I’m a trend-setter! Who knew?

Chanelle’s take on the non-traditional “non-wedding wedding” trends for 2024

A “non-wedding wedding” photo at the Upper Lake at Conconully, Washington. The gorgeous Bride is wearing her favorite color, purple; groom is wearing shorts, a short-sleeve shirt AND tie and they travelled from rural Iowa (where they left all the family) to rural Washington state to get married. Photo credit: Roxanne Best, Roxtography

The article that inspired an article that inspired this post

I just received an email this morning from one of my wedding colleagues at Maroo.us about Vogue’s December article claiming that “non-wedding” weddings (non-traditional weddings) are on the rise for 2024 and thought I would share my thoughts about the subject with you too, but rather than copy their article, I’ve attached the link to the Maroo article, Are “non-wedding” weddings on the rise? Here is a roundup of the ins and outs of 2024, written by Prianka Dhir, in case you’d like to read it for yourself.

Photo credit: Emilee Setting

Who knew officiating non-traditional ceremonies YEARS would make me trendy in 2024?

What struck me as really noteworthy about these articles is that I’ve been doing ‘non-wedding’ weddings here in the Pacific Northwest with my couples for YEARS without even realizing I was setting a new trend! (Yes, I’ve been celebrating marriages for a while now.) I invite you to check out my blog post, What Does a Wedding Officiant Do & Tips from an Officiant For Your Wedding Day. So, what is a “non-wedding wedding”? According to the article referenced above, a “non-wedding wedding” is essentially a non-traditional wedding. They are casual, less formal and characterized by intimate ceremonies, family-style food menus, and in the moment, real-time photography. Couples are realizing that this most important day in their lives (up until this point) can be whatever they want it to be so it looks and feels authentic and reflects their personalities, and they’re often hiring wedding stylists, designers and other professionals to help bring their vision to life. The photo above is from a breezy July intimate family wedding up at Tipsoo Lake at Mount Rainier. Their wedding planner, Katy Warner from Seattle Stunning Events was super organized, found the exact spot on the lake to have the best view of the mountain AND had a rug for us to stand on to create our sacred space for their beautiful, personal and unique ceremony (photo above). Back at the air B&B where they all gathered for their family meal and post ceremony celebrations, once again, Katy had everything organized and beautiful (though also simple and elegant), so Nathan and Lauren just got to relax and enjoy their moments (photo below). Afterwards, our couple headed up the mountain with their flowers, backpacks and sparkling wine for a toast and their photographer to capture some truly breathtaking, intimate and authentically Nate and Lauren moments (second photo below).

wood table set with dishes and flowers in a wooded setting, staged by Seattle Stunning Events and photographed by Emilee Setting Photography
Staged by Seattle Stunning Events and Photo credit: Emilee Setting Photography
Man in black suit, woman in white wedding gown sitting on the ground with snowcapped mountain in background.
Photo credit: Emilee Setting Photography

Chanelle is truly a gem – Personable, funny, intelligent, and such a pro at tailoring a memorable ceremony...Our other wedding vendors and our family even commented that Chanelle felt like family, and we could not agree more. It was evident that there was so much careful thought and intention behind each interaction with her.” – L & N (Summer intimate family wedding at Tipsoo Lake in shadow of Mount Rainier)

Some “non-wedding wedding” ideas, Pacific Northwest style

I never realized how much we were ‘bucking the trends’ (or setting them as in the case of this article) with non traditional weddings and elopements and our sustainable practices. For instance, picture sharing your most personal vows with your loved one in the presence of your closest family and friends on a hiking trail on Whidbey Island, or the Hoh Rainforest in Olympic National Park, on a farm in Leavenworth, or maybe you prefer the beach at sunset, or overlooking the Pacific Ocean on San Juan Island or at sunrise on Mount Rainier at Sunrise (can’t get less traditional or “non-wedding-y” than that). For those wanting a ceremony with their closest family and friends and a low key-no worries intimate reception afterwards, wineries offer a great option with beautiful scenery and relaxed, family style meal settings under the stars. Check out my blog post here for some options in Lake Chelan, or as in the case of Lauren and Nathan, you could rent an air B&B and have your wedding planner bring your vision to fruition in the forest. As for sustainable – in the the Pacific Northwest, we’re all about sustainability (recycling, animal welfare, clean water, land conservation and farm to table dining). Not only that, but as individuals we’re also very community minded. I’ve been volunteering in my communities (wherever I have lived) since I was seven years old and my business has been donating a portion of my fees for every wedding to one of six non-profit organizations since 2020. When you book me as your officiant for your custom wedding, you get to choose which of the six organizations, you’d like the donation from your wedding to go. Want another sustainability idea? Did you know that you can donate your wedding flowers to retirement and memory care centers so they can live on and bring joy to others after your wedding? Yep and in North Central Washington, Lilies of the Valley in East Wenatchee, Washington can help you with that.

