Book Your Officiant Early!

In this post I will explain why it is so important to book your officiant early.  This is a note I received from a bride last July:

“My fiance and I are looking for a last-minute officiant for our wedding.  We’ve actually been wedding planning for over a year but kind of put off getting an officiant until this last minute.  If you are available for this date please let me know!”

Well, I wasn’t available and I’m not sure if any of my trusted colleagues were either.  Couples, if you are beginning the planning process, please book your officiant early.  It has been my experience over the past nine years that based on the popular engagement dates below, January is the heaviest booking month in the industry.  In fact, most of my high-season Saturdays (May-October) will be booked by early February. I would like to share a few facts with you  regarding booking your officiant:

Although weddings take place year-round, 76% of weddings occur during the Summer and Fall months.  In fact, 25 dates make up 50% of all weddings in 2015.  (You guessed right, they are all on a Saturday!).

Most popular dates to get engaged:

Christmas Day, Valentine’s Day, Christmas Eve, New Years Day, December 20th (Saturday before Xmas), December 13th (2 Saturdays before Xmas, New Years Eve, December 19th (Friday before Xmas), December 23rd, and Independence Day.

Check out this easy rule of thumb:

Based on the average 13-month engagement, most couples search for the majority of their vendors 7-9 months prior to their wedding

In summary:  Book your officiant early!  I would hate to get your call in July for an August wedding like the bride above and have to say, “I’m sorry, I’m not available.”

Seattle Wedding Officiants, Wedding Officiant, Seattle Officiant, Elaine Way, Book Your Officiant Early

Data based on WedInisights, industry data from WeddingWire

Christmas Wedding at the Salish Lodge

Since it’s Christmastime, what better wedding to write about than a Christmas Wedding at the Salish Lodge.  Let me start by saying that Rosa and Joe, the couple whose wedding I am going to share with you, just celebrated their one-year anniversary.   Again, happy anniversary Rosa and Joe!

Last year Rosa contacted me to discuss her upcoming Christmas wedding at the Salish.  The first time we met, I was impressed at how sweet and lovable Rosa and Joe were.  They were so in love and so excited about their wedding.  I was also really impressed by how Rosa had thought out each little detail of her vision for her winter wedding, right down to the lipstick! .  She definitely knew what she wanted, which was a very romantic wedding that expressed their love for each other.  I was able to weave in creative ideas to the ceremony that complemented the romance Rosa and Joe were looking for.   One example is that Rosa and Joe are huge movie buffs.  I suggested that they each choose a line from a movie to read to each other that was special.  We incorporated the lines into the personal statement I wrote for them and this is how it went:

Because Joe and Rosa love to share movie quotes with each other, I asked them — each privately — to share with me one of their favorite movie quotes that best describes their feelings on this day.  This will be a surprise for both of them:

This is Joe’s movie quote for Rosa:

“When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible”….From the movie When Harry Met Sally

This is Rosa’s movie quote for Joe:

“It was a million tiny little things that, when you added them all up, they meant we were supposed to be together….and I knew it.”  ….From the movie Sleepless in Seattle.

Next, we added a tree-planting ceremony.  I suggested a little tiny Christmas tree that they could plant in their yard and watch grow over the coming years.  Rosa and Joe and Joe’s two sons planted the little tree together.

Everything about Rosa and Joe’s winter wedding at the Salish represented the love between them.  I was honored to be a part of their joy.  I have put together some of my favorite photos from their wedding….there were so many!  Please enjoy.


Rosa and Joe Wedding

Rosa and Joe Wedding

Rosa and Joe Wedding

Rosa and Joe Wedding

Rosa and Joe Wedding

Rosa and Joe Wedding

Rosa and Joe Wedding

Rosa and Joe Wedding





FAQ’s About Marriage for Same-Sex Couples

I am so proud of Washington State since we passed Referendum 74, allowing same-sex couples to marry in our state.  I have had the honor and pleasure of officiating dozens of same-sex weddings since December 6, 2012 when this referendum passed.  I realize that those of you coming from in and out-of-state may have some questions around this subject, and I put together a list below of common questions and answers that I hope will help.

Questions and Answers: Marriage for Same-Sex Couples

1. Where do couples apply for marriage licenses?

Couples can obtain a marriage license from any county, usually at the county auditor.  They do not have to obtain their marriage license from the county where they reside or the county where they plan to have the marriage ceremony.  Follow this link to obtain information about county offices that issue marriage licenses:

2.  What if I am coming from out-of-state?  How do I apply for my marriage license?

You can apply for your marriage license by mail.  You will need to go to the King County Marriage License website and download the PDF Marriage License application.   You will then need to take the application to a licensed notary (banks usually staff a licensed notary) and have your signatures notarized after you complete the form.  You will need proper photo I.D. to have your signatures notarized.  Next, you will send the form with a cashier’s check or money order in the amount of $64 to:

King County Marriage Licensing
King County Administration Building
500 Fourth Ave., Suite 311
Seattle, WA 98104

If an application is mailed, the marriage license must be picked up at this location, it will not be mailed.  Office hours: Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., except holidays.  (Please note, I am happy to pick up your marriage license for you at the courthouse with a 48-hour notice.)

