Planning your wedding should be an exciting journey, not a stressful one. That's why I've put together "The Complete Wedding + Elopement Checklist" to help you every step of the way. This checklist covers everything you need, from important documents to picking the perfect location and collaborating with trusted wedding vendors. With this guide by your side, you can focus on the joy of your special day, knowing that everything is taken care of. So, let's dive in and make your wedding dreams a reality!

Important note: All text in this color will direct you to another page upon clicking. Pin our pictures in Pinterest to update your vision board! If you like our content, please give love to our social media pages and subscribe to our newsletter for updates, discounts, downloadable guides, and early access to our future content. Happy reading!




Documents & LEGALITIES













hiring your photographer









Documents and Legalities

Planning your wedding can seem overwhelming, especially when it comes to dealing with all the legal stuff. But don't worry, we've got you covered! In this blog post, we'll walk you through everything you need to know about the necessary paperwork and legalities involved whether you're planning an elopement or a wedding.

So, let's dive in and talk about the documents you'll need:

  • ID: You'll definitely need some form of valid identification, like your driver's license, passport, or birth certificate.

  • Marriage license: This is a must-have in most places. You can usually get it from your local government office or courthouse.

  • If either of you has been married before, you might need to show a divorce decree or a death certificate if applicable. It's just to make sure everything's square and legal.

Laws for Weddings

You'll want to make sure you're on the right side of the law, so here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Age matters: Make sure you and your partner meet the minimum age requirement, and if you're on the younger side, you might need parental consent.

  • Residency rules: Some places might have residency requirements, meaning you have to live there for a bit before.

  • Officiant options: Different places have different rules about who can marry you. It could be a religious leader, a civil official, or maybe even your best friend who got ordained online!

  • Witnesses: You might need a couple of witnesses there to make it all official. If you don't want to bring anyone with you in your elopement, sometimes you can have the photographer as your witness. If it's at somewhere like a resort or city hall, you can hire witnesses through them. As for traditional weddings, anyone present at your wedding ceremony can be your witness! It could be someone in your wedding party or feel free to choose anyone you like as long as they're attending!

Here's a quick rundown of what you'll need to get a Marriage License:

  • Do your research: Figure out what exactly you need to do to get that license. Every place has its own process.

  • Gather your documents: Make sure you've got all the paperwork ready to go.

  • Apply for the license: Head down to the courthouse or government office and fill out those forms. Look into the timeline for your location. How soon can you get it and how long is it good for?

  • Wait for the thumbs-up: It might take a bit for them to process everything, so be patient.

  • Success: Once you've got the green light, you're good to go! Just make sure to keep that license safe and sound until the big day.

Knowing the legal requirements is crucial! You'll want to make sure everything's legit, so remember:

  • Make sure you both agree to this whole marriage thing. Seems obvious, but these conversations are important.

  • Check that you're not marrying your cousin or something (that's usually a no-no).

  • And of course, make sure neither of you is already hitched!

Thinking of getting married in Ontario? You'll need:

Pretty much the same as above.

In Ontario, if you're thinking about marrying someone legally, here's what you need to know: You've got to be at least 18 years old, get that marriage license, and tie the knot within 90 days. No residency requirements here, so whether you're a local or from afar, Ontario's ready for your love story. And about those witnesses? Two signatures are required for elopement, but don't sweat it – you can even hire witnesses if you need to or your photographer can act as one! For traditional weddings, same with above! Anyone attending the wedding is fine. Just remember, minors need to show proof of age, but otherwise, no fuss about residency, blood tests, or medical certificates in Ontario. It's all about making your wedding as smooth as can be!

Note: It's always a good idea to reach out to the municipality or city hall just to double-check and make sure you've got everything covered.

Destination Wedding

For a lot of destination weddings, its easier to do the legal ceremony in the province/location that you reside. If you still want to get married in a different location, do this: be sure to check the rules on the location you're choosing - some places require you to be there for a certain amount of time before getting married. Also, be sure to check that its recognized as a legal marriage in your place of residence.

