It was a cold winter day but there was no shortage of warmth that came from the love that was shared on Holli & Johnathan's wedding day! The planning began in October for their February wedding day. From the moment I met them, I thought they were such a sweet couple. Their strength lied in their emotional connection and high level of communication. The bride and groom chose to marry in Flagstaff because the proposal took place at the summit of Mount Elden at 9,300 feet! Viola's Flower Garden provided the perfect backdrop for their wedding and I knew they were in great hands with the staff there.
Johnathan and Holli chose the 'Love Story ceremony' which included some unique rituals. Besides the sharing of their story, they wrote love letters to one another and placed it in a box with a bottle of bubbly to be opened on their 5th anniversary. The letters describe the good qualities they find in one another, the reasons they fell in love, and their reasons for choosing to marry. Upon opening it on their 5th year anniversary, they will replenish the letters and bubbly to be opened on their 10th anniversary and so on. We signed the marriage license during the ceremony with their maid of honor, the bride's sister, and the best man, the groom's brother. Playing in the background was the theme from 'Mission Impossible' - haha!!
It was an intimate gathering. The bride and groom included a number of family members in the ceremony. The groom entered with his parents, and the bride entered with hers. Holli and Johnathan's parents both have long term marriages; 25 years on the bride's side and 30 years on the groom's side!
I always appreciate it when a bride and groom take the time to write personal vows to one another as it adds so much depth and meaning to the ceremony. As they exchanged their vows, you could hear laughter erupting and see tears being shed by their family members.
After the kiss, the newlyweds walked out gracefully to Colbie Caillat's 'I do!' Then they went inside to warm up and enjoy the reception!
Photos by Monica Saaty Photography
Sara and Andrew were married on a chilly winter day in February at Thornager's in Flagstaff, Arizona. The indoor setting with the forest backdrop was lovely and provided a welcome warmth. Their ceremony was contemporary, reflecting their feelings and their love for each other. There were many tender moments during the ceremony of course: when Sara's Father escorted her and gave her away to his soon to be son-in-law; the moment they faced their family and friends and words of dedication were spoken (the bride needed a tissue, so I gladly handed her one); their family and friends had tears of laughter throughout; the hands ceremony (the bride and groom held hands while words were spoken such as, 'these are the hands that will countless times wipe the tears from your eyes, tears of sorrow and tears of joy'; lots of laughter of course, like when the proposal story was shared; the bride and groom chose to have the groom's father bring the rings forward; when the groom went in for the kiss, she started to laugh! After the ceremony, they had their Moms' sign the marriage license so that all of the parents were included in the big moment. Mr. and Mrs. B recessed to 'Across the Universe' by the Vitamin String Quartet and began their happily ever after!
Photos by Spangler Pics https://www.spanglerpics.com/
Simply Elegant Ceremony by Jen Paul of Life Passages
A sweet couple who had an established 10 year relationship, already married in their hearts, Shea and Michael eloped at the Grand Canyon at Grandeur Point. The tenderness they conveyed was so heartwarming. Shea and Michael were on a journey of the entire Southwest with their wedding day being right in the middle. It was a lovely summer day and the conditions were ideal. There were plenty of witnesses nearby for the signing of their marriage license afterwards. Grand Canyon weddings are always spectacular and I was so happy to create a meaningful ceremony for their big day!
The video is by Pretty Please Photography.
K & Z were wed on a warm spring day in Scottsdale at the Fairmont Resort. There's was an intimate, loving, spiritual wedding ceremony. Emotions were running high and the Native American ritual enabled the couple to become more centered and grounded. White sage was lit and a feather was used to "smudge" the couple, meaning that the couple was fanned with the smoke. The act of smudging is done to clear the space and provide a healing, sacred space for the ceremony. The smoke attaches itself to negative energy and as it clears it takes that negative energy with it, releasing it into another space to be regenerated. White sage is very sweet smelling. Incorporated with the smudging ritual was a marriage blessing. We began by facing the East, element of air, and honoring their new beginning, followed by the South, element of fire, and honoring their love and passion, then the West, element of water to honor their emotions, and finally the North, element of earth, honoring their solid foundation. Z and K had been together 7 years when they wed. The groom chose this quote by Chief Dan George which was incorporated into their ceremony, “My friends, how desperately do we need to be loved and to love. With it we are creative. With it we march tirelessly. With it, and with it alone, we are able to sacrifice for others.” From their first date, it was clear this bride and groom were deeply connected. Both are sensitive souls who have each other's back and are always there to lift one another up. Another quote that speaks to their relationship was incoporated by Thich Nhat Hanh, “Understanding someone’s suffering is the best gift you can give another person. Understanding is love’s other name. If you don’t understand, you can’t love.” Just before they were pronounced as husband and wife and kissed, this Native American Blessing was read: May the sun bring you new energy by day;
May the moon softly restore you by night.
May the rain wash away your worries
And the breeze blow new strength into your being,
And all the days of your life may you walk
Gently through the world and know its beauty.
Now you will feel no rain, for each of you will be shelter for the other.
Now you will feel no cold, for each of you will be warmth to the other.
