Tips for Planning a Wedding

tips for planning a wedding

Tips for Planning a Wedding

ServiceOntario Helps Ensure Your Wedding Goes Off Without a Hitch

Weddings are joyous occasions, but planning one is not always simple.

Among the endless to-do lists and countless decisions to be made, you also need to make sure that your paperwork is in order, and that the person you’ve asked to perform your marriage ceremony is authorized to perform marriages in Ontario.

ServiceOntario can help ensure your wedding goes off without a hitch.

“Weddings are an important time in the lives of Ontarians and we want to ensure government is not adding to what can be a stressful experience. ServiceOntario provides fast, easy and secure options to help ensure couples are prepared for their special day.” – David Orazietti,  Minister of Government and Consumer Services

tips for planning a wedding

Finding an officiant

If you are planning a religious ceremony, make sure to check ServiceOntario’s list of authorizied religious officiants. A religious officiant needs to be registered under the Marriage Act to ensure that your marriage is performed legally.

If you’re planning a civil ceremony, a judge, justice of the peace or authorized municipal clerk can perform the ceremony.

Getting your marriage licence

Visit your local city hall, town hall or municipal office to purchase a marriage licence. You’ll need two pieces of government-issued identification for each person getting married. For each person, one piece of ID must include a photo. If you are remarrying after a divorce, you will also need to have official proof of the divorce.

To register your marriage, you and your spouse, the witnesses and the person who performed the marriage will need to sign the licence immediately after the ceremony. The officiant will then send a complete and signed marriage licence to ServiceOntario.

Ordering your marriage certificate

After your wedding day, ServiceOntario is the best place to get your Ontario marriage certificate. Any other companies offering Ontario certificates collect your information, fill out ServiceOntario forms and charge you extra for it.

Visit to order your marriage certificate. It’s faster, safer and cheaper.



  • On average, 59,000 marriages take place every year in Ontario.
  • ServiceOntario issues approximately 110,000 marriage certificates and certified copies of marriage registrations every year.



5 Tips to Make Your Backyard Wedding Classy and Memorable

Backyard weddings are wonderful for many reasons. In addition to being an economical (read: “free”) place to hold your ceremony, they offer the beauty of the outdoors, space for guests to mingle and access to the house for getting dressed. While backyard nuptials are often casual affairs, they don’t have to be. With some imagination and accessories, you can transform the space into a classy and beautiful spot for your wedding.

Hang lanterns from trees

If the backyard features trees, take advantage of their branches and use them to hang multiple lanterns. If you are exchanging your I do’s under a large tree, hang most of the lanterns there. For a do-it-yourself approach, consider collecting and buying dozens of Mason jars and placing a votive tea light inside each one. Hang these homemade lanterns from trees and maybe even use them to line the aisle. This idea will look especially gorgeous if you are planning a sunset wedding; as the sun goes down the glowing trees will look ethereal.

Decorate the pool

Incorporate a swimming pool into your wedding decorating plans. If you are planning an evening ceremony, add some floating solar pool lights that charge up during the day and then glow at night. These lights from feature a rotating color wheel featuring seven colors. You can also use the floating lights in your spa, backyard pond or as tabletop decorations during the reception.

Choose natural-looking flower arrangements

Those tall and expensive pedestal flower arrangements might look nice in churches, but they don’t really work in a backyard wedding. Choose containers that are more natural looking, like vintage vases, metal pails, Mason jars, wooden boxes or woven baskets. Hobby Lobby sells a variety of earthy baskets that you could reuse later in your new home. Fill them with sturdy flowers like sunflowers, calla lilies, and carnations and choose colors that complement any flowering bushes and trees that are blooming in the backyard. After the ceremony is over, move the floral arrangements to the reception area and use them to decorate the tables.

