Your Wedding, Your Style ….




Red shoes?
Short dress?
Graffiti backdrop?
Why not?

If you’re a little bit bohemian, a little bit artsy, or a lotta bit Do Your Own (DYO) thing, here are some wedding images, courtesy of Marge Maghoney , to inspire you to let your special day reflect your unique style.

Whether you’re planning for your nuptials to take place at any one of the fab venues in the Ottawa area or you’re heading away, there’s lots you can do to personalize and “pizzazzicize” your wedding.





Note: These images were taken in San Francisco.  To find out about San Francisco City Hall weddings, click here.

Your Wedding … at San Francisco City Hall

San Francisco City Hall

photos and story by Marge Maghoney

You strive to be stress free. Steer clear of drama. You surround yourself with positive, happy people and keep things simple and easy.

So after your man popped the question and slipped the ring, the idea of planning a wedding didn’t even make you blink. You got this. You’ve seen it on Pinterest and have even kept a secret board of ideas for the day.

You’ve come across the coolest, most beautiful City Hall in America and it’s in San Francisco. Instant honeymoon vacation right there. Already hit two birds and you haven’t even started. Easy peasy.

You start doing some research and head first to the San Francisco City Hall website to see how to get your marriage license and schedule the ceremony. You stumble upon a piece of information that says only six guests are allowed. You pretend not to notice but that made you swallow. Six? You wanted a small wedding but not that small.

You set aside that minor bump and move on to a funner direction, the dress.

It might not have been love at first sight with your fiancé but you instantly fell in love with that insanely gorgeous Season 10 Episode 1 gown on Say Yes to the Dress. You calculate how many weeks (or months) you need to be juicing to pull it off when you remember you’re getting married at a City Hall. With six guests. Gulp.

The first tiny bead of sweat starts to form. And your mouth begins to foam. You take a deep breath and start a whole new research. You google How to go about a San Francisco City Hall wedding or Tips for City Hall brides. You read a few posts but most are just compilations of information you’ve already gathered. And you still have a bunch of questions left unanswered.

San Francisco City Hall

And then BAM! You stumble upon Your Ultimate Guide to Rockin’ Your San Francisco City Hall Wedding.

Ladies (and gentlemen), welcome.

I could’ve easily been talking about myself five years ago with all that. I was in your shoes trying to figure things out with only one thing that was certain — I was going to get married to the man I love in that awesome building.

It sounds crazy to fall in love with a structure. Made of concrete. And gray. But boy, I tell you, the photos you see online doesn’t even do it justice once you see it for real. The place, simply put, is majestic. Gloriously sitting like a castle in the middle of a forest of tall box buildings. It gets you excited seeing its golden dome a couple blocks away. You almost feel is grand history upon stepping into the entrance and it just takes your breath away as you find yourself standing in the middle of the grand stairway, craning your neck, your eyes feasting on all the beauty above you, all around and even the intricate floors underneath your feet.

After my first wedding gig at the City Hall, I came home to my then fiancé and announced “That’s where I want us to get married.” And 2 months after those words came out of my mouth, they were saying “I do” in the middle of the rotunda. It would’ve been a month or even a couple of weeks had I been given a guide such as what you’re about to read.

So my friends, this is for you. Because I know you want this done quick, easy and stress free.

San Francisco City Hall

Number One: License and Ceremony

You want this squared away first. Everything else can follow. You want a time and a date. Something solid on which you base all other details on. So your friends and family can plan ahead and take time off work. An idea of how much time you have to shed off a few pounds. A date to check if the photographer you’ve been stalking is available. To plan where to eat after and make reservations. A deadline for receiving that custom dress with enough time for a possible alteration.

You can book as early as three months in advance. It’s as easy as registering on the City Hall website, picking a date and time and paying for it. They accept Visa and MasterCard only. $105 for the license and $78 for the ceremony (effective 07/01/15). Book it early so you’ll have more chances with availability. The closer you get to your preferred date, the more likely it’s already been booked. It’s not necessarily a secret location and a lot of other brides are thinking a lot like you so get a head start. They can accommodate up to 36 couples (3 every half hour). That may seem a lot but slots fill up quick especially since it’s becoming a more and more popular wedding destination. So select a date, choose a time and bust out your card.

Number Two: Dress

At the City Hall, it’s a rainbow of styles, lengths and colors (still a majority of white) when it comes to the dress. I’ve even had a couple of brides not wear a dress but pants. Some prefer to go against tradition such as Michelle, who arrived in a gorgeous red number and another Michelle, a ModCloth fan, who opted for polka dots. Anissa nailed it in lime. Daisy came in blue. Karishma wore a stunning teal sari and Trang stole the show in an intricate red cheongsam. You get the idea. You like it, you’re most welcome to wear it.

Several brides opt for short dresses and I love the elegance and simplicity of this choice. And there’s the other half who goes for the long, all out, full on wedding gown. And they’re never out of place. It’s a common sight in the City Hall and this is what makes it so much fun, like watching a bridal fashion show.

