Kathleen and Nadim

Happily Ever After

Runaway Bride

April 20, 2013

Compiled by Nicolina Leone
photos by Tripp Photography

In June 2012, Kathleen Harper made her dream day a reality when she won her entire wedding with Hot 89.9’s contest, Runaway Bride.

Using her journalism flourish to write an entrance essay into the contest, Kathleen was chosen as one of the top 50 finalists – all of whom were invited to brunch at Strathmere.

Other than the date, time, and location, Kathleen was told only to bring a pair of running shoes.

As she dined with her fellow prospective competitors, she overheard some saying they wouldn’t eat much in case they were running. Kathleen’s thoughts? “If I might be running, I might as well be fed.”

The ladies quickly discovered that of the 50, two names would be chosen. The first name pulled was not Kathleen’s, dropping her odds from one in 25 to one in 49. So when she heard “Kathleen Harper,” she was in disbelief.

Full from breakfast and still not quite clear of what she would be doing, she made her way to another room to be prepped.

She and the other bride-to-be would be dropped off at a secret location and have six hours to get as geographically far from the start as possible. The catch?

Both would be wearing oversized wedding dresses (Kathleen’s petite frame in a size 12 gown); would have limited access to transport and no cell phones; the girls would have to earn any money needed; and collect something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue. Kathleen was escorted by radio personality Rush, from The Morning Hot Tub, and the other bride with Mauler.

The girls were dropped off at the starting location – the Eternal Flame on Parliament Hill, at 10 a.m., and then it was go-time. Kathleen used her logic and realized that going east would be her straightest, most direct way out of downtown.

On her journey that day, Kathleen literally begged and borrowed, was the recipient of the kindness of strangers, her fiancé, a friendly cop who offered her a ride, and had the support of Rush all the way to Hawkesbury, where she won by 32 kilometres.

The physically and emotionally demanding competition won her a wedding equivalent to $50,000 and Kathleen was able to have the vintage-chic-themed day of her dreams.

Happily Ever After

Kathleen had a very specific vision in mind for her special day. “Not rustic-vintage,” she explains. “I wanted it to be grandma. Tea cups, really delicate flowers everywhere, pinks and creams.”

Happily Ever After

On the day, both bride and groom got ready in their designated rooms; Kathleen with her bridesmaids and man-of-honour, and Nadim with his groomsmen.

Happily Ever After

In the absence of her father who passed away, Kathleen’s brother walked her down the aisle following a cast of family members. Kathleen’s niece nervously sped down the aisle first, dumping her flowers as she went. The ring bearer, Kathleen’s nephew and not yet old enough to walk himself, was carried by the man-of-honour holding a teddy bear with the rings attached.

When the two met at the end of the aisle, there were no nerves and no tears.

“It felt like I belonged there. This was just meant to happen.”

Happily Ever After

After the ceremony, Kathleen and Nadim braved the cold pre-spring weather (so cold that it snowed) to lock down their beautiful photos.

Happily Ever After


They enjoyed amazing food with their guests and more gourmet goodies at midnight when a cookie bar and pizzas appeared to replenish the partiers.

Thank you for sharing your story – OWM.W

Happily Ever After

Happily Ever After

Happily Ever After

Have Your Wedding Cake and …

Your wedding cake can reflect your tastes.

Like It Too! …

Not sold on the idea of a wedding cake, just so you can have the old-style “cutting the cake” ceremony and photo for an album?

Fear not, girlfriend.

And think outside the square cake pan!

You don’t need to cut anything or feed your new “Other Half” a hunk of cake in front of a large crowd. You also don’t need to settle for one of those old fashioned, multi-tiered fruitcakes with rock-hard icing that can be cut in slabs to use as hockey pucks at a later date.

You can have your fave treat and eat it too. While the wedding cake has been a matrimonial tradition for centuries, today’s brides aren’t sticking to any outmoded rules about columns or tiers or ingredients.

There are all kinds of gorgeous and delectable choices, from sweets tables to macaroon or cupcake towers. Chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, red velvet or carrot – name your flavour and your vision; there’s a professional who can make it happen for you. Cheesecake? Yes. Tarts? Why not?