Changing your name after your wedding

If you're planning to take on a new name, here's what you need to do:

  • Get a copy of your marriage certificate – it's like your golden ticket.

  • Start updating your records – think Social Security, driver's license, passport, and all those other official documents. Social media is always the fun place - this makes it official to the public!

  • Don't forget to let everyone else know too – banks, insurance companies, your job, you name it!


The process might vary depending on where you are and your personal situation, so don't hesitate to reach out for help if you need it.

There you have it – everything you need to know about the legal side of weddings. It might seem like a lot, but just take it one step at a time, and before you know it, you'll be married in the most magical way possible!


Choosing the perfect romantic wedding location and venue sets the scene for your special day. Do some research and think about practicalities like permits or rules.

Decide on the backdrop you fancy - whether it's a beach, mountains, or cityscape. Consider the vibe you're after for your ceremony, whether it's an intimate affair or a more public event.

Why Canada for Your Big Day?

Canada offers some seriously jaw-dropping backdrops for your special day. From the rustic barn venue to the peaceful lake wedding destination, there's something here to make your heart skip a beat. And hey, the people are super friendly too, making it a warm and inclusive destination for couples from all walks of life.

Locations in Ontario

Ontario, the heart of Canada, boasts some fantastic spots for your intimate ceremony. Ontario has a little something for every couple.

Thunderbay, Ontario

Nestled along the shores of Lake Superior, Thunder Bay offers a tranquil setting for your wedding. With its stunning parks and waterfalls, it's like stepping into a postcard. Whether you're dreaming of a beachside ceremony or a forest affair, Thunder Bay has you covered.

Rose Valley Lodge & Restaurant

This venue has been receiving rave reviews for weddings, offering couples a stunning setting to exchange vows.

The Chanterelle

Situated at 206 Park Ave, Thunder Bay, ON, this venue is highly praised for its wedding services.

Fort William Historical Park

With its historical charm and stunning surroundings, this park is a favorite among couples seeking a unique wedding venue in Thunder Bay.

Gammondale Farm

Offers a vintage yet aesthetic ambiance, providing couples with a timeless wedding venue.

Pine Cove Lodge

Nestled on the south side of Lake Nipissing along the French River, this lodge offers a rustic-chic setting for romantic weddings. Plus, it boasts luxury accommodation options for you and your guests to enjoy.

These venues offer a mix of traditional charm and unique flair, ensuring that your special day in Thunder Bay, Ontario, is nothing short of magical.

Callander, Ontario // North Bay Area

Black Saddle Barn Wedding + Event Venue

Looking for a perfect wedding location that blends rustic charm with modern elegance? Think "Luxury Muskoka" without the Muskoka price tag. Look no further than the Black Saddle Barn Wedding + Event Venue in Callander, Ontario. Here are three reasons why this spot might just steal your heart:

1. Polished and Beautiful

Bid farewell to ordinary barn venues! At Black Saddle, you'll find a modern farmhouse, a heated pavilion, and a stunning 100+ year old barn. It's a dreamy mix of old-world charm and contemporary flair.

2. All-Inclusive Bliss

From rehearsals to your wedding ceremony and reception, this venue has it all covered. Plus, there's ample space for both of you to prepare for your big day, ensuring everything runs smoothly. Black Saddle Barn also includes everything in your rental. The tables, chairs, wine barrels, and so much more! You also get the venue from Friday to Sunday!! No need to rush or be stressed here.

3. Where Your Journey Begins

Nestled amidst breathtaking landscapes, Black Saddle Barn offers the perfect blend of countryside serenity and urban sophistication. It's more than just a venue; it's where your new chapter unfolds.

Everyone is welcome at Black Saddle Barn Wedding + Event Venue, where love knows no bounds.

Muskoka, Ontario

The Northridge Inn

For a wedding straight out of a fairy tale, The Northridge Inn in Muskoka, Ontario, is a popular wedding destination. Surrounded by nature's splendor and boasting elegant architecture, this venue is a dream come true for couples seeking a picturesque setting. Whether you envision exchanging vows by the lakeside or in an intimate indoor space, The Northridge Inn has everything you need for a magical celebration.

