Wedding Ceremonies and Reception at Same Location

By Diane Farquhar, courtesy of I Just Said Yes

The ceremony is without a doubt, the most important part of the wedding.  This is where the two of you become one in front of your family and friends.

There are so many ceremony sites to choose from; church, outside park, winery, historical museum, backyard or at the reception venue itself.  If your pastor or clergy will do it outside of the church, or you choose to do a non-denominational service, I would strongly suggest to have the ceremony at the same place as your reception.  You can offer the service in the late afternoon, around 4:00pm – 4:30pm which usually lasts about a half hour max and then immediately follow with appetizers and drinks – nothing is worst than a long wait for a long receiving line followed by a long wait for a drink!  The bride/groom can sneak away for pictures and then return for a quick mix and mingle with guests and then dinner.

You can choose to set up some chairs on the dance floor while the remaining guests can stand around you or can have all guests be seated at their tables and watch the service from there.  If the venue offers a separate room or has outdoor facilities then you can book that strictly for the service.

Guests love having to go to only one destination for both service and reception.  This is also great help to the immediate family because they don’t have to worry about out-of-town guests and what to do with them when one books a ceremony earlier in the day.

The other consideration is the added cost.  Some things you may want to consider is the cost of “entertaining” your out-of-town guests during the break, the cost of renting the limo all day versus a few hours (or not at all) and don’t forget many photographers charge by the hour as well.

Having both ceremony and reception in the same location is a wonderful idea and best way to avoid the drawbacks of an early service and a long wait until the reception.  A big plus is the turnout at the ceremony.  To be honest, the longer the wait between ceremony and the reception, the fewer people will usually come.  When doing both at the same location, I found almost all guests will attend.

So, if you are thinking of doing both back to back, then go for it.  It is a growing trend and by doing the ceremony later in the day, allows you and your families to take your time to get ready.  You  want to remain fresh well into the night so you can be the last ones to leave your own party!

DIY: Tips For Creating Your Dream Wedding On A Budget

Planning a wedding is a gleeful occasion, but it can also be incredibly stressful. With so many options and expenses, it’s easy to become overwhelmed with choices. Though these stresses often send couples in search of professional wedding planners, if you’re prepared to manage the details on your own (or with the help of your family), you can certainly pull it off. To make your journey to wedded bliss as smooth as possible, we’ve compiled some DIY wedding projects and tips for you and your wedding party to tackle.

The Venue

When it comes to planning a wedding, one must manage the budget diligently. A recent study revealed that the average cost of a wedding venue exceeds $13,000. For many couples, that number alone depletes their entire budget. Eliminate the price tag of a costly venue and move the ceremony and reception into a family member’s home or backyard.

This option is ideal for the DIY-centric family who is willing to roll up their sleeves and put in some serious hours. This will allow for more money to be spent on decor, food, drink and reception entertainment. Hire a local catering company and work closely with staff members to plan a thoughtful, budget-friendly menu.

Ottawa is full of spectacular public parks with gorgeous seasonal foliage and stunning views of the city. Hold your reception in the Rockcliffe Pavilion or Mackenzie King Park. Ensure you do your research and learn what, if any, permits are required prior to your wedding. Planners suggest you secure your venue at least 12 months prior to your selected date.

Alter and Aisle Decorations

Create the DIY alter of your dreams on a budget. If you’re starting from scratch you’ll need to determine where you want to begin construction, how you will transport the items, and where you will store them until your big day. If you’re going to use an existing gazebo or canopy, decide whether or not you should wait until the day of vs. the days leading up to the ceremony.

If starting from scratch, pick up a basic pergola (or alter of choice) from a local home improvement store. From here you can decide what types of flowers you want to use, or perhaps you’d rather hang tool or silk curtains. If you want something bright and fresh, bougainvillea’s come in a variety of colors and are easy to manipulate. If flowers aren’t for you, stop by your local fabric store to snag a deal on your favorite fabric. Tulle is one of the least expensive fabrics and will provide your alter with that romantic aesthetic.