You've gotta love your wedding cake.

You’ve gotta love your wedding cake.

Whatever you choose, it can be a showstopper and it can also reflect both your tastes and the theme for your day. Glamorous? Sporty? Urban chick? Country casual? Celtic? There’s a cake for that!

Certainly, you can opt for the classically elegant, multi-layered white affair adorned with a topper, but you can also order an asymmetrical creation in jewel tones. The icing does not have to be white. Heck, you can even skip the icing if you choose.

The same thing goes for the cake topper. You can replace it with fresh or sugared flowers, you can go the conventional route, or you can have a custom-designed cake topper that reflects your shared interests or professions.

Some people choose humorous cake toppers, while others choose rustic or metallic adornments. There’s no question, though, you’ll have fun sampling the different options!

Winners of the 2nd Ottawa Wedding Awards‏

By Rev. Alan Viau
Photos by: S&C Photography

The Ottawa wedding industry vendors gathered for a night of celebration and friendship at the 2015 Ottawa Wedding Awards. The packed house at the Ottawa Conference and Event Centre was a testament to the vibrant community of businesses who provided brides and grooms all the supplies and services for their wedding.

More than 360 people were on hand for this year’s version of the Ottawa Wedding Awards. Conceived by Brian Henry, co-owner of Quality Entertainment, the awards gala is a fabulous way for vendors to connect and network. It seems to be the un-official kick-off to the Ottawa wedding season. The usual parting words are, “See you out there.”

Ottawa Wedding Awards Opening CeremonyOpening remarks by hosts Brian Henry and Alison Hunter

It is extra-ordinary that Ottawa has a collegiality among its wedding vendor community. People meet for the first time, are introduced or re-kindle an acquaintance.

In the lead up to the handing out of the awards, vendors were nominated and voted upon. Over 15,000 single votes were cast per category. The gala had folks out in their finery to an elegant room conceived by Nicole Ouellette of Piper Avenue along with Sophie Branchaud of Sage Designs and Jennifer McAndrew of Mastermind Events. Janice Lewis of Project J Events was valuable in her work behind the scenes keeping everything organized and the website up to date. The dinner was delicious. In between courses, we praised out fellow vendors who won in their categories.

Ottawa Wedding Awards Gala

And the winners of the 2nd Ottawa Wedding Awards are:


Tripp Photography

DJ Service

Quality Entertainment

Wedding Planner

Kennedy Event Planning


Tulips and Maple

Photo Booth

Ottawa-Gatineau Photo Booth


All Seasons Weddings

Live Music

Kimberley Dunn


Bryan Jones Photography and Videography

Stylist – Make Up

Blush by Jackie Grant


Groovy Linen


Petals and Paint

Sweets, Treats and Cakes

Sarah J’s Cupcakes


Sizzle With Décor

Women’s Bridal Fashion – Women’s

Dominique Levesque Bridal

Men’s Formal Wear

Morris Formal Wear

Reception Venue – Hotel

Hilton Lac-Leamy

Unique Reception Venue

Museum of History

Reception Venue – Beyond Ottawa

Temples Sugar Bush

Reception Venue – Outdoor

Stanley’s Olde Maple Lane Farm


Tsirmpa Award for Community Service


Jennifer McAndrew Mastermind Events

Wedding of the Year

The Mixing Bowl

 Ottawa Wedding Awards Winners


How to Host an Intimate Wedding at Your Estate

How to Host an Intimate Wedding at Your Estate

A guest list that reaches the floor; a catering bill that equals a year of your mortgage; the high ticket price and stress of renting a chapel or venue for your big day. All of the pomp and circumstance that comes with planning and having a traditional wedding ceremony can be avoided by hosting an intimate wedding at your estate. Here are some tips every on-trend bride should consider when tying the knot at home:

intimate wedding

Keep the Guest List Small

Whether you intend to have a small guest list or you’re working with a tight budget, after deciding to have an intimate wedding, brides will learn that the guest lists needs to be much shorter than a traditional wedding guest list.

