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Annemarie's Blog

The Freaked Out Bride: Navigating A Tsunami of Life Change with Smarts and Grace..

February 4, 2016

Freaked out.

This is how a bride of any age may feel on the way to a wedding day. Some women feel it more than others. And some never get to the “freaked out cliff.”

If you are an engaged woman and are feeling like you are “losing it” or are getting caught up in the anxiety of wedding planning, I feel you.

In today’s culture, there is huge pressure for a couple to create a remarkable, unique and “perfect” wedding day.

A beautiful, sweet and poignant wedding day is about authenticity. It is about being real.

Yet, the stress of family, friends, our culture and the wedding industry are a perfect storm to create a freaked out bride or couple. If you are stressing over decisions, torn between family or friends or just want to “escape,” I can assure you that all of these experiences and feelings are normal.

A wedding is all about change.  This experience is big/huge and brings up all sorts of feelings – good stuff and shadow stuff. We underestimate the enormity of conflicting feelings during an engagement period and what they may bring up.

I love a couple who takes  “time out” from all things wedding and uses time during an engagement to deepen a bond, to ask hard questions and focuses on the “marriage” part of a wedding day.

1) Wanting to Escape is Normal. So, do it. Get lost – solo or together. Take yourself on a road trip for a day. Ask a girlfriend to join you for an afternoon of window shopping. Go see a movie with a bucket of popcorn. Getting “away” if only for a half or full day can often give you perspective on decisions or choices that are often muted in the enormity of wedding planning, especially if your day is a big one or a destination wedding.

2) Take Advantage of Relationship Comfort and Counsel. I invite you to use your engagement time to deepen your relationship with your partner and yourself. Don’t use this time to anesthetize feelings or thoughts that are being called forth by this huge ritual of transition and change. Few couples do any type of pre-marriage work. Look for a local pre-marriage workshop or find a Pre-Marriage Coach/Counselor.

Pre-Marriage work is about going deeper into your relationship and creating a road map and footprint for a loving, healthy and beautiful partnership/marriage. I invite you to look to Sheryl Paul, author of “The Conscious Bride” for eloquent support and counsel.

3) Get Real. In my experience, freaked out brides get to the “freaky stage” when they start letting the wedding industry get to them. If you are questioning or worrying about your planning choices and decisions, let me put your mind at ease. In my experience and having been to hundreds and hundreds of wedding, there is no perfect wedding day. Sorry, it doesn’t exist.

Secret? It’s the imperfect wedding day that is remembered for a lifetime. Really.

As you move toward your wedding day, I ask you to ponder this: “what appears to be big is really small and what appears to be small is really big.” Life – it’s a beautiful and incredible paradox.

Annemarie Juhlian is a Wedding Officiant, Minister & Celebrant in Seattle, Washington. She creates personalized wedding ceremonies for couples of all faiths and traditions. She also offers pre-marriage coaching sessions for couples and works one-on-one with brides on their way to the wedding day.

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Mark and Jereme Wed At The Salish Lodge…the Best Dove Release Ever!

January 25, 2016

Look at these wonderful faces!  Two very loving, gracious and inspiring men, were married at The Salish Lodge this past weekend and with one of the best dove releases ever.  mandj-8440

It was my happy pleasure and delight to join Mark and Jereme in marriage.

Surrounded by their family and friends (seriously, some very fun friends!), these two beautiful men worked with me to create a ceremony that was intimate and personal and with dashes of humor and fun.

We celebrated their lifetime moment with a sharing of their love story, a keepsake box memento, champagne toast (within ceremony) and before they were pronounced husband and husband, one of the most spectacular dove releases, ever.

There were 11 doves in all.  Two were released by by Mark and Jereme from their hands and another 9 were released in a basket.  The sight of the doves flying together over Snoqualmie Falls as they made their way home to Burien (it took them 2 hours of flight time) was nothing short of spectacular.  Such happiness in all ways!


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Seattle Wedding Planning: Crafting and Designing Your Memorable Northwest Wedding Day…

January 13, 2016

You are planning your 2016 Seattle wedding ceremony and celebration!