Soapbox: The reason for the wedding is the WEDDING part – otherwise, it’s just a fancy party.

There is a part of this article which frustrates me a tiny bit (pardon me as I step up on my ‘soapbox’). It is just that most of the trends listed (awesome as they are) focus mostly on the reception and party. The ceremony (you know, the part where you actually share your non-traditional vows with each other –ask me about this– and join together in marriage…) feels like an aside. Why does it frustrate me, you ask? Well, as your Officiant, I am passionate about helping you start your marriage off with a custom, all-about-the-two-of-you, wedding ceremony, which is beautiful, authentic and memorable for all the right reasons. You’re getting married after all. These trends seem to focus less on the getting married part of a wedding, and more on the party part and yet that’s why you’re having the party (or “non-wedding” wedding) – to celebrate your marriage. – (OK – I’m getting off the ‘soapbox’ now)

Chanelle truly helped to make our whole wedding feel like the most special day in the world...she tailored our wedding to completely fit around us, our belief’s, and our family. “ – L & S (Winter air B&B elopement in Leavenworth with only their children as their witnesses).”

You don’t have to do it by yourself.

I remind all of my couples that your wedding is one of the most important days of your life. There is a lot that goes into planning a wedding ceremony (a “non-wedding” wedding or not) and most couples have never done it before so it can feel a bit overwhelming. There are many, many resources available to help alleviate stress, including amazingly talented and committed wedding professionals. The most important thing to remember is that the two of you have decided that you want to be together and whether you choose to commemorate that with a large family wedding at a larger venue, an intimate family wedding at your favorite winery or elope to your favorite hiking trail with your witnesses and officiant, it’s YOUR special day and you want it to be meaningful to the two of you, not stressful. If you want to start with an easy conversation about your ceremony, please feel free to reach out. I am here to answer questions and help you have the most beautiful ceremony – whatever that looks like for the two of you. This is a magical time, and I’m absolutely delighted for you. Best wishes for a lifetime of love. – Chanelle, Your Pacific Northwest Elopement and Intimate Wedding Officiant and Celebrant for LifeTM.

Photo credit: Roxanne Best, Roxtography

About Chanelle

Chanelle Carlin is Your Celebrant for Life. She is an ordained minister, professional wedding officiant, coach, and owner of Chanelle Carlin Weddings, LLC (and now ‘trend-setter’). 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 primarily, she gladly travels to wherever her couples prefer to marry. As their Celebrant for Life TM, 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.

“Elegance doesn’t have to be complicated.”

Introducing Georgia Williams and Queen’s Hand Calligraphy

Eample of hand-calligraphed envelope with the queen's choice font style.
Example of hand-calligraphed invitation envelope – queen’s choice font style.

A serendipitous inter-web “oops”

A few weeks ago, I received an email from another wedding professional, Georgia Williams, owner of Queen’s Hand Calligraphy, on the other side of the U.S., who was taking time to research and contact wedding planners across the country to begin networking and promoting her business. You all know that I am not a wedding planner, but I DO love to help people whenever I can, especially other wedding pros, so I looked at her website and social media and then we set up a time to chat. After spending a few minutes talking with Georgia, I knew I wanted to find a way to introduce her to my friends, family and couples…anyone who may love the idea of something beautifully handwritten (think custom wedding invitations, announcements, place cards, poems as a gift, holiday card envelopes, thank you card envelopes).

So, here we are…my little blog post…(and just because I know some folks will wonder, I do not receive anything from Georgia or Queens Hand Calligraphy for introducing her to you or for any future business she may receive – I just think she does amazing work and someone would love to see it.)

Meet Georgia Williams, the founder, owner and head Calligrapher of Queen’s Hand Calligraphy

Georgia Williams, founder and owner of Queen’s Hand Calligraphy

Georgia has more than 40 years calligraphic experience with 15 of those years as a professional. She has a Bachelor’s degree from Loyola University and taught school for over thirty years. (maybe we should call her Saint Georgia?) Georgia told me that as a school teacher, she required her middle school students to write in cursive because she believes it develops a discipline in them for the rest of their lives. That sounds very teacher-like, doesn’t it?