Plan ahead to make sure there’s enough space to keep your wedding guests comfortable on the big day. Your home needs to have a natural flow, so if it doesn’t, move furniture to unused areas of the home or the basement. Also make sure that you’ve designated a spot for wedding activities like signing the guest book, cutting the cake and taking photos.

Beautify Your Home

Just like your dress, make sure that your home is beautiful by outfitting your interior with minimal decor that match your wedding’s theme and colors. Add elegant touches to windows with custom romantic draperies or other sleek window treatments. Choose from dozens of colors and materials for something that is subtle and fits your everyday style so you can keep them up after the wedding.

Hire a professional cleaning service to remove the dust bunnies hiding out in the hard-to-reach places of your home (ceiling fans, window panes and blinds, vents, corners, etc.). Also, have your floors professionally cleaned or polished a few days before the ceremony, so they are in tip-top shape.

Spruce Up the Yard

Many guests will take to the yard to get some fresh air; good thing the backyard is a prime spot to host your guests after the reception. HGTV suggests making sure the ground is level and then renting a dance floor. The home and garden experts also recommend hiring a professional landscaping company weeks before your wedding date to ensure your backyard is picture-perfect. It may also be wise to have a friend or family member take care of your pet(s) in the final days before you say “I Do,” unless of course you intend for Fido to be a part of your nuptials.

Hire a Wedding Coordinator

One bride can’t do everything by herself. Enlist help from your bridal party and your family, but if that is not enough consider hiring a wedding service company or a wedding coordinator. Hiring a wedding service company can make your wedding day less stressful. These wedding professionals find the best rates for renting the essentials like wedding day tables, chairs, tents and even an alter, plus they know and connect you with the best caterers in the industry. Be sure to shop around for the best rate or ask your married friends for a recommendation.

Bachelor Party Alternatives for Outdoorsy Grooms

bachelor party alternatives

Bachelor parties can be a great way for the groom and his buddies to bond, but often times a weekend in Montreal or one alcohol soaked party just isn’t the best option. When the groomsmen consist of outdoorsmen and adventure types, sometimes the best bachelor party can be an outdoor adventure filled with travel, adrenaline and excitement.

Get your groomsmen ready, pack your passports and head out on one of these outdoorsy retreats:

bachelor party alternatives


The tiny island of Cozumel located off the tip of the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico boasts some of the most beautiful and unique diving and snorkeling in all of the world. With levels ranging from beginner dives to expert swims with sharks, divers of all abilities can enjoy the beauty and majesty of the underwater world. Companies like Deep Blue can provide complete packages groups at incredibly reasonable prices. Getting certified is easier than most people expect and can be completed online with the help of PADI eLearning.


Going hunting with your best friends and family can be an amazing experience and one of the most popular destinations is California. Cottrell Ranch, located in the northern part of the state, has hunting packages available for both black-tail deer as well as black bear and all of the hunting takes place on private land which increases your chances of bagging a trophy. Be aware that to hunt in California you will be required to have a hunting certificate. These can be easily obtained online via HUNTERcourse and will allow you to hunt anywhere in the state of California.


Deep sea fishing is like no other adventure in the world. Going toe-to-toe with a fish that outweighs you is an adrenaline rush that every man should experience at least once. Cowboy Charters in Galveston, Texas has a variety of charters into some of the best fishing spots in the Gulf of Mexico. Working with experienced guides, you will be taken to the best spots to find the fish of your choice, whether it be grouper, kingfish or red snapper. In addition, Galveston offers some of the most unique and incredible museums and sightseeing spots in the state of Texas.


There’s few things in the world like whitewater rafting. Holding on for your life as you speed down a rushing river, yelling with excitement at the top of your lungs with your best friends next to you doing the same is an experience you will easily remember for the rest of your life. With a charter from a company like Rafting.com, you can experience one of the best rivers for rafting in the Unites States, the Colorado River. You will also be a stone’s throw from the Grand Canyon—a must-see. You can easily find yourself speeding down the whitewater of the river one day, and the next be relaxing at the bottom of the Grand Canyon in the one of a kind scenery of Havasupai Falls.

