be a milestone of my life – one I still believe to be life changing. I’ve loved my 33 years with her. When it came to deciding on a wedding photographer – we wanted someone who would do a quality job. Every year on our anniversary, we haul out the photo album, chuckle at the cigar picture and remember the day – over a glass of bubbly.

So I am always somewhat stunned when couples who will spend thousands on their day will skimp on a professional photographer and have a ‘friend’ do it. I’ve seen many an amateur photographer struggle and stress over three challenges.


Wedding locations do no all have ideal lighting conditions. They seem to be either too dim or back-lit. Both conditions do not bother a professional since they have encountered them before and know what to do. I’ve seen a bride and groom wait a whole two minutes and ruin their walk down the aisle so the photographer could try to adjust the camera for a bright background. Professionals would have already planned that shot and adjusted accordingly.

Catch the Moment

There are key times during the day when predictable and surprising special moments can occur. A professional knows about these and anticipates them whereas an amateur does not. These moments are fleeting and need to be captured or they will be gone forever. And it is not only about the bride and groom, but the audience around them as well . A pro is environment aware.

Post-Shoot Editing

We live in a digital age. Many people can take some nice shots. But a professional has the experience and expertise to transform your photo into a piece of art in post-shoot editing. The taking of the photo requires compositional talents and the post-shoot editing is where the photographer expresses their art. You can distinguish the photographers ‘look’ by their website gallery. How have they represented the bride and groom? Are they dreamy, dramatic, vintage, realistic or surrealist? Most amateur shots are ‘nice’ shots. They are not artistic.

When I am asked, I always advise brides and grooms to hire a professional whose gallery photos make you go “Wow”. These are the kind of wedding photos you want to have to remember your day – your story – 30 years later over a glass of bubbly.

Wedding Reception Kissing Game Ideas

By Diane Farquhar, courtesy of I Just Said Yes

What kind of wedding reception kissing game should you do? You have just been introduced and are seated at the head table. Your master of ceremonies starts welcoming the guests and makes a few announcements. Some of the items he may mention are: welcoming everyone for coming, give directions to bathrooms, and let guests know if the bar will be open or closed during dinner.

One topic that the MC will share with the guests is how the bride/groom have decided “how they will kiss”. Traditionally , clanging of the dishes is the normal way but this is becoming less and less popular. Actually, most venues prefer that guests do not hit their dishes. Not only can it cause damage to the dishware but can become an annoying sound to all the guests.

Let’s look at some new and cool ideas instead. I know I have touched on some of these areas in my previous posts. How about a hula hoop or ring toss. What about having the guests sing a love song, tell a joke or story about the bride and groom? You can even add games like a putting contest, roulette wheel or twister.

How about balloons with a note inside? The guest must pop the balloon and follow the instructions that are inside the ballroom no matter how silly it may be. Have you ever considered a donation box that is left at the head table? Each time a guest wants you to kiss they can put some change in the charity box. What a nice idea to give back! Place a bowl of Hershey kisses on each guest table and every-time a guest bring a Hershey kiss to the bride/groom they kiss and then have to eat the chocolate!

Let the D.J. get in on the action and have guests request a song and when he plays it the bride/groom have to kiss. You can preset maracas, thunder sticks, whistles and when the guests start to use these that is the sign for the bride/groom kiss. If this may be too loud for you then have all the guests wave their napkins in the air. Nice to work it out with the D.J and add a little music with the napkin waving.

There are endless options out there and if none of these interest you then try to create your own idea. It’s just another way to get your guests involved in the evening and have fun!

Easy and Unique Themed Wedding Ideas

By Kora Burnham

If you’re looking to have a non-traditional wedding but are intimidated by how extravagant and expensive they look, there are several affordable ways you can make your wedding stand out. With do-it-yourself invites, decorations, and favours, you can find creative ways that will really tie your themed wedding together, all without going over your budget.


Steampunk is a science fiction genre that takes inspiration from Victorian times, sprinkled with a bit of western industrial machinery and technology. The colour schemes are often dark; blacks, silver and gold, greys, browns, and faded greens. Think rusted gears, skeleton keys, nuts and bolts, and big, black engines.

Other popular imagery includes clocks, goggles, hot air balloons, motorcycles, and flying ships.

DIY Steampunk Wedding Invites:

  • Stain your cardstock with coffee or black teas. Try Earl Grey, English Breakfast, or Chai.
  • Use rubber stamps featuring hot air balloons, clocks, gears, or keys.
  • Download free retro or calligraphy fonts from Dafont, or design your own.
  • Black or brown faux leather – used sparingly – can add extra detail.




The Ottawa area has several farms that offer wedding services to guests looking for a country-

themed wedding. Having farm-themed decorations, such as horse shoes, old mason jars, and wood accents, will tie your wedding together nicely.

