Who is Bethel?

“I’m honestly not sure where to begin. Bethel is amazing, kind, patient, has an amazing way with words and a truly beautiful speaking voice.”
— Melissa + Stewart, The Prado at Balboa Park, San Diego
Image by    Photo by Chana and Don   , April + Patrick, The Prado at Balboa Park, San Diego

Image by Photo by Chana and Don, April + Patrick, The Prado at Balboa Park, San Diego

Fun Facts & Highlights -

Image by    David Valencia Photography   , Cabo San Lucas

Image by David Valencia Photography, Cabo San Lucas

  • Before officiating weddings, I spent 9 years working for two large investment banks (yes, former Wall Street person here).

  • Avid traveler and scuba diver (over 300 dives so far). Some of my favorite places have been Africa, Australia, Fiji, Galapagos, Italy, and Hong Kong

  • My previous chapter had me living in Tokyo, New York City, and London.

  • I love baseball, even when my Padres aren’t always easy to love, and never miss Opening Day.

  • I speak Japanese and get more than a bit of joy freaking out people who don’t expect to hear it coming from me.

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  • My first wedding was in 2006. It was for my brother.

  • Officially launched Ceremonies by Bethel as my full-time business in 2009 with 12 weddings. By my second year, I had 71. And now, I have had the pleasure to celebrate over 900 couples!

  • All of my wedding ceremonies are customized for my couples. I have no generic couples thus no generic ceremonies.

  • Ordained Officiant Open To All is a perfect title since I always want it to be perfectly clear, I support and celebrate love in any form.

  • I get to marry really awesome couples for a living, and I love it!

A Bit More Detail -

My life started in Philadelphia, but we moved to Cape Cod when I was still very young. Then, just before I started high school, we moved again, this time across the country to San Diego… which I will always consider home (no matter where in the world I am). And although many have said that officiating weddings is what I was meant to do, my early career path had nothing to do with weddings.

That path started at the University of California, Berkeley for undergrad (Go Bears!) and, after working in Japan, I received my MBA from Thunderbird (aka Thunderbird School for Global Management). My journey took me to living in Japan for the third time (yes, I do speak Japanese), then to New York, and finally to London. During this time, I lived the Wall Street life, working for two large investment banks, and loved having the opportunity to live and travel all around the world. And although I succeeded and prospered over those nine years, it just wasn’t the life I wanted anymore.

So, I quit the job and left the life behind, moving back to San Diego. Still not sure what would give me the life I wanted, I took some time off and then started working for my family’s business. I also started dating the wonderful man who would become my life partner (never say no to a blind date suggestion from a mutual friend!). And although I was making a lifelong commitment to my perfect partner, and working with my family was great (usually), I still hadn’t found my own professional passion for what came next.

Image by    Trista Maja Photography   , Melissa + Charena, Private Residence in Ramona

Image by Trista Maja Photography, Melissa + Charena, Private Residence in Ramona

Then, one day in 2006, when having trouble deciding on who would perform their interfaith wedding ceremony, my brother and future sister-in-law asked me. They wanted a personal and meaningful wedding ceremony that fit them and their guests, and would not be religious nor uncomfortable to either side. Although I had a great deal of public speaking training and experience, and greatly enjoyed speaking to a crowd, plus was immensely honored that they asked, I was rightfully nervous when I said yes.

With the legal part being the easier part, I began the more important part, which was to figure out what makes a beautiful, meaningful, touching, and memorable wedding ceremony, fitting for those two specifically, to kick off their celebration in a genuine way. I researched weddings, spoke with many couples about their ceremonies, and took the time to get opinions from people who performed wedding ceremonies for a living. I also spent a large amount of time working directly with them, learning their story from both perspectives and creating their vision of a wedding ceremony. And although it was my first wedding ceremony, I was told by the couple and many of their guests that it was wonderful.

Two years later, I found myself doing this same thing for two more couples, close friends of mine who were non-religious and coming from interfaith backgrounds, and I had found my passion! Today, well over 900 wedding ceremonies later, I still follow that same formula with every ceremony and every couple - and still greatly enjoy helping awesome couples make this theirs!

Video Description from then-wedding planner, Alison Howard: “My interview with philanthropist and entrepreneur Bethel Nathan. As San Diego's top wedding officiant we discuss the life of a small business owner, Bethel's extensive travels, her marriage philosophy and more!”

Banner Image at page top: Image by Michael Bezman Photography, Joelle + Prakash, Los Angeles River Gardens