You get to spend exclusive time with your guests. It's so much more than just one day. Rent out the resort and have the wedding of your dreams. The owners + staff there are incredible. Huge shout out to Kate-she will walk you through everything you need to know.

If you're drawn to this enchanting location, take a closer look at The Northridge Inn's offerings.

Trillium Resort + Spa

Find peace at Trillium Resort + Spa in Muskoka. Surrounded by untouched forests and calm lakes, this quiet getaway offers the ideal setting for your wedding. Whether you prefer a ceremony by the water or a cozy gathering in the lodge, Trillium Resort + Spa promises a day filled with nature's beauty, luxury, and relaxation.

Toronto, Ontario

As the bustling capital of Ontario, Toronto brings the perfect blend of city vibes and natural beauty. The place’s multicultural energy adds an extra spark to your special day.

Berkley Bicycle Club

A truly unique venue that sets the stage for unforgettable weddings, providing a creative space that leaves a lasting impression on guests.

Evergreen Brickworks

Renowned for its industrial charm and historical significance, this venue offers a distinctive setting for weddings in Toronto.

Broadview Hotel

A stylish and trendy venue that allows couples to showcase their personal style and create an event that reflects their tastes.

Drake Hotel

A hip and unconventional venue that offers flexibility for creativity and can accommodate special requests, ensuring a personalized wedding experience.

Gladstone Hotel

A heritage space infused with urban flair, providing a unique setting for weddings and allowing couples to host a memorable event tailored to their preferences.

These unique wedding venues in Toronto provide couples with the opportunity to host a wedding that stands out, reflecting their individuality and style.

Huntsville, Ontario

The Morgan House / Timber Terrace

Step into a world of historic charm at The Morgan House, also known as Timber Terrace, in Huntsville, Ontario. This hidden gem exudes intimacy and uniqueness, with its captivating architecture and lush gardens. Whether you prefer a romantic garden ceremony or an indoor soirée, The Morgan House promises personalized service and a warm ambiance that will make your wedding and reception truly unforgettable.

Curious about this charming venue? Explore The Morgan House's website for more details.

Barrie, Ontario

Heritage Estate Winery

Raise a toast to love at Heritage Estate Winery in Barrie, Ontario. With its sprawling vineyards and award-winning wines, this venue offers a picturesque backdrop for your special day. Whether you opt for a vineyard ceremony or an indoor reception, Heritage Estate Winery guarantees panoramic views, delightful wines, and attentive service.

Discover the beauty of Heritage Estate Winery firsthand by visiting their website.

Horseshoe Resort

Nestled in Ontario's countryside, Horseshoe Resort in Barrie, Ontario, is the perfect setting for an unforgettable wedding and reception. Surrounded by nature's beauty, this venue offers lush greenery, serene lakes, and charming event spaces that cater to your every need. Whether you dream of an intimate gathering or a grand celebration with guests, Horseshoe Resort has the versatility and natural beauty to bring your vision to life.

To learn more about what Horseshoe Resort has to offer, visit their website.

Windermere, Ontario

Windermere House

Experience the epitome of elegance at Windermere House in the quaint village of Windermere, Ontario. With its breathtaking views of Lake Rosseau, this historic hotel provides a sophisticated backdrop for your ceremony and reception. Whether you opt for an intimate indoor gathering or a grand lakeside affair, Windermere House ensures a day filled with romance and luxury.

Inquire about hosting your special day at Windermere House by visiting their website.

Places to Be Married: Gems in Alberta, Canada

Head west to Alberta for even more enchanting wedding options. Lake Louise, with its turquoise waters and mountain vistas, is straight out of a fairytale. And let's not forget Canmore, a cozy mountain town surrounded by breathtaking wilderness. Oh, and Calgary? It's got its own urban charm too!

Lake Louise

Tucked away in Banff National Park, Lake Louise is a dream destination for lovebirds. With a background of snow-capped peaks and crystal-clear waters and with its luxurious lodges and cozy nooks, Lake Louise is all about romance and relaxation.

Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise

This hotel offers a castle-like experience, perfect for couples seeking a grand and luxurious wedding venue in the heart of the Canadian Rockies.

Post Hotel & Spa

Located in Lake Louise Village, this hotel provides a luxurious setting for weddings, known for its impeccable service, exquisite food, and intimate wedding experiences, making it an ideal choice for couples looking for a high-end mountain venue.

Deer Lodge

With its rustic charm and scenic surroundings, Deer Lodge offers a unique and picturesque setting where the lakefront meets the Canadian Rockies, providing couples with a romantic and intimate wedding experience.

Rimrock Resort Hotel

Perched atop a mountaintop in Banff National Park, the Rimrock Resort Hotel boasts breathtaking views of snow-covered peaks and valleys, offering couples a luxurious and sophisticated venue for their wedding celebration.

Moraine Lake Lodge

Nestled in the Valley of the Ten Peaks, Moraine Lake Lodge offers a breathtaking view and a perfect setting for small wedding celebrations, surrounded by stunning natural beauty, making it an ideal choice for couples seeking an intimate and picturesque wedding venue.

Canmore, Alberta

If you're looking for a more intimate setting, Canmore has you covered. This charming town is nestled amidst the majestic Rockies, offering endless opportunities for stunning photos and heartfelt moments. Whether you choose an outdoor venue or a cozy lodge, Canmore sets the stage for a truly magical wedding.

Cornerstone Weddings

Tucked away in the Canadian Rockies, this venue offers a romantic atmosphere with breathtaking mountain views, perfect for couples seeking an intimate wedding in nature's embrace.

A Bear & Bison Canadian Country Inn

With its cozy charm and scenic surroundings, this inn provides a peaceful and romantic setting, ideal for couples looking for a quiet and intimate wedding experience.

Creekside Villa

Situated beside a scenic creek with stunning mountain backdrops, this venue offers a magical setting for weddings, making it an enchanting choice for couples seeking a memorable and charming atmosphere.

MAINSPACE Canmore Wedding Venue + Event Space

Featuring a modern and stylish design, this venue is ideal for couples seeking a chic and contemporary setting for their wedding celebration, ensuring a trendy and sophisticated experience.

The Sensory Restaurant

Known for its upscale dining experience and elegant ambiance, this restaurant offers a luxurious option for couples seeking an exclusive and memorable wedding venue.

Troubled in finding a wedding location?

Consider a Backyard Wedding

Why not opt for an intimate backyard wedding, just like Keira and Adam?

or just like April and Brian?

Choose a location that holds special meaning for you and your partner. Whether it's the backyard of your childhood home, a favorite park, or a secluded spot in nature, the possibilities are endless. Personalize your ceremony with meaningful touches and create unforgettable memories in a familiar and comfortable setting.

Or, Go for a Destination Wedding

If you're feeling adventurous, why not go for a destination wedding? Take your love to new heights by jetting off to breathtaking locations around the world. Follow in the footsteps of Kim + Travis Intimate Wedding in Bahia Principe Hotels & Resorts, Tulum, Mexico or Taylor + Bobby's Dream Wedding in Relais Villa Monte Solare, Perugia, Italy.

Decide if you want to have a wedding with just you and your partner, or if you want to bring guests!

Exchange vows against the stunning landscapes in Italy, France, Greece, Portugal, or Mexico. From romantic vineyards to picturesque beaches, these destinations offer endless opportunities for a magical and unforgettable wedding experience.

Check out our blog to dive deeper into the popular and unique wedding destinations in Italy, France, Greece, Portugal, and Mexico. Tips and guide awaits!

Booking Your Wedding Vendors

Planning your wedding can be an exciting journey filled with anticipation and joy. Having reliable wedding vendors is crucial as they bring expertise, creativity, and attention to detail, ensuring that every aspect of your celebration runs smoothly. From capturing heartfelt moments to crafting exquisite floral arrangements, these professionals are dedicated to making your special day truly unforgettable. With their support, you can rest assured that your wedding day will be everything you've dreamed of and more. So, sit back, relax, and let these experts guide you through the wedding planning process, ensuring that every detail is perfect and tailored to your unique style and preferences. And to help you find the perfect vendors for your big day, I've curated a selection of trusted and skilled wedding vendors, whose expertise and professionalism will bring your vision to life.

