This season was a busy one that included just about every sort of wedding you can imagine. Country properties, hotels, manors and estates, both small and large guest lists, DJs, live musicians, etc. It was wonderful to see how a couples’ personality shone through each wedding. Individuality is the word I use to sum up 2015.
Couples are working harder than ever to personalize their wedding. This has never been more easily identified than with the bridal gowns. Often you can look back and say, ‘oh, this was the year of the fit-and-flair’ or ‘lots of ballgowns this year.’ Instead, there as a mixture of styles from years past and each one fit the bride perfectly – both physically and in style. Maybe the lessons from the wedding dress shows on TV are finally starting to sink in. After all, what’s the point of spending loads of money on a gorgeous, designer gown if it looks awkward on the bride. My brides this year carried themselves with confidence and grace. The ‘natural’ look was often chosen, but if the bride wanted to wear lots of lipstick and heavy eye-makeup then she did! And she did it well because it is who she is on an average day.
I also had numerous couples concentrate on their vows and the importance of those words. Rather than just selecting a nice set of vows from my samples, they really took the time to discuss those words and change them to match their relationship and hopes for their future. When they finally spoke those words during the ceremony, they were meaningful because each sentence was chosen carefully by them, together.
It is always fun for me to hear the music a couple has selected for their ceremony. Many of my 2015 brides wanted to walk down the aisle to their own song, making a different selection for their mothers and bridesmaids to walk to. In fact, I don’t think I heard Pachabel’s Cannon once. Brides want a song they love from their favourite movies or a song that they danced to with their groom early in their relationship. Forget instrumental music – many songs included the lyrics too. It simply adds to an already emotional moment and though guests may not understand the music selection, the couple does and that’s all that matters.
There was a time when MP3 players and iPODs ruled wedding. Couples, even those not on a tight budget, thought using these devices would be easy. Thankfully, people have realized that having a professional DJ really does make the wedding go much smoother. If couples are having difficulty finding a particular song, a DJ likely can. DJs can play requests from your guests and they are ready and watching me carefully to play the music at the correct moment – no pauses or mistakes. DJs can also provide me with a microphone for large outdoor weddings and adjust the volume throughout the ceremony to ensure everyone can hear. This, in itself, is vital for a successful ceremony. Though some feel DJs can be expensive, if you are having a dance at your reception I highly suggest hiring one for these reasons. Many venues even recommend specific DJs that they often work with which helps narrow the challenge in selecting one yourself.
Parents of brides/grooms have also been choosing to sit on the opposite side of the aisle as their child. This way the parents can see the face of their child during the ceremony rather than their backs. This is one idea I got from a friend’s wedding and every time I suggested it, the parents loved the idea. Hopefully this trend will continue.
2015 was a fun year with couples’ engagements being longer than in years past. This has allowed them, and me, time to plan creative ceremonies. I am looking forward to seeing what 2016 brings!
I’ve been hearing this question a lot lately. Many people know that they need an officiant to marry them, but do not know any more than that.
Some couples may have Vegas-style weddings in mind when they hear that an officiant is performing the marriage ceremony. NOT TRUE! For starters, here in Ontario there are no shotgun weddings. Couples need to take the time on a weekday to visit city hall and pay the money required by that city hall to obtain a marriage license. Licenses are then valid for three months. Marriages are just not as hastily entered into.
Each officiant approaches their weddings in different ways. For me, part of the fun is meeting with my couples beforehand and talking about the wedding as a whole, not just the ceremony. I LOVE hearing what couples are planning. As more and more people move away from spiritual, church weddings, the content of the ceremony becomes unique to each couple. The fun of my job is helping couples determine what they want for themselves and how their vision of a perfect ceremony can be fulfilled.
Yes, we do have to address the serious side of the wedding which is signing the paperwork. I sit with my couples and explain the paperwork to them, including the responsibilities I have and their responsibilities too. This is one of the most important legal documents a person will sign and I want to ensure the couple understands what they are signing and what will happen with their License afterward. There are also government rules/requests about applying for Marriage Certificates and I pass that information along as well.
