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.

“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. 

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. 

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, a reflection on one of my favorite Irish symbols – The Claddagh by Chanelle Carlin, Washington State Wedding Officiant and Your ‘Celebrant for Life’

For those who know me or have spent any time reading my website, you know that I lived in Ireland for eight years…and loved every minute of my time there. So, in honor of the month we’re in…March… and a little over a week from St. Patrick’s Day, I thought I would share a post today about one of my favorite Irish symbols and one that couples often ask about…the Claddagh.  Before I get to that, I thought I would reflect on Ireland for a sec. It is the one place apart from Camp Killoqua in Stanwood, Washington that ever truly felt like home. Sometime, I will share a bit more about my Irish experience and how it influences me as your Celebrant for Life. In the meantime, here are a couple of photos from my time there. The first is a photo of the top of the street that I lived on when I first moved to Ireland (after staying with friends). If you look closely, there is a red brick building in the middle of the photo on the right. That was my building. I shared a flat (apartment) with two other girls. My first job in Ireland was down at the other end of the street on the left.

Dublin Street, Monaghan. The street where I first lived in Monaghan, Ireland. 

woman standing in a pink coat next to a hedge in rural ireland with gray buildings in background
Me standing along the side of a hedge in Clogher, Co. Tyrone (approx. 2010)

The Claddagh – enough about me for now…

I thought you might enjoy a little history as well as info on how to wear the Claddagh ring, plus one VERY important piece of info that you’ll want to read at the very end. 

The Claddagh is one of Ireland’s most recognized and precious images. Two hands embracing a heart adorned with a crown symbolize the purity of a cherished relationship – friendship (hands), love (heart) and loyalty (crown).  

Image by Mégane Percier from Pixabay 

Claddagh is a Place 

When we hear “Claddagh”, most of us think ring or maybe even door knocker. But Claddagh is actually a place. It’s located in County Galway on the west coast of Ireland and THE place where a fisherman-turned-goldsmith transformed his undying commitment to the woman he loved into the renowned band of gold. (More about the legend in a bit…)  

In an area once known as the Fish Market and named after the Irish word for “shore” – an Cladach, Claddagh is one of Ireland’s oldest former fishing communities. It is located in Galway city, just across the River Corrib from the Spanish and Caoċ Arches, the remaining structure of a protective wall constructed in 1584. Very little of the original village is present today due to shifts in industry, emigration, disease and war but the history and lore remains. You can find out more about Claddagh here .

Image by Snail from Pixabay

Hands, Heart & Crown 

There are many legends surrounding the original design of the Claddagh ring and most point toward Galway fisherman Richard Joyce.  In the late 17th century, Joyce was captured by pirates and sold into slavery. While in servitude, he forged a ring of gold for his true love back in Galway featuring three symbols: a heart of love, a crown of loyalty and hands of friendship.  After his release back to his village of Claddagh, he married the woman who had waited years for him to return. “With these hands I give you my heart, and I crown it with my love”. 

Image by Mégane Percier from Pixabay   

Traditionally, a Claddagh ring was passed from a mother to her daughter. Or in my case, from daughter to mother. I gave my mom a pair of Claddagh earrings when I lived in Ireland. Often a family heirloom, the symbol of love, loyalty and friendship is also commonly exchanged between friends.  

Most popular though is the wearing of a Claddagh ring as a symbol of romance. The Claddagh ring is to be worn in a specific way depending upon your relationship ‘status.’ 

How to Wear a Claddagh Ring 

Before getting married, the ring should be worn on your right hand. 

If you’re single, wear the ring with your heart facing out. This tells people you’re open to dating, i.e. that your heart is available to give to another person. The heart should point toward the end of your finger, rather than the center of your hand, and the crown should point inward. 

Once you’re dating someone and you feel committed, wear the ring with the heart facing in. This shows your heart is currently unavailable. The Claddagh should be turned around so the heart points toward the center of your hand. 

Once you are married, the ring can be moved to the left hand. For some, you can move the Claddagh ring to the left hand once you’re engaged (heart pointing out to the tip of your finger) and then turned around to have the heart pointed toward the center of your hand as part of the wedding ceremony. 

Image by Kilkenny Design 

Important….

Regardless of whether or not you’re looking for love, one thing is certain – never buy your own Claddagh ring. It must be gifted or received. It’s bad luck, and who knows more about luck than the Irish? 

Image by Alexa from Pixabay   

I hope you enjoyed this brief little post about one of my favorite Irish symbols as we get ready for St. Patrick’s Day. Do you have a favorite Irish symbol? Have you been to Ireland? I’d love to hear one of your stories. 

Thank you as well to https://www.claddaghrings.com/the-meaning-and-origin-of-the-claddagh-ring/ and https://oghamart.com/blogs/news/the-meaning-of-the-claddagh for much of the information gathered for this post. 

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. 

AN INTIMATE AUTUMN “BOHO” STYLE FAMILY WEDDING AT ROBERTS MANSION & URBAN ESTATE IN SPOKANE, WASHINGTON – BY CHANELLE CARLIN, SPOKANE OFFICIANT AND YOUR CELEBRANT FOR LIFE

An intimate family wedding at Roberts Mansion & Urban Estate in Spokane, Washington. PC Abby Muir Photography

Reflections from your Officiant

Each wedding 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. There is no wedding ceremony without them. After that are the truly beautiful venues these amazing weddings take place – case in point, the gorgeous, historic Roberts Mansion & Urban Estate in Spokane, Washington. Finally, there are the truly exceptional wedding professionals that I’m fortunate to work with. Here are some of my favorite reflections from this sweet, intimate family wedding.

