Thank you for your service

“Everyday someone new turns to us for a helping hand, be it for health care, veterans’ benefits, housing needs or employment assistance, with contributions such as the one received, it assures that those who courageously served our country will not ever be forgotten.” – Jack McManus, National President VVA, 11/2/2023 in a thank you letter to Chanelle Carlin Weddings, LLC
Veterans Day 2023 image of American flags flying at Spring Canyon Cemetery near Grand Coulee, WA. Photo credit: Chanelle Carlin

Since starting my business, it has been my genuine desire that I would provide the highest quality officiating and coaching services and that Chanelle Carlin Weddings would exemplify my continued commitment to community. After each wedding, I donate a portion of my fees to a not-for-pofit organization whose mission I support and whose financial dealings I feel are honorable and trustworthy. Over the past three years, Chanelle Carlin Weddings has donated thousands of dollars on behalf our couples to their chosen organization. One of those organizations is the Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) and I am mentioning them in this article because just this past week, I received a letter of thanks from their National President. Having worked for many years in the not-for-profit sector, I know how important every donation is and I also know that thank you letters are generally sent out to thank donors, let them kow how their donation will be used and to invite them to donate more. This wasn’t the first donation that Chanelle Carlin Weddings, LLC has sent to the VVA and we have always received a nice email and receipt in the past for our donations, but this is the first letter we received from them so I wanted to acknowledge it and tell you a little about the Vietnam Veterans of America and why they are one of the chosen organizations of Chanelle Carlin Weddings.


First, the VVA is the only national Vietnam veterans organization congressionally chartered and exclusively dedicated to Vietnam-era veterans and their families. Although the war was declared finished in 1975, by the late 1970s, it was clear the established veterans groups in America had failed to make a priority of the issues of concern to Vietnam veterans and there were many. In January 1978, a small group of Vietnam veteran activists came to Washington, D.C., searching for allies to support the creation of an advocacy organization devoted exclusively to the needs of Vietnam veterans. VVA, initially known as the Council of Vietnam Veterans, began its work. Finally, in 1986, Congress recognized them with an official charter. Today, the VVA has a national membership of over 85,000, with over 650 chapters throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam and the Philippines dedicated to serving the needs of Vietnam veterans and those who serve our nation regardless of the war they fought in.


Second, in case you’re still curious about why I chose the VVA, it’s simple and relates directly back to my own life. My Dad, Fred is a Vietnam Veteran who served as a teenager like many others of his generation. In 1969, at the age of 19 (younger than my son and three of my nephews now), he was seriously wounded by a land mine. Many were killed. My father was thrown, and initially presumed dead, though thankfully he wasn’t. Dad suffered many physical and psychological traumas during this conflict, only some of which were the result of this accident. I have chosen to support this organization to support the efforts and healing of all Vietnam Veterans, their families and the Veterans who remain in harm’s way today. Their founding principle, of “never again will one generation of veterans abandon another” touches deep within my heart. The VVA members know what returning veterans face. They have been through it before and understand full well that despite all the heart felt “thank you for your service” comments, returning veterans will face major hurdles. It is their mission to make sure that those who serve our country receive the care and respect they have earned and I support that mission.

In case you’d like to learn more about the work of the Vietnam Veterans of America and how they help all veterans, I invite you to check out this YouTube video which I found on their website. It describes their history and current work far more effectively that I can in this short article.

Brief video of history of Vietnam Veterans of America and their mission, found at https://vva.org/who-we-are/history/

Just for a little lighthearted fun after talking about such an important topic, here is a photo of teenage me as cadet in the Civil Air Patrol in the mid-1980’s. Taken by another cadet, we were “in the field” at our monthly search and rescue training program in Shelton, Washington. For those who don’t know, I grew up in a family that believes in military service and at that time I had grand plans to join the air force. While my life took another direction (many, in fact), I treasure the memories of this time in my life and also still hold the gratitude of all who have served in the military. See, the things you learn about your wedding officiant when you read their blog posts. 🙂

Chanelle in the mid-1980’s as a Civil Air Patrol cadet. Photo credit: Kathleen Holly Waud.

