Holiday and Off Season Wedding Inspiration

It’s a sad time in the wedding world these days – so many couples have had to rethink their plans and cancel their wedding venues, photographers, caterers, make up artists, hair stylists, bartenders, and dozens of other vendors if they can’t move to the new dates with their couples. As we are busy changing dates, our couples are having to come to terms with the new reality that their weddings aren’t going to be as they planned them. I wrote a post about how we are coping with Covid from the vendor end of things and included lots of tips for couples who are suddenly having to ask all of their vendors to come with them to their new date. You can find it here – feel free to share it with your friends and family.

There is good news in all of this though! Moving your wedding to later in 2020 or early 2021 means you get to have…a holiday wedding and there are so many different styles and designs out there for Autumn, Christmas, and Winter weddings it is easy to be inspired!

Let’s have a look at some past weddings and see if we can help create new vision boards for our Covid Couples…

Autumn is the perfect time of year to get married! Did you know most of my weddings take place in September and October? The weather is beautiful, the colours are spectacular, and the décor is what we are all living for! Here are some of my favourite ideas for an Autumn or Thanksgiving wedding:

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How about living your Halloween wedding dreams? There are dozens of styles from classic to Spooktacular to choose from to fit every taste and aesthetic!

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Christmas weddings always make me feel like I’m in one of those Hallmark holiday romance movies and I live for every moment of them! Anything goes when it comes to Christmas designs and décor – we aren’t limited to just the red and green colour schemes anymore!

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I am seeing lots of couples being offered off season dates at their wedding venues – which makes sense because if a couple booked 2 years in advance, you know other couples have all done the same thing, which means there are few peak season dates for 2021 available now. I know it’s a dramatic change to go from planning your summer wedding to suddenly trying to come up with a winter wedding that matches your style so here is all kinds of winter wedding inspiration for you!

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I hope you are feeling some hope and inspiration as you work on changing gears with your wedding! I do have some 2020 dates open and will do everything I can to fit you in – I can do 5 weddings a day depending on where they are so we can always find you a time slot on your chosen date.

You might also like….
Covid and Weddings – What to do?
Do you really need an Officiant at your rehearsal?
How to keep the busy bodies busy!
The Care and Feeding of Your Officiant
When Should You Book Your Officiant?
Who Let The Dogs In?
The Money Talk – Who Pays For What?
Honouring Your Loved Ones In Their Absence
Questions I Never Get Asked…And Wish I did!

Covid-19 and Weddings – what to do?

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I finally have some new information regarding weddings over the next while.

If you need to change your wedding date, please contact me ASAP! We will work together to get you a new date – if you can get all of your vendors moved to your new date, please be flexible with your ceremony start time – this will make your life easier as I will be able to fit you in, just maybe not at your first choice of time slot. 

Here is some advice for postponing your wedding:

1. Contact your venue first to ask them about a new date.

2. Contact the rest of your vendors, starting with your top 3 priority vendors ie photographer, caterer, and hair & makeup artists – or whatever is most important to you – they book the whole day for you, I book 1.5 hours for you, and can do 5 weddings in a day, so it is easier for me to fit you in my schedule than your bigger vendors.

3. Review your contracts! My contract includes a clause for changing dates so you don’t need to worry about me – your deposit will simply be applied to your new date and I will update my book and your file to reflect your new date. I understand there are some venues and vendors that have refused to budge on their contracts – please have a lawyer help you if you are going to lose a lot of money on your venue or other vendors.

4. Be kind. Vendors are managing many weddings at one time and as your wedding crumbles, our businesses and livelihoods are crumbling at the same time. I do my best to make every couple feel like they are the only couple I have, and in reality I currently have 45 couples all worrying about their weddings. When you are talking to your vendors, please remember it is human nature to go above and beyond for people who are nice so don’t be shy about pouring some honey on the situation!  All of my couples have been fantastic so I know y’all are out there being super cool with your other vendors too and I thank you for that!

5. Accept that you might not get a Saturday wedding – I do have a few Saturdays open but at this stage I have mostly Fridays and Sundays. Your other vendors are likely in the same boat. Consider November and December if you have your heart set on a Saturday wedding.

6. Your dress! Find out when it is now due to arrive and how many weeks will be needed for alterations. Depending on where your dress is being shipped from it might be weeks or even months before it arrives. Factor this into your new date decisions. 

7. Flowers are seasonal and if you move your wedding a few months you might not get the flowers you want. Great news tho…autumn flowers are spectacular!

The government has not said whether clergy is an essential service or not – and they have said churches are to direct their officiants accordingly. In case you didn’t know, every officiant is ordained in a religious organization of some sort that must be recognized by the province of Ontario. The exception to this is a judge, justice of the peace, and municipal clerk. At the bottom of your licence it asks which one your officiant is – we mark registered religious official. Yes I am ordained, yes I am clergy. No you don’t have to have a religious wedding to use my services.

My church has directed me to follow the rules of law when it comes to gathering for non-essential events. Limits of 5 people at a time and social distancing – this means once the worst of this has passed, (hopefully within a few weeks) I MAY be able to perform small, outdoor ceremonies while abiding by all of the safety precautions we have been following lately. This means social distancing, bringing your own pens, you handle the rings, and sealing your licence in a ziplock bag for my protection etc. Until then I will not be able to perform marriage ceremonies except under the most dire circumstances (like an ICU or imminent death wedding for which there is no fee as my first role is as Pastoral Chaplain and to serve my community in the best way possible).

