Wedding Licences Extended in Ontario

To assist the many couples who have had to postpone their plans and wedding ceremonies due to the Covid- 19 outbreak, the Ontario government has issued an extension for marriage licenses and made amendments to Ontario’s Marriage Act.

If you obtained your licence any time after December 1, 2019, or while the State of Emergency is still in force, it will be valid for up to 24 months after the state of emergency ends. (The S. of E. is currently in effect until September 22nd).  You won’t need to get a new licence unless you’ve misplaced the document or have changed address or marital status.

This does not include licences where there has been a change to critical licence information after the date it was issued (such as if either of the parties to the marriage has changed their name, or

Where information is no longer accurate (such as address) or the licence has been lost of mislaid, couples may be able to replace the licence without the usual $75 fee, although the particular municipality may charge for administration costs. If a new licence is required, they should seek a replacement only within three months of the scheduled ceremony.

State of Emergency
Although everywhere in Ontario has now moved into Stage 3, the state of emergency province-wide is still in effect until (at least) September 22, 2020.

Note, new licences purchased after the province-wide state of emergency ends must still be used within the three-months, as before.

More information on requirements affecting weddings in Ontario.

Link to the latest newsletter.


Ontario allows larger gatherings at wedding ceremonies

Wedding Dates-

Wedding couples in Ontario and the GTA who have been holding tight on wedding plans for the last few months are feeling a new sense of optimism as all areas in the province have moved from grade 2 to 3  and we begin to re-open, gently, in this stressful time of Covid-19.

Many have been cheered by the news that the Ontario government is allowing more attendees at indoor and outdoor wedding and other ceremonies in “recognition of the importance of being with loved ones during the moments that matter most.”

Stage 3– Weddings/Ontario

The government has extended the number of people able to attend outdoors to 100 attendees. For indoor weddings (and receptions), the maximum number is 50. Where people gather inside for services such as weddings, they can  continue to fill up to 30 per cent of a room’s capacity in Stage 3.

This number does not include any staff, workers, performers (or the officiant!) —the 30 % of allowable capacity for an indoor venue is for your guests and members of the wedding party.

The official Ontario government website gives additional information on regulations as they change and can be checked here. (You can also download a PDF.)

At both indoor and outdoor ceremonies, proper health and safety advice must be followed including physical distancing. Buffet-style or self-serve meals are not permitted. The Couple’s Dance and Father/Daughter and Mother/Son dances are now allowed, but still no dancing between guests.

Seating must be assigned at the reception, with family and social circles kept together where possible. Guests

At Stacey and Gianni’s wedding.

are asked to remain seated except to visit the washroom or leave–they are not permitted to walk around and socialize, and masks are to be worn except when eating or drinking.

Musicians and performers are welcomed, provided distancing rules are followed and, in some cases, plexiglass shields may be required. Performers are not permitted to share microphones and the noise or music level must be moderated so that guests in attendance do not have to lean close or speak loudly to be heard.

“We have taken deliberate steps to increase testing and increase our ability to track and contain this virus,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health.  “I strongly urge everyone to remain careful and cautious as we are all still at risk.”

More: CBC News Report

Please note: the above restrictions on size of gatherings also apply to funerals and other services.


Creating the Perfect Wedding Video

Award-winning wedding cinematographers Mark and Danielle capture stories around the world for their company Kismet Creative, surpassing the expectations of many happy wedding couples from Toronto to Vancouver and far beyond.

They specialize in producing wonderful films with a strong narrative designed to show the couple’s personalities, documenting their turning points and ceremony into a defining story that lives in the memory and will be a treasured celebration of the marriage.

“The ceremony is the end of one chapter and the beginning of the next,” says Mark. He and Danielle first met in Bali (kismet!), were married in Italy—and have since lived in Sydney, London, Vancouver, and Toronto. They now call the GTA home.

Fast forward a few years, and their life is also now filled with the wonder, boundless energy, and thrills of enjoying each day with beautiful daughter Isla—so they fully understand the importance of capturing life’s special moments.