If you’re using an existing canopy or gazebo, again, flowers that are easy to manipulate are preferred. You can always wrap lights, fake moss or leaves to achieve a more whimsical, earthy feel. Craft stores sell an array of fake flowers with bendable stems, perfect for garnishing an aisle or your wedding arches. String garland along the chairs in the aisle in shades that reflect your wedding colors.

The Invitations

Wedding invitations can be a large expense and are one of the most important components of a wedding. Though it’s tempting to splurge on frilly paper or brightly colored envelopes, consider some DIY invitations to keep your pockets full. Stationary stores offer prepackaged invitations in an assortment of styles and colors. Once they’re home you can select your font and wording and add the verbiage courtesy of your own printer.

If you want something entirely unique but don’t have the budget to support professional custom invitations, make your own. Stationary stores sell hundreds of different types of paper stock and envelopes. You can use stencils, stamps or stickers to create the look you want without overspending.

5 Honeymoon Ideas for Adventurous Couples

Think outside of the box when planning your post-wedding getaway. Forget relaxing on the beach and sleeping in! Have a thrilling escapade with your sweetheart, instead. Since newlyweds spend an average of $4,466 on their honeymoons, according to a Honeymoon Study by TheKnot, it’s important that the trip be based on both the bride and groom’s personality. Newlyweds who seek fun-filled experiences can get their adrenaline fixes with these five adventurous honeymoon ideas:

Experience a Romantic Odyssey

A Himalayan honeymoon is perfect for those who prefer snow-capped mountains to sandy beaches. You’ll bond over breathtaking views of Mt. Everest and visit the palaces of the Dalai Lama. This trek is ideal for seasoned mountain climbers and offers a great balance of culture and adventure. Expeditions may also include exciting activities like elephant riding and jungle walks. Traveling to the Roof of the World will make for an unforgettable odyssey that will test your endurance and strengthen your bond.

Photo by Bernard Goldbach via Wikimedia Commons

Dive Into a Whole New World

La Paz, in Baja California is one of the most popular diving destinations in North America. Its clear blue waters and desert landscapes make for a unique seaside vacation. La Paz is also known for its abundance of sea life. During a diving expedition, you and your loved one will swim among tropical fish, morays, giant mantas and sharks. If you’re not a certified scuba diver, you’ll need to earn a certificate before you can explore the 25-plus diving sites, including El Bajito and Los Islotes. At La Paz you can learn to dive and experience the thrill of swimming alongside some of the world’s most beautiful animals.

Photo by Az81964444 via Wikimedia Commons

Have the Ultimate Road Trip

A driving vacation through New Zealand makes for the ultimate road trip. Plan this once-in-a-lifetime experience and immerse yourself in a new land. Newlyweds can travel the length of this country and take in a wide variety of landscapes, from subtropical beaches to glaciers. These trips can last anywhere between 9 to 26 days, depending on your preference. You’ll also have a vehicle with 24 hour roadside assistance, so the fun won’t end at the first sign of a flat tire. Other adventurous activities include swimming with dolphins, a Maori Village experience, scenic helicopter flights and kayaking.

Photo by MSeses via Wikimedia Commons

Plan a Backyard Adventure

Some newlyweds prefer to plan a honeymoon closer to home. You don’t have to sacrifice adventure when vacationing in your own backyard. Canada has some of the most beautiful sights in the world. Many of them are best enjoyed while camping. Start your marriage with a romantic outdoor expedition that will bring you closer together, but don’t be afraid to add some thrills.

A great outdoor activity that will get your heart racing is an ATV tour. These four-wheeled vehicles will allow you to see areas you never knew existed, ride to the top of mountain peaks, explore hidden valleys and power through rough terrain. If you decide to add ATVing to your itinerary, a few parts and accessories might make your trip more comfortable — riding gloves and sturdy shoes or boots are a must. A couple of tools and small spare parts might not be a bad idea, either.

