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On Saturday July 3rd I had the opportunity to officiate at Jeff and Dawn Brundage’s wedding celebration held at Chambers Bay Golf Course in University Place (Tacoma, Wa.).

The course offers a spacious tent for either the wedding (if incliment weather) or reception, featuring an excellent view of the fairways below and the spectacular Puget Sound.  The Brundage’s wedding was timed to be held near sunset, and as you may imagine the sun rays reflecting off of the water was brilliant.

Jeff and Dawn elected to have the ceremony outside on the patio so that the guests could observe the setting sun and the photos would feature the stunning view.  The groom and his groomsmen were all attired with matching Hawaiian shirts, complete with dark sunglasses!

One of the great features of this celebration was that the evening began about 6pm with the bride and groom receiving their guests in the tent with background music playing and a dinner buffet line.  Guests were able to say hello to the Brundages, get a plate of food, and sit down to mingle with others until the ceremony held later.  Then toward sunset, we stepped out onto the patio for the ceremony (around 8pm), then headed back to the tent for the cutting of the cake.  There were even guest gifts at each table place made of sparklers bundled together – the kids (both young and old) enjoyed lighting these as you might well imagine! 

Congratulations Jeff and Dawn!

Greg

Jeff and Dawn saying "I do" outside on the patio

The past week I was officiating a ceremony for a couple who’s interests (well, at least the groom’s anyway) was centered around the sport of softball.  With spring coming on and the weather in the Puget Sound area looking better and better by the day, thoughts are frequently turning toward ballfields everywhere.

As an illustration I produced a softball from a bag concealed on the platform.  Interesting how all the competition, excitement, and social activites stemming from the sport originate from that little ball. 

Those that play or have played softball remember from our earliest years the most fundemental skill taught to us; “keep your eye on the ball.”  Whether beginner or season veteran of the game, it is imperitive that we focus on this most important element.  Both batting and fielding are dependent on it.  Lose sight of the that little globe and you know what happens; not getting a square hit or even missing the ball completely at the plate, or seeing the ball skip over your glove as a fielder.  There are plenty of distractions as well; as a hitter, thinking more of taking the first steps toward base or where you want to place the hit, or as a fielder seeing the runner out of the corner of your eye or trying to begin your throw before you actually have the ball firmly in your glove. 

In marriage it’s so easy to forget over time the most important elements of our relationships and “take our eyes off of the ball.”  When we are first dating and even into the honeymoon phase of our marriages, we are concentrating 110% on each other’s desires and needs, connecting on an emotional level.  We can remember those conversations on the phone long into the night, or the letters expressing how deeply we felt for one another.

Over time and as life takes its course through the years, the natural pattern is for us to become more comfortable (nothing wrong with that in itself of course – it can also be a good thing!), and we can lose the intensity and passion of focusing on these important things.  The distractions of life (and what marriage doesn’t have them), with a growing family, personal changes and vocational challenges, can also cause us to neglect those things that were once very important in our relationships.

All longer-term relationships have faced this dynamic in one way or another.  The key is to get back to basics; to once again revisit those things that connected you on the heart-level in the first place – to simply take the time to “get to know” each other again.  Over time we change – we won’t be the same 1, 5, 10, or 50 years from now.  The same goes for our spouse – once again, discover the “keys” to their lives – find out what makes them come alive, their passions, goals, desires.  A good start is simply getting a cup of coffee and spending time sitting in front of the fire, or going out on a date.  Staying connected is a matter of the will – make a conscious decision to set aside the necessary time.

Keep your eyes on the ball – I know you can do it!

Greg

I was officiating a wedding at Salish Lodge in beautiful Snoqualmie Falls last night (a beautiful wedding venue!), and shared something with the bride and groom (and guests) that I believe is a key to a long, satisfying marriage relationship.

The key is to keep your marriage “upgraded.”  