Until further notice we will be gathering in a groups of no more than 5 of us to abide by the rules and guidelines the government is asking us to follow for everyone’s safety and protection.  The earliest I predict we will be able to perform marriage ceremonies is May 1st and this date may change over the coming weeks as the government makes decisions about how we as a society can operate and function. I can make no date guarantees and as I take bookings they come with the caveat that the date might need to be changed without penalty to you, or me.

I am currently booking for late 2020 and all of 2021.

I will be handling ceremonies like this on a case by case basis – and asking a lot of questions before we commit to make sure I am not putting myself at any risk.

I have been told by my local town hall they will help people get marriage licences. It is by appointment only and only if you have a wedding coming up soon – like April or May. If any of my couples need to get their licence, please message me so I can get you the name and number of the person you need to speak to.

As far as funerals go – at this time I am only performing graveside services and will follow the guidelines of the Bereavement Authority of Ontario of which I am a licenced member.

I hope that helps! I know many of you are worried about what is going to happen with your weddings – and I am working with every couple to make the transition seamless and smooth. Dates are being changed quickly and easily and we all just need to work together to create a new plan for you.

Don’t forget to follow me on my social media:
Facebook
Instagram

I hope to see you soon and until then, please stay safe!
Avril xoxo

Do you really need your officiant at your rehearsal?

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I get it. I really do! You are planning your wedding and have no clue what you are doing. Most of my couples are in the same boat, and they are depending on the information they are getting from magazines, the interweb, and their friends. It can so be confusing and most of the time people aren’t even sure why they are being told to do certain things. Something I often get asked if the ceremony fee includes the rehearsal, and if I come to the rehearsal the night before your wedding. I see officiants telling their couples they MUST be at their rehearsal and charge them extra for that. I get it, we all want to make as much money as we can – and I see no need to convince you to spend more in me that you really need to.

At a wedding rehearsal you are simply practicing walking in and walking out, but we do not rehearse the ceremony itself. There is really no need for me or any Officiant to be there unless we are doing something really unique that we all need to practice together like a Japanese tea ceremony or something really spectacular that requires a certain amount of choreography. I would hate for any of my couples to end up feeling they wasted money bringing me in for the rehearsal only to realize they really didn’t need me there.

Most of my couples are quite capable of managing their friends and family for the 30 minutes it takes for everyone to rehearse walking in, where to sit or stand, when to hand off flowers, when to hold hands, when to have the rings ready, when to get flowers back, when to pose for photos, and which order to walk out. I do understand though not everyone knows what to do and they need someone to come and help…and take control of everyone. If you feel you need me there, I am happy to come and take the lead, make sure everyone knows what to do…to the music, and run through it all until everyone is comfortable.

Should you really feel you need me there as your Officiant to run the show for you, the rehearsal fee is $150.00 plus travel. If your rehearsal is Monday – Thursday we can book it in advance. Friday and Saturday rehearsals are booked no more than 2 weeks in advance and are based on my availability and the availability of your wedding venue. Feel free to message or email me to chat about your wedding and rehearsal!

And don’t worry, if I’m not at your rehearsal I do coach you through your entire ceremony while I am performing it for you!

Additional Ceremonies may be added to your wedding ceremony such as…Chuppah Ceremony, Blessing to the Four Directions, Handfasting Ceremony, Hands Ceremony, Mother’s Rose Ceremony, Ring Warming Ceremony, Family Medallion Ceremony, Seven Blessings, Veil, Cord, Coins Ceremony, Jumping the Broom, Wine Ceremony, Unity Candle Ceremony, Sand Ceremony, Unity Canvas Painting Ceremony, Rose/Flower Ceremony, Quaich Ceremony, Affirmation of the Community, Love Letter & Wine Box Ceremony, Ribbons, Doves, Butterflies & Bubbles, Breaking the Glass, and any other ceremony you might like.

How to keep the busy bodies busy

I am sure you have had dozens of people offer to help you with your wedding plans and although you might feel you should take care of everything yourself, there are lots of jobs you can hand off (with lots of instructions) to your well meaning friends and family. It can be overwhelming when you realize how many details and decisions need to be taken care of, and having to manager all of the ready and willing helpers can send anyone into a tailspin.

We all know that one person who just can’t enjoy themselves if they aren’t helping, puttering, and making things better- they will rearrange the flowers or place cards, meddle with the bar station, and really, they just want to make you happy in their own special way. We also have those friends who aren’t quite wedding party level, but are close enough to want to include them in some meaningful way.

Here is a list of my favourite ways to include the helpers, busy bodies, and special friends and family members, and keep them busy while they are waiting for the festivities to kick off! Remember…delegating will actually help you have a more relaxing wedding, as long as you match tasks to the right people.

Don’t forget your special friends and family members who are helping at your wedding when you order your flowers and pick your dress colours. Invite them to wear the same colour as the bridesmaids and groomsmen and gift them a corsage or boutonniere.

1. Wedding Transportation

If you have a friend or loved one who owns a car you love, ask if they will drive you to your wedding and for photos. If not, you can always hand off the task of booking cars to your favourite car lover!

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2. Airport Runs

I go to so many weddings where there are guests from other cities and countries, and they all need to get from the airport to their hotels, Airbnb’s, and family homes. Ask your helpful friends and family to do pickups at the airport for you. Arm them with a sign with your visitors’ names, and have them sort the details with your visitors ahead of time so they all have each others; contact info.

