We’ve all heard the term Bridezilla. And whether you’re a bride or a groom, we know that being compared to a giant prehistoric sea monster is not on your wedding day checklist.
The media is full of epic “Bridezilla stories” from charging no-shows $100 for uneaten meals to demanding a bridesmaid dye her hair, but it goes deeper than that. The term “Bridezilla” really boils down to one thing: a seriously stressed-out human. All the other craziness just builds from there.
So, if you want to be a wedding planning boss while avoiding this unpleasant term, it’s all about managing stress and being proactive. Wondering where to start?
Here are our recommendations for how to avoid stress and stay positive during your wedding planning process:
Take a second (or many) to be realistic
Wedding days come with a lot of pressure! It’s your one special day, the day you’ve been looking forward to for your entire life — so it’s obvious that the process of planning and living out that day can get a little overwhelming. Make sure to take some time, when you’re feeling the most stressed, to remember that this is just one day. One day, out of thousands of joy-filled days that you’ll spend with your love. Whether the day brings rain or sun, in 24 hours it’ll all be over, and you’ll head into your life together.
Listen to your loved ones
With all of the voices telling you what you should do on your wedding day, it may feel easier to just shut the door on everyone and do your own thing. And while you should hone in on your desires for your wedding day, it’s important that you allow your friends and family to feel involved and share their advice.
Even if you don’t take their feedback, giving your loved ones time and attention will show them that you care about them just as much as they care about you. It’s always better to hear them out and say “no” than to ignore them altogether. Because, in the end, the important people in your life just want to see you happy.
Be considerate of family & friends
When you’re planning your dream wedding, make sure to give your bridal party and guests consideration. Your loved ones are traveling hundreds of miles, booking hotel rooms and taking time off work to be there for you on your special day. And your bridal party is doing even more, from attending your bachelor/bachelorette party and purchasing attire to being your right-hand-man throughout the process.
Take time to inquire about their budget and remember the sacrifices they are making to show you their love and support. Doing so will help them feel seen, loved and appreciated and create a positive vibe on your wedding day.
Share the load
Taking on wedding planning and preparation is too much for two people, so it’s important to delegate. One of the easiest ways to do this is to hire skilled vendors and a wedding planner. These industry professionals know their stuff and will lighten your load considerably as they handle individual parts of your day.
But if you don’t have a wedding planner, enlisting the help of skillful friends and family will help make your vision come to life. Reach out early on to see who is authentically interested in helping you out. Make sure not to place any expectations on loved ones straight-off-the-bat, as doing this can result in resentment and negativity.
Take all the help that is offered and make sure your helpers feel appreciated. Doing so will create a tight-knit community of wedding supporters that will be the life of the party when the day comes.
Don’t get too caught up in trends
In the age of social media and Pinterest, planning an aesthetic, trendy wedding without the help of a skilled wedding planner can seem easy. But as you start this process, remember to use Pinterest to inspire — not copy. This will help you feel satisfied with the end result, no matter what it is, and allow your vendors to use their skills to create something truly unique to you.
In 20 years from now, we promise you won’t care if the wedding had thousands of aesthetic lanterns hanging from trees or the perfect table setting. You’ll be looking back at the pictures of you smiling and having fun with your friends and family.
Trust your vendors
Hiring experienced vendors is key to having a seamless wedding planning process. But it doesn’t stop there. Remember that, you’re paying them to make your wedding magic, they’re also humans. Wedding professionals are almost never in it for the money — they’re doing this because they love the work and are passionate about it.
Respect them by allowing them to have creative freedom. Feel free to send them inspiration, but avoid statements such as: “I want you to do it like this.” If you tell them what you love about their work, show them inspo from their own portfolio and Pinterest, and put your trust in them, their enthusiasm about your wedding will grow exponentially.
And, when the day comes, refrain from babysitting them. Trust them to do what you’re paying them to do, give them breaks and feed them!
Focus on the fun
When you envision your perfect wedding day, what do you see? Probably not you being super stressed out, micro-managing everyone. We bet you’re thinking about walking down the aisle, dancing and partying with your friends, and smiling every step of the way.
Your wedding day marks the beginning of a new stage, one of total commitment and celebration. Your relationship and marriage will never, ever be flawless. Once you let go of the expectation of perfection, you’ll be able to plan your day with a sense of calm and joy, with an expectation of beauty in the chaos.
By trusting your family and vendors, planning for your unique needs and letting go of things that are out of your control, you’ll create the fun version of your wedding that you’ve been dreaming of.
And, we promise, it’ll be worth it.
Glen Echo Garden has been a staple of the Bellingham wedding vendor community for decades. With flourishing gardens and an ideal location just outside of the city, the venue has seen hundreds of couples through their special day.
