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The Half-Hour Effect: Building In “Fudge Time” For An Elegant Start To Your Wedding Ceremony…

May 4, 2015

I am one of those people who is almost always on time, if not early.

AND when it comes to a wedding ceremony, a great start to a ceremony begins with a thoughtful consideration of time, date and place.  AngelaMattCarlson

If I can catch a couple in time, I urge them to put a 15 minute or 30 minute “buffer” on their wedding invitation, depending on the weekend, location/venue, time, bridge/road closures and community events (Opening Day of Boating Season, Seahawks, Seafair, etc.).

Time and time again, it amazes me how wonderful this “fudge time” works.

It worked beautifully this weekend for Matt and Angela (featured) who were married at St. Anne’s Chapel at Seattle’s Villa Academy.

Angela was amazing in that she worked with her guests to insure they knew the location of the venue (hidden in a neighborhood) and that it indeed was opening day of boating season.  With Villa Academy near the closed Montlake bridge, Angela was diligent about insuring guests had travel/arrival options so they didn’t get caught in the bridge closure mess.

Such an incredibly thoughtful, kind-hearted and very beautiful bride (and planner!).

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Trafficpalooza. An Officiant Heart Attack Waiting To Happen…

April 27, 2015

Let me preface this by saying that in my years of doing this wonderful work, I have never been late to a wedding!

Two weekends ago, I was in Snohomish.  I had 3.5 hours to get to downtown Seattle for my wonderful evening wedding in Pioneer Square.  traffic

I had two options:  drive around the lake or take 520.  I knew things were sticky with the bridges and I had lots of time. Traffic reports (and my husband’s feedback from WSDOT) suggested things were “okay.”

Well, as I drove from 405 to 520, within seconds there was not one but two accidents on the bridge.  And so, we sat.  For almost 2 hours, not going anywhere.

Over the years, I have often wondered why I leave so much time between two ceremonies on each Saturday.  I’ve spent lots of time sitting and waiting, arriving way too early.  Time and time again.

On this Saturday evening, while I was freaked out (I’m a major over-reactor but correct quickly), I was grateful for time.

I arrived at the ceremony and we started on time and things were beautiful and easy.  The grace was the Groom was on the phone with me several times as I provided “stranded” updates – calm, cool and collected.  His ease and kindness was my big gift.

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Wedding Rockstar! Willie’s Big Surprise For Tracie…a Surprise Wedding!

April 19, 2015

When I got a call from Willie, I immediately liked him.  WillieTracie

You’ve got to like and admire a romantic and loving guy who has one thing in mind:  to create, plan and pull off a surprise wedding ceremony and celebration for the love of his life, Tracie.

And Willie did just this and more.  To Tracie’s big delight and elation, her guy gave her a gorgeous wedding day complete with a gown, accessories, flowers, a venue/location, a beautiful dinner and more.

These two, accompanied by close friends, were married last Thursday afternoon on Alki Beach.  The weather was gorgeous and was just one more thing that Willie pulled off with his big heart, graciousness and fun-loving approach to life.

These lovebirds share enormous life history.  Willie and Tracie re-connected after along time apart and in their time together, they have created a beautiful life – with great devotion, compassion and acceptance – these two beautiful people understand the words “in sickness and in health.”

Love.  Love.  Love.  Photo:  http://www.jennygg.com

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Luther and Julie’s Beautiful Wedding Day at The Sanctuary At Admiral, West Seattle…

April 6, 2015

I love Luther’s big smile, his great devotion to Julie and the way he looked at his bride while they were exchanging vows.  LutherJulie1

I love Julie’s big heart, graciousness, courage and spunk.  I couldn’t help but get a kick out of her great joy and happiness as she married the love of her life in a sweet ceremony at The Sanctuary at Admiral this past Winter.

Surrounded by family and friends – and with a blessing by Luther’s Father that was incredibly sweet, funny and heartwarming, we shared in a wedding ceremony that was all about the past, present and future.  The words and ritual were shared in such a way that they celebrated Luther and Julie’s story and the beautiful path that led to their wedding day.