3. Picking up and delivering bridal items

Ask a capable and trustworthy person to pick up your dress, flowers, dry cleaning and any other items that need to make it to your wedding venue ahead of time. This will save you a lot of stress when trying to figure out how to complete all of those last minute tasks the night before. Just make sure your vendors know who will be picking everything up, and let your venue know someone will be dropping them off.

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4. Performing at your ceremony

Do you have a talented singer or musician in your life? Ask them to perform at your wedding at times such as when your guests are arriving, as you walk down the aisle, during the signing of your licence and marriage registry, as you walk back down the aisle, during the cocktail hour and dinner. If you have lots of musicians, let them all have a turn!

5. Taking part in your ceremony

As an Officiant, I always welcome friends and family taking part by doing readings during the ceremony. I find out from you ahead of time who will be reading, what they will be reading, and have it all printed and ready for them when their time comes. I also connect with them when I arrive to make sure I know who they are and let them know when to be ready. We can also practice their piece as well if they need a quick run through to get past their nerves. Trust me, I know what it takes to speak in front of a big crowd when you aren’t used to it!

6. Looking after the children

If children are to be part of your big day, it’s a good idea to ask a friend of family member to keep an eye on them (and wrangle them!) during the ceremony. Remember you as asking them to walk up the aisle, through a crowd of big people, to me, a total stranger. Kids and dogs do what they want in these moments and sometimes make a run for it! Have some ready round them up, keep them quiet, entertained during the ceremony and photos, and on the ready to chase after one who has made their great escape!

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7. Confetti and other thrown objects

This is a really fun job! As your friend or family member to find unique confetti to go with your wedding theme. There are so many fab online vendors of wedding items, they should have no trouble finding a maker to create something perfect just for you. Ask your loved one to plan a confetti bar with little bags so your guests can arm themselves before they take their seats, or have the packets pre-made and your friend of family member can hand them out as guests are being greeted. Make sure you ask your venue about confetti as not all halls allow this!

Other options are paper planes, bubbles, wedding wands…the list is really endless!

8. Tips and day-of payments

It’s rare these days to hire any vendors who don’t require payment before your wedding day. Should you be paying vendors during your wedding or just before, have a trusted friend take care of that. Have all the envelopes ready so they are organized and easy to keep track of. This suggestion also applies to tips – ask someone to handle that for you and you just need to write the thank you cards and put the cash in them. You will be so busy on your wedding day it is likely you wont have time to speak to all of your vendors to thank and tip them.

A great rule of thumb for tipping – tip the people who work for the vendors you hire. Don’t tip the owners of businesses you hire (unless you are so impressed by them that you can’t not tip them – most of the time a great review and referrals is all the tip we need). Also, don’t forget to review your contracts as some of them will already include tips and gratuities.

9. Moving flowers and décor from the ceremony to reception site

This is a job that can be done by just about anyone! Make sure your FFM (friend or family member) know exactly which pieces go where and when to move them! I find maps and floorplans help a lot when trying to figure out where something is meant to be moved to.

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10. Baking for the dessert table

If you have bakers in your life, ask them to make pies and other desserts for your wedding. Imagine how proud and puffed up they will be to see their work being served to all of your guests! Don’t forget to ask a FFM to organize the dessert table, receive the baked goods as they arrives, label all of the desserts, and communicate with the venue about refrigeration and cutting tools. Don’t forget your dairy/gluten/nut free guests!

11. Your own personal DJ

If you don’t have a DJ, ask a music loving friend to create playlists for you and to keep the music going through the day and into the evening. Think ceremony, cocktail hour, dinner, then fill the dancefloor! Ask them to create getting ready playlists including lots of wedding themed songs!

When my cousin got married he cranked Fisherman’s Blues by The Waterboys when we were getting ready and now any time I hear that song, I think of those special hours with him and his best man as we polished ourselves up and had a wee drink before making our way down the road to the wedding. You could even make CDs for your crew to enjoy and relive those hours!

12. Make lots of bunting or garlands

So many venues are simple, plain rooms and you need all the décor you can get your hands on. Ask your crafty FFMs to help make bunting in your wedding colours or greenery garlands to string up from the ceiling. It’s a great way to add colour and atmosphere and you can even string in some twinkle lights for an extra special effect!

13. Collecting décor items before your wedding

Need jam jars, gin bottles, antique candle holders or other items to dress your dining tables with? Ask FFMS to save any they have, and you’ll have your supply in no time. Make sure to appoint someone to collect and return them, keeping track of who provided what!

Toronto, Oshawa, Durham, Port Hope and Cobourg Wedding Officiant for commitment ceremony, renewal of vows, marriage, elopement, handfasting, Belleville and Bowmanville wedding venue, Bobcaygeon, Lindsay, Peterborough weddings. Ontario Funeral and Cemetery Celebrant and ceremonies.

14. Decorating your venue or tent with twinkly lights

If you are planning on using twinkly lights in your space, you will need LOTS of them. People usually have a few sets in their house, so it might be possible to borrow rather than buy hundreds of strings of lights. Delegate the job of arranging this if you can – untangling hundreds of fairy lights is the last thing you want to be doing the day after the wedding!

Recruit your FFMs to bring ladders and step stools to all pitch in and string up the lights ahead of time so when you walk in, it’s pure magic!

If you’re doing all of the reception decoration setup yourself, you’ll probably need an able-bodied crew to help do everything from arranging the tables and chairs to setting down the place cards. Make sure to have breakfast or lunch delivered for everyone.

