With Great Ceremony

Seattle’s top officiants share their best advice on crafting a truly personal exchanging of vows
From: Spring/Summer 2017 edition
Lighting a unity candle during your vows helps to symbolize two individuals now working as one

UNIVERSAL APPEAL

Best Tip: “In our experience, the best way to create a ceremony that resonates across different cultures and religions is to incorporate themes that are universal,” says David Cooper of Forever, Together. “Love, family, honesty and faith are highly values in all religions so including readings that focus on these values helps connect disparate elements of a diverse ceremony together smoothly, and usually resonate at some level with just about everyone.” - David Cooper and Joanna Marie of Forever, Together

WRITE ON

Best Tip: “When writing your own vows, I think the two most important things to consider are length and tone,”says the Reverend Ray Van Winkle. “It does not look good when one person’s vows go on and on and the other’s is super short. In regards to tone, it’s also kind of jarring to have one person very serious and the other too lighthearted or jokey. You can always send your vows to your officiant in advance of the wedding and ask them to check to see if they are a good match.” - Reverend Ray Van Winkle

GRAND PROCESSIONAL

Best Tip: “The walk to and from the altar is a powerful way for couples to ceremoniously enact their journey and transition from me before you, to us, to this day forth,” explains Danna Schmidt of Waypoint Ceremonies. “There are countless ways couples can own processional moments in their own unique ways—having the attendants enact their respective stories from then to now, handing “mile”stones to key friends and family members to place at pivot points along the aisle or dropping shredded slips of paper inscribed with words of what each is happily giving up from his or her old life.” - Danna Schmidt

ceremony

Traditional to many Christian denominations, a foot washing ritual can lend poignance to an outdoor ceremony || Photography by: Chrisy Dorsey

KEY ROLE

Best Tip: “I believe thatone role of the officiant is to lace the guests into the very fabric of the ceremony in a warm, comfortable manner,” says the Reverend Mary Calhoun of Window to the Soul Ministry. “I accomplish this by welcoming guests with a heartfelt soliloquy before I begin the actual ceremony. Every couple’s passage is distinct, so this must be genuine to each wedding couple. The thought and preparation is a worthwhile effort that results in an honoring of all the guests—and shines light on the strengths of the individuals being married. Hitting these fine notes with compassion, grace and humor makes for a long-remembered ceremony.” - Reverend Mary Calhoun

TRADITIONAL TWIST

Best Tip: “One of my most favorite new traditions of 2016 was the wedding selfie,” says officiant Annemarie Juhlian. “Toward the end of the ceremony, I hand a couple two cameras and they take a ‘ceremony time-out’ and take photos, not only of the two of them, but of this special lifetime moment with their family and friends. Some of the brave ones have wandered down the aisle, snapping shots!”  - Annemarie Juhlian