Line the garden aisle with petals or pine needles

Instead of a traditional paper aisle runner, consider using something from Mother Nature to line your walk to your groom. For example, take advantage of the towering pine trees that are found throughout Canada and sprinkle buckets full of green pine needles along the aisle. You can also use the more traditional rose petals. For a more budget-friendly option, line the grassy aisle with colorful twisted strands of crepe paper. Another idea is to place pots of fragrant herbs on the sides of the aisle and then use fresh rosemary leaves to create a huge monogram with your new last initial near the garden altar.

Stand under a floral arch

If there is not an obvious space to stand and exchange your vows, create an archway at the front of the chairs and decorate it with flowers. Choose a mix of the colors from your bouquet and your attendants’ dresses and add some greenery. Then either hang candles from the arch or wind strands of small white lights around the arch; if you are getting married in the evening this will make the arch look absolutely magical.

Jumping the Broom Pagan Wedding

By Rev. Alan Viau

A pagan wedding may seem like a mystery to some brides and grooms. To help dispel myths I reproduce here Mel and Kai’s wedding which occurred in a park around Ottawa.

On behalf of Kai and Mel, I would like to welcome you all and thank you for being a part of today’s celebration.

We will now perform the calling of the corners.

pagan wedding calling the corners

Calling the Quarters/Corners

Guest 1 – I call upon the Guardians of the North to sustain and strengthen our circle.

Towering mountains, fertile valleys, bold wilderness, gentle fields

our bodies … our strength

Guest 2 – I call upon the Guardians of the East to imbue and revive our circle.

spring breeze, summer zephyr, autumn sylph, winter squall

knowledge … imagination

Guest 3 – I call upon the Guardians of the South to rekindle and warm our circle.

glowing sun, earth’s core, radiant balefire, gentle hearth

passion … resolve

Guest 4- I call upon the Guardians of the West, to purify and cleanse our circle.

mighty rivers, subtle streams, vast oceans, tender mist

intuition … emotion

As living beings, guardian’s of Life’s spark

let us all join together to illuminate, honour and bless this sacred space

on behalf of Mel and Kai.

In perfect Love and Perfect Trust, Kai and Mel, you are circled in Love


We are here today to bear witness to the beginning of something that is wonderful and new, but also to recognize the joy and happiness that has already marked Mel and Kai’s life as a couple.

Beyond simply recognizing their love for one another, Mel and Kai have concluded that theirs is an enduring love … that they thrive and grow best by committing themselves to a loving relationship with one another.

Today we celebrate an affirmation of the essential relationship that exists between them … the formation of their love and trust into a unified emergent entity. A marriage.

It is a commitment that necessitates daily attention to flourish and brings with it a life-long responsibility to strive for the ideal of love and kindness.

There are many things to say about marriage. Much wisdom concerning the joining together of two souls, has come our way through all paths of belief, and from many cultures. With each union, more knowledge is gained and more wisdom gathered.

Though we are unable to give all this knowledge to these two, we can hope to leave with them the knowledge of love and its strengths and the anticipation of the wisdom that comes with time.

The law of life is love unto all beings. Without love, life is nothing, without love, death has no redemption.

Marriage is a bond to be entered into only after considerable thought and reflection. As with any aspect of life, it has its cycles, its ups and its downs, its trials and its triumphs. With full understanding of this, Kai and Mel have come here today to be joined as one in marriage.

Today Mel and Kai place their life into the hands of the other and do so lovingly, trustingly and openly.

pagan wedding handfasting


Please join hands with your betrothed and listen:

Handfasting is an ancient Pagan marriage commitment ceremony. It is the predecessor to the modern wedding ceremony. The ritual itself usually includes a binding together of the hands of the couple with a ritual cord of some kind, hence the name, which means “hand fastening.” It is also the origin of the slang phrase “to tie the knot.”

Handfasting is a symbolic ceremony to honour a couple’s desire for commitment to each other; to acknowledge that their lives and their fates are now bound together.

