What do you find most important in a wedding officiant? Perhaps a religious or spiritual knowledge, outgoing personality or a sense of humor? With Matthew Thuney, of Weddings with Spirit and Wit, you get all three.
While attending church as a child, the Deming officiant said he preferred to listen to the sermon with the adults instead of attending Sunday school. Thuney enjoyed philosophy and theology and grew up to attend Yale Divinity School where he studied to become an Episcopal minister. Then, after completing a ministry internship in his early twenties, he realized he “wasn't ready to minister to anyone.”
Thuney decided to leave the church and moved to Bellingham in 1985 to open his own business, which he ran for 16 years. In 2010 he relocated to Deming and retired, but continued to study religions from around the world and volunteer in his spare time. With his background as a minister, Thuney gave eulogies at several funerals before he finally found his calling in 2013 when he was asked to officiate a neighbor’s wedding.
“It’s a special kind of calling, and I'm glad it found me,” Thuney said with a chuckle.
Now, seven years later, Thuney travels around the state to officiate all varieties of weddings, from the most traditional to non-traditional. To be an officiant, Thuney believes it’s important to be a good public speaker, to have empathy and to understand different religious backgrounds--adding that a sense of humor doesn’t hurt. He enjoys working with couples to create the ceremony of their dreams as well as facing challenges as they arise. For Thuney, being a wedding officiant means more than just receiving a paycheck.
“I refer to it as a job but it’s not really. It’s something I’m so honored to be able to do,” Thuney said.
With the onset of Covid-19, Thuney said navigating weddings this year has been challenging but also a learning experience. What started off as a typical year in the wedding business turned into an uncertain time for Thuney and engaged couples alike.
“It became a game of scrambling to reschedule, to cancel, or to do an elopement this year and hopefully celebrate with a big bash next year,” Thuney said.
But as weddings (albeit smaller ones) continue to take place during the pandemic, Thuney has stayed busy officiating. Cross-border weddings have become popular at Peace Arch Park, a mutual zone where Americans can meet their Canadian loved ones, and Thuney has officiated over eight weddings there. He said he has become familiar with the process of obtaining marriage licenses for couples of the two nations.
Weddings with Spirit and Wit is appropriately named as Thuney sees the importance of the two aspects in a ceremony. With each wedding, Thuney believes in honoring all traditions — or “non-traditions” — and always adds a little bit of spirituality in the sermon. He has also been a writer for 40 years and enjoys engaging the audience with humor.
“It is a spiritual ceremony, but you can have fun with it,” Thuney said.
Matthew Thuney can be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information visit the Officiants tab under our Vendor Directory on the Pacific Coast Wedding website.
Everyone has heard of couples getting married while scuba diving or on a mountaintop, but have you ever heard of couples getting married in ice caves, or volcanoes, up in hot air balloons, on an iceberg with penguins or on a camel in a desert? Welcome to the wild world of adventure weddings.
Adventure weddings vary greatly, but one thing that they all share is a couple committing while on an adventure. These adventures often involve travel, a journey to the special ceremony site, and possibly sharing the experience with friends and witnesses. The big question is, how do you plan the perfect adventure wedding for you? It’s generally a good idea to hire a professional agent specializing in destination weddings. They have contacts worldwide, they know reputable places to stay, transportation agencies, and agencies/vendors to help make your dream adventure wedding a reality. A professional can help you with finding an ideal location that fits your needs. We talked with Monique Brigham, travel professional and owner of Plumeria Breezes and Travelon how to get started. Monique suggested that couples “should have an idea of what they want to spend and have it narrowed down to where they would like to go. Of course, I can help them come up with both of those, but it is definitely easier if they have some idea.”
Some adventure weddings will take place in other countries, so it is important to check with the laws of that country – agents can help with that step. Once you’ve determined the time of year you would like to get married, find out the typical weather during that season at your destination. There is nothing worse than wanting a winter wedding on Balangan beach in Bali, only to discover that you’ve arrived during the wet season.