More than a few stick to white but add a burst of color with their shoes like Michelle (I seem to have a lot of Michelles in my roster) with her yellow strappy number and Kristen with her cobalt pumps.

So pick what dress you’re in love with and rock it without hesitation. It’s a free for all in San Francisco.

Number Three: Weight Loss

You’re like, “Whoa, are we really going there?” but remember, this IS Your Ultimate Guide and I figured it’s fitting to follow the dress with the body that’s going in it. And what bride does not have that thought cross her mind even once during the planning stages.

Personally, I’m not a fan of working out. I know it’s good for you but I think it’s overrated in terms of weight loss. I think watching what (and how much) you consume makes a bigger difference. This NYT article I just read actually kind of read my mind. If you burn 350 calories from a 30 minute jog, how much easier is it to just skip that same 350 calories worth of soda and potato chips? And after a workout, your body knows it just burned a bunch of calories so it’s naturally begging you to replace it by being extra hungry. I’m not saying just be sedentary and quit going to the gym. It’s just not the golden ticket to trimming your waistline. It’s your diet.

Juicing has proven to work for a lot of folks including myself. My first attempt lasted about 2 days. I got frustrated having to buy all these fruits and veggies, extracting the juice from them (ending up with just 2 days’ worth of juice), cleaning up and doing that all over again. It’s too freaking time consuming. And I didn’t want to make a ginormous batch in advance since I wanted it to be pretty fresh. My second attempt though was better. I thought why the hell should I make it from scratch when I could just buy the damn thing? So now I buy huge bottles of Kale Blazer (that tastes dead on like my own creation), Bright Beets (zingy), pure Carrot Juice (nice and sweet) and tomato juice (which I’ve grown to love). Tomato in the morning, carrot for mid-morning, kale for lunch and beets for dinner. Do I switch ’em up? Absolutely! Do I cheat? Hell yeah! But only with fruits. If I get super desperate, I’ll make myself a grilled caprese. If I’m drooling having smelled dinner being cooked for hours, I’ll have a little bowl. And by little I mean itty-bitty-witty. I use those tiny ass bowls meant for dips and sauces. Just to satisfy my taste buds. AND I still lose weight. It’s amazing the changes you’ll start to notice with just a few days of that. There’s hope, people.

San Francisco City Hall

Number Four: Shoes

I’m not talking about styles and colors. Like the dress, pick whatever you desire. Go to town with straps, buckles, embellishments and what have you. Heels or flats? Why not both? Please consider that we’ll be walking around a pretty huge building comprised of four floors (yes, we’ll cover them all as each section has something beautiful to offer), go up and down the stairs (for photos, they actually have an elevator) and walk some more if you’ve chosen a second location for newlywed photos after the ceremony.

If you’re not used to wearing heels but want to step it up a notch for this occasion, I suggest bringing a pair of flats (even flip-flops) as we walk around and just change into your heels for full body shots (some shots are only half body and close-ups, you won’t even need to). But if you booked a 2 hour package that involves a second location (typically a beach setting) for post ceremony newlywed photos, it’s almost a must.

Number Five: Guests

Now the City Hall wedding FAQ’s page states No more than six guests total. It doesn’t sound like a suggestion so you assume they’re strict about it. They’re not. I’ve seen groups made up of 30 to 40 people and the commissioners don’t mind as long as you don’t disrupt the ceremony. It’s actually pretty cool to be surrounded, literally, by friends and family. Literally because that is exactly what they’ll do — form a circle around you. Please do not crowd the couple and allow the photographer some room for different angles. Have more guests and you want them sitting down in a more formal set up? You can have this option for $1K++. Contact the Events Office at 415-554-6086.


Number Six: To Change or Not to Change at the City Hall

I’d say arrive at the City Hall clothed in all your bridal glory. I’ve had a handful of brides ask if there’s a place where they could change in the building. There is. It’s called the restroom. They have pretty clean ones, by the way, but if it were me, I’d ask “Why?” when you can just arrive with one less thing to think about. Not to mention how uncomfortable it would be especially if you’ve decided on a full on wedding gown. Don’t hold the bigger handicapped stall, grandma might need to use it. Dust off the paranoia that you’ll be the only person dressed in white and everyone will be looking at you. I assure you, it’s a common sight in the building.

Number Seven: What to Bring

Aside from your guests, please make sure you have the following:

1. Both your IDs.

2. Your marriage license if you already took care of that prior to the day of the wedding.

3. Your witness/es (if not a confidential wedding). If they’re late, use your photographer. You have no idea how many marriage licenses are out there with my name, address and signature on it.

4. An emergency makeup kit for touch-ups.

5. Flats or flip-flops for changing (no need if you grew up in heels).

6. The rings (I should’ve made this # 3).

7. Phone for candid shots because you know you’d be itching to post them on Facebook and IG. Also to let your photographer know when you arrive and for guests running a bit late confused with directions.