As an excited and enthusiastic engaged couple, you have a big variety of choices and decisions to make around the size, design and scope of your wedding ceremony and celebration. If you are in the beginning stages of planning your wedding or have been in planning mode for a while, here are 5 big planning tips to help you plan a memorable Northwest wedding day.

1) Consider Having Your Seattle Wedding In The Off-Season – The popular months for a Northwest wedding are May through the end of September. The “off-season” tends to run from October through April, with wedding venues and wedding vendors offering preferred pricing and best values during the less popular wedding months.

As you consider your wedding date, think about an early Spring wedding in March or April as this is limbo time between off-season and the full wedding season. If you are planning a wedding in a popular Summer months, recognize that dates are venue are at a premium and often booked a year or two in advance.

2) Take Advantage Of Unique Northwest “Outdoor Elements” For Your Wedding – The Seattle area offers an engaged couple wonderful and unique outdoor elements to incorporate into a wedding ceremony or party/reception. In Seattle, you have many properties, venues and parks with amazing water and Puget Sound views as well as access to local/regional parks. Just a 30-minute drive outside of Seattle are the foothills of the Cascade Mountains; couples love the Snoqualmie and North Bend areas for their wedding ceremony and celebration.

So, as you plan your wedding, decide if you’d like to take advantage of what is unique to the Northwest and incorporate this into your wedding day. You may find that you want to be married waterside on a bluff overlooking Puget Sound with Seattle in the background, in the Seattle Arboretum surrounded by lush gardens and views of Lake Washington or perhaps you’ll decide to board a Washington State ferry and get hitched as you ferry to nearby Bainbridge Island or Vashon Island.

3) Pastry And Desserts Featuring Local Fruits And Berries Are Replacing Traditional Wedding Cake – Wedding cake is still popular at Seattle area weddings, however, many couples are choosing to go a bit “retro” and showcase Northwest fruits and berries in a “dessert buffet” of pastries, tarts and pies. As you think about the dessert portion of your wedding day, you may want the traditional wedding cake, fun buffet of desserts and treats made from in-season Northwest berries and fruits or perhaps a combination of both.

4) Incorporate Sacred Native American Rituals Native to Seattle Into Your Wedding Day – Sprinkled throughout the Seattle and Puget sound area are sacred Native American grounds. Seattle’s Daybreak Center is a venue featuring Native American decor and artifacts and popular for weddings. Tillicum Village is a wonderful Native American venue for a wedding and is a short ferry ride from downtown Seattle. Whether you may come from Native American heritage or appreciate rituals from the Native American tradition, incorporating something from the Native American tradition or selecting a local Seattle venue with Native American flair may be a choice for your wedding day.

5) Honeymoon In Your Backyard: Seattle and Puget Sound! Instead of taking a honeymoon immediately after your wedding day, what about a honeymoon in your backyard? Seattle and the Puget area offers a grand variety of honeymoon options, whether this is snuggling into an Inn in downtown Seattle and enjoying the arts and nightlife for a few evenings, ferrying to a nearby Island for a soothing respite or hiking in the Cascade mountains or around Mt. Rainier.

Annemarie Juhlian is a Wedding Officiant in Seattle, Washington. She creates personalized wedding ceremonies for couples of all faiths and traditions. Go to: or call 425. 922.1325.

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Seattle Holiday Weddings 2015: What I Remember…

January 4, 2016

Traditionally, Christmas week is quiet for weddings in Seattle.

In Seattle this year (I’ve heard this from wedding planners, too), there has been a tiny “gold rush” of weddings.  Steve Tara Burgess

Congratulations to: John and Ying (Ray’s Boathouse), Catrina and Patrick (Tibbetts Creek Manor), Trisha and Nancy (Beecher’s Loft).

Much happiness to: Jim and Sheryl (Bainbridge Island), Emil and Emily (Pike Place Market), Steve and Tara (Fairmont Olympic Hotel), Abdiel and Perla (West Seattle).

Blessings for their marriage adventure: William and Pinga (Bellevue), Alex and Sarah (The Willows Lodge), Chris and Aislinn (Palisade) and Ron and Laurie (The Willows Lodge).