In the Pacific Northwest, we have many possibilities for adventure weddings with locations ranging from mountains to the sea and there are lots of vendors who are excited to help out with these types of weddings. Many couples choose their favorite activity (hiking, biking, paddle boarding, scuba diving, sky diving etc.), and share their nuptials before, during or after that activity.
Finding the right officiant and photographer can be its own adventure. We checked with MMR Design & Photography, Meraki Photography, Matt Priestman Photography, E.J. Harris Photographyand K. Hulett Photographyand while not all have photographed an adventure wedding, everyone was interested in having a go at it. Lisa from Meraki Design & Photographytold us about one of her experiences with aan dventure weddings. She said, “It was on a windy overhang on a mountainside overlooking a valley. It was so breathtaking and the emotions during the vows were so honest and genuine because there was no audience to be shy in front of.” She recommends a professional photographer because “a good photographer won't take you back just to the day, they will take you back to each emotion and moment.”
Shannon Day, officiant of Tall Red Head Girl, said that although she has never officiated an adventure wedding, she is definitely game. Couples can also have adventures leading into larger receptions. For example, a couple could get married on horseback at Misty River Ranch if they BYOH (bring your own horse).Then afterwards, they can have a full reception while the horses graze in the field. Other couples might like to exchange their vows on the water then slide into a marina for an awesome beachfront reception. The Hotel Bellwetherand Bellingham Yacht Clubor the Seafarer’s Memorial Parkand Transit Shed Event Centerare all situated so that you could step off a boat or paddleboard and into your party.
With a little research and help from professionals, couples daring to take weddings out of the ordinary can create a unique, once in a lifetime experience.
According to Dhanusha Sivajee, chief marketing officer at The Knot Worldwide, 95 percent of all weddings canceled during Covid-19 are being rescheduled for later this year or into next year. So how do you get started postponing and rescheduling the wedding of your dreams?
Vendors currently understand that these are uncertain times and postponing weddings right now is par for the course. If weddings are scheduled in May through July, vendors suggests rescheduling rather than cancling. As far as August or September weddings, they suggests waiting to see if the stay at home orders/gathering bans are lifted. Many venues are allowing brides to reschedule weddings and receptions twelve months out, but all establishments vary. So if you are thinking about rescheduling, the first thing to do is establish a new date and time for the event. Wedding scheduling is dependent on many things like the availability of the couple, family, venue or even the caterer. Find a couple of dates that work so you have a better chance of getting all of your vendors and suppliers. Also, realize that if you are getting married at a different time of year, the flowers in season will differ; floral designer and Pozie by Natalie owner Natalie Ransom encourages brides to “go with the flow.”
Once you have a couple of dates in mind, talk with your officiant, venue, vendors and any suppliers. For those working with wedding planners, they can often help create a list of the vendors that need to be contacted as well as help you navigate vendor contracts. But do not worry if you do not have a planner; just create a list of your vendors and give them each a call. Rescheduling a wedding is far different than canceling a wedding, but there can be some fees for rescheduling and some of your venders may not be available on your new date, so you may lose a deposit. Review your contracts beforehand to see if they include an Act of God exclusion – Covid-19 certainly qualifies for that! Be sure to talk with all your vendors and suppliers before you announce your new date to guests.
Finally, it’s time to announce the new date to the guests. If you have already sent out wedding invitations, then the address list has been established and you can send out a cute postcard to guests with the information. There are free post card templates on the internet and phone apps or you can create a photo postcard yourself. Sending a mass email or text messages is simple, effective and free. Statistically, the older generation enjoys getting phone calls, but be prepared to have an exit line. If you have a wedding website where people have/can RSVP, be sure to put the announcement and new information there as well.
Postponing a wedding can be a daunting task, but just take it one step at a time.
Many couples who planned a spring wedding a year ago have been confronted with the wedding industry coming to an abrupt halt due to Covid-19. But the determination of some to get married during this time of social distancing and stay at home orders has only increased. Through adaptation and creative thinking couples are still getting married in creative ways.