15. Guest book and photos

Ask a FFM to take Polaroid photos of all of your guests. Pop the pics into a box or have your FFM clip them to a string of lights so everyone can enjoy them!

If you’re having a guest book or alternative, take the confusion out of signing in and have a lighthearted FFM man it for a small amount of time at the beginning of cocktail hour to make sure your guests know where it is, and what they are supposed to do. Choose somebody who’ll get the expensive pen back, and will cheerfully do a lap of the tables to make sure your guests have all signed.

16. Secretarial and admin work

There is a lot of paperwork when it comes to your wedding day. Why not get a meticulous FFM to help address the envelopes, organize the replies, sort through the place cards or compose a thank-you list? Don’t forget to keep a file of your vendor contracts organized and ready to pack in your wedding day boxes.

17. Ceremony programs

Have a FFM who is handy with document design and layout? Ask them to create your wedding ceremony programs and hand them out as your guests arrive. They get to be front and centre and enjoy each time someone says how fabulous the programs are! Once the ceremony begins their job is done and they can relax and enjoy the day.

18. Ushering

This is often considered a “guy” job, but here we are in 2020 and anything goes! Don’t think you cant ask your female friends to help usher your guests to their seats and welcome them to your big day!

Toronto, Oshawa, Durham, Port Hope and Cobourg Wedding Officiant for commitment ceremony, renewal of vows, marriage, elopement, handfasting, Belleville and Bowmanville wedding venue, Bobcaygeon, Lindsay, Peterborough weddings. Ontario Funeral and Cemetery Celebrant and ceremonies.

19. Train bearing

I love love love watching my brides walking down the aisle, their dresses and veils are always so beautiful and unique! And those trains! WOW! But here’s the thing no one ever thinks about – once the bride gets to the alter…who is going to help her adjust her dress, train, and veil before we start the ceremony? Remember she doesn’t just walk in a straight line, she has to turn around and often gets tangled up in her train and veil. I do my best to help my brides look perfect for the photos, but I always have my book in my hands so I can only do so much, and we can’t expect our bridesmaids (who are often wearing spaghetti strapped dresses and holding heavy, awkward bouquets of flowers) to bend over and fix the bride.

Ask a FFM to be ready to take care of this during the ceremony, the signing, and once we are back at the altar after the signing. In fact…this is a lovely job for the aunt or mother of the bride if they are on good terms.

20. Licence signing

There are no rules to say your best man and maid of honour must be the ones to sign your marriage paperwork. You could invite a FFM to join us at the signing table to take care of that detail and feel special and included.

21. Present patrol

Put a bubbly FFM in charge of fielding the “Where does this go?” looks as gift-giving guests arrive at your reception. Look for a someone who’ll know most of crowd and can greet people by name while steering them toward the gift table and card box.

Toronto, Oshawa, Durham, Port Hope and Cobourg Wedding Officiant for commitment ceremony, renewal of vows, marriage, elopement, handfasting, Belleville and Bowmanville wedding venue, Bobcaygeon, Lindsay, Peterborough weddings. Ontario Funeral and Cemetery Celebrant and ceremonies.

22. Handing out your favours

Ask a FFM to make sure all of your favours are set out at each place setting, or to make sure they are given out as each guest goes home for the evening. You could also have your favours in a basket and have your FFM join you (to carry the basket) as you go table to table to give each favour to your guests.

23. Photo Wrangler.

Delegate one of your more assertive FFMs to herd your families for photos. This will allow the photographer to spend more time focused on taking photos and less time worried about waiting for the right people to get to the photo location! Make sure this FFM has a cheat sheet of who’s who, including cell numbers just in case someone wanders off. Ask me for my photo list before your wedding so you can make sure you have every photo you want!

24. Blessing Giver

I am often invited to stay for dinner with my couples’ friends and families. On the occasions I do stay (as my schedule permits) I always offer to do the blessing before dinner as a gift to my couples. If I’m not there, this is a great task for one of your FFMs if you know someone who is good with public speaking and they will be so pleased to be included in such an important part of your wedding.

25. Taking Home Centerpieces.

Decide which FFMs you’d like to give your centrepieces and flowers to.  Make a list of the people you want to take flowers so that your wedding planner (with the help of your FFMs) can give them to guests are they are leaving the reception. This will make them feel extra special and allow your flowers and décor to be enjoyed for days and even weeks after your wedding day! If you’re renting your floral containers from your florist or decorator, ask them if they are willing to come back an hour before the reception ends and repackage the flowers into containers for guests to take home, or ask if your centerpiece can be built with a  disposable container placed inside the pretty rented container, so its easy to grab the flowers, and not the containers at the end of the night.

26. Day-of contact for wedding vendors

This is a big one! Your vendors need to know who they can call in case something happens – they could be late, stuck in traffic, broken down, lost, sick, have a cake or flower disaster or any number of issues that can come up on your wedding day, and it isn’t always easy to reach the bride or groom.

Give the job of being the wedding vendor contact to an organized and trustworthy FFM, and make sure they have all of the information they need. If any of your vendors need to be paid or tipped, get well labeled checks or cash envelopes to this person before the wedding day, so you can relax knowing your vendors are taken care of!

Toronto, Oshawa, Durham, Port Hope and Cobourg Wedding Officiant for commitment ceremony, renewal of vows, marriage, elopement, handfasting, Belleville and Bowmanville wedding venue, Bobcaygeon, Lindsay, Peterborough weddings. Ontario Funeral and Cemetery Celebrant and ceremonies.

