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Archive for the ‘Ceremony and Reception Locations’ Category

Planning your wedding ceremony? My “Spiritual not religious” post continues to ring true for most of the couples I create with. Reposting from 7 years ago!

“. . . a quiet YES: the Divine brought you together, but the two of you did all the heavy lifting, and this is to be acknowledged and honored in a sacred way.”

—————-

Spiritual not religious: Navigating the G-word in Your Wedding Ceremony 

“We’re spiritual but not religious.” I’m sitting at my favorite Starbucks with a newly engaged couple. They are getting married next spring and we are meeting for the first time to discuss their wedding ceremony.

We’ve talked about how they met, the proposal, why this is the one person they want to spend the rest of their life with, and some ideas of what they would like to include in their ceremony.
As a wedding minister, I love hearing the story of their relationship and encourage them to weave it into their ceremony so their guests can enjoy it as well.

And then we get to this tricky bit:

When I ask them about their religious background and current spiritual practice, many couples respond, “spiritual but not religious.”

And to my followup question of, “What does ‘spiritual’ mean to you?” the answer gets a little more elusive.

Many couples feel a connection to something greater, yet the traditional religion they grew up with no longer resonates with their sense of values and in living their daily life.
And for their wedding ceremony, the idea of a reading from the Bible or mentioning God makes them feel a little squirmy.

One bride responded: “I think being spiritual is being in touch with the Earth, being good to people, understanding there is something greater that helps you out in hard times.”
Other responses have been, “It is living your life to make a difference, to do your best every day” and “I feel a close spiritual connection when I practice yoga.”

Many couples respond with, “I don’t know.” And that is ok.

If you want a truly secular ceremony, you can find a judge, captain on a boat, or have a friend sign up as deputy for a day to officiate your wedding.

If you are choosing not to include a spiritual element in your ceremony simply because it seems confusing or uncomfortable, maybe it doesn’t have to be.

As a nondenominational minister, I do invoke and invite the Divine, but require no proof or definition of your faith. Whatever spiritual means to you, even if you are grappling with that definition, that is what we create for you in the ceremony.

Perhaps your story of how you met had a serendipitious quality. Does it feel like there was something larger at work, ensuring that you two would meet?

Or, maybe your relationship was hard-won: so many obstacles placed before you that it is a marvel you will finally be walking down the aisle at all. In this instance, maybe it was only your faith in each other, in the face of everything else, that kept you two together.

In both cases, or any variation in between, incorporating that experience through a reading could speak to the nature of the Divine in your story.

Some traditional readings are popular and moving for a reason. For example, Corinthians 1-4: “Love is Patient, Love is Kind,” brings everything back to the simple yet powerful concept of love. “The Art of a Good Marriage” helps you to remember to be your best.

But don’t just toss in a reading because it is familiar or easy. Take some time to find something that really moves you and can deliver your idea of the Divine in a way that articulates what you might not be able to. It could even be a popular song lyric or excerpt from a favorite novel.

At the completion of the wedding ceremony, and before I pronounce a couple married, I always say a blessing. I don’t believe a blessing is a restriction, or an agreement with a certain religious scripture. Rather it is a quiet YES: the Divine brought you together, but the two of you did all the heavy lifting, and this is to be acknowledged and honored in a sacred way.

Just because it may feel ambiguous, inviting the spiritual into your wedding ceremony doesn’t need to be daunting or feel overbearing. It’s ok to not know, because, guess what? Nobody knows for sure. Just go by your true feelings, and Faith, and you can’t go wrong.

No matter how simple or brief, the sacred can still be included in your wedding ceremony in a way that feels right for you.

Gayle Feallock, Ordained Minister and owner of Just Imagine Weddings & Ministry, has officiated wedding ceremonies in Southern California since 2007. With no religious upbringing, she was a spiritual blank slate and eventually discovered her own spirituality thanks to generous teachers, leaders, mentors and schools. She welcomes all faiths and creates a sacred space for two people to celebrate their love and commitment in their wedding ceremony, for dearest friends and family to witness and support. http://www.justimagineweddings.com

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Every year my mother – who lives in Tucson – comes to San Diego for about 6 weeks to escape the summer heat of the Arizona desert.