Arriving at the ceremony early is not only necessary to finalize paperwork and make sure everyone is ready, but it gives me a chance to chat with guests. Those few minutes I get to spend with family and friends of the couple allow me to introduce myself, learn where they’ve travelled from and help me get over my last-minute nerves. I think it reflects well on the couple if their officiant is relaxed and happy to be there. If I rush in at the last minute, throw my papers on the table and create a bit of a scene, I may not be an officiant for long! Having said that, I can appreciate how some of my fellow officiants must feel when booked for several weddings on one day and any of them start late. It can be difficult to remain composed when ceremonies are not starting on time and you know that a late start will reflect poorly on the officiant, even if it wasn’t their fault.
Some ceremonies do tend to be a bit more work for me than others. If the ceremony is at a venue with an event planner, that person tends to take over most details since he/she has the knowledge of that space and what has worked best for past weddings. They will likely control all the logistics (including knowing which members of the bridal party are paired up) and I am just expected to show up and fulfill my role. If I am marrying couples on their property, I will work more extensively with the couple (and may be invited to conduct a rehearsal) so that all logistics can be worked out together.
I always keep in mind that I am NOT the MOST important person the couple has hired. I AM important because I am performing the ceremony. But the chef is important because he is providing the food; the DJ for the sound and entertainment; and the photographer/videographer for capturing the memories…and so on. Everyone the couple has gathered for the day plays an important role. We are respectful of one another and work together so the bride and groom have the best day possible.
Officiants with All Seasons Wedding Ceremonies share this same approach. We all strive to provide our couples with the best ceremony we can. We share ideas and lean on each other for assistance. Hiring an officiant should be one of the easiest parts of the wedding. And if I can help make it a fun experience, lasting memories will be created.
I’ve had couples tell me that they want to write their own vows, but it seems too difficult. Weddings can be stressful enough so I don’t encourage anyone to add unnecessary stress to their plans.
Under my Samples page I have vows that range from traditional to more contemporary. I invite couples to choose either an entire set that speaks to them or take their favourite lines from different sets and combine them. This way they have sort of written their own but did it without any stress.
An added bonus of this method is that, if done separately, the bride and groom will likely choose different lines or arrange them in a different order. The final product can be unexpected. The bride and groom can each e-mail me their personally written vows and wait to hear what his/her partner has chosen until the ceremony.
I haven’t seen Cassie Prouse since high school. Naturally we reconnected through Facebook. When we met for coffee and treats in Tillsonburg one recent morning, we were eager to catch up and talk about our involvement in the local wedding industry. I was interested in Cassie’s career and enthusiasm for esthetics and, more recently, doing makeup application for wedding parties. I’ve always loved makeup but actually know very little about proper application and skin care. That’s where Cassie can help.
Cassie received her education in esthetics from Marvel Beauty Schools in London. Following the completion of her programs in 2001 she worked in salons for 7 years. It was through these experiences that she gained the knowledge required to provide quality services. I met with Cassie to discuss the makeup services she offers directly to bridal parties in their homes, hotels or any location they have chosen for wedding day preparations.
Cassie began offering these services initially for friends about three years ago. As word spread she became busier and joined with other women who also offer in-home wedding day services (such as hairstyling). Some of these women can assist Cassie with makeup for bridal parties larger than 5 people. With an 8am start, she must have the assistance from collegues to ensure everyone is ready for the ceremony and photographs at a reasonable time. It takes approximately one half hour to 45 minutes to complete makeup services for one girl on the wedding day.
“Brides should definitely have a makeup trial 2-3 weeks before the wedding,” Cassie advises. “We will both feel organized and prepared for the wedding day.” Cassie further stated that “our skin tones change and especially for summer weddings the bride will likely develop a tan which changes the foundation she requires.”
Cassie also advises that a trial should be essential for girls who normally do not wear much makeup. This appointment, which is mostly to confirm the makeup that will be used for eyes and lips, assists the bride herself with understanding the amount of makeup required for her to look her best. “Brides who are not used to wearing much makeup are often amazed at how much is needed to ensure it lasts for many hours. Throughout the day the makeup will lighten, but we need to be sure it will last at least through the ceremony and following pictures.” Girls are often wary of the amount of lipstick initially applied. “It is important to have lips,” says Cassie, “otherwise they won’t show up in pictures.”
