I received an inquiry through my website and was psyched to see that they came my way not only because I was on the recommended list at their venue (one of my favorite venues, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park), but also because I was highly recommended by their wedding coordinator, Laura of Serendipity Events. And, it was clear that we were on the same page, as they definitely wanted a ceremony like I described, they said – one that was fun, personal, meaningful, and non-traditional, emphasis on the non-traditional, they mentioned. Count me in!
The three of us got together very shortly after to talk about what they wanted and didn’t want from their ceremony, and then we walked through my process and how I work.
They told me that they wanted the focus on them and their relationship, celebrating their journey together from high school sweethearts, and they were both non-religious and non-traditional. And that she would be walking in with her grandfather (which absolutely works for me, of course). We talked about the fact that about half of those who would be there are good friends and/or work community, who mean a lot to them. We also talked about some options for ceremony rituals and components to include, including maybe including the coins from Filipino tradition.
So, what did we create together?
They chose to include an hourglass sand ceremony, each pouring in a different color sand, representing what they each bring as individuals and from their pasts into this relationship. Yet, unlike a regular sand ceremony, which always stays in the same pattern after the wedding (you hope!), an hourglass is meant to be flipped over and over and over, through the years, mixing them together even more, as their shared path continues as a married couple.
They included three great quotes. From Henry Ford: “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.” From Game of Thrones: “Your love will be the guiding force that charts the course of your tomorrows, holds your world together in difficult times and will make life itself shine bolder and brighter than we human beings have a right to dream of.” And we kicked the ceremony off with one of my favorites, this one from Coach John Wooden: “Love means many things. It means giving. It means sharing. It means forgiving. It means understanding. It means being patient. It means learning. And you must always consider the other side, the other person. You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving.” And they included excerpts from a reading, “What is Love” by Susan Polis Schutz.
As with many of my couples, they did a mixture of traditional and non-traditional during those “traditional” wedding moments. While we ended with a traditional instruction for the first time as Mr. and Mrs., they chose to have me introduce the kiss with a more egalitarian (and fun!) “Hunter, you may now kiss your bride, and Sarah, you may now kiss your groom!” And, when Sarah came down the aisle with her grandfather, there was no question at all, just handshakes, hugs, and a kiss.
Their vows also felt like a neat mixture of traditional and non-traditional, as they chose to both answer three identical “I do” questions, yet only the first one was traditional, while the other two felt very personal and sweet. Here are Sarah’s:
Do you, Sarah, take Hunter to be your husband? Do you promise to play with him and care for him; to make him laugh, and to let him cry? And do you promise to offer your best counsel and to give your sincerest support with all the love you have to give?
Plus, as always, I included stories about their relationship from the homework assignment they did for me – separately, so that I could pull in both of their voices – to help everyone there really know who these two are together and why everyone was there to celebrate them. As completely appropriate for their relationship, and always hoped for, there was a wonderful mixture of both laughter and tears!
Here are just a few pictures from my phone – while I know that the professional pictures with the cheetah will be much better, I had to share anyway! Wedding photos with a baby cheetah?!? One of my favorite parts about officiating weddings at the Zoo Safari Park, I must admit. As is a backdrop like that one behind the hourglass!
Venue: San Diego Zoo Safari Park
Officiant: Ceremonies by Bethel
Planner: Serendipity Events
Videographer: Bob Hoffman Photography & Video
Florist: Soil + Soul
Ceremony Music: Caprice Strings
DJ: SoCal Wedding Music (Ryan Hiller)
Cake or Dessert: Jenny Wenny Cakes
Rentals: Platinum Event Rentals
Hair and Makeup: A Toast to Beauty
Photobooth: Pixster Photo Booth
Transportation: MIB Transportation
Fashion: The Bustle