So, when the property's owners of 40-years decided it was time to head in a new direction in 2020, another Bellingham family jumped on the opportunity without hesitation.
We recently spoke with one part of the family-operated business, Sarah Larson, about the property and her family's dreams for the future of the garden.
Keep reading to hear about what they offer wedding couples on their wedding day — including some eye-catching new additions!
For readers that aren’t acquainted with Glen Echo, could you share a bit about the property and what you offer?
Glen Echo Garden is a 7-acre landscaped forest oasis along Anderson Creek just outside of Bellingham, WA city limits. Our property has a secret garden feel and is a perfect mix of open green space, established gardens and towering trees. Our passion is helping create magical, memorable experiences that connect and bring people together. We view our space as a foundation for guests to create the event of their dreams and as a place of healing and grounding. We invite guests to be creative with our space—we love hosting events of all kinds, from weddings to yoga and art retreats.
You’re continuing in the footsteps of Glen Echo Garden’s previous owners as a family-owned business. How did you all decide to take the plunge together?
Our family has dreamt for years about having a place like Glen Echo Garden, where we can be creative and where everyone in the family can find their niche. Little did we know that a place like this existed! When we found this amazing property, we just knew it was the right place to share our vision with others.
We’d love to know a bit more about your family! What outside experience are each of you bringing to this endeavor? What are you each most excited about as you begin this adventure?
We are a family of artists and entrepreneurs, landscape gardeners and dreamers. Several of us have extensive experience in event and retreat-planning through nonprofit positions we’ve held for years and several of us are passionate gardeners and landscapers. Two of us are also working artists and just about all of us are avid outdoors people and lovers of all things beautiful.
All of us would consider ourselves “doers”—we dream up ideas and help each other figure out how to execute those dreams. As a group, we’re incredibly excited to build on the amazing foundation and framework that already exists at Glen Echo. We have big visions for this property—with such a naturally gorgeous, tucked away forested garden like this, the possibilities are endless.
What changes can the public and wedding couples expect to Glen Echo’s operation or gardens?
For the first year of operations, we will be mainly focusing on finding our sea legs and creating a rhythm and workflow as a group, while continuing to offer much of what the former owners had in place. The look of the gardens will be largely the same as in years past, with a beautiful mix of established perennial gardens and colorful annual flowers.
We’re very excited to share that we’ll have two brand-new, large glamping tents in the gardens for the bridal parties! The spaces will be comfortable and chic—perfect for getting ready and sharing a toast before the ceremony.
We’re also very excited to expand the business into a new area and offer nightly glamping and camping options. Stay tuned throughout the spring and summer for more on this!
Tell us a bit about the amenities you offer for weddings at the garden. Why should couples choose Glen Echo?
When couples choose Glen Echo for their wedding, they are reserving our entire 7-acre gardens, which are completely private, so magical and incredibly naturally beautiful. This means that everything you see in the gardens is yours to use, from the two glamping tents to the indoor gathering space complete with a full kitchen. We have two centrally-located bathrooms and one shower in the gardens. Included in the cost of your rental are banquet tables and chairs as well as two large event tent shelters.
Guests are welcome to tailor our space to their personal vision, though many couples choose Glen Echo for its natural beauty that acts as decoration and backdrop in and of itself. When you descend into our private gardens, you enter another world of huge towering trees, lush green lawns and beautifully landscaped spaces.
Glen Echo Garden has received negative attention under previous ownership for reportedly homophobic remarks as well as allegedly not allowing LGTBQ+ couples to rent the venue for their weddings. How are you actively working to mend this history and ensure LGTQ+ couples feel welcomed at your venue in the future?
It is incredibly important to us that the public knows our family’s values, which are that of openness and inclusion for all communities. We were deeply saddened to learn about the couples that were turned away by the former owners because of their identity as part of the LGBTQ+ community. While we aren’t able to change history, we can do everything in our power to let the public know that under our ownership, all are welcome here. We see Glen Echo as a space of comfort, grounding, beauty and celebration and we invite all people to be part of the community we are building here.
Where do you envision Glen Echo in 5 years? Tell us about your dreams for the property’s future.
The property’s future is what gets us most excited! While we plan to continue opening the space for event rentals, we have a wider-scope vision for our offerings here at Glen Echo. A few of our dreams are: to offer the property for yoga, art, meditation and other retreats, with the ability to provide lodging onsite for retreat participants; to build a number of beautiful, rustic structures for nightly rentals, such as A-frame cabins, yurts and geodesic domes; to plan community events of our own, like woodfired pizza and beer nights or outdoor movies in the summers. To us, this amazing property affords endless opportunities, and we are so excited to share this vision with others!
If newly-engaged couples are interested in scheduling a tour, what should they do?
