Book Your Officiant Early!

 Wedding ceremony, wedding certificate, Seattle Wedding Officiants, Seattle Wedding, Elaine Way

One of the things that baffles me when talking to brides this time of year is how many of them wait to hire their officiant.  The venue, DJ, caterer and even the menu has been chosen, but the last person on the list to get hired is often the officiant.  I don’t understand why this is.  You can’t get married without an officiant, right?  So why wouldn’t you seek out the person who is going to make your marriage legal early on?

Your officiant is the person who will welcome your guests to your celebration.  Your officiant is the person who is going to say the words you and your guests will remember on your special day.  Your officiant is the person who will keep you calm and your guests engaged during your ceremony.   Your officiant is the person who will take care of the paperwork and make sure your marriage is legal by getting everything recorded at the county auditor’s office.  You may not realize it, but without your officiant you aren’t getting married!

I want to stress to couples that one of the risks you take if you wait until the last minute to hire an officiant for your summer wedding is that many of us — including me — already have “blacked out weekends.”  The later in the summer and the more likely the weather is going to be nice (here in the Northwest anyway) the more likely the dates are going to booked early on.

Planning a wedding is a big deal.  You want everything to be perfect on your wedding day and that includes choosing the right team to support you and make everything special.  Put the officiant at the top of the list — right up there with the venue — and you will have the best chance at finding the perfect person to orchestrate your ceremony.  You are planning the most important day of your life — don’t wait until the last minute and risk hearing the words, “I’m sorry, I’m booked.”

"I'm sorry, I'm booked"

The Show Must Go On

I recently experienced the death of my mother and was inspired to write a little bit about how to “do life” when you are grieving.

Picture yourself in the middle of your wedding planning.  You have your heart set on that special person in your life — whether it’s your father, your mother or an uncle — walking you down the aisle.  Maybe you are expecting a distant relative to travel to your destination to share your joyous event.  Enter life.

We are all on our own journeys with expectations that this or that is going to happen at a particular time.  Life, however, doesn’t work that way.  Even with the best event coordinator money can buy, life has other plans for us.

We must be ready to go with the flow, be strong and bounce back – even when it sucks!

So if you lose a loved one that was supposed to walk you down the aisle or be sitting with your other guests supporting you on your very special day, here are some ideas to honor them in spirit:

1. Wear something that your loved-one wore on their wedding day (for example if the person is your mother), or pin a photo into your dress so they can be with you. You can also place a small photo of your loved on in your bouquet (in a tiny frame), or incorporate it into the ribbon.

2. You can leave a chair empty where the person would have sat at the ceremony and/or reception, out of a sign of respect. Or, a separate chair can be set up to represent theirs, with their photo on the chair.

3. Ask the officiant to say a few words about those who aren’t able to be present in body, but are in spirit. He or she has likely done this before, and can help you with the wording.

4. Write a letter or poem of what you would say to that person on that day. You can read it, have someone else read it, or keep it private.

5. Use flowers or candles in the church to symbolize the loved one(s). You might want to include this in the program, so the guests understand the relevance of the candles or flowers. You may designate someone specific to lay out the flower(s) at a particular time (like carry in a single long-stem rose when they enter the church and lay it up front), or you may light a candle for that person when you light your unity candle.

6. Have a nice photo frame set up at the reception with your loved one’s photo in it. You might also set up a digital photo frame which would rotate through different pictures. This would also work well if you are doing any type of photo “tribute” to the bride and groom, and their lives (from babies up). Include photos of them with their remembered loved ones in the photo rotation or slideshow.

7. Include a short poem, or thought on the program itself, along with who it is in memory of, and list the name(s).

8. Mention them in your wedding toast or speech- but keep it short & sweet, otherwise you’re liable to turn into a blubbering bride!

9. Some brides & grooms will forego buying traditional favors and will instead make a donation to a charity or cause of choice. You could do so for a loved-one, and have a card on the table that states you’ve made a donation to _________ organization, in memory of that person or people.

10. Find out the person’s favorite reading or poem and work it into the ceremony. Or, if they had a favorite song, include this at the reception. Dedicate the dance to them.

