Wow guests with original wedding reception touches

Most brides have a vision of a beautifully decorated and themed wedding reception. Luckily, it is easy to achieve the wedding décor you see in your mind’s eye with a few easy and inexpensive do-it-yourself projects.

Tables They’ll Talk About

You don’t have to settle for the same old table settings and centrepieces when it comes to putting your mark on your reception. Find knick-knacks or trinkets that mean something special to you and then use spray paint to turn them into a coordinated collection perfect for sparking dinner conversation. For example, turn little lovebird figures into one-of-a kind table place card holders with Krylon ColorMaster spray paint in your wedding colours. By attaching a memo pin to the top, you can guide your guests to their seats in style. And, when the reception is over, these can even double as photo holders and be given away as wedding favours.

Novel Napkin Rings

Napkins are a necessary dinner table accessory, so what do you do to make them stylish and add another personalized touch? Custom-made napkin rings are just the right detail. Wood or metal rings are often available at your local craft store. Then make them your own by gluing on personalized tokens, such as small decorations ornaments or initials, and spray painting to coordinate with your other table decorations for a completely classy look.

Table Numbers

Numbering the tables at your reception is an easy way to direct guests to their seats. It’s simple to add an elegant touch by creating your own table numbers using inexpensive photo frames. Whether you purchase frames from a store, garage sale or by collecting them from around your own home, you can create a cohesive and classy collection in no time.

Once you have your frames, purchase house numbers (like those used to show an address) that will fit within the glass area of your picture frames. Remove the glass and wipe all surfaces with alcohol to achieve a clean surface. Spray paint the frame and numbers the colour of your choice. Metallic paints create a classy look that complements your main wedding colours. Once all the pieces are dry, reassemble the frames and use an adhesive to bond the number to the front of the glass. When setting up for your reception, nest these numbers among your other table decorations for an exquisite presentation.

With a bit of inspiration and spray paint, you’ll have a wedding table to wow you guests. For information on these and other Krylon products and projects visit

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!

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.

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?

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

Birth Bible on the Signing Table. Photo by Alan Viau

Cruise Ship Weddings are Catching On

By Rev. Alan Viau

An at sea wedding is a very romantic notion. Many cruise companies recognize that these special events need special attention. Cruise companies are offering and upgrading their wedding packages to offer brides and grooms fabulous options for celebrating weddings aboard and at ports of call.

Thousands of couples flock to cruise lines to be married aboard ship every year. For example, Carnival Cruises performs over 2600 weddings each year. Most of the large cruise companies offer wedding cruises including Princess Cruises, Disney Cruise Line, and Celebrity Cruises. There is intense competition among the different cruise lines to  attract brides and grooms to have their nuptials aboard.

When it comes to the actual wedding ceremony, you can’t legally get married at sea. In international waters there is no legal jurisdiction, so there is no mechanism to recognize a wedding performed aboard ship. There is one exception where the Bahamas recognize legal weddings performed aboard ships which are flagged in their country. Therefore, Royal Caribbean International can have legal weddings at sea performed by the Captain.

Other cruise lines perform the actual wedding ceremony within the territorial waters of a country. They offer ceremonies performed both aboard ship on embarkation day or beachside in tropical ports of call. Ceremonies are performed by a the Captain or a wedding officiant (non-denominational official/minister or notary public). Many ships have dedicated wedding chapels.

The cost of a marriage license varies depending on where you are planning on performing the ceremony and you will need to look into the various legal requirements of the location where you are getting married before finalizing your plans. The fees and paperwork submission timelines vary, so be sure to do your homework well in advance of your wedding date.

You can bring your own officiant as well – I’m waiting for that to happen!

Wedding packages vary widely from cruise line to cruise line and wedding package pricing corresponds with the services you are purchasing. A basic 8 person package can be around US$1300 and a full blown experience can be up to US$5000. Most cruise lines seem to offer a good selection around the US$2000 mark.

Make sure you get exactly what you want by carefully considering all the details of each package. Some packages include the services of a personal wedding planner to assist the couple on their special day, as well as priority check-in and boarding for all wedding guests, plus other perks.

Couples can have shipboard celebrations which include a diverse array of lavishly presented culinary options and upgraded beverage service, along with multi-tiered wedding cake choices like chocolate ganache, coconut cream, and red velvet, all baked on board. Enhanced amenities such as a decorated wedding aisle and other traditional touches, along with upgraded champagne flutes and other keepsake items, can be included.

When I am looking outside at the snow storm and -20 C., a wedding aboard ship is really appealing.

All Photos Courtesy of Carnival Cruises.

A Free eBook for Your Dream Wedding Ceremony

By Rev. Alan Viau

See how you can get a Free eBook on planning your dream wedding ceremony. As part of marking 1o years of celebrating love in the capital, I am offering a giveaway of 10 of my eBooks, “From the Heart, Wedding Ceremonies that Work!”

I starting writing my blog for on-location wedding ceremonies in January 2010, six years after starting hitching up couples. A little while ago, I released a book and eBook that compiled all my advice on planning a successful on-location indoor or outdoor wedding ceremony.