Couple signing their marriage certificate during their ceremony. Photo credit: Greenhouse Photo Company

Cursive writing – a lost skill

“Handwriting is more connected to a movement of the heart.” – Natalie Goldberg

I am of the age where penmanship was still taught in elementary school and our papers/homework still had a penmanship grading component through high school. If your assignment wasn’t neat enough for the teacher to read, you were going to get a bad grade. End of story. So…we learned to write as neatly as possible. I still admire the penmanship of my aunts, grandmother, great-aunts and even some friends. Their letters flow together so nicely with curves in the right places and it’s so easy to read. Unfortunately (or fortunately if you don’t like writing), with the entry and domination of the computer in the home, workplace and now schools, penmanship (aka cursive writing) is one of those skills that is truly being lost.

“Sending a handwritten letter is becoming such an anomaly. It’s disappearing. My mom is the only one who still writes me letters. And there’s something visceral about opening a letter – I see her on the page. I see her in her handwriting.” – Steve Carell

I see it each time one of my couples goes to sign their marriage certificate. There is a glint of panic in their eyes as they ask the question, “Do I have to write in cursive?” which is quickly followed up by “I don’t know how.” For those of us who have been out of the classroom for decades, this might not be a surprise, especially if our work doesn’t involve any writing, but even at my most recent elopement, the witnesses were young and still not confident in just signing their name in cursive.

Personally, I love to hand write notes, cards, envelopes, certificates, but I do know how intimidating it can be, so to have someone to go to who can write beautifully and create works of art on an envelope makes my heart sing with joy!

Calligraphy — the dance, on a tiny stage, of the living, speaking hand. – Robert Bringhurst

Resurrecting an Art Form

Example of hand-lettered invitation envelope surrounded by flowers
Example of hand-calligraphed invitation envelope – Alexandra font style.
“Nothing can replace the hand-written word when it is done with beauty and grace.” Queen’s Hand Calligraphy

Back to Georgia. She began as a professional calligrapher when she and her daughter started a calligraphy business, which they ran together for about 15 years. They handled invitations and announcements for weddings, corporate events, bar/bat mitzvahs; legal certificates; love poems; Christmas card addressing for large corporations; place cards; and reception favor tags. Eventually, her daughter decided to make a career change and Georgia started Queen’s Hand Calligraphy.

Then…a global pandemic… and the world seemingly stopped – particularly the world of weddings and events. Thankfully though, Georgia hasn’t stopped and she is now in the process of resurrecting this art form that has seemingly gone by the wayside in this world of computers and machines and is sharing it with us.

Do you even remember the last time you received a hand-written letter or card in the mail? I don’t mean one with a mailing label (although these can be really nice too, especially at Christmas time), but an actual piece of mail that has your name and address handwritten (in cursive) on the front of the envelope and when you opened it up, there was paper inside with a hand-written note. Do you remember how it felt to receive it?

Do you still have it?

Sampling of some of the handwritten letters I have saved over the years.

As you can see, I do. They’re special. I receive so few that I treasure them. I even have some of the notes I wrote to my mom when I lived in Ireland (because she saved them)!

You only get one chance to make a first impression

So, what if you would like to have custom lettered envelopes for your invitations or announcements of place cards for your reception, but it feels a bit royal-like. Well, conveniently enough, Georgia believes that just as every bride should feel like a princess on her wedding day, your guests want to feel special when they are being invited to a wedding. What better time to do this than with your invitations? After all, you only get one chance to make a first impression. All of the work done by Queen’s Hand Calligraphy is done by hand! Nothing is computer generated, which truly makes your guests feel that you (as a couple) took the extra time to make them feel special—like they are being invited to a truly wonderful event.

Example of hand-calligraphed invitation envelope – charlotte font style.

Most of my couples are having smaller weddings and elopements with between two and fifty guests. Sometimes, it is to save money, but most of the time, it is just who they are – they don’t want a lot of fuss or working parts that come with a large event, but they DO want their guests (family and close friends) to know how much they mean to the couple. There is an entire industry that creates custom wedding invitations now, but who do you get to write out the envelopes? Most of the time, they have typed labels or at best, they’re hand-printed; but…what if you could have your beautiful, custom-made invitations addressed by a professional, calligrapher, someone who has turned a lost skill into a beautiful art form? Now, receiving that in the mail would be something!

“Calligraphy is a kind of music not for the ears, but for the eyes.” – V. Lazursky

How does it work?


Think it’s probably a “hassle” and maybe too much work?

According to Georgia, it’s not at all. It is their goal to make every one of their couples getting married have one less thing to worry about. It is obviously working. They have been told their process is the easiest part of wedding planning and they have a five-star rating on theknot.com.