Luther + Julie:  I admire a couple at mid-life who gets ‘ceremony right.’  I wish you so much happiness on your marriage adventure!

Photo:  the wonderful F7 Photography team, Jennifer and Jeff!

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Ben and Caitlin: A Sweet Ceremony & Celebration at Palisade Restaurant in Seattle…

March 23, 2015

Ben + Caitlin. 

When I first met Ben and Caitlin, they were clear with me:  they wanted their wedding day to be “no crazy.”  It was their intention to create a day that was welcoming, easy-going, loving and gracious.image by jenny gg photography

On March 1st at Palisade Restaurant, under a very sunny and warm Seattle for winter time, Ben and Caitlin accomplished this and so much more.  Oh, and they got so very married!

Joined by 30+ family and friends, we celebrated their relationship with a ceremony that shared pieces of their personal story and one that focused on gratitude – to each other, to their family and friends.

I love warm, intimate and easy wedding days.  I love couples who focus on all of the right things on their wedding day.  I love a couple with humor, spunk and heart.

Gosh, I’m talking about Ben + Caitlin!

Photo:  www.jennygg.com

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Unique & Memorable Wedding Ceremony Touches By Seattle Couples…

March 15, 2015

Yesterday, Jo and Tracy (featured in photo) were married at the Great Hall at Greenlake, surrounded by 100+ very happy family and friends.

Over a number of months, we worked together to weave together personal elements and pieces into their ceremony so it was not only a celebration of their relationship but it was a community honoring as well.  JoTracyNarvarezJensen

When I arrived yesterday afternoon, among other things, I was enchanted with Tracy’s gown, accessories and jewelry.  And then I found out that the necklace I was admiring was something Tracy designed and created, especially for her wedding day.

It is special touches like this that infuse a wedding day with delight.  For example, in the past month or so…

Ryan and Nina were married at The Salish Lodge at the end of February and had a parade of 13 flowers girls who danced and pranced down the aisle!  Chris and Olesya were joined in marriage at the lovely Port Ludlow Resort and lovingly celebrated their son in beautiful and poignant ritual.

Theresa and Alex got hitched at The Willows Lodge, and Theresa was beautifully dressed in favorite colors, black and red.  Andy and Michel were married in front of 200 people at AXIS in Pioneer Square and incorporated traditional from the couple’s ethnic heritage, including the wrapping of a cord and laying of a veil.

Caitlin and Ben, married at Palisade, had one of the best and unique wedding cake designs I have seen in a long time – fresh, lovely and sweet, just like them.  Don and Kristen encouraged family and friends to fully participate in their wedding day and when I arrived at their West Seattle Park, everything was in place.  Krista and Tricia were married on a Washington State ferry, joined by 25 merry-makers they didn’t even know!

Photo:  www.jennygg.com

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13 Flower Girls: A Pack of Petal Power at Ryan and Nina’s Wedding Ceremony…

March 2, 2015

13.

Yes, 13 flower girls.

And they had a coach!

It was such happy and joy for me to watch Ryan’s face as a pretty pack of 13 dancing flower girls pranced down the aisle, before his bride, Nina, processed down the aisle, accompanied by her loving Dad, Gary.  RyanNinaMcAllister

All of this ‘happy” happened at The Salish Lodge on Saturday evening.  Bride Nina coordinated the flower girl activity and this pack of girl power was a perfect and magical elixir to a very personal, romantic and sweet ceremony.

Flower girls, ring bearers and wedding dogs – it doesn’t matter what they do or don’t do, it is all beautiful because such innocence and sweetness creates such joy on a wedding day.

Congratulations, Ryan and Nina – what a joyful memory to be surrounded by so much love!

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Woof! Best Tips For Including Your Beloved Dog in Your Wedding Ceremony & Day!

February 22, 2015

Woof!

If you are an engaged couple and totally adore your dog, chances are you would love to include your canine kid in your wedding ceremony.

Having been to more than a few wedding ceremonies, I can tell you that including a beloved pooch in a wedding processional and/or wedding ceremony is something that creates sweet memories and brings great joy to a couple, family and friends.

So, how best to include Fido in your ceremony and wedding day?