Now, back to the thank you letter…

Thank you letter from Vietnam Veterans of America for donation.

I’d like to personally thank Ciara and Joshua DeLys for allowing me the honor of officiating their intimate wedding ceremony and also because it was their decision to choose the VVA as their preferred donation recipient.

Also, thanks to my dad for his service and to all other service men and women who have responded to the call of our nation and served bravely (even if you didn’t feel brave sometimes). It is never easy and no one ever knows what they’re signing up for or sacrificing. I am grateful to each of you.


As I mentioned above, the Vietnam Veterans of America is just one of the organizations that Chanelle Carlin Weddings donates to and they are the only national organization. Each of the other organizations is unique to the Pacific Northwest:

Camp Fire of Snohomish County – https://campfiresnoco.org/
Oregon Dachshund Rescue, Inc. – http://www.odr-inc.org/
KSPS – Public Television in Spokane – https://www.ksps.org/
KSER (90.7) – Everett – http://www.kser.org/
Washington Trails Association – https://www.wta.org/

I’ll highlight another organization in a separate blog post, but since we’re so close to Veteran’s Day AND I just received this lovely letter, I thought I would start with the Vietnam Veterans of America. I’ve included links to each of the other organizations website though in case you’d like to learn more about what they do as well.

If you’re ready to schedule your consultation to talk about your wedding OR how you can donate to one of these organizations, please feel free to reach out. I’d love to chat with you.

About Chanelle:  

Photo credit: Roxanne Best

Chanelle Carlin is Your Celebrant for Life. She is an ordained minister, professional wedding officiant, coach, and owner of Chanelle Carlin Weddings, LLC. Believing that life and love should be celebrated every minute, she collaborates with couples who’ve already started building the foundations of their relationship over the years and are now ready to venture forth into marriage with a custom, memorable (for all the right reasons) elopement/intimate wedding ceremony. While Chanelle works throughout the Pacific Northwest and Ireland primarily, she gladly travels to wherever her couples prefer to marry. As their Celebrant for Life, Chanelle also celebrates all the special milestones and moments that matter in each of her couples’ lives. She lives with her family in rural Okanogan County, Washington, USA, and totally LOVES her life. You can visit Chanelle at www.chanellecarlin.com, on Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest. 

PRE-WEDDING SELF CARE

Why & How to Care for Yourself Leading up to Your Big Day

There are so many ways to practice self-care before your wedding but the main thing to understand is why. You’re planning your wedding. It’s going to be beautiful, special and you’ve been thinking about it for years. You want it to be perfect so you and your partner need to take care of yourselves (physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually).  It’s just that there is SO much to do beforehand…even when you have your wedding team in place, it can feel overwhelming. I know.


Well, as your officiant, one of my promises to you is to encourage you in your self-care, so here I am, doing just that. There are lots of easy things that you both can do to take care of your mind, body and spirit and if you’re wanting help along the way, I’ve got you covered there too.

Physical


Sleep

Staying up all night watching IG videos or pinning your favorite wedding decor might sound like a good idea, but it’s really not good for sleeping.  Studies have shown that the blue light from your phone suppresses melatonin, which keeps you from sleeping well and ultimately feeling refreshed, not to mention possible connections with diseases such as diabetes. The best thing to do? Start a sleep schedule where you try to go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day (even on the weekends). And as far as the blue light, aim to put down all your electronics 2-3 hours before bedtime (OK  – at LEAST half an hour before bed). One of the things I have found helpful is to put down/shut off the electronics and hour before bed, take care of final tasks in the kitchen or around the house, grab a cup of herbal tea, wash my face and brush my teeth. All of that takes me about 45 minutes and by then, I am calm and ready to sleep, my house feels ready for the morning and my skin is ready for nightly rejuvenation. If I’m still a bit awake, I will read a book (old-fashioned kind – no electronic versions).

