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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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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:

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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!


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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!


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

March 2, 2015


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


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: 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

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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: or call 425. 922.1325

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