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Wedding Planning Tips and Resources

St. Ann’s Academy Chapel and Novitiate Garden host hundreds of weddings each year. There may be events scheduled both before and after your access time. Deliveries and cleanup must take place during your access time to ensure that you do not infringe on another client’s events. The following notes are intended to assist you with your planning.

Outline of Typical Ceremony Timing

We recommend a minimum of three hours for the average wedding to allow time for setup, cleanup, photo sessions, receiving-lines/meet & greet etc. Here is a sample indoor schedule for a typical wedding with 125 guests. Please note that outdoor events need additional time for the set-up and cleanup of chairs and possibly tents.

Time
2:00 to 2:15 – Decorate Chapel with two bouquets and pew bows.
– Musicians accompanying the ceremony arrive and set up.
2:15 to 2:30 – Guest arrival begins, starting with early arrival for elderly and special needs guests who require use of the elevator.
2:30 to 2:45 – Officiant arrives.
2:45 – Bridal Party arrives and takes time for last-minute touch-ups, etc...
3:00 – Ceremony time as noted on Invitation.
3:05 – Actual time Mother of the Bride takes her seat to begin processional.
3:15 – Actual time Ceremony starts in the sanctuary.
3:30 – Main ceremony completed and signing register and paperwork begins.
3:45 – Bridal party exits the Chapel.
3:45 to 4:15 – Guests assemble on front stairs for a group photograph.
4:15 – Chapel décor is removed and is relocated to the reception venue.
4:15 to 4:50 – Bridal party and immediate family photos in Novitiate Garden.
4:50 to 5:00 – Bridal party departs main driveway to be clear by 5 pm end time.

The Interfaith Chapel at St. Ann’s Academy

Interfaith Chapel at St. Ann's

The Chapel at St. Ann’s Academy was deconsecrated by the Roman Catholic faith in 1974. It was reopened in 1997 as a public facility and was blessed by the interfaith community of Victoria.

General information regarding Marriage Licences and Officiants

Please contact the British Columbia Vital Statistics Agency to obtain a marriage license and other related information. Call 1 (800) 663-8328 or visit their website at: http://www.vs.gov.bc.ca. If you wish to use a religious person from outside of British Columbia, they will need to contact their BC head office in order to be licensed to perform the ceremony in BC. If you wish to use a person from outside BC to officiate, you may also need to hire a BC Marriage Commissioner in order for the ceremony to be legally recognized. Civil marriage services in British Columbia are conducted by Marriage Commissioners. These individuals are appointed under the Marriage Act of British Columbia for the purpose of performing civil marriages.

Officiants

St. Ann’s Academy does not supply officiants to perform ceremonies. Please check with your clergyperson before finalizing your booking to ensure they are able to perform the ceremony. A list of local clergy who have performed ceremonies in the past at St. Ann’s Academy is available . Officiants for non-religious ceremonies can be found in the above link to the list of marriage commissioners through the Vital Statistics government website. The chapel at St. Ann’s was deconsecrated when the Sisters of St. Ann sold the building to the provincial government; it was blessed by the interfaith community at the public opening in 1997.

Roman Catholic Ceremonies

If you are considering a Roman Catholic ceremony, the Diocese of Victoria has provided the following information:

"In order to avoid confusion and disappointment for the Roman Catholic couples planning to marry at St. Ann's Academy Chapel, and desiring that their marriage be considered a Catholic marriage and thus registered in a Catholic Parish, we ask that the information below be given to the couple at the time of their inquiry:

Before any date or time is decided upon, the couple to be married must obtain confirmation of the date and time with the priest who is witnessing their marriage. The Church paperwork is to be undertaken with that priest and the completion of a Marriage Preparation course is a pre-requisite prior to the marriage." For a copy of the letter please click here Catholic Letter 2010 update.pdf

List of Officiants

If you will be using an officiant of your own faith, please contact them directly and ensure that they can perform the service you desire at this location. If you are planning a Roman Catholic wedding, you may wish to request a copy from us of the Bishop’s letter regarding marriages at St. Ann’s Academy. If you wish to consult with a spiritual person regarding your event, you may contact one of the following individuals*:

List of Clergy Telephone /email Church
Michael Bidell (778) 278-5796
email: marryme@younghipandmarried.com
God’s Garden Church of Victoria
Rev. Dr. Michael Caveney (250) 477-4142
email: mcaveney@telus.net
Gordon Head United Church
Rev. Scott Campbell email: newlife@islandnet.com New Life Community Fellowship Church
  (250) 382-1613
email: unity@vic.uimc.ca
Unity Church of VIctoria
Pastor David Lefsrud (250) 721-1213
email: lefsrud@shaw.ca
Lutheran Church
Lay Chaplains Liz Graham, Fran Pardee and Joyce Murphy (250) 744-2665
email: laychaplains@victoriaunitarian.ca
First Unitarian Church of Victoria
Lay Chaplain Peter Scales (250) 889-7266
email: scalesp@telus.net

Capital Unitarian Universalist Congregation

Rev. Dr. Gail Muzio (250) 655-1236
email: onepower@telus.net
Pastor Stephen Swift (250) 479-0628
email: jsswift@shaw.ca
Reformed Church in Canada
Rev. Edwin Taylor (250) 598-7231 Anglican Church

* You are not limited to the persons or faiths listed.