The best way to get in touch with us with inquiries is through email at firstname.lastname@example.org! Couples are also welcome to send an inquiry through our website at www.glenechogarden.com.
What’s your favorite part about attending a wedding?
Is it seeing the bride in her wedding dress or watching the groom tear up? What about shredding the dance floor or seeing people you haven’t spoken with in a while?
Or maybe, the thing you most look forward to is digging into that $350 cake…
If we’re right on the nose, then you might want to keep reading. Though we can’t play wedding day favorites, we do have a soft spot for cakes and other sweet treats.
So, cake lovers, this is for you! A compilation of the most mouthwatering, gorgeous, delectable cakes seen north of Seattle.
Terracotta Ombre Cake
We are loving this Terracotta cake from Pure Bliss Desserts — the stunning ombre, the simplicity and size, the surrounding sugary goodies, it's everything.
Also, can we just give Abi Moczulski Photography a round of applause for this cute cake-cutting pic, because our hearts are melting!!
Woodsy Vanilla Cake
Let us just say that this green beauty is making us wonder why all cakes aren't green. Cakes by Emily crafted this vanilla cake with vanilla buttercream for a styled shoot planned by Cedar Meadows Events and photographed by Cat Ruchalski Photography.
This tablescape (decor from Cranberry Sky Heirloom Rentals) and florals by Folk Art Flowers complement the cake beautifully, rounding out this natural color palette.
Minimalist Deckle-Edged Cake
Deckle-edged cakes are gaining popularity in the wedding industry — and for good reason. They perfectly toe the line between minimalist and vintage and stand out in any room for their subtle twist to the traditional white cake.
This prime example from Cakes by Felicitations features a gold deckle edge and complimenting florals, all atop a modern marble cake stand with a geometric base.
Pacific Northwest Blackberry Cake
The unique sky blue shade of this simple buttercream cake sets it apart from the rest. But inside — it gets even better, with a chocolate sponge with blackberries folded in and chocolate ganache filling.
It's a good thing we don't have a photo of the inside, or we'd never be able to get it out of our heads!
Cake | The Night Owl Bakery | @thenightowlbakery_tnob
Location | Emerald Forest Theater | @emeraldforestevents
Stylist | Elevated Events by Tosha | @elevatedeventsbytosha
Photographer | Cindy Nguyen Photography | @cindynguyen.photo
Rentals- Simply Unique Event Rentals | @simply_unique_event_rentals
Floral | Poppy and Pomegranate | @poppyandpomegranate
Modern Two-Tier White Cake
This cake is simple and timeless — a two-tiered beauty with some floral elements. We've never seen a cake look more perfect and pure. It's almost too pretty to cut into!
Photography | Kerry Jeanne Photography | @kerryjeannephoto
Event Planning | Simply by Tamara Nicole | @simplytamaranicole
Florals | Gather Design Company | @gatherdesigncompany
Cake | Saltadena @saltadenabakery
Strawberry Bavarian Cream Cake
This gorgeous, flower-laden cake by Barb's Pies and Pastries has us wanting to eat cake by the ocean every. single. day.
And if the cake wasn't enough, this styled shoot vending team created the wedding design inspo of our dreams:
Elegant Pastel Blue Cake with Floral Focus
We love pastels on wedding cakes — and this soft blue beauty by Cakes by Felicitations is the stuff of our dreams. The ribbon of soft ivory florals only adds to the cake's effortless elegance, which is also bolstered by the unique tier sizes.
Lavender Drip Cake
This cake is like something out of a movie. The watercolor-esque painted texture adds elegance and artistry to the otherwise classic four-tier cake, and the bright purple drips with pops of purple florals on each layer add a big wow-factor.
Photography | B Jones Photography | @bjonesphotos
Venue | Lairmont Manor | @lairmontmanor
Floral | Petals by Linda
Cake | Saltadena | @saltadenabakery
Coordination | Sincere Event Planning | @sincereeventplanning
Painted Champagne Cake
We love the vibrant paint stroke texture on this dual-colored buttercream cake by The Night Owl Bakery. Inside, this beauty features white champagne flavored sponge and fresh currant compote.
Cake | The Night Owl Bakery | @thenightowlbakery_tnob
Photography | Miranda Quade Photography | @mirandaquadephotography
Venue | NW Backyard Events | @nwbackyardevents
Floral | Karrie Michelle Floral Design | @karriemichellefloraldesign
A note from the photographer:
Anna & Caleb’s rainy, family-centered micro-wedding in the Hoh Rainforest was full of heartfelt details and sweet moments. Anna shared that their day "wouldn't have been so amazing without the help and support from friends and family. We were very cautious to prevent any spread of Covid, and as a result, we had a wonderfully simple and intimate wedding."