8. Mints (you both want to have fresh breaths when you exchange I do’s).

9. Wallet (you’ll probably skip breakfast as a last attempt to slip into that gown like liquid and might want a quick snack right after the ceremony from the ground floor cafe, lower level cafeteria or the food trucks out in front on Fridays from 11 am-2 pm).

10. Vows (if you prepared any).

Number Eight: Timing

From the moment you book the date, to the day of, timing is everything. So arrive early. If they’re strict on one thing, it’s being on time. Not on their part because it’s pretty common that they’re not on schedule but you showing up on your appointed time. If you miss your slot, there are no second chances and you have to do it all over again. So I can’t say it enough, be early. Consider the time of your appointment, the traffic, the distance from your hotel or your house and give more allowance that you normally would. We have to check in about 10 minutes before the ceremony so make sure you’re in line outside Room 168 within that period. Remember I mentioned they marry 3 couples every half hour? So depending on who arrives first among the 3 couples in your 30 minute slot, that would determine whether you’ll be couple number 1, 2 or 3. No biggie if you’re 2 or 3, time will be spent taking photos near the area of the ceremony.


Number Nine: Officiant/Commissioner – Do you get to choose?

The lady or gentleman you will meet upon check in and the same person to declare you husband and wife. Or wife and wife. Or husband and husband. Or partner for life.

Unfortunately, no, you do not get to choose them. But I assure you, they’re all nice and friendly. See an old blog post I wrote about some of them. Everyone on the list are still there plus a few newbies.

They used to have only one commissioner working per shift so you’re kind of stuck if the next one is running late. Good news is they now have two to speed things up.

Number Ten: Ceremony Location

When we check in, at some point, the commissioner will show you a 12 x 12 photo of the main lobby and you basically point to a spot where you want to get married. You probably already know this, the most popular location is the rotunda right on top of the main stairway. Not only is it beautiful but the location is a prime spot for taking good photos in all angles plus the light is just right. I can walk all around you and each background (except the one with the water fountain but that can be Photoshopped) will be amazing.

There is one commissioner though (# 5 on this list) who seems to just do weddings on the bottom landing of the stairway. For what reason, I’m not sure. But he’s done all his recent ceremonies here. It’s a great spot too but I have yet to see a couple request the rotunda with him.

A lot of you also have a concern for ending up getting married in the private room. And I can understand. Getting married at the SF City Hall almost always point to getting married at the rotunda. But it’s something we have no control over. And they get this too. Only when they have an event going on in the main lobby that they do not allow ceremonies in the rotunda. Commissioners understand this concern as well as I’ve seen them offer other locations on the 3rd or even 4th floors (one of my favorites) with the private room as a last resort. Out of all the weddings I’ve covered, only once had I been in the private room and it’s only because they had a really huge private event going on.

Number Eleven: Photographer

You’ve most probably learned about the beauty of SF City Hall not through word of mouth but by stumbling across a photo. You become enthralled, look for more photos and end up on a bunch of photographers’ websites. That’s what it’s all about. Make this an absolute part of your budget because why would you pick such a gorgeous location and not have a proper visual documentation of it? You want to capture every single beautiful corner (of course with you and your husband in it) this place has to offer.

There is a bunch of photographers out there to suit whatever budget you have, just please don’t rely on your phone or Uncle Tom’s new hobby and purchase from Best Buy. You need someone who has a good eye, knows the City Hall well and most important, someone you feel comfortable with. You have to be at ease, to be yourself, when your photos are taken for them to come out really nice. So don’t skimp on professional photos. Think of it as an investment. You’re paying for visual memories you and your kids and their kids will look back to in years to come.

Number Twelve: Location for Photos (in and out of City Hall)

There are lots of great locations within the building. Outside Rm. 168 is not one of them. Lighting makes photos turn yellow but that can be remedied with editing. Aside from the rotunda for the ceremony, make sure you explore the entire building (of course not the Mayor’s office or all other doors marked Staff only). I usually go floor hopping. With enough time, I start at the 4th floor. Lighting is almost always phenomenal. If there’s family involved, I usually like to take group photos here. The space is wide and the light faces my subjects beautifully. Then off to the 3rd. I love using the huge windows and have fun with different shots using the ledge and the railing across. Usually while waiting for our turn for the ceremony, I use the 2nd floor for shots incorporating the lobby as the background. Sometimes I’ll have you walk down the steps while I get a wide angle shot from straight across under the giant clock (you’ll see when you get there). Another must do shot is by the main entrance right underneath the door with the City Hall sign above it. This can wait after we’ve exhausted all indoor photos and right before we proceed to the second location. This is also a good spot for taking photos of you guys wearing your rings.