When we flatten the curve and things seemingly get back to a new normal, will these marriages officially be legal? One of the unique ways folks are continuing on with their big day is virtual weddings. Virtual weddings are weddings that the guests, officiant, and witness attend online through a video meeting platform like Zoom, Facebook Live, or Instagram Live. This is a great way to exchange vows and have people share in the experience, but the internet is not a legally binding entity and to have a wedding be legally binding, the couple, two witnesses and an officiant must all be physically present. If, for instance, your household includes five people right now, you could legally marry as long as one of those people can become certified as an officiant online. You can always have virtual guests, but the five main players must be there in person.
A drive-in wedding is a creative option depending on what Covid-19-related orders are in effect in your state. A couple in Iowa are planning a drive-in wedding the second weekend in April. The couple will be on an outdoor stage while the cars will be parked at angles to see them get married, just like a drive-in movie. In states with only a social distancing order, this works well, doesn’t break any rules and is legally binding.
Because of Washington’s stay at home order, some folks with larger families at home have turned to drive by weddings. In this case, this can be legal if one person in the family is certified as an officiant. Additionally, the couple needs to be present, along with two witnesses. The ceremony can be performed at home and, at a set time, folks can drive by honking horns with, perhaps, cars decorated with signs of well-wishes. In Washington state, some recorder’s offices like King County’s have remained open and folks can continue to get marriage licenses. Some judges are continuing to perform ceremonies as well. Unfortunately, many counties are not issuing marriage certificates at this time.
With a little innovation and creativity we can still make important vows, celebrate together (virtually) and have fun. Sometimes letting go of expectations can result in a really unexpectedly beautiful and present wedding day.
A note from the photographer: The couple was Jennifer and David Russo. They met in high school, dated and then went separate ways. They found each other again years later and knew it was meant to be! Their wedding was at Jennifer’s childhood home in Kent, WA. Completely styled by Jennifer, she added vintage touches by collecting tea cups from local thrift stores months leading up to the wedding, as well as renting gorgeous furniture for guests to relax on as seen in the photos.
Photographer: Rachele Coen Photography / @rachelecoenphoto
Venue: Bride's parents' home in Kent, Washington
Hair & Makeup: The PNW Bride
Catering & Bar Services: Al Lago Restaurant
Ice Cream: Sub Zero Ice Cream / @subzeroicecream
Event Rentals: Alexander Party Rentals / @alexanderpartyrentals
Furniture Rentals: Wander Event Rentals / @wandereventrentals
Florals: Bloominous / @bloominous
Florals: Costco Floral Department / @costco
Photo Booth: Act 1 Photo Booths
Bridal Gown: Inmaculada Garcia / @inmaculada__garcia
Bridesmaids' Dresses: Jenny Yoo Collection / @jennyyoonyc
Groom's Attire: Jos. A. Bank / @josabank
Jewelry: Kendra Scott / @kendrascott
Rings: Menashe & Sons Jewelers / @menashejewelers
In October, The Big Fake Wedding came to Seattle, bringing together a talented and exclusive group of local vendors to put on a lush and daring (fake) wedding. Leah and Shaun were the gorgeous happy couple. Origonally wed in 2009, the couple's vow renewal at The Big Fake Wedding was memorable to say the least! Their kids and puppy enjoyed the event as well.
The Big Fake Wedding was held at Within Sodo, with open air spaces and rooftop views. The vendors (fully listed below) all came out to show how amazing and unique their services really are, and, boy, were we blown away. For more information about The Big Fake Wedding, visit thebigfakewedding.com. If you see something that inspires you in the photos or video, be sure to reach out to the talented vendors involved and see if they can help make your special day just as marvolous as the 2019 Big Fake Wedding in Seattle!
