Wedding Chaplain's Journal

Alan Viau's chronicle of wedding life, and love stories

Lara & Dan Invent the Unity Ice Cream Sundae Ritual

There are some couples that I meet who are really unique. They stand out on their own. I love working with them because their ceremonies are totally creative and reflective of them. So it was with Lara and Dan who have created a new Unity Ice Cream Sundae Ritual.

Let’s face it. Weddings are about tradition. You may feel that you are already pushing the edges by having an officiant perform your wedding at a special location instead of a church. And that is OK.

Some couples really go all out and embrace the wedding as a celebration of who they are and what they are becoming as a couple.

Dan & Lara met in a musical instrument repair course in Alberta. Dan continued in that passion while Lara went to a oil rig camp to be a pastry cook. When I asked Lara what riggers liked – she immediate responded chocolate cake. If she went and explored anything fancier- pushed the boundaries – it was just not eaten.

During our wedding preparation it quickly became evident that they wanted to explore the boundaries of a wedding celebration.

I always meet the bride before the wedding. As you can see from the picture of Lara and her bridesmaids, the fun was just beginning with lollipop bouquets.

Lara & Bridesmaids

They were each dancing down the aisle for the entrance


After the vows and rings, Lara and Dan created a Unity Ice Cream Sundae Ritual. Similar to a  Unity Sand Ritual, they wanted to incorporate elements of themselves and family gathering together.

Here are the elements of the ritual and their symbolism, each element added on top of the other:

  • vanilla ice cream – the foundation that represents trust and communication
  • chocolate and caramel sauces – represents two families becoming one
  • walnuts – because they are nuts for each other
  • rainbow sprinkles – because life should always be colorful
  • whipped cream – light and fluffy; is representative of having their heads in the clouds with their dreams of their future together
  • cherry – the love that brings it all together

Ice Cream Sundae Prep

The bride and groom tasted it first and gave it a thumbs up. The bridal parties and parents also shared the treat to complete the ritual.

Finally, after I declare them married, Lara and Dan took a moment to take a Selfie, post it on Facebook and change their relationship status. Then they kissed to make it official.


I received this wonderful note from them later: “Dan and I just wanted to take a moment to say thank you for everything. Our wedding went perfectly, and our guests said it is one that they will remember for a long time. Thank you for doing such a stellar job as our officiant. We really appreciate it!”

May 6, 2015 Posted by | WeddingChaplain's Real Weddings | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Marriott Gateway on the Falls

Planning a wedding can be stressful for even the most organized brides.

When booking a venue, ordering flowers, finding a caterer and adding all those DIY inspired touches, some details can fall by the wayside. Don’t let the stress of planning your big day take away from excitement and importance of the next big chapter in your life.

“We see a lot of weddings every year,” says Anthony Annunziata, Vice-President of Marketing for the Marriott Gateway on the Falls. “Each wedding is a unique reflection of the bride and groom and we recognize the importance of making sure every couple feels like their personalities are shining through while ensuring their weddings go off without a hitch.”

With that in mind, The Marriott Gateway on the Falls has put together their list of must-do’s to keep your wedding planning stress free.

Make your guests a priority

The best place to start is by figuring out the approximate number of guests you’ll be inviting which will help ensure that you have plenty of room for everyone. While your wedding is your special day, you want to make sure that your guests have a good time and don’t feel crowded. As a rule of thumb, allow for 25 to 30 square feet per guest, which will give you room for all the tables, waiters, band and the dance floor.

Location, location, location

Finding the perfect wedding venue is at the top of the list for most brides but what most people don’t take into consideration is parking. For some venues that are located in busy sections of town parking can be a nightmare. To remedy this, have your wedding at a hotel or at an out of town hall that has ample parking for your guests.

Combine everything

Having to deal with several different vendors can be a hassle. To save you from countless emails and phone calls with different companies, have your wedding at a location that takes care of the food, decorations and drinks as well as set-up and tear-down.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Planning a wedding can be a full time job. Don’t be afraid to ask your wedding party, friends and family to help out with those last minute details. Also, be sure to reach out to your contact at your venue to see if they can help you with some tasks, ie. allowing you inside to set up early.

Some venues such as hotels and country clubs will even set you up with a on-site planner to make sure your day runs smoothly.

Take your time

There is no rule that says you have to get married a year after you get engaged. Find a timeline that works for you and allow yourself to enjoy the moment. Whether you plan your wedding in six months or two years, taking your time will help alleviate stress and ensure that you have the wedding you always dreamed of.