1) Fido And Your Wedding Ceremony: Many couples love including their dog as “ring bearer” or “flower dog.” Select a friend or family member to be your dog’s handler and walk Fido down the aisle. At the front, the groom could meet/greet the dog and the handler and then the handler and dog would take their places/seats. An extra special touch would be to get a special “wedding mat” for your dog to rest on during the ceremony. This mat also makes for a great memento to take home from your ceremony!

2) Presentation Of Rings, Canine Style! If possible, work with your Officiant or Minister so that your dog (with handler) can present the rings. One idea would be to put the rings in a special little box that is tied around the dog’s neck and the rings are then taken off by the groom – either during processional or in the middle of the ceremony. This idea most often works best outside of a traditional church or religious venue.

3) Fido’s “10 Top Tips For A Happy Marriage” - Over the years, I have presided over wedding ceremonies where I have worked with a couple to create a unique “top 10 list” supposedly written by Fido about marriage and relationships. This list can be humorous, enlightening and serious and best of all, it can also include some inspiration for your family and friends.

4) Doggie Wear: Appropriate Canine Attire: What about a wreath of flowers around your dog’s neck or “tuxedo cuffs” on the front legs? Or perhaps a special bandanna with your names and wedding date embroidered on it? Every dog is very different in temperament so remember to dress up your dog in something comfortable and long lasting for the day.

5) Insure That Fido Is Comfy: Many couples I work with have their dog at their wedding ceremony and then someone takes the dog home or to a place for the night, especially if the reception is at a special venue, hotel or fancy facility. If your wedding is a casual picnic or backyard event, then it only figures that Fido would stay for the post-wedding festivities!

Most of all, include your dog in a way that is fun, happy and respectful and also allows your pooch to be comfortable and happy during your big day.

Annemarie Juhlian is a Wedding Officiant, Minister & Celebrant in Seattle, Washington. She creates personalized wedding ceremonies for couples of all faiths and traditions. Take a peak at Annemarie: http://www.marriedbyannemarie.com or call 425. 922.1325

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A Very Fun, Elegant and “We’re Doing It Our Way” Wedding Day for Don and Kristen in West Seattle…

February 16, 2015

Don + Kristen.

They were married in an easy, elegant and reverent ceremony on one very windy February Saturday afternoon at one of Seattle’s hidden gems of a neighborhood park:  Dakota Place Park in West SeattleDon Kristen1

When I first met Don and Kristen, I liked them immediately.  What I appreciated is that they had definite ideas for their ceremony and celebration – with a lot of it being about comfort, ease and fun memories.

From what I could tell, they accomplished this and more on February 7th.

Memories from this day:  pinning a flower on Don, encouraging Kristen to get dressed in her beautiful gown, an intriguing chat with Don’s lovely Mother, laughter during the ceremony, happiness when the music cued perfectly and standing back and watching how everyone came together for a beautiful lifetime moment.

Don and Kristen, I wish you much happiness on your marriage adventure!

Photo:  Kier at www.firstlight-photography.com

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Best Tips For Writing Your Wedding Vows: Elegant, Easy and “Yours…”

February 9, 2015

You’re getting married! AND it is time to design, craft and write your wedding vows.

Writing your wedding vows gives you a remarkable opportunity to express your personality and devotion to the person standing with you on your wedding day.

A beautiful wedding ceremony includes beautiful vows. Your wedding vows can be traditional, old-fashioned, original, unique, religious, funny, poetic or romantic. They are most beautiful and poignant when they flow from your heart.

And it does not have to be a stressful experience!

Your wedding vows are also a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity in front of family and friends to share how you plan to show up in your marriage, what your commitment is to your relationship and what your new husband/wife can expect from you. So with this said, here are three top tips for creating, crafting and writing your wedding vows:

1) Go to lunch – really! Take your Sweetie to lunch and talk about your wedding vows. Make sure you are both on the same page. Talk to your partner about what is possible. Do you want to write your own vows, go with vows already written or perhaps a combination of the two? Do you want to write your vows separately or together? I love it when a couple surprises each other with wedding vows after working independently with me to insure they hold the same weight/length.

2) Create an outline and find your voice ~ What overall tone do you desire: humorous or touching? Poetic and mushy? It’s your call – the most important thing is that your vows ring true and sound like they are from your heart. Take a week or two and go through several drafts. Go to the Internet for inspiration. Read the vows aloud and time them. Vows are often best when they are one page or less (double-spaced).

3) Ponder these questions for inspiration:

~ What is the single greatest thing about the person you are going to marry?
~ When did you know what you were in love/know that this person was the one you wanted to marry?
~ What does marriage mean to you? Why do you want to be married to this person?
~ What is your most favorite memory of your partner? What is your commitment to your partnership?

Most of all, be real and authentic and humor is lovely, too!

Annemarie Juhlian is a Wedding Officiant, Minister & Celebrant in Seattle, Washington. She creates personalized wedding ceremonies for couples of all faiths and traditions. Take a peak at Annemarie: www.marriedbyannemarie.com or call 425. 922.1325

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A Romantic and Elegant Wedding Ceremony for Chris and Olesya at Port Ludlow Resort…

February 5, 2015

Chris + Olesya. 

Chris thought he was solely meeting Olesya to discuss a medical situation, as a favor to two beautiful friends.  And the moment Chris laid eyes on Olesya, the last thing on his mind was medical advice!  ChrisOlesyaThayer1

On a beautiful, crisp and sunny Winter day, Chris married the love of his life, in an intimate and elegant ceremony at Port Ludlow Resort, surrounded by loving friends and family and Olesya’s wonderful son.

There is something sweet and magical about a couple coming together at mid-life.

A wedding ceremony for two loving people in their 40’s, 50’s or 60’s often has a different feel because there is more history and life experience to such a lifetime moment and often includes or child or children.

For Chris and Olesya, they artfully crafted and hosted a wedding day that was truly about the two of them and their son and one that held kind and gracious touches for their delighted guests.

This wedding celebration had two sets of live musicians, gratitude to family and friends, a ceremony ritual that included the young man of this relationship, a beautiful meal, rituals to celebrate the joy of a new family and more.

It was such happiness for me to join Chris and Olesya for their big day…simply lovely.

Photo:  Alante Photography

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A Perfect Wedding Ceremony Kiss: 4 Sweet Tips For An Outstanding & Memorable Smooch!

January 13, 2015

A wedding ceremony most often concludes with a sweet kiss!

A fantastic and memorable kiss to top off a sweet and loving wedding ceremony is a beautiful forever memory for a couple. Some kisses are better than others. That’s just life.  graham

It might seem elementary to talk about “kissing”.

However, having been up close and personal to many wedding ceremonies over the years and having worked with lots of wonderful wedding photographers, I know one thing for sure: some couples are just better at the public “kissing thing” than others!

So, as you talk to your Sweetie about your wedding ceremony, take a moment to discuss what you both want and desire at the moment you “seal the deal.”

Do you want a big smooch? A small peck? An enthusiastic and energetic kiss?

No matter if your wedding ceremony is small and intimate or if you are being married in front of a ballroom filled with people who love you, here are four sweet tips for an outstanding and memorable smooch:

Hold it. Hold it. And hold it some more. That’s right! Take time for a nice long kiss at the end of your ceremony. This will help your photographer get some great photos and you are intentionally taking time to truly mark your “we’re married” moment with an authentic and romantic kiss.

Tell Your Officiant Or Minister to Get Out Of The Way! Nothing makes a wedding photographer more crazy than an Officiant or Minister who doesn’t move out of the “kiss photo” at the end of a ceremony.

An aware and “on it” Wedding Officiant or Minister will move out of the lens of a camera and to the right or left as they are making your pronouncement.

To insure this happens, confirm that your Officiant or Minister will move out of the line of sight when it comes to the end-of-ceremony kiss. This way, your wedding photographer will have the happy experience of capturing your kiss in a clean shot. Trust me, this makes for a fantastic photo!