She stays in a wonderful VRBO down near Balboa Park, and in my free time she and I play tourist in San Diego.

My service as a ceremony officiant takes me all over San Diego County, to beautiful and unique event venues. This past summer it was my pleasure to officiate the wedding ceremony for Joe and Lori at the Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park.

ceremony site

under the Pagoda by the Koi pond

Since I always attend wedding rehearsal, I invited my mother to meet me at the Gardens after I had completed the rehearsal with the couple. Mom and I had a wonderful time touring the Gardens, enjoying the peace and quiet, and the stunning landscape design.

japanese friendship garden

A view from up top, of the extensive gardens and pathways

For me, it’s special to include my mother in my life this way and she has a better appreciation and understanding of my work.
We can easily take our mothers for granted or we might not even realize how much it means to them when we include them in our lives, even in a small way.

japanese friendship garden

On the bridge with my mother, the rock-lined stream flowing from the top of the Gardens

Traditionally in a wedding ceremony, a father escorts his daughter down the aisle, and mom doesn’t always have a particular role. After nearly 20 years in the world of weddings I have seen, suggested and encouraged many opportunities to include BOTH parents.

Opportunities to honor mom in your wedding ceremony:
~Many more couples are inviting BOTH parents to escort them down the aisle.
~Your mother escorts you down the aisle. Many moms have played the role of both parents in their child’s life, and this is a beautiful way to acknowledge that.
~A Rose of Gratitude: at the beginning of the ceremony, the couple presents a single rose to each mom (stepmothers, too!), in a gesture of gratitude for all the support and love they have received.
~A Reading: invite mom to read a special poem or verse during the ceremony
~Maid/Matron of Honor: there is no reason why your very own mother can’t serve in this very important role as well.
~In Memory: if you mother has passed, there are many ways to honor her in memoriam. Your officiant can acknowledge her during opening remarks. You can leave an empty chair at the front row, perhaps even with a single white rose on it. You can include photos of her at a special “In Memoriam” table at the ceremony.

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A very sweet couple sharing their vows by the sea.

Thank you so much to Brian at ABM Photo for these beautiful shots!
Gorgeous florals by Fox & Flora
Stellar coordination efforts courtesy of Taleah Hartsten
And, shoutout to DJ at WeddingBug and A/V tech from L’Auberge for making me sound good!

aisle closeup

Can you imagine a more beautiful view? Cliffside in Del Mar, at Seagrove Park. simple florals mark the wedding aisle

arch florals

This wooden frame arch is beautifully adorned, and just the right look for this late September wedding.

Gayle, I am so thankful we chose you! You were so sweet and did such a great job. . . . I hope you’re doing well! Thank you again from the bottom of my heart.“~Tailor

gayle down the aisle

Heading up the aisle the start the processional. I love to see the smiles and anticipation of friends and family.

memorial sign

A beautiful tribute to those they have lost

ceremony - side

This was a fully destination wedding to San Diego, a small intimate group of friends and family.

ceremony long - fg

Sharing I Dos (as the flowergirl makes a getaway)

tailor smile

All smiles, about to say, “I do!”

kiss

They have a very curious witness to their first kiss! 🙂

mr-mrs

Congratulations Mr. and Mrs.!

lauberge sunset

A view of their L’Auberge Inn wedding reception

sunset sillhouette

tailor-taylor sign

This couple shares everything – including their name!

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So many aspects of this wedding I love. This wonderful couple met in high school, went their separate ways, then rediscovered each other as adults. A beautiful love story.