27. Tidy up the getting ready room/space

Don’t forget you will be taking lots of photos while you and your crew are getting ready! Assign someone who is good at tidying and organizing to help keep the room picture perfect while you and your girls are getting hair and makeup done. This same FFM can also dab tears, zip dresses, and slide on shoes.

28. Timekeeping

Ask one of you FFMs to be your timekeeper for the day. One delay can throw the whole day off and it’s a good idea to have someone wearing a watch, maybe even with alarms in their phone for the whole day, to keep you on track. One thing I know is that brides rarely wear a watch on their wedding day and never have any clue what time it is. Add in a few glasses of champagne and good times with the girls…and poof, you are running an hour late! Your time keeper should be able to help nudge you along in a fun and festive way so you aren’t late for your hair and makeup, ceremony, photos, cocktails, dinner, cake cutting and toasts.

Your Officiant could be on a tight schedule (check your contract for your timing obligations) and being late could mean your ceremony is cut in half, your parents need to pay the Officiant to stay, or…your Officiant might have to eventually leave to stay on schedule for the rest of their day. Your time keeper will keep everyone on schedule and happy!

29. Wine and cake tastings

If you’re bringing in outside items to your wedding like wines or desserts, host a tasting night with your FFMs to pick which bottles you’ll be ordering by the case, or pick up cupcakes from your bakery and have sweets and champagne. Have a great night with wedding movies in the background or your wedding playlist so you can all practice the fun dances….Macarena anyone?! Invite these FFMs to all of your pre-wedding events (engagement party, bridal shower, and bachelorette party) to really make them feel like part of the celebration even though their aren’t in the wedding party.

Toronto, Oshawa, Durham, Port Hope and Cobourg Wedding Officiant for commitment ceremony, renewal of vows, marriage, elopement, handfasting, Belleville and Bowmanville wedding venue, Bobcaygeon, Lindsay, Peterborough weddings. Ontario Funeral and Cemetery Celebrant and ceremonies.

30. Welcome bags

Local friends are the perfect people to turn to for both choosing items and assembling the bags. Don’t forget to include menus from local restaurants with your recommendations, directions to the closest grocery store, LCBO, drug store, and Walmart. You could also include contact information for spas, estheticians, massage therapists (for those sore legs after a night of dancing), hair salons, your favourite brunch spot, and of course…directions to your wedding! Does your town have local delicacies? Add those too!

31. The rehearsal dinner toast and blessing

Bridesmaids and the maid of honour often speak at the reception, and the rehearsal dinner is a great time to have other friends participate. Ask your FFM if they’d make a toast while you’re all getting excited for the big day ahead. You could also ask them to say the blessing before the dinner.

32. Invite them to get ready with you

Just because you special FFM isn’t in your wedding party doesn’t mean they haven’t been a huge support to you in the lead up to your big day. Invite them to get ready with you and if it fits in your budget, pay for her hair and makeup too as a thank you for everything they have done for you.

33. Grown up flowers girls

Invite your favour female FFMs to be flower girls if you aren’t having children in your wedding. They can dress to match your wedding, come down the aisle in the processional, throw flower petals like rock stars, then sit in the front row with your families. In fact…why limit this to just your girlfriends? I’m sure the guys will have lots of fun with this too if you are planning a light hearted wedding.

34. Have them sit at the head table

You don’t have to follow the tradition of having your wedding party sitting at the head table. Invite your special FFMs to sit with you instead chat with them about the day and which songs you all want to dance to later! This is such a sweet way to honour your close friends and let your bridesmaids and groomsmen have a breather while they blend in at other tables.

Toronto, Oshawa, Durham, Port Hope and Cobourg Wedding Officiant for commitment ceremony, renewal of vows, marriage, elopement, handfasting, Belleville and Bowmanville wedding venue, Bobcaygeon, Lindsay, Peterborough weddings. Ontario Funeral and Cemetery Celebrant and ceremonies.

35. Personal protection

As I always say, every family has a dynamic, and it’s not always a good one. I was at a wedding where I knew the bride and her sisters were not on speaking terms with their mother so I was able to keep an eye on things and make sure the mother wasn’t upsetting anyone, especially the bride. Narcissists and other toxic types love to cause a scene at big events and unfortunately, we can’t always get away with not inviting them. If this is your situation, ask someone close to you, who knows and understands the situation, to keep an eye out for your problem person starting trouble – your FFM can easily slip in, take you by the arm, say “You’re needed for some photos”, and whisk you out of harm’s way.

If you need serious personal security at your wedding, just let me know…I know a guy.

And lastly…when you’re doling out the wedding tasks, it’s a good idea to create a spreadsheet listing who’s doing which task as you’d be surprised at how easily you can forget these things when you’re in the throws of planning!

And don’t forget to thank your special FFMs in your speech and thank you cards!

You might also like:
The Care and Feeding of Your Officiant
When Should You Book Your Officiant?
Who Let The Dogs In?
The Money Talk – Who Pays For What?
Honouring Your Loved Ones In Their Absence
Questions I Never Get Asked…And Wish I did!

The Care and Feeding of Your Officiant

Toronto, Oshawa, Durham, Port Hope and Cobourg Wedding Officiant for commitment ceremony, renewal of vows, marriage, elopement, handfasting, Belleville and Bowmanville wedding venue, Bobcaygeon, Lindsay, Peterborough weddings. Ontario Funeral and Cemetery Celebrant and ceremonies.