It rained - and poured - on-and-off all day but the couple and their family were troopers and embraced the weather! Anna woke up at 5 am the day of the wedding to make the bouquets, and one of the couple's friends did her hair, while one of her sisters lent her the earrings she'd worn for her own wedding. Just before leaving the cozy cabin, wellies and all, the bride was given a handmade shawl from her sister to match her dress, and the groom surprised her with a letter gifting her a trip to Yellowstone, as well as a guidebook and a gift card to REI to purchase gear for the trip.
At the Hoh Campground, Anna & Caleb opted for a quiet first look among the autumn leaves and moss-covered trees. The immediate family set up a campsite as 'base camp' for treats and hot cocoa before the ceremony and decorated the campfire ceremony space moments before the pop-up vow exchange (affectionately dubbed 'The Campfire Program') began. The couple walked down the aisle to an incredibly sweet rendition of 'You've Got a Friend', a memorable touch that wouldn't have even happened without a little planning mixup: "we forgot the speakers, so my brother and sister-in-law performed...and it was even better that way"! The rings were presented by Anna & Caleb's puppy Kingston, and the bride's best friend officiated the charming ceremony; plenty of laughter was woven into the proceedings...as well as a few tears as Anna and Caleb read their vows to one another and letters to Caleb's daughter!
The rain let up a little in time for a few portraits (35mm), and then guests dispersed across the campground to their cars, campsites, and quiet benches for BBQ box lunches, before reconvening for two separate homemade wedding cakes and a few toasts. The day was even celebrated by a lone elk wandering through the campground, and the bride gifted jewelry she made to the women who are near and dear to her. Due to COVID-19 this was the third wedding plan, but it turned out to be an incredibly emotional, heartfelt, and joy-filled day! As the bride shared later, "Something always goes wrong at a wedding. But every challenge was met with great spirits, and everything turned out even better than expected."
Photography - Alisha Trahms Photography
Hair Color - Kopa Hair Studio
Hair Styling - Linsay Weflen
Dress - Brides for a Cause
We get it. You’ve been dreaming about this day for years — when all your friends and family will come together to celebrate you (and your boo). So it’s understandable that you’d rather delay the event altogether than compromise on your vision of a large wedding celebration.
But if you’ve been pushing back your wedding waiting for restrictions to be lifted, it may be worth it to consider the alternatives. That’s why you’re here, right?
If you’re an adventure seeker, you could always elope! But if having your family and friends there is important to you, an intimate, or “micro,” wedding is a totally underrated alternative.
While weddings with 150-200 guests have been the norm for decades, couples who choose to go ahead with 10-20 person weddings are absolutely raving about the results. These smaller weddings have many bonuses — they’re generally cheaper, easier to plan, more intimate and on the whole just a lot less stressful. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Are you open to the idea of a micro-wedding? Well, read on, because we’re here to convince you that they deserve better than to be your backup plan!
1. It’s all about what you want
Because intimate weddings are often simplified versions of traditional “big” weddings, there’s a lot more freedom to do what you want! With a more flexible timeline and budget, you’ll discover so many more ways to celebrate your union that reflect your unique relationship.
Some ideas: you can lengthen the ceremony with special ceremonies, such as handfasting or ring warming, and have members of your family read notes from the special people who aren’t able to attend. You can get catered food from your fav local restaurant rather than hire a caterer and create your own playlist for some dancing in your backyard!
Basically, the whole day will be about you — not about hosting a slew of guests, making the rounds and doing all of the things people expect you to do!
2. Only the most important people in your life will be there
Because your wedding will be confined to close friends and family, you can toss drama and small talk out the window. These are the people you love more than anything, and they know you better than anyone, so you can really enjoy the company of your guests the whole day.
3. You can streamline celebrations for a shorter day with less stress
Many modern weddings go about 10 hours, from getting ready in the morning to the last dance in the evening. With a micro-wedding, you’ll be able to start later, spend less time in-between events corralling people to the next part of the night and really just relax into the day.
This alleviates wedding-day stress because you don’t have to worry about being a host for 10 hours! You can sleep in, eat lunch (this is important folks!) and take it easy. And when the ceremony comes, you’ll be able to take it all in stride, with a more intimate, casual ceremony and a fun, lively dinner, if that’s what you decide!
4. Save money
This may be an obvious point, but it’s important to mention. The fewer people you have at a wedding, the less you’ll spend. Though, if you’d like to splurge on your wedding, intimate weddings are great for that as well!
You could decide to spend more on the venue, or food, or even your dream dress! Just make sure to sit down with your betrothed and talk over what is most important to each of you — that way if your partner really wants a popular jazz band to play at the reception, you can plan everything else around that expense. You can keep track of your budget with our wedding budget checklist, available here.