This is your special day and your bachelor party, make it memorable!

How to Enjoy Planning Your Wedding – Part 2

How To Enjoy Planning Your Wedding – part 2

how to enjoy planning your weddingBy Marriage Coach, Marian Meade of www.marriagemindedcoaching.com.

As discussed in part 1 of How To Enjoy Planning Your Wedding, the biggest challenge of wedding planning isn’t the details- cake, venue, music etc- it’s managing the ‘people stress’ of weddings.

So many brides and grooms have had disappointing and stressful wedding planning ‘adventures’.   The good news is that can be avoided with some mindful preparation.

Often, a couple gets engaged and immediately announces it to their families and friends because they are so excited.   In a perfect world, this is a terrific idea.   However, it puts you in danger of inviting feedback- that you didn’t ask for and don’t want.  Rather than appreciating it, you may feel like you are being told what to do.

Here are some suggestions for handling feedback:

  1. Take it with a grain of salt.  Remember that often the people in your world jump in with their ideas and questions as a way of expressing their enthusiasm.   Rather than feeling pushed and overwhelmed, decide to be grateful that you have people who care about you.
  1. Be prepared.  There’s no rush to announce your engagement until you have some details sorted out.   Why not take a few days to savor and relish the experience of being engaged, just the two of you.    Cocoon and talk about how you want your wedding to go.  This gives you the opportunity to get clear about your vision without being influenced by everyone around you.   Talk about the kind of energy you want to create for your special day- love, harmony, joy, fun, friendship and keep those values in mind as you go through your engagement journey.  
  1. Step back if you’re getting stressed.  If you’ve announced your engagement and are feeling overwhelmed, give yourself permission to take a time out.   Let your key people know that you need to regroup so you can make decisions about the wedding together and will get back with them.  Some people may be offended, but that is their decision.  You are not responsible for the feelings of others.  What will be important is how you share your message.  Be honest, lighthearted and clear, and let them know that you realized that there were a number of things you hadn’t discussed and are going to do so now in order to make the whole wedding planning process fun and enjoyable- for everyone.
  1. 4.       Create a list of questions

How do we want our wedding to feel?

When will we get married?

Where will we get married?

Who do we want to attend?

Who will we choose for our wedding party?

What is our budget?

How many people can we afford to invite?

What sort of vows do we want to make?

Will we get married in a Church?

Will we invite children?

What sorts of things do we forsee our parents wanting?

Can we accommodate them?  If not, what will we do?

Share any sticky situations that may come up.  Does your uncle have a drinking problem?  Do your parents follow through on what they say they are going to do?   Is Mom going to insist that your father (her ex) not attend?

You may not be able to answer all of these questions right away, and you may not agree on all of them, but taking the time to do this exercise helps you to be more conscious of what the issues are and opens you up to solutions.  It also helps you to get clear about what you and your fiancé want for your wedding, rather than being co-opted into someone else’s vision.

  1. Honour your key people.  Regroup with your parents and  inner circle .   Share with them your unique vision for your wedding and be open to them sharing their perspectives.  Before meeting with them, remind yourselves that you neither need to agree or disagree with their ideas.   A polite response would be something like, ‘we’ll keep that in mind’ or ‘that’s something we’ll have to discuss together.  As a way to honour your parents, find out from them if there’s anything they would like to see happen at your wedding, and see if you might be able to accommodate them in some way.    I recall speaking with a groom to be’s parents, who were rather surprised that they weren’t even asked if they had any opinions about the wedding.  They were simply given tasks to carry out.  They weren’t the type to interfere, but did say that they would have felt valued and respected if they had been asked.

Stay tuned for the next installment of How to Enjoy Planning Your Wedding!

Marriage Coach Marian Meade helps ALL couples to stay in love for a lifetime.  For marriage preparation and relationship coaching, you can find Marian at www.marriagemindedcoaching.com.


Ottawa Wedding Awards

By Rev. Alan Viau

The Ottawa Wedding Awards recognize 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 have been selected because they have taken their business to the highest level. With your vote, the companies which have established themselves as the best in the city will be determined.