Grieving a loved one is tough.  It’s exhausting and real.  Remember that your wedding day is meant to be full of joy and love.  Take some time for grieving — it’s important.  But give your guests what they came for:   A big smile and lots of hugs and kisses.  That’s what your loved one would have wanted for you.

red rose for wedding, Seattle Wedding Officiants, Seattle Wedding

Introducing Ticings: Edible Toppers for your Wedding Cake, Cupcakes or Cookies

Recently, I have had the pleasure of getting to know Mia Natsume of Sweettoof Studios.  At Sweettoof, Mia creates Ticings, which are edible toppers for your wedding cake, cupcakes or cookies.  Not only limited to weddings, Mia can recreate your company logo to place on a take-away corporate event cookie or a cute edible decal for your baby shower cupcakes.  The sky is truly the limit with how Mia can transform your ordinary desserts into something your guests will truly remember.

I invite you to read about Ticings below!

Ticings Edible Decals for your WeddingTicings® edible toppers from Sweettoof Studios Inc.

Want to add a personal, yet affordable touch to your wedding cupcakes or cake? Consider Ticings® edible cake and cupcake toppers.

Developed in 2009 by a single mom with a love for elegant and delicious foods using simple ingredients, founder Mia Natsume designed Ticings to professionally embellish soft-frosted baked goods with 1-2-3 application—just frost, peel and press!

Ticings are made of a gluten-free sugar and cornstarch base printed with food-grade inks. Printed in the USA using special equipment that ensures fine detail and brilliant color, Ticings are made of thin sheets of mildly sweet icing. Applied to buttercream, cream cheese or other frostings, Ticings merge with the top layer of frosting to create a seamless, artful and completely edible surface design. Their proprietary print method accommodates even the most complex designs and can even replicate 3/d textures created in Photoshop or other similar graphic programs. Thus, we can reproduce your wedding dress lace, invitation graphic, a watercolor painting, photograph or other image* — designs are limited only by your imagination!

Choose from either full sheets that can be placed on any frosted surface of a cake or other frosted surface, or individual rounds measuring one, two, two and one half or three inches for application onto mini, standard or jumbo cupcakes, cookies, chocolate covered Oreos™, brownies, French macaroons, frozen treats and more. Ticings are so simple to apply! With a shelf life of 12+ months, they can be ordered well in advance of your event, and provided to your baker or pastry chef or applied yourself. They can be placed on the desserts ahead of time, and can even be frozen after application.

Get Engaged

Ticings for your bridal shower!

Ticings offers a variety of pre-printed images for wedding, shower, birthday, holiday and all-occasion at, as well as unique sprinkle and sugar decorations for both cake decorating and mixology.  By popular demand, monogrammed sugar cookie favors are now available for shipping nationwide.

Edible dahlias for your wedding cupcakes

A bouquet of dahlia Ticings for your wedding cupcakes

Committed to developing inspired confectionery products made with genuine ingredients, great taste and contemporary appeal, Ticings can be contacted at

* PRODUCTION NOTES: Due to the nature of the food coloring inks we cannot exactly match your colors but will take care in producing as close a match as we can (you may send a print sample if color is critical but additional matching time is charged at $35/hr). Low resolution files such as gifs will not reproduce well—the sharper the image, the better your ticings! Vector artwork always preferred. Please avoid large solid black areas and lines under .15pt. We do not accept licensed images for which you do not own the copyright and maintain the right to refuse any graphics. Contact us for our digital customization guide that includes directions, color palette and ideas for application.

Who Should Officiate Your Wedding: Family Member or Professional Officiant?

One of my colleagues recently asked me this question:

“Many of my couples ask me how can a wedding officiant who has only met them once make their wedding personal vs. having a family member do the ceremony who has known them their whole lives? What would you say are the pros and cons?”

Choose an officiant wisely!

Choose your officiant wisely!

Let me begin by saying that having a family member officiate your wedding ceremony is a lovely idea.  Weddings are all about bringing family members and friends together to enjoy a personal moment in a couple’s life.  So it would make sense to invite a family member to tie it all together. Having a family member speak about the couple is something that cannot be duplicated by an officiant.  Many of the guests will know this speaker personally and will naturally look forward to hearing him/her share the couple’s story.  Those are some of the pros.