Marriage is a bond to be entered into only after considerable thought and reflection. As with any aspect of life, it has its cycles, its ups and its downs, its trials and its triumphs. With full understanding of this, Mel and Kai have come here today to be joined as one in marriage.

Therefore, as I wrap this fabric around your hands it indicates that as your hands are bound, so are your hearts, minds, bodies, and souls.

As you both are holding your hands, please consider:

Above you are the stars, below you are the stones, as time passes, remember…

Like a stone should your love be firm;

Like a star should your love be constant.

Let the powers of the mind and of the intellect guide you in your marriage,

Let the strength of your wills bind you together,

Let the power of love and desire make you happy,

And the strength of your dedication, make you inseparable.

Be close, but not too close.

Possess one another, yet be understanding.

Have patience with one another, for storms will come, but they will pass quickly.

Be free in giving affection and warmth.

Have no fear, and let not the ways of the unenlightened give you unease,

For the Goddess and Gods are with you always.

Exchange of Rings

Kai, I have not the right to bind you to Mel, only you have this right. If it be your wish, say so at this time

[Kai] It is my wish.

Mel, if it be your wish for Kai to be bound to you, place the ring on his finger.

Mel I have not the right to bind you to Kai only you have this right. If it be your wish, say so at this time.

[Mel] It is my wish.

Kai, if it be your wish for Mel to be bound to you, place the ring on her finger.

Two rings, joined together, symbolizes eternity. The creative force that brought Mel and Kai together, symbolized by the connection these two rings, and two lives shared, is timeless.

May the blessings of the wind light upon these rings and your love, that you share communication and creativity.

May the blessings of fire blaze upon these rings and your love, that you share passion and spirit.

May the blessings of the waters saturate these rings and your love, that you share love and compassion.

May the blessings of the earth ground these rings and your love

pagan wedding vows


(Mel and Kai exchanged personally written vows. Kai included a recorded song that hold a lot of meaning to them. They danced swaying to the music in bliss.)

Kai and Mel, today you join your separate lives together. You light a special candle today – made of water symbolizing you Mel and fire, representing Kai. The two separate elements symbolize your separate lives, separate families and separate sets of friends. They represent all that you have been as an individual. They also represent your lives before today. As these two are joined to create a candle, you will be joined together as one. May your love so endure that its flame remains a guiding light unto you.

CLOSING OF THE CIRCLE: Thanking the Quarters/Corners

Guest 1 – May the element of EARTH bless you with

tenderness, happiness, compassion and friendship.

Guest 2 – May the element of AIR bless you with

communication, intellectual growth, and wisdom.

Guest 3 – May the element of FIRE bless you with

vitality, passion and creativity.

Guest 4 – May the element of WATER bless you with

harmony, understanding and love.

By the North and the Earth that is Body,

By the East and the Air that is Breath,

By the South and the Fire that is Passion,

By the West and the Water that is Womb,

By the Centre and the Spirit that is Strength,

Thank you for illuminating our gathering.

pagan wedding jumping the broom

Jumping the Broom

We end this ceremony with tradition of jumping the broom.

As Mel and Kai jump the broom, they physically and spiritually cross the threshold into the land of married life. It marks the beginning of making a home together. It symbolizes the sweeping away of the old and the welcoming of the new; the sweeping away all negative energy, making way for all things that are good to come into your lives.

(A Guest hands the broom to the Kai, who makes sweeping gestures to eliminate any negative energies. Kai then hands the broom to the Mel, who places it on the ground at the mouth of the circle of friends. Kai and Mel jump over the broom.)

It is my pleasure to make the following declaration:

By the power vested in me by the province of Ontario , and by the laws of the great mother Goddess Gaia, I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may now kiss the bride!