Wedding at Restaurant 18

You’ll get lots of tips and advice in my eBook. But essentially, it comes down to three main things.

Have a Dream and Plan the Dream.

It used to be that you needed to conform to your religious institution’s demands for your wedding. When I was married 33 years ago, Sweetheart and I only had the choice of a few Bible readings.

Now you can have your dream wedding ceremony. It takes planning and careful execution. This eBook gives you tips on things you never thought of.

Plan It Together

Often I’ve heard the groom say, “Whatever she wants…” The most successful weddings have been those where both the bride and groom are intimately involved. It is a team effort to have the wedding of your dreams. You balance each other and stand together in the face of family pressures.

This is YOUR wedding. Focus on your love for each other and how this wedding is an expression of your relationship – from your heart.

Stick to the Script

Your wedding ceremony will be the most stressful part of your day. This is because you probably haven’t planned a wedding ceremony before. It is all new to you. In contrast, you have had parties previously and a receptions is just an elaborate one.

This may be your first wedding and you need to give it your best. Once you’ve agreed to a plan, stick to it. Don’t second guess yourself the day of. I had a groom, Mark, who offered up his right hand for the ring instead of his left – as a joke. It back fired. The bride was so flustered that she called him Mike instead. Stick to the plan and all will go well.

Here’s how you get the eBook.

Send me a message briefly describing your dream wedding. The 10 best entries by February 14, 2014 will receive my eBook. I’ll post the stories for all to share as inspirations.

Wishing you all the best and many blessings.

Wedding at Restaurant 18

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.

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.

Charitable Weddings: A Wedding That Gives Back to the World

By Megan Emerson

Weddings are a time of joy, but they can also be a time of intense pressure. With the Canadian wedding industry topping $4 billion annually, the mantra of “more” and “bigger” has become commonplace. Some stressed-out brides- and grooms-to-be have committed to using their wedding to help make the world a better place. These are the couples that bring down their own stress levels by amping up their charity efforts.

Focus Outward

Two facts: Planning a wedding is stressful, and how we deal with stress is personal. Focusing outward when worry begins to take its toll takes your mind off your own troubles. By placing your focus on helping others, you shift your mind’s focus from your own anxiety. This little shift in perspective can ease much of the premarital stress. Look at the world as a whole, and suddenly the color of your cake-topper does not seem so important.

Photo by fhwrdh via Flickr

Make It Your Theme

If you really believe in your cause and want to do a charity-focused wedding, then make it your overall theme. The Knot features dozens of themed wedding ideas ranging from traditional to offbeat. You can have a traditional wedding with a charitable wraparound by incorporating benevolent giving into your bridal shower and registry using the I Do Foundation. They make it easy for guests to give to a charity in your name.

Pick your charity and build your theme around it. For example, the African elephant is listed as vulnerable by the AWF wildlife conservation. If saving wildlife is your thing, then do an elephant-themed wedding and promote donations to the AWF. YouTube features a beautiful wedding video with an elephant theme. It is inspired by Indian weddings and is elegant and unique. Check out the clip below:

A heart-themed wedding works well for the Canadian Red Cross, and pink ribbons are beautiful representations of breast cancer awareness.

Envision a Better World

A charitable wedding does not need to solve all world’s problems. The goal is to integrate the couple’s dedication to a particular cause into the joy of the ceremony and reception. Consider asking your guests to join you in envisioning a world of peace, and then remind them that there are donation cards available. This is a time to introduce yourselves as advocates and leaders.

Photo by Skakerman via Flickr

Remember that this is your wedding, and the people attending have been chosen by you to help you celebrate your love. You can encourage them to do something good for the world. After all, in a little while you will have them doing the chicken dance. The most important part of a charitable wedding is that you make it your own. Make it a memory that, like your love, will last forever.

Megan Emerson

A New Jersey native, Megan got a degree in English literature, then married a military man and had three kids. She holds down the fort at home and blogs for fun.

How To: Select A Wedding Date

Contributed by:Kennedy Event Planning

‘Tis the season for romantic holiday engagements! Over 25% of dating couples get engaged during the holiday season that spans between Thanksgiving through New Years, making it the most romantic time of the bridal season!

Once all the tinsel and wrapping paper settles, newly engaged couples will be faced with a number of decisions to be made leading up to the big day. One of the first major decision is picking the wedding date. Selecting the date is a huge commitment and will set the timeline for the rest of your engagement; we suggest considering the following when picking the big day:

Time of year – You will want to consider the time of year for various reasons. Weather is a big factor for some, particularly when selecting a date during the unpredictable weather seasons like the Spring and Fall. Season-based professions should also be considered, for example school teachers, or if your profession may have any kind of schedule restrictions. Also consider the seasons that you and your fiance love the most and find inspiration from. Ask yourselves, are you a Winter ski bunny? Do you dream of being married under the Spring cherry blossoms? Do you love the sea and dream of a Summer beach party? Or are your inspired by the harvest flavours of the Fall?