Now there will be no more loneliness, for each of you will be companion to the other.
Now you are two persons, but there is one life before you.
Go now to your dwelling to enter into the days of your life together,
And may your days be good and long upon the earth.
The groom almost lost the chance for this important moment; putting the ring on his bride's finger!
The bride and groom were nearly ready for their wedding ceremony. It was a little hectic as they had just driven from Las Vegas that day (a four hour drive), plus they stopped in Kingman to get their marriage license! Additionally, some family members had been separated from them and were having difficulty finding the location. Shoshone Point is at the Grand Canyon and is a private gated area.
As everyone arrived, we gathered for the ceremony. The bride then realized she had lost her ring! We spent about 10 minutes or so combing the area looking for the ring, no luck. The bride was naturally devastated and said, "Well, let's just get on with it." Of course, we all felt terrible for her and I certainly didn't want her heading into one of the biggest moments of her life feeling like, let's just do this... sigh. Once the ceremony was underway, I think it left her mind for awhile as it was such a touching experience. The bride and the groom had written the most beautiful dedication to their parents and grandparents, I nearly started to cry along with everyone else. Then, the moment came, the exchange of rings. Just as the groom finished saying the ring vows to her and using only the engagement ring, a group of four hikers walked up. They approached one of the family members and the next thing we heard was, "We have the ring!" We all stopped, completely stunned! I walked over to get the ring and the groom was able to place the wedding band on her finger as he said, "With this ring, I thee wed." The bride teared up. A gentleman in the group (they were from Canada) later explained: he was approaching the gate to see if it was unlocked and saw something shiny on the ground. Much to his surprise he picked it up and remarked, this is someone's wedding ring; Intricate vines and leaves interlaced gracefully to form her wedding band. They then hiked the two mile walk to Shoshone Point and found us in the midst of the wedding ceremony! Not only that, but he arrived just in time for her to receive her much loved ring in the ceremony. Wow! What a blessed wedding day! Absolutely amazing!!!
I have dogs and I know, they are our four-legged furry children. It's wonderful to incorporate them into the ceremony. I've met several dogs who have been ring bearers.
Here's a great piece of literature to include in your wedding ceremony whether your dog is there or not:
What I learned about love, I learned from my dog….
Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joy ride together.
Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure ecstasy.
When loved ones come home always run to greet them.
When you want treats, practice obedience.
Let others know when they've invaded your territory.
Take naps together and stretch before rising.
Run, romp and play daily.
If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.
When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by and nuzzle them gently.
Thrive on the attention and let people touch you.
Avoid biting, when a simple growl will do.
When you’re happy, dance around and wag your entire body.
No matter how often you’re scolded, don’t buy into the guilt thing and pout- Run right back and make friends.
Delight in the simple joy of a long walk together.
Love each other unconditionally.
Bride Angela and Groom Ron were wed barefoot on a spectacular summer's eve in Sedona, Arizona amidst the red rocks. Two of their sweet friends were present to witness their elopement. Since Ron is an energy worker, the opening of the ceremony began as he did a silent meditation whilst handling Tibetan bells. Another unique aspect of their ceremony was the reciting of their ring vows. They chose to repeat after me in unison which is why the picture shows their rings simultaneously half way on each of their fingers.
Deeply spiritual individuals, as we co-created their ceremony, it was important to include a Native American Blessing and incorporate the elements. They purchased a beautiful smudge feather in Sedona and as the palo santo stick was lit, I had the honor of using the feather to smudge them. The act of smudging is done to clear the space and provide a healing and sacred space for the ceremony. The smoke attaches itself to negative energy and as it clears it takes that negative energy with it, releasing it into another space to be regenerated. In addition, together we faced the four directions and honored the elements (earth, fire, water, and air) while incorporating a blessing for their marriage. To illustrate, when we faced the west and honored the element of water, Angela and Ron dipped their toes into the cool waters of Oak Creek and these words were spoken: Blessed be this marriage with the gifts of Water-- the rushing excitement of a raging river, the gentle flow of this creek, the soft and pure cleansing of a rainstorm, and a commitment as deep as the ocean itself. May the Spirits of Water ensure that your love for one other, like the serenity of the deep blue ocean, be the oasis that forever surrounds you, Angela and Ron. may you be well loved, and love well, letting the surety with which Water makes its journey to the sea, flowing over rocks or around trees, carving canyons, even turning into vapor and riding a cloud, ever serve as a reminder that with love all is well and will endure. Thank you Spirits of the Water, Ahehee (Navajo word for Thank you).
As the sun began setting, thunder boomed and lightning illuminated the sky adding to the vibrant colors. We felt the gentle drops of rain. Bats emerged, dragonflies were dancing, cranes and raven were flying by; all of nature was celebrating and blessing their union!
It was a spring wedding in May (in honor of their anniversary date) at The Chapel of The Holy Dove. An intimate wedding ceremony, a gathering of about 15 members of their family, this bride and groom chose The Love Story package. When I first met with Zac and Cynthia at Firecreek Coffee House in Flagstaff, our connection was immediate. We spent about an hour getting to know each other. Zachary was such a tender soul and couldn't wait to marry his bride! Cynthia wanted their wedding ceremony to include honoring their family and knew that The Chapel of The Holy Dove was the perfect intimate venue for them. They were in need of a photographer, so I recommended Heather Kadar who teamed up with her husband and exquisitely captured the bride and groom's tender love.