Number Thirteen: Second Location

Most couples I’ve had the pleasure to work with choose the West Coast Treat package. It includes two hours and two locations, the first being the City Hall. After the ceremony and a few more shots within and outside the building, we proceed to location number two. I usually take couples to the Palace of Fine Arts, Crissy Field, Golden Gate Park, Baker Beach, Clarion Alley, Musee Mecanique, Golden Gate Park, Fisherman’s Wharf, one of the Piers or they take me to the reception. The top 3 includes Crissy Field, Palace of Fine Arts and Baker Beach. Baker Beach is gorg since there are usually just a handful of people there most of the year but come summertime, it gets absolutely packed and has a lot of distractions in the background. So not only consider the time of day but the time of year too when choosing a second location. I actually love Clarion Alley but it may not be the cup of tea of many. But worth checking out. Also, time with your photographer doesn’t stop from one location to the next. Drive time is included so make sure you pick a second location not too far from the first or if you really want to go farther, be prepared for the possibility of paying for the extra time.

Number Fourteen: Rings and Vows

Rule number one, don’t forget them. With the rings, just like any wedding, you can have somebody hold onto them for safekeeping until the time during the ceremony where you have to exchange them. But if you’re planning to elope or have a confidential ceremony with no guests, some couples just keep them in their pockets or simply wear the other’s ring on a different finger and just slide them off upon the commissioner’s cue.

As for the vows, I can count with one hand the couples who’ve personally written theirs. So no biggie if you don’t. That doesn’t make you any less romantic. The commissioners actually have some pretty cool things to say that will leave your hearts going thumpity-thump. If you do decide on making one, just make sure it’s not a couple of pages long. I’m sure you have a lot to say to your soon-to-be but keep in mind they have 2 more couples within your 30-minute time frame.

Number Fifteen: Hair & Makeup, Flowers, Hotels/Airbnb, Limo/Uber and Places to Eat

These are the extracurriculars that would be left for you to decide on. There’s a huge selection for each category that I have to make a blog post for each one, maybe a Top 10, later on (so keep an eye out for that). You know your style and your budget more than anyone else so dive in and have fun checking out different vendors online. There’s Pinterest, Yelp and even Craigslist to get you started.

Ok, for now, that’s all I’ve got. I hope this helped you kick start your journey to the day. If you have questions that I wasn’t able to cover or just need moral support, feel free to comment below or send me an email. I’d love to hear from you.

Enjoy the ride and I’m excited to see you soon!



Marge Maghoney started her photographing professionally in 2009 and has since covered about 250 events, mostly weddings. “It wasn’t planned, but my niche evolved to San Francisco City Hall weddings,” she explains.  For one thing, she was married there in 2010. And, after experiencing the gorgeous location, she realized you don’t have to have a big wedding to have a beautiful wedding. “It’s also been an increasingly popular destination wedding spot as you’ll see on Pinterest or even via a simple Google search. A big chunk of my clients are from out of state and they make a vacation out of it with friends and family or sometimes just by themselves.” To learn more about San Francisco City Hall weddings, click here.

No Peeking at the Bride … & more Wedding Traditions



Many of the traditions we include in modern weddings have their roots deep in history. Though many of these customs are based on superstitions or historical necessity, to this day couples still – to some degree – acknowledge them. Though the dynamics of weddings change continuously, with new twists being added to the ‘canon’ all the time, wearing white, tying cans to the bumper, and carrying a bouquet all remain firmly entrenched in the collective psyche.

Unearthing the origins of our most beloved wedding traditions – from the practice of placing wedding bands on the third finger of the left hand to putting coins in the bride’s shoes – help modern brides understand why we continue to do things the way we do.

A Vision in White

“Married when the year is new, he’ll be loving, kind, and true.
When February birds do mate, you wed nor dread your fate.”

One of our most beloved wedding traditions is the white wedding dress. Many historians claim that the vivacious French queen, Anne de Bretagne, was the first to start this most cherished of wedding traditions by wearing a white wedding dress in 1499; however, there remains some speculation as to the veracity of this claim. Another 160 years would pass until accounts of Mary, Queen of Scots’ marriage to the French Dauphin in 1558 also claimed she wore white. In most cases, the white wedding dress is commonly attributed to Queen Victoria of England, however, who in 1840 married Albert of Saxe-Coburg, clad entirely in a white gown that was adorned with some of her own prized white lace. But, as far as wedding traditions are established, it still took awhile for brides to catch on to this new idea; it was, after all, very hard to clean a white dress and keep it that way in those times. Another sixty or so years would pass before brides had the resources to wear white wedding gowns routinely and keep them spotless.

Prior to this time, there were no wedding customs that dictated what color had to be worn, and everyone – from peasants to royalty – would simply wear their finest gown, whether it was blue, purple, or yellow hued. The only colors strictly off limits were black (a symbol of death) and flaming red (often associated with ‘ladies of the night.’), although brides in certain parts of the world wore (and still do) black or red gowns based on local cultural and social wedding customs and requirements. Nowadays, people think that a white dress stands for chastity, but traditionally, if a bride wanted to convey this fact, she would have worn blue in keeping with long-held wedding traditions.

All You Need Is Something Old, New, Borrowed, and Blue

“If you wed when March winds blow, joy and sorrow both you’ll know.
Marry in April when you can, joy for maiden and for man.”