Marriage Commissioners

Marriage Commissioners in British Columbia are private citizens appointed under the Marriage Act to perform civil marriage ceremonies, collect legislated fees and register a marriage with the Vital Statistics Agency. A full list of Victoria-area Marriage Commissioners can be found here: http://www.vs.gov.bc.ca/cgi-bin/vs_search_internet.cgi?VSS_TABLE=TDatMrgCom.txt

Ceremony Rehearsal

A 45-minute rehearsal is included in the Chapel and Novitiate Garden Ceremony rental. If you are planning a ceremony in another venue, a $95 rehearsal fee applies. If scheduled on a Statutory Holiday, the Statutory Holiday fee also applies. If your officiant is unable to attend, St. Ann's staff will assist you through the rehearsal. St. Ann's staff will also confirm details with you regarding decor, music and timing of events at the rehearsal.

Decorations

Details at St. Ann’s Ceremony Accessories

Heritage candelabras available for rent from St. Ann's

A number of wedding ceremony accessories are available for rent or purchase, including unity candles, heritage brass candelabras and pew bows. Please click here for information.

Decorating in the Chapel

Candles: Lit candles are permitted only behind the altar rail in the chapel sanctuary. Candles should be white or off-white, smokeless and dripless in an appropriate holder. For unity candle ceremonies, lit candles may be held by responsible adults for the time of the ceremony only. The large candles on the altar are for display only; please do not light. For decor in the rest of the chapel, LED (battery-operated) candles are permitted; please consult with staff if you have any questions.

Chapel Décor: As an historic site, the chapel has been restored to the appearance of a Roman Catholic Chapel circa 1921-1930. As well, the Interpretive Centre has historical displays of artifacts and photographs. While some items can be moved to accommodate rentals, many cannot. There is a $30.00 fee for the removal of selected items from the altars which can only be done by staff and must be arranged in advance. There are seasonal decorations in the chapel and parlours between the end of November and the beginning of January which cannot be removed for events. Please consult with staff if you have any questions.

Chapel Christmas decor-Nativity Scene painting by Sister M.Osithe 1900

Floral arrangements: There are silk floral arrangements on the altars year round; you are welcome to bring in your own floral arrangements as well. These may be placed on the table section of the main and side altars, or you may ask your florist to provide you with appropriate plant stands. Popular locations for floral arrangements are on pedestals placed on either side of the main altar, or on the stairs by the gate leading up to the sanctuary area. Floral arrangements are not permitted on the altar rail due to the fragile faux finish surface. All floral arrangements should be in floral oasis to prevent water spillage.

Pew Markers: You may wish to use pew bows/markers. There are up to 24 locations for pew markers. There are eleven rows of pews plus two extra uprights in front of the front pews for a total of 12 pew marker locations per side. If you wish to mark the family pews, 6 pew markers will mark the first two sets of seats and uprights.

We rent or sell white and gold pew bows which fit our pews

Rental pew bow

If you wish to make your own or have a florist do it, here are some helpful measurements. The pew uprights are 37.5” tall. The back is attached to the upright 4.5” from the top. The top is 7.75” long and 1.5” thick so the tie or loop of a pew marker needs to be 18.5” in diameter with extra length for tying if needed. The arm is also suitable for an over-the-door style hook of metal or plastic. The arm is 25” from the floor and is also 1.5” thick. Note: pew markers must be attached in such a way that they do not harm the wood surface; loops of ribbons or elastic work well. No use of adhesive tape, tacks or other invasive methods is allowed.

Aisle Runner: St. Ann’s Academy does not provide an aisle runner. If you wish to rent an aisle runner from a private party rental company, you will need one that is 17.8 metres long.

Confetti, Rice, Birdseed or Fresh Flower Petals: Absolutely no confetti, rice, birdseed or fresh flower petals may be thrown in the Chapel or on the grounds. If you or your guests are in violation of this policy, additional cleaning fees will apply. Silk flower petals may be used by flower girls if the petals are picked up immediately following the ceremony. Bubbles are permitted outdoors only.