Here are some of the cons:

  1. What if the family member gets cold feet?  Public speaking isn’t for everyone.  If a family member doesn’t have experience with speaking in front of 150-200 people, chances are they are going to be extremely nervous and might freak out at the last minute.  Make sure your family member is really comfortable with public speaking.
  2. What if the family member has a conflict with the couple’s beliefs?  The couple could want a nondenominational ceremony and the family member could have strong religious beliefs and want to incorporate something to that affect.  Make sure your family member is in agreement with performing a wedding ceremony that complements your religious beliefs.
  3. What if the family member has a conflict that day and can’t make it?  While this day is one of the most important days in a couple’s life, not everyone feels the same way – unfortunately, this includes family members.  This person could be travelling from across the country and decide at the last minute that they cannot afford the trip.  Confirm with your family member at least 4 weeks and then again in 2 weeks that they are still on board.
  4. What if the family member just flakes out?  (I don’t mean to sound pessimistic but I have received many calls from brides frantic because their family member changed their mind at the last minute.)  Families…what can I say?  It happens.
  5. Last but not least, what about the paperwork?  Does your family member understand how to fill out the marriage license, including obtaining witnesses?  Do they know little details such as the fact that the courthouse requests that the marriage certificate be filled out in black ink?  Make sure to go over the wedding packet prior to the ceremony.  Call the courthouse with questions if necessary.

Now let’s take a look at the more commonly used option:  hiring a professionally trained, licensed and ordained minister.  I cannot speak for other officiants, but here are some of the pros of working with me:

  1. The first thing you are going to get when you hire me is a prompt reply to your inquiry.  I pride myself on responding to inquiries usually within one hour.  By the time I have received your contact information that you have filled out via my website, I already have 11 pieces of information about you.  This allows me to begin building an outline of what it is you and your fiancé are searching for in an officiant.
  2. Next I will confirm my availability via e-mail and advise you about how to proceed – a quick phone chat is usually the next step where we set up a free one-hour consultation.
  3.  At the consultation the very first thing I will ask you about is “your story”: how and where you met; how long you have been together; the proposal, etc.  Next we will talk about your vision for your ceremony.  Do you want a non-denominational ceremony; do you want me to read something from the bible; do you want a short ceremony or a long ceremony?    I will then go over all the paperwork involved before, during and after the ceremony: the marriage application; whether you are taking your husband’s last name and the process of obtaining a certified copy so that you can legally change your name; filling out the actual paperwork at the ceremony (witness requirements), etc.
  4. The other element to my consultations is that I not only cover the ceremony portion of the wedding, but I also have a wealth of information about local vendors.  Therefore, if you have any missing links for your wedding, i.e. photographer, caterer, etc. I can refer you to someone I know and trust.
  5. Lastly, I will make myself available before, during and after the ceremony by phone, e-mail, or Skype.  When you hire me you get someone who is committed from beginning to end.  There really is no end to our relationship actually.  I am still in contact with many of my couples as they have their first anniversary or celebrate the birth of their first child.
Wedding packet

Making it Legal!

I can’t really think of any cons.  I guarantee that I will be there and while I do have a caveat in my contract that clearly states that if I get hurt and can’t make it, I have six back-up officiants that I work with all year long.  By the way, I have officiated hundreds of weddings and I have never missed one!

In summary, you do not want to – and shouldn’t have to stress out about your officiant.  Whether it’s a family member or a professional like me, you want to feel comfortable that you have chosen someone you can count on.  You want someone who is knowledgeable about the ceremony process before, during and after the ceremony.  So take the time to make the decision of whether you want Uncle Joe or a licensed and ordained minister who has officiated hundreds of weddings and has all the answers you need to enjoy a seamless ceremony experience!

Please feel free to share your officiant experience in the comment section below!

The Wedding Ceremony

I blog about everything wedding: venues, style, vendors, traditions and more!  What I haven’t blogged about, however, is the actual wedding ceremony.

One of the first things I always tell my couples is, “There is no right way or wrong way to craft your ceremony.  Only your way.”  Having said that, there are some basic components that are a good guideline when you are setting up the structure of your ceremony.



