Best of 2016: The Groom and His Men

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By Dr Alan Viau

Grooms are increasingly becoming more fashion conscience. Gone are the days where I see ill fitting rental tuxedos. Now grooms and his men are well appointed.

In the 13 years that I have been performing weddings, I’ve seen my share of grooms who have badly fitting rental tuxedos or cheap suits. I would always sigh internally at the contrast of the bride who fussed over every detail versus the sloppy groom.

I am very happy to see that this has changed. Men are looking after themselves and embracing their wedding. Tuxedos are a must for a very formal wedding. However more weddings today are more casual. Grooms are now showing up, often in a tailor-made fashionable suits. The bonus is that they now have smashing outfit that they can wear beyond the big day.

The most popular colors are light grey for the summer and dark grey or black for the winter. Navy blue is also a classic for any season.  Accessories such as watches, tie clips and pins are on the increase.

The groom is distinguished from his groomsmen usually with a different colored or styled tie. Neckties and pocket squares are usually coordinated with the bride’s colors.

It is fun being with the groom and his party just before the wedding. There is some good-natured kidding around. I’ve seen jigs being danced, tequila/scotch shots taken, and cigars smoked – just to calm the nerves and have a bonding experience with “The Guys” before the event.

All of this points to a more engaged groom in the wedding experience – which I celebrate. Gone are the days of the groom showing up and standing on the “X” to get married.

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

This story was riginally published at alanviau.com on January 5, 2017.

Support Your Favorites in the First Ottawa Wedding Awards

By Rev. Alan Viau

The Ottawa Wedding Awards recognizes the leaders in the industry who have demonstrated the very best creativity, imagination, and service throughout the year. As voted upon by their peers and those whose lives they have touched, the winners in each category will be selected because they have taken their business to the highest level. With your vote, the companies that have established themselves as the best in the city will be determined.

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A notice came out recently that Brian Henry, President and Co-Owner of Quality Entertainment, was announcing a big event – one that has never happened in Ottawa. The Ottawa Wedding Awards were launched in collaboration with Ottawa Wedding Magazine and Ottawa Conference and Event Centre.

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Brian Henry

I asked Brian why he started the awards.

“It is an opportunity for couples to recognize those vendors that made their day special – a way of saying thank you. The best vendors make a big difference in people’s lives and we need to appreciate that as a community and an industry.”

In addition, Brian hopes to promote a forum for vendors to socialize and network so that as a collective we can improve the business we are in and generate ideas for the future. Brian is a tireless, positive influence on the Ottawa wedding scene. He never misses a social or business event.

About 100 vendors were nominated for the awards. Vendor voting started April 22 and ends May 13. So far there have been over 5,000 votes cast with many categories in tight contention. So now is your chance to make a difference by voting for those who made a difference in your wedding.  The system permits only one vote per IP address to minimize multiple duplicate entries.

The Ottawa Wedding Awards also announced its highest award,  Wedding of the Year, which will be judged by a panel of industry experts. Submissions will be accepted until May 9th at 12pm. Every individual submitting their wedding must be in attendance on the awards night. The winning wedding will be featured in Ottawa Wedding Magazine.

On May 28th, 2014 at the Ottawa Conference and Event Centre, all the winning vendors will be announced. As a supporter of this event, I will be there at the door greeting attendees. This is an exciting time for the Ottawa wedding scene, one that can plant seeds for a vibrant future.

Don’t Miss the Handmade Bride Indie Wedding Show April 19

By Rev. Alan Viau

“Things are gearing up for the most wonderful, exciting, alternative, super fabulous, handmaking, eco-friendly, queer loving, sing-songiest wedding show in town!” says Meaghan Brunetti, show organizer and owner of The Handmade Bride shop in Ottawa.

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Meaghan had a tough time planning her wedding as an alternative modern bride and saw a hole in the wedding industry in Ottawa. “I wanted to create a fun, relaxed environment where brides could come to shop for their wedding and where they could find high quality, handmade and gorgeous wedding stuff!” And so the shop and the show were born.

Meaghan has lined up 30 of the most unique and interesting indie wedding vendors in Ottawa for you to peruse on April 19th,  from 11am to 4pm at the Memorial Hall, 39 Dufferin Rd in New Edinburgh.