“We’re pleased to be able to capture and showcase the wonderful weddings that memories are made of.”

Mark and Danielle work together in the business and are extremely skilled at portraying the unique captivating stories of their wedding couples. They bring true professionalism to the task, with experience of writing, directing, and editing videos for the BBC, Warner Brothers, Universal, and Disney—to name a few.

Mark is the main shooter and Danielle tends to be the key contact for clients and couples for the contract side of things. But they often work together on shoots— Danielle may be involved with filming or, via her other company, providing hair, makeup, and wedding styling through

Since the public health pandemic has thrown a hiccup in the plans of a number of couples, they have been adjusting schedules to accommodate, Mark says. Kismet Creative tends to be booked up quickly and, while it has only a few shooting dates still open this year, they are trying to be as flexible as possible. “Because of the current conditions and with everything so unpredictable, we want to do the utmost for our customers.

“Some couples are being super-proactive and rescheduling –booking dates for later this year and next. Others are hoping for the best that everything will be able to go ahead as planned. Many couples are not quite sure what to do.”

Mark’s advice is that if you think you may have to reschedule to touch base sooner rather than later.  Perhaps consider other days of the week so you are able to book your venue and all the other vendors on the same page/same day—keeping in mind that everyone else will be doing the same thing.

“Saturday summer days have become the new must have—like a certain product that everyone stockpiled at the start of the health scare(!) so if you can go for Friday or Sunday, this will give you more flexibility.”

“Considering the strange and unusual time we’re living in, there is no penalty for change—although early re-bookings and confirmations means we can schedule key cinematography to suit everyone’s needs.”

Kismet Creative works with associated excellent cinematographers they can call on during these trying times. Since Kismet already has wedding-experienced and industry-skilled associates in Toronto and BC when additional shooters are needed in a normal year, they can accommodate more change during this period. Although Mark likes to be the principal shooter on 4 or 5 key BC weddings annually, they do have a network of professional associates in BC and in Ontario who can assist.

Everyone works under Kismet Creative’s direction and this allows the company to be more flexible.

Kismet’s skill behind the scenes—and the creative way they go about portraying and telling each particular wedding story—is what clients seem to find most special—and this is ensured regardless of who is behind the camera, says Mark.

Many of their clients come through referrals from other bridal couples and their families and friends, but Mark says there is a pretty even mix. “People find us on Instagram and via googling and recommend us to their friends. This is very heartening as it shows us how much people love the finished videos.”

Costs vary but a ballpark investment for a Kismet production is $4400 to $6400. You will be able to view and choose your ideal approach—narrative, cinematic, portrait, highlights, etc.—and Mark always recommends face-to-face consultation so they can be sure to deliver a film experience that meets your dreams and needs on the day and incorporates all the elements and background needed for the production.

With everything still uncertain re dates and schedules, Mark suggests planning and booking as far ahead as you can—and then be ready to adapt should the situation change.

Going forward, he foresees an increase in how video is used to tell and share wedding stories.

With date and venue changes, travel bans, and flight delays, some guests may not be able to be present. Couples may hold a smaller, more intimate ceremony, live stream the wedding, or share it as soon as they can. “We see weddings on Instagram, more use of streaming services, or really short turn-arounds to share if attendance has to be limited by circumstance. Kismet Creative already does a same day edit for couples who want to view or share their day on the actual day—so this can be handled easily.”

Mark and Danielle love being able to define and record love stories and wedding ceremonies so that they reflect the unique joy and specialness—with all the wonderful details  and elements that simply don’t fit into a photograph album.  Mark’s final piece of advice? “If you’re planning a wedding this year or next, think about getting in touch with us, or other cinematographers quickly. Not only are 2021 dates going fast, but we’re also best placed to offer you unique video and streaming solutions in case your wedding is affected by the pandemic.”

Baby Naming Ceremony

We took these lovely photographs recently at a baby naming ceremony conducted by the Rabbi and received a very nice testimonial from the parents. Thank you!