In this day and age of computer technology, we all know the importance of not only installing the original computer programs, but keeping these programs regularly updated to insure proper performance.  How many times have we had problems down the road because we neglected to regulary check and download the latest updates and versions or simply didn’t want to pay for these.

The same is true of the marriage relationship.  When first married, it is almost as if we install the “marriage 1.0” version.  But over time, we change, we grow, we enter different seasons of life.  A marriage needs to change and grow as well to keep in step with these changes – and contrary to what some may think, we don’t do this automatically.    We must, so to speak, install “marriage 2.0,” “3.0,” and so on.  It takes constant effort and sensitivity.  My wife Cindy and I are  in our 29th year of marriage, and we have found this to be so true in our relationship.  There have been times that I know I have neglected to focus on important “updates” that could have greatly improved our marriage, and these actions (I should say inactions) almost caused a total systems crash!

Here’s the secret to continually staying fresh in your relationship, to keeping the most current “upgrade” running smoothly in your marriage.  It’s in making the choice to say, “I will learn, I will grow and adjust to the changes taking place in our relationship, I will continue to love deeply no matter what the cost.  I will upgrade to marriage 2.0, 3.0, and beyond!  I will pay the price in order to keep connected to you at the heart level.”

I pray God’s best for your relationship.  Let’s keep our marriages constantly “upgraded!”

Greg

This past weekend I officiated a wedding celebration for a wonderful couple who first met and became sweethearts during their high school years, but life took them different directions until mid-life brought them back together again.  TheiColumns on the Parkr wedding was held at Coumns on the Park in Bellevue.

Columns on the Park is a lovely bed and breakfast with “Italian Sensibility” situated in the Beautiful Lakeland Hills area of Bellevue, down a quiet residential lane.  Heidi Behrens-Benedict is the Innkeeper and owner since the early 70’s.  The Inn features a lovely Italian architectural exterior, complete with stately columns and lovely gardens that provide a wonderful backdrop for smaller, more intimate outdoor wedding celebrations.  Heidi also provides her own “cake and coffee” receptions straight from her kitchen, and makes the most wonderful tasting cakes!  Columns on the Park would make a great location for not only intimate weddings but busniess meetings and romantic getaways.  Well worth checking into!

Greg

Moon Mansion grand staircaseMy wife and I, along with a number of other vendors, were treated to touring a brand new wedding venue the other evening that is sure to capture the attention of many brides in the future; Moon Mansion.  Special thanks to the event orgainizer Nelliena Moetului, wedding coordinator at Snoqualimie Ridge Golf and Country Club, and Moon Mansion owners Paul and Heidi Moon.

Situated on a secluded 8 acres in the North Bend countryside, this 7200 square foot luxurious mansion comes complete with a two-story-tall stone pillar porch, a magnificent pillared marble entryway, and an amazing grand double marble and iron staircase (to die for!).  The house features 6 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, and sleeps 20 to 26 people.  Also part of the amenities are a 1000 square foot French Country Kitchen, spacious dining room with huge table, media room with full-size movie screen, and utility room for laundry.  The grounds feature a 1 acre garden in the back of the house that would be perfect for a smaller wedding (the view from there is amazing!), and a small guest house.

Moon Mansion would be an ideal venue for weddings, family reunions, wedding showers, company executives retreat, or time away with friends in the natural beauty of the northwest.  You can find out more by logging on to www.themoonmansion.com.

GregMoon Mansion exterior

Since weddings are a gathering of people and schedules and equipment, there are many things that can go a little “differently” than planned.  The key is to understand the dynamics of these kinds of things and remain both calm and flexible.  Chances are these “moments” often make for the best memories! 