I often get asked what things I need for when I arrive at weddings. I love that my couples think of my comfort when I am visiting to perform their marriage ceremony. I’m pretty self sufficient, carry my own water and snacks, and make my own way to weddings, but if I could send my couples a wish list it would include…

1. A parking spot. Somewhere near the ceremony site or venue entrance so I can get in and out quickly. Officiants often have several weddings in one day and run on a schedule so being able to leave on time is huge! If I have to park a 15 minute walk from the ceremony site that can affect the rest of the day. Let your Officiant park as close as possible.

2. An “office”. A quiet space to prepare, change, get your paperwork started, speak to the groom and anyone who is doing a reading during your ceremony, and chat with your photographer about how we will get you the best photos possible. As an Officiant it helps me a lot when I have a few minutes to myself to do some deep breathing, meditate, and check my hair and lip gloss before we kick things off so I am relaxed and do my beast speaking for you.

3. A glass of water or tea. Ask your caterer to have a warm drink available for your Officiant. We sound better when we have warm throats, and a nice cup of tea goes a long way!

4. A helper. Assign one of your friends to be your Officiant’s helper – give this person your marriage licence as well so your Officiant can get it easily, and have someone to get tea, show them the washroom, help move décor for the best photos, and point out your friends and family members who are doing readings. This person can also introduce your Officiant around and make sure they know who’s who.

5. Photos. I love social media and use my business accounts to post LOTS of photos I have taken at weddings to show my followers all the amazing ideas my couples come up with. Sadly, I rarely ever get photos of myself working that I can share online unless I know the photographer personally. Add me to your photo list and either ask your photographer to make sure I get a photo (I tag them too!) or send me some nice photos when you get them. Another option is to ask one of your friends (or be cool with me asking) to take my phone and snap a few pics during your ceremony so I can share them right away! For many of your vendors, having photos of us working is a massive thing – it’s how we get more business and likely how and why you chose us for your big day.

6. Tips. This is one of those divisive issues. I say no to tips for business owners, yes to tips for the people who work for the business owners. I am a business owner so there is no need to tip me on top of your ceremony and travel fees as I set my own wages. Having said that (many times) I do often get tipped and always appreciate it because I know how hard you all work for your money, just know you do not need to include me (or any Officiant) in your list of tips. Want to do something nice for me? Hand me a wedding favour, tell your friends to hire me, and write me a nice review. I also welcome all of my couples to follow me on social media and support my business with likes and comments should they feel so inspired.

7. Dinner invitations. I get so many invitations to stay for cocktails, dinner, and dancing, and sadly I usually have to decline as I need to move on to more weddings. Believe me, I am always so touched and honoured when I am invited to stay and wish I could accept every invitation! When I do get to stay I love meeting everyone, and chatting with your guests over dinner, and I always offer to do the blessing before the meal as my gift to you.

I asked my friend Ron, who is also an Officiant, about his experiences:

“One couple had their meal catered from a Jamaican chef (groom from Jamaica). I had explained that I ‘disappear’ right after the ceremony so not necessary to have me for the dinner. They had the chef prepare me a take-away plate for me to enjoy at home. Delicious!”

8. Accommodations. I normally perform marriage ceremonies at weddings within 2 hours of my house so I rarely ever need to worry about getting home. I make sure I have some snacks, some great music or podcasts to listen to, and enjoy seeing so many parts of Ontario that I might never see otherwise. Occasionally, I have a couple asking me to travel quite far, like 4 or 5 hours away. I am happy to do it, and always appreciate being put up for the night when their ceremony is in the evening so I don’t have to drive 5 hours home at midnight. In fact, while writing this post someone messaged me for a wedding 6 hours away! If I can’t find him someone closer to the wedding site I may need to make the trek.

Another Officiant friend, Heather, told me this story:

“One wedding I did was out of town and not only did they invite my husband to go with me they also got us a hotel room so we could spend the night rather than driving back home after the night time ceremony. It sure made me feel special. (they changed venues from my home area but still wanted me to perform the ceremony which I would have done anyways as they were such a nice couple).”


And there you have it! All the ways you can care for your Officiant to help make their job easier and help them be their very best for your ceremony!

You might also like:
When Should You Book Your Officiant?
Who Let The Dogs In?
The Money Talk – Who Pays For What?
Honouring Your Loved Ones In Their Absence
Questions I Never Get Asked…And Wish I did!

When should you book your Officiant?

Toronto, Oshawa, Durham, Port Hope and Cobourg Wedding Officiant for commitment ceremony, renewal of vows, marriage, elopement, handfasting, Belleville and Bowmanville wedding venue, Bobcaygeon, Lindsay, Peterborough weddings. Ontario Funeral and Cemetery Celebrant and ceremonies.

Ok…I want to start off by saying…go find all of those timeline lists you collected from the internet, magazines, and wedding planning books, tear them up and throw them in the garbage or fireplace. Go. Do it now. I’ll wait….

Ok? Got rid of all of them? Awesome!

Wondering why I would tell you to get rid of every timeline you had?

Because they are almost always American and don’t reflect the current, local wedding industry and market! They are based on different state laws, market saturation, and let’s be honest…are totally outdated.

And here we are, left with the burning question, when should we book our vendors to ensure we get the ones we want for our big day?