As I sit here on this “first new day” of the 2016 work year, I look back on this group of loving couples and remember and ponder…

  • how wedding dogs Chip and Bear brought so much joy to John and Ying’s wedding ceremony!
  • that I wish Catrina and Patrick lived next door to us on Bainbridge Island.
  • how inspired I am by Trisha and Nancy’s loving relationship.
  • That Jim is one of the most romantic guys on the planet.
  • How Emil and Emily brought down the house at Pike Place Market with their outdoor ceremony.
  • How New Year’s Eve was so festive at the Fairmont Olympic, celebrating Steve and Tara.
  • That William could start a new clothing line of Seahawks wedding apparel!
  • how Alex and Sarah celebrated 10 years together and that puppy, Patrone, looked way too handsome in his tux!
  • That Chris and Aislinn are blessed not only with each other but with their 6 children.
  • And how elegant Ron and Laurie were, surrounded by their children, as they wed.

Happy 2016!  Photo:  Steve and Tara Burgess (Jerome Tso)

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Chris and Kelsey: Raindrops, Lake Union Vistas & Sweet Ceremony Moments on Seattle’s MV Skansonia…

December 6, 2015

I loved every moment of working with Chris and Kelsey.  KelseyChris7

This gracious, fun-loving and very devoted couple was married last month on the MV Skansonia, which is moored in Seattle at Lake Union.

The Skansonia was a perfect venue for Chris and Kelsey, two love birds who designed a ceremony and celebration which not only celebrated their loving relationship but shared in one that included gratitude to family and friends, beautiful and heartfelt vows and a personalized “travel box” momento.

Having just returned from an international honeymoon, I loved this photo that Kelsey sent me today.  Yes, it was rainy and dark as we started ceremony and at the same time, there was so much love surrounding this beautiful couple – cozy, warm, authentic and with so much anticipation for the future

Photo:  Amanda Lloyd Photography

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Wedding Dog Buster: A Handsome Little Dude Who Sparkled Up Michael and Donna’s Wedding Ceremony…

November 30, 2015

I’m one of those “dog people.”  If I see a dog on the street or at a park, I have to admire it, talk to it, give it a rub or a hug or most likely chat up the Guardian.  MichaelDonnaBuster

So, when Michael and Donna told me that their beloved dog, Buster, would be the way too handsome Ring Bearer at their wedding ceremony, I was thrilled.

You see, a dog at a wedding raises the joy bar on the day.

People come together over a dog.  Happily, a sweet fur baby has the power to calm nerves, bring out big smiles and create much comfort and ultimately, creates even more wedding day joy.

Wedding Dog Buster pranced beautifully down the aisle on November 21st at Within SODO, just before his wonderful Guardian, Donna, walked down the aisle to marry the love of her life, Michael.

So, because I can’t resist, WOOF!

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Darroch + Julia: I Have Known This Beautiful Bride Since She Was Knee High!

November 16, 2015

It is such extra happiness for me to share in the wedding day of someone I know well and/or have known since they were a child.

On this past blustery and windy Saturday afternoon at Hidden Meadows in Snohomish, I had the honor and delight of joining Darroch and Julia in marriage.  DarrochMalcolm3

I have known Julia’s Mother, Karen, for 25+ years and have been on the sidelines watching Julia grow up into a beautiful woman.  On her wedding day, after much planning and anticipation, Julia walked down the aisle on the arm of her father, Steve, as she walked into her new life with a man she adores.

Life is a funny thing.  You blink and the little ones are all grown up.  As I grow older, I more fully understand this.

And grow up, Julia did – into a loving, generous and very kind-hearted woman.  Darroch, you are one lucky, lucky guy!


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A Beautiful Fall Wedding for Chad and Amanda at Everett’s Monte Cristo Ballroom

November 7, 2015

When I arrived last night to officiate Chad and Amanda’s wedding ceremony, I was first so very taken with Amanda’s gorgeous wedding veil.  Chad Amanda

While this photo doesn’t do it justice, Amanda’s veil was floor length, vintage, creme and with intricate and delicate lace. And I found out that if this veil could talk, the stories it would tell!

You see, Amanda received her veil from the women in her family, starting with her Great Grandmother.  Truly, it was one of the most beautiful veils – a great legacy of love, courage and commitment.

Married last night at the Monte Cristo Ballroom in Everett, Amanda walked down the aisle to marry the love of her life, Chad.  It was a deeply personal ceremony with intimate sharing, hanky moments, big smiles and a room full of love.

