Not All Weddings Have To Be Large!


Beautiful newlywed couple first dance at wedding reception surrounded by smoke and blue lights

by Diane Lynn Thomas

The small and intimate wedding seems to be a growing trend these days.  Small to some may mean up to 200 people, but in my opinion small is anywhere from 30-100 guests max.  Not all brides want a large lavish affair costing thousands of dollars.  In fact many prefer a very small gathering with their closest family and friends.  The stress level won’t be as high and the wedding will feel more like home.

So many factors must be considered: your ethnic background, your financial situation, the size of your family, and of course your personality.  When I say personality, I mean for example that some people don’t like all the hype of a wedding  and inviting  guests that they may not know personally.  They are usually more quiet or simple individuals who do not like to be in the spotlight, and that is perfectly okay.

With a smaller guest list you can certainly spend a little extra money on the venue to add some special touches.  Perhaps a winery, restaurant, boat cruise, bed and breakfast or a country club.  You want to keep the venue small and intimate.  You will certainly be able to speak with each and every guest.  The ceremony can take place in the same location as well. Decor can be minimal if you select a quaint venue and you may just have to add some flowers, centerpieces or seat covers.

At first, the idea of a small wedding may or may not be loved by friends and family, in particular, parents.  Many parents want to have a large wedding for their children and invite all their own friends too.  When they hear their daughter or son talk of a small intimate affair or are going to a destination, the expression on some parents’ faces says it all.  I think a bride’s mother may be as excited, if not more excited, to throw a wedding.  Don’t worry though, if your family does not seem to agree with your small wedding plans, once they get over the shock they will certainly welcome your wishes with open arms.

If you are worrying about offending anyone just remember that guests not close to you will not be upset that were not invited.  Most people respect the fact that a small wedding is being held with the bride and groom’s closest family.  If anything, you just saved some of those guests money!

It does not matter if your wedding is big or small, extravagant or modest.  You will still follow all the normal wedding traditions but just without 300 people watching. The most important thing is sharing your marriage with the ones you love.

This article is courtesy of I Just Said Yes.

Make Your Own Wedding Day History

Have you ever leafed through old family pictures? If you’re from a big clan or you have a genealogy buff in the family, odds are you’ve seen plenty of snapshots and posed portraits of weddings in earlier times.

You’re apt to have inspected photos of your parents’ wedding; maybe even your grandparents’ and your great grandparents’ before them. You may have seen polaroid snapshots of your great aunts in hats and pastel-coloured suits as the attended the wedding of one of your elders.


While the grainy black and white or coloured images may seem quaint, they also serve as a reminder that people have been planning and hosting wedding celebrations for a very long time, and wedding customs and trends come and go.


What was trendy or all the rage in 1920 or 1960 or 2000 rarely is today. Brides have worn short dresses, long dresses, prim dresses and provocative ones. They’ve worn veils and tiaras and crowns, puffy sleeves, pearls and necklines of all descriptions. They haven’t always worn white.


There have been morning weddings, followed by celebratory brunch, and afternoon weddings with festivities that drew to a close before sundown. Different eras, life  circumstances and settings certainly influenced choices. But one thing’s for sure: When you look back at your own wedding photos 10 or 20 years after your special celebration, some of the details won’t matter so much.



Burlap or tulle, chicken or beef, cupcakes or cake, mason jars or champagne flutes … these decisions may seem critical and stressful. Really, whatever you choose is window dressing. Enjoy the opportunities to pick style elements and to create an occasion that distinctly reflects you and your beloved. The fun, the laughter, the smiles and joy are what will live on.
So don’t let Pinterest Fever or social pressures get you sidetracked. This is your wedding, your life, your opportunity to celebrate and to make personal history.



A Country Wedding


photo by Rob Whelan, Rob Whelan Photography

Say your “I do’s” under a canopy of trees and amongst all the beauty that an outdoor setting has to offer

Oh, to celebrate outside! The bright blue skies, the au naturel decor, the romantic breezes. At least that’s how you envision the day. The reality is that an outdoor affair requires great attention to detail that is often taken for granted in a brick and mortar location. The first step is to choose the right venue for your dream day.