Wedding cake with “It was always you” cake topper and autumn-themed flowers. PC Abby Muir Photography.

Austyn and Marisa – “It was always you.”

Austyn and Marisa are a very sweet couple that I was honored to “meet” virtually in the spring before their Autumn wedding. Marisa told me their special quote that they really wanted to have as the theme for their ceremony was “It was always you,” because it was. Their marriage was a decade in the making.

Fast friends = best friends

During our initial zoom meeting, they told me that they had met the 2nd day of 5th grade and became fast, best friends. Many afternoons after school saw Austyn at Marisa’s house, watching TV, doing homework, playing games – just hanging out.

First date to the ‘always’ date

Then, in 7th grade, they had their first “date” at Austyn’s house where they had Papa Murphy’s pepperoni pizza and watched Cake Boss with Austyn’s mom. Their young relationship continued through middle and high school, even when Marisa moved to Spokane. Although they contemplated a break-up as a couple, they couldn’t imagine not being best friends anymore, so twice a month, Austyn found himself making a long trek (sometimes via Greyhound) from the Seattle area to Spokane and home just so they could be together. Finally, when Marisa turned 18, she moved back to Seattle and graduated from high school with Austyn and their other classmates.

Planning a lifetime together

Fast forward a few more years…living in their home in Washington, being together day to day, preparing for the rest of their life together. Who wouldn’t want to be part of their wedding day?! Austyn and Marisa LOVE to laugh and its infectious. They are also kind and so in love with one another. Over the months of planning their ceremony, I saw multiple examples of this, but one I want to share here is so sweet. You see, Marisa had always wanted a pearl necklace so Austyn made that dream a reality on their wedding day. With the most beautiful, tender hearted note for his beloved, he gifted Marisa with a lovely strand of pearls. Marisa wore them on their wedding day and Austyn saw them around her neck for the first time as she walked up the aisle.

Austyn’s tender hearted gift to his beloved. “You are without a doubt, the most gorgeous woman I have ever met. I got you this as a symbol of your forever timeless beauty <3.” PC Abby Muir Photography at Roberts Mansion & Urban Estate

Austyn and Marisa – their day…

The day of their wedding was a gorgeous September day in Eastern Washington…beautiful sunshine and not too hot. The venue, Roberts Mansion, is a 120+ year old historic mansion located in the Brown’s Addition of Spokane, Washington. It has a stunning, walled garden (back yard) perfect for elopements, weddings and other events that need a little shade and privacy. Marisa had always wanted to have a wedding here.

Roberts Mansion & Urban Estate, Spokane, Washington. PC Abby Muir Photography.
The ceremony arbor in the walled back garden at Roberts Mansion & Urban Estate, Spokane. PC Abby Muir Photography.

There were actually several things that stood out to me during this ceremony and because I couldn’t choose just one, I decided to include all the ones that are STILL standing out in my mind.

First Reflection – a beautiful “Boho” paradise

First, the incredible detail and beautiful design and decoration of this wedding still stand out to me. Marisa’s mom worked with the Coordinator at the Roberts Mansion to transform the event space from a lush, shaded back yard into a beautiful, romantic, “boho” paradise. The couple had chosen gorgeous autumn colors of forest green, rust and purple as their colors and the wedding party (and most of the guests) dressed in those colors. The effect was truly beautiful and felt just like fall in the Pacific Northwest.

Forest green, burnt orange and purple boho-style floral arrangement at an autumn Roberts Mansion & Urban Estate wedding. PC Abby Muir Photography
An autumn-themed, family-style banquet table designed by Marisa’s Mom in the walled garden at Roberts Mansion & Urban Estate. PC Abby Muir Photography.

Second Reflection – tears of joy

As the wedding started, the guests were seated. The groom, Austyn was in his spot waiting for his beautiful Marisa. Standing behind him, I could see and feel his nerves as well as the tears of joy as she was escorted up the aisle. Once his best friend and future wife arrived in front of him, they held hands and closed their eyes. I grounded everyone in the moment and then they were ready. They both had tears in their eyes and the very biggest of smiles. Talk about a joyful moment for everyone!

Tears of Joy and smiles all around at Roberts Mansion & Urban Estate. PC Abby Muir Photography.

As the ceremony progressed, Marisa and Austyn shared their heart-felt, personal vows and exchanged wedding rings with each other.

Austyn shares his vows with his beloved Marisa at Roberts Mansion & Urban Estate wedding. PC Abby Muir Photography.

Third Reflection – A tardy guest arrives in the “knick” of time.

Just as we were getting ready to pronounce Austyn and Marisa married and have them kiss, a late guest arrived and walked straight through the wedding party and up the aisle, taking center stage…

A tardy guest. PC Abby Muir Photography
Making his way through the crowd. PC Abby Muir Photography

Rather than being shocked or irritated by this, our couple thought it was brilliant! Both passionate cat lovers (with three at home), Austyn shouted, “I was hoping he’d come back for the ceremony!” We allowed the tardy but very welcome guest to join the festivities. I then pronounced Austyn and Marisa married, they kissed and as they danced up the aisle, their family and friends stood and cheered!

