by Chanelle Carlin, Your Washington Wedding Officiant and Celebrant for LifeTM

As an officiant, each wedding I officiate is so special to me and always stands out in my memory for a few reasons. First and foremost is the relationship I’ve been honored to build with the couple. After all, there is no wedding ceremony without them. After that are the truly beautiful venues – in this case, Gray Bridge Venue in the forests of Sultan, Washington. Last, but certainly not least, are the amazing wedding professionals I’m fortunate to work alongside. Here are some of my favorite reflections from this beautiful spring wedding along with some incredible Gray Bridge Venue photos taken by the very talented, Joanna Monger.

Chanelle Carlin officiating Zack & Brianna’s Intimate Family Wedding at Gray Bridge
Wedding Venue, Sultan, WA; PC Joanna Monger Photography

Zack and Brianna are an amazing couple who live in the Los Angeles area of California. I was honored to first “meet” them virtually in the fall before their spring wedding. We spent time getting to know each other long-distance through a couple of Zoom meetings and a bunch of emails. They are sweet, fun, very gracious and down to earth. I love how much respect they have for one another and how much in love they are with each other.

Why Washington and Why Gray Bridge Venue?

One of the questions I asked, is why get married in Washington State and why at Gray Bridge Venue? They both told me how much they LOVE the Pacific Northwest. They love the outdoor lifestyle and their dream is to have a home in the forest one day up in Washington (or maybe Montana). When they decided to finally get married, they started looking for places in Washington that felt like the two of them. Gray Bridge popped up. The first time they visited for the Open House, they knew they definitely wanted to be married there. I also found out that they enjoy wine so when we finally got to meet in person, I brought a bottle from our local winery in Omak.

During their venue walk-through on Valentine’s Weekend, my husband Bill and I got the property tour from then owner of Gray Bridge, Matt McGregor, while Zack and Brianna were confirming logistical details with Keri their wedding planner and Stacy McGregor. Once our tour with Matt was done, and they were finished chatting logistics for a bit, we had time to sit on the benches over-looking the pond where they were planning to say their vows. We chatted, laughed, got to know each other a bit better and confirmed plans for their ceremony.

The Wedding Day arrives

A few months later and we were all back at Gray Bridge Venue. The day of their wedding was a typical spring day in Washington…a mix of rain and sunshine. Thankfully, the folks at Gray Bridge were well prepared for both. Zack and Brianna even had clear umbrellas for their guests in case it rained during the ceremony…which it did, though only just a little bit. Their Wedding Planner, Keri was not worried in the slightest and knew just when the rain was supposed to stop. The big tent was up, the tables were set under the tent, and the DJ, Clinton Dove had all his equipment set up under the tent as well. Everything was well under control.

As the wedding started, the guests were seated, with umbrellas at the ready. The groom, Zack escorted his future mother in law to her seat. He then went back to escort his own parents to their seats and then made his way to the ceremony spot. After Zack was in situ, their Best Man, Ryan and Maid of Honor, Caitlin came down the steps and took their places. Next to come was Colton, the two-year-old ring bearer, extraordinaire, who nearly stole the show. 

A Ring Bearer with Personality

When it was little Colton’s time to join the procession, I looked up and saw Wedding Planner, Keri. She was enticing the smartly dressed little gentleman dressed in a Navy Tuxedo along the path, with what I assumed were little candies or snacks. Picture a little bird following a trail of bread crumbs – it was that cute! As Colton got to the aisle and started to walk down, he realized he didn’t have the ring box. Stopping, he turned and went back up the ‘almost too long for his two-year-old legs’ steps. He accepted the ring box from Keri, and one more candy (for good measure). Ring box in hand, he then headed back down the steps toward his date with destiny.

A ring bearer with personality coming down the steps at Gray Bridge Wedding Venue; PC Joanna Monger Photography

As he got to the ceremony spot, he headed over to the best man. Little Colton transferred the box and received his payment…a candy diamond ring lollypop. As he headed back up the steps to sit with his family, Colton clenched his fist around his prize. Laughter exploded from the family all around as he excitedly said, “I NEED this!” 

“I NEED this!” Gray Bridge Wedding Venue PC Joanna Monger Photography

A hush fell…

Then, amazingly, a hush fell. Everyone’s attention was diverted. One of the most special things about Gray Bridge Venue, is that guests can see across the pond. Our bride, Brianna gracefully made her entrance through the forest, around the pond to where her father was waiting for her. We were spellbound. It was happening. We got to celebrate what we had come to celebrate…the love and commitment of this amazing couple. 