Meaningful dates – Weddings are full of sentimental feelings and are very personal affairs. A great way to add more special meaning to your wedding is to select a date that holds particular significance. Review your calendar for meaningful dates as inspiration, including: dating anniversaries, birthdays, parents’ anniversaries, graduations, and holidays. Cultural influences may also impact your wedding date; some dates may be more auspicious than others and religious calendars and traditions should be taking into consideration.

Length of your engagement – The amount of time that you wish, or don’t wish, to be engaged should play a considerable part in choosing your wedding date. Some brides dream of long engagements full of pomp and circumstance while others shy away from it and look forward to a shorter engagement. The length of your engagement will also be influenced by the time of year you wish to have your wedding.

Availability – Once you and your fiance have evaluated and narrowed your potential wedding date, make sure to leave yourself some flexibility. The fate of your wedding date hangs in the balance of the availability of your preferred ceremony and reception venues. To avoid disappointment, prepare yourself with a range of dates while conducting your venue search; allowing yourself to choose the venue that you like best. If you’re set on a specific date, your venue selections may be more limited if you are planning a shorter engagement, a longer engagement will provide you with more options and flexibility. It is important to also remember that if you wish to work with a specific photographer or vendor, you may have to work within their availability as well.

Other things to consider – It is smart to think about your colour palette for your wedding and how it could coincide with a specific season. It helps to know what style of wedding you wish to have, particularly when selecting venues. Seasonal elements, such as exotic food and florals, should also be considered as they may only be available certain times of the year.

There are a number of factors to consider when selecting your wedding date. However, the most important things is to choose the date that feels right to you and your fiance. Remember, it is the date that you’ll remember for the rest of your lives!

*Images courtesy of Fotopastele, “Milda & Zilvinas” Vilnius, Lithuania.

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.

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

They exchanged personal vows with each other.

And of course the kiss!

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

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.

A neat idea to gift your love to the universe.

Top Tips for Buying Your Wedding Shoes

By: Diane Farquhar, courtesy of I Just Said Yes

In terms of wedding couture, we all know that the dress steals the spotlight. But you can’t forget that essential factor to complete the look – the shoes!

You would think with long wedding dresses that shoes wouldn’t be an important focus, but think again! So many images are including, and even showcasing the bride’s shoes. Short dresses and high slits are also increasingly popular, giving all the more reason to find some amazing shoes for your big day. You may think finding your dream shoes will be easy, but there are many things to consider – style, comfort, value…so here are a few tips to get you started.

First, think of the date of your wedding, ceremony location, and venue. What type of shoes would be most comfortable? Are you spending most of the day outdoors walking on grass or stone? Very high heels may not be the appropriate choice. Think about what height you are normally used to, and try not to go for something way out of your comfort range, especially on a day when you will be constantly on your feet.

Match your wedding colors and theme. If your decor features an accent colour, that would be perfect for your shoe choice. Your wedding bouquet colors would look fab with a similar color in your wedding shoe – it makes everything blend and go together nicely. For themed weddings, there are countless shoe ideas. You could have a lot of fun with this one. You can find amazing shoes to match a vintage, beach, or bohemian wedding theme to name a few.

What season are you getting married in? Many brides may not consider this, but in the middle of winter the last thing you want to walk around in are slingbacks or slip-ons. Your feet get can very cold, so find a shoe with a bit more coverage. Perhaps a popular wedding boot for your pics, and then you could change into a pair of sexy shoes for the reception.

An important tip when trying on shoes is to remember that your feet will swell by the end of the day. Shop for your shoes in advance and remember to wear them around the house every so often to break them in. The last thing you want is to take your shoes out of the box for the first time and encounter blisters along the way.

One last tip, probably the most important, is to bring a second pair of shoes with you as you near the end of the night, preferably a flat, slipper or one you have worn for years. Just like an outdoor wedding, you always need a back up plan.

Happy Shoe Shopping!

The Music

Music is one of the most important components of a wedding.  It expresses the emotional aspect of the ceremony and reinforces the aesthetic beauty of the event.   It must be personal and sentimental for the bride and groom while at the same time connecting with the guests.  Lets review some classic ceremonial wedding songs to coincide with the new found classicism of Vera’s Fall 2013 Bridal Collection.

Here are some pieces that no matrimonial music blog post could ever go without.

“Ave Verum Corpus”  – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

“Canon in D” – Johann Pachelbel

“Air on a G String” – Johann Sebastian Bach

“Enterance of The Queen of Sheeba” – George Frideric Handel

A few of these next songs are a bit less traditional, but certainly no less classic.  For a modern bride that wants a more subtle and minimalistic feel at her ceremony, these pieces are perfect.

“Pie Jesu” – Gabriel Faure

“Zadok the Priest“ – George Frideric Handel

“Lascia Ch’io Piango”  – George Frideric Handel

“Ave Maria”  – Johann Seabatian Bach/ Charles Gounoud

Content derived from the Vera Wang Blog, Vera Unveiled
Photography: Jorge Nowok