The Kiss at Roberts Mansion & Urban Estate. PC Abby Muir Photography.
Mr. and Mrs. Saunders dance up the aisle after their autumn-themed ceremony at Roberts Mansion & Urban Estate in Spokane, Washington. PC Abby Muir Photography

Fourth Reflection – Let’s make it Official

Then…on to what is probably (to me), the most important part of a couple’s wedding ceremony…the part that makes them legally and officially married…the signing of the Marriage Certificate. Don’t get me wrong – as your Celebrant, I am all about the ceremony, the vows, the ring exchange AND the pronouncement in front of family, friends and witnesses. However, I also believe that as a couple, you are making a legal commitment to one another, so the signing of the certificate is just as important as the rest. I loved that they were both so happy to sign the ‘paperwork’. Look at that smile on Austyn’s face.

Signing the Marriage Certificate upstairs in the bridal suite at Roberts Mansion & Urban Estate – now it’s official! PC Abby Muir Photography

Thank you, Mr. and Mrs. Saunders for the honor of celebrating your magical autumn wedding. It was truly a joy filled day! I wish you both (and now little Master Saunders) daily celebrations of love for a lifetime.


The Wedding Team

A quick note about the venue:

Roberts Mansion & Urban Estate – Spokane’s Historic Bed, Breakfast & Event Center – www.ejrobertsmansion.com
The 24-room mansion was built in 1889, and was one of Spokane’s premiere homes. Featuring granite window trim, spindle work in the gables and a prominent turret, the Mansion is one of the best examples of Queen Anne architecture in Spokane. Seasonally, the gardens are lush and worthy of a park-like stroll. Inside you will find beautifully appointed suites complete with antique furnishings, private balconies, claw-foot tubs, and modern amenities. Roberts Mansion is also conveniently located just one block from local restaurants and bars, a 3-minute walk from the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture, and a 5-minute walk to downtown Spokane. With its rich history and romantic charm, The Roberts Mansion + Urban Estate is the perfect setting for your next elopement, wedding or other celebratory or even corporate event.

And the Photographer:

Abby Muir Photography – http://www.abbymuirphotography.com/
Abby is an elopement + wedding photographer living in Spokane Washington with her husband, their dog, Blu and the two gorgeous little humans. They love spending time in the outdoors and enjoying all the amazing views the Pacific Northwest has to offer. While Spokane is Abby’s home base, she also loves to travel and visit new places so don’t fret if you’re not close by!

Photo credit Roxanne Best

Finally about Chanelle:

Chanelle Carlin is a Washington State Elopement and Intimate Wedding Officiant and 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 (especially Spokane). As your 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.

JOINING IN JOY | REFLECTIONS OF A NATIVE WEDDING CEREMONY IN COULEE DAM, WASHINGTON FROM YOUR CELEBRANT FOR LIFE AND PNW WEDDING OFFICIANT

Exchanging rings during an intimate Family Wedding at Coulee Dam, WA

A Wedding Officiant for All People

As a wedding officiant, it is one of the real pleasures of my job to become a chameleon for my couples. What do I mean by this? I mean that every couple- their history, customs, religion, culture, orientation -is different and unique, and should be honored. The uniqueness of their love is honored largely by their wedding officiant on their wedding or elopement day. 

Contact Chanelle about Officiating Your Ceremony. – pc: Roxanne Best

Your wedding officiant is more than just the person who helps you legalize your marriage. They are more than a moderator for a wedding ceremony. They are storytellers. They are given the great privilege of understanding what is important to a couple, where they came from, where they are going, and who they are, together and separate, in all aspects. 

Officiant for a Traditional Native Ceremony

I was honored to officiate my husband’s cousin’s wedding ceremony in Coulee Dam, Washington. Each couple that asks me to officiate their wedding honors me. This wedding was even more so, because it was family and also because I was asked to participate in a sacred, traditional, native joining ceremony. I have never witnessed this kind of ceremony before, let alone had a part to play in it. 

It was a bright, warm, sunny spring day – the equinox, actually. Brenda and Jason’s big moment was actually six years in the making. Children were outside in the front yard waiting, and adults were inside the house preparing food, arranging chairs, also waiting patiently. Soon enough, we heard the bell. The ringing bell says it is time! It’s time to come together. It’s time to begin. It’s time to join this couple and their families together.

Every Aspect was Sacred

Native couple honoring their children with unity ritual blending families
Jason and Brenda honoring their children

As we gathered indoors, we moved to our separated seating areas: Women on the left. Men on the right. Every aspect of this ceremony was a tradition passed down. From an elder between the two seating areas praying as the ceremony commenced, to every song that was sung. After three songs, which initiated the ceremony, the wedding party began to enter.

First to enter was the groom, Jason,  dressed in his traditional wedding clothes. As he came forward toward the elder, he was escorted by his eldest son, Chris. They gracefully danced around the wedding blanket on the floor and took their places in front of where the women guests were seated. 

Next, wearing her beautiful, red traditional wedding dress, the bride, Brenda, entered with her eldest son, Jaymon and eldest daughter, Monica. The couple was then joined by their remaining five children. The elder offered prayer and songs and then called the elders of the two families forward to exchange gifts. 

This gift exchange is an acknowledgment that they all support the marriage of Jason and Brenda. In previous generations, they may have exchanged horses, but on this day, they exchanged beautiful Pendleton blankets and shawls chosen specifically for the occasion. 