We spoke with the experts at Stonefields in Carleton Place and gathered our top tips for planning a gorgeous outdoor wedding.


photo: Tara Lilly, Tara Lilly Photography

Upscale country

Country weddings have always been in style. But the modern version of a country wedding is a far cry from the hay bale, sunflower bouquet and cowgirl boot ways of days gone by. Today’s couples are looking for chic and elegant affairs that embrace the organic side of the great outdoors – elegant barns, towering trees, natural greenery, soft, muted tones, loose garden- inspired florals, and rustic wooden accents. Achieve this look by choosing a country setting and surrounding yourself with pure, natural elements.

photo: Green Tea Photography by Martin McMahon

Goin’ to the (outdoor) chapel

Country weddings and outdoor ceremonies go hand-in-hand. Stunning tree-lined settings, heritage stone houses and century-old barns create the perfect country backdrop for chic flowing drapery and sparkling chandeliers. Large statement floral arrangements with overflowing country blooms and rustic arbours with greenery dominate an outdoor ceremony altar – framing the wedding couple without taking away from the surrounding natural beauty. Wood is the decor element of choice. Use it in natural tones to anchor your arrangements, in birch to bring in the elegant white which is so synonymous with weddings, or in antique wooden pieces to hold your programs, fans or signage.

3736Photo: Joelle Martin, Studio G.R. Martin Photography

Bring the outdoors in

Indoors or out, a glowing tablescape pulls everything together. Stunning florals and DIY wooden accents take the lead on table decor. Consider rustic wooden cupcake (or donut!) stands made from an old fallen tree in your backyard, or more refined wooden boxes for your head table arrangements. Mason jars and soft, muted florals are still on trend, but consider including them with a variety of vintage bottles filled with single or loose wild flowers, or paint them white for a classic touch. Don’t be afraid to add metallics and sequins for drama! Sparkling table runners and gold, silver and rose tones bring an upscale element to your country affair.


Looking for something different from the classic, structured wedding bouquet? Take a cue from your flower garden. Loosen up your bouquet with greenery and cascading flowers. Tie in your boutonnieres with garden succulents. Go with a mix of classic and wild flowers to add interest, and the sky is the limit when it comes to colour choices – whites, soft pastels, bright pinks and deep burgundy all complement the organic backdrop beautifully.

Have a good plan B

We get it—the last thing you want to do while planning your country wedding is plan another wedding. But worst-case scenarios happen, and you’ll want to be organized. Talk to your venue about their Plan B and determine how quickly it can be executed. Some venues can accommodate last-minute changes based on temperamental weather conditions. But don’t tempt fate (and major day-of meltdowns). If there’s no indoor option, put a deposit on a tent, just in case. W

The photos for this feature were shot on location at Stonefields, a full-service pre-confederation elegant rural estate in Carleton Place.

Stacey and Marty

Stacey&MartyRustic Romance

July 4, 2015

compiled by Lindsay Ruck
photos by Brittany Lee Photography

Sometimes you meet the love of your life in the unlikeliest of places. Stacey and Marty’s love story began at the grocery store.

“He helped me get something from a higher shelf and then we connected. We had coffee after and just couldn’t stop talking.”

Fast-forward to the morning of Stacey’s birthday. Just before she was ready to leave for an early-morning run, Marty presented his bride- to-be with a wrapped box.

“As I started to open it, he went down on one knee and asked me to marry him. All before 6 a.m.”

Stacey then realized she had a little more to celebrate that evening besides turning another year older.

“Unknowingly, I had planned my birthday party and engagement party for myself that night.”

The couple’s ceremony was held at Stacey’s family church, Holy Cross, in Kemptville.

The bride donned a Stella York lace gown with a trumpet silhouette and lace scalloping along the neckline and hem. The ivory stunner was purchased at Bridals by Al-Mor in Winchester, Ontario.

As Stacey entered the church with both parents by her side, Marty held back tears of joy.

“My friends Kim and James sang at the wedding ceremony. They did a beautiful job.”

Upon announcement of man and wife, Marty, a farmer, had one special surprise for his bride. Awaiting the couple was Marty’s newly polished tractor – the perfect “getaway vehicle.”

“He even made white stairs to get up into the tractor.”

Their 140 guests were invited to celebrate with the newlyweds at the Baldachin Inn in beautiful Merrickville. The stately ballroom featuring high ceilings, stone walls, and a picturesque backdrop was the perfect venue for their rustic-chic wedding.