Do’s and Don’ts of Home Hair Colouring

Do’s and Don’ts of Home Hair Colouring

Colouring hair at home is popular for many reasons: it saves time, money and can be much more convenient all while achieving great results. More than half of Canadian women colour their hair and, of those, half colour their hair at home, according to a recent poll. When asked what concerns them about using at home hair colour, the top concern raised by one-quarter of Canadian women was that they would not get the colour they want.

home hair colouringLuis Pacheco, Clairol’s Consulting Colourist, offers some tips to ensure women get the hair colour of their dreams.

Do a strand test. First, before colouring your hair, you should always do a patch test to ensure you don’t have any allergic reaction to the colour. Next, a strand test to ensure that you get the colour you want before you actually colour all of your hair. Not only can you test the shade, but you can ensure that you know how long to keep the colour on your hair for.

Don’t do a drastic colour change at home. There are times to seek out a professional colourist such as when you want to go drastically lighter or darker. The general rule of thumb for at-home colour is to stay within two shades lighter or two shades darker of your current colour.

Do try something new. Want to warm up your look summer? Try a colour with a bit of red in it or look for a colour with golden undertones. Clairol Nice ‘n Easy offers 44 natural-looking colours with colour-blend technology to ensure the result is full of depth and dimension. Have fun this summer and experiment with a new shade.

Don’t worry about choosing the right shade. Twenty per cent of Canadian women are concerned about choosing the right shade of hair colour. Choosing a you-only-better shade requires a little prep work but shouldn’t be intimidating. The first thing to consider is your skin tone. Take a look at the inside of your wrist. If your veins appear bluish, you should look for cool or neutral tones; if they’re greenish, look for warm or neutral tones. For warmer shades, look for the words golden, bronze, and copper. For cooler shades, look for the words ash, platinum, and Champagne. Then, select your colour based on going no more than two shades different from your current colour.

Choosing Your Wedding Colors for 2015

Choosing Your Wedding Colors for 2015

courtesy of I Just Said Yes the perfect colors for your wedding reception may seem like a daunting task, but these days, it’s actually easier than ever!  You can easily coordinate your colors with the invitations, wedding cake, centerpieces, name cards, linens and more, as colors are becoming more popular in almost every aspect of the decor.

Weddings held during a particular season or time of year could easily be reflected in the colors   Although marsala is being listed as a big trend for this year that does not mean other colors are not popular too.

Spring:  You will still see an abundance of bright citrus colors, greens and blue to promise of a happy summer.

A few funky variations on these simple ideas are always welcome. Vintage, rustic still going strong.  Bold shades placed together may not be traditional but they are certainly charming; chocolate brown and turquoise, tangerine and green, or royal blue and yellow can look amazing, if done tastefully.  Let’s not forget the forever popular black-and-white, but try to add a vibrant splash of color to mix things up.  If you desire traditional and simple decor, then I would recommend using colored lighting, which can be absolutely stunning.

Before making any color scheme decisions, always consider your venue.  For example, a country club already decorated in gold and navy will most likely not go well with your own bright red and orange decor.  Look at all available colors and don’t be afraid to take paint samples or fabric swatches to the venue so you can test out different combinations.  Try to take a peek at a few different wedding set-ups so you can see for yourself what looks best!

The most important thing to decide is what kind of wedding you are looking for.  Colors will surely define the mood – whether it be elegant and black-tie, fun and care-free, or any theme you choose.  In the past few years the styles and types of weddings have become crazier and wilder then ever. Times are changing, and anything goes! The days of the plain white dress are changing too – experiment with colored sashes or, if you are daring, toss the idea of a white dress aside.   In fact, you name the color, and it can probably be made!

The ultimate goal is to create a happy atmosphere for your special day, so be sure to choose what ever makes you feel comfortable.  Whether you decide on traditional or unique, giving things a bit of thought is sure to create a night to remember for everyone!

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Book Review | Wedding Bliss on a Budget

By Rev. Alan Viau

wedding bliss on a budgetIt is always a struggle for brides and grooms – getting the wedding of their dreams vs the budget they have. Wedding Bliss on a Budget is a must-have slim book that delivers the essentials on how you can achieve both. Every couple should read this book as homework for their wedding plans.