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An Officiant’s Reflection on a Seattle Wedding. In Jail.

November 2, 2015

I received the most precious thank you note.  From a bride named Andrea.  Months ago, she was married to her Sweetheart at the King County Jail in downtown Seattle.

I remember Andrea’s call to me.  She was in tears because she couldn’t find an available Officiant to deliver a ceremony at the jail on a weekday evening and/or for a fee she could afford.

Having been at the jail a number of times over the years for weddings, I’m familiar with the protocol.

I arrived on the agreed upon date/time and she was there, with her lovely parents and grandparents.  I officiated a ceremony thru the glass at the jail, and the groom on the other side of the glass was beaming at his bride, despite the circumstances.

Months later, I received the most precious thank you note from Andrea.  Simply, I was touched beyond words. She shared that her husband was out of jail and things were very good.

I have no idea what was going on or the personal circumstances that put her husband in jail.  It made my heart happy to know that in Andrea’s words, her wedding was perfect for her.

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What Do I Remember From A Wedding Ceremony? You May Be Surprised To Learn This…

October 18, 2015

I always tell my couples the same thing, over and over again:  “Trust me on this, it will be amazing what you will remember from your wedding day…how little things will become the big things that stand out in beautiful ways.”  RachelJames

And so, as I look back on the past couple of weeks, I thought back on the “little things” from these beautiful couples that I tenderly remember…

  • James and Rachel (Hotel 1000/featured in photo) – The knowing looks and glances with this wonderful couple during ceremony as the three of us hoped the ceiling of the tented space would hold during great wind and rain and get us to the magical end of a beautiful ceremony…without getting drenched!
  • Sarah and Paul (Sanctuary at Admiral) – The grace and elegance that beautiful Sarah displayed when everyone realized that her veil had been left at home, just minutes from the start of ceremony!
  • Marie and Carson (Washington State Ferry) – How even a rude wedding crasher on a ferry boat didn’t squelch the joy of an intimate and beautiful ferry ceremony….and only added to the happiness of the moment.
  • Terry and Tiffany (Willows Lodge) – The hustle and bustle of a “girls” room minutes before leaving for ceremony and how brilliantly a beautiful bride smiled as she walked down the aisle with her daughters to her new husband.
  • Andrew and Catherine (Thornewood Castle) – Being patient with the sweetest and most elegant Bride who just wasn’t aware of “wedding time”….and that it was truly time to get going to greet her wonderful Groom!
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Wedding Cancelled: “Annemarie, The Wedding Is Off…”

October 4, 2015

I was in the Bainbridge Island ferry line last week on my way to rehearsal for Steve and Shannon when I got an email:  “Annemarie, Steve called off the wedding.”

I turned my car around out of the ferry line and headed home.  photo 3

A bit later, I received an email from Shannon saying Steve was firm in his decision.

At the same time, she shared a bit which gave me the impression that because so many of the festivity pieces were in place, that a party for her friends and family was in the works, without a marriage to celebrate.

Each year, several of my couples cancel their weddings, most of the time about 1-4 months out and for a variety of reasons, many of which are hugely private and brave.  It is unusual for a cancellation to occur within 24 hours of ceremony.

With this said, I honor Steve for his decision because in my opinion, getting married is often easier than cancelling on someone – whether this is the day before or three months out.  Most of all, I honor and celebrate Shannon for her grace and heart in the wake of an emotional trauma.

** names changed for privacy


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“I Wish I Had Done This On My Wedding Day…”

September 24, 2015

A bride recently asked me, “what are some things couples do on their wedding day that you wish could have been done differently?”Love

A loaded question.  So, I answered from the “wedding ceremony” perspective and it went something like this…

Ditch The Aisle Runner on Hardwood or Grass.  Simply, ditch the aisle runner, especially on a slippy floor and especially on grass or uneven ground.   A bride may think this enhances her ceremony aisle and all it does is create potential chaos – it gets ripped, people trip, heels get caught, etc.   And inviting a bride to do away with her aisle runner is often a hard sell as it is ingrained in a lot of wedding images and conversation!