For more information about the Marriott Gateway on the Falls and their wedding packages please visit

About Marriott Niagara Falls Hotel & Spa:

The Marriott Gateway on the Falls enjoys the enviable distinction as being the closest hotel to Niagara Falls. As the area’s premiere AAA Four Diamond, five-star luxury hotel in Niagara Falls, the Marriott Gateway on the Falls overlooks the majestic waterfalls and is located just minutes away from a variety of exciting attractions and casinos.


May 1, 2015 Posted by | Destination Weddings & Travel | , , | Leave a comment

DIY Beauty Recipe: A Lavender-Infused Coconut Oil Hair Treatment

“Applied topically, coconut oil actually does a few things for your hair. First, it nourishes the hair shaft to create a vibrant sheen. It also conditions the hair to restore moisture and repair damage,” explains Wendy Rose Gould beauty expert for hair tutorial and advice site “Also, when applied at the scalp, it can help reduce dandruff and soothe sensitive or itchy skin.” Tip: For beauty uses, choose extra virgin, unrefined coconut oil.


“Let’s move onto the lavender portion of this two-ingredient DIY hair treatment. Lavender also has numerous benefits. It’s no secret that it smells amazing, and many simply use aromatic lavender for its calming effects. Topically, lavender, like coconut oil, is antibacterial and therefore helps with dandruff. It also helps to soften the hair.”

What You Need For This Recipe:

  • Small Bowl
  • 2 Tablespoons of Unrefined, Virgin Coconut Oil
  • Fresh or Dried Lavender Springs (or 2 drops essential oil)
  • Measuring Spoons

Step 1: Place Oil Into Your Bowl

Measure out 2 tablespoons of coconut oil and add it to your bowl. Depending on your hair length, you may want to add more or less oil to the bowl. For medium-to-long hair, two tablespoons should suffice. If your coconut oil has turned to liquid, just measure it out like normal.

Step 2: Add Lavender

Remove the greens and/or buds from your lavender and place it in the bowl with your coconut oil. If you want to add a little more for fragrance, that’s okay. A few pinches is plenty.

Step 3: Infuse Your Lavender

Next, we’re going to infuse the lavender into the coconut oil. To do this, create a bain-marie by placing your bowl over a sauce pan filled with water. Turn your heat to low-medium and allow the coconut oil to melt down, stirring periodically. If your coconut oil is already liquid, you still want to do this, as the warmth from the water bath will expedite the lavender oil extraction. Keep your bain-marie going for 45 minutes to one hour, then remove from the heat.

Step 4: Cool and Strain

Allow your infused coconut oil to set for 10 to 15 minutes, or until it is slightly warm (not hot). Remove the lavender pieces if desired.

Step 5: Apply to Hair

Work the oil through your hair, focusing on the ends where hair gets dry. You can also focus on the scalp if you’re dealing with itchy, dry skin or dandruff. Let the oil set for 15 to 45 minutes. The longer it sets, the better. Shampoo and style as normal.

Step 6: Revel in Softer, Prettier Hair

April 30, 2015 Posted by | Beauty, Hair & Makeup | , | 1 Comment

Winners of the 2nd Ottawa Wedding Awards

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

Ottawa Wedding Awards

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

Hosts Brian Henry and Alison Hunter

Opening remarks by hosts Brian Henry and Alison Hunter

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

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

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


Tripp Photography

DJ Service

Quality Entertainment

Wedding Planner

Kennedy Event Planning


Tulips and Maple

Photo Booth

Ottawa-Gatineau Photo Booth


All Seasons Weddings

Live Music

Kimberley Dunn


Bryan Jones Photography and Videography

Stylist – Make Up

Blush by Jackie Grant


Groovy Linen


Petals and Paint

Sweets, Treats and Cakes

Sarah J’s Cupcakes


Sizzle With Décor

Women’s Bridal Fashion – Women’s

Dominique Levesque Bridal

Men’s Formal Wear

Morris Formal Wear

Reception Venue – Hotel

Hilton Lac-Leamy

Unique Reception Venue

Museum of History

Reception Venue – Beyond Ottawa

Temples Sugar Bush

Reception Venue – Outdoor

Stanley’s Olde Maple Lane Farm


Tsirmpa Award for Community Service

Jennifer McAndrew Mastermind Events

Wedding of the Year

The Mixing Bowl


April 29, 2015 Posted by | Ottawa Wedding Scene and Heard | , , | Leave a comment

Etsy Wedding Ideas: Rustic Chic

This week’s curation of Etsy wedding ideas


Etta Gold Pearl Swarovski Hair Piece

Etta Gold Pearl Swarovski Hair Piece

Mr and Mrs Chair Signs

lace bib necklace


Rustic wood ring bearer pillow

Custom Bridesmaids Dresses

Personalized Corkscrew and Multi-Tool




April 28, 2015 Posted by | Etsy Products | , , | Leave a comment


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