I remember one wedding when butterflies were to be released, symbolizing something like love taking flight.  It was a great idea, and while doves can be a common animal to release at such ceremonies, it was going to be my first “butterfly release” event.  When the day of the ceremony finally arrived, all was put in place for a lovely back yard ceremony.  The only thing is that the weather didn’t cooperate; it was much colder than anticipated.  And in cold weather butterflies don’t like to move; they go into a kind of “stasis” if you will.  So the decision was made to remove that part of the ceremony…but the only thing is that they didn’t tell me about it!  Well, when the time came for the big “moment,” I started on a wonderful monologue on love and the symbol of what we were going to behold.  Well, out of the corner of my eye I noticed the mother of the bride waving her hands wildly at me and mouthing the words, “we’re not doing the butterflies!”  Well, needless to say it was somewhat of an embarrasing moment for me as I had to recant what I had just begun to say, while transitioning into the next element.  Oh well…that’s life!

Another funny instance I remember is from a wedding my wife and I were involved in as the “singers.”  We were to present a song during the unity candle.  The day before the ceremony I sliced my hand open and had to have both stitches and a sizeable white bandagde around the whole hand.  When the time for the unity candle arrived, our background music began to play; and as I lifted my microphone to join my wife in song, I noticed she was standing on the cord!  I could only (with my huge white bandage and all) tug gently on the cord until she got the message (I think it took about half the song).  In addition to this going on, we heard the assembled guests expressing muffled giggles – what was happening, in addition to our own challenges with bandages and microphones, was that the bride and groom couldn’t get the unity candle to light!  So eventually the resourceful groom dripped some wax from his candle and simply stuck his smaller candle right in the center of the larger candle – wellah!  All was well, to the amusement of the audience (and us).    

Another humorous instance I recall (although not anything going wrong at all) was when I was performing an outdoor wedding.  The groom and I were standing at the front, all ready for the bride to make her appearance in all of her splendor and glory.  Then the music cranked up…the tune of “don’t worry, be happy.”  When the bride appeared coming down the isle, she was accompanied by the family dog, complete with his own little personal tuxedo!  What a kick that was…and a memory I have clearly in my mind until this day.

Greg

One of the “side benefits” of doing weddings is that they take me to some great venues and locations that offer excellent food, great views, and interesting people to meet.  I really enjoy taking road trips (I love to drive and explore new places) and seeing the countryside; I’m constantly discovering new areas of the northwest that I never knew existed or have heard of but not yet visited.

Canlis restaurant in Seattle is one such place – I just came back from an evening wedding event there.  I had heard of the place before but had not been a guest until today.  The room that the ceremony was held in was a smaller, very comfortable space for a table of about 25 (complete with fireplace), featuring an excellent view eastward over the northern portion of Lake Union toward Gasworks Park and beyond.  I felt like I was being pampered from the moment I arrived (valet parking, of course!), and there were waiters and attendents waiting to take your every request, and they took drink orders as we arrived.    I did not stay for dinner after the ceremony, but as I was walking out a waiter offered me a crab puff appetizer (yum!) and I saw some juicy looking steaks sizzling on a grill. 

I had a great time at Canlis and will hopefully return in the near future to either perform another ceremony there or be a dinner guest myself – probably one of those “special” places for birthdays and anniversaries.  I recommend you visit as well.

Greg

Wedding Open House

I was a vendor at a wedding open house at Maplewood Greens in Renton on Saturday.  I had a wonderful time!  It was an opportunity for me to meet quite a few brides (and their moms, fiance’s, and friends) and let them hear about what I do as a wedding celebrant.  Since I like being around and meeting people, it was an afternoon well spent.  Sara and her staff did an excellent job organizing the event – kudos!

My display table

My display table

On the left you’ll note my display table…it was fun to be able to have a table all to myself and meet not only the brides-to-be, but also the various vendors.  I was joined at this event by business people from the community; photographers, florists, decorators, caterers, a bakery, a hair stylist, and wine supplier.  All great people and very talented in their craft.