“Merrickville is on the water. I’ve always loved water and had been dreaming of wedding photos in the ruins since I was young.”

Post photo shoot, the couple joined their guests in a ballroom filled with several burlap and birch accents.

Tables were adorned with birch table number holders and anchored by beautiful hydrangea centrepieces provided by Flower Essence in Kemptville.

For a sweet treat, Edible Sins in Merrickville prepared delectable French vanilla cupcakes with buttercream icing. To tie in the rustic element, Marty crafted cupcake stands using trees he had cut down on the couple’s property.

To see the couple kiss, guests were challenged to sing a song with “love” in the title.

“It was incredibly entertaining and fun. My favourite of the night was the song, Can you Feel the Love Tonight? from The Lion King that the bridesmaids did. They acted it out as if they were lions. It was hilarious.”

Another musical surprise was especially for Stacey’s mom.

“We surprised my mom with the song Stacey’s Mom (Has Got it Going On). My husband grabbed her for the dance. The dance floor was full for that song and for the entire night.” W

Love Them Apples: Fun Date at the Orchard




The forecast calls for sunshine and blue skies Saturday and Sunday, so it’s a perfect weekend to take a break from wedding planning and Pinteresting. Instead, head to a local apple orchard for a day date with your beloved and make some fresh-picked memories together. Here are some delectable choices:

Log Cabin Orchard, located at 6121 Cabin Road, Osgoode, offers all kinds of fall fun. Not only can you pick your own apples or buy pre-picked ones, when October rolls around you can pick your pumpkins too. Pie pumpkins, white pumpkins, gourds and Jack-O-Lanterns are available. Hay Wagon rides and bake goods are offered on weekends, and there’s also a petting zoo. Call 613 826-5081 and see


Located south of Ottawa just outside Kemptville, Mountain Orchards is more than a place to pick apples. It’s an annual destination for families. A corn maze, wagon rides, fresh baking and apple cider are all part of the experience, and wait until you see “them” apples. There are close to 10,000 trees on about 25 acres, offering eight different varieties, from Cortlands and Spartans to Lobos and Honeycrisps. Parking is free and there’s no admission. Call 613 989-5601 and see


Located at 1399 St-Joseph Boulevard in Orléans, Orléans Fruit Farm offers pick-your-own apples Saturdays and Sundays in September, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. It’s best to call 613 830-1303 or check the harvest calendar at before you go.

Located at 1480 County Road 32, Crysler, Cannamore Orchard offers 10 different varieties of apples, plus pumpkins, you can pick. There’s also a country market, as well as a wide variety of kid-friendly activities, including mazes, play structures, an animal corral, a cow train, duck races and pedal cars. This place offers birthday parties, along with scary seasonal options, including the 2016 Spooky Wagon Ride and the Butchers of Cannamore Orchard Escape Maze. There are admission fees for activities. Call 613 448-3633 and see 

Dekok Family Berry Farm, at 1070 March Road in Kanata, offers pick-your-own and pre-picked apples. A picnic area and a play structure are provided on site. See

If you don’t want to travel too far or do the picking, Pinewood Orchards is a good bet for fresh-from-the-tree apples. Located at 101 Herzburg Road in the west end, Pinewood offers several varieties from its 800+ mature trees. The apples are sold in the apple barn at the orchard as well as from an apple cart on Carling Avenue at Burke Road. See




Wedding Fun with Selfie Stations and Photo Booths



Wedding pics have never been so fun. The formal images shot by your professional photographer are what you’ll treasure for decades to come, but you and your guests can also have a blast with on-site snapshots while your festivities are underway. Whether you choose to rent a photobooth or create your own “selfie stations” there’s a lot of fun to be had personalizing it/them to suit your own occasion. You can make props, including speech bubbles and thought clouds, and different backdrops to fit the colours, style and theme of your wedding day.

According to Lindsay Ruck, “These days, it’s rare to attend an event which doesn’t include a photo booth. It’s an easy form of entertainment and gives guests something else to do when in need of a break from mingling. Technology wizards have gone one step further by creating the selfie station. It’s quick, easy, and offers immediate digital results.