Every Wedding I Officiate Makes Me Better at Living my Purpose

On a personal note, I can share that as I stood, watching, listening and taking part in the traditional joining ceremony and waiting for my part as the officiant, I felt wholly inadequate. I felt underdressed, and quite nervous. I so wanted to make sure Brenda and Jason’s wedding was all they hoped and dreamed it would be. They had waited six years and been through much alone and together.

With each couple, whose wedding I am honored to officiate, I spend time getting to know them and to learn more of their story. I learn about the details that most people don’t know: their dreams, their fears, their favorite things about each other and their frustrations. Then, we create their sacred ceremony. 

Every couple who works with me deserves their own version of a sacred ceremony. I spend time with them to learn what’s most important for them? For Brenda and Jason, it was always about their family and their children – all eight of them. Their lives revolve around them. Their ceremony should, therefore, include and honor their children and all children of the family. 

A beautiful, blended family

One more song, then onto the second part of the ceremony…my part. This included sharing their story, leading them through their vows to each other, to their children and finally, after six long years, pronouncing them legally married! Even at this moment, this brings tears to my eyes!

Even though this was the first wedding of this traditional background I had ever done, when it came time to do the work, I felt at ease and well capable. I have officiated more than a hundred weddings that have brought a couple’s unique journey to life, and honored them. This was no different! 

In my process, I take the time to deep dive into my couples’ stories. This allows me to connect, to envision, to fully comprehend, and embody. I may not have come from the same heritage or cultural experience as Brenda and Jason, but I was certainly able to learn, to listen, and to celebrate them and all that they are. After the ceremony and the vows were spoken, I watched Jason, Brenda and their guests as they took in the last of my storytelling and the sacred vows. Watching the love and joy fill the room filled me with so much gratitude for what I get to be a part of.

After the Vows were Spoken

After a blur of hugs, laughter, photos, and congratulations, the groom called everyone to the tables with the sacred bell. As their officiant, Brenda and Jason had me sitting at their left, in a place of honor. This gave me a chance to ask lots of questions, which Brenda kindly answered for me. I have to say, I  felt just like I did the first time I traveled to Europe in my 20’s. It’s so exciting to experience and admire traditions from other cultures. 

Once the guests were seated, a prayer was sung, the tables were set, water was poured and food was served. Once the food was placed on the tables, the daughters joined the family at the table, the groom again rang the bell and sang in prayer. He then explained what would happen next. He would call for the water, we would drink. He would call out the traditional foods, we would honor each and then we would eat what we needed to nourish ourselves. Food was passed around in a traditional manner, and then we were encouraged to join in feasting and speech-making!
 

Find a Wedding Officiant Who will Celebrate You

I could go on and on about how much it meant to me to be a part of this ceremony. To be embraced in such a sacred tradition, such a precious event, was truly a privilege. I aspire to learn and grow from every wedding officiating experience I have. What can I take from this experience into the next? What have I learned? What will I remember? I want to speak to any couple who has found their way here! If you have not yet found your wedding or elopement officiant, I encourage you to think about the following things:

What about your history, traditions, customs, culture, make you and your partner, together and individually unique? Is it important to you that these things be honored on your wedding day?

Do you dream of having a custom wedding ceremony written for you that honors the details and nuance of your story?

Imagine having a wedding officiant who creates a custom wedding ceremony that makes you laugh, cry, brings you down memory lane, and makes you feel completely understood. On that believes as strongly in the success of your marriage as they do your wedding day.

I would be honored to talk with you and answer any questions you may have as you journey forth in choosing an officiant and planning your elopement or wedding ceremony.  Please feel free to reach out!

Photo credit Roxanne Best

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. 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.

What Does a Wedding Officiant Do & Tips from an Officiant For Your Wedding Day

Bride signing marriage certificate on wedding day during ceremony.
Signing the marriage certificate during the ceremony.
Photo credit: Greenhouse Photo & Co

Is this you? You’re getting married, you want a beautiful ceremony that is unique to the two of you, but you’re not sure where to start…or maybe you wedding planning is well under way and you just realized you need an officiant (thanks to your photographer, wedding planner or mom that just happened to mention it). – these things happen more often than you may realize.

First, Congratulations on your engagement! This is an amazing time and planning your wedding should be fun. You’re preparing a celebration to begin the rest of your lives together. If you haven’t already, take some time away from planning to just breathe and enjoy the bliss of your engagement. 

I receive a lot of questions from couples who don’t even know where to start thinking about their wedding event, let alone their ceremony (the part during which they actually get married) and they start feeling stressed. Fortunately, while there can be a lot to consider when planning a wedding and putting together a wedding ceremony, you don’t have to do everything by yourself.

In fact, for every part of your special day, there is a wedding professional available and desiring to assist you: Wedding Venues, Wedding Planners, Florists, Stylists, and Stationary designers, Party Rentals, Caterers, Bakers, DJ’s, Musicians, Photographers, Videographers Jewelers, Tailors, Retailers, Hotels AND, of course Officiants (the person who actually does the “marrying part”. 🙂 Each professional can lead you to another.

As your Wedding Officiant, my basic role is to help you create a ceremony that fits your personalities and vision for your perfect elopement or intimate wedding, provide expert, caring officiating for you on the day AND make sure you’re legally married. Yep…that’s a thing. 