The wedding industry marketing message is clear. A wedding is a grand affair where a couple should spare no expense. With today’s average wedding spend reaching $30,000.00, a bride and groom must consider the financial side of throwing a grand affair. But how can a bride and groom reconcile their dream vs their financial resources?

Ethan Baron has written an excellent quick read book, Wedding Bliss on a Budget, that sets out your options in a way that you can achieve your dream wedding. He gives excellent advice on how to deal with vendors and contracts. Plus you can download the checklists and forms he presents in his book for your own use.

Mr Baron presents a 7 step approach to addressing each wedding element including selecting a venue, caterer, cake, photographer, florist and entertainment. With each element he discusses various issues that are particular to that element so that you can make good decisions.

His 7 step approach is:

  1. Visualize the wedding you want your closest friends and family to remember
  2. Prioritize the things you really want that will receive the appropriate portion of your budget
  3. Strategize finding the most time- and cost-efficient ways to achieve your goals
  4. Scrutinize your vendors to deliver exactly the products and services you’ve negotiated
  5. Minimize by asking what your wedding MUST include
  6. Maximize the impact of your must-haves
  7. Itemize what needs to be accomplished with checklist and forms

How do I feel about this book? With all the things a bride and groom need to do to put on their wedding – this is an invaluable planning resource that should be used early. I am sending this book to my son who recently got engaged.

It’s All in the Planning: Get Awesome Wedding Pictures With These Tips

It’s All in the Planning: Get Awesome Wedding Pictures With These Tips

We all love The Knot and Pinterest for wedding daydreaming. But now that the date is set, it’s time to get real. First stop: photos. One-of-a-kind wedding photos aren’t about spending a bunch of money but spending a little extra time to keep them smart, simple and refreshing in a sea of predictable brides. Get the shots you want and avoid disastrous miscommunications with your photographer with these tips for getting mind-blowing wedding pictures.

awesome wedding picturesExpand Your Inspirational Horizons

Even if you have thousands of pins on your “I do! I doooo!!!” Pinterest board, so does every other person you’re friends with on Facebook. The community has become oversaturated, because everyone is pinning everyone’s pictures over and over.

The best wardrobes are collections of unique pieces precisely curated from the far corners of the world. So don’t just assemble your wedding inspiration images from the average places. Do a little more digging if you really want a wedding that looks like no one else’s. Keep poking around and searching for images in unexpected places, and you’re sure to find some hidden gems of your own. Try Tumblr, Shutterstock, WeHeartIt and Webstagram to get out of the Pinterest rut.

Try some word association games. You can search for pictures of “baroque architecture” or “Ottawa in the 1960s.” Play with different word combinations while searching and follow some hashtag rabbit holes. Poke around and explore. The goal is to find pictures that feel like you want your wedding to feel.

Take a screenshot of the image or pin it to a secret Pinterest board to keep your wedding inspiration hidden from friends and family. Keep specific notes about what you like about the picture. This groundwork will prove invaluable as you design your theme and assemble your team.

Design Your Shoot Carefully

Keeping a schedule is certainly a tough task on any wedding day. And often your wedding pictures suffer because brides cut shoots short or festivities run late.

Don’t shortchange yourself or your photographer. The more time he has with you, your new hubby and the most important people in your life, the better those images will be.

Save time ahead of time by practicing poses with family (large group portraits take the longest) and scouting different backdrops at the location for different poses. This will make transitions during the shoot quicker and more seamless.

Make Known What You Do and Don’t Want

It’s hard to describe the perfect wedding photos, right? But we all know the ones we despise. The shots that make us cringe; that one unflattering angle of your chin or the big over-posed over-exposed family portrait. You can get a good idea of a photographer’s style from his or her website and social media accounts. But communicating specifically what you don’t want will save you time and stress on your big day and regret later on.