Here are three reasons to go to this show:

1) The Handmade Bride (across the street from the show) will be hosting a Maureen Patricia trunk show. (That means she will be bringing her whole collection to the shop as well as launching her new collection that day!)

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2) The first 50 couples through the door get an awesome swag bag FULL of goodies like locally made caramels, handmade soaps, a CD of first dance songs, artisan marshmallows and other cool stuff!

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3)A chance to enter to win a grand prize including a custom made infinity dress (so amazing for your rehearsal dinner and honeymoon!) from The Handmade Bride among other neat-o things.

The Handmade Bride Indie Wedding Show is a rare opportunity to purchase handmade items for your wedding, so come out and see what’s available.

 

Tanya and Andrew Marry at the NAC

By Rev. Alan Viau
Photos by Trending Media

Ottawa’s National Arts Centre is another gem location in which to get married. Tanya and Andrew held a wedding in the round during a blustery winter day. No matter the weather, it was a perfect day for them.

 

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Winterlude is Ottawa’s festival celebrating winter. There are many activities and things to do; skate on the Rideau Canal, eat a Beaver Tail, admire the ice sculptures. Certainly, one advantage for me was that I parked at the Ottawa Convention Centre and walked on the canal to the National Arts Centre for the wedding.  I thought it was pretty neat to do that.

But no matter, February 1st is winter and getting from the limo to the entrance was a challenge that just  can’t be accomplished gracefully. After all you must keep the wedding dress looking perfect!

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Le Salon is a perfect venue in which to perform a wedding in-the-round. I’ve officiated many weddings there in this format. In-the-round is a wonderful configuration because it brings everyone closer to you for a more intimate feeling.

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Tanya and Andrew selected a wedding  that underscored their religious beliefs. Like many who choose to have a wedding in a non-faith venue, there are still strong ties to the past. So I performed the candle-lighting ritual and a recital of the Lord’s Prayer for them.

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They certainly looked happy! Congratulations to you both. I left soon after the ceremony to head down to the Courtyard Restaurant for another wedding (next week’ story). But from what I can tell – it looks like they had an awesome party!

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Religious Elements in Your Wedding Ceremony

By Rev. Alan Viau
Photos by: Andrew VanBeek

We all come from different places and backgrounds. I often get asked if religious elements can be added to a ceremony. My answer is … of course!

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It may be a difficult decision to have your wedding ceremony outside a church setting. There are various reasons for choosing a non-religious location for your vows. Perhaps your fiance is of a different cultural or religious background than you are. You may not feel comfortable with the doctrines of your birth religion but still feel the need for religious representation. Your church may have you facing a wall of requirements which you don’t feel comfortable with, or don’t ring true with you. Or maybe you are feeling pressure from your families for not holding your wedding in a church.

I talk to couples about this dilemma often, and try to arrive at a solution that makes them feel comfortable. Personally, I will accommodate any religious inclusion in wedding ceremonies I perform. I’ve performed weddings with B’hai, Hindu, Christian, Muslim, Wiccan and Buddhist elements – because that’s where the couple’s spirituality is.

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Brides and grooms need to speak openly about spiritual beliefs to a potential officiant. They need to find out if the officiant is willing and able to add the desired religious elements to their ceremony. For example, Humanist officiants can only have secular references in the wedding ceremony. Other officiants may have a personal preference whether to include or exclude some religious traditions. This is perfectly allowable under the Ontario Human Rights Code under freedom of religion, so be open about your desires.

As I said earlier, I go with whatever the couple wants – because it is their wedding and their beliefs. Last weekend, I officiated two weddings where the couples wanted specific Christian references. In those cases, I usually find that a prayer and the inclusion of the Lord’s Prayer satisfies most needs. If they want more, then why not?

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I was particularly touched with Jennifer and Michael’s wedding at the Courtyard Restaurant. I was teamed up with photographer, Andrew Van Beek,  and pianist, Kimberley Dunn, both with whom I’ve worked many weddings. This was a bilingual wedding, and I switched from English to French in various sections. One reading was read directly from Jennifer’s birth Bible. Kimberley sang and played an inspiring Ave Maria between readings. The audience was invited to recite the Lord’s Prayer in the language of their choice.