As opposed to having one small booth set up in your venue, display different backdrops around the room – complete with props – where guests can get together and snap a pick or two.”

As Ruck points out in a story in the fall issue of Ottawa Wedding Magazine, “Budget-conscious couples love the selfie- station as it’s a cheaper alternative to the photo booth. No need to hire an added photographer or coordinate with a company to roll in a large photo booth the morning of your wedding. The selfie station is maintenance-free and ridiculously fun.”

The dollar store is a great place to find props and accessories, from hats and wigs to clown noses and feather boas. And if you’re short on plans, Pinterest offers a treasure trove of creative ideas and possibilities. There’s info about everything from how to design and hang a dazzling backdrop to how to put together a tissue tassel garland.


Season’s Most Coveted Wedding Trends



What We Love

by Lindsay Ruck

When you envision your day, what elements top your list? This season, couples are opting for natural decor, cutting back on glitz and focusing more on matte finishes and dusky hues paired with rich tones. Those rustic elements which flooded weddings last season are still going strong for fall-winter 2016, but with a new and improved twist. Out with the mason jars, burlap and bunting and in with soft draping, copper lanterns and green garland.

In this issue, we’re highlighting a few of our favourite elements for 2016. From ethereal greenery to swoon-worthy vintage finds, these trends are sure to inspire this season’s love birds.



Pastels have been creeping into wedding colour palettes for several years. For fall, we’re seeing pastel shades in dusky hues, such as Pantone’s colours of the year, rose quartz (a powder pink) and serenity (a soft blue). For a sleek contrast, pair softer shades with rich tones of cranberry, copper, and deep purple. Other lighter hues include pale greens, peach, and soft violets.

Copper has risen to become the ultimate metallic touch to the day. From votives and lanterns to frames and Moscow mule mugs, this penny- coloured trend is outshining the currently not-as- popular silver and gold. Copper adds immediate warmth to a reception venue, and because it’s on high trend alert, its never been easier to find for your day.


Fresh florals

Wild floral bouquets which resemble a freshly- picked arrangement from the garden are still popular this season. Florists are receiving multiple requests for garland and herbal bunches. Couples are opting out of the small pepperings of bouquets and selecting statement florals to run down ceremony aisles, drape across the head table and frame a doorway. Eucalyptus (or seeded eucalyptus), silver bell pods, paperwhites and tillandsia are all beautiful additions to wedding garland. Not only do these beauties look amazing, the savoury smells add an extra element of fresh to your special day.


Chair trends

The coveted chivari chair has a few new contenders. Ghost chairs and crossbacks are hugely popular this season. While both chairs have been around for quite some time, more and more couples are now requesting these two simple styles.

Crossback chairs have a rustic and Tuscan feel and, like the chivari chair, can be dressed up or down to suit your wedding style. From dark mahogany to crisp white, crossback chairs offer a chic vibe to a natural setting.

Ghost chairs are mainly to serve one purpose: to blend in with its surroundings. Available in a number of different designs, the transparent chair is ideal for an elegant or contemporary setting. A lot of chairs can make a room look cluttered. The ghost chair allows your ceremony or reception venue to shine through with no competing elements.


We’re slightly obsessed with the beautiful art of modern calligraphy and hand-lettering. The wispy letters and smooth strokes harken back to the days of ink pots and wax seals. You’ll need to master – or better yet source – a steady hand to achieve this coveted look which can be used on save-the-dates, invitations, signage, and all other desired wedding stationery. If you’re looking for a way to kick your stationery up a notch, calligraphy may be for you!

Social media stations

These days, it’s rare to attend an event which doesn’t include a photo booth. It’s an easy form of entertainment and gives guests something else to do when in need of a break from mingling. Technology wizards have gone one step further by creating the selfie station. It’s quick, easy, and offers immediate digital results.

As opposed to having one small booth set up in your venue, display different backdrops around the room – complete with props – where guests can get together and snap a pick or two.

Budget-conscious couples love the selfie- station as it’s a cheaper alternative to the photo booth. No need to hire an added photographer or coordinate with a company to roll in a large photo booth the morning of your wedding. The selfie station is maintenance-free and ridiculously fun.