The trial also helps both Cassie and bride to confirm if she wishes to have a natural look or more dramatic application. When determining colours considerations will be given not only to the time of year (more plum colours in the fall and lighter colours in summer) but also to the colours of the bridesmaids dresses, flowers and general theme of the wedding. I asked Cassie if there are any current trends in wedding makeup. She replied that from September to November the trend is more dramatic. This thrills many junior bridesmaids who are excited to wear makeup for their role.
Cassie, however, cautions those who are quite set on wearing a lot or very little makeup. “Everyone in the bridal party has her own tastes which I can accommodate, but I still need to make sure everyone compliments one another and no one person stands out too much in the pictures.” Not only does this require Cassie’s expertise in application but also a good brand of makeup. She has used various brands in the past but has recently become a Mary Kay representative and plans to introduce their products. “Mary Kay offers mineral based products”, explains Cassie. “Mineral based makeups work best the more you perspire making them the perfect choice for weddings, especially in the heat of the summer.” By using Mary Kay, Cassie will be able to leave girls with a sample lipstick to carry with them throughout the day.
When asked for further advice that she could provide, Cassie did have something for girls to consider. She offers eyelash services and Cassie wishes to remind girls of the difference in those services. “I sometimes have girls call me asking for the $12.00 lash service. Please know that this (service) is actually for false lashes that are glued on which is different than eyelash extensions which are more costly.”
Cassie currently charges $50.00 for bridal makeup (which includes the trial) and $40.00 for bridesmaids, mothers-of-the-bride and any other girl requesting wedding day makeup. Additional charges for travel may be required. For a flawless look sure to last the majority of the wedding day, this is a small expense. Plus, it’s just plain fun to be able to relax and enjoy the day’s celebrations while leaving this aspect of the wedding in the hands of a professional.
Cassie is currently booked for one wedding per month in 2015 with multiple bookings during the summer months. And it’s no wonder. Cassie loves what she does and it shows. She is enthusiastic, knowledgeable and works hard to ensure every bride feels her most beautiful for her wedding.
Be sure to call 519-614-0472 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to book your bridal party today!
Our laws in Ontario state that only clergy and justices of the peace can officiate marriage ceremonies. Too often people are disappointed when they find out that a friend or relative, even one who is licensed in another province or country, is unable to perform their ceremony.
The disappointment is understandable. After all, a bride and groom are making lifelong promises to one another and would love to have someone they know and love standing with them and leading them through this moment.
If this is important to you, I may be able to assist you in fulfilling this wish. Please contact me for further information.
When I pulled up to the door of Savvy Bridal Consignment Boutique in New Sarum it was a very cold, snowy Friday night. When I opened the door I was immediately comforted by the warm, inviting atmosphere of plush carpeting, deep tan-coloured walls and the wonderful sight of wedding gowns. The little girl in me jumped up and down. Why, though I’ve been married a decade, do I still enjoy the sight of a bridal gown? I wasn’t even there to try on a dress but I couldn’t help feeling overwhelmed by nostalgia and giddiness at just being able to look at so many beautiful dresses.
Tamara Witlox Peters, owner, greeted me warmly. At first I was too stunned by the beauty of the shop to properly shake her hand and introduce myself. The skylights! The picture-perfect balcony! I had no idea that a consignment shop could be so polished looking. There is nothing used looking in this boutique. To me a boutique is quaint and quiet where you receive personal service and are treated with kindness. A boutique is small but not cramped. Savvy Bridal is all of these things. Tamara has done an amazing job at ensuring her shop has a designer feel. And why not? The gowns she’s selling on consignment are mostly high end labels though no gown is priced over $850. After all, they are priced to sell along with the jewellery and other accessories artfully displayed in simple cases.
“Today’s brides,” Tamara informed me, “have a different mindset than past brides. They are environmentally conscious and don’t want to be wasteful. They see the value in their money and buying a previously owned dress, not even necessarily previous worn, is both budget friendly and eco-friendly.” Tamara added that sellers “are not as sentimental about their gowns anymore. They recognize that the longer their dresses hang in their closets the less value they have.” Most gowns in the boutique are less than three years old so the styles are current and owners receive back a large portion of their original expense.