Another favorite of our modern day wedding traditions – the practice of integrating ‘something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue’ – has been a part of the marriage ceremony since the nineteenth century, each standing for a special trinket or symbol the bride carries with her on the wedding day. Most people are unaware of the last line of this phrase, however, which ends with ‘and a silver sixpence in her shoe.’ Many cultures practice putting coins in the bride’s shoes, symbolic wedding customs that stand, of course, for wealth and prosperity. In Sweden, for instance, these wedding customs are evident with the mother of the bride placing a gold coin in one shoe and her father placing a silver coin in the other to ensure that she will always have financial security.

‘Something old’ stands for the bride’s old life; wedding customs generally state that she should pick something that reminds her of a loved one (perhaps a grandparent) or past special event. ‘Something new’ signifies the couple’s hope for their future together; a symbol of a shared interest is an excellent choice. ‘Something borrowed’ represents something the bride wishes to aspire to or someone she wishes to honor, whether it be a loved one’s old bracelet or a memento from a friend who has a happy marriage. And finally, the ‘something blue’ part of these wedding traditions, though it no longer holds the same symbolism, denotes the bride’s purity. Many brides today incorporate the color discreetly underneath their dresses in the form of garters or as jewelry.

The Vein of Love Links Both Hearts

“Marry in the month of May, and you’ll surely rue the day.
Marry when June roses grow, over land and sea you’ll go.”

With its circular shape, the wedding ring, which for years has been a part of our most respected wedding customs, represents a love without end and the moment when the bride and groom are joined together. Placing the wedding ring on the third finger of the left hand is usually believed to have come from the ancient Egyptian belief that this part of the body contained the ‘vein of love,’ or a mythical vein that runs from the finger to the heart. With the wedding ring on this finger, another of our most beloved wedding traditions concluded that happiness, love, and commitment were assured (citation:

Early folklore of how our wedding customs came to be claims that the husband would tie his new wife’s ankles and wrists with ropes to keep her spirit on earth for as long as possible; this particular practice stemming from these ancient wedding customs, of course, evolved into today’s modern wedding bands, now made from gold or silver, though the transformation took many forms throughout the years – hemp (which never lasted long), leather, metal, and other durable materials, such as iron (favored by the Romans) to indicate the permanence of the union.

Across the Threshold We Go

“Those who in July do wed, must labor for their daily bread.
Whoever wed in August be, many a change is sure to see.”

There are at least four explanations why the groom is expected to carry his bride over the threshold, all of which have their origins in wedding customs of centuries past. Well over a millennia or so ago, it was common for the groom to abduct his bride (with the help of his ‘best man’), and essentially, he had to force her into the home. To make the situation easier, he likely carried her across the threshold so she couldn’t escape. Similarly, the belief in evil spirits was rampant, and to protect the couple from harm, popular wedding traditions held that the groom carried her over to leave the potential threats outside.

Another feasible explanation for these wedding traditions rests with the new wife’s reluctance to enter the home and leave behind her family, and with a show of modesty for her husband, the bride would play hard to get, requiring the groom to carry her over the threshold so she entered the home. The last, perhaps most common account of lifting the bride over the threshold is that she must never trip or fall or she’ll suffer years of ill fortune. But regardless of where you go, these wedding traditions still stand for the passage of one phase of life to the next and the hope that the bride and groom have for their future together (citation: Marriage Customs of the World, George Monger, page 270).

Look at Us and Wish Us Well

“Marry in September’s shrine, your living will be rich and fine.
If in October you do marry, love will come but riches tarry.”

A long time ago, as a bride was ready to depart with her husband from the marriage ceremony, wedding customs dictated that she should hand her shoes to her father who, in turn, would hand them to her husband, a roundabout way to show her allegiance to her father, who passed on her care and keep to the groom. In the sixteenth century, local wedding customs dictated that newly married English couples should have shoes thrown at them, and it was a good omen if they were hit. To keep these wedding traditions alive, the bridal party now ties shoes to the bumper of the couple’s car along with various other decorations, such as ‘Just Married’ signs or tin cans that are meant to scare away the evil spirits.

Wedding traditions associated with loud commotions to keep the spirits away have their origins in Medieval Europe, when the wedding guests would leave the ceremony and make enough noise with bells, whistles, and pots to frighten the spirits and keep them at bay, ensuring a happy future for the new couple.

Quick, Hide the Bride!

“If you wed in bleak November, only joys will come, remember.
When December snows fall fast, marry and true love will last.”

It’s common knowledge that it’s bad luck for the groom to see his bride on the wedding day before the ceremony, as far as wedding customs go. Marriages were frequently arranged a long time ago, a deal between the bride’s parents and the groom’s used to gain alliances, more power, or greater wealth. Until the ceremony, local wedding customs prevented the bride and groom from meeting in person. To prevent the groom from leaving once he saw her (if she was, in fact, unattractive), he was not allowed to speak with her until after the ceremony was finished.