Food stations

Couples are offering guests more of an experience when it comes to the dining portion of their big day. Food stations are essentially a chicer version of a buffet. As opposed to everyone grabbing a plate and standing in a long line waiting for a thin slice of roast beef resting under a heat lamp, guests are encouraged to travel to different parts of the venue sampling a variety of gourmet selections. An oyster bar stocked with different toppings served by a “shucking” pro, a gourmet pizza station straight from a wood fire oven and a do- it-yourself taco bar are all interactive options.

Food stations can be as sophisticated or as low-key as you like. The important thing is to offer variety and disperse them around the venue to avoid congestion in one area.

This season, couples are less focused on the cookie-cutter Pinterest-perfect wedding day, and putting more emphasis on those elements which not only showcase who they are, but also treat their guests to a new and interesting experience. Think outside the box when it comes to your ultimate celebration and have fun planning what will be one of the most memorable days of your life! W

Honourable Mentions

There’s no way we could include each and every one of our favourite seasonal finds. Check out a few more dreamy details that didn’t quite make the cut.

Live music

There’s nothing like a live band to get the party started. Couples are looking for that extra wow-factor by going beyond the DJ or iPod and hiring musicians to entertain guests before the ceremony, during cocktail hour, or following dinner.

Intimate gatherings

Smaller weddings are growing in popularity not only for the possibly cheaper price tag, but also for the intimate atmosphere. Hundreds of people – some you may have only met once – can be overwhelming. It’s your day – choose quality over quantity.

Natural elements

Cement, cork, wood and stone are in high demand for many rustic and casual weddings. These natural materials pair beautifully with cascading greenery and dusky hues. The neutral palette means pops of colour can be obtained through florals, linens, and metallic decor elements.

Beauty of Bridesmaids


Before starting to plan your own wedding, you may have served as a bridesmaid or a maid of honour in somebody else’s wedding party. It’s an honour to be asked to serve as someone’s attendant for the most special day of their life. It can also be a huge financial and practical commitment, especially if the festivities are taking place in a location that isn’t where you live, or if it’s a destination wedding.

Sometimes time off work is required. A dress, shoes, hair, makeup and possibly a hotel stay are also usually part of the equation. So if you ask a friend to be your bridesmaid and she says no, don’t be offended. Not everybody can afford it. But when your besties say yes, it can be a whole lot of fun getting ready for the big day and getting all dolled up to enjoy it together.


One of the nicest things about fashions for today’s bridesmaids is that there is so much flexibility and variety. That means three or four or six women of vastly different shapes and sizes don’t necessarily have to wear the exact same dress. At some weddings, bridesmaids wear the same colour and fabric, but the style of the dress is one that suits their individual body types. At other weddings, the colours aren’t even the same; instead, they are variations of the same shade or colour tone. At yet other weddings, the colours are different (to flatter different skin tones), but the cut of the dress is the same.


It’s well worth being thoughtful about these factors, because you want your attendants to feel and look great. There’s nothing less appealing than having to spend hundreds of dollars on a dress that’s not flattering or attractive. That being  said, it is your day so don’t let attendants or anybody else talk you out of the colours or style you want. Be aware, though, that if you do want  everybody to wear the same jewelry or shoes, you may have to help pay for them.

Shannon and Morgan


Luck of the Irish
October 3, 2014

compiled by Lindsay Ruck
photos by Phillipa Maitland Photography

When Irish eyes are smiling, sure, they steal your heart away.

These lyrics could not be truer for Shannon, who in 2009 was attending law school at the National University of Ireland, and Morgan, a native of Galway City, Ireland.

After meeting in a pub in Galway City, the pair stayed on the North Atlantic island for a few more years before moving to Ottawa for Shannon to complete her training.

A made-for-movie proposal came during Easter weekend 2013 at the Ottawa International Airport. Morgan purchased the sparkler in Galway with the plan of proposing to Shannon in May when they would be visiting Ireland, but his parents, and eventually Morgan, didn’t see the point in waiting any longer. On his return to Canada, while on layover in Toronto, Morgan called Shannon’s father, and with the go-ahead, Morgan asked Shannon to be his wife upon landing in the nation’s capital.

The pair returned to where their fairytale romance began to tie the knot.