As I read Zac & Cynthia's questionnaires and discovered the depth of their love for one another, their ceremony came to life. Cynthia was escorted by her Mother while the chapel was filled with Pachelbel’s Canon in D. Later in the ceremony both of their Mother's came forward to sign the marriage license and they honored each one with a rose. To honor his parents, I used Zachary's quote: “There’s much I’ve learned from you both, but I’m most grateful that you’ve taught me family is most important.” And to honor his grandparents, who have been married 53 years, "You’ve shown me what a life-long marriage full of love should look like.” There wasn't a dry eye in the chapel!
Zachary and Cynthia met in college and became the best of friends. Their favorite dates include attending plays and symphonies or watching debates at their local universities. They chose the most unique yet personable passages to read to one another during their ceremony. Zac’s was by Phillip Pullman from The Amber Spyglass: “I will love you forever; whatever happens. Till I die and after I die, and when I find my way out of the land of the dead, I’ll drift about forever, all my atoms, till I find you again… I’ll be looking for you, every moment, every single moment. And when we do find each other again, we’ll cling together so tight that nothing and no one’ll ever tear us apart. Every atom of me and every atom of you… We’ll live in birds and flowers and dragonflies and pine trees and in clouds and in those little specks of light you see floating in sunbeams… And when they use our atoms to make new lives, they won’t just be able to take one, they’ll have to take two, one of you and one of me.” Cynthia’s was an excerpt from Plato’s Symposium “Our original human nature was not like it is now. Human beings each had two sets of arms, two sets of legs, and two faces looking in opposite directions. Due to the power of these original humans, the gods sought for a way to end the humans’ insolence without destroying them. So Zeus hurled down his lightning bolts and divided the humans in half. They left us with a memory, a longing for our original other half. Separated, we are but the indenture of a person, and we are always looking for our other half. And when one of us meets our other half, we pass our whole lives together, desiring that we should be melted into one. One person instead of two, and the desire and pursuit of the whole is called Love.”
Here's what Zachary said about their experience with Life Passages:
"When we began our search for an officiant for our small, intimate wedding, we found a handful of officiants we thought might be a good fit. We only had about four weeks to plan our wedding so we were expecting a bit of hesitation as it was short notice. Jen wrote back almost instantly and showed no hesitation - only excitement - for our wedding ceremony. We wanted to meet with Jen to be sure that she was a good fit for us. She was the first and only officiant we met with. Her warm, loving spirit welcomed us and made us feel so at ease. Choosing Jen to officiate our marriage was the easiest decision we made. We could tell she really wanted to know us, as a couple and as individuals. The ceremony she crafted for us was absolutely beautiful and perfectly captured the essence of our relationship. It was very clear to us that Jen takes her work very seriously. She's mindful of your requests, gives so much good advice, helps you every step of the way, spends hours getting to know you and your unique story, and in the end writes a beautiful ceremony that really celebrates *you*. In the less than four weeks we had to work with Jen she was always there, quick to respond, and eager to help. She quickly became a dear friend."
Danielle & Adam were wed on a beautiful summer day high atop the San Francisco Peaks (aka Mount Humphreys, aka Arizona Snowbowl) in Flagstaff, Arizona surrounded by Ponderosa Pines and the love of their family and friends. During their ceremony, I asked them to face their family and friends in order to honor them for they are the ones who will hold them up when times get tough and their love has shaped this couple into the strong, young adults that they are today. Their ceremony was filled with laughter, tenderness and stunning surroundings. They included their infant son in the ceremony who was the star of the procession as he was wheeled out by a Junior Bridesmaid in a cute little red wagon! Danielle even took breaks to nurse him in between all of the photo taking, kissing, hugging, eating and dancing!
If you are being married at Arizona Snowbowl, congratulations! I would be delighted to create the ceremony that is just right for you and your fiance.
Photos by Ryan Williams Photography.
Riordan Mansion is a great historic Flagstaff venue perfect for a DIY wedding. Their cost is very reasonable and they provide plenty of chairs. You can be married outdoors, although K&M were wed indoors on a chilly overcast winter day.
Their ceremony took place in front of the historic fireplace surrounded by about 15 of their closest family and friends. K&M are a laid back local Flagstaff couple who wanted a sweet, non-denominational, simple, yet meaningful ceremony. The proposal took place at Granny’s Closet (a former favorite local restaurant) where they first met. M secretly got the staff involved and had them play, ‘I think I’m in love’ by Eddie Money over the loudspeaker. Then, he got down on one knee. How fun is that?
To quote K, "Who knew a love of sports and cheap beer could be the foundation for a genuine, infinite love?!"
I was super happy to be a part of their big day at Riordan Mansion which was filled with so much laughter and smiles.
Jen Paul, Life Cycle Celebrant, Ordained Minister, Wedding Officiant, Healing Arts Practitioner, Life Coach, Death Doula