Sleep, good sleep is vital

Nutrition

I know…there is so much to do in our daily lives even without planning a wedding that our nutrition can get off track. However, when we don’t eat properly, there are all kinds of potential impacts: weight gain, weight loss, digestive trouble, skin irritation and dark circles, stress, frustration, injury and illness to name a few. Some basic things to try: 

  • Drink less caffeine (we PNW folks LOVE our coffee and tea), alcohol and pop – there is a lot of sodium in sodas. 
  • Drink MORE water – this will keep your skin hydrated as well as keep your digestive system working the way it is designed to.
  • Increase your fresh veggie and fruit intake (mostly veggies), even by a little bit. Our bodies thrive when they get treated to fresh food. It also helps the hair, skin and digestion.
  • Decrease processed foods as much as possible. I love pizza as much as the next person, but it’s not good for us to eat it every day, or even twice a week.
  • You may even want to try a nutritional cleanse.  In 2008, I began a nutritional cleanse program and lost 70 lbs in six months. It was AWESOME. Don’t have six months until your wedding? That’s ok. In the first 90 days, I had lost over 40 lbs and felt AMAZING. You might not need to lose that much or ANY for that matter. A nutritional cleanse is more about removing toxins from the body that come from stress, the environment and processed foods.


I am once again working with and using Isagenix cleanse products because I LOVE knowing that I am giving my body the nutritional support it needs with products I know are life-changing (they already have been for me). If you’re interested in learning more, you can visit my website here. If you have questions, I will be happy to answer them and share my story in more detail. 

Exercise

So…did you already join the gym? Are you going as often as you planned? If yes, you’re a rockstar and well done! If not, that’s ok. I don’t judge. I have bought more gym memberships that went unused in my lifetime than I care to think about. BUT… exercise/movement is important for a healthy body, mind and spirit. I actually prefer to go for walks, hikes, dance around my kitchen and living room when no one is watching, play ball with my cat (I know it sounds weird, but he loves to race them). AND, these don’t have to take a lot of time. 10-15 minutes at a go, can be really beneficial and with as much time as most of us scroll social media in an evening or on a lunch break, we can usually find 10 minutes for a quick game of chase the ball with your cat, I mean stroll around the block. 🙂 

Taking care of your skin

You’re most likely having some photos taken at your wedding. Lack of sleep, poor nutrition and stress can really take a toll on our skin. Since I know that you want your photos to show your natural, just married glow, try to prioritize a skincare routine. Ideally, twice per day, you should cleanse and moisturize, but if that is too much, at LEAST do it before bed. Our skin cells rejuvenate overnight when our bodies are sleeping. Washing and moisturizing before that just aids in that process. 

I recently became a brand ambassador for a luxury skincare line that also has a super yummy, drinkable collagen. My skin feels AMAZING (I live in the desert and have been experiencing dry skin for years), my dark circles and dark spots on my forehead and hands are almost gone).

Emotional

Emotional self-care is just as important as taking care of our physical health. Our minds and hearts need attention too.

Time Together

Date night

How about Date Night once a week?

Wedding planning can become all-consuming, so I encourage you and your partner to take a night, once a week if possible, and go out here so you don’t talk about the wedding. Just have fun, laugh, tell jokes, talk about work (right?!), maybe even go for a walk or a hike and take care of some physical self-care at the same time.

“You” Time

time for a bubble bath

Sometimes we are so busy taking care of our partner, the kids, the parents, working, planning a wedding, and answering questions from everyone else, that we forget that we need to have time alone too. You know, just to breathe and BE. This is a great time to lock yourself in the bathroom and take a bubble bath. Turn on some music, SOAK and relax.

Time with Friends

After you’re done having your “You” time, maybe try some time with friends just to relax and NOT talk wedding stuff. How about a movie or girls’ hike or even a spa day (pedicure?).

self care time with the girls – pc Joel Muniz (via unsplash.com)

Don’t estimate the power of time with your girlfriends/guy friends. Yes, guys need to practice self-care too and they need time with their buddies.

self care round of golf with the boys – pc Getty Images/creator pixelfit

To-Do Lists

All this time talking about not talking about wedding stuff may have you thinking, yeah, but Chanelle, I have a wedding to plan and I can’t NOT talk about it or DO wedding things. I get it, but I also know how deep the rabbit hole can get sometimes, so I recommend setting aside a certain number of hours per week for wedding research/planning/doing AND I recommend sticking to that allotted amount of time. Keep track of things you want to get done in your wedding planning notebook or “to-do list”.

