Hanna and John


Down the Aisle
Make memories to last a lifetime

compiled by Iris Winston
photos by Miv Photography

The future was set for Hanna Browne and John Potakfianakis from the moment they met.

“It was love at first sight,” says Hanna.

“It truly was, for both of us,” says John.

They first saw each other when they were both students in a summertime real estate class, more than six years ago. “We were both still in university at the time, so when the summer came to an end, we both had to go back to school,” says John, a Carleton University graduate. “Hanna was at Queen’s University, so I drove to Kingston to visit every weekend for the next year.”

As soon as Hanna completed her arts degree, she returned to Ottawa. Soon afterwards, she and John each bought their first houses in the city and began building their careers in real estate and commercial property management respectively, while cementing their romance. (Hanna, now a broker, wrote the real estate examination when she was just 18.)

“We have done a lot of travelling together, which both of us love to do,” says John, 27. “From our first trip to Hawaii, we have seen a lot of countries. The two of us have experienced so much since meeting — from living in different cities, being back together in the same city and travelling together to such places as Costa Rica, Greece and Thailand. It’s been an amazing six years. The two of us have experienced more together in those years than many people do in a lifetime.”

The most recent trip was for their honeymoon in Bora Bora, French Polynesia, following their wedding on February 18.

“It was absolutely unbelievable,” says Hanna, 25. “A dream — the weather, the resort, the food and, of course, the company were wonderful.”

An earlier memorable trip culminated in the official proposal of marriage. To celebrate their fifth anniversary as a couple, John arranged a surprise journey.

“He told me we were going away for the weekend, but I had no idea where to or what to pack,” says Hanna, adding that the day before he did offer an indication of the temperature to help her in that regard.

The surprise destination was San Francisco, California. “We spent a couple of days exploring the city,” says Hanna. “Then we went to a beautiful hotel in the Napa Valley. John had organized a private wine tour for us. We visited five wineries through the day. At the last one, we hopped on ATVs and went to the top of the mountain. From there, we could see the Golden Gate Bridge.”

“John had a picnic table all set up with photos from each of our years of dating,” she continues. He had even arranged for a photographer to be there. Then, he had some beautiful words to say to me. When he asked the question, I absolutely screamed yes. There is so much love between us that we always knew it would last a lifetime.”

As well as dealing with the complexity of making the arrangements for the special day long-distance, John had to have the engagement ring ready to slip onto Hanna’s finger. And, says Hanna, although they had intended almost from the beginning of their relationship to marry one day, they had not discussed Hanna’s preference in ring styles.

“We’d just never talked about rings,” says Hanna. “I had never looked at rings and didn’t really have a style.” So, the choice was up to John. He turned to a jeweller friend of his parents, Jean Charlebois of Gemco, for help. The result was a custom- made, cushion-cut diamond engagement ring, with the central stone surrounded by a halo of smaller diamonds.


Hanna’s wedding dress was the end product of another surprise trip, this time arranged by her father.

“I’m very close to my father,” says Hanna. “Even from a very young age, whenever I needed a dress for a special occasion, I would go with him to choose it.”

In keeping with that tradition, he took his daughter to New York City where they visited five bridal salons, eventually finding the perfect wedding dress — a Sottero and Midgley designer gown. Called the Beckett, this elegant floor-length, tulle sheath is enhanced by lace and decorated with Swarovski crystals and pearls.

“We kept the dress a secret from everybody until the wedding day,” says Hanna. “Nobody saw it until I walked down the aisle.”

Meanwhile, Hanna gave her five bridesmaids freedom of choice in selecting their dresses, merely telling them that the main wedding colour was a bluish grey.

“I wanted them to be comfortable in dresses they really liked and they were very appreciative of that,” says Hanna, adding that she delayed ordering the flowers until the wardrobe selection was complete. The result was a perfect blend that “looked incredibly planned.”

The wedding ceremony at the Notre Dame Cathedral, the seat of the Roman Catholic archbishop of Ottawa, was conducted by Father Michael Hartney and Father Alex Michalopolus in a two-fold ceremony celebrating the heritage of both bride and groom. The reception for 320 guests was held across the river in the Grand Hall of the Canadian Museum of History.