Note: Click wedding vendor's name or picture to be redirected to their social media pages!

DISCLOSURE: The vendors that I mention are ones that I have personally worked with or admire-this isn't to exclude anyone. There are SO many incredible vendors and I look forward to working with everyone. When picking your vendors, be sure to do your research and make sure they are a good fit for you and you connect with them.

Hiring a Photographer

1. Stick to Your Budget

Your budget sets the tone for your entire wedding planning journey, including your choice of photographer.

Sit down and figure out how much you're comfortable spending on photography. Keep in mind that while capturing those precious moments is important, it's equally crucial to stick within your financial boundaries. Do some research and find out how much your dream photographers are. Pricing ranges from $1500-$20k depending on the photographers experience.

This step will help you narrow down your options and focus on photographers who fit your budget without breaking the bank.

2. Look Around

Think of finding your photographer as a delightful exploration. Each photographer brings their unique flair and style to the table. Dive into the depths of their portfolios online. Explore their websites and social media platforms to soak in their vibe.

Peek at weddings they've captured in the past and see if their style aligns with the dreamy aesthetic you have in mind for.

3. Check Out Their Work

Take a closer look at their previous work.

It's like flipping through the pages of a beautifully crafted storybook. Pay attention to the consistency in their portfolio – from the soft glow of the lighting to the tender moments they've captured.

Ensure they have experience in shooting weddings, elopements, or destination weddings.


Request to see full wedding albums or galleries to get a comprehensive understanding of their storytelling abilities and how they capture the flow of a wedding day. If they have blogs of real weddings, that's great too!

You are putting SO much time and money into planning your wedding. A photographer is the one that captures those details and the day-even ones that you may not get to see. Make sure that you hire someone that you are confident in.

Read our blog for more tips: 8 Tips for Choosing Your Wedding, Elopement, and Destination Wedding Photographer

Looking for a Photographer?

Hi, I'm Sara, your North Bay + Muskoka area Photographer for the nostalgic + unrefined.

I am offering my services for intimate weddings, elopements, and destination weddings worldwide. 

If you're interested in eloping or having an intimate wedding, let's connect and get planning!

FOR travel plan updates, you can view it here

If I am not available for your wedding day, I have 3 Associate photographers on my team that are available as well. We also have an in-house Videographer!

Myself and my Associate Photographers vary in pricing. Inquire for more details.

There are SO many incredible photographers in the world. If I am not your style or within your budget, then I can recommend some awesome photographer friends as well. We are a great community! #communityovercompetition

Considering Post-Wedding Plans

After the exhilarating rush of your wedding day, it's time to consider what comes next.

Post-wedding plans can range from intimate celebrations to quiet moments shared between just the two of you. One option is to host a small reception with close friends and family, where you can relive the magic of your wedding and celebrate your love together. Alternatively, you might opt for a romantic dinner for two at a cozy restaurant or a secluded spot with breathtaking views.

Whatever you choose, it's essential to take into account your budget, preferences, and desired level of privacy. Whether you're looking to toast your new union with loved ones or savor quiet moments together, planning something special after your wedding is the perfect way to begin your journey as a married couple.

Ready to plan your wedding?

Wedding is a special and heartfelt way to celebrate your love, focusing on just the two of you and the commitment you're making. By following this checklist, you can ensure that every detail of your wedding reflects your unique love story and vision for your special day. Whether you're exchanging vows on a sunny beach, under city lights, or surrounded by nature's tranquility, may your day overflow with love, joy, and unforgettable moments to cherish forever.

Remember, your wedding is about the two of you, and there's no right or wrong way to celebrate your love. So, embrace the simplicity and romance of marrying someone you love, and let your hearts lead the way on this beautiful journey together. Congratulations on your engagement!