A notice came out from Brian Henry, who is on the committee for the Ottawa Wedding Awards and President/ Co-Owner of Quality Entertainment , announcing the big event which will be held on April 23, 2015. The Ottawa Wedding Awards are launched in collaboration with Ottawa Wedding Magazine and Ottawa Conference and Event Centre

Brian swore that he would not host this event at the end of last year’s evening. I bet him he would, and he has agreed to host again this year!

As enthusiastic as ever, Brian was impressed with the over 3,562 nominations. “That’s an amazing number. It’s more than double than we had last year. It shows that we have a lot of interest in the Ottawa Wedding Awards”, quips Brian.

There were 275 finalists who made it to the final voting stage – again more than twice as many as last year – from all categories.

Wedding Planner

Decor Company
Limousine Service

Sweets, Treats, and Cakes
Disc Jockey
Photo Booth

Stylist- Hair and Makeup
Reception Venue-
Beyond Ottawa

Bridal Fashion Women
Men’s Formal Wear
Live Music

Reception Venue- Hotel or Banquet Hall
Reception Venue- Unique, Museum, Restaurant or Golf Club
Reception Venue- Outdoor

Vendor voting started March 3 and ends March 16, 2015. Now is your chance to make a difference for those who made a difference by voting. The system permits only one vote per IP address to minimize multi-voting.

The Ottawa Wedding Awards will also present its highest award – Wedding of the Year which will be judged by a panel of industry experts.

On April 23, 2015 at the Ottawa Conference and Event Centre all the top vendors will be announced. As a supporter of this event, I will be there. This has become a classy event for all the Ottawa vendors to come together and celebrate the best in the industry.

Buy your tickets early as they will go fast.


The Lord Elgin Hotel | Flexible, Affordable Wedding Accommodation

Lord Elgin hotel Ottawa

By Rev. Alan Viau

The Lord Elgin hotel is an Ottawa landmark. It is ideally located as guest accommodation for your downtown wedding. Still privately owned, the Lord Elgin hotel boasts impressive lodgings, flexibly and affordability.


The Lord Elgin hotel was first established in 1941. It was built by the Ford Hotel Company and named after the Right Honourable James Bruce, 8th Earl of Elgin, 12th Earl of Kincardine and Governor General of British North America (1847-1854). To mark the Lord Elgin Hotel’s 60th birthday, the hotel was expanded and renovated; sixty additional guestrooms and the complete refurbishment of all 355 rooms, three thousand more square feet of meeting space for a total of 13,000, and an enlarged health facility, including a new indoor swimming pool, saunas and a whirlpool.


Guestrooms have been inspired by the Biedermeier style, which emerged in Europe after the Napoleonic wars. This style reflects the architecture of the original Lord Elgin hotel, which is a clean, modern adaptation of the French Chateau style and is proudly part of traditional Canadian hotel architecture.


When it comes to wedding blocks, the Lord Elgin hotel has a suite of service offerings.  For example, they offer a complimentary private dining room in their restaurant to host a brunch the morning after the wedding.  They have invitations designed that you can provide to your guests free of charge.  They also offer complimentary wedding invitation inserts to inform your guests of where the block is being held.  If you are using a wedding website, a digital version is available.

There are also a few nice additions. The Lord Elgin hotel has gathered a suggested Saturday and Sunday itinerary of  tourist information and restaurant recommendations for your out-of-town guests. It is available in a pdf for your website.  They have special garment hooks from which to hang long dresses and wedding dresses. The hotel has a shuttle bay so that guests do not have to embark from the street curb.

The last thing, and most importantly, there is no financial obligation for the couple.  Your individual guests are responsible for their own reservations should they decide to cancel, and they can do so without penalty until 3pm the day before arrival.  If you block 40 rooms and only “pick up” 10, there is no penalty.  The Lord Elgin hotel will simply release the rooms that are not yet reserved 30 days before arrival.

As far as rates go, the Lord Elgin hotel is extremely competitive with the major hotel chains that surround it. They will not increase your rate under any circumstances.