The fabulous vendors:
Alcohol - Associated Vintners - http://www.preceptwine.com
Bridesmaid Attire - Azazie - https://www.azazie.com
Oyster Bar - Taylor Shellfish - https://www.taylorshellfishfarms.com/
Catering - Twist Catering Co - https://www.twistcateringcompany.com/
Ceremony Musician - Joseph Dane Music - http://www.josephdane.com/weddings/
Chocolate Favors - Arrowhead Chocolates - https://arrowheadchocolates.com
Cupcakes - Hello, Cupcake - https://hello-cupcake.com
Custom Menswear - J.Hilburn - https://lizsilke.jhilburn.com
Day-of Coordinator - Polka Dot Events - http://www.pdotevents.com
DJ + Emcee - Puget Sound DJ - https://www.pugetsounddj.com
E-Commerce - Tough Cookie Games - https://toughcookiegames.com
Event Rentals - American Party Place - https://www.americanpartyplace.com
Floral + Event Design: Tables 1, 10, + Cake Backdrop - Pump Up Party - https://pumpupparty.co
Floral + Event Design: Tables 2, 9 + Ceremony Backdrop - K Frances Flowers & Events - https://www.kfrancesflowersevents.com
Floral + Event Design: Tables 3, 8 + Head Table - For the Good Events - https://forthegoodevents.com
Floral + Event Design: Tables 4, 7 + Personal Flowers - Jessica Vann-Campbell Flowers - https://www.jvcflowers.com
Floral + Event Design: Tables 5, 6 + Registration Table - Paeonia Pines - https://www.paeoniapines.com
Hair + Makeup - Elizabeth White Artistry - https://www.elizabethwhiteartistry.com
Hotel - Archer Hotel Redmond - https://archerhotel.com/redmond
Jewelry - Joseph Jewelry - https://www.josephjewelry.com
Marshmallow Favors - Malvi: Marshmallow Confections - https://www.malvimallow.com
Medical Spa - Purity Medical Spa - https://puritymedicalspa.com
Men's Wedding Band Home Try-On - Hitched - https://tryhitched.com
Wedding Day Pet Care - Wags & Garland - https://www.wagsandgarland.com
Photo Booth - Drunken Pixel - http://www.drunkenpixel.com
Photography - Wild Grass Photography - https://www.wildgrassphotography.com
Photography - Works by Sarah Jane Photography - https://www.worksbysarahjane.com
Photography - Woven Legacies - https://wovenlegacies.com
Table Accents - Songbird Paperie - http://songbirdpaperie.com/
Tabletop Rentals - Celebrations for Every Season - https://www.celebrationsforeveryseaso...
Venue - WithinSodo - https://www.withinsodo.com
Videography - Best Made Videos - https://bestmadeweddingvideos.com
Wedding Cake - Rue Cler Seattle - https://rueclerseattle.com
Wedding Dress - Grace + Ivory - https://graceandivory.com
A note from the photographer:
Jessica and Roark met in Walla Walla, Washington and have been together for over six years! They moved to Portland four years ago and are tying the knot next summer. With Jessica being a designer and Roark a landscape photographer they wanted the modern-clean look of Portland architecture and the whimsical, forestland that the much of PNW has to offer.
We found the perfect rooftop spot in Northwest Portland and danced around the whole parking lot all morning. After some coffee and a drive up some ivy-filled roads, we got to Forest Park – the 5,100 acre park right in the heart of Portland.
Jessica and Roark were right in their element as the couple has spent their five years together, backpacking, climbing and exploring much of the trails that Oregon and Washington have to offer.
To say these two were natural together is an understatement. Their love has an effortless softness to it that you just don't find everyday. I feel so lucky to have been able to capture this love and am stoked to be there for their wedding next June.
Photographer: Kassidy Sherburne Photography
Wondering if you should start looking for a home to buy after the big day? We sat down with real estate agent Kate Fadden and asked her advice for first time home owners.
Buying a house can be scary, and you might wonder if you are ready for this big of an investment. There are a few questions you should consider. How much can you afford each month? What kind of down payment ae you able to make? Speaking with a loan officer can help guide you through the process of figuring out a budget.
