One or two clicks of the mouse and my blog you have reached. I LOVE officiating weddings and playing a unique role in one of the most important days of people's lives. And I LOVE getting to know cool couples.

I hope you will take a moment and not click away from my blog, but instead add a comment or a thought. This blog is about weddings I have done, the great couples I have met, awesome vendors, many of whom have become friends, and the industry itself. And yeah, a bit about life along the way too.


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Proud to announce new blog home!

I am very proud to announce that my blog has a new home - within my website!!  So, please go to to continue reading more...

Looking forward to seeing you there!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Will You Marry Me??? The Proposal Story

Okay, just how important to you is the proposal story? 

[Cartoon by Dave Coverly, in Parade magazine on May 3, 2009]

It's funny, as the proposal story is something that I always include in my ceremonies (other than the elopements with no guests, for obvious reasons).  And it is something almost always included on a couple's wedding website.  Why is that?  I think it's a great way to express who the couple is together and what makes them unique. 

So, what do you do when the proposal doesn't go as you'd hoped?  Do you make up a better story?  Personally, I think the ability to laugh at yourself is key to a healthy relationship, and rarely do things so special go exactly as planned, but I do understand when some of my brides say they were bummed at how it ended up happening to them.  It is definitely a moment you want to, and will, remember forever. 

Well, how about trying it again?  In my case, Jason did end up proposing three times, all within a week, in order to get it exactly as he had planned and imagined it.  The first time I was definitely surprised, as he had hoped.  However, the circumstances that night on our anniversary were not as he had planned (yes, my horrible violent allergic reaction to the shrimp, that wasn't supposed to be in the food we ate, sort of did change the feeling around the evening).  So, we did it two more times until it was as desired, and you know what, I think it makes for an even better story than if it had been perfect the first time! 

Any great proposal stories to share?  Was it a part of their wedding ceremonies as well?  I hope so, as it tells your guests so much about you two together!


Saturday, June 26, 2010

Jiin and Allen - Carmel Mountain Ranch Country Club

Here is one of my sweet weddings from 2010.  Sometimes there is a delay in writing about my recent weddings, as I'm often waiting on the great pictures from the photographer.  True Photography Weddings was awesome about getting me some of their gorgeous pictures, so here we are.  Thanks to Michael, for your great work, and to Aaron, for sharing it with me!

Jiin and Allen found me through San Diego Style Weddings, and I am so glad they did!  They were a true pleasure to work with, and it was so fun to be a part of their loving, fun, easy-going relationship! 

For this couple, their families were very important, so we found a few ways to include them in the ceremony.  First, we included a family blessing, specifically asking the parents for their love, supports, and blessings.  Then, as their religious beliefs were important to them, we asked Jiin's brother-in-law to share the words from Corinthians.  And lastly, we including their families in the stone blessing during the ceremony, as we asked them to place their stones into the vase first, up in front with us, as a representation of their role as the foundation of this relationship.

This relationship started off as a long-distance one, so it was fun to share with everyone how the relationship began, and how they each saw things as it developed.  Thankfully, Allen moved down to San Diego, cutting back on all the flights required to grow this relationship!  As Allen put it, "You don''t marry someone you can live with -- you marry the person you cannot live without. They also just really enjoy each other, having fun with each other no matter what they do, and it was fun to be able to translate that for everyone through the thoughts and stories they shared with me.  I loved seeing Jiin and Allen laugh throughout this piece of the ceremony, as that's so appropriate for who they are together!

For their vows, we did a mixture, based on what the couple wanted.  Jiin had always imagined saying "I do" - so we found a version of that which would fit her.  And then we added on another vow that she repeated after me in phrases, which we also edited and adapted to fit her desires and their relationship.  Allen, on the other hand, wanted to write his own vows, completely expressing how he felt about her, and what his own personal promises to her were.  The combination fit them both, and were beautiful when put together!  Neither had known what the other was going to say, so that was a lot of fun to watch! 

And lastly, it was important to them to include some traditional components, like a question for her father after he brought her down the aisle - we used the more modern "Who supports this woman as she joins this man in marriage?" as it represented their relationship best.  In addition, they wanted me to say a prayer over them at the end.  As I've said before, religious wording or components will never come from me, but I am absolutely willing to include them if a couple desires.  We joked about this, as she had to ask me to bring God into the ceremony.  Most couples who work with me don't want God mentioned at all, so I only include such references when specifically asked...

