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Posts Tagged ‘expert wedding advice’

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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I’ve lived in San Diego more than 30 years, and officiated all over the county for the last 9, and can’t believe I’ve never stepped foot inside this gem!

Thanks so much to event coordinator Heather Hayes for giving me the grand tour yesterday!

Junipero exteriorIf you have a love of the historical, the Junipero Serra museum might be perfect for your wedding.

Situated high on the hill above Old Town San Diego, the views are amazing. Inside the museum, beautiful artifacts line the space that is designed almost like a chapel, to reflect mission revival architecture.

Challenges:
~you need to bring in your own rental items, eg. chairs, etc.
~as a historical landmark, it is not ADA compliant, so not accessible for anyone in wheelchair
~no heating or air conditioning. Would be lovely in the summertime, but winter months you might suggest your female guests bring a wrap.

Good News:
~within the intimate indoor acoustics of thick adobe walls, oftentimes a microphone is not even needed
~unlike some small chapels, this venue can seat 140 guests
~they do allow unity candles during the ceremony (some sites do not allow open flame of any kind)
~two big getting-ready rooms!

Not to mention old-world charm and a unique venue that even some of your local guests might have not yet experienced.

junipero interior

Photo by True Photography

Check out the setup for a wedding ceremony

 

 

 

 

 

 

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For my final blog post of January 2016 , a memory of my favorite wedding last year. Yep, I said “favorite.” Here’s why:

I would never call favorites on any of the couples I work with. It has been my privilege to work with caring, creative, interesting, generous brides and grooms, and I have enjoyed them all – I’m not just saying that.

But Leslie and Ryan are different. Because I had the privilege of watching Leslie grow from a young college intern to a strong career woman. And lucky enough to have her as my assistant in San Diego for several of those years. When they asked me to officiate their wedding ceremony, I was over the moon.

It was a special treat to fly out to Raleigh, NC where they now call home. Leslie and her mother found her perfect gorgeous venue: Wakefield Plantation, a historic plantation-style golf resort. The plan: An outdoor ceremony looking over the sweeping lawns and trees, followed by cocktails and reception inside the beautiful ballroom.
Raleigh was sunny and hot all that week – except on wedding day, when the skies poured down rain and lightening and thunder rolled through. (And then, of course, it was clear and sunny again the next day.)

Leslie and Ryan were admittedly disappointed, but pulled themselves together and forged ahead with grace, style, and above all, flexibility.

With quick planning by her wedding planner and Wakefield staff, the ceremony came together beautifully in a cozy room with a fireplace.

Big thanks to Richard Barlow for the incredible photos! (San Diego newlyweds, if you want an incredible, easygoing, fun photographer with southern charm, contact Richard. He has plans to establish a Southern Cali office, so maybe we can lure him out to San Diego.)
www.richardbarlowphotography.com

in the rain

This bride won’t be deterred by thunderstorms! A giant golf umbrella and lots of friends to hold her dress – it’s off to the wedding!

ring bearers

Ringbearers carrying the groom’s family crest

waiting for Leslie

The groom and I watching his gorgeous bride head down the aisle

here comes the bride

Proud papa

ceremony welcome

While the storms rumbled outside, this cozy room with a fireplace made for a beautiful intimate ceremony

flowers to his mom

It is such a special moment during the ceremony, when a couple honors their mothers, in gratitude for all the years of love and supporthugging mom

Leslies heart

A little fun and levity during the ceremony

vows

I admit that, during their vows, when she got choked up, I got a little choked up.

happilymarried

Presenting Mr. & Mrs.!!

L&R outside

Of course the rain let up a bit after the ceremony, so the newlyweds grabbed their moment outside, with the beautiful expanse of the course as a backdrop

room shot

Cozy elegance: that’s how they do in Raleigh

countrydancers

This gal, a professional dance instructor, taught me how to line dance in 5 minutes while standing at the bar

linedancew:Leslie

So that I could join the fun with the bride! I rarely have the opportunity to be a guest at a wedding, so I enjoyed every moment. (Yes, the officiating suit came off and the party dress went on!)

Us3-crop

So proud to be their friend and officiant. Love you Leslie!

sparklers

Sparklers are illegal in California with our dry conditions, but in NC they light ’em up! What a great sendoff!

 

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These two love hiking, being outdoors, and weekends away, so the sprawling woodsy property at Milagro Winery in Ramona, CA, was a perfect venue for their wedding.

Christina and Greg put so much loving thought into every detail of their ceremony, expressing their love as well as their humor throughout.

So great to work with Janis Foley, and please enjoy her amazing photo stylings. She gets the shots and angles that not every photographer has mastered. I think some of her photos look like paintings.

Milagro sign

I can’t say enough great things about Milagro Winery – it fills the bill on so many levels for a magical wedding ceremony and reception. It’s a bit of a drive, but definitely worth it.

 

getting-ready house

This cute little house is right next to the ceremony site and the perfect getting-ready area for the bride and attendants. It is spacious, has it’s own large bathroom and best of all – air-conditioned!

ceremony wide angle

Fairytale wedding ceremony among the trees.

ceremony-backdrop

Boulders and trees serve as the arch and ‘altar’

bridein trees

A beautiful frame for a gorgeous bride.