Tamara is passionate about the environment and recycling so operating a consignment shop is the perfect occupation for her. The space, an extension on Tamara’s home, has a private entrance and feels very spacious due to the high ceilings and amount of natural light. Tamara saw a niche in the market for consignment gowns and plunged into the business. She began scouring Kijiji for ads selling bridal gowns in spring 2013. She messaged the sellers with her plans asking if they would be interested in taking part and received overwhelming support. In fact, she had to open in June 2013, one month earlier than anticipated, because she had already collected numerous dresses. Savvy Bridal was born!
Today her stock consists of approximately 200 dresses, both bridal and formal which include mother-of-the-bride and flower girl. Mothers are often returning for their own appointments once they see the large selection of mother-of-the-bride dresses. The average price of these dresses is only $100.00. She uses the Internet when advertising her shop as well as looking for specific dresses. If a bride simply cannot find her gown in the boutique, Tamara will assist her in searching for it as best she can. She keeps a record of what brides are searching for and will send them the Internet links if she locates it.
I was quite impressed with Tamara’s approach to the business world. “I want to run an honest business,” she tells me. “Many of the dresses in this shop are here because the seller impulsively bought it, either because of excitement or pressure, and then realized it wasn’t the dress for her.” Tamara provides purchasers with her “24 hour rule” which means they can wait one day before committing to buying the dress.
“If they go home and wake up in the morning still thinking about that one dress, then it is the one for them.” She simply asks for a $50.00 non-refundable deposit to hold the gown. Other brides who have been shopping before come in knowing exactly what they want and do take the dress home with them that same day. The 24 hour rule is not mandatory but certainly provides many girls with peace of mind knowing they are unlikely to make an impulsive purchase.
“Trust is very important in this business,” Tamara informs me. “And it goes both ways. The owners of these gowns trust that I will do my best to sell them. And I trust that they will do their part as well.” For her part, Tamara ensures that gowns of a similar size and style receive equal opportunity. This is why is it important for a bride to come to her appointment with a general idea of what she wants. Tamara will pull all gowns fitting the criteria which may mean digging into stock that she does not have room for on the boutique floor. For sellers, trust means ensuring the gown is professionally cleaned and providing receipts (if possible) to confirm the original purchase price. Or it may mean simply being honest about the original cost and amount of wear an item received.
Tamara walked me through the process of selling a dress on consignment with Savvy Bridal. The seller first makes an appointment to bring her dress in and, after Tamara’s inspection of the gown to confirm its chances of re-sale, will enter into a contract outlining the details of the arrangement. The seller will pay a one-time $10.00 administration fee. Gowns, whether bridal or formal, are priced at 30% to 60% of the original price. The seller receives 70% of the re-purchased price. Prices are non-negotiable due to these contractual terms.
Tamara has a high standard for her gowns. “I have to ask myself, would I want to try this dress on? And if I wouldn’t because of staining or scents attached to the dress then another bride likely wouldn’t either.” It is due to this high standard that Tamara asks that girls, including friends and relatives, visiting the shop ensure they do not wear any scents or creams as they are easily passed along to the dresses and may linger in the shop potentially deterring other would-be purchasers. Women should also come make-up free if they wish to try on any gowns.
Brides hoping to purchase a dress from Savvy Bridal should call ahead to book an appointment providing details of her dream dress along with her size. This allows her two hours to shop with Tamara’s undivided attention and gives Tamara an opportunity to organize all gowns that fit her criteria. “But be open minded,” Tamara asks. “The gown a bride thinks she wants may not be the best look for her and we can play around with different styles and have fun.” Tamara encourages brides to bring others but asks for no more than three to ensure the bride has a positive experience rather than one with too many opinions (have we not all seen Say Yes To The Dress?).
The sought after style continues to be the fit and flair but Tamara informs me that ball gowns are beginning to make a comeback. Although many of the sellers provide crinolines the purchasers are not taking them so she does have a small collection available. Hoops are in style because they allow the bride to walk more naturally rather than having to kick a crinoline out as she steps forward. And hoops allow the dresses to fall nicely without making the dresses too poufy.
If alterations are needed Tamara can provide seamstress recommendations. She cautions girls when selecting a seamstress of their own to alter a bridal gown. “Ask how many other gowns she is working on or look around her workspace. This will tell you whether or not she is truly comfortable and capable altering bridal gowns.”