This was a beautiful wedding!  And they are so fun together, which came across to everyone there to celebrate with them!  Thanks again, Jiin and Allen, for making me a part of your special relationship!

Here are some pictures from Michael of True Photography Weddings, and then below are links to some of the other vendors I worked with on this wedding.  I don't often come across most of the dozen plus vendors who help make the rest of the wedding possible - I can only talk about those with whom I interact...

P.S.  That was their adorable little niece, the flower girl, who decided to walk back up the aisle during the ceremony.  So cute!

Sarah and team at the Carmel Mountain Ranch Country Club
Michael of True Photography Weddings
Jerry of Cloudbreak Films
Mike Hogan, DJ, of Entertainment at Large

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Making Your Wedding Your Own!

Did you hear about these recent weddings?

Wedding bells on Aisle 1

Lawfully wedded ogres

While these would both have been so much fun to officiate - and I've been dying to have someone ask me to do the "Princess Bride" wedding ceremony (even just the intro of "Mawwage...") for them - you don't have to go to this extreme to make your wedding your own!

There are so many small (or big) ways to customize it, making it fit your unique relationship, while still giving the ceremony the respect and sacredness it deserves.

Custom vows, readings, inviting others to take part in the ceremony in some way, extra ceremonies, special colors or attire...

Or even just in the program.  Those who know me well know that I am a huge baseball fan (specifically for the Padres).  Well, our wedding program was called the "Game Day Program," the order of the processional was called the "Lineup Card," we had "Pre-Game Thanks" messages, as well as the "Game Time Schedule" giving our guests the plan for the celebration - and the picture of us on it was taken at Spring Training earlier that year, decked out in Padres attire.  Yes, this husband of mine, not a sports fan in the slightest, really loves me and thought this would be a fun idea... 

Yet, the ceremony itself was largely a traditional one, allowing our personalities and relationship to come out through love letters we wrote to each other only weeks before, read to everyone as part of the ceremony.

If you are working with me, together we can figure out ways to make the ceremony your own.  If not, think about what is meaningful to you, to your relationship, and how that can be brought into the ceremony.  Don't hesitate to be creative!

Cheers, Bethel

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Andrea and Steve - Cuvier Park, La Jolla

Andrea and Steve were the first couple with whom I initially "met" over Skype.  Skype is now my best friend when it comes to working with out-of-town couples and destination weddings!  This awesome couple was living in the UK at the time, in London, although she is from the US and he is from Canada.  Being North Americans amongst Brits is definitely part of what brought them together!

Well, when they realized that I had lived in London for a year in 2002-03, and had been back and forth there on business trips many times over the five years prior to that, so I knew all too well what life was like there as a Yank, it felt to us all like fate, that they should find me for their planned San Diego wedding!

This wedding was only for about 10 guests - just their immediate family.  Such an intimate celebration!  When it is so small, I have been tempted to not include as much of the stories of the relationship, but I realized that that would be a mistake.  Instead, I focus it more on certain questions and certain pieces, as even our closest friends and family members don't know as much about our relationship, and how we see it, as we (and they) think.  Now, in this case, since their entire relationship had developed when overseas, and hence their families only saw them in snippets on vacations, their families thanked me for helping them to get to know the relationship better.  I loved that!

Since it was so intimate, we decided to include a ceremony that I find so meaningful - a ring warming ceremony.  In a nutshell, we send the rings around to everyone, early in the ceremony, so that everyone has a chance to "warm" them with their thoughts, prayers, wishes, blessings...  And then the rings come back around to us in time for the ring exchange portion of the ceremony.  It's such a neat thing to do!  But really only possible with small weddings - not enough time to get the rings all around to a 100 person wedding, that's for sure!

Andrea and Steve also wrote their own vows - and boy, did they write great ones!  They were very wonderful, personal promises that they were making to each other, and we all loved it!  Yes, they got me a bit choked up too, when they emailed them to me!

** NOTE:  It's funny that I almost feel a need to mention that there was no religious components in this wedding, even though approximately 75% of my weddings have no religious component or wording in them.  Maybe by not mentioning it in my post about the wedding, it is clear? **

So glad that fate brought this couple my way, as it was such a pleasure to work with them and create something so personal together.