Decorations in the Novitiate Garden

You are welcome to bring in floral arrangements and other decorations for your Novitiate Garden ceremony. Please follow these general guidelines:

  • Dimensions of the gazebo (30'w X 18'd)
  • Decorations can be tied to gazebo—no use of staples, tape or nails permitted
  • Twinkle lights can be tied to gazebo—electrical outlets located at back lower edge of gazebo
  • Signs/other decorations may be tied to other surfaces such as fences, balcony or stair newels. No use of staples, adhesive tape or nails permitted. Freestanding signs and/or decorations are permitted as well.
  • No tying items to heritage trees.
  • Bubbles are permitted outdoors.
  • Absolutely no confetti, rice, birdseed or fresh flower petals may be thrown in the garden. If you or your guests are in violation of this policy, additional cleaning fees will apply.
  • Lit candles are not permitted in the Novitiate Garden. LED (battery-operated) candles are permitted; please consult with staff if you are considering a unity candle ceremony.

Decorations in the Auditorium

You are welcome to bring in floral arrangements and other decorations for your ceremony in the Auditorium. The stage is accessed from a centre staircase with eight stairs with a carpeted aisle and exposed wood sides. Please follow these general guidelines when planning your décor:

  • There are 201 seats configured with two aisles - many of the seats are on the aisle. – Note: pew markers must be attached in such a way that they do not harm the wood surface; loops of ribbons or elastic work well. No use of adhesive tape, tacks or other invasive methods is allowed. [dimensions of the seat]
  • It is not permitted to attach anything to the walls by any method; some wooden easels may be available for display—please consult St. Ann’s staff if desired.
  • Black cloth backdrops are hanging in place on the side and back of the backstage area. These cannot be removed, but you may hang or pin additional decorations on these backdrops.
  • A ceiling grid is available on stage for hanging additional back drops, decorations etc.; please consult with St. Ann’s staff for more details.
  • Props such as arches, urns etc may be used on the stage; these should have rubber tips on legs to avoid harming stage floor.
  • Floral arrangements may be used; floral oasis should be used to avoid problems with leaking/spilling.
  • Lit candles are not permitted in the Auditorium. LED (battery-operated) candles are permitted; please consult with staff if you are considering a unity candle ceremony.

Decorations on the Academy Green or Orchard

You are welcome to bring in floral arrangements and other decorations for your Academy Green or Orchard ceremony. Please follow these general guidelines:

  • Signs/other decorations may be tied to surfaces such as fences, balcony or stair newels. No use of staples, adhesive tape or nails permitted. Freestanding signs and/or decorations are permitted as well.
  • No tying items to heritage trees and shrubs.
  • Bubbles are permitted outdoors.
  • Absolutely no confetti, rice, or birdseed may be thrown in the garden. If you or your guests are in violation of this policy, additional cleaning fees will apply
  • Lit candles are not permitted in the Academy Green or Orchard. LED (battery-operated) candles are permitted; please consult with staff if you are considering a unity candle ceremony.

Invitations

Please finalize your rental with us by completing a contract and deposit before ordering your invitations. Access time on your contract will be earlier than your ceremony start time. Confirm that we have the same date and time for the ceremony as you intend to put on the invitation and double check that the date, time and location of the ceremony (835 Humboldt Street, Victoria) is clearly noted on your invitations. Note: we have a different mailing address from our location address; please be aware of this both when issuing invitations and when corresponding with our office.

Parking

A maximum of 2 bridal cars may be parked off to one side of the formal tree-lined driveway. All other parts of the driveway must be kept clear for fire access lane. There is a small Robbins parking lot located by the Blanshard Street entrance; the cost is $2.00 per hour. Free two-hour parking is available on the street around the perimeter of the property Monday to Saturday and unlimited free parking is available on the street after 6 pm Monday to Saturday and all day Sunday. The Humboldt Street gate will be opened for arrivals and departures. Note: some stretch limos and/or low-slung sports cars may not be able to use the front gate entrance. For a PDF of the Parking Map click here.

Photographers

You are not limited to this list.

Planners

You are not limited to this list.

Wedding Resources

You are not limited to this list.

Wheelchair accessibility

An elevator to the chapel is available for use by guests who have difficulty with stairs; please note that staff assistance is necessary to use the elevator. Guests requiring the elevator should be advised to drive on site to the bottom of the grand staircase at the front of the building. If there is a person in the vehicle able to use the stairs, that person should come up and get the St. Ann’s staff person, who will guide them to the elevator and assist with parking, etc. If there is no one in the vehicle able to use the staircase, an usher should be designated to assist with notifying St. Ann’s staff when the elevator is required.

Musicians

Click here for a list of Musicians. You are not limited to this list.