“We would like to truly thank Rabbi Gellman for the wedding and baby naming services that he provided. As my husband and I are an interfaith couple, finding a rabbi to marry us proved to be a difficult task. Not only did Rabbi Gellman agree to assist us but he got to know us as a couple, he created a beautiful ceremony and delivered the service alongside my husband’s minister. Fast forward two years later, when our beautiful daughter was born, my husband and I knew that Rabbi Gellman was the best choice for her baby naming. The service yet again moved everyone in the room. He is professional, easy to talk to and delivers beautiful services.”  Jordana

The Ketubah Story

More and more marriages are putting it in writing—and it’s not only Jewish wedding couples who are adopting the Ketubah as part of their wedding ceremony, a tradition that dates back thousands of years.

One of the largest suppliers is—a trendsetter in design and online service well-known internationally for museum quality work, was founded originally here in Toronto by Michael Shapiro and reports that Ketubahs are being ordered for all faith weddings as well as to mark significant days. Ketubahs also commemorate milestone occasions such as anniversaries.

Wedding couples are able to order from hundreds of unique designs from classic to modern to suit every budget and timeline. Many parents also like to purchase the Ketubah as a gift. Since it is often viewed as a precious family heirloom and passed between generations, the style, look, and wording are significant decisions.

Choose from an extensive range of limited-edition artist creations that can be personalized and customized—from wording to colors to the craftwork involved. This may be beaded, canvas, gold or silver leaf, crystal work, luminous—the variety is limitless.

Lovely paper cut Ketubahs, considered a traditional Jewish fine art since the Middle Ages, are also a specialty.  Fine art archival paper cut Ketubahs can include your personal details incorporated into the design—which can involve 18 layers of paper cuts!

Once you’ve found your style, you’ll need to decide colors, theme, language, and the amount of personalization. This is when you’ll choose whether to include names, wedding date, and location, which are integrated (seamlessly!) in the calligraphy—or the rabbi can write in the names in blank spaces.

You may need to check with your rabbi before you order —you’ll be asked to specify text and the company offers many options including Reform/Orthodox/Conservative or Humanistic —also ‘Canadian Reform” and LBGTQ.

You can also choose an “Interfaith” selection or write unique words to reflect your beliefs, vows, or that are meaningful to you both.

Regardless of which you choose, the Ketubah is often the heart of a Jewish or interfaith wedding. The Ketubah has profound history behind it and is seen as a symbol of the couple’s devotion to each other and the marriage.

Traditionally, the Ketubah catalogs the husband’s obligations to his wife and establishes provisions for her protection. The traditionaltext closely resembles the one codified 2000 years ago.

Two witnesses sign the Ketubah—friends or distant relatives/close relatives do not sign—and generally consider it an honor to be asked. (The bride and groom don’t sign traditionally/it’s not the same as signing the register or license in a church wedding. However, there are choices that have lines for the bridal couple to sign if they so choose.

The rabbi may read out the Ketubah under the Chuppah—Jewish tradition is that it is a significant part of the ceremony.

Costs for the Ketubah range from budget friendly—as low as the $150 range—to $1000 and everywhere in between. However, if it involves a lot of artisan work, such as for crystal creations, gold leaf, or a complex paper cut Ketubah—for example, an 18-layer piece of archival art with all your personal details incorporated—this may set you back even more.

But the finished piece is likely to become of historical importance to your family—and be viewed as a truly unique and original piece of fine art that also happens to commemorate your wonderful marriage!

To see more examples, see





The Perfect California Wedding

Brett and Arthur—

Brett and Arthur enjoyed a wonderful wedding ceremony in October when they were married in the lovely surroundings of Healdsburg, in California’s Sonoma region, by Rabbi David Gellman.

“It was an interfaith wedding—Arthur is from England and it was important to have a ceremony that paid homage to both Christian and Jewish traditions for the families, and also was personalized exactly the way we wanted it,” recalls Brett.

“There were a number of special Jewish elements we wanted to include such as the Ketubah, seven blessings, smashing the glass, wine, and the Chuppah. Whatever we did decide was very meaningful and special to us. I carried the corn dolly Arthur’s mother had once walked down the aisle with at her ceremony in England and that his grandmother before her carried at her marriage.”