Christine-dress

How stunning is her dress? The bride had it custom-made – a perfect creation for this woodland wedding.

dress corset

Intricate delicate details of custom flowers – a delicious confection

Gayle-Greg-aisle

Starting off the processional, the groom and I head down the aisle.

escorting bride

Such a special moment as father escorts his daughter.

awtg the bride

The look on his face as he watches his bride walk down the aisle – priceless.

flowersonbarrel

Rather than ceremony tables, Milagro Winery uses wine barrels! Functional and authentic aesthetic

hammering

The bride and groom hammering their Wedding Time Capsule closed. They’ve enclosed private letters to each other, along with a bottle of wine, and in 5 years (wood is the element for the 5th anniversary) they will pry open the box, read the letters, and again toast their union.

hammering-bride

withthisring

With this ring . . .

heartboxsign

A variation on the wedding ceremony stone blessing: each guest found a small wooden heart on their chair. They were asked to hold it during the ceremony and think wonderful thoughts and blessings in support of Christine & Greg’s marriage. After the ceremony they signed their heart and dropped it in a keepsake box for the couple’s home.

 

 

bubbles

Bubbles! Blowing bubbles is a fun way for guests to celebrate the I Dos!

 

couple at lake

A private moment by the lake.

feet

How gorgeous are her shoes?! And the clever little heel protector makes it easier to walk on the grass. At the reception, just pop off the protector and it’s back in your sassy heels for dancing.

staff

I love that Janis caught a picture of the Milagro event staff in action- Melissa and crew do such a professional job. Makes it a joy to officiate ceremonies at Milagro, knowing everything is handled.

guests to reception

Guests have the opportunity to truly take in this magnificent property, with a leisurely stroll from the ceremony site up to the reception building.

FG-RB on cart

Or they can catch a ride on the golf cart!

Gayle with couple

“Dear Gayle, Thank you for doing such a wonderful job officiating our ceremony- it was beautiful! We couldn’t have hoped for any better.” ~ Christina & Greg

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Mr.& Mrs.! Photo by Mink Photography

Mr.& Mrs.! Photo by Mink Photography

A True Love story for Jess & Steven. They shared their vows at the historic El Cortez in downtown San Diego for an urban celebration.

Their wedding was so inspiring it has been featured on Brown Sparrow, The Knot, as well as Borrowed&Blue!

How did Jess & Steven make their ceremony unique and personal?
The handbinding ritual asks a series of promises and the couple responds, declaring their commitment to each other.

Expressing vows with the beautiful handbinding ritual. Photo by Mink Photography

Expressing vows with the beautiful handbinding ritual. Photo by Mink Photography

These two even crafted their own handbinding cord! Click Here for more information about the HandBinding Ceremony.

 

Jess & Steven wanted to include their family and friends with a Stone Blessing. During the ceremony, each guest holds a hand-picked stone and sends all of their good thoughts and well wishes into the stone, where they are all deposited into a keepsake for the couple to have at home!

Photo by Mink Photography

Photo by Mink Photography

Great to work with these wedding professionals!

Wedding Planner: Jessica with A LIfe of Dreams
DJ: DJ Daniel Peterson
Photographer: Mink Photography
Catering: Continental Catering
Florist: Heavenly Gift and Florist

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If you were getting married in a traditional church, the altar would define the space of your ceremony, and act as the focal point.

But what if Nature is your church?
For an outdoor wedding, the traditional ceremony frame is some version of an arch. The symbolism of the ceremony arch is the home or shelter for the couple, reminiscent of the huppah in the Jewish tradition.

The iconic Coronado beach sets the stage for this simple huppah. Photo by Derek Chad

The iconic Coronado beach sets the stage for this simple huppah. Photo by Derek Chad

With a huppah the couple and officiant actually stand underneath, as logistically it is large enough, with four poles as the structure and a linen serving as the ‘roof.’

When using an arch, sometimes there is room for the officiant to stand beneath the arch and the couple just in front; often times it serves simply as a backdrop.

Put some thought into your intention of the ceremony, beyond the words themselves. Consider creating a FRAME for your wedding ceremony, rather than a structure.

Over the years I’ve been privileged to officiate wedding ceremonies for some very creative couples.