Hanna says the impressive space overlooking Parliament Hill and housing the world’s largest indoor collection of totem poles, is her favourite room in the city.

“The view is absolutely spectacular and the high windows make it that much grander,” says John. “This and every aspect of the wedding day, truly couldn’t have gone any better. We are very grateful to everyone involved.”

As well as having dancing between courses during the banquet, Hanna and John had included several other individual touches, from washroom baskets containing “everything from Tylenol to cologne” to a cellphone charging station and slippers for guests, who needed to rest after dancing the night away. Then they were invited to take embroidered white fleece blankets home as remembrances of the wedding day.

Even the weather cooperated for the couple’s special day. “The weather was absolutely amazing. To have clear skies, sun and a temperature of nine degrees Celsius in February was wonderfully lucky. There is something magical about getting married in the winter.” W






















Jennifer and Colin


Bride Name
Jennifer Walsh
Groom Name
Colin Robertson
Date of Wedding
Janine Truelove– Intuition Photography
Reception Held at
Marshes Golf Club
Wedding Dress
With Love Bridal
Groom’s Fashions From
Bridesmaids Fashions From
La Maison
Groomsmen’s Fashions From
Bride’s Hair By
Bride’s Make-Up By
Toosje Delaney
Cake By
Kakes by Judy
Flowers By
Mary Ellen Kelly
Description (Up to 500 Characters)
Colin is a huge golf lover and his one request was to get married at a golf course. We are so happy that we did! Not only did we luck out with pretty much the only sunny day in the month of July, the venue was perfect!
We met at work (we are both teachers at the same school).
The whole day was fun, with all the guests having a great time. The best part was our photo booth guest book, which gives us amazing memories to look back on, as well as being able to get married to my best friend.

A Wedding Day Like No Other


Cherished Forever

photos by Chantal Benoit Photography

shot on location at the Orchard View Wedding & Conference Centre

Stephanie and Amine got married on a gorgeous August day. Their outdoor-themed wedding was the most beautiful detailed event I have ever seen. Stephanie looked radiant and Amine looked ruggedly handsome. The love shared was oh, so noticeable, and the perfect topper to a pristine wedding day.

The overall vision of the wedding was classy and elegant, and so the décor focused on fine details, with the bride investing most of her time on making sure every detail was covered.

From the cocktail bar to the dessert bar, to the display of photos, the photo booth, the flower arrangements, the handkerchief, the ceremony programs, the menu cards, the name tags — every single detail was breathtaking. A large part of the theme centered on the florals. Beautiful arrangements were placed throughout the entire venue, making the space appear elegant and held together at every turn.

The couple also wanted to embrace their romantic and playful personalities. The ceremony was light-hearted but sentimental and the reception was a fun party.

Stephanie took special care with making most of her own décor elements, including antiquing some larger furniture pieces, and designing and building a personalized photo booth. Although there were some pieces of décor rented, the bride actually made or bought the majority of the décor pieces on her own and mapped out all of the décor layouts for the wedding.

The colour scheme was burgundy, gold and ivory, which complemented the vintage chic theme. The bridesmaids wore burgundy dresses that complemented the groomsmen’s burgundy bowties. The burgundy and ivory can also be found in the floral arrangements and linens throughout the venue. The couple also had gold Chiavari chairs, gold charger plates and other gold accents throughout the venue.


The bride

The gown designer is Essence of Australia. The style of the dress is an ivory, French-inspired, long sleeve wedding gown with intricate lace details. The gown features an open back and long train that give the gown a romantic and vintage feel.

A blue pin for the something old and blue, which was given to the bride by Amine’s dad, has been in Amine’s family for generations. She had a special rhinestone beaded sash sewn into the gown that gave it that special touch. Topping it off was couture bridal earrings made with Swarovski crystals by Meg Bridal Jewellery.


The groom

Custom cufflinks that were a gift from the bride were engraved: “Let’s do this! 08.26.2016”and “I love you — Steph.”

Complementing the groom’s outfit were superhero socks for him and all of his groomsmen. He wore Superman. Adding to the detail was a custom lapel pin — also a gift from the bride — to honour Amine’s mother who had passed away. Finally, a custom-engraved pocket watches for the groom and his groomsmen that said, “Best Day Ever! 08.26.2016.”






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?

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.