Wedding customs also required that the bride was also required to wear a heavy, thick veil (just in case) and it was only lifted after the ceremony. And, at that point, the groom could no longer back out from his commitment. Many modern brides still incorporate these two wedding traditions; it, of course, lends to the excitement of the day, keeping her groom anxious to see how beautiful she looks when she walks down the aisle.

And Other Wedding Traditions, Customs, and Oddities Still in Practice

There are literally hundreds of other wedding traditions, customs, and superstitions that make up today’s marriage ceremony, and some are quite odd. In certain areas, kissing and/or running into a chimney sweep, dove, or black cat is good luck while sewing your own wedding dress is bad (for every stitch, you’ll shed a tear). Regardless of which wedding customs you incorporate into your special day – from the old to the new – the origins of each are steeped in history, and though they’ve morphed, they still equate to the celebration of love in many diverse ways.

In 2006, Cherie Johnson decided to blend her love of weddings with a business model by starting Creative Wedding Favors, a one-stop shop for baby and bridal shower, graduation, quinceañera, anniversary, and wedding favors. Cherie’s helpful tips have been published on many websites including The Wedding Source, Little Wedding Guide, and The American Chronicle. Over the past few years, Cherie has helped countless couples and families make their big events a success. Prior to starting the company, she worked as a professional wedding photographer. Browse Creative Wedding Favors’ colorful selection of favors by visiting

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Tiny Attendants: Yay or Nay?

Small girl with painted lips


Prince William and Princess Kate did it. So did Kate Moss, Brooke Burke and Lily Allen. But it’s not just royals and celebrities who choose to include youngsters in their wedding parties. Plenty of brides and grooms opt to have flower girls, ring bearers, and/or junior bridesmaids and junior groomsmen.

After all, younger siblings, cousins, relatives and special friends often play important roles in family life, so naturally you want them to be part of your big day. Certainly, if you already have children, you’re apt to include them in this life-changing special occasion.

However, it’s wise to think carefully before you plan for little ones to take on big roles. Yes, teeny tiny attendants are totally adorable in formalwear. But no, they don’t have the poise, social skills, patience or stamina of adults. That means you have to be sure your beloved boys and girls are willing, able and ready to walk down the aisle or serve in another high-profile capacity.

For one thing, a lot of wedding ceremonies hosted at places of worship happen smack-dab in the middle of the afternoon–otherwise known as naptime. Some wee ones need their midday sleep. Without it, they can’t function– and adults shouldn’t expect them to.

If you’ve been to a wedding or 12 as a guest, you’ve probably experienced the spectacle that is the young child who is beyond her or his ability to cope. Oh, the wailing and fussing. (And that’s just the mother trying to settle the child down.) When that child is supposed to  walk down the aisle to toss rose petals or carry a ring perched in a pillow, one or two things usually happen:
1. The little one refuses to cooperate or backs out due to a fit of shyness. That’s fine. The show goes on without a blip.

2. Sometimes dad or mom wind up carrying Junior or Missy down the aisle while serving as a standin for petal-tossing duties. This usually elicits plenty of smiles and laughter from the guests.

3. Other times the little one is able to rally, and winds up executing his or her duties with aplomb.

In any case, if you’re easygoing and not focused on perfection, a flawless outcome doesn’t matter so much. On the other hand, if your heart is set on glamour and formality, it’s best to nix plans for little attendants. There are other ways to include them and make them feel special.



And the Bride Wore … the Colour She Wanted




Do not feel obligated to wear a white wedding dress, if you don’t want to. It is not a wedding requirement and many modern brides are choosing wedding gowns in any colour from off white to royal purple and crimson red. It is true that for more than 100 years, brides have been wearing white flowing gowns on their wedding day, and it would seem that it is the traditional attire. After all, walk into any bridal boutique in North America, and you will immediately be inundated with wedding dress choices, all in white. However, take a moment to ask the bridal consultant and you may be surprised to learn that most dress styles can be special ordered in colors other than white.


Before 1840, most brides wore colored wedding dresses – practical garments that could be worn again after the wedding day. It was not until Queen Victoria married Prince Albert, and she walked down the aisle in a snow white wedding gown, that fancy white wedding dresses become en vogue. Once Queen Victoria wore white, it seemed like the whole world started wearing pure white wedding gowns; it was said to symbolize glamour and social status. Within just a few years, as mass production became more prevalent, average brides began to wear white wedding dresses and the tradition has stayed mainstream ever since.

White wedding dresses, long associated with virginal purity, are overrated and outdated! In fact, many couples live together long before they ever get married and there are a higher number of second marriages now than ever before. If you want to wear a wedding gown that is mint green, peachy orange, iced lilac, red velvet, or buttercup yellow, go for it! It is your special day, and you should feel comfortable wearing whatever wedding dress best suits your personality, and a gown you will look back on fondly.



Source: Tracey Smith is an expert article writer on the topic of weddings; Hopefully you found this article on wedding gowns useful.


