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

Fear and Loathing of Public Speaking (as a Wedding Officiant)

This is a story about how I learned to get over my fear of public speaking in conjunction with becoming a wedding officiant.

About four years ago I became friends with a woman who suggested I become a wedding officiant.  She had been an officiant for 22 years and thought I had a knack for it.  At the time I was running three other businesses and I just couldn’t see myself wearing another hat.  But I am a huge risk taker so I agreed to listen to her.  When she finally convinced me, we began putting together Seattle Wedding Officiants.

To break into the field I offered free officiating services for the first five couples.  I needed to get my feet wet and free is always good, right?  I really didn’t think too much about my fear of public speaking.  I had been working out of my home for the past five years and no longer had to attend big meetings where I wanted to crawl under the table if anyone asked me a question.  I was truly one of those white-knuckle express speakers.  The less I had to speak, the better.

So I got my first wedding.  The bride and groom were an amazing couple and they were very enthusiastic about their ceremony.  They not only wanted a traditional ceremony with a greeting, vows, ring exchange, etc., but they also wanted a Hawaiian lei exchange, a unity candle ceremony and a Celtic hand fasting ceremony.  I was already reeling with anxiety about officiating my first ceremony but the prospect of adding these “mini” ceremonies sent me over the top.  I contacted my mentor and expressed my concerns.  She told me, “Elaine, it figures you would get something like this for your first ceremony.  You will probably never get another one like it!”  (Note:  She was right about that.  I have never been requested to do another ceremony like this one!)

I really wasn’t sure how to proceed so I did the only thing I could do:  I began practicing and practicing and practicing.  I read for my brother.  I read for my father.  They thought I was great.  I thought I was a nervous wreck.  Finally, as a last resort I called upon my two most trusted and devoted companions: my two chocolate labs, Oscar and Oliver.  Yes, that’s right…every morning I called them out to the living room by saying: “Let’s go get married.”  They would wag their tales and come out with me and sit down and wait for their treats, which was their cue to settle down.  The interesting thing with them was that the more enthusiastic I got, the more enthusiastic they got.  I spoke, they wagged; I spoke and they got a treat; I spoke and they barked with happiness!  I married them about 45 times to practice for that first wedding.

Two Chocolate Labs

Oscar and Oliver

I went on to do my first wedding brilliantly and have officiated hundreds of weddings since then.  These days when I get an inquiry from a couple and their numbers are up around 200 guests, I say: “Bring it on!”  I now LOVE to speak in front of any size group as a result of taking the plunge four years ago and perfecting my public speaking along the way.

I have to admit, however, that my dogs were a great help to me.  Their adorable faces looking back at me as I read through that first ceremony is something I will never forget.

Customs, Rituals & Traditions: Something Old, Something New…

Each week I will examine a wedding custom, ritual or tradition that has been passed from generation to generation.  We’ll look at it’s origin and how it has influenced the lives of our ancestors and hot it impacts us today.  We’ll also look at how we create our own customs and how these new traditions are a reaction to and a reflection of our changing world.

Where did the wedding custom of “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue” come from?

Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue

The next line of this old saying actually hints at its origin. The complete phrase is:

Something old, something new
Something borrowed, something blue
And a silver sixpence in her shoe.

A sixpence is a coin that was minted in Britain from 1551 to 1967. It was made of silver and worth six pennies. So this wedding tradition is definitely English, and many sources say that it began in the Victorian era.

Each item in this poem represents a good-luck token for the bride. If she carries all of them on her wedding day, her marriage will be happy. “Something old” symbolizes continuity with the bride’s family and the past. “Something new” means optimism and hope for the bride’s new life ahead. “Something borrowed” is usually an item from a happily married friend or family member, whose good fortune in marriage is supposed to carry over to the new bride. The borrowed item also reminds the bride that she can depend on her friends and family.

As for the colorful item, blue has been connected to weddings for centuries. In ancient Rome, brides wore blue to symbolize love, modesty, and fidelity. Christianity has long dressed the Virgin Mary in blue, so purity was associated with the color. Before the late 19th century, blue was a popular color for wedding gowns, as evidenced in proverbs like, “Marry in blue, lover be true.”

And finally, a silver sixpence in the bride’s shoe represents wealth and financial security. It may date back to a Scottish custom of a groom putting a silver coin under his foot for good luck. For optimum fortune, the sixpence should be in the left shoe. These days, a dime or a copper penny is sometimes substituted, and many companies sell keepsake sixpences for weddings.

Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue

Please share with the readers the items you collected for your Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue tradition on your your wedding day.

Customs, Rituals & Traditions: Celtic Handfasting Ceremony

Each week I will examine a wedding custom, ritual or tradition that has been passed from generation to generation.  We’ll look at its origin and how it has influenced the lives of our ancestors and how it impacts us today.  We’ll also look at how we create our own customs and how these new traditions are a reaction to and a reflection of our changing world.

Handfasting: An Ancient Wedding Tradition

We have all heard the expressions “tied the knot” or “giving one’s hand in marriage”. But have you ever wondered where those sayings came from? And no, it’s not in the same category as the “ball and chain”! It’s in reference to the ancient tradition of handfasting. This lens gives an overview of the ancient tradition of handfasting in Wedding ceremonies.

What is Handfasting?

The term Handfasting is taken from Old Norse “hand-festa” meaning “to strike a bargain by joining hands”. Handfasting is the tradition of lightly binding the hands of a couple together using a cord, rope, ribbons, a scarf, tartan or strips of fabric. It is meant to signify a couples coming together as “One”. (or perhaps to keep the Groom from running away!) Whatever it’s original intention, it has become a popular new tradition for today’s couples seeking new and Spiritual ways to honor their love.