Nora and John-Keith


Bride Name
Groom Name
Date of Wedding
Brittany Lee Photography 
Reception Held at
Orchard View Wedding and Conference Centre
Ceremony Held at
Orchard View Wedding and Conference Centre 
Wedding Dress
Renewed With Love 
Groom’s Fashions From
Morris Formal Wear 
Bridesmaids Fashions From
Groomsmen’s Fashions From
Morris Formal Wear 
Bride’s Hair By
Jannie Albert
Bride’s Make-Up By
Krystal Pincombe
Cake By
Flowers By
Kemptville Florist 
Invitations By
Favours By
Other Vendors
DJ: Soundsations Ottawa
Officiant – Gord Marriage
Description (Up to 500 Characters)

The three magical letters that began the beautiful love story. After guessing the right colour at the roulette table she became his lucky charm forever.

Fast forward several years to June 3, 2016 when we had our dream come true wedding at Orchardview. Amongst the beautiful bridal party and guests were beautiful flower arrangements and gourmet food. Here we celebrated the many memories and the future to come. With the sun beaming down on us, we couldn’t have asked for a better day.

From the Editor


Photo by Cesoir Studios

“People will stare. Make it worth their while.”
— Harry Winston

Ah, the start of wedding season. From now until October, weekends will be lled with bridal showers, bachelorette parties, rehearsal dinners and receptions.

If you are planning your own wedding, you can throw in dress fittings, cake tastings, makeup trials — and I will stop there, because I don’t want to give any of our brides-to-be anxiety.

However, I think you’ll be more than inspired by the creative work of so many of our brides featured in this wedding issue. I absolutely love planning the “Happily Ever After” section of our magazine. Each couple’s day showcases the personal style — from the story behind choice of gown to the groom’s choice in cuf inks. Those special details and unique characteristics of our brides and grooms come through in our stories and photos. Some of the most precious moments of any wedding day take place behind the scenes, and in this issue you’ll see how photographers have cleverly captured this for you — our readers.

From all of your emails, tweets and Facebook posts, the message is clear: you want more dresses, more accessories, more maids’ looks and — of course — more shoes. We listened, and added extra pages to our fashion section and built up our website content so it’s easier than ever to nd your look.


Photo: Miv Photography

If it’s inspiration you need — then read on. The topics we cover in this Spring/Summer 2017 issue will nudge you in the right direction. Nothing makes me happier than getting a message from a reader telling me she’s found her dream dress as a result of reading Ottawa Wedding Magazine. So if that’s you, get in touch.

After all, it’s your day. Do it your way. And don’t forget to let me know all about it. We just love featuring your stories in our magazine.


Pat den Boer


Want to see your special day in Ottawa Wedding Magazine?

If you want to contact me about how to include your wedding day in this publication, then please take note. We will not accept high-resolution images by e-mail. If you would like to send me a note about your wedding, do so in four or five paragraphs, describing your day. Make sure to include the bride’s and groom’s names, wedding date and location. Send along two or three low-resolution (less than 1MB) images. We have special requirements for photos, which will be communicated to you once your story is accepted.

Jessie and John

real wedding

Bride Name
Jessie McAllister
Groom Name
John Graham
Date of Wedding
Studio G R Martin
Reception Held at
Chateau Laurier
Ceremony Held at
Canadian Martyrs Church
Wedding Dress
Hayley Paige
Groom’s Fashions From
David’s Bridal
Bridesmaids Fashions From
Toronto boutique
Groomsmen’s Fashions From
David’s Bridal
Bride’s Hair By
Jessica Awad
Bride’s Make-Up By
Erin Best
Cake By
Dennis Clement
Catering By
Chateau Laurier
Flowers By
Invitations By
Hashtag Paper
Favours By
Wedding Star
Other Vendors
music and lighting: Adrenaline Entertainment
It was a beautiful hot summer day in Ottawa.
We were married in our family’s church by the same priest who married my parents 35 years ago. A vintage Rolls Royce awaited us and chauffeured the newly married couple to the elegant Chateau Laurier.
The Adam room was completely transformed by Wedecor. There was a canopy built for the sweetheart table, monogrammed seamless dance floor, and custom cut mirrored table tops.
We watched the fireworks after dinner and our fairytale wedding came true!