Travel to the Moon

Although not yet a reality (give it another couple of decades), visiting the moon is possible while staying on Earth. Bolivia is home to the largest salt plains in the world. The flatness of this scenic terrain will fool you into thinking you’re no longer on our home planet. Moon Valley, or Valle de la Luna, is another popular Bolivian destination for fans of space. A carpet of monoliths covers this stretch of land, with winding paths that allow you to venture into its depths, says Atlas Obscura. Plan your mock intergalactic honeymoon trip to Bolivia and enjoy places you’ll swear you read about in science fiction novels.

Photo of Moon Valley by Guttorm Flatabo via Wikimedia Commons

4 Rules for a Guerrilla Wedding Ceremony

By Rev. Alan Viau

A guerrilla wedding is when a couple chooses a location without making a reservation to hold a wedding ceremony. There is no band or open bar. All that’s needed is the bride, groom, two witnesses and someone who is legally recognized to perform weddings. From there, the wedding can be held anywhere… if you follow these four rules.

Courtesy CBC-TV

The inspiration for a guerrilla wedding comes partly from the movie The Vow, where Channing Tatum and Rachel McAdams hold a wedding ceremony at the Chicago Art Institute before being chased out by security. Since then many weddings are being surreptitiously held in various locations. Reports of weddings occurring in parks, gardens, restaurants, museums and mid-way rides can be found in abundance on the internet.

I recently performed a guerrilla wedding for a bride and groom that was aired on CBC-TV. It got lots of positive coverage. It was especially poignant that the couple was in their 50’s. This was not a young impetuous bride and groom. People generally thought it was a sweet and romantic thing to do.

I also started noticing a variety of negative opinions being voiced. Comments ranged, some saying the couple were rude in just showing up and that it was not right that they didn’t pay for the venue. These comments were balanced with a suggestion that the guerrilla wedding, as reported, was no more intrusive than when a photographer takes a wedding out for a photo shoot.

In my mind there are four elements for a successful guerrilla wedding.

Choose the right spot. I highly encourage using what is recognized as a public space. If you are on a privately owned location, you may be trespassing. Doing it in a Museum without permission may be enticing, but if you are found out, you may be run out. Your ceremony may be cut off – unfinished.

Keep it Small. A successful guerrilla wedding has very few people. Any more than 10 people starts to garner attention.

Make it Quick. In planning for the ceremony, you need to consider the time element. The longer you are there, the better chance of being noticed. The ones I perform do not go over 15 minutes. Make sure everyone is there on time so there is no lingering crowd.

You Get What You Get. With a guerrilla wedding, you have no time to decorate the location. You must take it as-is. The wedding I did for the CBC TV news clip was a cold rainy April day. There will be other people gawking at you because it is unusual to have a public wedding.

Choosing to have a guerrilla wedding can be a lot of fun if planned properly. It can be an adventurous beginning of your new journey as a married couple.

The Rabbit Ears Photo Prank the Groom Couldn’t Resist

By Rev. Alan Viau

All was going well for Sherine and Marc’s wedding ceremony. That is until the signing of the register. Marc couldn’t resist playing a prank on his witness. Now we have proof of the grooms sense of humor.

The National Arts Centre in Ottawa is an iconic location for weddings. The couple arranged to have their ceremony on the mezzanine with the reception in the salon for their small number of guests.

Sherine was walked down the aisle by her brother-in-law.

Marc was excited to see her come in.

And the ceremony and signing were going as planned.

That is until Marc had his brother sign as his witness! That’s when he couldn’t resist the classic rabbit fingers in the picture. It was fabulous of Eva Hadhazy, their photographer, to capture the moment.

We had a good laugh about it after the service.

And all was good for their reception. Congrats Sherine and Marc.

The Dress Expert – One Dress or Two?

By Dominique Levesque

What’s your favorite style of dress?  Ball gown, mermaid, A-line? Maybe you like more than one dress? Every week I sit down with my staff to find out what my brides are asking for.  It’s important to me to have what you are looking for. One of the emerging trends we noticed is the bride choosing to have two dresses. You don’t have to compromise anymore.