“If you are renting, chances are you can buy. Think about the pros/cons of renting vs. buying and see how you feel about them,” said Fadden.
Real estate is a great investment for a person. Renting can be beneficial in certain situations, but with renting your money is not going towards an investment.
“By renting, you are furthering someone else’s real estate goals and finances rather than creating your own,” said Fadden.
However, the market is always changing, so there is not an easy answer of when is a good time to start looking for a house. Make sure to consider these questions before looking for your dream home. What is the market doing in the area you want to buy? What do the interest rates currently look like? Do you have a clear idea of the house you want to purchase? Are you comfortable with the current budget you have?
If you decide you want to buy a house, you still might not know what you want in a house. Make a list of things you like about your current living situation and things you want to change. You should also consider the area. Work commute, school district and neighborhoods are all things you should think about. Keep your priorities in line and make sure you tell your real estate agent so they can find a house that best suits you.
“When it comes to your budget, stick to it! Make sure you have enough money budgeted for your earnest money deposit and closing costs,” said Fadden.
If you are buying as a couple make sure to keep both your interests in mind. Discuss both of your ‘deal breakers’ and ‘must haves.’ Keep on the same page about budgets and have regular ‘check ins’ to make sure the whole process goes smoothly for both of you.
Ask lots of questions while looking for a house. Remember that your real estate agent, your insurance provider and your mortgage lender are all experts in their field and are there to help you.
“Once you know what you are looking for, the next step is to find a mortgage lender that you want to work with,” said Fadden.
A good place to start is to ask your realtor who they recommend.
Once you choose your mortgage lender, you should get pre-approved so you know what your set budget should be. They can also provide you with a pre-approval letter, which can make you look more desirable to sellers.
If you happen to find your dream home, your agent will write up an offer for you and guide you through the process. It’s a good idea to get a home inspection if your offer gets accepted. Also if you are buying with a bank loan, your bank will order an appraisal of the house.
To contact Kate Fadden about taking the next steps towards purchasing your first home, go to kate-fadden.com.
Happy house hunting!
Photographer: PEARL Photography by Elena
Dress: Dream Dresses by P.M.N
Bridal Bouquet: Colibri Blooms
Hair: Hair By Alise
Make up: Off Black Arts
A note from the photographer:
“We’ll shoot rain or shine!” is what I remember telling Diana, the wedding planner of Passionate Weddings when we started organizing a styled shoot at Winter Green Weddings venue in Buckley. The Pacific Northwest winter didn’t let us down either. Blue skies and sunshine teased us the day before the shoot, only to rain throughout the entire shoot. Thankfully, everyone was prepared for it, and the venue has just a beautiful space indoors as it does outdoors.
Winter Green Wedding’s owners, Mark and Kylie, are the sweetest couple. Mark and his father built the log home and barn, now turned wedding venue, themselves. The craftsmanship and care that went into the buildings is astounding. Not only that, but it sits on acres of beautiful land. Some of the land is manicured grass — perfect for outdoor ceremonies and yard games, while most of the land seems to be forested and wild. Mark and Kylie were such a joy to work with that I’d recommend them to anyone looking for a rustic barn venue.
Since it had been raining all day, the model, Leslie Williams, and I couldn’t wander too far from the barn in fear of dirtying the Maggie Sottero dress we had out on loan from The Wedding Bell. I love the shots we got near the forest, but I’m looking forward to exploring more on a drier day.
Venue: Winter Green Weddings
Photography: M. Laine Photography
Planner: Passionate Weddings
Model: Leslie Williams
Gown: The Wedding Bell
Hair and Makeup: The PNW Bride
Calligraphy: She Said Yes
Flowers: Flora Blume Design
Cupcakes: Hello, Cupcake
Rentals: Cort Pary Rentals
Globe, maps and luggage tags: Mia Nicole Design Co.