What really touched me was when Jennifer asked me to sign her birth Bible on this special occasion. I tell folks that after 10 years and almost 1000 weddings, I still come across things that are new and hit me in the heart, as this one did. “Best Wishes on Your New Journey and Adventures In Married Life”… Amen

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Birth Bible on the Signing Table. Photo by Alan Viau

10 years of celebrating love in the Capital

By Rev. Alan Viau

This year marks 10 years of performing wedding ceremonies in our nation’s capital region. It has been a journey towards 1000 weddings and I’ve witnessed couples express their deepest love, highest hopes and searches for happiness. It has also been an adventure where every wedding was special and different. I’ve had to be nimble and quick sometimes and ad lib through unforeseen events.

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Pink Floyd’s song Time quips, “And then one day you find ten years have got behind you”. It certainly feels that way – ten years of performing weddings has whizzed by. Unlike the song, I have enjoyed the journey; a journey that will bring me through 1000 weddings this year. In this post, I thought I’d share answers to some of the most common questions couples ask me.

How did you get into officiating weddings?

It started as a paid acting gig. I was doing a lot of stage theatre and someone mentioned that wedding officiating is good weekend work. When you think about it, weddings are a bit of a show. There is a script, stage, costumes, props, lighting, and sound – all elements of a stage production. So every wedding I do takes into consideration all of the production elements. But then I fell in love with doing weddings. Weddings are a positive affirmation of love, life, and community…and, wow, I contribute to that.

Can you tell if the couple will make it?

I never judge. Life will write the couple’s history. Challenges to a marriage will come – there is no doubt about that. It is up to them whether they can ride out the storms. When challenges occur, the couple must ask themselves if love still exists between them. If not, then they may decide to go their own ways. I am grateful that today, people can make these decisions, permitting them to find love again.

What is the weirdest wedding you’ve performed?

All weddings are special and unique. Each depends on the couple and their ideas and circumstances. I am there to help translate their dream into reality. One of my favorite quotes from Robert Fulghum is “We’re all a little weird. And life is a little weird. And when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall into mutually satisfying weirdness—and call it love—true love.”

You must have some good stories?

Yes lots of stories – most of which I describe in my blog. I figured out that performing weddings was going to be an interesting ride. I had a wedding on the shores of Big Rideau Lake in my first year. The bride and her party were to arrive at the dock by house boat. The groom and I and 80 guests could see the house boat in the middle of the lake… drifting away because the engine died. They managed to wave down a passing outboard boat and convinced the owner to ferry them to shore. Imagine a small boat filled with bride and bridesmaids standing in gowns arriving at the dock. Someone threw me the rope to moor them. I realized then that performing weddings was going to be an adventure.

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My Favorite Wedding Dresses of 2013

By Rev. Alan Viau

As with many other people, the end of the year is a time of reflection on what was 2013. There were four wedding dresses worn by brides for whom I performed weddings that stood out in my mind. Each was a superb choice for the woman who wore them.

Disney Princess: Her dream was to be a Disney Princess. Stunning as she walked down the aisle, it even took my breath away. Yes, she married Prince Charming.

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Naturally Her : The dress fit her unique personality – a yoga teacher who loves nature – flowers all around.

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Perfect Fit: A dress that fit her perfectly and extremely romantic. Her groom was in joyful tears seeing her walk down the aisle in this McCaffrey Haute Couture dress.

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Just Her: It can be a daunting challenge to find a wedding dress for your second marriage. This bride was gorgeous in her choice of gown. Elegant and beautiful.

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I am looking forward to what 2014 will bring.

Troublesome Devices at Weddings

By Rev. Alan Viau

Weddings have sure changed in the 10 years that I’ve been officiating. Technology  has advanced, and it is usually welcomed, but there are also downsides to it.

Technology is an amazing phenomenon. With time, better products are available at lower prices. For example, I bought a 26 inch flat screen TV a few years ago for $270. For the same price, I can purchase a 39 inch TV today. As prices decrease, the technology becomes more accessible to more people. It can quickly become pervasive and abundant in our lives.

However, all technological advances are good things. In the 10 years of officiating, three devices have become not only pervasive but maybe even invasive.

