Elena and Johnny


Yes, Happily Ever After

What happens when a woman in love gets the proposal
of her dreams? A big “yes” when the question “will you marry me” is asked, of course. See what happens when they marry.

By Lindsay Ruck
photos by CESOIR

Elena Yammine and Johnny Azzi first captured our hearts when we featured their oh-so-romantic New York City proposal in Ottawa Wedding Magazine’s spring-summer 2016 issue. After Elena said “yes” in Central Park to the man who happened to also be her prom date six years prior, we decided to follow these love birds all the way to the altar to share their happily ever after with you.

The pair planned a modern summer affair for their 225 guests on July 16, 2016. It not only highlighted the couple, but also captured very special traditions of their shared Lebanese traditions.

Elena and her girls enjoyed a relaxing morning of pampering, with hair done by Hair Maestro Elee Hitti and makeup by Paul Hitti.

The bride entered St. Charbel Maronite Church in Ottawa on her father’s arm donning a Pronovias gown with a sheer lace bodice and holding beautiful blooms from Ottawa Flowers.

Following the “I do’s,” guests were treated to a sweet summer treat from Stella Luna’s vintage gelato push-cart before heading to St. Elias Banquet Centre.

“We stayed in touch with Lebanese traditions, such as the [Ottawa] Zaffeh Group and the drums during the reception and at the bridal house. But we had a certain uniqueness to our wedding.”

With a colour palette of blush and gold, the grand hall was transformed into the couple’s romantic vision by Ottawa Wedding Décor. There were several personal touches found throughout the space which highlighted the couple.

Each table number was paired with photos of Johnny and Elena at that same age. In lieu of the traditional guestbook, guests were asked to sign a canvas print from the couple’s New York engagement shoot. And at each place setting, guests were greeted with Hershey Kisses with customized labels reading: “Hugs and kisses from the bride and groom.”

Another unique touch was gifted from the bride to the groom. Johnny received 10 bottles of wine which represented different “firsts” the pair have yet to experience.

“The wines corresponded with their respective labels, such as first fight was partnered up with the wine called ‘clean slate.’”

Milo’s Pastry provided a grand tiered wedding cake which complemented the extravagant affair perfectly.

Another surprise sweet treat came at midnight, as guests snacked on delectable SuzyQ doughnuts.

While everyone in attendance was there to celebrate the bride and groom, Elena and Johnny were determined to show each and every guest how much they appreciated having them there to celebrate their big day.

“During dinner, we went from table to table just to speak to everyone and take pictures with everyone. I think that made the night really special, because although we skipped our dinner, our guests really appreciated that we took the time to do that.”

Another important element for the newlyweds was making sure their parents were included in all aspects of the day.

“They truly are the second stars of the show and without them the wedding would not have been possible. It meant a lot to our parents and to Johnny and I that they were sitting with us at the head table along with our bridal party. Our parents are our No. 1 supporters and role models, and without them we wouldn’t be the people we are now.”

With speeches read, cake cut and dinner complete, all that was left to do was dance the night away. Thanks to DJ Tonee, guests were on their feet to celebrate the newlyweds and their new life together as husband and wife. W

Hot Date at the Kilt Skate!



Looking for a fun date with your fiance? How about some birthday cake, skates and kilts? Yes, kilts! The third annual Sir John A’s Great Canadian Kilt Skate is taking place tomorrow, Saturday, January 28, on the Lansdowne Park Skating Court behind the Aberdeen Pavilion. At noon, kilted skaters are taking to the ice to honour Scottish heritage, and celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday as well as the 202nd birthday of Canada’s first prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald.

You in?

You’re welcome to be part of the action. And the Scottish Society of Ottawa is offering birthday cake and hot chocolate to folks on hand from noon until 2 p.m.

The event had its origin as an annual birthday party in an Ottawa home near the Rideau Canal Skateway. In 2015, the Scottish Society of Ottawa (SSO) approached the organizer, Don Cummer, to turn his gathering into a citywide event to celebrate the 200th birthday of the architect of Confederation, Sir John A. Macdonald. Within weeks it morphed into an event held in five of Canada’s ten provinces. This year, Sir John A’s Great Canadian Kilt Skate is happening in seven cities. Events have already taken place in Montreal, Lloydminster and Toronto. Ottawa and Saskatoon are celebrating tomorrow, January 28, and there are events in Calgary and Winnipeg February 12.

“Sir John A’s Great Canadian Kilt Skate is indelibly Scottish and undeniably Canadian,” says Kevin MacLeod, chair of the SSO, the organization that coordinates the national event. “It speaks to the Scottish contribution to Canada’s multicultural heritage, and this winter, for Canada’s 150th birthday, it’s bigger than ever. The Scottish Society of Ottawa is delighted at how this Ottawa event is spreading in new cities across the country.

“No matter where you are, this event is open to everyone. It’s a chance to nurture your inner Scot,” says MacLeod. “You don’t have to be Scottish. You don’t even have to wear a kilt. Just come to the party with a spirit of Scottish fun and fortitude, and wear Canada’s favourite colour: tartan!”



De-Stress for the Big Day with Yoga



By Dr Alan Viau

While planning a wedding doesn’t have to be stressful, for many it seems to be an inevitable part of one of the most exhilarating times of their life. Some can deal with the stress better than others. Yoga is one proven way to help cope with the added pressures that accompany planning a wedding. You can De-stress for the Dress.

With all the weddings I’ve witnessed, wedding stress is a result — a response to one of two sources. However your stress manifests, you’ll be able to choose a type of yoga that works for you. As you approach your wedding day, you’ll be ready to tackle anything.

One source of stress is that couples feel the pressure of having everything planned to the smallest detail to achieve their ideal of a perfect day. It is complex to handle multiple vendors let alone the planning that goes with mixing people, friends and family together. There may be inter-personal dynamics about how the guests will interact, especially those who have never met — or have and aren’t on the best terms. Bride and grooms need to find mechanisms for letting go of that stress by doing gentle hatha yoga.

In gentle hatha yoga, the poses tend to be simple and accessible to beginners. The focus is on using the poses as a way to relax and meditate. Instructors frequently encourage their students to be in the present moment. The benefits of gentle yoga are an increase in flexibility and strength.

The type of relaxation and meditation attained through gentle hatha yoga can help make you a more mindful person, more aware of your internal thoughts and how you construct narratives about yourself and other people in your life. On the mat, you’ll have time to reflect on those inner dialogues.

Another source of stress is that couples aren’t necessarily feeling stressed at the beginning. However as anticipation builds the nerves kick in. All of a sudden, there are disaster scenarios that appear in their minds that can drive them batty. Couples can work off that extra steam by doing something for themselves. It’s important to set aside time to unwind and be reflective. This can be achieved through a more vigorous power/vinyasa flow yoga practice.

Power/vinyasa flow yoga is focused on dynamic movement and strong physical practice. You’re going to sweat (hot yoga is also in this category). The philosophy behind these types of yoga is that by challenging yourself physically, your mind is fully focused on your body. This type of yoga often resonates with those who find jogging beneficial for stress relief. By having a really powerful yoga practice, brides and grooms can get over the noise of their busy lives and feel energized. Once you’ve taken the time to not think about everything, when you step off the mat you’re energized and ready to tackle everything — like planning a wedding.

By approaching your wedding day with mindfulness, you’ll feel proactive rather than frustrated as challenges arise. Yoga can help make you a more mindful and happier person. The aim of practicing yoga is a long-term, sustainable, healthy body and mind. By starting a new fitness regime early in your planning days, you’ll be able to tackle what comes your way.

Originally published at alanviau.com on October 14, 2016.

Alan Viau is yoga teacher, minister, health scientist, & cancer survivor who teaches & coaches achieving fitness & well-being at LoveOfLifeYoga.com.

Put Devices Away during the Ceremony, Please

Cameraman and marriage

You know that wedding. You’ve been to it.

The setting is beautiful. The pews or aisle seats are festooned with floral arrangements, lanterns and bows. An organist or guitarist starts to play as the seats gradually fill with people in their party-best. Eventually, the groom and groomsmen appear at the front and, minutes later, the bridesmaids and bride start their momentous walk down the aisle.

It’s the big moment, the culmination of a year or two of planning and the stuff of a bride-to-be’s dreams. Should you, then, whip your cell phone out and take a picture?

Lots of people do. Actually, it’s not uncommon for wedding guests to rise out of their seats and stand in the aisle to snap photos while the ceremony is underway. Snap, snap, snap.

Everybody’s got a cell phone, so sometimes there’s a flurry of picture takers. At the same time, there may be a pretty disappointed bride and groom. After all, they’ve invited you to bear witness to one of the most important occasions of their lifetime. They’re expecting you to pay attention.

What’s more, they’ve probably hired a professional photographer and maybe even a videographer to record the special moments and festivities. Odds are, if you’re one of the “cell phone snappers,” you might be in the way or making their job more difficult.

In fact well known Ottawa photographer Mark Cooper has written about it, in response to the dismay expressed by many of his clients about this trend.  And the response to his online post has been huge.

Mark has even been asked to suggest wording to be included in wedding invitations to ask guests to put away their devices. Here’s what he suggests:

Dearest Guest

Thank you for participating in the celebration of our love on this most special day in our lives. As you witness the exchange of vows and rings, it is our hope that you will be fully present during this intimate expression of our love. In honour of our ceremony and love, it is our sincerest request that you put away your electronic devices and celebrate with us through your presence. 

What do you think?

Jessica and Tristan


Bride Name
Groom Name
Date of Wedding
Lisa Mounteer Photography 
Reception Held at
Algonquin College 
Ceremony Held at
St. Maurice Church 
Wedding Dress
David’s Bridal 
Groom’s Fashions From
Bridesmaids Fashions From
With Love Bridal 
Groomsmen’s Fashions From
Bride’s Hair By
Hair Expectations 
Bride’s Make-Up By
Hair Expectations 
Cake By
Chantal Hendsbee (my mom)
Catering By
Algonquin College 
Flowers By
Lise’s Flower Palace 
Invitations By
Party City 
Favours By
Party City, made by my mom and I
When they say that your wedding goes by way to fast, it’s not a lie. Our wedding was a dream come true. August 13, 2016, was the day we chose and took 2 years to plan. I tried to make it personal by making everything or designing everything myself, with help of course ! You always worry if everything was done right, is something going to go wrong? I truly believe that our day ( even with rain ) was perfect.

Books for the Bride and Groom


Mother-Of-The-Bride Book: Giving Your Daughter a Wonderful Wedding

By Sharon Naylor Citade

Congratulations! Your daughter’s getting married! Once the initial excitement of the announcement wears off, it’s time to get busy as you begin planning for the big day.

This invaluable guide is chockful of the ice and ideas you need to help make your daughter’s wedding truly special — everything from putting together a guest list, designing a seating chart, to throwing engagement party and finding the perfect wedding dress. Plus, there are tips for staying within a budget, a guide to the dos and don’ts of being the official hostess, reminders about the countless details that can’t be overlooked, and for times when the stress of it really gets to you, you’ll even find in these pages some simple calm-down exercises that really work. Here’s the resource you need to fulfill one of the most important roles of your life — and create cherished memories that will last forever.


The Knot Ultimate Wedding Planner & Organizer

By Bettie Bradley Potter Style

From the author of The Knot Complete Guide to Weddings in the Real World, a thoroughly modern, must-have workbook to help you pull off the perfect wedding. With so many nerve-wracking details to tend to, planning the perfect wedding can seem an impossible task. Now this step-by-step takes you through the countless stages of planning your big day. Packed with easy-to-follow checklists and worksheets, and the hip, insightful wisdom that has made www.theknot.com an indispensable resource for millions of couples worldwide, this guide provides:

A one-year calendar with monthly and weekly to-do lists leading up to the moment of marriage

Worksheets to help you:

– Organize the attendants, the guest list, and the invitations

– Design the ceremony — from the site and officiant to the dress

– Arrange the reception — from the cake and caterer to the music and the photographer

– Checklists to keep track of finances, contracts, and post-marriage legalities

– Money-saving tips and answers to frequently asked questions

This will be a lovely keepsake after the meaningful, joyful, and customized celebration you’re sure to have.

To source or purchase any of the books we have listed in this column; simply take the ISBN number and author’s name to any bookstore for a special order. Libraries may not carry all books listed on this page.

Compiled by R. Legault.

Ways to give your cake springtime flair



Spring Fling

Spring flavors

Pick a wedding cake that summons a taste of spring with in-season berries and fruits. Instead of traditional buttercream filling, consider a fresh strawberry puree filling or a lemon cake with blackberry filling. If you love chocolate cake but still want a taste that reflects the season, try a chocolate cake filled with chocolate cherry ganache.

Spring blooms

Flowers can go a long way in defining a spring theme for your wedding cake. Match your cake to your bouquet by asking your baker to create sugar versions of your wedding day flowers. If you’re considering modern decor, ask your baker to make a statement with a few large graphic sugar peonies on each cake tier. If you’ve chosen a more classic look for your wedding, find out whether your baker can paint small daisies along your cake using an edible dye.


Seasonal colours

Colour definitely counts when designing a spring wedding cake, and you can’t go wrong with a palette of preppy white, pink, and lime green or a pastel hue like lavender. For a more subdued palette, add a hint of spring colour with a simple chocolate ganache-covered cake with subtle white dots, or an ivory buttercream cake trimmed in light pink. Or let the spring colours pop with an ivory cake accented with sugar-molded butterflies or birds.

Mix and match

You don’t have to choose between a charming naked cake and the traditional frosted buttercream. Try mixing and matching.  Instead of one grand confection, opt for smaller tiers and get a few styles you really love. Worried it might look too random? Pull the presentation together with one consistent element, like the same cake stands or floral decorations.


Shapes and add-ons

When it comes to a spring cake, flowers, butterflies, and other elements made out of chocolate, sugar, or gum paste are obvious options. But you don’t have to go overboard with these add-ons to get a springtime look. Instead, consider a white cake stacked with subtle, soft white hydrangeas with just a hint of blue or green. The tone-on-tone look will up the elegant factor and still give you the same seasonal effect.

Choose seasonal sides

Consider offering a spring-inspired side with your cake. Serve cake a la mode with gourmet lavender-infused ice cream; add a handful of chocolate-covered cherries to each plate; or have your caterer present each guest a petite bowl of spring berries topped with a dollop of fresh cream.

From the files of Ottawa Wedding Magazine.

Decor Ideas from an Ottawa Wedding Pro

Best of 2016

By Dr Alan Viau

I conduct wedding ceremonies in all sorts of locations. Restaurants, backyards, specialized venues and hotels are all standard fare for me. Whereas [some] wedding magazines feature exotic and extravagant decorations, those sorts of lavish frills are out of reach for most brides and grooms, who have budgets.

Being mindful of their budgets, brides and grooms executed their decor accordingly in 2016. The trends I’ve seen include:

  • Sweetheart tables for the bride and groom
  • Upscale country/ rural look with more flowers and lace
  • Leveraging a venue’s decor by keeping yours consistent with the venue’s style
  • Use of seasonal flowers not just the usual, such as roses and peonies

Below are snapshots of real wedding decor at nuptials throughout the Ottawa-Gatineau area. I have two favorites. One is by Elise Schmitz from Toast Special Events at Le Belvedere where she used three decor themes in one event. You can see that each row of tables has a different setting.


My second is Michelle Vandenbosch from Rebel Petal who re-used the flowers in the aisles as table centre pieces at the Canadian War Museum.


Here are other real-wedding decor ideas from 2016.









Fall in love everyday

Alan Viau is yoga teacher, minister, health scientist, & cancer survivor who teaches & coaches achieving fitness & well-being at LoveOfLifeYoga.com.

This story was originally published at alanviau.com.

Sarah and Zak’s Wedding Style

wedding style

Get the Look

We’re seriously swooning over Sarah and Zak’s wedding style. It was tough to choose, but we’ve selected five fabulous features that made their big day extra special. If you like what you see, find out how to snag their bridal look below.


The dress

Sarah purchased her stunning Alvina Valenta creation from Kleinfeld Bridal in New York City. The thin delicate straps, wide open back and lace top immediately had this bride saying “yes” to the dress. “The brand is known for its ‘effortless chic romanticism,’ which is exactly what I fell in love with the moment I tried it on.” To find your own Alvina Valenta bridal beauty, check out Ottawa’s White Satin at www.whitesatin.ca.