Beautiful Brianna glides around the pond and through the forest, Gray Bridge Wedding Venue;
Photo credit Joanna Monger Photography

Brianna’s father, Mark was waiting for her in the forest about half-way around the pond. When Brianna reached him, I invited the guests to stand while Zack continued to face the other direction. Once they arrived at the ceremony spot, I asked Mark if he supported Brianna in her marriage to Zack. (This is a question I ask only if requested by each couple). Mark said he did. I then stepped back into my spot and waited for Brianna and Zack to hug her Dad.

Bride escorted by her father from the forest to the ceremony spot at Gray Bridge Venue
Brianna with her Dad, Mark as they enter the ceremony spot from the forest at Gray Bridge Venue.
Photo Credit: Joanna Monger Photography

Once Mark was with the rest of the guests, I had Brianna pass her flowers to her sister, Caitlin. Zack and Brianna held hands. They closed their eyes. I grounded them in the moment with a simple breathing exercise to calm the wedding day nerves. Once they opened their eyes, they only saw each other. When they told me they were ready, we continued with the rest of their beautifully intimate, personal ceremony.

A Final Wish

After Zack and Brianna declared their intent to marry, they shared traditional vows, exchanged rings and created a beautiful sand sculpture as a visual reminder of their day. To conclude the ceremony, I shared a poem written by Pierre Tielhard de Chardin as a final wish for their marriage. “Love is an Adventure” fits the two of them to a “T.”

“Love is an adventure and a conquest. It survives and develops like the universe itself only by perpetual discovery. The only right love is that between couples whose passion leads them both, one through the other, to a higher possession of their being.

Put your faith in the spirit which dwells between the two of you. You have each offered yourself to the other as a boundless field of understanding, of enrichment, of mutually increased sensibility. You will meet above all by entering into and constantly sharing one another’s thoughts, affections, and dreams. There alone, as you know, in spirit, which is arrived through flesh, you will find no disappointments, no limits. There alone the skies are ever open for your love; there alone lies the great road ahead.”

Mr. and Mrs. Bergman

I then pronounced Zack and Brianna married. They kissed to the joyful cheering of their family and then headed up the steps to begin their celebrations.

Newlyweds kissing as they exit the ceremony at Gray Bridge Venue.
Zack and Brianna stop for another celebratory kiss as they exit the ceremony at Gray Bridge Venue. PC: Joanna Monger Photography

Another quick note about Gray Bridge Venue

Gray Bridge Venue is a truly beautiful, magical, elevated wedding venue in Sultan, Washington (Snohomish County). It allows couples and their guests to celebrate in a fun, relaxed and safe atmosphere. Gray Bridge Venue also offers a touch of whimsy. With the forest, the ponds, the horses, friendly host cat (and the gray bridge), it feels like a place of magic. They have almost everything you need, or can connect you with whomever you need.  You will LOVE getting married here and your photos will be spectacular.

Couple standing on the Gray Bridge at Gray Bridge Venue
Zack and Brianna share a private moment on the Gray Bridge at Gray Bridge Venue. Photo Credit: Joanna Monger Photography
Couple enjoying farm animals at Gray Bridge Venue
Zack and Brianna enjoying the animals at the farm on their wedding day at Gray Bridge Venue. Photo Credit: Joanna Monger Photography

Other Wedding team members

Venue: Gray Bridge Venue – 

Wedding Coordinator: Keri at KW Events& Weddings – 

Photographer: Joanna Monger Photography – 

DJ: Clinton dove – 

Catering: Navi’s catering Kitchen – 

Florist: Pollin in Love – 

Photo booth: Aha Party Co – 

Transportation: Butler Seattle – 

Drinks/Bartending: Party on the Rocks Seattle – 

Cakes and Desserts: Birch Bakery – 

Hair and Make-up: Anne Timms (Mstimmsmakeupartist) – 

Officiant: Chanelle Carlin Weddings – 

Photo credit Roxanne Best

About Chanelle: 

Chanelle Carlin is Your Celebrant for Life. She is an ordained minister, professional wedding officiant, gratitude coach, self-care coach, and owner of Chanelle Carlin Weddings, LLC. Chanelle believes that life and love should be celebrated every minute. Her couples have already built the foundations of their relationship over the years and are now ready to get married. They’re seeking 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, Chanelle 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, on FacebookInstagram, or Pinterest