Queens Hand Calligraphy on the Knot.com

All she needs from you is a type-written list of guests’ names and addresses and some envelopes. They will even stuff your invitations for a nominal fee.

Awesome, right? I know!

I’m already thinking of special items I would like hand calligraphed, including my Christmas card envelopes for next year. (OOhh!) How about you? Wedding invitations? Baby Announcements? A poem for your special someone for their birthday or Valentine’s Day?

“Calligraphy paints words.” – Author unknown

Q & A Time

So…now…for those of you with a few more questions, here are some FAQ’s (and answers) – you can also find more details on Georgia’s website at https://www.queenshandcalligraphy.com/

We have some guests with mixed names. How do you address the wedding invitation envelopes?

We advise on and use all the proper traditional etiquette in addressing the envelopes. Salutations are written out (Doctor, the Honorable Judge, Officer, Master). No abbreviations are used on street names (Court, Boulevard, Avenue, Road). Numerals up to 100 are written out in word form (three, seven, ten). However, while we advise on etiquette, we will abide with the couple’s wishes if they prefer something else.

Why do I need to send extra envelopes?

We require 25-30 (depending on the size of the order) extra envelopes. Often people move; or guest couples break up and no longer want to be on the same envelope; or a mistake was made on the list.

Can I choose the color of ink for my Calligraphy project? What colors can I choose from?

Of course. The color choice of ink and font selection is up to our customer. Black is the color most often chosen because it is the most elegant. We also letter in blue, charcoal gray, gold and silver. If you have another color in mind, we often suggest you find the color you would like and we can work from there.

Example of a place card with gold ink.

Can I choose my preferred font?

Absolutely. Elegance doesn’t have to be complicated. Here are some samples of beautiful fonts to choose from. If you have questions, please ask.

How do you deliver?

With over 35 years of experience, we have handled every situation with ease. Local clients drop off and pick up their orders (Naperville, Illinois). Out of state customers ship either by USPS, Fed-Ex, or UPS and items are returned by the same method.

How long does it take to create my project?

Feel confident that Queen’s Hand Calligraphy is dedicated to giving your order the personal attention it so rightly deserves. We will notify you via email once your order has been received by Queen’s Hand Calligraphy.

Our turnaround time is 7-10 business days once we receive your complete order.

Upon completion of your order, we will notify you again via email that your order is being shipped back with a return tracking order.

Do you only do wedding invitations?

No. Queen’s Hand Calligraphy provides hand lettering for:

· Invitation envelope addressing
· Place cards
· Save the Dates
· Certificates
· Special projects
· Corporate addressing
· Thank you notes
· Birth announcements

Hand-calligraphed Place card for "The Bride", which is decorated with crystals at the bottom.
Place-card decorated with crystals.

How can I contact you about a calligraphy project?

You can visit our website for information and details at Queenshandcalligraphy.com and then send me an email or even the old fashioned method of a making a phone call: (630) 286-9382.

I hope you enjoyed meeting Georgia, learning about her business, Queen’s Hand Calligraphy and seeing some of her beautiful work. I certainly have. Please feel free to share this blog post with anyone you think might be interested in beautifully hand crafted, hand lettered invitations or gifts.

About Chanelle

Photo credit: Roxanne Best, Roxtography

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.

“Surprise! One of my Leavenworth elopements was published and I didn’t even know it,” says Chanelle Carlin, Washington State Wedding Officiant and Your Celebrant for Life

You never know what you’ll find when searching the internet…earlier today, I took part in a 30 minute ‘lunch and learn’ with Sara Dunn, a wedding SEO professional. If you’re a wedding professional and wanting to learn how to rank higher on Google, she is super amazing. Anyway, after the training, I was following up by running an SEO check on my website. That check showed that among other things, my website was ranking for a backlink to the digital wedding magazine, www.offbeatwed.com for a Leavenworth Elopement. I knew I hadn’t written a post for that publication, so of course I had to check it out. Surprise! I found a story submitted by one of my couples that got married in Leavenworth, Washington back in 2021, “An intimate ‘Up’ Adventure Party Leavenworth elopement with gluten-free pizza & donuts!” posted by Chris Wolfgang.