GPS – Global Positioning Systems help you navigate roads. However, they are only as good as the mapping software you are using and the information you input. GPS’s are great in the city but can spell disaster when trying to find a location in the countryside. There have been many times when people got lost because they put absolute trust in their GPS. At a recent wedding, a groomsman, bridesmaid and flower girl were all in the same car and arrived 30 minutes late. Please give your guests a map or proper GPS locations with the invitation.

DSLR Cameras – Digital Single Lens Reflex Cameras are everywhere now. Ten years ago, some guests had small CCD cameras. It was no big deal. Now they all have DSLR cameras and think they are professional photographers. They get in the way. I’ve even had to ask a guest to get out from in front of me so the bride could come up! I now routinely ask guests to stay in their seats so that the professional photographer can capture the great memories.

Smart Devices – I lump all sorts of connected devices here, including phones and tablets. A wedding is an experience not a social media event. You don’t need to be taking pictures, posting on Facebook or Tweeting about the wedding. In fact, brides and grooms are now asking me to direct the audience not to do those things. They want to be the first to Facebook or Tweet about their wedding. I never see some guests’ faces because they are hidden behind a tablet the whole time. And Dad – really. Be in the moment! Yes, I’ve witnessed Dads being immersed in recording the event as an observer instead of being a participant in their son or daughter’s marriage.

You may believe I am anti-technology. I am not – just against the abuse of it.

One very useful technological device is the mobile phone. It is great for directing those people who got lost with bad GPS directions, to find out where the bride is on route to the venue and for me to call if I get bogged down in traffic on the way to the location. But please – turn it OFF for the duration of the wedding ceremony. OK, well, maybe it’s four troublesome devices.

Lisa and Colin: Up, Up and Away

By Rev. Alan Viau
Photography: Studio Art Maria

For anyone in the audience Lisa and Colin’s wedding seemed like a pretty standard affair. Except for the ending.

I tell my wedding couples that a wedding ceremony needs to be one that is easily recognized as such by your guests. A ceremony needs to feel like it reaches into the traditions of our past. Yet, I also encourage them to personalize it so that it suits their personalities and life-style.

So it was with Lisa and Colin. Their ceremony started like many others with Colin and I waiting for Lisa to start her way down the aisle.

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She came down looking radiant with Dad and Mom. And the service was underway.

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They exchanged personal vows with each other.

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And of course the kiss!

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However, at this point, rather than end the ceremony, I invited everyone outdoors.

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At this point, Lisa and Colin took their vows and placed them in an envelope. In a message in the bottle theme, they attached the envelope to helium filled balloons. They released their love, sharing it with the world.

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A neat idea to gift your love to the universe.

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Sarah & Jamie Spread the Love

Sarah and Jamie were married at the Courtyard Restaurant in the Byward Market. They were there with their cute son, Hugo, and all their favorite friends and family.

When I met Sarah and Jamie for their pre-wedding meeting, I was immediately taken by their little son, Hugo. He is a good natured boy who likes everyone – a reflection of his parents.

 Spread the Love

Spread the Love Strawberry Jam. Photo by Alan Viau

At the Courtyard Restaurant, I noticed that all the decor was very naturalist in theme. There was lots of wood, flowers and Mason jars.  I should not have been surprised since Jamie works as an arborist and has access to trees. They even made jam as a gift for the guests. It was labeled “Spread the Love”.

 Ladder Decor

Naturalist decor. Photo by Alan Viau

Before the ceremony, Sarah’s father takes me aside for a chat. He is wanting to say a few words after I ask who presents the bride today. I let him know that it is not a problem and inform Sarah of his intentions. I like having a well planned wedding where there are few surprises. When he did present her, he told Sarah how much he loved her, his new son-in-law and his wonderful grandson. A beautiful start to the wedding.

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Sarah’s Dad giving them best wishes. Photo by Alan Viau

To add some humor in the ceremony, Sarah promised to put up with Jamie’s wood chips that he brings home and Jamie would collect her bobby pins in the apartment. It all added up to a relaxed wedding that ended with a fabulous kiss to start the cocktail reception.

 The Kiss. Photo by Alan Viau

The Kiss. Photo by Alan Viau

 Centrepiece

Photo by Alan Viau

 Photo by Alan Viau

Photo by Alan Viau

 Photo by Alan Viau

Photo by Alan Viau

 Photo by Alan Viau

Photo by Alan Viau