The guestbook

Sarah and Zak went with a twist on tradition for their wedding guestbook. Everyone in attendance was asked to use the Polaroid Instant digital camera provided and add their pic and best wishes to a book ordered from Etsy – a one-stop online shop for all things custom, creative and sometimes even couture! For your own personal online purchases, check out www.etsy.ca and www.amazon.ca.


The welcome bag

Guests received staple sweet treats upon arrival for this couple’s big day – maple syrup from Proulx Farm and a maple leaf shortbread cookie from Moulin de Provence (now affectionately called the “Obama cookie” following the U.S. president’s visit to the nation’s capital). “My grandmother had a tradition that whenever we slept over at her house, there would be a ‘bed present’ waiting for us on our beds. So we crafted notes for each guest explaining this tradition with some local treats and sightseeing ideas as their ‘bed present.’ Check out Cumberland’s Proulx Farm at www.proulxberryfarm.com and Moulin de Provence at www.moulindeprovence.com.


The robes

Choosing what your girls will wear while being pampered that morning has become almost as important as the wedding gown. Sarah selected beautiful In Bloom blue robes from Saks Fifth Avenue in New York City for her bridal squad. “Getting ready with the girls was one of the fun parts of the day and the robes are a nice memory.” In Bloom by Jonquil is also available at Nordstrom. Check out the selection at shop.nordstrom.com.


The accessories

The options are endless when selecting your bridal accessories and a traditional veil is no longer the designated go-to to complete your look. “I knew I wanted to wear my hair pretty natural – down with loose curls swept to the side for the ceremony. My hairstylist suggested I add this accessory to make it feel more elegant and special for my wedding day.” Sarah found her beautiful hair piece from Wedding Belles New York at Nordstrom. To find your own bridal topper, check out shop.nordstrom.com.

Compiled by Lindsay Ruck.
Images by Miv Photography.

Wedding Day and Night at Stonefields


You’ve probably heard of Stonefields, the award-winning venue in Beckwith that has played host to more than 160 weddings over the past six years. Certainly, anyone who has attended an event at the 120-acre heritage farm knows it’s a magical setting for saying “I do’s.” Its stone farmhouse, log barns and arresting scenery serve as a remarkable and timeless backdrop for an equally memorable occasion.

And now the Stonefields wedding experience can be even more special. The venue has introduced the Stonefields Inn. The jewel of the historic estate, the stone farmhouse was built in 1857, and now it’s available for rent by wedding couples and their guests for the night of the wedding. Imagine. No sacrificing ease and convenience to hold your wedding in an exceptional setting.

Not only do you not have to arrange for a driver or worry about drinking and driving and getting to a hotel miles away, you get to spend your wedding night in a one-of-a-kind place that’s full of charm and steeped in history.

Brides and grooms can begin and end their wedding day in the historic home. The 4000 square foot space includes 4 bedrooms and 3 full bathrooms, along with a fully renovated kitchen and preparations space for the bridal party.

This space is also available to guests of weddings at Stonefields, should the wedding couple and their party not require accommodations themselves. The 2017-2018 rate for the rental of the Stonefields Inn for the night is $1,000 + HST. Guests may check in at 1pm, and check out at 10am the following morning.

“Offering overnight accommodations has been a long-term goal of ours,” says Stephanie Brown, co- owner. “We spent seven years living in the farmhouse while we built our business from the ground up and are happy to now pass it on to our couples and their guests to enjoy. As the third family to own this farm in over 200 years, we feel it is our duty to keep the heritage alive. Being able to share each part of this beautiful estate with our guests allows us to truly celebrate the rich history of the farm.”

This new offering is the latest in a string of recent enhancements to the property, including completion of the Stonefields Loft, the new state-of-the-art reception space complete with a commercial kitchen. Stonefields is thrilled about this latest venture and looks forward to continuing to deliver world-class wedding packages to clients from around the globe.

About Stonefields

Stonefields is a timeless and exclusive outdoor wedding and event venue located a short drive from Ottawa in Beckwith, Ontario. Stonefields has built its reputation and brand as a country chic venue providing superior, personalized service. The breathtaking setting currently serves as the perfect backdrop for outdoor wedding ceremonies, receptions and private functions.

For more information, visit the Stonefields website at stonefieldsweddings.com.