To Do List…

Best Self Care Idea Yet – Get Support

Hire a Wedding Planner. I promise you that the amount of stress, energy and emotional overwhelm that you will save by having a wedding planner will far outweigh any money you spend. These folks are awesome and like your officiant (yours truly), they live for weddings. The things it takes you hours to find and do, take them no time at all. Their whole job is to alleviate your stress and help your vision for your wedding come to life. AND…there is a wedding planner for every budget (I promise). If you would like a recommendation for an amazing PNW Wedding planner, let me know. I work with some incredible, talented and creative people.

Even if you decide not to go with a wedding planner, ask for help when you need it! Your family, friends, and bridal party will happily help you plan and take things off your plate when it all gets to be too much.

Spiritual

As I said at the beginning, we need to care for our body, mind and spirit when it comes to self-care. for some, this can mean worship and time at church or temple. For others, it may look a little less structured.


Meditation/journaling/prayer

journal

Taking a few moments to decompress each day will help keep you sane. Even if you think regular meditation is silly, all it takes is 5 minutes to help center you and focus on the day ahead. I generally set aside an hour each day for my devotional time (reading scripture, prayer), but I have found that just taking 15 minutes a day to write down all the things I am thankful for that day and in that moment (from the biggest, down to the most detailed things) helps me feel calmer and peaceful.

Walking

Couple walking. Photo by Catalin Paterau on Unsplash.com

I’m a HUGE fan of walking and not just for exercise, but to clear my head. I’ve also managed to solve all the world’s problems on more than one long walk (too bad no one was ever there with me to listen in). 🙂 Your walks don’t even have to be long ones or even overly speedy. If you just get out for 10-15 minutes at a time, you’ll likely find your stress level going down and your energy going up. In the winter, when it is too cold outside (we often have sub-freezing temperatures), I walk the halls of our house just to ‘get my steps in’. 

Monthly favorite treats

We all have something we love to treat ourselves to, and when you’re planning a wedding (or just living life in general) it’s always nice to take the time to take care of yourself. If you love a great massage or a mani/pedi, treat yourself to one. Maybe it’s decadent dark chocolate (my favorite) or an insanely good book. Enjoy this time of your life in every way possible!

book, lilac flowers, coffee from pixabay
Getting a manicure. Photo by Kris Atomic on Unsplash
Dark Chocolate. Image by Alexander Stein from Pixabay

As I mentioned above, self-care care is vital for you and your partner every day, but especially for you both to truly enjoy the wedding planning process and your most amazingly beautiful wedding day. I hope some of the information and tips in this article have been or will be helpful to you. If you would like further support or clarification, please reach out and let me know.

While I only link to products and services I think you will love, some of the links on our site are monetized. If you click on the link and make a purchase I may receive a commission, which helps me build a residual income and keep bringing great content to you! All opinions expressed are my own.

Photo credit Roxanne Best

Chanelle Carlin is Your Celebrant for Life. She is an ordained minister, professional wedding officiant, coach, and owner of Chanelle Carlin Weddings, LLC. Believing that life and love should be celebrated every minute, she collaborates with couples who’ve already started building the foundations of their relationship over the years and are now ready to venture forth into marriage with a custom, memorable (for all the right reasons) elopement/intimate wedding ceremony. While Chanelle works throughout the Pacific Northwest and Ireland primarily, she gladly travels to wherever her couples prefer to marry. As their Celebrant for Life, Chanelle also celebrates all the special milestones and moments that matter in each of her couples’ lives. She lives with her family in rural Okanogan County, Washington, USA, and totally LOVES her life. You can visit Chanelle at www.chanellecarlin.com, on Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest.