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.”

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Data based on WedInisights, industry data from WeddingWire

How to Obtain a Washington State Marriage License When Out of State

Marriage Open

Washington State marriage licenses are only valid for 60 days.  Therefore, you do not want to begin this process until you are within that 60-day period.  For example, if your wedding date is August 30th, don’t mail your application until June 30th.  That puts the arrival and processing of the application within the 60-day valid period.  If you send it more than 60 days before your wedding date it will expire and you will have to re-apply.

Here are the steps:

  1. Click on this link to be taken to the King County Marriage Licensing Dept:
  2. When you land on the page, click on Applying for a Marriage License
  3. Next, click on Apply by Mail
  4. Click on Download a Marriage License Application (PDF)
  5. Download the application and print it off
  6. Take the application to a licensed notary (banks usually have at least one notary).  Please note: both of you must be present to get the application completed and your signatures notarized.  Be sure to bring valid photo ID, i.e. passport, driver’s license.
  7. Mail the completed license application in an overnight envelope with a cashier’s check in the amount of $64 made out to King County to:

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

Please call the courthouse (206-296-4021206-296-4021) approximately 5 days after you have mailed your application to ensure they have received it.  Next, shoot me an e-mail and let me know it’s ready to be picked up and I’ll swing by and get it and bring it to your ceremony.

Winter Wedding at the Salish Lodge

Last night wrapped up my 2012 wedding season, and the wedding was nothing short of remarkable.  I love small, intimate weddings that feel cozy and warm.  Michael and Dana’s winter wedding included only immediate family and was held in the Cliffside Room overlooking the falls at the Salish Lodge and Spa.

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This room is perfect for small gatherings and has tons of potential for decorating.  Elizabeth Hikida of Elizabeth Designs provided the flowers, which were lovely.

Winter wedding Salish Lodge, Elaine Way, Seattle Wedding Officiants, Nondenominational minister

My favorite detail?  The cake!  It was lovely with it’s bling and finishing touch of sprinkles that resembled fresh snow.

Winter wedding Salish Lodge, Elaine Way, Seattle Wedding Officiants, Nondenominational minister

Michael and Dana are on their way to Marrakesh, Morocco for their honeymoon.  Congratulations Michael and Dana….your journey has just begun!

Winter wedding Salish Lodge, Elaine Way, Seattle Wedding Officiants, Nondenominational minister

Getting Your Marriage License Made Easy

One of the very first things that I discuss with couples in my consultations is the marriage license.  You can’t get married without one unless you are having a commitment ceremony or a vow renewal.   Signing a marriage license on your wedding day with your officiant and two witnesses is what makes your marriage legal.  I spend a lot of time on this subject because it can seem complicated, but it is one of the most important components of getting married — besides hiring a licensed officiant — and needs to be addressed.

I am going to share with you just how easy the paperwork can be in two easy steps.  Let’s begin with the marriage license application.

Step 1:  Marriage License Application

Depending on which county you live in, both the bride and groom will need to go to the county courthouse in your area (Snohomish, King, Pierce) to fill out your marriage license application.  The reason both of you have to be there is because your signatures need to be notarized by the county clerk.  This will require providing proper identification (driver’s license, passport) to the clerk and then he/she will stamp the application notarized.  You can do this Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.  Note: The application fee is $67.00 cash/money order/cashier’s check/personal checks/credit cards are accepted.

If for some reason both of you cannot get the time off from work to go to the courthouse, you can go to your local bank and get your application notarized.  The benefit of having your signatures notarized by your bank is that only one of you will have to go to the courthouse to pick up your marriage license packet. (Note: Your bank may charge a small fee for notarizing your document.)  This method will require downloading the form shown below from one of the county courthouse websites and bringing it with you to the bank.    The example below is from the King County Courthouse and can be downloaded at this link: King County Courthouse.

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Step 2: Marriage License

After you fill out your marriage license application, have it notarized (either by the county clerk or your bank notary) and pay the county clerk the $67 at one of the county courthouses, you will be given your marriage license packet.   The marriage license packet includes these items:

  • Marriage License (legal document)
  • Marriage Certificate (what is sometimes referred to as the “pretty” copy and is not a legal document)
  • A form that you will need to fill out if you are changing your name (I will address this process in another post

Here is what your marriage license will look like:

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Now you are ready to get married!  On the day of your wedding the marriage license will be signed and then forwarded back to the county auditor that it came from and will be recorded.  My last bit of important advice:  DON’T FORGET TO BRING YOUR LICENSE TO YOUR WEDDING!

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Take me out to the Ball Game Wedding at Safeco Field!

When I first met with Robert and Melissa, they shared with me that their first date was at Safeco Field and that this was the venue they had chosen for their wedding.  I really had no idea what to expect because I have only been to one baseball game at the ballpark.  On their wedding day I was really excited to see what they put together for their ballpark themed wedding.

Robert and Melissa reserved a private room for their ceremony in the Ellis Pavilion (located at the Third Base Entrance to the ballpark).  They brought in dozens of baseballs and a jersey for their guests to sign rather than a traditional guest book.

Robert and Melissa Ball Game Wedding at Safeco Field

Robert and Melissa Ball Game Wedding at Safeco Field

Robert and Melissa’s ceremony included a cute story called “Love Monkey,” which was read by a family member.  When we got to the vows Robert and Melissa presented Robert’s daughter with a lovely ring symbolizing their new union as a family.   After the ceremony, the guests signed the baseballs and jersey and then headed up to the private suites for the reception.

 Robert and Melissa Ball Game Wedding at Safeco Field

 While the guests headed up to the reception the wedding party stopped into the official Mariner’s interview room to sign the wedding license.  We all had fun pretending to be interviewed!

Robert and Melissa Ball Game Wedding at Safeco Field

Robert and Melissa reserved two suites for their reception which overlooked the ballpark.  With a setting like this for your reception who needs decorations?   The guests were treated to food catered by the ballpark which included some traditional (hot dogs) and non-traditional (mac-n-cheese) favorites including a full bar.  Guests had their choice of sitting inside the suites to watch the game on several TV’s placed around the room or heading out to the deck that overlooked the ball park.  It was so fun eating a hotdog and watching the game just above 1st base!

Robert and Melissa Ball Game Wedding at Safeco Field


Robert and Melissa Ball Game Wedding at Safeco Field

I had a great time officiating Robert and Melissa’s wedding!  The venue, the food, and the entertainment added such a personal and fun touch to the day — certainly a wedding that the couple’s guests and I will not forget.  Congratulations Robert and Melissa!

Robert and Melissa Ball Game Wedding at Safeco Field

Over the pass & thru the woods to Gini & Matt’s wedding!

Yesterday I drove to Cle Elum for Gini & Matt’s wedding at Suncadia resort.  Located just over Snoqualmie pass, Suncadia resort is tucked into a forest with beautiful surroundings including a winery, golf course and private homes that can be rented for your event.  Gini and Matt rented one of these beautiful lodge-like homes for their private wedding in the mountains that included about 30 of their family and friends.

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When I walked in, it was so warm and comfortable.  A fire was going in the big rock fireplace and Gini and Matt had a video running on the big screen TV above the fireplace of themselves and different adventures they had been on together.

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Food was catered by Debra Lane at Chef to Go.  Gini and Matt had requested an “upscale comfort food theme,” which Debra orchestrated brilliantly! Before the wedding, guests nibbled on a beautiful assortment of local cheeses and wine, and post wedding Debra put together a wide variety of items including tomato fennel soup with grilled gruyere cheese sandwiches, beef tenderloin crostini with caramelized onion jam and gorgonzola cheese, and Italian meatball sliders with provolone and parmesan cheese.   Special requests, such as gluten free items, were also provided by Debra.

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The wedding was conducted upstairs from the balcony where the  guests down below could look up and see us.  Gini and Matt requested a short ceremony so they could focus more on their guests.  Right after the ceremony they came down, signed papers and came out to start the party!  Because of the intimate atmosphere of the lodge, guests could easily mingle around — picking up food or heading out to the deck overlooking the grounds.

Suncadia Resort Wedding, Seattle wedding officiants, Elaine Way

Suncadia lodge, Seattle Wedding Officiants, Elaine Way, Suncadia resort wedding











I was truly inspired by the decorations, the food, Gini’s dress, Matt’s calm and the general happiness of everyone who traveled to this unique “real wedding” in the woods!  Congratulations Gini and Matt!

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Last Minute Wedding? I can do it!

The couples I marry contact me with all different lead times for their wedding.  Sometimes I get the inquiry for my services months in advance — in fact I have already booked a wedding for 2013!  And other times I get a phone call from a couple who exclaims, “We want to get married as soon as possible”.  I will then ask, “how soon?”.  And they may answer tomorrow or next week or even next month.  That is what I often refer to as a “last minute wedding”.

A last minute wedding  can be any of the following:

  • You want a small, intimate wedding with just close friends
  • One or both of you have been called on military deployment
  • You eloped and now you want a real ceremony in front of friends and family
  • You want an understated but charming ‘second-time-around’ wedding
  • You need a perfectly planned, short-notice vow renewals ceremony
  • You pulled everything together at the last minute but you forgot to hire an officiant!

Whatever your situation, I can help!  Recently, I officiated a beautiful wedding for a small group of 20 at the Palisades Restaurant’s Magnolia room.  My couple called me a month in advance for what turned out to be a beautifully orchestrated day – with only a month’s planning.

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Last minute wedding, Magnolia Room Palisades Restaurant, Palisades restaurant, Seattle Wedding Officiants, Seattle Wedding, Elaine Way

This weekend I also had the pleasure of officiating a last minute wedding at Gasworks Park.  What an amazing day it was on top of the hill overlooking Lake Union.  The couple even brought their pooch, Bennett!

Last minute wedding, Gasworks park, park wedding, Seattle Wedding Officiants, Elaine Way, quick wedding

last minute wedding, Gasworks park, park wedding, Seattle Wedding, Seattle Wedding Officiants, Elaine Way

There are so many fun and beautiful locations to have your last minute wedding.  I am a native of Seattle and I have many favorites.  Here are just a few recommendations for your last minute wedding:

And don’t forget to check out all the hundreds of Seattle parks:  Each park has it’s own rules and regulations so you will want to make sure to read the fine print.

Call me today (206.406.7919) to help you get started planning your last minute wedding!

Food Truck For Your Wedding Caterer? You Bet!

I was strolling through the grocery store the other day when a magazine cover of Seattle Met (May issue) caught my eye.  The cover’s title said in big blocky letters:  FOOD TRUCKS.  Being the foodie that I am (I know we are all sick of that term but I don’t know what else to call myself), I immediately purchased the magazine.  I was intrigued with what seems to be a new trend in Seattle — moving wheels of goodness.  I went home and read the article with fascination….and here’s what I learned.

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Did you know that there are 143 full service food trucks scattered around our city?  Did you know that in July 2011 the city council adopted legislation that opened up public roadways to food trucks?  Did you know that food trucks serve everything from crepes to BBQ to grass-fed beef burgers piled high with arugula and cambozola slathered with bacon jam?  Me neither…

Seattle Food Trucks, Seattle Catering, Seattle Wedding Officiants, Seattle Wedding, Elaine Way

So what about a food truck for your wedding reception?  I would like to suggest to my audience (engaged couples and couples hoping to be engaged) that we take a moment to think outside of the box.  Picture an outdoor summer wedding at a beautiful Seattle Park, i.e. Coleman Park on the shores of Lake Washington.  It’s post-ceremony and your guests are ready to eat, drink and be “marry.”   In rolls Skillet Street Food to serve up a delicious meal of kale ceasar salad, grilled asparagus and braised Draper Valley chicken.  Really – you ask?  A food truck can prepare a scrumptious meal on the road?  Yes! Yes! Yes!

Seattle Food Truck, catering, Seattle catering, Seattle wedding, Seattle Wedding Officiants, Elaine Way

If you are as intrigued as I was about this new trend of rolling nirvana, please check out Christopher Werner’s entire article in the current issue of Seattle Met: Food Truck City.   This article completely turned my head around about this style of catering that is perfect for an outdoor, indoor or anywhere Seattle wedding!

(Pictures courtesy of Young Lee Photography)

Book Your Officiant Early!

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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.

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