Another “benefit” of participating in this open house was the fact that there were exceptional “goodies” to taste.  My table happened to be located strategically next to the Maplewood catering staff displays, and I was more than happy to provide them with a test subject.  I was also close to the CJ’s Bakery cake sampling station…so I was well set for the afternoon.  I even gave suggestions to some of the folks passing by as to which of the items on the buffet line were my particular favorites.

All in all, a great afternoon…I highly encourage brides and their fiances to check out wedding open houses and events like them in their area; what great ways for you to discover what’s available in a whole range of venders and suppliers, as well as get some cool ideas as to how to put on your ideal wedding!

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As I stood in my “spot” today at a wedding I performed, it ocurred to me once again that I get the absolute best view in the house to observe all that’s going on, and I love it.

When you stand in the center of the “action” on wedding game day, you get a chance to observe things that the average “guest” does not see.  First of all and most exciting is being at arms-length from the  bride and groom.  Being that “up close and personal” with them is an amazing thing; witnessing the excitement, nervousness, and the relief of finally having all that planning come together for the ceremony is something to behold. 

I enjoy watching the bridal party as they file in from back to front, and taking their places on the stage area around me.  The colors of the dresses and tuxedos are always so stunning and gorgeous.

I also get a kick out of observing the assembled guests themselves.  That’s right, while they are observing the wedding party up front, I’m looking the crowd over and enjoying the “people watching” exercise.  Sometimes it can be quite amusing watching people when they don’t expect anyone will be watching them!

From my vantage point I can also see the coordinator hurrying around at the back of the room unseen by the guests who are seated facing forward,  lining up those that will be participating in the ceremony, cueing the music, etc.

But by far the best part of participating in these ceremonies is the privilege I have in pronouncing the couple husband and wife and introducing them for the first time, seeing the smiles on their faces, witnessing the reaction from the overjoyed crowd – wow, what a blast.

Life is great, especially when you get to observe it from the best spot in the house!

With the myriad of details to take care of and the decisions a bride must make, often the role of the wedding coordinator is overlooked.  I want to take a moment to emphasize the importance of this member of your wedding planning team as well as the characteristics of the one you should select, as this person will be a game-changer in preparing for your special day.  When I meet with couples in the introductory meeting and we begin the planning process, I always very strongly recommend a coordinator, whether the venue requires it or not, and whether the wedding is to be small or large.

The importance of the coordinator.  The coordinator will be the person selected by the bride to take care of all the details pertaining to the running of a smooth wedding, including running the rehearsal, the ceremony itself, and sometimes the reception.  He or she will work closely with the bride to carry out her wishes on all details so that the bride will have as little stress as possible going into the big event.  I always tell couples that this person is “worth their weight in gold” and that they should give careful consideration as to whom they choose.  An example of the importance of the coordinator’s work is ever so illustrated at the rehearsal.  An experienced coordinator knows exactly what the bride wants and works undauntingly toward this end, guiding rehearsal and ceremony with almost military precision and making sure everyone’s time is honored.  On the other end of the spectrum I’ve witnessed very uncoordinated and stress-filled rehearsals because either there was no coordinator or the one selected really had no clue as to how to put into action the bride’s plans.  

Choose the right coordinator.  By far the best move is to hire a professional coordinator, as there is no substitute for their skill and experience.  You’ll be glad you paid for this valuable service.  Many churches and wedding facilities will require that you hire their own coordinators, as they will know the facility the best.  Another option is to ask a friend with some experience in coordinating to take over this role for you (although by far the professional is preferred).  If you choose this avenue, please bear in mind that this individual will need to possess the people skills necessary to give directives to a group and be able to stay on-task and focused (organized) on what you desire.  Make sure you as the bride feel comfortable that this person can put your plans into action.  If you have any doubts whatsoever, you’ll want to step back and rethink your choice.

I have worked with many coordinators through the years, and can attest to indispensability of their service.  When your rehearsal and ceremony go off without a hitch and your day is carefree, you will be glad you spent a little extra money to ensure that this vital role has been properly addressed!