Arthur is from Sevenoaks in Kent, and Brett calls America’s key wine county home. The couple met in 2010 and were co-workers and good friends for a long time—until a change in employment opened the door and saw the friendship change as they became a couple. Brett and Arthur both work in biotech in food technology and live in the Bay Area.

“We wrote our own vows. Arthur felt very strongly about doing this,” says Brett, “and we were very pleased. They were perfect.”

The wedding was held at a lovely restaurant venue in Healdsburg, which is always on the list/wins awards as one of the 10 top small towns in the US and is the home base for three of California’s top wineries.  The ceremony took place outside, where the weather was wonderful (for October!) and for the 130 or so guests. Then everyone moved inside for cocktails—and the day ended with dinner and dancing on the patio.

“The ceremony was everything we could have wished for. Rabbi Gellman did a wonderful job. In the spirit of transparency—I have to say that I woud have wanted David as our wedding officiant even if he hadn’t been my dad’s second cousin! He married my brother and sister-in-law a few years ago in Savannah, Georgia. It was a beautiful wedding, and I wanted the same for us.”

Wedding Venues-GTA

Weddings 101!


Shangri-La Hotel, Toronto

It’s no secret that picking the perfect date for your wedding is only the start of what may turn out to be a very long list of To Do’s. You may be planning a cozy gathering and simple ceremony or a more lavish wedding. But choosing to hold your ceremony and reception in a hotel that can easily cater to all your needs to ensure your special day is memorable (and worry-free) is an excellent idea.

“Here at the Shangri-La Hotel, Toronto, in the heart of downtown, we pride ourselves on being extremely flexible. We’re very pleased to help make your wedding as perfect as it can be, whether it’s a large gathering or an intimate wedding or reception,” says Heidi Meisinger, Service Manager – Events.

The hotel caters to weddings and gatherings of all sizes and inclinations. This means that nothing is impossible. “Our goal is to make your wedding perfect.  So whether you wish to plan a last minute upscale bachelorette party, a romantic ceremony on our lovely terrace, overnight or extended stay accommodation for guests and the bridal party, or only the wedding ceremony and reception, we are happy to help.”

The Shangri-La Hotel, Toronto, has a number of options for ceremonies and receptions—but there are group size limitations on the various spaces—so it’s good to get these details out of the way as soon as you can.


The hotel is able to deal with short notice bookings and Sunday and Friday weddings are also fine. They are pleased to accommodate to meet customized requirements for your ceremony —and any requests for your interfaith jewish wedding. The staff work with you. They are happy to meet dietary requirements and work with you or your planner on the menus. “We are a one-stop shop,” says Heidi. “We are pleased to give you access to our list of preferred vendors to assist with details for your special day.”

Whether you’re not sure of the theme for your wedding reception, the style and color of bouquets—or the wedding photographer, the hotel is there to provide guidance. You are also welcome to bring in your own suppliers. The hotel’s flexibility in welcoming your own vendors and rentals, unlike many other venues—helps ensure that everything on your wish list is included.


The hotel also offers packages with excellent choices for key items such as table settings, champagne flutes, custom menu cards, linens, staging, and dance floor. Your bridal party and guests may be staying in the hotel—or not. The Shangri-La Hotel, Toronto, will be happy to discuss arrangements with you including preferred accommodation rates for you and guests, menu tastings, preferred valet parking rates, and a stay for bride and groom in the lovely one-bedroom honeymoon suite.

“Whether you simply need recommendations for vendors we know and love, or assistance with planning customized menus and accommodations, we will go through your requirements with you. Services on site, plus in-house beauty and spa facilities, make planning easier.

However, Heidi says she always recommends that couples utilize the timely services of a wedding planner to ease the demands on the bridal couple and families. “I find that couples who employ a wedding planner seem to be very much less stressed. They are calmer and happier and more relaxed on the wedding day itself. So a wedding planner is a key component—but if you don’t have one, ask for our recommendation—or just ask for guidance on the details. We’re happy to assist whenever we can.”