5. More venue options
One of the best parts about having a micro-wedding is that a whole realm of new venues is at your disposal. All wedding venues have caps on the number of guests they’ll allow, so as your guest count dwindles venue options will skyrocket. But that’s not all — with anywhere from 10-50 guests, you’ll be able to book non-traditional venues such as your favorite bar, restaurant or local garden & nursery
6. More time with guests
Instead of making small talk with near-strangers as you make the rounds at your reception, your guests will get to be participants at your wedding. They can make snacks for the morning, help set up the ceremony — and even do the florals! Plus, they’ll be able to handle the tear-down as you and your beloved dance the night away.
Having fewer guests makes the day more fun and memorable for the people who are chosen to attend. Also, you’ll have an easy way to tell acquaintances why they weren’t invited.
7. Easier to plan
Intimate weddings are often easier to plan due to their more simplistic nature. For many micro-weddings, there’s simply less to juggle! That makes it possible for the couple to plan it almost entirely on their own, or hire a wedding planner at a reduced cost to manage a few elements of the day.
This isn’t true in all cases — such as if you’re redirecting your big wedding budget to an intimate lavish occasion, but it’s definitely something to keep in mind if the whole wedding planning thing stresses you out.
8. More time/money for the honeymoon
With less cost required for your wedding day, you’ll have more money for other things, like your honeymoon!! You could splurge on your dream resort stay or extend your trip by days — or even weeks.
Plus, you’ll have more brain space to devote to dreaming about all the excursions — we’re thinking helicopter ride to a glacier, zip-lining, couples massages, etc!
9. Your wedding will be memorable
While most weddings will become a blur over time, your distinct approach to this traditional binding of two families will stand out. If you’re considering a group hike to your favorite spot or a party at your favorite club, but wondering whether it’s “wedding-y” enough — let that anxiety go. Because you can do anything you want to! Your close friends and family will get on board eventually (they love you after all!).
And because your intimate wedding will be uniquely you from start to finish, your guests will remember it fondly in the years to come. So just do the thing, you won’t regret it
10. You can enjoy your day completely
When planning a big wedding, it’s easy to get caught up in the traditional schedule and forget that it’s your day. With an intimate wedding, you can forgo all the in-between parts you’re not looking forward to and just do you! Doing this will allow you to enjoy your day completely — from start to finish — and get your marriage started on an amazing stress-free track.
Let’s get real — weddings are changing! Even if you haven’t been tuned into the wedding scene lately on Pinterest or Instagram, amidst a global pandemic and loads of restrictions it’s obvious that plans — maybe even your plans — have had to be rearranged. From cutting your big wedding plans to medium-sized, small and even micro, COVID-19 restrictions have put traditional weddings through the wringer. If you feel hopelessly lost and ready to just call it off and wait until 2022 — there’s an alternative you may have cast aside too soon.
For the past few years, elopements have been making a comeback and becoming “trendy” alternatives to the traditional weddings of the past. And we’re not talking about a Vegas elopement (though those are actually on-trend too) — we’re talking about a trip across the country, driving a jeep through a desert, dancing under the stars and never-stop-holding-hands kind of celebration.
Ready to learn more about the new definition of “elopement” and how it could be the best decision you and your love will make in 2021?
Let’s dive in! (literally — you can have an underwater elopement too)
Reason 1: You get to forget everybody else’s expectations
If you’ve already started to plan your wedding (or have been to any wedding ever) you know that traditional weddings aren’t always about the couple. There’s what your mother-in-law wants, or what your grandparents need, what your friends say you have to do or, honestly, just what you think you need to do.
But let’s just break it down a bit. At its roots, a wedding is a celebration that surrounds the signing of papers that legally bind you with your love. Everything else is just, well, tradition!
An elopement, then, is a ceremony without guests (or with very few) in which a couple gets hitched without a reception or public celebration attached. In the past, it’s been defined as the antithesis of a traditional wedding — something secretive, sudden and improper.
But in the 21st century, eloping is a bit less taboo. It basically just means planning an epic adventure focused on your connection with each other and allowing many traditions to fall to the wayside.
If tradition is important to you when planning your wedding, you can still incorporate elements of that into your elopement. You can still have something old, new, borrowed and blue. Your dad can still walk you down the aisle — even if that aisle is a trail on the top of a mountain. And you might choose to have a party a few weeks or months down the road — with all of your friends and family in attendance.
The point of an elopement is you get to build your wedding day from the ground up. No expectations, less stress, more authenticity.
Reason 2: An experience curated for you
What is an elopement if it’s not in Las Vegas and isn’t a small wedding? You decide! Start anywhere you want, but maybe ask yourselves the question: What screams “us”?
Love to travel? Pick a spot you’ve always wanted to go, book a neat AirBnb and wrap your honeymoon + ceremony into one.