Get Real About Time.  I’m a big advocate for getting real about time on a wedding day.  What this means is:

For an easy/elegant rehearsal, offer a start time of 15 to 30 minutes before your actual “formal rehearsal start time.” This is especially important on a Thursday afternoon/evening or Friday afternoon.  This creates less stress for a couple, especially if they have a dinner reservation to keep and especially if there is driving time involved.

For a ceremony to start on time, put a earlier “guest arrival time” on your invitation. I work with couples to insure a prompt start time to their ceremony, which is comforting in so many ways and keeps a wedding timeline on track.

Build in ‘Alone Time’ on a Wedding Day:  Working together, carve out “just us time” on a wedding day.  I often suggest that a couple take 10-20 minutes alone together immediately after ceremony, which provides an intimate buffer of connection before a party or reception.  Or “kidnap” each other during your celebration and go find 5 minutes to reflect, enjoy or watch your festivities from afar.





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Windpalooza 2015: A Crazy and Memorable Wedding Weekend…

August 31, 2015

The 29th has always been my favorite number. 

And August 29th and August 30th didn’t disappoint as two days in the “wedding record books.”  We all awoke to a severe wind warning for Saturday.  By 11 a.m., the winds were strong, bringing down trees and whipping around tents set up for wedding ceremonies and receptions.

Jeremy and Angela were beautifully married under a tent at a private residence in Everett on this Saturday afternoon.  I arrived extra early and found the tent vibrating under the intense weight of the wind.  I also found out that the DJ was going to be late as a tree smashed his vehicle.

So, without music for ceremony, we applauded the wedding party as they walked in and together, we “hummed” a song for Angela as she walked down the aisle.

On Sunday afternoon, I arrived in Port Gamble to find the entire town without power.  And with vibrant sunshine and “some wind,” Ben and Jenny exchanged vows in a sweet ceremony on a waterside bluff at the Port Gamble Pavilion, surrounded by 100+ happy family and friends. (featured photo)  BenJennyBerke

This I know for sure.

A wedding often gives you the opportunity to live your values.

At the end of the day, these two sweet couples were married…hitched!

All of the “stuff” around the craziness of the day is part of their story..couples like this and days like this you never forget!

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A Wedding Ceremony Celebrating Recovery? Yes, Two Beautiful Wedding Ceremonies Over a Seattle Weekend…

August 19, 2015

Yes, it may be unusual to recognize and/or celebrate recovery from an addiction during a wedding ceremony.

Remarkably, this happened not only once but twice this past weekend.  Working to keep private, I am changing the names of these two couples to Andrew and Darcy and Matthew and Denise. 

You see, these two precious couples overcame many personal challenges around the process of recovery.  Each wedding ceremony was a celebration of life, re-birth, courage and newness.

In celebration of Andrew and Darcy and Matthew and Denise, I offer this ceremony text which was modified for each ceremony…beautiful and inspirational for all of us…

It may seem odd to mention recovery at a wedding but for you, love is the ultimate result of the process of self-healing; and marriage, living in the presence of another human being as your whole and liberated self, is one of its consequences.

The two of you embody the miracle of the possible.

You stand here this morning revealing the power of love to heal. You teach us that loving yourself is a worthy enterprise. You show us that self-love creates a window of possibility of love between two people and you acknowledge how your loving and supportive community has been an integral part of your recovery journey.

Your ability to transform difficulties into new and shining possibilities bodes well for your marriage. You have shown willingness to grow beyond limitations and how fortunate are all of us today to join with you as you continue your process through marriage.

In ways big and small, marriage is a new phase of your lives, and this, the day of your wedding, is the occasion where you join forces with someone who loves you, just as you are, with all that you have been and with all that you are becoming.

Marriage is a special kind of sanctuary, a spiritual wing of protection; for in choosing to commit to this degree and to make public your choice, you are inviting yourselves to be true to it ~ choosing to live under the canopy of a lifetime process.

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A Glorious Summer Ferry Wedding from Seattle to Bainbridge Island for Mark and Lorena…

July 17, 2015

During this time of year, I invest a lot of heart and energy into very personal and robust wedding ceremonies – many of them hosting 60 to 150 people.