If you’re planning a ceremony, book your venue and your rabbi or officiant as soon as possible. Then an ideal next step would be to call Heidi to ask about the Shangri-La Hotel Toronto’s wedding packages or discuss your customized ceremony needs.



This is the first in our series on perfect wedding venues—please stay tuned!

Backgrounder on Purim

Purim in 2020 starts on Monday, March 9 and ends on the evening of Tuesday, March 10th. As you probably know, this is not a public holiday but a Jewish holiday that commemorates the delivery of the Jewish people from oppression and tyranny in the Persian Empire, which then spread over “127 lands” and is recounted in the Book of Esther (4thcentury BCE).

Esther rose to be Queen of Persia but failed to disclose to the King that she was Jewish. Her mentor was Mordecai, leader of the Jews and Esther’s cousin. Haman, the King’s Prime Minister, is determined to destroy the Jewish community in Persia because Mordecai refuses to bow down to him. He picks a date by lottery. However, his plans are foiled by Esther. With Mordecai’s counsel, she reveals to the King that she’s Jewish and exposes and denounces Haman’s intent. This turns the tables on the oppressor and, instead of being the focus of Haman’s decree, the Jews are able to “destroy their enemies by royal proclamation.” Mordecai is appointed Prime Minister.

Go to our YouTube channel–the Rabbi David Gellman Show–for a reading of the Book of Esther and an explanation of the holiday.

Celebrating Purim

The day before Purim is often a day of fasting, but Purim is considered a joyous community celebration and usually marked by reading from the book of Esther in the evening and the following morning.  It is also celebrated by giving mutual gifts of food and drink to friends (two gifts is the tradition), plus two gifts of food, money, or clothing to the poor. It’s also traditional to enjoy a festive joyous meal with family and friends of meat and wine (and other intoxicating beverages!)— and children and adults often dress up in masks and costumes—usually from the Purim story.

If you’re ready to dress up and party—now’s the time to start thinking about it. There’s a great shop in the east end of the GTA that covers everything you need to wear for parties—(weddings as well—especially if you’re a fan of vintage!). Reflections (Vintage) have some amazing masks.

You can check out their wares online (Dominique and Karen are the proprietors) or in person at the store—here’s the link:  to view vintage and new theatrical costumes, clothing, and accessories.

A Wonderful Wedding on the Shore of Lake Ontario

Hollie and Rodney—

Remembering the day of his daughter’s wedding, the father of the bride said that, even though it was September 6th, it was baking out and sunny—and so hot you could have walked into the lake.

Niagara’s only lakefront winery (Konzelmann Estate Winery) was the spectacular setting for the wedding of Hollie and Rodney a few seasons ago but still remembered very fondly by all who attended.  After the ceremony on the waterfront, the bridal party and guests moved inside for the reception on a lovely September afternoon that felt more like the height of summer.

“We wanted an orthodox Jewish wedding, although it was an interfaith ceremony, and we called a few people looking for an officiant,” says Peter, Hollie’s father. “Rabbi David Gellman was by far the best choice.” It was important to have the chuppah, ketubah, and other Jewish elements and everything was discussed and neatly woven into the ceremony exactly as the couple wished.

The ceremony was truly a family affair—Hollie’s brother Benjamin and his wife Mia, a musical collaborative duo known as Azalea, provided prerecorded music for the ceremonial procession and performed live for the first dances after the ceremony and before dinner in the reception hall.

The bride’s family hails from Australia originally but has been in Canada for nearly 25 years and the groom’s family is from the Maryland area, in the U.S. So Niagara was a perfect gathering spot, easy to reach for guests from Maryland and around Ontario. One of Hollie’s cousins also flew in from Adelaide, Australia—so it was truly an international guest list.