Foodies? Grab tacos at a food cart after saying your vows and get some funny shots dancing on top of picnic tables.
Experienced mountaineers? Consider having a sunrise wedding on the summit of a mountain!
Have a place that’s special to your heart, like your grandparents' cabin or a secret spot close-to-home? Bring along a few of your favorite people and make your vows surrounded by loved ones. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
The best part about this is it’s all about you. Every decision you make will reflect your unique connection with one another and further the special quality of this day. And if planning this kind of adventure still makes you stressed, you can hire an amazing elopement planner — or hire a photographer who specializes in planning elopements with epic photos in mind.
You won’t be asking: what do we need to do? You’ll be asking: what do we want to do?
Feel less stressed already? Us too.
Reason 3: Every moment is intimate & special
If you’ve been to a traditional wedding, you know the drill. The day starts with setting up and getting ready, then guests arrive for the ceremony, you get hitched and run off for a photo sesh as newlyweds, meanwhile, there’s a cocktail hour, then dinner with speeches and lots of toasting, then a bit of dancing before everyone leaves.
For some, this might sound like the best day ever! But being the center of attention, with everyone waiting to talk with you (or paying $1 to dance with you), isn’t everyone’s idea of a good time. Without setting intentions around the wedding day, the true purpose of the day can get lost in all the fluff. But at an elopement, this isn’t a concern.
You two are on your own for most of the day (with a photographer if you wish). With a small party of guests or just the two of you, the day is a lot more intimate and special. If you’d like, you can say your vows just to each other, with nobody else within earshot. You can take time to hold each other before the ceremony and focus on your partner alone throughout the day because they’re the only one vying for your attention.
Plus — because you planned all of this together, with your relationship and passions in mind, everything has a deeper meaning, one intertwined with your love story.
Reason 4: All that other stressful stuff goes *poof*
If you’re already planning, you may have stumbled across this number: $33,900. That’s the cost — on average — of a wedding in the United States. So, where does that money go? For traditional weddings, the most costly items are catering, the reception & ceremony venues, transportation, wedding planners, photographers and videographers, as well as smaller items like attire, music, florals & decor and cake.
How much you spend on your wedding is up to you, and whether you spend $200 or $50,000 at the end of the day it’s all about your vision for the day and your relationship! If you’re looking to save money, or just want to do something different, elopements offer a way for you to redirect your money into a trip of a lifetime or even put a down payment on a house.
You can also be selective about who attends your ceremony. If you have experienced anxiety over how to avoid family drama, you can decide to do an elopement without any guests or only invite the people that you truly really want to be there.
Reason 5: You can still have an epic party!
Just because you’re eloping doesn’t mean everyone misses out! Plan to have a party a few months down the road (or even the same week!) with friends and loved ones to celebrate your marriage.
You could have dancing, cake and music, all of the same things as a traditional wedding — but instead of doing everything at once, you are able to intentionally have a day for just you and then a day for everyone else to celebrate.
In the end, it’s all about uncovering what your dream day looks like— and doing what needs to be done to make that happen. The good news is, there are so many resources out there to help you figure it out — and so many examples of couples who prioritized authenticity above all else and created a spectacular day that meant the world to themselves and their loved ones.
Have questions or need more inspiration before making a decision? Take a look into our blog archives to learn more about planning your perfect wedding.
Modern brides may be leaving many wedding traditions behind, but country weddings will never lose their magic. There’s just something about twinkle lights over a dance floor and the sound of crickets at dusk that never gets old.
If you're wondering what the heck a “country” venue is, it’s exactly what you’d think: big barns, sprawling farmland, and maybe a horse or two. It’s close to the city but just far enough so it feels like you’re in your own little world (and you’re the rodeo queen).
So, whether you want to dance the night away in a historic lofted barn or exchange vows in a wide-open field, the pacific coast is brimming with stunning country venues for every couple’s vision.
We’ve compiled seven of our favorite country venues north of Seattle, so you can discover the best fit for your dream wedding day.
Ready to get inspired?
Whidbey Island is a mecca for country weddings, and you can’t convince us otherwise! With three unique country venues to choose from (all under an hour from Seattle), the island has everything you need to plan your dream wedding.
The Wayfarer is an elegant country venue that is well-suited to couples looking for a seamless blend of rustic and modern. The farm sits on a beautiful rural property with rolling green hills and an orchard. A whitewashed 19th-century barn is a blank canvas for your ceremony, while another barn features exposed ceilings and an antique bar for dancing and celebration. Set out a long table for a Pinterest-worthy reception and enjoy the setting sun under string lights and an open sky.