“Since we planned from Canada, Morgan’s family was an amazing help. We relied greatly on Morgan’s mom, Noreen, and his sister, Martha, to help us with some of the organizing we couldn’t do from Canada. Also, Siobhan McIntyre, our wedding coordinator at Galway Bay Hotel, was so easy and accommodating to deal with from across the pond and helped us greatly with the details surrounding the reception.”

Before arriving in Ireland, the bride found her gown at Juliannah’s Dress and Bridal in Moose Creek. The lace Eddy K gown, described by the bride as “so comfortable,” was the perfect find for dancing until 4 a.m.

On a clear day in October, Shannon entered the small hallows of St. Patrick’s Garrison Church in Renmore, Galway on her father’s arm.

The ceremony was a true family affair, as Morgan’s uncle, Father Patrick Whelan, officiated the nuptials, and Morgan’s cousin, Ailbhe Hession, provided the music for the special day.

The reception took place at the gorgeous Galway Bay Hotel, which overlooks Galway Bay. To ensure an Irish-Canadian celebration to remember for their 120 guests, the hotel shipped the Canadian flag to the venue, the DJ spun a few Canadian tunes, and all guests were treated to maple syrup favours.

“We brought five litres of Canadian maple syrup,” – a combination of real syrup from Shannon’s family’s farm and from Sands Road Maple  Syrup in Moose Creek – “complete with glass maple leaf jars over to Ireland.”

Guests also enjoyed a delicious three-tiered cake made by Morgan’s cousin and aunt.

“Flavours of the tiers were vanilla, red velvet and our favourite – Irish biscuit cake.”

The key to this Irish-Canadian wedding was the unmeasured support from loved ones.

“Due to all of their help, our wedding was extremely personal and so relaxing. We really enjoyed the day and didn’t have to worry about a thing!”

Keeping in tune with Irish traditions, this wedding continued its celebrations the following evening.

“Irish weddings tend to last a few days. The location had plenty of meaning to us as it was held at Whelan’s pub, a pub that has been in Morgan’s family for generations and is still family-ran.”

The venue is located outside of Galway, in a small village called Shanaglish.

“This night was a favourite for us and I think everyone else who came would agree. We arranged for a family friend to provide traditional Irish music. Lots of Guinness and a good sing-song!”

After multiple gatherings and quality time with family and friends who travelled near and far, the bride and groom settled into life as a married couple, basking in the glow of an unforgettable celebration across the pond.

“Our main focus was to ensure we had a great Irish-Canadian celebration and that our guests had a good time and those who travelled had an unforgettable visit to Ireland.” W

Smart ways to reduce wedding stress



Planning a wedding can be extremely stressful, but not knowing where to turn for help can be worse. One of the main problems adding to the stress for most bridal couples is having one too many people wanting to run the show. Here are six steps for planning a stress-free wedding.

1          The bride and groom should make the final decisions on the wedding plans. Everyone will have an opinion, so stick to your guns. Your wedding is all about celebrating your marriage. Don’t be afraid to ask someone to back off by saying, “Thank you for your suggestion but we are going in a different direction with the planning.”

2          If you hire a planner, make sure the planner and the rest of the family understands that you and your other half will be making the decisions. If too many people get involved in the planning, things will get confusing, and this can cause undue stress. If you are not hiring a planner, appoint someone you can trust to run the show — you can’t be a bride and a planner.

3          If you never remember anything else, remember to always have a backup plan for everything. So many things can go wrong on the wedding day, so you want to be prepared for anything.

4          When choosing attendants for your wedding, try to keep the number to a minimum. The more people in the wedding party, the bigger the headache. Gather the people you intend on asking as attendants together and explain what is expected of them as members of the wedding party. This will save the time it’s going to take to replace the attendant and the stress it’s going to cause you finding someone else.

5          Never bite off more than you can chew. Everyone wants a lavish wedding, but don’t drive yourselves crazy and break the bank to get it. You can always have your dream wedding without the costly price tag ,and that fits into your budget.

6          Timing is so important; never put off what you can do today for tomorrow. Before you know it, your wedding day is weeks away and you are both left with a mountain of chores that need completing. Make sure you order all items and make arrangements for every aspect of your wedding as soon as possible, so you won’t have a mile-long to-do list.

Compiled by R. Legault with source files from Coyle Publishing.


*This article first appeared in September, 2011.