Love is Brewing


Where tradition and elegance are timeless

Location: Mill St. Brew Pub
photos by Andrew Geddes

Leading up to your wedding day, you spend hundreds of hours flipping through magazines, talking to wedding suppliers and dreaming about every detail that can perfect your special day. We thought it would be fun to give you a peek at how a fashion shoot is created by talking to the people behind the scenes. In this fashion spread, we chat with Nicole Ouellette, a wedding stylist and the creative thinker behind ‘love is brewing.’


What was your vision?

I really wanted to create a shoot that was different and that the groom could relate to. I love when both the bride and groom are “styled.” More men these days are taking a vested interest in how they look on their wedding day, so I wanted to take it one step further and show the wedding from a man’s point of view.

What key themes guided you?

The key theme was ‘love is brewing,’ where old meets new; where tradition and elegance are timeless. This shoot was built around a strong groom who appreciates the finer things in life. All the elements incorporated were classic and simple, which combined made a powerful impact.

Why this location?

Mill St. Brew Pub was the perfect backdrop for this shoot, as this 140 year old former grist mill is rich in industrial heritage and charm. It brings you back to the days when it was The Mill and the man would put on his best suit and take the woman out to dinner to sweep her off her feet. Who doesn’t want to be cared for by the one they love? The exposed brick, steel pipes, hardwood flooring and the windows overlooking the river exude romance in its most organic form. The added bonus was the onsite craft brewery, which only furthered the mindset that you create your perfect love.

How did you build the photo shoot?

We started with the venue and worked with Natalie of The Sugar Post to pull items that complemented the space. They brought various items that included old steamer trunks, lace, typewriters, oil lanterns and the custom barn board scotch bar. Every item helped to create the feeling of being brought back in time, back to when things were simple. We also had Julie of Sugar and Spice create a stunning cake that tied in the wood element. With the venue, attire, decor elements and photographer, it all pulled together perfectly to achieve the look we had envisioned.


What colours and tones helped to bring this alive?

We wanted to work with the space, drawing on the soft brown, slate grey and black and add in the symbol of love, being red of course.

How did you choose the styles for the bride and groom?

All the fashion had to be very classic and timeless. Nothing says tradition and elegance like the tuxedo. The dress was by Robert Bullock, who aims to design dresses that exude sophistication and never go out of style. The sweetheart neckline and silhouette was perfect for that classic jewelled showpiece that finished off the look. W

The Players

Concept, hair and florals:
Nicole Ouellette, Wedding Junction,

Wedding dress and bridal accessories:
Luxe Bridal Boutique,

Men’s fashion:
Morris Formal Wear,

Decor and styling:
The Sugar Post,

Sugar and Spice Custom Cakes,

Mill St. Brew Pub,

Andrew Geddes, Union Eleven Photographers,

The Bride Wears Boots!


You can be stylish and have warm feet!


Sure those five-inch open-toe crystal-back platform pumps by Badgley Mischka are droolworthy. They’re sparkly and satiny and “all the everything” luxe you want for your special day.

But, girlfriend? You wedding is in January. In Ottawa. That’s Canada, eh? And you don’t want your showstopper moment to be slip-sliding on ice and winding up with your head in a snowbank and your heels to the sky. Think of the Instagram posts. Oy.

Same goes for the four-inch T-strap open-toe sandals by Vince Camuto in crystal/silver nappa. Sigh. Yes, they’re to-die-for. No, they don’t have winter tires.

Another sigh.



Bridal booties can have a sensible heel, if you want …

Of course you’re going to be a fabulous goddess on your wedding day. You’re also going to be a smart goddess. By all means, get the platform pumps or sandals. Better yet, get both! (You never know; they might come in handy.)

Just don’t wear them outside. Do like you did back in Grades 1, 2 and 3. Use them for your “indoor shoes” … for when you get to the dinner and reception. Don’t risk wrecking them or breaking a leg by trying to maneuver in them as you get in and out of the car or walk outside.



Red Uggs? Why not?


That’s what your boots are for. Your wedding boots. Your fabulous wedding boots. Yes, you don’t have to get your tootsies cold. Or wet. You can have cosy and/or stylish feet, even for outdoor wedding photographs. And even on the winteriest of winter days.  There are plenty of options from bright, seasonal (red!) Uggs  and funky flat styles to boots with heels and others with lots and lots of bling. Since some girls think glam is worth the risk. And that’s just fine.



Bling? Yes please. 

A lot of brides in recent years have opted for rustic, “country” weddings, complete with cowboy boots for the all the attendants. These wedding-white boots combine a bit of country styling with some glam details and a flat heel #ftw.


Country styling with a bit of glam and a flat heel, #ftw.

#OttawaWeddings … When Lindsay Married Carey



We love wedding pictures, don’t you? They’re full of joy, beauty, fun and unforgettable moments. Besides, if you’re planning a wedding of your own, they’re also loaded with fabulous ideas and inspiration.

