Posts Tagged ‘San Diego wedding’

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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Sunset Cliffs was the perfect spot for a wintertime “Just Us Two” wedding ceremony. I love the raw nature, the soft light, and the incredible ocean views out there.
And, you wouldn’t know it from the quiet sophistication of this couple, but because these two are such huge Star Wars fans, I incorporated words of wisdom from Yoda – life philosophy to hold them in good stead in their marriage.

Photos courtesy of the incredibly talented Matoli Keely. For a “Just Us Two” wedding, I usually defer to the photographer to choose the angle, location, and timing for sunset. The light and background is so important to their photos, and with just a few of us it’s easy to get creative.

All the better to highlight that gorgeous dress!


John was sweet to hold her flowers while Heather expressed her vows.


Introducing the newlyweds!


I had so much fun crafting a beautiful ceremony with this gracious, fun, creative couple!


Their young son had congratulations for mom and dad as well.


Congratulations Mrs. and Mrs.

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An intimate oceanfront wedding ceremony, at Pacific Coast Grill in Cardiff. Not only uniting a couple in marriage, but creating extended family, with daughters gaining sisters.

~What a treat for the guests to be serenaded with the talent of Israel Maldonado
~Gorgeous bouquets by Isari
~Wedding planned and coordinated by the ever professional and talented Laura Rizzo
~All images captured by the fantastic Boyd Harris


Boulders, beach, and ocean waves at Pacific Coast Grill create a dramatic backdrop for a simple ceremony


Without a traditional aisle and arch, wedding planner extraordinaire Laura Rizzo created the personal touch, with names written on beach stones as place markers for the wedding party.


Sweet image of daughter helping mom with a beautiful wedding gift from her husband-to-be, just before the ceremony

ceremony open


For an intimate feel, guests were invited to gather in a half circle around the bride and groom



Mr. and Mrs.!


Everyone was feeling the love!

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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.

~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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How do you create a ceremony in the round? With focus, intention and logistical magic.

Gee and Jen were one of the most creative and fun-loving couples I worked with last year. Their motto for life and love: Be Good, Do Good, Always try your best

While staying true to the inherent tradition of a wedding ceremony, they certainly made it their own.

With friends and family being so important to them, Gee & Jen wanted to feel surrounded in their love. What better way than in a circle? The beauty of Temecula Creek Inn created the perfect setting.

Fantastic Photography by Melissa Abiador

Photo by Melissa Abiador

Photo by Melissa Abiador

A program fan is a great way to share great information with your guests, and help keep them cool, too! Photo by Melissa Abiador

A program fan is a great way to share great information with your guests, and help keep them cool, too! Photo by Melissa Abiador


Fancy feet! Photo by Melissa Abiador

ceremony trees

The majesty of the trees extended the ceremony circle in their embrace. Photo by Melissa Abiador

Wedding attendants create a beautiful human backdrop outside the circle. Photo by Melissa Abiador

Wedding attendants create a beautiful human backdrop outside the circle. Photo by Melissa Abiador

A ceremony table would feel a bit awkward in the circle. Ask your wedding party to bring the ritual to you! Friends held the time capsule while Gee and Jen placed their letters to each other inside, along with a bottle of wine, and hammered it closed, to be opened on their fifth anniversary! {Wood is the element of the five-year wedding anniversary}

Photo by Melissa Abiador

Friends hold the wedding ‘time capsule’ while Gee and Jen place their precious cargo of love letters inside. Photo by Melissa Abiador

timecapsule box

Hand-crafted wooden wedding ‘time capsule’. Photo by Melissa Abiador

With this ring, I thee wed. Photo by Melissa Abiador

With this ring, I thee wed. Photo by Melissa Abiador

I now pronounce you! Photo by Melissa Abiador

I now pronounce you! Photo by Melissa Abiador

Congratulations! Photo by Melissa Abiador

Congratulations! Photo by Melissa Abiador

Rustic love. Photo by Melissa Abiador

Rustic love. Photo by Melissa Abiador

"Gayle, Thank you again for officiating our wedding! It was truly a pleasure to have you be a part of our big day - we couldn't have asked for a more perfect day!"~G&J- Photo by Melissa Abiador

“Gayle, Thank you again for officiating our wedding! It was truly a pleasure to have you be a part of our big day – we couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day!”~G&J Photo by Melissa Abiador

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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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Love is patient and kind .. . .
Love bears all things, believes all things,
hopes all things, and endures all things

Aaron and Mikela chose this reading from Corinthians to include in their wedding ceremony, and I can’t imagine a bride and groom who better exemplifies these words . . .

Most couples marry with joy and their whole world ahead of them. Aaron and Mikela were put to the test even before sharing their vows.

Photo by Cavin Elizabeth Photography

Photo by Cavin Elizabeth Photography

Wish Upon A Wedding is such an inspired organization, to give celebration where there has been hardship and heartache. This charity truly understands the importance of celebration and joy, and the ritual of a wedding ceremony.

“We want to thank you so much for your services as officiant at our wedding!! What an amazing day!!

You definitely fulfilled your great services on our wedding day. The most memorable part was the personal touch that you added and felt like you really knew us in just that short meeting we had together!
The easy flow of the service and when I stumbled on my words you just played it off and kept everything going. We were so happy to have you as a part of our day!!”

Thank you again, 
Mr. and Mrs. Freudenburg

They are an inspiration and an example of what marriage is all about: sticking by each other, in sickness and in health.
For this I was truly humbled and honored to officiate their March 20 wedding ceremony (first day of Spring!) at the Lomas Santa Fe country club.

Click Here to see a beautiful highlight video courtesy of Emotion Picture Studios!

Channel 6 News attended the ceremony of this inspiration couple!

Other generous professionals that provided services for this Wish Upon A Wedding couple:

Wedding Planner: Natalie Vishny of Natalie Vishny Events

Venue: Krissi Trevino, Private Events Director, Lomas Santa Fe Country Club.

Wish Upon A Wedding Coordination Support: Carmen Fuentes of Expressionary Events and Niloufar Gibson of Perfectly Made Weddings.

Florist: Jenny B Floral Design

Officiant: Gayle Feallock of Just Imagine Weddings & Ministry.

Cake: Grove Pastry Shop

Cake Stand: Kathy Jo Peterson of Raise The Cake custom cake stands.

Beauty: Design Visage

Entertainment: Jeff Holmes of Moondance Productions.

Photographer: Cavin Urquhart of Cavin Elizabeth Photography.

Photo Booth: What A Blast Photo Booth.

Stationary: Elizabeth Fleming of Caligraffiti

Transportation; Randy Tucker of Lake Forest Limos.

Lodging: Amy Green of Where Will They Stay.

Rentals: Signature Party Rentals

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