Intimate Family Wedding at Hug Point, Cannon Beach, Oregon

Some things to think about when making decisions about your wedding ceremony:

  • How do you want your ceremony to feel for you and your guests? If you start here, your Officiant can help you with the rest.
  • Do you want a faith based ceremony? Non-religious? A combination? multi-cultural? themed?
  • Would you like an outdoor ceremony or indoor ceremony?
  • Do you want a large event that includes all your family and friends, or an intimate affair with just a few?  
  • How many people (if any) you want to be in your wedding party;
  • Do you want any readings or music before or during the ceremony? These add to the feel, without adding to the length of your ceremony
  • Would you like some traditional vows, to create your own vows or have a combination of the two? and
  • What type of unity ritual you would like (if any)? This is a great way to honor your family/ cultural backgrounds.

Most ceremonies officiated by professional officiants take around 15-20 minutes to complete from the time you enter until you’re pronounced married. If you have lots of elements, it may go a little longer, but not terribly long. Really, the sky’s the limit when it comes to how you want your wedding ceremony to feel. Just remember that it’s your wedding so it will be beautiful. 

Finally, as I mentioned above, as your officiant, it is my role to make sure your marriage is legal. Depending upon the state, there may be a waiting period, a witness requirement and there’s an expiration date that the marriage must take place within. For instance, in the State of Washington there is a three-day waiting period, and it’s only valid for 60 days, so once you receive your marriage certificate, you must wait three days to get married and the marriage must take place before the expiration date of the license. The state also requires your officiant, the couple and two witnesses, sign the license. The Officiant is then required to return it to the county of origin. If you have questions about this, remember to talk with your officiant or send me an email. 

Remember, your wedding is a very special day for you and your guests, but it is YOUR day as a couple. Thankfully, there is no right or wrong way to do a wedding anymore.  It can look and feel any way that you want it to look and feel and that will make it perfect for the two of you.

Photo credit Roxanne Best

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. 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 FacebookInstagram, 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.

YOUR E.P.I.C. WEDDING CEREMONY

Camas Lily

A Wedding Ceremony Planning Framework to help you create your perfect ceremony. 

As a professional Wedding Officiant, I receive a lot of questions from couples who don’t even know where to start thinking about their wedding event, let alone their ceremony (the part during which they actually get married) and they start feeling stressed. Fortunately, while there can be a lot to consider when planning a wedding and putting together a wedding ceremony, you don’t have to do everything by yourself.

In fact, for every part of your special day, there is a wedding professional available and desiring to assist you: Wedding Venues, Wedding Planners, Florists, Stylists, and Stationary designers, Party Rentals, Caterers, Bakers, DJ’s, Musicians, Photographers, Videographers Jewelers, Tailors, Retailers, Hotels AND, of course Officiants. Each professional can lead you to another. 

The emails from stressed couples often start like this: 

“HELP! We’re getting married. We want a beautiful, simple ceremony that is unique to us, but I don’t even know where to start.”  

  • Where should a couple start? 
  • Choose a date? 
  • Find a location? 
  • Photographer? 
  • Caterer? 
  • Music? 
  • Minister/Officiant/Friend? 
  • Decide what type of wedding to have? Large wedding, intimate wedding, elopement? 

Oh My Gosh! There is just so much to think about!  

Make Your Ceremony E.P.I.C.

If you’re already feeling the pressure, please know you’re not alone, but also that it doesn’t have to be so stressful.  I have spoken with two couples recently who have been engaged a short period of time and whose weddings are more than a year away, and they are already worried about the details. Planning a wedding should be a fun and an enjoyable process for the two of you. Hopefully, after reading this brief article and learning about my wedding ceremony planning framework, E.P.I.C., you’ll be able to relax a bit, enjoy your engagement and let go of the anxieties that planning a wedding can cause for couples. I will also provide some resources for next steps and one very important MUST have, if you intend to be legally married in Washington State.

But first, let’s start with celebrating, shall we? You’re engaged! Congratulations! This is an amazing time and as I said before, planning your wedding should be fun. You’re preparing a celebration to begin the rest of your lives together. If you haven’t already, take some time away from planning to just breathe and enjoy the bliss of your engagement. 

There is a lot that goes into planning a wedding ceremony and most couples have never done it before. Your wedding is one of the most important days of your life. Big or small, it doesn’t matter and you want it to be just right and all about the two of you. The idea of E.P.I.C, my wedding ceremony planning framework is to help you create the wedding you dream of with as little stress as possible.

There are four stages to E.P.I.C.: Envision, Plan, Implement and Celebrate. Ready to plan your wedding ceremony? 

Stage 1: Envision

Jason and Sheila eloped from Iowa to the Okanogan to get married; Photo credit: Roxanne Best.

Before you tell anyone else, even your parents, your children or your best friends, enjoy the experience together. After all, the two of you have just decided you want to spend the rest of your lives together. You may as well start now. Give yourselves a few days to a few weeks to live in the bliss. Talk about your future together. What do you envision? What will your life look like as a married couple? Why? 

Talk about your ideal wedding…How will it look and feel for you? and your guests? Who do you hope to share this day with and why? Are you wanting a faith-based ceremony, completely religious in a church, no religious aspects whatsoever? Will it be outdoors, indoors, something in between?  

As the two of you decide what’s most important to you, you’ll be able to answer the questions that your friends and family will ask just as soon as you share your news and your wedding planner and officiant will ask later. Most importantly, enjoy this time together. 

Stage 2: Plan 

This is where you start thinking about things like a budget, a guest list and thinking about details such as a location, ceremony only or ceremony with reception.