These images of Lindsay and Carey’s August 5, 2016 wedding, by Andrew Geddes of Union Eleven Photographers, are all that and then some.

We presented a Happily Ever After feature about this lovely local wedding yesterday, but guess what? We found more photos. And they’re too good not to share and celebrate.

Here’s a recap of this special wedding day last summer:



Lindsay knew exactly what she wanted: “I had a vision and theme of rustic elegance. When we found Evermore in Almonte, it was everything we had both imagined. We loved the rustic feel of the property but also its elegance and beautiful landscape.”




“I went with soft pink and rose gold accents and lace; I also incorporated tons of natural elements. We wanted a wedding that was unique and fun for our guests, so we had custom wood letters — LOVE — made for guests to pose with, as well as a giant-sized Jenga game to play with outside.



“Our lace linens, sequin and champagne accents were provided by Groovy Linen. The gorgeous desserts were made by Osso Sweet. Rosie Osso’s attention to detail is impeccable.

As I am so hands-on and into decorating (just finishing up my designation to be a professional decorator) I decorated the venue myself. The cookie bar, dessert table, linens and custom wood LOVE letters were designed by me.




“We tried to incorporate as many meaningful handmade touches as we could. I had homemade cookies made so our guests could try homemade recipes. Carey and I both, as kids (and still now), have been obsessed with grilled cheese sandwiches so we had Salt specially make us grilled cheese to pass around for our special day.





The Details

Bride’s Name: Lindsay Wolfe-Assaf

Groom’s Name: Carey Assaf

Date: August 5th, 2016

Venue: Evermore, Almonte

Flowers: Ottawa Flowers

Photography: Union Eleven, Andrew Geddes

Rings: Tacori La Maison D’Or

Linen: Groovy Linen

Desserts: Osso Sweet

DJ: Dynamix Productions

Food: Salt

Hair: Showpony Hair 

Makeup: One Fine Beauty


Lindsay and Carey


photos by Andrew Geddes

When Carey asked Lindsay out on a date, she was hesitant to jump back into the dating scene. He persisted.

“Any time and any day and I will make it happen,” he told her. Eventually, Lindsay was convinced. “With his busy work life, I knew he was serious and someone special I wanted to get to know,” she explains. “We have been inseparable ever since.”

Four years later he proposed. Knowing how much Lindsay loves photos, he printed every single picture they’d taken together as “selfies” and hung them in their home with messages. Hundreds and hundreds of them. Arriving home she followed the messages along a path that led her to the backyard.

There he was on one knee, waiting to propose. It was a romantic gesture straight out of The Bachelor, Lindsay’s guilty pleasure.


Beautiful bride. 


“We decided on a shorter engagement as I’m a creative soul,” says explains. “I knew the longer I had, the more projects I would get into.”
She also knew exactly what she wanted: “I had a vision and theme of rustic elegance. When we found Evermore in Almonte, it was everything we had both imagined. We loved the rustic feel of the property but also its elegance and beautiful landscape. Carey, coming from a large basketball family, was thrilled with the history of the property as it was the childhood home of James Naismith, the inventor of basketball.”

Natural Elements

“I went with soft pink and rose gold accents and lace; I also incorporated tons of natural elements. We wanted a wedding that was unique and fun for our guests, so we had custom wood letters — LOVE — made for guests to pose with, as well as a giant-sized Jenga game to play with outside.

“Our lace linens, sequin and champagne accents were provided by Groovy Linen. The gorgeous desserts were made by Osso Sweet. Rosie Osso’s attention to detail is impeccable.

As I am so hands-on and into decorating (just finishing up my designation to be a professional decorator) I decorated the venue myself. The cookie bar, dessert table, linens and custom wood LOVE letters were designed by me.

“We tried to incorporate as many meaningful handmade touches as we could. I had homemade cookies made so our guests could try homemade recipes. Carey and I both, as kids (and still now), have been obsessed with grilled cheese sandwiches so we had Salt specially make us grilled cheese to pass around for our special day.


grilled cheese


Our wedding was intimate, with 100 guests. Our ceremony was outside overlooking the open fields on what seemed to be the hottest day of the summer. Funny story: my older niece ended up being too scared to walk down the aisle so my 40-year-old brother ended up tossing the rose petals. That was pretty entertaining for guests.





When we said our vows we had this gorgeous light rain and a rainbow pop up. It was so romantic with our groomsmen holding umbrellas over us during our first kiss, with Somewhere Over the Rainbow playing in the background. How perfect is that?”


The Details

Bride’s Name: Lindsay Wolfe-Assaf

Groom’s Name: Carey Assaf

Date: August 5th, 2016

Flowers: Ottawa Flowers

Photography: Union Eleven, Andrew Geddes

Rings: Tacori La Maison D’Or

Linen: Groovy Linen

Desserts: Osso Sweet

DJ: Dynamix Productions

Food: Salt

Hair: Showpony Hair 

Makeup: One Fine Beauty