I am thrilled that Phill and Melanie of Goodnickels Photography were the ones Andrea and Steve chose, as they did a wonderful job, and they are so generous about sharing their work with me!  We have worked together since, and will do so a few more times this year already...  And here is their blog post about this wedding as well, showing a completely different side of the celebration:  Andrea and Steve - Wedding.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Creating a Custom Ceremony

Now, I can really only talk about this from my perspective, but, as I've talked about sharing my process, here goes!  And, understand that, to me anyway, the ceremony is the public face on your relationship.  There is a reason you are getting married in front of others, and this is the opportunity to express who you are, and what your relationship is about. 
(We can talk about elopement ceremonies another time.)

To me, the key components to a custom ceremony are these:
Stories or details about your relationship
Readings and/or extra ceremonies
Wording used for traditional components, like the ring exchange

Let's take these one at a time.

Wedding vows - they don't have to be elaborate, but my belief is that they should fit you and your relationship.  Now, does that mean that you can't or shouldn't use the traditional "to have and to hold --> I do" vows?  Absolutely not.  If they fit you and your relationship, and they will be the most meaningful to you, then absolutely use them.  If you want, you can start with that, and then add your own line or two afterward.  Or, you can create a custom "statement of intent" - where you still say "I do" or "I will" - as for some, that is the feel they want - but the questions asked to get to that "I do" or "I will" answer are custom, fitting your relationship.  Or, like most couples who work with me, you can completely write your own vows, which you read.  Some couples write them together, and make the same vows to each other.  But most write their own, and don't share them until that moment in the ceremony.  I try to make this part of the process as easy as possible - I provide a long document with lots of vows ideas - ones I seen, read, heard, written...  Some folks choose ones from that document, or combine a few on there to create their own, while others use it as an inspiration to write their own - but now they know what vows could look and feel like.  I'll blog more about vows ideas at a later date, as this part is key, in my mind anyway...

Stories or details about your relationship - this is something that I find very important to include, but what I include in each ceremony is very different and is based on the couple.  I tell my couples that everyone who is at your wedding will be part of your marriage from here on out, whether they think about it that way now or not.  These folks should be their cheerleaders and supporters, throughout their life together - and part of my job is to help them all know more about who they are together, and why each guest should be the cheerleader and supporter of this relationship.  My tool for this is a homework assignment that all of my couples complete for me, individually, of questions about their relationship.  I say individually, as it's a lot of fun for folks to hear it from both perspectives, both voices - each of you sees your relationship differently, so let's celebrate and share that!  Most of my couples thank me for including this step in our ceremony prep process, as it's probably one of the most fun things in all of the wedding prep!  And honestly, it should be, as it walks you through your relationship, how you got here, what you're about, and where you're going.  I hope you enjoy that, as that's why you're getting married, usually...

Readings and/or extra ceremonies.  Extra ceremonies is a topic for a whole 'nother post, as there are so many you can include, with some wonderful meanings!  Let's just talk about readings now.  Many couples assume that I am talking about religious readings when they hear the word "readings" - but that's only a small subset of what you could include.  There are so many beautiful pieces written about love or marriage or friendship, plus more poems and love songs than you could ever imagine, as well as some traditions and pieces from cultures around the world.  I try to make this easy as well - I provide a long document of readings ideas.  My couples can choose from them, or sometimes it reminds them of a song or a poem or some other item that they came across along the way and want to include.  I have found that a blank piece of paper is so very hard for most couple to work with - if I said, hey, what do you want your ceremony to include, that would be tough.  But, if I give ideas and suggestions to choose from, so you can give me a sense of your relationship, it makes it easier on everyone.  And, since you don't have to stick to just those, it does sometimes remind you of other things that have touched you. 

And lastly, wording for the ring exchange and other traditional components.  Not only are there different things you can have me use as the introduction for the rings, but there are also very different words you can use to exchange them with each other.  What do they mean to you, and what do they represent in your relationship.  Also, how do you want me to end it, with the pronouncement?  There are different ways we can do that too.  Plus, do you want there to be any wording when the bride is walked down the aisle, or just let it be without words?  All things to consider and work through together.

I hope this helps!  Honestly, I try to make this process as easy and as fun as possible - most of my couples thank me afterward for the process, as it makes them even more excited to be married, once we work through it together! 

More later, especially on the extra ceremonies...

Cheers, Bethel

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Sarah & Mike - Coronado Community Center

Let me start by saying that, like a mother, I suppose, I shouldn't have favorite couples, like a mother shouldn't have a favorite child.  But yet, there are some couples with whom you just "click" more, and to whom you can relate.  Remember, the process that my couples and I go through together is usually quite an open one, and allows me behind the public curtain of their relationship.  So, I am able to get a real sense of what the couple is like together.  And honestly, that is what allows me to celebrate the relationships like I do!  Yes, I could stand up there and deliver the same ceremony to every couple, and yes, it would still be a legal marriage at the end of the day, but that's no fun for me, and I don't believe does a unique relationship justice!  We'll talk more about custom ceremonies in a later post...