So, it was such a lovely ‘time out’ from larger engagements to join Mark and Lorena (and hundreds of happy ferry going witnesses) for their wedding ceremony yesterday on the Seattle to Bainbridge Island run.  MarkLorenaMcKown

The Washington State Ferry system offers one of the best “wedding deals” out there – call the Ferry System for permission to marry on board and the space and opportunity is no cost.

With the backdrop of the Seattle skyline behind them, Mark and Lorena exchanged beautiful words on the back of the ferry, accompanied by 5 friends, their photographer (you must get a photographer for this!), and hundreds of delighted ferry goers who were watching from several decks.

Love, love and love a ferry wedding!

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Beautiful Summer Weddings 2015. Inspiring and Devoted Couples Celebrating Fierce Love…

July 8, 2015

The crazy hot of this Seattle summer is something we all didn’t count on when planning an outdoor wedding this Summer!

And over these past weeks, I smile as I look back on the wonderful couples who took the summer heat in stride and worked around the ups and downs of high temperatures, scorching sunshine and warm inside spaces.

Gail and Ty (featured in photo) were married at The Manor on Bainbridge Island, surrounded by their dearest family and friends.  Gratefully, instead of full sun, we had shade and a bit of a breeze from the water.  GailTy

Bob and Stephanie smiled all ceremony long as they were married on the Pier of the Seattle Aquarium.  Like Gail and Ty’s wedding, there was a waterside breeze for these two beautiful people and it was such a joyful evening!

Mark and Laura pulled together a sweet ceremony and celebration at a park on Alki Beach on a Sunday afternoon.  While it was warm, we had a bit of cloud cover that made things more beautiful and easy.

Janice and Terry were married in the sunny garden of Volunteer Park and embarked on a honeymoon weekend to Vancouver to see the World Soccer Cup!  The very wonderful Johnny and Abby and 80+ of their family and friends ALL traveled from Texas to be married at the Seattle Aquarium on July 3rd…go big or go home!

It was a easy and elegant wedding ceremony on the Washington State Ferry on the morning of July 4th for Rodney and Jocelyn and 20+ of their family and friends to be followed by an afternoon reception.

Shawn and Paul were married under a willow tree at The Willows Lodge.  Sid and Diana were married in an Inter-Faith ceremony under a magical canopy of trees at Twin Willows at Snohomish – complete with an original composition (gift from a friend), the presentation of a necklace in the Hindu tradition and the breaking of the glass.

And on a Sunday evening as the 4th of July weekend was winding down, Eugene and Elsa exchanged beautiful vows on the top of the Ballard Hotel – yes, in the sunshine.

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Crazy Roads. Summer Traffic. Road & Bridge Closures = Serious Wedding Day Timeline

June 22, 2015

It has already started.

The closures on I-90.  The bridge closures on 520.  The closures of the Viaduct for construction and for those “fun runs.”  The traffic crazy from special events including the Sounders, Mariners, Seahawks, concerts, Bumbershoot, Bite of Seattle and more.

After the traffic chaos from the Rock ‘n Roll Marathon, I invite engaged couples to build a realistic wedding day timeline and to figure out what is going on with traffic and special events on their wedding weekend.

Nothing creates more stress on a couple than unexpected and “out of your control” traffic and event chaos on a wedding day.

So, being pro-active (not negative!), consult the State WSDOT website for closures.  Figure out what is going on around you and plan accordingly.  Allow extra time and build in “fudge time” –  i.e., don’t try to beat the clock.

This simple counsel allows a sweet guy and gal to walk into their wedding day with more peace and grace.

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What Is Big Is Really Small. What Is Small Is Really Big.

June 17, 2015

Jeremy + Chontelle. JeremyChontelleDegler2

On Saturday evening, after months of planning from Illinois, this beautiful and very sweet couple was married at The Salish Lodge, surrounded by a small and mighty group of family and friends – all who travelled from far places to share in the happiness of this big day.

With the sound of the roaring Falls behind them, Jeremy and Chontelle exchanged vows and rings under the canopy of The Hidden Terrace and then shared in an elegant dinner and evening celebration in the Cliffside Room.

I love The Salish Lodge for a small or medium size group.  Catering/Events Manager Erin Haldi and her staff go above and beyond each time for a couple and for Jeremy and Chontelle, no exceptions were made.

Jeremy and Chontelle – wishing you so much happiness as you launch on your marriage adventure!

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