Chanelle’s Reflections

From an officiant’s perspective (any wedding professional’s perspective, I’m sure), Randy Joe and Jeremy were pretty much an ideal couple in that they always did what they said they would do, they responded to emails in a timely fashion and they were just plain old organized and very gracious and kind. Crafting their ceremony was just fun and having them love it enough to submit it is a genuine honor. I invite you to check it out here

Usually, when I write a blog post about one of my weddings, it’s full of my reflections as the officiant on that day, so, even though most of the details of the ceremony are shared in the article linked above, I’ll just add my recollections and feelings about my experience getting to know Randy Joe and Jeremy, their elopement ceremony and why it stands out to me even though it was two years ago and I’ve officiated dozens of weddings since.

Getting to know you…and YOUR Vision for your Day

I first met Randy Joe and Jeremy in March of 2021 about their planned elopement (“Act I” of their wedding), and they had pretty much everything already figured out: The venue was Roots Produce and Flower Farm in Leavenworth, Washington. The date would be June 12, 2021. There would be no guests at this time (just their two witnesses and their photographer) because they would have a bigger ceremony for their one year anniversary (Act II of their wedding) …They had everything figured out, except the ceremony…no worries, that is what I do as the Officiant, listen to stories and craft ceremonies…they knew they wanted something fun, laid back and something that totally matched their personalities. SO…we had a zoom chat to get to know each other. Jeremy and Randy Joe met in college in the theater program, which is handy because one of their favorite hobbies to do together is to watch movies. They got to know each other even went out with friends for Halloween: Randy Joe as Carmen San Diego and Jeremy as Waldo (as in “Where’s Waldo?) However, their first “official date” was lunch on 11/11/11 and Jeremy told me that soon after that, he knew he was “done looking.” Randy Joe actually told her mom all about Jeremy after their first date. They dated throughout the remainder of their college years, graduated, moved in together in 2013 and now have been together for twelve years (and married for two). Getting to know Jeremy and Randy Joe was so much fun, I couldn’t wait to draft their ceremony and send it to them for their thoughts and edits. My excitement was rewarded when Randy Joe emailed me with her and Jeremy’s final approval; her response was so sweet,

“Anyway, this all looks fantastic! I mean, I cried within the first 30 seconds of starting to read it and basically didn’t stop, so that’s a good sign.” 🙂
Photo credit: Sydney Cave, Everlasting Everly Photography

On “The Day,” their ceremony was just as fun for me. You can see it in my photos. It was relaxed and was with two people who were just so happy to be married, nothing else really mattered once we got there. One of my favorite memories from that day was watching them hand paint their mailbox which would be used for cards during “Act II” of their ceremony (the bigger wedding party on their anniversary). I promise you, there is nothing like watching a couple don colorful aprons, smoosh paint on their hands and then put their painted handprints all over a white mailbox. In case you’re wondering how that activity fits within a wedding ceremony, I’ll tell you. They each put on their own apron, but had the other person tie it for them. This speaks to helping each other with the everyday tasks during the marriage. Then, they squirt paint on their hands, smoosh them together and put handprints all over the mailbox. This is FUN and embraces the messiness of life (two very important elements in marriage and life in general). Finally, their witnesses were on hand with baby wipes so they could clean off their hands, which reminds us that there are times when even the strongest couples, need support from others. You can check out Chris Wolfgang’s article on Offbeatwed.com for photos of this fun activity, which I genuinely hope you do, or just use your imagination. 🙂

I also loved when they shared their vows (sweet and funny – check out the link above) and then signing their paperwork during the ceremony with their witnesses, so that when they walked up the aisle after I pronounced them married, they were actually completely and officially married. (You know…it’s not official til the paperwork is signed).

Photo credit: Sydney Cave, Everlasting Everly Photography

“’And love, true love, will follow you forever’ and may you always be each other’s greatest adventure.” – the final wish from their ceremony borrowed from their fave movies, “Up” and “The Princess Bride”

Celebrating Randy Joe and Jeremy’s elopement was as beautiful for me as their Wedding Officiant as “finally” getting married was for them and I’m grateful they enjoyed the experience enough to submit their wedding story to be published. For those wondering how Act II went, Randy Joe emailed me after receiving their anniversary card and shared,

“We did go ahead with our Act II this past Saturday and it was lovely! Frantic and stressful, but lovely!”

OH! and if you’ve never been to Roots Produce and Flower Farm, you should go. It’s absolutely stunning and the location for weddings is down below the road in a little valley surrounded by the majestic mountains. Truly, it will take your breath away.

Other Wedding Pros involved in this beautiful adventure:

You’ll see a list of the other wedding professionals and vendors if you read the Offbeatwed.com article, but I’ll share them here so it’s handy for you:

If you’re ready to schedule your consultation to talk about your elopement or intimate wedding ceremony, 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.