2-For-1 Ceremony Kiss. Okay, picture this. You’ve just had your sweet kiss at the end of your ceremony and you take your partner’s arm or hand and begin to walk down the aisle. The Groom then stops mid-aisle and romantically cups the face of his Bride and gives her kiss with cheering and clapping family and friends lining the aisles. Talk about a wonderful moment!

Yes, this “mid-aisle kiss” may be orchestrated but here’s what is lovely about this opportunity:

Even if planned, few grooms actually remember to do this. It’s the act of “remembering” that touches the heart of a bride like no other. So, talk about possibly incorporating this aisle kiss into your recessional to create a very touching wedding moment.

“10” Cards Or “Message” Cards. If you have a lot of members in your wedding party and want to do something fun, have them hold up “10” cards while you are kissing!

This surprise stuns guests and creates such joy at the end of a wedding ceremony. Yes, this move needs to be elegantly and quickly coordinated by your Officiant or Minister.

One of the best ways to execute this is to have the Officiant or Minister hand cards to the Best Man and Best Lady as he or she is about to pronounce the couple. These cards can also be hidden on a small side table or in the binder/folder held by the Officiant and the passing of the cards can be quickly done by two members of the wedding party.

Annemarie Juhlian is a Wedding Officiant and Contemporary Minister based in Seattle, Washington. She creates personalized wedding ceremonies for couples of all faiths and traditions and loves working with a couple to create a hugely unique and memorable wedding ceremony. www.marriedbyannemarie.com

Photo:  Graham and Chrystal’s beautiful wedding ceremony at Snoqualmie Golf & Country Club – see, you don’t see me!

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Happy Memories From This Holiday Season of Tiny and Last Minute Weddings in Seattle…

January 2, 2015

Happy New Year!  It has been a happy pleasure for me to share in tiny weddings and “last minute weddings” during this final week of 2014.

As I reflect on this past week, here is my take away…

William and Heather:  With less than a month to plan and with a big move to Colorado in early 2015, William and Heather pulled together a beautiful wedding with 50+ family and friends at the Washington Athletic Club.  Truly, such an inspiring young couple…meant to be.

Jeff and Jen were married at The Willows Lodge, tiny and intimate and perfect for them.

Adam and Rebecca traveled to Seattle from New Mexico to be married at The Salish Lodge, the place where Adam proposed 2 years ago.  They were married on the trail down to the Falls in a ritual that included a celebration of Adam’s Jewish tradition.   EricCarrie3

Freddie and Moki, soldiers at Ft. Lewis, were married in the presence of Moki’s parent at Volunteer Park.  Their smiles were huge and their kisses, sweet.

I smile as I remember the Pedicab that took Eric and Carrie out for a spin at The Willows Lodge before their “elopement.”  You’ve got to appreciate a gorgeous guy in uniform and a beautiful lady in a stunning gown…a loving ceremony for 2 and wedding day, “their way.” (pedicab photo at right)

Richard and Jane were wonderful and I fondly think of their wedding day at the Hotel Monaco, with “wedding dog” Abby and 6 loving witnesses.  After more than 30 years together, Teri and Allen tied the knot with their Fathers as witnesses.

New Year’s Eve was sparkly at the Pan Pacific Hotel where Eric and Krista hosted more than 130 delighted family and friends with a festive ceremony and celebration.  And New Year’s Day was all about Brandon and Christina, married in a small ceremony at The Alexis Hotel with family and friends and the Groom’s two very cute little boys!

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Holiday Weddings 2014: Tie A Bow Around It By Getting So Very Married!

December 22, 2014

Each year, just before Christmas day, it is always fun to share in a wedding that is extra special because it is surrounded by the joy and beauty of the December holiday season.  adamrebecca5

Congratulations to Catalina and Mariina, married at Gene Coulon Park, in the happy presence of Catalina’s parents.

Much happiness is wished to Michael and Cara who “eloped” to Seattle with their two children to be married at the rainy and windswept Kerry Park overlook on Saturday afternoon.

The Washington Athletic Club was the twinkly and formal venue for William and Heather, who were married in a gorgeous and beautiful ceremony in the Crystal Ballroom on Saturday evening, surrounded by some of the happiest family and friends ever!