Savvy Bridal is open through appointment only and appointments can be made during the following hours: Monday-Friday 10am-7pm and Saturday, Sunday 9am-5pm.
Her calendar is booked and the appointments are flooding in. She hasn’t yet noticed a “slow time” which shows that brides are not only looking for a great dress for a reasonable cost, but are looking for the full bridal gown shopping experience and Savvy Bridal is providing it.
Visit Savvy Bridal at www.savvybridal.ca or through their Facebook page for contact information and updates.
In the heart of Belmont lies Utopia . It is the local salon for many in the village and surrounding areas. The friendly chatter, delicious coffee and occasional treats make the atmosphere inviting and cozy. There is much laughter and if you don’t know the person sitting in the chair beside you, you will quickly be introduced and share stories. Belmont is small so the person you thought was a stranger may be your neighbour or a friend of a friend. Connections are easily made in this small village. In fact, the atmosphere and friendships are why clients come from London, St. Thomas and even as far away as Milton. The interior has recently been re-done with a rustic, chic, city meets country vibe which only adds to its charm.
Jane Robinson and Annie Quiring are the stylists. Jane, Utopia’s owner, began styling hair as a teenager 38 years ago. She opened Utopia in 2002. Annie has also been styling hair since her teens and joined Utopia in 2010. I have had the pleasure of watching Annie and Jane style hair for wedding parties, proms and other celebrations. Annie is my regular stylist and they have both styled my hair on numerous occasions with wonderful results. While I always visit the salon to have my hair done, Jane and Annie want to ensure your wedding day is as relaxing as possible and will come to you in your home, hotel or wherever you and your bridal party are.
I spoke with Annie at the shop on a busy Wednesday morning. She had some wonderful suggestions to brides and bridesmaids regarding their wedding day look, including booking your appointment as you would your venue, photographer and other important vendors. “Book your hair appointment as soon as you know your wedding date. We have had to turn bridal parties away simply because we were booked for too many other weddings that same day.”
She also suggested that brides have a hair trial, usually a month before the wedding, being sure to bring accessories to the appointment. If you are the bride and wish to colour your hair, have that done one week prior to the wedding. There is a charge for hair trials but is usually half the cost of the wedding day styling “since we don’t use all the products to strive for the same polished look as we do for the wedding”. The hair trial is simply to confirm the style you have chosen and gives both you and the stylist the opportunity to try something new that you may not have thought of before. If you are looking for ways to save money with your wedding day hairstyle (average cost at Utopia being $50.00) consider having your hair trial on the same day as a bridal shower, bachelorette or another important occasion. If you want the wedding look itself to be kept secret, any tight waves or curls will be brushed out so the hair still looks great for the remainder of the day.
With the current style being long hair in loose, natural looking waves, brides are opting for clip-in extensions to help achieve this look. Annie cautions brides to be selective while choosing extensions and to consider a few things. Firstly, consult with your stylist as to whether clip-ins are even right for you and if so, what type of clip-in to buy. Secondly, if you are colouring your hair, choose the extension first and then have Annie or Jane colour your natural hair to match the extension. “It is very difficult”, Annie says “to try to colour the extension itself to match the bride’s colour.” Remember that your look is to appear natural. The Utopia team will do their best to ensure the clip-in isn’t noticeable, but that starts with you purchasing a high quality one. She also reminds us that real hair extensions, though costing more, will take heat and hold curls much better than synthetic hair. Perhaps you’ve noticed the abundance of articles published recently about the process of making real hair extensions. If you are concerned, ask the supplier where the hair comes from and any reputable supplier should be able to give you this information.
Having been a bridesmaid several times myself, I asked for tips for bridesmaids and mothers attending a new salon for a wedding and having a stylist they’ve never met do their hair. Annie suggested bringing more than one picture with your reasons as to why you like each style. This will help the stylist decide what works best for you. You may not leave with the result you thought, but hopefully you are surprised and pleased.
Utopia even has a tanning booth. This is quite helpful to brides wishing for a sun-kissed glow to set off the bright whites in their gowns or just to prepare for their honeymoons in tropical locations.