They are:

The Greeting
Reflections on Marriage
Ring Exchange
Blessing or Well Wishes for the Future Couple

In this blog post I would like to address the Greeting.

After the bride has arrived at the front of the venue to take her place next to her groom and all the guests have been seated, there is this quiet moment right before the ceremony begins.  It is a moment of anticipation for the couple, the guests, the family, and me.  At this point in the wedding everyone is really wondering what is going to happen next.  I  believe that the first words that come out of your officiant’s mouth should be thoughtful, meaningful and engaging so that everyone can feel at ease and personally invited to this celebration.  I always like to begin with something like: Welcome Friends and Family to the celebration that will unite (bride and groom) in matrimony!  Next I might say something special about family and/or friends that have traveled all the way from (fill in the blank); and/or those that have passed but are acknowledged in our hearts; and/or how the couples’ wish is that everyone will soon have the right to marry; and/or a special thank you and acknowledgement of both sets of parents for raising the couple and guiding them on the path that brought them to this moment.  At this time the couple may even choose to honor the parents by presenting them each with a bouquet of flowers as a special “thank you.”

In summary, the Greeting is really a time to set the tone for the remainder of the ceremony.  It is an opportunity to put everyone at ease and welcome them as a community to not just watch the couple get married but to feel they are a part of the celebration.

Bella and Jin at Snoqualmie Falls 2011

In future posts I will cover each component of a wedding ceremony.   Next will be “Reflections on Marriage.”

Do you have a special greeting that you incorporated into your wedding ceremony that you would like to share?

Wedding coordinator specializes in Asian-Pacific weddings

I recently had the opportunity to meet a unique wedding planner/designer/coordinator.  Rebecca Grant with New Creations Weddings  pleasantly surprised me with her background in “Asian-Pacific weddings, specifically Japanese, Chinese, Filipino, Hawaiian and Samoan wedding customs.” Meeting Rebecca and hearing about her services was a big plus for me because of the many Asian weddings I have officiated.  I have incorporated many customs and rituals into my Asian weddings from the Japanese Red Thread Ritual to a Chinese Tea Ceremony to the Filipino Veil and Cord Ceremony.  Having Rebecca to call on for input about Asian customs, traditions and rituals will not only enhance my knowledge about this topic but will also enrich my couples’ ceremony experience.  Please enjoy my interview with Rebecca.

Rebecca Grant - New Creations Weddings

“What made you decide to become a wedding designer/coordinator?”

I struggled a lot after High School with what I was going to do with my life.  I bounced around from job to job, but none truly fulfilled all my interests and talents of design, organization, loving to work with people, and throwing parties.  No job seemed to cater to all my interests- until wedding planning came along.  When wedding planners started gaining popularity, I looked at what I already loved to do, and knew that this was the job for me!  Since then, I haven’t looked back and have been enjoying planning weddings in Hawaii and Seattle for over 6 years now!  I can’t imagine doing anything else!

 “What is your favorite part about designing/coordinating weddings?”

I absolutely love my couples I get the honor to work with-that is by far my favorite part.  I get to work with couples and their families sometimes in excess of 1 year during one of the most pivotal, emotional times in their lives.  I get the privilege of working with extraordinary people that I probably would have never met, and end up being good friends with them even after the wedding!  When I work with a couple, my utmost responsibility is to truly tell their love story in one great day.  I want guests to leave seeing the couple truly represented in every aspect of their wedding, and know the couple better than they did before.

 “How long have you been doing this?”

I have been blessed to be a wedding planner for over 6 years now.  Hawaii was home to four and a half of those years.  Then, after moving back to the Seattle area, I launched my business here in November of 2009.

 “What do you feel sets you apart from other designers/coordinators”

With my background in planning weddings in Hawaii, I was so honored to be submerged in the ‘melting pot’ of culture that Hawaii is so famous for.  Because of this background, I am Seattle’s only planner who specializes in Asian-Pacific weddings, specifically Japanese, Chinese, Filipino, Hawaiian and Samoan wedding customs.  I have presented to a group of peers through Wedding Network USA here in the Seattle area to teach fellow wedding vendors about Asian wedding customs.  I absolutely love the richness and traditions of multi-cultural weddings, and feel so incredibly lucky to be so comfortable and familiar with these customs and traditions on the couples’ wedding day.  Many other planners have to learn these traditions, and still don’t know the ‘why’ behind it.  I not only know the cultural reasons behind why traditions are done, I know how to handle them, and have them be an important feature within the couples’ wedding day.