Finally, why not search for wedding pics and tips on a photography website? You’ll find much more professional, honest information about scheduling, communication and even techniques and styles. We really like this introductory guide from Improve Photography. It’s a great starting point for an open and professional dialogue about all the details that will make your wedding day photography truly as unique as you are.

Fall/Winter 2015 Edition Online Now!

Ottawa Wedding Magazine Fall Winter 2015

The latest edition of Ottawa Wedding Magazine will be out in stores over the next several weeks, but you don’t have to wait! Read the magazine for free, right here on

Click the cover below to visit our virtual magazine:

Ottawa Wedding Magazine Fall Winter 2015
Fall/Winter 2015

Have a Wedding or Own a Home?

By Rev. Alan Viau

Both a wedding and a home investment can be big financial decisions. With prices of each getting higher each year, brides and grooms may start wondering which one is more important on their limited budgets. Let’s take a look at your options.


After the proposal as the wedding planning begins, a couple may start to wonder if the heavy wedding price tag would be better spent on a down payment for a house. According to a survey from the Knot, the average price of a wedding in 2014 was $31,213.

Realtytrac analyzed the data behind the cost of a down payment on a home to see how it matched up to having a wedding in the same area. Looking at the Knot’s survey on the “Most Expensive Places to Get Married,” they found that down payments (3, 5 and 10%) on average housing sales prices in those areas are a great way to decide if a wedding or a down payment is more affordable.

If you consider a 5 percent down payment, the San Francisco area is the only area in the U.S. where it is less expensive to have a wedding rather than put a down payment on a house. On the other hand most first time home-buyers will likely use a 3 percent down payment in the U.S.

Using a 3 percent down payment, it makes more financial sense to buy a home in the highest wedding costs cities. Two New York cities: Manhattan ($76,328) where with only a 3 percent down payment of $36,535 you can buy a home and Long Island ($55,327) where with a 3 percent down payment of $12,232 you can buy a home. North/Central New Jersey ($53,986) follows closely where a 3 percent down payment of $11,050 will get you into the average sales priced home in the area. Chicago ($50,934) is not too far behind where a modest 3 percent down payment of $7,259 will buy you a home.

Top 15 Most Expensive Places to Get Married
State County/City Avg. Cost of a Wedding in 2014 Avg Sales Price 2014 Down Payment 5% Down Payment 3%
New York Manhattan $76,328 $1,217,850 $60,892 $36,535
New York Long Island $55,327 $407,738 $20,387 $12,232
New Jersey North/Central $53,986 $368,340 $18,417 $11,050
New York Westchester/Hudson Valley $52,954 $366,293 $18,315 $10,989
Illinois Chicago $50,934 $241,959 $12,098 $7,259
New York Outer Boroughs $49,781 $456,333 $22,817 $13,690
Pennsylvania Philadelphia $44,090 $128,439 $6,422 $3,853
Rhode  Island $41,914 $218,332 $10,917 $6,550
California San Francisco/Greater Bay Area $39,690 $1,077,804 $53,890 $32,334
New Jersey South $39,191 $194,080 $9,704 $5,822
California Santa Barbara / Ventura $39,187 $502,800 $25,140 $15,084
Washington DC Washington DC $39,025 $427,054 $21,353 $12,812
Massachusetts Boston $38,665 $398,225 $19,911 $11,947
Florida Southern $38,155 $215,538 $10,777 $6,466
California Los Angeles $37,317 $499,342 $24,967

However, a wedding is about heart and not necessarily just finances. I’ve seen many couples get married and buy a new home within the same year. They find it stressful having two big events together at one time.

What I find useful about this analysis is its comparative value. To me, it says that perhaps brides and grooms are overspending on weddings compared to other important items like housing. Brides and grooms can do two easy things to save money on their wedding. They would do well to scrutinize their guest list and the list of must-haves vs nice-to-haves.