Family Wedding at Sunshine Ranch Wedding Venue, East Wenatchee, WA; Photo credit: Tiffany Joy Photography

You can use our friend, the Internet (aka Google and Pinterest), like Letty and Marc did (above photo) as well as friends who were recently married. Wedding sites such as the Knot, Wedding Wire & Style Me Pretty are just three of the many internet resources for couples (you can google those too). They have checklists, lists of vendors and the capacity for you to create your own wedding website where your guests can go for details. AND…we all know that person whose wedding you attended last month or last year. I bet they would love to share their experiences and maybe even their Pinterest page with you. They know the things you definitely want to do and totally want to avoid. I mean, isn’t that what friends are for? 

Leave it to the ‘Pros’ 

My recommendation is to hire professionals and start with a Wedding Planner and your Officiant (the person responsible for making sure you’re legally married). They can help you define, design, plan and execute your vision for your wedding day and ceremony with little stress to the two of you. Oftentimes, couples tell me that because they’re planning a small wedding or elopement they don’t need a wedding planner or they can just ask a friend or family member to help. While I agree that elopements and intimate weddings have fewer moving parts than larger weddings or multi-day events, planning one still takes a lot of time and energy. Most couples have never planned a wedding before and… they usually work full time at jobs in addition to planning a wedding.

Photo credit: Reid Johnson, Best Made Videos

Wedding Planner 

The wedding planner’s role is to help bring YOUR vision for your perfect wedding day and night (overall celebration) to life. I mean, they do this for a living. They help you know what to think about and when, as well as help you manage all the little details and vendors, and they are indispensable on the day of the event. You WILL appreciate the support…trust me. If you can’t swing a professional planner or Day of Coordinator, connect with someone in your life that is excellent at organizing events, just make sure they’re ok with not enjoying your wedding as a guest, because they’ll be busy taking care of you and the details of your day most of the time. 

As an example, I recently officiated two weddings in a weekend, one without a planner/coordinator and one with. At the wedding without the coordinator, which was an intimate event with about 20 guests. The groom and his groomsmen were hurriedly building the arch that they wanted to be married in front of an hour before the ceremony was to start at 10:30 a.m. and the bridesmaids were decorating it at the original planned for start time. The bride had had to return home because her dress had been left behind and ended up almost getting a ticket because she was running late. The ceremony started over an hour late. 

In contrast, the very next day I officiated a wedding where the couple had asked one of their sisters to be the planner and day of coordinator, even though the bride is extremely organized herself. When I arrived, the entire outdoor area had been transformed into a beautiful wedding venue, the 100+ guests were having a great time mingling and munching on their own blend of trail mix, no one in the bridal party was building anything and everyone was completely relaxed. We signed the marriage certificate, had the ceremony and the couple had a brilliant time just enjoying their guests. Their wedding coordinator managed to get over 16,000 steps in by the time the ceremony ended and the reception was in full swing. 

In case you’re still feeling a little anxious and wondering where you find these people; no worries. If you would like the names of some amazing wedding planners, let me know. I will happily ‘hook you up’. 

Wedding Officiant 

Contact Chanelle about Officiating Your Ceremony. Photo credit: Roxanne Best

Your Wedding Officiant’s role is two-fold, though some, like me, provide a wide variety of related services. They help you create a ceremony that fits your personalities and vision for your perfect wedding, provide expert, caring officiating for you on the day AND just as importantly, more so for some, ensure that your marriage is legal. Yep…that’s a thing and there is paperwork involved. 

I can see the ‘deer in headlights’ look now. Wait! I thought the Officiant just showed up on the day, ask a couple of questions, pronounce us married, sign the paper and left! 

Well, yes, they can do that if that’s what you’re looking for as a couple. Most of the couples I have officiated for have waited their whole lives to marry this person and they want to start their marriage with a ceremony that is beautiful, meaningful and unique to them. If you think about it, you’re never going to marry each other again and you’ve asked at least two people (your witnesses), or possibly 200 to come share in the experience with you.

I recently saw from another officiant who tracked all the things an Officiant does for their couples (he does custom weddings in Canada). There are actually 36 (yes, thirty-six) different steps from the time we first have our consultation call until you receive your recorded marriage certificate in the mail after you’re married.

You can find wedding officiants the same way you find a wedding planner or a photographer. If you belong to a church or house of worship, you’ve already got someone you can ask. If not, you can ask your friends who’ve gotten married recently, search on Google, Pinterest and internet wedding sites, even ask the county auditor when you get your marriage license (though this is pushing it time wise). As with all wedding professionals, you’ll want to make sure the officiant you choose is a good fit for your personalities as a couple and the services that you’re hoping for and that they can work well with the rest of your wedding team. Talk with them, read reviews from other couples, make sure they’re insured. 

That’s ok, we have a friend/family member who will officiate for us. 