Here are some Do’s and Don’ts as well as a few designs to inspire. Be sure to talk logistics with your florist or designer. {CLICK ON EACH PHOTO FOR LARGER IMAGE}

Simply use the backdrop of America's Finest City. Because, why gild the lily? At Centennial Park on Coronado. Photo by Philip DeFalco

Simply use the backdrop of America’s Finest City. Because, why gild the lily? At Centennial Park on Coronado. Photo by Philip DeFalco

Single frame with gauzy drapes frame a solid grounding boulder amongst the beauty of the trees, at Milagro Winery. The groomsmen crafted the frame themselves so that it held solidly on the ground. Photo by Dinela Photography

Gauzy drapes frame a solid grounding boulder amongst the beauty of the trees, at Milagro Winery. The groomsmen crafted the frame themselves so that it held solidly on the ground. Photo by Dinela Photography

A simple arrangement of two pedestals of vibrant florals sets the space in an elegant way, on the terrace of El Cortez, downtown San Diego. Photo by True Photography

A simple arrangement of two pedestals of vibrant florals sets the space in an elegant way, on the terrace of El Cortez, downtown San Diego. Photo by True Photography

DO: Chandelier crystals sparkle in the sunlight and add a touch of elegance outdoors, at Lomas Santa Fe Country Club DON'T: As officiant it was challenging to stand under the arch in a way that it didn't look like there is a chandelier on my head. Photo by Cavin Elizabeth Photography

DO: Chandelier crystals sparkle in the sunlight and add a touch of elegance outdoors, at Lomas Santa Fe Country Club
DON’T: As officiant it was challenging to stand under the arch in a way that it didn’t look like there is a chandelier on my head. Photo by Cavin Elizabeth Photography

DO: Beautiful vibrant colors add whimsy and fun to this wedding ceremony. DON'T: It was a windy day, and the ribbons kept wrapping around me and going in my face, the baubles flapping in the breeze

DO: Beautiful vibrant colors add whimsy and fun to this wedding ceremony.
DON’T: It was a windy day, and the ribbons kept wrapping around me and going in my face, the baubles flapping in the breeze

Sometimes the ocean is the perfect simple backdrop (Birdrock, La Jolla). Photo by Phil DeFalco

Sometimes the ocean is the perfect simple backdrop (Birdrock, La Jolla). Photo by Phil DeFalco

The doors for the aisle entrance were magical! at Hidden Oaks in Ramona. Photo by Mr. and Mrs. Photography

The doors for the aisle entrance were magical! at Hidden Oaks in Ramona. Photo by Mr. and Mrs. Photography

Let Nature embrace your ceremony. With this simple approach there are no distractions and the wedding party created a beautiful boundary. Photo by Mr. and Mrs. Photography

Let the majesty of trees embrace your ceremony. With this simple approach there are no distractions and the wedding party created a beautiful boundary, at Hidden Oaks in Ramona. Photo by Mr. and Mrs. Photography

These simple old doors added to the vintage appeal of the wedding theme and blended in nicely with the beautiful greenery of the outdoors at Twin Oaks Golf Club in San Marcos. Photo by  Katie Jackson Photography

These simple old doors added to the vintage appeal of the wedding theme and blended in nicely with the beautiful greenery of the outdoors at Twin Oaks Golf Club in San Marcos. Photo by Katie Jackson Photography

These wine boxes designate the space and frame the breathtaking view of cliffside ceremony at Seagrove Park; serve as a table; and also fit the theme of this wine-lover couple. Photo by StudioZ

These wine boxes and tables designate the space and frame the breathtaking view of cliffside ceremony at Seagrove Park; serve as a table; and also fit the theme of this wine-lover couple. Photo by StudioZ

Scroll to the end of this article for pics of ceremony spaces for book lovers!
http://www.ameliste.co.uk/tips-and-advice/wedding-decoration/218-tips-and-diy-ideas/992-creative-wedding-arch

Despite your feelings about this couple, what a gorgeous ceremony backdrop! Installation of white gardenias, white peonies and white roses. Floral backdrops are becoming more popular!

Whatever your impression about this couple, what a gorgeous ceremony backdrop! Installation of white gardenias, white peonies and white roses. Floral backdrops are becoming more popular!

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I’m meeting with an engaged couple and they are telling me what is important to them about their wedding ceremony.

“We just want it to be short and simple.”

When you say “short and simple,” what do you really mean?

If you want to get it over with, you can easily pop down to the county clerk and make it happen today. Here’s all the info for a San Diego wedding: https://arcc.sdcounty.ca.gov/Pages/marriage-licenses.aspx

Short and simple.

Maybe what you really mean is that you don’t want to be bored, or to bore your guests. Maybe you don’t want anyone to feel uncomfortable with flowery language or emotional vows. Or that the wedding ceremony seems like such a big unknown and it’s a little nerve-wracking to go exploring.

Or maybe what you really want is to be authentic. An opportunity to experience this momentous occasion in a way that feels natural and true to you.
I can help you with that.

An emphatic "I Do!". Photo by Cassidy Hall

An emphatic “I Do!”. Photo by Cassidy Hall

Because it’s not about how long the ceremony is. It’s about connecting to the experience. As a nondenominational minister and officiant of sacred ceremonies, I can help you find ways – through readings, rituals, and expressing your personal story – for your family and friends to connect, too.

When it’s authentic–truly you–every moment of your wedding ceremony will feel good and exciting and inspiring.

When it’s authentic, you will create a memory that is so vivid you will be able to describe it in detail for the rest of your lives: when your kids ask you about your wedding; when you celebrate your 50th anniversary.

Authentic is unforgettable. Photo by Cassidy Hall

Authentic is unforgettable. Photo by Cassidy Hall

 

 

Short and simple is ok. Authentic is unforgettable.

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