Whether you want an old western theme with cowboy hats and boots, or you prefer a simple back-woods vibe, these local farms offer wedding services and packages:


Enchanted Forest

For the outdoors-y type, surrounding yourself in towering trees, the scent of pine or leaves, and cool ponds is perfect for a fresh air wedding. There are several gorgeous forests and lodges in the Ottawa area open for weddings for those seeking a bit of outdoor adventure. Use colour schemes inspired by the season of your wedding.

DIY Forest-Themed Center Pieces:

  • Fill mason jars with fake moss, sticks, leaves, acorns, or pinecones.
  • Purchase fake bird’s nests and wrap leaves, flowers, or vines around the outsides.
  • Use thinly-cut wood discs as stands for candles or jars.
  • Tie butterfly or moth decorations to lantern handles.

Film Noir

If you’re a classic film buff, take a trip back in time with a black and white themed wedding. Decorate with second-hand hardcover books, hand-held mirrors, and bird cages. Top it off with a few swing or jazz-inspired songs to tie the theme together. If you want a bit of colour, add a splash of red for accents.

Vintage-Inspired Table Decorations:

  • An old typewriter with pages nearby for fun notes and comments.
  • Alternatively, an old, large mirror and a basket of red lipstick.
  • Vintage suitcase filled with party favours.
  • Old jars with jellybeans, lollipops, mints, and other sweets.




Caribbean Beach

Even if you can’t escape to the tropics for your wedding ceremony, that doesn’t mean you can’t bring the beach to your wedding. Vibrant yellows and oranges will bring a feeling of sun-inspired warmth, and aqua, blues, and teals the refreshing tones of the ocean to your wedding. Glasses filled lightly-dyed blue water and smooth rocks, or jars with sand, seashells, or starfish make great center pieces and decoration.


Beach-Themed Favours:

  • Sunglasses and flip-flops, set inside colourful beach pails or picnic baskets.
  • Shell-shaped bath soaps, or homemade sugar scrub.
  • Seahorse, fish, and octopus-shaped sugar cookies.
  • Beach-in-a-Bottle jars with sand and shells, for decoration.

Mason jars make excellent decorations for any occasion and can be found at most hardware and dollar store, and, if you’re looking for something older, antique shops. Craft stores are excellent for DIY projects, and many home décor shops have a variety of interesting items that are sure to fit your theme.


Join Me at The Ottawa Wedding Show April 5-6, 2014

By Rev. Alan Viau

The re-launched Ottawa Wedding Show on April 5-6, 2014 at the E&Y Centre is a fabulous opportunity to get inspired.  This is an “event” not just a show – with this year’s spring show being all about Hollywood Glam.

Join me on April 5 to hear me talk about weddings at 9:45 am and 2 pm at the show. I’ll be having a book signing in between to answer your questions from 11am until 2pm.

A wedding show is where you get to explore your choices and talk to the vendors. Find out what’s available and who you’d like to work with for your special day.

Venue: This choice is one of your most important decisions. At the show you will find three types of venues:

Nature/ Rural Venues: These locations have access to natural settings. They are far enough out of town that you can go for an outside stroll and see the stars. Beautiful pictures can be taken at sunset.

Urban Locations:If you like a more modern setting that is easy to get to, then an urban location maybe your choice. There is a great variety of food and decor available to match your wedding dream. Each venue has its own personality that you can assess at the show.

Large Venues: Most venues typically will max out their guest accommodation at about 180 people. If your wedding guest list is larger than this, you will need to seriously look at larger locales that can take care of both small and large weddings. Many larger venue can also host your ceremony, indoors and outdoors.

Food: Weddings are often remembered for the food that was served. Good food is  something everyone loves to indulge in. There will many choices at the show, so key considerations are what type of food you’d like and how and where it is to be served.

The type of food offered at your wedding can reflect what you love to eat. For example, it can be of a certain ethnic flare such as East Indian or Mexican. Dishes can range from pub food to haute cuisine. Whatever you select it must, of course, fit into your budget.

It is important to consider dietary restrictions for your guests. The two biggest requests are vegetarian and gluten free items. Make sure that the quality of these alternative dishes are at the same level as the mainstream dish. For example, it would be inappropriate to serve roast beef and have a pasta primavera as the vegetarian option.

Photography: Your wedding day will seem a like it goes by in a flash. For months you have planned it and then you feel that the day went too quickly. There will be much going on that you’ll be in sensory overload. This is why you need a professional photographer to capture the moments of the day – so that you can re-live them for years to come. How do you choose the right photographer? It comes down to three points: style, personality, and price.

The Ottawa Wedding Show will give you the opportunity to examine many of your choices, and of course you can come by and chat with me. See you there.