In Washington State, you can always ask a friend or family member to get ordained and officiate for you. This can be lovely for some couples. My oldest nephew did this for his younger brother’s wedding and it was beautiful. On the other hand, just like asking a friend to plan or photograph your wedding, things can go wrong (really wrong sometimes) and it can add to the stress and sometimes harm a lovely relationship. We’ve all seen those videos where friend officiants told inappropriate stories or jokes during the ceremony, while the couple stood there, visibly uncomfortable. Even more frequently, non-professional officiants back out of weddings (for any number of reasons). It’s hard to imagine, but at least ¼ of the couples I have officiated for have come to me after their friend/family member backed out of officiating for them at the last minute (this was even pre-pandemic). One of my couples had a really tough time. Their first officiant passed away and their second officiant, a friend of the groom’s just stopped responding to them a month before the wedding. By the time they called me, the couple and their family were very distressed and worried they wouldn’t be able to find someone to officiate. The other part to be mindful of with lay (friend/family) officiants is the paperwork. Washington State requires that the officiant return the completed (signed and dated) Certificate of Marriage to the county to be recorded. Professional officiants are used to this, have a policy and a practice of doing this after every wedding so the couple can be assured that they’re legally married. Most dads, uncles and friend officiants don’t, though they can learn and most counties do provide helpful information. 

Stage 3: Implement 

This is where you start hiring the rest of your wedding team and nailing down all those plans and where having a Wedding Planner can be of HUGE assistance. They have lists of amazing wedding pros, know what to do when to bring your vision to life and will make sure you stay on budget for your event.

Creating the Ceremony 

Most ceremonies officiated by professional officiants take around 15-20 minutes to complete on the day of your wedding from the time you enter the ceremony spot until you’re pronounced married. If you have lots of elements, it may go a little longer, but not terribly long. Really, the sky’s the limit when it comes to how you want your wedding ceremony to feel. Just remember that it’s your wedding so it will be beautiful. 

While the ceremony may only take 15-20 minutes, the planning and crafting of your unique, custom, E.P.I.C. ceremony takes a bit more energy, time and effort. Remember at the beginning when we talked about the two of you envisioning your wedding before jumping into planning? This is where taking that time together comes in handy.

These are some of the things your Officiant will ask you:

How do you want your ceremony to feel for you and your guests? If you start here, your Officiant can help you with the rest. 

Do you want a faith-based ceremony? Non-religious? A combination? multi-cultural? themed? 

Would you like an outdoor ceremony or indoor ceremony? 

Do you want a large event that includes all your family and friends, or an intimate affair with just a few?   

How many people (if any) you want to be in your wedding party?

Do you want any readings or music before or during the ceremony? These add to the feel, without adding to the length of your ceremony…trust me. 

Would you like some traditional vows, to create your own vows or have a combination of the two? and 

What type of unity ritual you would like (if any)? This is a great way to honor your family/ cultural backgrounds.  There are almost as many unity rituals/ceremonies and variations to each as there are people getting married and they can add texture and depth to your wedding ceremony, again without taking a lot of time.

One of the most common is the Handfasting and it can be done as a quick ritual within a more traditional wedding ceremony (tying a knot over the couple’s hands with one cord/ribbon) OR, as one of my couples did, an entire ceremony can be created around the Handfasting, incorporating multiple-colored ribbons, and multiple family members offering blessings, specific to the couple. 

Another example of a unity ritual that can be a quick part of a ceremony or the ceremony itself and be a perfect reflection of the couple and their life together is the traditional Jewish Shabbat (Seven Blessings). I have had two couples with brides from Jewish backgrounds and grooms who were not Jewish. Each requested to have the Ritual of Seven Blessings incorporated into their ceremony. One couple had a relaxed outdoor wedding (all the guests stood in a protective semi-circle around the couple) and asked specific family members to read a blessing and share a personal wish for the couple. The second couple had the ritual of the seven blessings as the major part of their ceremony and asked family members to offer the blessings in Hebrew and English while the couple performed a circle dance (symbolically creating their house to protect their new family). Both were beautiful and a unique reflection of the couple.

Lillian and Michael dancing during the Shabbat to “create their house.” Photo credit Tetiana Photography

In order to create a custom, personal wedding ceremony that fits YOUR vision for your day and matches your personalities, your officiant needs to get to know you as much as they can. As I am getting to know my couples, I ask a lot of questions. We start with safe, easy questions: 

What are your favorite movies? Favorite music? Fave books? 

What do you enjoy doing together as a couple? 

What do you enjoy doing on your own or with your friends? 

Then we move on to the more mushy stuff: 

How did you meet?  More than one couple has told me their love story is boring or non-romantic. I ask them to tell me anyway. Whether they met in college, on the internet, or at work, the story is always fun and brings smiles to their faces…now that’s romantic! 

What did you do on your first date? Favorite memory from that date? 

What made you want a second date with each other? 

How long did you date before you got engaged and what did that look like? 

One thing almost all couples have in common is that when they “plan” their engagement, it almost NEVER goes according to the plan.

One of my couples planned a helicopter flight over their favorite national park. The groom had the ring in his pocket and intended to ask his beloved in a private space on the flight, but he just couldn’t find the right moment. When they landed afterward, he seized the moment, got down on bended knee with ring in hand and found himself surrounded by on-lookers with phones out. 

Another couple planned a trip to Europe. The groom had everything planned for a beautiful hiking proposal, but by the time they were almost to the spot, his bride to be was so hungry/hangry, that she couldn’t go on and needed to turn around and find a burger! It took three more attempts on that trip until just the right “them” moment presented itself. Thankfully, both ladies said yes.

After even more love story related questions, we start talking a bit more about the ceremony and plans for your marriage after the ceremony. After all, there is a whole life that will continue after this one day and all of it helps to create that very unique, magical, ceremony that celebrates your one-of-a-kind love.