That’s easy! Book us now. If the vendor of your dreams who totally gets your vision and you have a connection with is available for the date and time you want – don’t end the conversation before you have paid the deposit and have your name in their book. Don’t assume they don’t have a lineup of couples trying to book the same date and time! In this day and age, the couple who pays their deposit first gets the vendor they want. I’ve had weekends where every couple that comes to me is looking for the same date and time, and the one who books first gets me – you have competition. And you thought finding a husband was hard!

Last year in the Spring a lovely bride came to me asking for something very specific. An ancient Scottish handfasting. The kind that is done with the tartan sash. She explained it to me and told me she was having the hardest time finding anyone who even knew what she was talking about. Did y’all know I’m Scottish? And married to a Scottish man? Like not oh our great great grandparents were from Scotland…I mean we were both born in Scotland to Scottish parents and brought here as children. We are *that* Scottish and when we got married, we did the Big Fat Scottish Wedding. There were kilts, and swords, and pipers, and whisky, and Gaelic spoken, and….an ancient Scottish handfasting done with the tartan sash! The bride and I talked about it with much excitement! What were the odds that she would stumble upon an Officiant who not only knew what she was talking about, but who had actually had the exact same ceremony at their own wedding?? Zilch I tell ya….til she found me.

Toronto, Oshawa, Durham, Port Hope and Cobourg Wedding Officiant for commitment ceremony, renewal of vows, marriage, elopement, handfasting, Belleville and Bowmanville wedding venue, Bobcaygeon, Lindsay, Peterborough weddings. Ontario Funeral and Cemetery Celebrant and ceremonies.

I really thought it was a done deal and figured this exchange would end with her sending the deposit and me getting all of the paperwork prepped for her.

But no. She told me she needed to speak to her fiancé. Fair enough. I gave her a couple of days and checked back in. Here’s a marriage secret ladies…most of the time, the guys don’t really care about the wedding details. They just want to get married (to you!) and haven’t spend their lives dreaming of the tablecloths and flower arrangements. They love you. They want to marry you. They go along with it all because they know you want them to care. But mostly, they aren’t fussy about most of the wedding planning process and you can likely go ahead and safely choose most of your vendors and ideas (like colours, flowers, officiant, bartenders, makeup artists, hair stylists etc) on your own. Trust me on this one – it’s lovely that you get them to come to every meeting and call – and they would be just as happy to stay home. I’ve met a LOT of grooms and we have these conversations. I often have grooms booking me and they just get on it with and are happy to cross their one job off their list. Anyhoo…back to our Scottish bride…

It took her 3 weeks to get back to me.

Any guess how many weddings I book in the course of 3 weeks? In February I booked 8 weddings in 8 days and that was just one week! Imagine how many I booked over that 3 week period….and when she finally replied, so thrilled to be booking me…her date and time was gone. I offered her a different time slot for the same day, but she was set on the time she wanted and had booked all of her other vendors around that time, never making sure she would actually be able to get married at that time. Her search had to be started from scratch and I have no idea if she got the ceremony she wanted, led by a full fledged Scottish Officiant.

The lesson here is…don’t let the vendor of your dreams slip through your fingers by taking for granted they will still be available when you come back weeks later. If you like it…put a ring on it.

Toronto, Oshawa, Durham, Port Hope and Cobourg Wedding Officiant for commitment ceremony, renewal of vows, marriage, elopement, handfasting, Belleville and Bowmanville wedding venue, Bobcaygeon, Lindsay, Peterborough weddings. Ontario Funeral and Cemetery Celebrant and ceremonies.

Even if you aren’t engaged and know it’s coming…start the conversations with the vendors you love and give them the heads up, find out if they are available on your date of choice, and ask if they will honour their current rates and prices when you come back to finalize your booking. You also want to find out what the required deposits (or first instalments) will be so you can start setting that money aside now.

One of my brides knew the ring was coming but had no idea when. She contacted me and her fave photographer months in advance of her engagement to lock us down so when her man finally proposed, she knew the most important vendors were already booked and ready to get to work. Yes she picked a date and location, and since her fiancé had no clue a wedding usually doesn’t come together in a few weeks, he now gets to go along with her plan. Done and dusted!

In January (honestly it starts on Boxing Day) I get dozens and dozens of couples contacting me asking for their dates for that year. They just got engaged at Christmas and are now looking forward to getting married in June.

Just one problem.

Everyone who got engaged the previous Christmas booked all the June dates and 4pm slots the moment the ring, and proposal, were accepted. They planned 18 months in advance.

Now you have some decisions to make.

Do you find a different vendor? Pick a different date? Choose a different time?

It’s shocking to me how many people will spend weeks and weeks in frustration trying to find an Officiant who is available on their date and time, who is willing to let them do XYZ at their ceremony, fits the budget, has lots of experience, is personable, has great reviews and social media presence, and looks good, rather than do one simple thing….

Be flexible with the ceremony start time.

I am always willing to squeeze couples in. I get it, you want to get married this year – but not everyone can have the 4pm slot. Your chances of getting the best Officiant (can we all agree that’s me?) go up dramatically when you work with their schedule rather than being unflexible with the time you’ve had your heart set on. Usually it’s a simple matter of wiggling 30 minutes in one direction or the other and you can get the Officiant you want.

And please….I’m begging you…don’t print your invitations until AFTER you have booked your Officiant! Trust me on this one – I’ve comforted sobbing brides who can’t find anyone to go along with the time listed on the invitation and that’s not the kind of stress anyone needs when they are getting married!