If dramatic water views and territorial vistas make your heart sing, Crockett Farm may be the venue for you. This 11-acre farm, complete with a barn and on-site guest house, lies on the beautiful Ebey’s Landing National Historic Reserve. The venue also features golden fields of grain, historic wood fences and an expansive property with a multitude of picturesque spots.
Greenbank Farm is a quintessential country venue located on central Whidbey Island. The focal point of the property is a historic red barn built in 1904 that includes a whitewashed interior with an intimate upper level perfect for a cocktail hour. If you’re considering an outdoor ceremony, Greenbank also has a beautiful ceremony spot on the lawn with a gorgeous pond backdrop.
Misty River Ranch is an open-air venue cradled in the Mount Baker foothills along the Nooksack River in Deming, WA. It has all the forest charm you could dream of and is just 35 minutes east aof the Bellingham International Airport, which welcomes multiple flights a day out of Seattle.
With every amenity you could think of (covered pavilion, intimate gazebo, walking bridge, bridal/dressing room, expansive green lawn and tables and chairs galore) your wedding at Misty River Ranch will be the tranquil return to nature you’ve been looking for — with a funky ranch-style twist.
You don’t have to go to France to wander through endless lavender fields. Celebrate your union within 10 acres of fragrant purple fields at OrcaSong Lavender Farm on Orcas Island. This venue is truly a return to nature, with expansive gardens, flowering meadows and cedar forests.
Ceremonies are held in your choice of three defined circles within the picturesque gardens, the largest holding up to 150 guests.
Enjoy the first night of your honeymoon on-site with a variety of accommodations, including OrcaSong’s newly-renovated Farm House, as well as the Lavender Studio, a yurt, canvas tents and camping sites.
This community farm is women-owned and devoted to sustainability. Its country charm is ideal for unconventional couples passionate about creating a unique celebration in-tune with nature.
For the couple looking for a barn wedding without the “country,” look no further than The Saltbox Barn on Fir Island. The property is simultaneously historic and modern, with an unrivaled story of community, artistry and tradition all in a simplistic, rustic-meets-contemporary look
The Saltbox Barn is relatively new on the wedding venue scene, but the owners are second-generation Skagit Valley wedding proprietors with a wealth of knowledge.
Along with a stunning Saltbox-style barn with canopied bistro lights, the property has an expansive patio, a beautiful lawn with a cornfield backdrop and multiple outbuildings for getting ready and photo ops.
Located on Stocker Farm in the Snohomish River Valley, this classic country venue featuring a historic red barn offers a breathtaking background for your special day with limitless opportunities for fun.
If you’re looking to blend tradition with straight-up celebration, you can take advantage of the venue’s in-ground jumping pillow, sports ball arcade, tractor tire jungle gym and fire pit and bonfire (smores, anyone?).
You’ll have your pick of ceremony backdrops, from the spacious red barn to various spots on the 5-acre property. The venue can also provide a beautiful canopy tent for large weddings, so you can celebrate your union under the stars.
Are you considering joining the growing ranks of winter brides? We must say, you couldn’t be making a better choice! Though winter may be the least popular season to tie the knot, it’s seriously underrated.
There’s just something about cold weather and a simplistic landscape that creates an atmosphere of crazy romance, right? We know all the couples getting engaged over the holidays can attest to that!
So are you ready to create an enchanted winter wedding to make everyone in your life come together? Whether you’re looking for a subtle twist to the classic holiday color scheme or something entirely new, we’ve created five totally modern color palettes so you can start planning your perfect winter wedding in style.
If you’ve been perusing Pinterest for winter color palettes, we know you’ve already come across a variation of this option. Defined by deep reds and burgundies, blush and rose and, of course, ivory and green, this is the most loved winter color palette around. These colors flatter every venue and skin tone, create the best starting point for bridesmaids’ dresses, and are just flat-out stunning!
This simple muted color palette is like something out of a dream. If you want to diverge from the bright and stark holiday colors, this may be the way to go. With a collection of beautiful calming blues and simple pinks and rust tones, this palette is just made for the unconventional, wildly unique couples. Consider it for your small winter ceremony or adventure elopement to draw attention to you and your partner’s natural connection.
Love your big personality and want to show it? This bright winter color palette is totally for you. In this option, the greens stay how they’d like to: bright! And the pinks aren’t here to blend in, either. If you’re sticking to a classic look and feel, but just need that little something, incorporate this color scheme into your bouquet to amplify the memorability of your elegant gown or suit.
This color palette is what happens when you take the simplicity of option two and add a bit of mood. For all the brides out there that are looking to create a modern wedding (perfect for the dark & moody photographers out there), this color palette will make your heart sing. With yellows, blues, pinks, and greens that look like they’d come right out of a fashion magazine, this is a fitting palette for any couple hoping to break from the norm
Welcome to the Pacific Coast Weddings blog! If you’re here that means… you’re freakin’ engaged! It’s the moment you’ve been waiting for forever … but what do you do now?