That ONE thing you MUST have to be legally married in Washington 

Janelle and Tom’s Marriage Certificate; PC Bill Black

I mentioned above that as your officiant it is my role to make sure your marriage is legal. In the State of Washington, you must have a marriage license, which you must obtain as a couple. There is a three-day waiting period to get married once it has been issued, and it’s only valid for 60 days. So, once you receive your marriage certificate, you must wait three days to get married and the marriage must take place before the expiration date of the license. Washington State also requires your officiant, the two of you (the couple) and two witnesses sign the Certificate of Marriage. The Officiant is then required to return it to the county of origin within thirty days (this varies by state). If you have questions about this, remember to talk with your officiant.

A virtual elopement during the pandemic (couple was in San Luis Obispo, California); PC Aaron Black.

Stage 4: Celebrate

Mitch and Christina Celebrate their Marriage at Washington Pass Overlook, Okanogan, WA; PC Forthright Photography

Cue the confetti and balloons.  

Finally, after envisioning and planning for this moment and implementing the plan comes the Celebration…the BIG DAY…Your E.P.I.C. wedding day. Your ceremony, your reception/party afterward, your honeymoon AND, don’t forget… your married life together. Yes, then too. The celebrations don’t end with the wedding. Your life together will continue to be filled with special moments worth remembering and celebrating. 

Your wedding day is one of the most important days of either of your lives. There is a lot that goes into planning a wedding ceremony and most couples have never done it before. 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 the ranch or sign your license with your witnesses and officiant in the mountains or at your favorite winery overlooking the lake, it’s YOUR special day and you want it to be meaningful to the two of you, not stressful. There are many, many resources available to help alleviate stress, including amazingly talented and committed wedding professionals and E.P.I.C., my Wedding Ceremony Planning Framework that I’ve shared in this article, but if you start with remembering to breathe and enjoy your engagement together, all will fall into place. Hopefully, rather than a panicked email asking for help, your next email to your officiant might be a thank you or a positive Google review. This is a magical time, and I’m absolutely delighted for you. Best wishes for a lifetime of love. – Chanelle 

Photo credit Roxanne Best

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. 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.

REFLECTIONS FROM A SPRING WEDDING AT GRAY BRIDGE VENUE IN SULTAN, WASHINGTON – BY CHANELLE CARLIN, WASHINGTON STATE OFFICIANT and YOUR CELEBRANT FOR LIFE

Each wedding 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 wedding along with some incredible gray bridge venue photos taken by my talented friend, Joanna Monger (Joanna Monger Photography).

Intimate Family Wedding at Gray Bridge Wedding Venue, Sultan, WA; PC Joanna Monger Photography

Zack and Brianna are an amazing couple that I was honored to “meet” virtually in the fall before their spring wedding and then I got to meet them when they came back up to Washington for their venue walk-through on Valentine’s Weekend. They are sweet, fun and very gracious. I also love how much respect they have for one another and how much in love they are with each other. The day of their wedding was a typical spring day in Washington…a mix of rain and sunshine and the folks at their venue were prepared for both. Zack and Brianna even had umbrellas for their guests in case it rained during the ceremony…which it did, though just a little bit. Their Coordinator, Photographer, DJ and caterer had everything under control just in case…I’ll share the list of wedding team members below. 

As the wedding started, the guests were seated, the groom, Zack was in his spot (after escorting his future mother-in-law and his own parents to their seats) and their Best Man and Maid of Honor were also in situ…next to come was Colton, the two-year-old ring bearer, extraordinaire. 

A Ring Bearer with Personality:

When it was little Colton’s time to join the procession, I looked up and saw Kerry, the Wedding Planner. She was enticing a 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 he got to the aisle and started to walk down, he realized he didn’t have the ring box. He stopped, went back up the ‘almost too tall for his two-year-old legs’ steps, accepted the box and one more candy (for good measure) and 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, his little fist was clenched around his prize, and he very excitedly said, “I NEED this!” (in his little two-year-old voice). Laughter exploded from the family all around. 

I need this! Gray Bridge Wedding Venue PC Joanna Monger Photography

A hush fell…

Then, amazingly, a hush fell. Everyone’s attention was diverted. We were all transfixed as the bride, Brianna gracefully made her entrance through the forest and around the pond. 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

A quick note about Gray Bridge Venue:

Gray Bridge Wedding Venue is a beautiful, magical wedding venue in Sultan, Washington that allows couples and their guests to celebrate in a fun, relaxed and safe atmosphere. With the forest, the ponds, the farm, horses, friendly host cat (and of course, the gray bridge) it also has a touch of whimsy. You will LOVE getting married here and your photos will be spectacular.

Other Wedding team members: 

Venue: Gray Bridge Venue – www.graybridgevenue.com 

Wedding Coordinator: Kerry at KW Events& Weddings – www.kweventslls.com 

Photographer: Joanna Monger Photography – www.joannamonger.com 

DJ: Clinton dove – www.playdjusa.com 

Catering: Navi’s catering Kitchen – www.naviscateringkitchen.com 

Florist: Pollin in Love – www.polleninlove.com 

Photo booth: Aha Party Co – www.ahapartyco.com 

Transportation: Butler Seattle – www.butlerseattle.com 

Drinks/Bartending: Party on the Rocks Seattle – www.partyonthe.rocks 

Cakes and Desserts: Birch Bakery – www.birchbakery.com 

Hair and Make-up: Anne Timms (Mstimmsmakeupartist) – www.annetimms.com 

Officiant: Chanelle Carlin Weddings – www.chanellecarlin.com 

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. 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 FacebookInstagram, or Pinterest