Ultimately, the key is to remember wedding vendors get booked 1-2 years in advance – last year someone tried to book me for 3 years in advance – and the prime dates get filled quickly! So get us booked now! And if someone says yes…lock them down! Start with your venue, make sure they have your date and time open, then check with your Officiant, and book them both on the same day. This way, if your officiant isn’t available at the exact time you were thinking, you can be flexible and it’s an easy change for the ceremony time.

After that’s done, breathe a sigh of relief and start working on the rest of you list. If you need recommendations just let me know and I will tell you who I have worked with and what they are like!

You might also like:
Who Let The Dogs In?
The Money Talk – Who Pays For What?
Honouring Your Loved Ones In Their Absence
Questions I Never Get Asked…And Wish I did!

Who let the dogs in?

Toronto, Oshawa, Durham, Port Hope and Cobourg Wedding Officiant for commitment ceremony, renewal of vows, marriage, elopement, handfasting, Belleville and Bowmanville wedding venue, Bobcaygeon, Lindsay, Peterborough weddings. Ontario Funeral and Cemetery Celebrant and ceremonies.

More and more we are seeing dogs taking part in weddings! Once upon a time couples met, courted, got married, then got a dog or had a child. These days most of my couples are getting puppies and have dogs (and children!) long before they decide to get married. Just because someone’s baby has fur doesn’t mean they should be left out of the festivities and wedding celebrations! Let’s go over some basics when it comes to including your dog in your wedding…

1. Make sure the venue will allow you to bring your dog! This is most important – find out well in advance so you can decide if you want to book that venue, or leave FurBaby at home if no dogs are allowed.

2. Ask your Officiant if they are ok with working with dogs – not everyone is! (I am owned by a little Terrier so I am happy to work with your dog, I just ask that they are kept from jumping on me). If your Officiant knows the plan, they can be ready for the mishaps that often come with including dogs – and be ready for a good laugh!

Toronto, Oshawa, Durham, Port Hope and Cobourg Wedding Officiant for commitment ceremony, renewal of vows, marriage, elopement, handfasting, Belleville and Bowmanville wedding venue, Bobcaygeon, Lindsay, Peterborough weddings. Ontario Funeral and Cemetery Celebrant and ceremonies.
Me with my little pupper about to record some promo videos!

3. Bring your dog to the events leading up to your big day so they get used to the people, places, and all those new smells! You know when you take your FurBaby to a new place and all they want to do is check out every nook and cranny? Now imagine bringing them to a place where thousands and thousands of people and meals have been – pure doggy joy! So much to smell! Let FurBaby get it out of their system in the days leading up to your wedding.

4. Make sure to have lots of treats on hand at the alter and along the way! Your groomsmen might be able to have some cookies on them in case FurBaby wont pay attention during the ceremony. Much like children, dogs tend to do whatever the mood strikes when all eyes are on them.

5. Assume your dog will be at their worst – super excited, wont listen, pulling on the leash. Unless they are very well trained to walk, don’t assume they understand to heel as they come down the aisle, and NEVER assume they will be capable of walking alone and unleashed. Even the best trained and well behaved dog can lose control when all of your friends and family are watching!

6. Make sure you have one person who is not in the wedding party assigned to take care of your dog at your wedding. It’s a long day and FurBaby will need food, water, shade, and attention as well as bio breaks and naps. This person also needs to make sure your dog doesn’t jump up at people which often happens when they are excited – ripped dresses and pantyhose will put a damper on your day. Keep FurBaby leashed at all times, especially at outdoor weddings – we don’t want them going missing, or worse.

7. Don’t tie the rings to the dog. I performed a marriage ceremony on a beautiful estate and it was obvious the couple had thought of every detail. The photos were gorgeous and we had fantastic weather. The only glitch was when the ring bearer Schnauzer broke loose from her decorative leash while coming down the aisle, and decided running all over the grounds was much more fun than being in the wedding party. A nimble groomsman managed to catch our delinquent ring bearer – fortunately the rings were still attached to her – and kept a firm grip on her for the rest of the ceremony. Give the rings to a groomsman and let FurBaby be an honourary member of the wedding party.

Toronto, Oshawa, Durham, Port Hope and Cobourg Wedding Officiant for commitment ceremony, renewal of vows, marriage, elopement, handfasting, Belleville and Bowmanville wedding venue, Bobcaygeon, Lindsay, Peterborough weddings. Ontario Funeral and Cemetery Celebrant and ceremonies.
So cute…but not the best idea. Use fake rings on your dog and give the real rings to a groomsman to hang onto.

8. Decide where your dog will go after your ceremony and how – who is picking them up, do they need keys to your house, or is FurBaby going to a local boarding kennel? I suggest hiring a professional dog trainer to help out on your big day if you don’t have anyone experienced with dogs. Most trainers also do overnight boarding and home visits so you can send your dog home knowing they will be safe, and well loved!

9. Make sure anything your dog will be around isn’t toxic to them – food, alcohol, plants, flowers, adornments and decorations can all pose a threat to your precious FurBaby. Guests will feed them, they will find scraps and empties, some dogs (like mine) love to tear things apart and can be quite destructive when they are stressed out. Best to enjoy them and let them get home to bed once the dancing starts

Looking for some fun ways to include your dog? Check out these great ideas.

You might also like:
The Money Talk – Who Pays For What?
Honouring Your Loved Ones in Their Absence

Questions I Never Get Asked – And Wish I Did!
Why You Should Hire a Professional Officiant