Origins of Handfasting                                                                             

Origins Of Handfasting Handfasting was originally practiced by the Greeks and Romans. The Romans created a garland made of magnolia, elder and roses. It was then wrapped around the couple’s wrists to signify love and fidelity. In ancient legends, lovers were united together as they “tied the knot” in the tradition of Celtic handfasting. The ceremony was especially common in Ireland and Scotland. It was commonly the way that couples were “officially” married before the church became involved in Wedding ceremonies. Variations on the theme have since been used in other countries as well. Handfasting has seen a modern day resurgence owing in part to the movie Braveheart,in which William Wallace and his girlfriend Murron are joined together with a handfasting ceremony. This has especially been true in Scotland where the movie is based.

The Colors Of Handfasting

In the traditions of Celtic handfasting the couple’s wrists are bound together using ribbons of thirteen different colours. Each color has it’s own special meaning:

The Colors of Handfasting

Red: passion, strength, lust, fertility
Orange: encouragement, attraction, kindness, plenty
Yellow: charm, confidence, joy, balance
Green: finances, fertility, charity, prosperity, health
Blue: tranquility, patience, devotion, sincerity
Purple: Power, piety, sanctity, sentimentality
Black: strength, wisdom, vision, success
White: purity, concentration, meditation, peace
Gray: neutrality, canceling, balance
Pink: unity, honor, truth, romance, happiness
Brown: earth, grounding, talent, telepathy, home
Silver: treasure, values, creativity, inspiration
Gold: energy, wealth, intelligence, longevity



[Handfasting~A Wedding Ritual]. November, 2011. Retrieved from:



Get Married – Give Back!

For many years now I have been searching for a good volunteering gig that satisfied my desire to give back to the community but was also a good fit for me.  I finally found it!  Yesterday, Christmas Eve, I had the pleasure of volunteering my time in the FareStart kitchen.

“FareStart is a culinary job training and placement program for homeless and disadvantaged individuals. Over the past 19 years, FareStart has provided opportunities for nearly 5,000 people to transform their lives, while also serving over 4.5 million meals to disadvantaged men, women, and children.”

In addition to their contract kitchen, FareStart has a restaurant located on the ground level of their downtown location at the corner of 7th and Virginia.  The restaurant is available for events — parties and weddings — and I will be promoting this program along with their director of catering at the Wedding Show on January 7th and 8th at the Convention Center.  All proceeds from banquets held at the restaurant go right back into the program.  If you are heading to the wedding show, please stop by to say hello and learn about a fantastic program that I am proud to be a part of.

Farestart restaurant 7th & Virginia

Please take a moment to watch this short video to learn more about FareStart.   Congratulations are also in order for FareStart for winning the James Beard Foundation’s Humanitarian of the Year award for 2011!


Choose Seattle For Your Destination Wedding

I am so inspired by my beloved city of Seattle!  I was born here, have lived here almost my entire life and can’t think of another place I would rather be.  Let’s face it, we would all like to be laying on a beach in sunny Hawaii during the cold winter months.  But Seattle’s climate is so manageable, and there is so much to do here:  Why not make Seattle your destination wedding location?

My background  includes planning and executing trips for travelers who want to experience Seattle.  As a result, my expertise in all things Seattle has been a terrific asset when working with couples who are coming here from out of town.   First and foremost, let me craft a beautiful ceremony for your special day.  Working together, we can create something you will always remember and cherish.  Then let me help you plan the weekend (or longer if you want to travel to other areas of the state).    I can set you up at a downtown hotel, find a venue for your destination wedding and recommend a fabulous restaurant where you can enjoy a meal created by one of our fantastic local chefs.  I can even set up a show for you at one of our downtown theaters.

Having the good fortune of experiencing Seattle first-hand my entire life has provided me with the tools and inspiration to create a destination wedding you will never forget.

Call me for a free consultation today!  206-406-7919



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!

Take a hike for your wedding

Do you love the outdoors?  Do you love to hike?  Would you like to get married in front of a waterfall in the North Cascades or old growth in the Olympics?  If you are a couple who likes to do things “out of the box” like  get married on a hike with your friends and dogs, you have come to the right place!

I also love to hike and I also have a dog and it’s the perfect time of the year to get out in the wilderness for a wedding!  Whether it’s under a the canopy of a forest or on a ridge in the mountains I would love to be your officiant for your nature wedding.  I also snowshoe and cross-country ski so if it’s a wintertime snow day you have chosen for your nuptials, count me in!

Check out the Washington Trails Association for a favorite hike and give me a call to plan your  wedding day in your favorite natural setting!

Get married in the North Cascades!


Beautiful Fall Wedding at the Woodmark

Approximately seven weeks ago I had the pleasure of meeting Ted and Annie who wanted to get married at the Woodmark Hotel in Kirkland to celebrate their love and friendship.  I suppose you could say it was somewhat of a “last minute” request because there were only seven weeks to get everything planned and in place.  What transpired yesterday at their wedding was simply amazing!  Annie and Ted put together a beautiful, seamless, enjoyable day for both themselves and all their family and friends.  I was so impressed at how organized everything was and just how beautiful it all came together in seven short weeks.  The bride and groom looked stunning, the decorations were charming and all the guests were over the top with happiness for Annie and Ted.  All in all it was a huge success and a day filled with love!  Please enjoy the gallery of Ted and Annie below.

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