In many religions and cultures, the change of clothing and accessories during a wedding celebration symbolizes the beginning of a new phase of life for that couple. For many of the brides we see it’s simply an extension of their vision.  They want to enjoy every minute on their terms with no compromise.  It’s a small luxury they will cherish for a lifetime.


Questions from readers:

Lindsay asked:

“When you buy your dress a year in advance or more, where is the best place to store the dress and in what conditions? In a bag for the whole year or air it out once in a while?”

That’s an awesome question because so many brides ask me the same thing.  Here are my guidelines for storage and why:

  1. It should be kept in a dark place like the back of a closet. Over time, the light can affect the color of the fabric and the embellishments
  2. It should be kept in a proper garment bag to ensure it remains free of dust
  3. It should be kept in a non-smoking home. Even though no one will be smoking in the bedroom closet, smoke gets in everything.  And the only way to get rid of that smell before the wedding is to have it dry cleaned. Over time, smoke can also alter the color of the dress. Many seamstresses will not want to work on the dress and the smell will transfer on the other dresses they are working on

For storing the gown after the wedding, it’s important to have your dress professionally cleaned by a cleaner who offers gown preservation services soon after the wedding.  Even if you see no apparent stains, residues of white wine or oil based salad dressing may not show immediately on your dress but over time your dress will have yellow spots and even holes, as oil can eat through the fabric.

Francine asked:

“Why is the size of my wedding dress different than what I normally buy?”

I love that question, because I understand your frustration.  In the garment industry there are a large number of standard sizing systems for various garments: tops, dresses, suits… Each manufacturer decides what will work best for them and the segment of the market they serve, which makes it really confusing for customers.

It is a common occurrence in main stream clothing brands and chain stores to vanity size their garments to create loyalty from their customer.  Who can blame them? I certainly would buy from a store where I fit in a smaller size.  I wish the bridal designers would adopt that practice.

Our bodies are also not standard, and often our top is not the same size as our hips or waist.  For example you can have a top size 8 a middle size 10 and a bottom size 12; our professional stylist will be able to show you the best size to take and how to alter the dress to fit perfectly.

About Dominique:

The Dress Expert

Dominique Levesque followed her dream to be a designer. Now she’s one of Ottawa and Gatineau’s biggest wedding and prom dress purveyors, and owns and operates Dominique Levesque Bridal Salons.

“Fashion is my life, and helping women find their outer beauty and inner confidence for their special day is my life’s work” – Dominique Levesque.

Do you have a question for Dominique? Please submit your question by email at or call one of the locations below for more information:
Ottawa: 1300 Carling, Ave. 613-321-1136
Gatineau: 319  rue Notre-Dame 819-643-1166

Say Yes… to a lifetime of wedded and financial bliss

Getting married is an exciting life event where family and friends gather to celebrate the love between two people. Being able to openly discuss your hopes and dreams for your future lives together is one of the keys to a successful marriage – talking about how you will manage your finances is another.

To help you get the conversation started, RBC offers these tips:

Be honest about your finances. Sit down with your partner and have an honest talk about your finances. Discuss your current financial situations along with your long and short term goals.

Create a plan. Before you plan your budget, work out the logistics of how the finances will be handled when you’re married. Visit your local branch to learn about the account options that will best suit your needs. Ask about bundles that will help you save money on your banking services.

File the paperwork. Fill out a RC65 Change of Marital Status form from the Canada Revenue Agency to take advantage of some of the tax credits that apply to married people, such as spousal RRSP contributions. Learn about the tax benefits so you can maximize the credits and save money.

Say “I will”. After you are married, ensure that you and your estate are looked after by meeting with a lawyer to draw up or update a will and powers of attorney (financial and personal). Updating these documents is important, as some provinces and territories will nullify them due to your new marital status.

For more banking tips, visit

Phil & Becky Marry at the Dramatic Mayfair Theatre

By Rev. Alan Viau

It is a strikingly unique venue. Ottawa’s Mayfair theatre is iconic not only because is it the oldest surviving independent movie house in all of Canada but its decor is dramatic. A great location for a wedding.