But in the meantime, just know that I really enjoyed working with Sarah and Mike, and becoming a part of this really fun, caring, loving, supportive relationship.  And together we created something pretty neat, I think!

Here are some of the ways that they personalized the ceremony, and made it a perfect fit for their relationship:
- There was some hope or expectation from the bride's family in particular, that there would be some religious component, so, we asked Sarah's cousin to share the Corinthians reading, so appropriate for weddings.  Sarah and Mike also invoked God in their vows to each other, as that was personally important to them.  In addition, I wore a robe for this wedding - something that I am rarely asked to do, to be honest, but am happy to do when that look or feel is desired.
- Family is very important to them both, so, first, we included a family blessing as part of the ceremony, asking each set of the parents in turn to offer their goodwill and blessing to the couple, and to welcome this new spouse into the family.  We also included a sand ceremony, and asked the mothers to come up to be a part of it, symbolically illustrating how their upbringings and their relationship with their families provides the base for this new relationship, this new marriage. 
- In addition, we found a way to have everyone there participate in this celebration of marriage, and not just be a spectator.  We included a stone blessing, in which everyone was able to add their thoughts, prayers, blessings, or anything meaningful to them, onto a stone.  They were all collected into a single jar, and are now in the couple's home, as a remembrance of this joint community.
- Vows - they wrote beautiful vows, but decided to share them, and make the same vows to each other.  Not a dry eye in the front rows, let me tell you!
- And, of course, you can't forget about the stories, as all of my ceremonies includes stories or tidbits about the couple (to help everyone there really know who this couple is).  Their stories, from the material they gave me, were so much fun!  I have never found "fried potato products" as fun as with them!  I love how much you see them laughing in their pictures and in the video.  And hey, it made it easier for Sarah to make it through her beautiful vows after she'd just been laughing so much, instead of being choked up the whole time...

Sarah and Mike were such a pleasure to work with, and they put together a great team of other vendors.  I especially enjoyed working with SidebySide Video and Zelo Photography - both are husband and wife teams, and not only are very talented, but easy-going and fun as well.  The pictures below are some of the great work of Seth and Desiree of Zelo Photography.

Thanks, Sarah and Mike, for making me a part of your amazing relationship, and your special day!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Officiant Meeting!

What should you expect when you are first meeting with an officiant, someone you are interviewing about being your officiant? I've been asked this a lot lately, so thought I would talk about it today. Of course, I can only speak for myself, but this is what you should expect from a meeting with me...

Ultimately, the goal, in my mind, is for us all to decide if we are the right fit for each other -- will you end up with the type of ceremony you want for your wedding, and am I someone you would want to work with to do so. I think that undefinable "fit" is absolutely essential in a few vendors for your wedding -- your wedding planner/coordinator, your photographer, your DJ, and your officiant! If these folks don't understand you and what you really want from your wedding, it will be much tougher to actually get that as a result.

First of all, this initial meeting tend to be about 45 minutes to an hour, and in my case, I try to make it someplace convenient to you, which tends to mean a nearby Starbucks or Coffee Bean. Hey, they're all over, so there's always one nearby, right? And, I feel it's important for both of you to meet with me. I've had one situation where it was only the bride, but that was to check me out first, and be sure it was worth the groom's time. Luckily, she quickly decided that it very much was, so I met with them together not long after (and their wedding was three weeks ago, actually!).

The first question I will ask is for you to fill me in on anything that you know you want from your ceremony, and just as important, anything that you know you don't want from your ceremony. This is both in terms of content and style or tone. This also includes religion. Honestly, most couples come to me, or someone like me, because they are not looking for a religious ceremony. But that doesn't mean that you don't want any religious content or pieces, and I never want to assume either way. Some want none at all, some want a touch, and some want a little. Because I am not religious clergy, and my focus tends to be on the relationship and the love you share, religion is not my "first language" in the wedding ceremony. That means that we can add religion-related words or pieces in, if you want or need, but it never starts in there, so there's no worry about having to take it out if you don't want it. At this point in the conversation, I will also ask if there are religious family members that you have to take into account, and knowing that, I will make suggestions for various ways we can cover that.