The bride and groom had known each other for about five years after meeting at Seneca College. Rodney is in the fire protection business. As it turns out, one of the best courses in this field in North America happens to be at Seneca in Toronto—where Hollie was then taking an aesthetics course. They had a long-distance relationship for a while and now, a few years beyond what Hollie describes as an “amazing ceremony” are happily settled outside Washington D.C. where Hollie keeps very busy as a young mom. “We now have a lovely grandchild—a little boy,” says proud grandfather Peter.

Asked about the wedding, Hollie says, “It is hard for anything to stand out since everything was so perfect! Both David and Alex attended—and were punctual, very friendly, looked fantastic, and extremely well-organized. David spoke very clearly and explained things as he went along, which helped people who hadn’t experienced a Jewish wedding before.  The ceremony was very inclusive and everyone was able to participate. Parents helped with readings—it was all amazing and perfect and detailed beautifully,” says Hollie.

*Listen to Azalea on YouTube.


Wedding Planning 101— #2

Wedding Photography and What You Need to Know

Top of the list of questions when you’re planning your wedding is how do you want to capture this significant and wonderful event in your life?

Couples often think they can economize on the photographer—since everyone carries a camera on their phone these days. This is not a good idea. It’s the professional shots that will portray the essence of your wedding and that you and your loved ones will likely frame and keep on display to capture the wedding in your memory forever. In Ontario, photography usually takes up 8 to 10 percent of a typical wedding budget.

As part of our ongoing series on how to make sure your ceremony and special day lives up to your dreams, we’ve asked a number of wedding specialists to share their best advice. Thank you to GTA wedding and fine art photographer Paula Visco for her best suggestions for bridal couples.

Paula was the photographer at a lovely wedding officiated by the Rabbi at the Vaughan Estate at The Estates of Sunnybrook for Yulia and Leo.

Yulia and Leo.

After many wedding shoots in a wide range of venues, circumstances, and places—including destination weddings, Paula is an expert. She suggests, “Consider a wedding planner. It makes everything that happens before the wedding and at the ceremony easier on the couple and the families.”

Paula has been shooting weddings, engagements, showers, maternity shoots, and family portraits since 2012. Her portfolio also includes destination weddings from Brooklyn, N.Y., to the Caribbean and she offers complete wedding packages, customized services, and also a la carte.

Today’s typical wedding package might include the rehearsal, ceremony, family groups, reception, and some of the wonderful elements that you want to remember, from table settings to the bridal gown. Discuss these with your photographer and prepare an itemized list—do you want to record the arrival of the flowers, the makeup artist doing his (or her) thing, or a still life of the head table?

Keepsake pictures of the elements that make up your day are a wonderful part of today’s wedding photography that your mother and grandmother probably don’t have.

Paula’s top 6 wedding photography tips?

  1. Hair and makeup frequently run late. Plan to finish 30 minutes before the official photography. Perhaps even take photographs of this intimate part of your pre-wedding fun—a photo of mom and daughter sharing a quiet moment often turn into a keepsake forever photograph!
  2. Always have a very detailed list of family members for key photographs—which the photographer’s assistant or one of the bridal party should be aware of. Otherwise, distant relatives or friends may squeeze into close family groupings.
  3. Keep in mind that family and relatives may be delayed or events intervene so your reception starts late. Ensure that a bridesmaid or wedding planner secrets away some snacks for the couple and others in the wedding party to keep the energy going.
  4. Snacks (and time outs!) may be important, too, for page boys and flower girls—or even for elderly relatives, who may be participating in the ceremony.
  5. Have treats or quiet playthings for any children involved—and assign someone to keep an observant eye to prevent any little ruckus that might break out if tiredness sets in.
  6. Consider your surroundings when making color choices—especially if you’re planning on a wedding outside. “Muted colors or tones for the bridesmaids, for example, are often nicer—so as not to compete with nature’s wonderful colors.”

Paula’s main tip for wedding photography?

“Choosing a photographer you can trust and that you like—who is experienced and can guide and advise so you have photographs you will treasure forever is very important.”

It’s not usually the memory of the limo or the menu or the invite that will travel with you through the years—as the images of you and your families and friends uniting on this wonderful special day. Spending a little time beforehand to make sure your wedding is captured exactly the way you hope is vital.