Thank you to Arash of Rugger Productions Photography for capturing the day
Holly Kalkin for incredible planning expertise
DJ Earl Henry
Paradise Point staff for their help and support

ceremony long view

Paradise Point is just that – a paradise oasis in a paradise city

arch detail - flowers

Beautiful arch detail by Thistle Dew Floral thistledewfloral.com

bride - parents - holly

The bride is beaming as she gets ready to walk up the aisle. And the amazing Holly Kalkin always behind the scenes hard at work, even straightening the gown at the last minute.

bride smile

blue shoes

Look at these shoes! Sassy splash of blue.

bride wiping groom brow

A really sweet moment. I had given the bride a few tissue to dab at tears, and she used one to attend to the brow of her man (it was a VERY hot day!)

her vows

Sharing personal vows

with this ring

With this ring . . .

sand_vows

I brought a little paper weight from home to hold their vows at this breezy spot.

sand thumbs up

Unity Ceremony Blending of the Sands: colors of blue and silver to represent the ocean. And together they created this keepsake for their home.

signing license

Whom will you choose to witness and sign your marriage license!?

earl on dance floor

DJ Earl Henry is one of the best in the biz. Not only is he incredibly professional – I can always count on him during the ceremony – he’s a lot of fun, too, at reception.

sunset pic

A practically perfect day

 

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Fantastic videography of the very touching wedding of Joe & Paige. I loved working and creating with these two – such a sweet and very-in-love couple 🙂

Thank you to Regan at reganelizabethfilms.com for your artistry.

Ceremony snippets throughout!

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A garden ceremony for Emily and Christian’s beautiful June wedding at Rancho Valencia. It was a pleasure to officiate the wedding ceremony for this sweet couple! So kind and gracious, no wonder the benches were overflowing with loved ones.

Shoutout to wonderful collaborators:
Jose Villa Photography  – thank you for capturing these incredible images!
Brooke Kegan Events – absolutely on point in coordination, likeability, and professionalism.
Enchanted Evening Productions– provided beautiful live processional and recessional
music for the ceremony
Gorgeous florals by Sarah Winward
and of course the beautiful unique lush venue, Rancho Valencia

aisle florals

Bountiful florals highlight the aisle

arch

How much do you love the wooden benches!!

back arch

Stunning arch created by Sarah Winward

boutonniere

Perfect simple boutonniere

ceremony back view

Simple setup on the lawn

ceremony long view

Friends and family witness the I Dos

couple-tree

A fun sweet couple. The gorgeous trees on property make for a beautiful frame.

dress back frame

That dress!

violin

Incredible strings filled the air with beautiful music

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Despite the heat of August, this fun-loving couple were all smiles for their wedding at the New Children’s Museum in downtown San Diego.

Across the street, they said “I Do’s” on the playground, then back to the museum for celebrations.

Much gratitude to:
Kellene of Betty Blue Events for masterful coordination
Laura of Laura Christin Photography for these incredible images – she captured their emotions beautifully.
DJ Earl Henry – always the pro – for seamless ceremony sound and music.

Cat-mother

Escorted by her mother, Catherine is just beaming as she heads up the aisle (and I just love the toddler-swing hanging in the background!)

bride arrival

Colin can’t hide his love and pride as Catherine comes up to join him.

rings-kerchief

Their wedding rings bundled up into a special handkerchief – handmade by Colin’s great-grandmother – it also served as Cat’s “something blue.”

passing the rings

Cat’s dear aunt passes their wedding rings along – a beautiful ritual of a ring warming- during the ceremony.

vows card

Sharing personal vows is a special and sacred moment. I always tell couples it’s a good idea to write them on a nice card stock – easier to manage especially in breezes. These two wrote their vows into lovely cards, which will make a great keepsake.

signinglicense-bm

Just after the ceremony is complete as the wedding party begins to celebrate, the Maid of Honor and Best Man perform that very important task of signing their marriage license as witness.

reception setup

Beautifully set up for a celebration!

Congratulations Mr. & Mrs!!
I was to honored to officiate their ceremony on their big day.

You far exceeded our expectations for the ceremony. We had a delightful time meeting you and telling you our story–and you managed to incorporate that very well into the ceremony. Your process works! It was such a pleasure working with you.
~Cat & Colin

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