Secondly, we'll talk a bit about the size of the wedding (especially number of guests), as well as if you want participation by anyone else other than the three of us. Both of those affect some of the ideas we may talk about, for readings and other pieces we may include...

Next, we'll talk about my process and how I tend to work, so you have an idea of what working with me on creating your custom ceremony will be like. I will post more about my process at a later date. While we are talking about this process and what to expect, though, more ideas are coming up about things you may want to do or include, or consider doing/including.

Again, the end result of this initial meeting, for me, is not to have decisions made -- you do not need to know what you want in your ceremony by the end of that 45-60 minutes. But rather it's to know that you want to move forward in working with me to create that ceremony with you, and to have some things to think about along the way. Also, to feel confident that my process will get you to your desired ceremony in the end, whether you have any idea now what that includes or not. We should all leave that meeting excited to work together, and looking forward to creating something together.

Does this help? Are you looking for an officiant to work with on your wedding who will create something custom, fun, and personal with you? Then let's meet! Now at least you know what to expect from that meeting...


Sunday, May 16, 2010

Erica and Anthony - Paradise Gardens

Here is one of the fun couples I was lucky enough to be involved with in 2009.  One day in June, as I was traveling in New York, I got a voice mail from a somewhat panicked bride -- they were getting married in less than two months and their officiant just canceled on them!  Well, luckily for us both, I happened to have that date open, so we set up a meeting for the next week.  At that first meeting with the three of us, it was clear that we were a great match for each other!  And we started working on creating their ceremony immediately!

Erica and Anthony had been together since high school, and just truly enjoyed each other.  Nine years later, they were finally getting married!  And, her Dad wanted to make that point clear - after bringing Erica down the aisle, he wanted the traditional question of who gives this woman, so that he could answer, "I do!  And it's about time!"  Too bad he froze when it came time to answer, and only answered simply, "Her mother and I do."  Erica and I looked at each other, waiting to see if he'd come out with the rest...  He didn't, so we chuckled and just carried on!

A few ways that they made their ceremony unique.  First, they wrote their own vows, and didn't share them with each other ahead of time.  Secondly, they shared great things with me about their relationship, allowing me to share a lot of it with their family and friends, helping everyone there know more about the couple they were there to witness and celebrate.  But most importantly, they paid tribute to his Hawaiian heritage with all of the men wearing custom leis from the start, and then they presented their mothers and step-mother with their own beautiful leis after the procession and as the beginning of the ceremony.  Not a dry eye as the guests saw both Erica and Anthony give such a personal honor to each of their soon-to-be mothers-in-law!

Thanks again, Erica and Anthony, for making me a part of your special day!


Location:  Paradise Gardens, Oceanside

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Asking the Question?

Nope, I'm not referring to that wonderful question asked in so many wonderful ways - the "will you marry me?" question. 

I'm actually referring to the question traditionally asked when the bride's father walks her down the aisle, "Who gives this woman to be married to this man?" - or something along those lines.  It is actually one of the things I have learned to ask my couples about -- including what does the bride want, what are her Dad's expectations...

The reason I ask about it, and don't want to make assumptions either way, is that most couples who work with me are either living together already, or have been in the relationship for a good amount of time - but are definitely not coming to me directly from their father's home.  Therefore, the word "give" is where the issue tends to lie.

According to - "In times when women were granted few privileges and even fewer personal rights, the bride was literally given away to the groom by the father, usually in exchange for monetary gain." Yeah, doesn't really describe most of my brides, thankfully!

I'd love to get your thoughts on this.  I tend to offer two suggestions - if they and/or their father want a question asked at that point, I recommend, "Who supports this woman as she joins this man in marriage?" They still answer with "her mother and I do" or whatever is meaningful to them.  It feels much more comfortable to my couples, and is still honoring the bride's father and the important role he has played in his daughter's life.  If they aren't worried about asking a question, I reassure them that a question is not necessary, and truly won't feel odd not being there.  But, if the father is very traditional, and the bride would prefer that I ask the traditional question with "gives," I am happy to do it.

Either way, I love to have the bride and her father stop at the first row of chairs, either ask or don't ask, and then the groom joins them there, shakes the hand of his soon-to-be father-in-law (or hugs him, depending on their relationship), the bride turns to Dad and hugs him, and then the couple take the final step or two to me together.  Whether it is a real distance of a few steps or even stairs, or just a symbolic distance of only a few feet, it's nice that they are coming to me together, coming to their marriage together, as equals and as a team.