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Annemarie's Blog

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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A Group Photo Immediately After A Wedding Ceremony – Just Do It!

June 9, 2015

ShaunBrittanySavageDepending on the venue and couple, one of the most wonderful and immediate “after ceremony” treats is a group photo.

On a wedding day, there isn’t a better time to gather family and friends for such a big moment than once the “I Do’s” are done.  Because once the reception begins, forget pulling everyone together for such a photo!

On Saturday evening, Brittany and Shane were married at the gorgeous Kiana Lodge in Poulsbo.

To make things easy, I went to the front of the ceremony space just before we began and after introductions, instructed the guests on “what to do” to gather for the immediate post-ceremony photo event.  This sweet touch works beautifully every time!

AND you do need an Officiant with strong air traffic controller skills and a great photographer to pull off a group photo with elegance and fun.

As you can see, Brittany and Shane’s grroup did good…the photo is mine and not as good as F7 Photography’s will be!

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Dee Dee and Jim’s Elegant Wedding Day At Swiftwater Cellars in Cle Elum…

May 31, 2015

Look at this gorgeous smile!  Look at this beautiful lady!

I snapped this photo of Dee Dee just before she walked down the aisle at Swiftwater Cellars in Cle Elum to marry the love of her life, Jim.  DeeDeeJim

And the delight on Dee Dee’s face made my heart happy.  I was so thrilled to have the opportunity to officiate a wedding ceremony for a couple I would love to have as next door neighbors.  In getting to know Dee Dee and Jim, you could feel the love, devotion, courage and resilience of a loving partnership that will indeed stand the test of time.

Surrounded by 100+ very happy family and friends, Dee Dee and Jim exchanged vows and celebrated with sweet rituals including the pouring of art glass to ultimately create a gorgeous take-home memento from their wedding ceremony.

Including Jim’s son in the ceremony was very important and we all loved it when Dee Dee took her new step-son aside during the ceremony for a few private words.

Love. Love. Love.

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Hally and Lou: Two Beautiful Ladies Marry at The Salish Lodge in Snoqualmie…

May 26, 2015

I remember the first time I met Hally and Lou last year.

These two young women were taking time and intention to create their wedding day and without question, I was delighted to be the lucky one to share in the ceremony of their wedding day.  HalleyLouWinifred1

In celebration of their Buddhist tradition, we celebrated two young women with a vibrant, inspiring and courageous love story of 4 years – a ceremony that wove in elements from the Buddhist path including the sharing of Mala beads.

Joined by their closest family and friends, Hally and Lou exchanged very beautiful and personal vows at the Salish Lodge’s Hidden Terrace, with the roar of the Falls and Mother nature behind us on this auspicious morning, May 16th.

I am eager to see where life takes Hally and Lou…congratulations to such a beautiful couple!


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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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