The Mayfair is a dramatic venue. It contains a number of striking architectural features. It has four faux-balconies draped with rich fabric to suggest the presence of “hidden” staircases and hallways behind the auditorium walls; the two larger balconies topped with clay-tile canopies evoking the roofs of a Mediterranean public plaza; and additional decorations include medieval-style wrought-iron lamps, iron spears and ornate moulding.

And the Alien overlooking center stage….

There is stage lighting and a couple can project on the screen a slide show if they desire.
The Mayfair has a permanent raised platform that makes it easier for people to see. Phil and Becky chose music from the Beatles for all the moments in their wedding. Her bridesmaids walked down both aisles to join the groom, groomsmen and me at the platform. Becky was escorted by her father and was helped onto the stage by Phil. Becky wore a short strapless dress with tulle overlay which made it easier to step up.
Everything proceeded as planned; a reading from Becky’s sister-in-law, signing the register & license, saying their own vows, exchanging rings and the wine box ritual.
With every wedding, I warn the audience when the kiss is coming up. That way they have their cameras ready to take the shot. As you can see people love that moment.
After the ceremony, the guests were invited to board a bus to the reception at the Side-Door Restaurant while the bride and groom enjoyed a ride in a limo.

Fun Engagement Photo Ideas

By Kora Burnham

Engagement photos are a great way to celebrate you and your partner’s engagement, as well as a chance to get to know your photographer and the style of their photos before the big day. It’s also a great opportunity to have some fun, play around, and create unique, memorable photos that suit you and your partner’s interests and tastes.

Your engagement photos should have some significance to you and your partner. Many couples choose locations that are important to them. But why stop there? You and your partner are sure to have many fun, memorable experiences to choose from that showcase your journey from first date to engagement.

Favourite Movie or Television Show

Going to the movies is practically a dating tradition. If you and your partner had a good first-movie experience (or even a bad one), or share a favourite movie, having a movie-themed engagement shoot can create some fantastic, funny photos for your album. Perhaps you’re both huge Harry Potter buffs, or you happened to see Jurassic Park together when it came out in 3D. Maybe you spent a weekend watching Game of Thrones or Breaking Bad. Whatever the movie or television show, creating costumes, themed props, and picking a location that suits your theme can be a fun activity for you and your partner to share.

Conquering Your Fears

Horror movies and video game engagement photos have become something of a trend. They often feature couples walking through the woods, hand-in-hand, before being attacked by hokey movie villains or hoards of zombies. If “spooky” is you and your partner’s thing, conquering your fears together, be it mobs of infected creatures, or something more simple, could create some interesting—and fun—photographs.

Team Sports

Whether you prefer sitting at home watching the game, or you’re into rock climbing or white-water rafting, sport-conscious couples have endless opportunities to create unique photographs. Dress up in your favourite team’s colours, hit the field or ice rink, and play a round or two of your favourite game for some fun action-shots. For more extreme sports, the Ottawa area has gorgeous natural parks and forests, perfect for rock-climbing, kayaking, or horseback riding.

Simple Themes

If you’re stuck on events that you would like to showcase, or would prefer something more simple, take your shared interests and work them into your photographs, either through props or locations. If you and your partner are avid readers, have your photos taken at the local library. If you both enjoy long, country drives, pack a picnic and pick a location you’ve both enjoyed—and be sure to get photos of the journey there. If you both love animals, and both have pets, include them in your photographs. Or if you both enjoy cooking or baking, or have a shared favourite dish, spend the afternoon in the kitchen creating it. Your photos don’t have to be extravagant, just important to you.

Your engagement photos should be memorable and fun, as well as have significance to both you and your partner. Taking ideas from shared interests and activities, or dates you’ve had along the way, is a great way to create fun, unique photos that will help you remember your journey as a couple for years to come. You and your partner are unique—why shouldn’t your photos be?