 “What is your approach with couples?”

My approach to working with couples is as unique as they are.  I will be as hands on (to the point of choosing all of your vendors and booking them for you), or hands off (giving you a list of preferred vendors and setting you free) as the couple wants me to be.  My passion is for full design, which truly sets my design mind ablaze with ideas.  Working within the couples’ budget, I will design an ‘inspiration board’ for them making sure I am in tune with the direction they want to go.  Everything else for the wedding and reception take shape from there.  It is a fun way to see where we started and how it took shape to reality to truly represent the couple.

Cupcake Ticings

I was recently at my local Cupcake Royal and discovered ticings: “thin sheets and rounds of sugar and (corn) starch based icing printed with FDA approved edible inks. they peel easily and can be placed on freshly frosted cupcakes, mini cupcakes, brownie bites, cookies, petit fours, cakes, etc. ticings are flavorless and merge with your frosting so the only thing they taste is your delicious dessert!”

The breaking dawn ticings to the left are an awesome way of promoting the upcoming movie but what about promoting you and your sweetie (no pun intended) by adding: “Rae & Cody = Love”, or “Gen & Matthew 11/11/11” or any combination of words you come up with right on top of your cupcake for all your guests to enjoy?  The possibilities are endless.   Check out to learn more!

Awesome all-season venue for your wedding!

Did you know that the Blue Ribbon Cooking School offers all inclusive wedding packages? Yes, you can sit down with one of their many professional wedding planners and choose your food, cake, flowers, linens and MORE!  they provide EVERYTHING!!!   You can use their venue on the shores of Lake Union or you can choose another venue and have them cater it. Blue Ribbon can customize your wedding package whether it is all inclusive or a la carte (catering only).

To get an idea of what Blue Ribbon Cooking School can do for you I have attached a gallery of a wedding I officiated for Matthew and Ilsa who worked with Blue Ribbon to create a beautiful wedding package.  Matthew and Ilsa wanted to get married at the Dahlia Garden at Volunteer Park.  Blue ribbon came up in the early morning (M&I wedding was at 9am) and set everything up including a beautiful arbor in front of the dahlia garden.  The ceremony proceeded beautifully, and afterwards, all the guests headed down to the Blue Ribbon venue on Lake Union for brunch.  This was one of their all-inclusive packages that couldn’t have been more special for the couple.  Ilsa and Matthew got to choose their flowers, cake, food, etc. and it was all inclusive in the BL package.  What could be easier.

I have had the pleasure of working with Blue Ribbon on several occasions and I highly recommend that you contact them to discuss your dream wedding.  They are experts at what they do and as an added bonus they are over the top friendly and helpful!

Rent a “Bathhouse” for your Wedding Venue

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I just did a wedding at the Golden Gardens Bathhouse last night that was truly amazing.  It was amazing because this is a facility that is a blank slate except for the beach right outside the windows.  It has been remodeled so it is a very clean canvas to work with.  The couple that I married last night, however, really made an impression on me as to how much this space can be transformed.  Lisa chose purple and green for her “colors”.  The tables were beautiful with their green runners and brightly colored flowers in shades of purple and pink.  The vases were also filled with sliced limes, adding to the purple and green color scheme. The biggest feature that really transformed this space, however, was the lighting.  Lisa’s mom hired a specialty lighting company to bring in strings of lights that were hung up everywhere, creating a very intimate and romantic setting.

Check out the Golden Gardens Bathhouse for your wedding: Spring, Summer, Winter or Fall!

Find a restaurant for your reception!

Last weekend I made a dinner reservation at Ray’s Boathouse via an online booking company called Open Table . Open Table is really cool — they have hundreds of Seattle restaurants in their program — including restaurants who can do private dining for wedding receptions! Check out the link to choose a restaurant for your rehearsal dinner and/or wedding reception. Lots of great options to choose from!