celeste and austin – mt. woodson castle [real wedding]

I received an inquiry through my website for a wedding at Mt. Woodson Castle in Ramona, and I was glad to hear that the venue had sent them my way, as I know that the team at Personal Touch Dining who run the castle totally know who my favorite couples are!

The three of us met virtually via Zoom soon 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 to share their love for each other with their families, and that they were very family-oriented.  Not only were they both close to their families, but they love each other’s families and their families are also close to each other.  I told them how lucky they are to have this!  They also told me that they weren’t religious at all, and there were no expectations for that type of content from family members.  It was also important that everyone really enjoy themselves – they said that they had been to some recent weddings that were quite painful, and they wanted this to be filled with joy and love and fun instead.  Definitely!  We talked about options for how they could do their vows, as they thought about writing their own, but worried about being in front of everyone doing so.  And we also talked about options for ceremony rituals, family honoring, etc.  The meeting ended with my favorite response, as they said that they were “relieved” now!  I get that a lot, as I’ve learned that many non-religious and non-traditional don’t know what their ceremony could be like and how personal and fitting it can be (the only way I want to do it, actually!), but they definitely know what they don’t want it to be like.

So, what did we create together?

They chose to honor and remember those who have passed, mentioning specifically Celeste’s father and Austin’s brother, and all those who couldn’t be there in person.  They included a sweet reading, “My Love” by Linda Lee Elrod, and two of my favorite quotes.  This one from Barbara Cage: “Love is a partnership of two unique people who bring out the very best in each other, and who know that even though they are wonderful as individuals, they are even better together.”  And this one with author unknown: “One of the most amazing gifts in life is to find someone who knows all your flaws, differences, and mistakes, yet still loves everything about you.”

They did decide to write their own vows to read to each other, not sharing them ahead of time, and they were both fantastic!  Sure glad that I always have multiple tissues in my jacket pocket, as they were really well done.

And, as with many of my couples, they did a mixture of traditional and non-traditional during those “traditional” wedding moments.  While they had me present them at the end with the traditional instruction for the first time as Mr. and Mrs., they chose to have me introduce their first kiss with an untraditional, “You may now seal your vows and promises with a kiss!” and there was no question asked when Celeste came down the aisle with her mother – but with lots of hugs and joy exchanged.

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!

Don’t worry, I know just how lucky I am to get to celebrate couples with connections like these two!