Yesterday, it was a happy pleasure to unite Adam and Rebecca (featured in photo) in marriage with a ceremony at The Salish Lodge that included personal vows, sharing of the wine and the breaking of the glass.

And to tie a bow around it, after 7 years of loving relationship, Jeff and Jen tied the knot at The Willows Lodge!

Photo:  www.firstlight-photography.com

Truly, my heart is happy.

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Quiet Time. Breathe, Enjoy, Remember…

December 2, 2014

After the hustle and bustle of a full and wonderful wedding year, I move into December in a quiet and reflective mode.

As I sit here on this early Tuesday morning, I find I don’t have much to say or share.  thank you

So, I  look back on the many experiences of 2014 with great gratitude for my couples, the grace of synchronicity, the honor of doing this work that I do and cherish that a most wonderful man who shares in my great love and devotion for dogs loves me.

I know that January is coming and with the new year, the promise and delightful anticipation of wonderful couples and their lifetime moments.

And in this moment, as I am fond of saying to my bride before walking down the aisle, “breathe, enjoy, remember…” 

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Married! Christopher and Jeff at Seattle’s Mayflower Park Hotel: Some Things Are Meant To Be…

November 24, 2014

Christopher + Jeff.  2 guys truly meant to be.  Christopher Jeff Klincke

Christopher and Jeff met in 7th grade.

In their years together, Christopher and Jeff grew together, in big ways and in smaller ways.  They have weathered lots of changes, growth, challenges, push back and opportunities – and through it all, they have loved each other with fierce and beautiful hearts.

With elegance, joy and heart, Christopher and Jeff  married on November 13th at the Mayflower Park Hotel, surrounded by 120+ delighted family and friends.

For ceremony, we had laughter, tears, important words shared by 4 friends, beautiful vows and a missing “ring dog,” Pip!  Yes, Christopher and Jeff’s beloved pooch decided against ring bearer duties and instead, made an appearance at reception.

Christopher and Jeff, thank you for the happiness of being a part of your wedding day!

Photo:  www.jennygg.com

 

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Thinking About A Wedding Favor For Your Guests? Ponder This Street Smart View From Lots of Wedding…

November 17, 2014

Simply put, I have a love/hate relationship with wedding favors.

As a Wedding Officiant, this really isn’t my business AND I am often asked by my couples, “what should be do about a favor?”

So, with all that I have seen at a wedding, I guess I do come with some on-site perspective.

In my “street smart” wedding experience, a great wedding favor is “homemade” and/or is hand-crafted to really celebrate a couple.  AndrewCaitlinWissink

For instance, see these happy faces to the right?  Meet Caitlin and Andrew.  They were married this past weekend at Seattle’s Lake Union Café.  When I arrived, I found jars full of tasty ingredients to make homemade hot chocolate.  What a fantastic idea! 

As you decide on a favor, here are my top tips: 

1) Make it hand-made or crafty.

2) Make it about something to eat and drink – guests love a fancy treat bag of candy, cookies or chocolate as they leave a wedding.

3) Make it about someone or something else.  In other words, on behalf of your guests, make a donation to something special or a charity.

Photo:  www.jennygg.com

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I Want To Clone Steve: You’ve Gotta Love A Guy Who Adores His Gal…

October 31, 2014

Last Saturday evening at Canlis Restaurant in Seattle, a sweet guy surprised his beautiful gal with a renewal of marriage vows.

In celebration of 20 beautiful years.  In honor of 3 amazing children.  In reverent jubilation of a shared journey filled with devotion, perseverance, lots of change, ups and downs, romance, house chores and so much love.  canlis

With great attention to detail, Steve surprised his wife, Tracy, with not only an elegantly planned dinner party (20 close family/friends) but his big moment was announcing that they would be renewing their wedding vows – a promise made years ago in celebration of each 10-year milestone wedding anniversary.

And so, before everyone sat down for dinner, Steve declared his love for his beautiful Tracy.  And of course, Tracy once again said, “I Do.”

You’ve got to love a guy who goes above and beyond to create a cherished lifetime moment.

Tracy, you are one lucky gal!

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