3.   How long do I have to wait before I can use the marriage license?

Washington law requires all couples to wait three days after applying for their marriage license before having their marriage ceremony.  So if a couple receives their marriage license on December 6, they will have to wait until December 9 to get married.

4.   Is there a fee to apply for the marriage license?

Yes.  The fee varies by county.  In King County, the fee is currently $64.   Cash or checks are accepted.

5. Can same-sex couples marry in Washington if they live in another state?

Yes.  There is no residency requirement to marry in Washington.  However, out-of-state couples should be advised that their marriage may not be recognized in their home state if their state does not permit same-sex couples to marry.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any additional questions about marriage for same-sex couples in Washington State.  I would love to be your officiant!

Getting Your Name Changed After Marriage

Now that you know how to get your marriage license application completed and get your marriage license at the courthouse (Getting Your Marriage License Made Easy), it’s time to talk about getting your name changed.  To get your name changed with the DMV, passport office, work insurance, etc. you must present a certified copy of your marriage license.  This process is even easier than getting your license.  I explain the steps in my consultations, but I also go over it again the day of your wedding.  A lot can happen between our consultation and your wedding day; months go by, paperwork gets misplaced, etc.  This is why I revisit this topic as we are signing your marriage license after the ceremony.

The first thing you need to know is that not all brides decide to change their last name. I would estimate that approximately 90% of my brides change their names to their husband’s last name. The choice to change your last name or keep it is entirely up to you and there is no law that says you have to change it. I had one bride tell me that she was the last one in her family with her father’s name and wanted to continue his legacy, and therefore decided to keep her maiden name.   You also have the option of hyphenating your last name with your husbands.  But again, you can keep your last name if you wish.

The form below is included in the marriage packet you will pick up at the courthouse.  It is very straightforward with the exception of a few things.  First take a look at the form and then read on below.

Changing your name after marriage, Seattle Wedding Officiants, Elaine Way, Seattle Wedding, King County marriage license

You will fill this form out and send it in 10 days after your wedding day.  By the way, you have up to a year to send this form in, so there is no rush.  For example, you can take care of  this after you return from your honeymoon. 

It’s important to know that the courthouse gets especially busy in the summer months and they need to receive your marriage license before they can process your certified copy request.  It’s up to your officiant to forward the marriage license to the courthouse after the wedding.  I take care of this either the same day or the very next business day after the wedding.  If you are in a hurry to get your certified copy you can go to the courthouse with your completed marriage license and pick up your certified copy in person.  Only one of you has to go.

Filling out the certified copy request is fairly straight forward:

  1. Address:  Enter the address where you want your certified copies mailed.  It is acceptable to use your parent’s address if you are in the military and move around a lot or are in some other kind of transition.
  2. E-mail: Either of your e-mails is acceptable.
  3. License Application Number: This number is found on the back of your “pretty” copy called “Certificate of Marriage”.  As a courtesy, I usually write this information down for my couples because there is too much going on at the moment of signing the documents to try to remember where that little number is.
  4. Groom’s Name: Groom, write your full legal name.
  5. Bride’s Name:  THIS IS IMPORTANT-BRIDES, WRITE DOWN YOUR MAIDEN NAME OR THE NAME YOU USED WHEN YOU APPLIED FOR YOUR LICENSE.  In other words, don’t write down your new married name.
  6. Date of Marriage:  I usually fill this in for the couple as well.
  7. Number of Certified copies:  I recommend 3-5 copies.  They are only $3.00 per copy so you may as well stock up.
  8. Finally, you will send a check that equals the number of copies you are ordering (5 copies = $15.00) to the address at the bottom of the form.

You will receive your certified copies in approximately two weeks; longer if it’s the middle of summer as the marriage licensing office gets swamped with paperwork this time of year.

Once you receive your certified copies of your marriage license, it’s time get started changing your name!  I hope this information was helpful.   I welcome your questions or comments!

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 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?

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

Now that 2011 is almost over, I want to take the opportunity to say, “I had the time of my life”.  I met and married over 100 couples.  I got to meet the loving families behind the lovely couples.  I learned more about how to provide the best experience possible for the bride and groom.   But most of all I was honored and grateful for all the people who took the time to meet with me — couples and vendors — and the many relationships that came out of those meetings in 2011.   I really mean it when I say “your happiness is truly my success.”  I have had the good fortune to find my career niche and it just continues to get better and better every year.  I want to thank all those whose lives have touched mine to make my life so meaningful.  I look forward to helping craft and create more beautiful ceremonies in 2012.

Please enjoy this video montage that I created as 2011 comes to an end and we get ready for 2012.  Happy New Year!

Love, Love, Love 2011