Jane, Annie and the rest of the Utopia staff enjoy experiencing the excitement of bridal parties over their wedding day looks. Whether the styles are matching or different, they hope each girl will feel beautiful and ready for the day ahead. Be sure to visit Utopia on the web at www.utopiadayspa.ca or their Facebook page for salon hours and additional information.
After 11 years of marriage, having a wedding videography business and officiating ceremonies, there is a LOT that I would change about my wedding. Chances are you feel the same way even if you’ve only been married for a short time. Styles change from year to year, from dresses to bridal party sizes to cakes and venues. Since no one ever plans on getting married more than once, you make the choices that best reflect you at the time of your wedding.
My own wedding was wonderful – a church wedding in my hometown, a reception at a hall (in another town) and pictures at a park along the route between venues. Mike (my husband) and I had four attendants each and tried not to request too much of them time-wise or financially. We were young, I was 21 and he 24. We needed the financial help of our parents for a wedding otherwise it would have been a city-hall wedding for us. We were very grateful to have so much parental support. At the time it was the perfect wedding, but if I was to get married now, at 32 years old, it would be drastically different.
Starting with size – from 165 guests probably down to less than 100. Maybe at an inn or a restaurant? I no longer care what my dress would look like. I would have a second hand dress or even borrow one. Would I have a dance? I don’t know. Would I have a big sit down meal…maybe. The idea of an intimate home ceremony surrounded by immediate family and the closest of friends sounds fantastic. I never got to choose the content of my ceremony since I had a church wedding. It was a lovely service performed by a minister whom I had known most of my life. But if you hire an officiant with All Seasons…ahem…such as me…..the couple can completely control the content of THEIR day.
So I’m curious…what would you change about your wedding?
Been to a wedding lately? Noticed anything different?
Wedding ceremonies have gone through a lot of changes over the past few years, even since my wedding in 2003. The sky’s the limit when it comes to creativity.
Some of these changes are fairly obvious – such as the switch from church/religious ceremonies to non-denominational ceremonies, small weddings and wedding parties, and unique vows.
The first ceremony I ever conducted was very, very small. About 8 guests, all immediate family, gathered in the couple’s backyard, drinks in hand. I had never been to such a small wedding myself and was very lucky that it was this type of wedding that got to be my first. I wasn’t nearly as nervous as I could have been. The couple and I wrote the ceremony together and they played with the wording and content until it was a true reflection of themselves. I guided them along the way with samples but ultimately it was their ceremony and their final say…as it should be!
I’ve performed countless ceremonies where there wasn’t even a bridal party. The couple simply invited two close family members or friends to come forward at the appropriate time to act as witnesses. And it works very well. No one has to buy a dress or rent a tux. People come to the wedding as they are, not a made up version of themselves. And for that I would like to apologize to my own bridesmaids for the dresses I made them buy and the money they had to spend. We had a great time so I think it was ok…but I certainly could have given you girls more choices. After all, it was my wedding and not yours.
Large weddings are still lots of fun to go to and officiate. I may meet someone I haven’t seen in years and didn’t know they were connected with the couple. Plus there is a party atmosphere like no other. But not many people can truly afford such large weddings anymore unless they are potluck. And I don’t see that trend coming back around just yet.
If I was asked to pick just one trend that I repeatedly see, it is a couple’s personalization of their ceremony. Everything from the content to location, each ceremony is becoming very unique and you are able to distinguish one couples’ ceremony from the next. When given choices, couples are becoming as excited about their ceremony as they are about the reception. It is no longer just a part of the day to get through to get to the party. Why can’t the party start with the ceremony?
My hope for each engaged couple is that they find ways to make their ceremony unique and memorable, for themselves and their guests. Look for ways to include people (such as passing the rings around so everyone can make a wish) and hold the ceremony in a meaningful location, such as the park where you had your first picnic together. If you can, invite your pet to walk down the aisle since they are an important family member. Try something new and it could become the latest trend.
Today I plan on posting my first blog – Trends in Wedding Ceremonies. I hope that through all my blogs I can provide information, advice and entertainment on topics both wedding and baptism related.
I plan on showcasing some of my favourite wedding-related charities and businesses. My goal is to have you share your own experiences as well so that we may laugh together, share triumphs and challenges in what becomes one of the most memorable day’s of our life.