I was impressed to learn that the Lord Elgin hotel is still privately owned with the owners living in the hotel. Talk about an incentive to keep the place clean!

The Lord Elgin hotel is situated across from Confederation Park. It is an easy walk to popular wedding locations such as the Chateau Laurier, National Arts Centre, Canadian Museum of Nature, Ottawa Convention Centre, National Gallery of Canada and restaurants The Courtyard, Eighteen, and Side Door.

10 Wedding Invitation Etiquette Tips

by Molly Hanzidiakou

10 Wedding Invitation Etiquette Tips

wedding invitation etiquette tips

Get your day planners ready, idea clippings organized and highlighters uncapped; we have a wedding to plan!  After the initial excitement of an engagement lessens, couples to be are faced with the planning and many appointments that make up a wedding day.  The dress, flowers and cake are important, but what’s also important is having guests there to comment on how beautiful the bride is in her dress and how tasty the cake is.  To make your job a bit easier, here are 10 wedding invitation etiquette tips to make sure your guests RSVP to your very special day.

  1. Mail– Invitations should be sent six to eight weeks in advance.  If a save-the-date card was not sent, it’s best to stay closer to eight weeks before the wedding day.
  2. Envelopes– It’s always nice to have an outer and inner envelope.  This allows for your guests to keep the invitation and any inserts clean and together.
  3. Outer Envelope– Address your guests conventionally using titles, first and last names.  The address should be fully written out with no abbreviations; Street not St.
  4. Inner Envelope– Includes the names of the specific people invited. Be very clear about who is invited.  List each adult, child, cat and dog.
  5. Request– There are different wordings for your opening greeting depending on where your ceremony will take place.  Typically, “the honour of your presence” is used if the wedding is held at a house of worship.  “The pleasure of your company” can be used for other venues.  Look into which wording best suits your ceremony.
  6. Host Line– Always use full names. Whether it be the parents or bride and groom hosting the wedding, use first, middle and last name.
  7. RSVP– There is no need to add the word “please” to RSVP as it is a French phrase saying répondez s’il vous plaît (which translates to reply if you please).
  8. Reply Card– Don’t ask for your guests to reply via email. Always include a formal reply card within the envelope.
  9. Stamp– Include a postage stamp on the reply card. Don’t expect your guests to supply their own stamp.
  10. Registry– Leave the bridal registry for another time. Don’t include it in your wedding invitation.

The Dress Expert | What is a Trunk Show?

What’s a Trunk Show?

by Dominique Levesque, The Dress Expert

We hear about trunk shows on T.V. shows like “Say yes To Your Dress”  and wonder what that means to go to a trunk show? What should I expect? Do I need an appointment? Why is it better to buy at a trunk show?

Here’s the gist of it:

What is a trunk show?  

Each season I view many bridal collections from which I select what I will bring in to my stores.  I can never buy every piece that each designer makes, because that would require a warehouse; therefore I meticulously select what I think my customers will be looking for. The trunk show gives us a chance to expand our inventory for a weekend.  The designer lends us the samples they use to show the line to buyers.  This means for that weekend, we will have the largest selection of gowns from that designer. It gives you a chance to see, touch, and try on gowns that we don’t normally have in the store.

Do you need an appointment to see the trunk show?

Yes, you do.


Because we have the dresses for a limited time and many brides want to see and try them on. The trunk show fittings have to be done in an orderly manner to ensure that everyone gets the proper service they deserve.

Do you sell the trunk show dresses or do you have to order?

The ones that are lent to us by the designer will be special orders only, because we have to send them back after the weekend.

Why is it better to buy at the trunk show?

Because each time I agree to host a trunk show in my stores I negotiate a deal with the designer. Each designer sets there retail sale price for each gown, and we seldom have leeway for discounts.  Therefore during the trunk show the value pricing is the best of the season. These prices cannot be extended past the trunk show dates. It’s important that you bring the right people with you to help you make the right decision.

I would love to hear from you.  Please don’t  hesitate to contact me at dominique@dominiquebridal.ca.

The Dress Expert!