We’re not going to sugarcoat it: planning a wedding takes a lot of work and can be super stressful. But don’t sweat it— you’re in the 21st century with a world of knowledge right at your fingertips. Oh, and also — we’ve got you.
Below, you’ll find 12 tasks that are a must-do as you head into your engagement! Consider us your wedding planning gurus, and we’re about to take you through all the things. By the end, you’ll be ready to start preparing for the best day of your life.
1. Share the news
We know you’re just dying to do this. You may want to text everyone all at once or post on Facebook immediately — but just wait! Think about the most important people in your life and call them, one-by-one, together. No separate phone conversations from the opposite sides of the room shenanigans— do it together! Pro tip: use FaceTime so you can see everyone’s reactions.
And, in case you need to hear it: you don’t have to announce your engagement right away. Remember, this is about the two of you. Choose what works best for you, and follow your heart. That leads us to our next point...
2. Take it all in
There is no need to rush into planning headfirst! This will be a long journey, followed by the rest of your life with your soulmate, but these first few days of being engaged won’t come again.
Think of this as your first honeymoon phase and take a moment - or many - to revel in the initial excitement for the commitment you’re about to make!
Pop a bottle of champagne, reminiscence on your favorite memories — simply enjoy this newly-engaged bliss.3. Take care of your ring
We’re not trying to put a damper on your celebration, but you might need some insurance for your new bling! If you wrap it in with your homeowner or renter's insurance policy, it’s actually fairly inexpensive.
And make sure to get your ring sized at the jewelers immediately if it doesn’t fit quite right. You don’t want to lose that baby just days after saying yes!
4. Start dreaming
This is where the real fun begins (or maybe we’re just saying that because we love this part). So, before you dive into your wedding planning checklist, discuss your dreams with your fiance and get researching!
Pinterest is our go-to spot for collecting inspiration. Creating a wedding board will quickly help you realize your ideal color palette, style and decor.
Another cool way to keep track of your favorite inspiration is by saving posts on Instagram. You can be sure that all your local vendors are on Instagram, so take time to look through their feed so you can recall their favorite work when you speak with them.
If this part stresses you out, look into hiring a wedding planner to take on some of the load. You’ll have an industry pro there to help you realize your dream wedding — and turn it into a reality.
5. Plan the next few months with a wedding timeline and checklist
The key to tackling wedding planning like a pro is to stay organized. Start off by creating a wedding planning timeline to keep track of big items, like when to get your dress and book a photographer (or simply download our free worksheet).
6. Choose a venue and pick the date
Once you’ve decided on a month or season for your ceremony, you can begin touring venues. Make sure to start this early because depending on the venue, peak season dates may be booked out years in advance.
When you tour venues, make sure to take photos and come with questions prepared. Take a look at our top questions to ask a venue before you go.
Looking for a venue in Western Washington? We have a vendor directory with the top venues on the Pacific Coast.
7. Choose your people
You can’t choose your family, but you can choose your wedding guests! Once you know the size of your venue, you can select your guests. Put it all down on paper (or Excel) and then start with the most important people. That way, you can figure out who you need to have on your day and who will ultimately get crossed off the list.
8. Set your wedding budget
Most people don’t like to talk about money, but setting a budget for your special day early in the planning process is essential. Figure out who is paying, what the most important items are (such as a photographer or venue), and how far that number can stretch. Make sure to account for wiggle room so you’ll be able to cover unexpected expenses. You can also keep track of costs using our budget checklist.9. Schedule your dress appointment
If you’re like us and watch too much Say Yes to the Dress, you know that finding a wedding dress needs to happen early. Don’t make the Randy in your life scramble to find you something from the sample room, and make sure your dress is ordered within 7-10 months prior to the ceremony.
Schedule an appointment at local boutiques or two and look out for trunk shows if you have your eye on a particular designer and want to score a discount.
10. Create your vendor dream team
Once you’ve picked a venue or booked a wedding planner, ask them for vendor recommendations. Odds are, they’ve worked with everyone in town and can help you find the best fit for your vision. You can also search our vendor directory to find an extensive compilation of local vendors.
Just make sure you choose vendors you can count on to be professional and help you achieve your vision. There’s nothing worse than picking the cheap option and regretting it.
11. Have a conversation about your wedding priorities
Has anyone ever told you that you have the power to do your wedding your way? At its roots a wedding is simply a ceremony binding two people together, everything else that happens is up to you.
Incorporate unique elements to your ceremony, like planting a tree together or doing a ring warming ceremony. Create a custom cocktail or offer a shot of your favorite whiskey to your guests. Host your reception at the rodeo or take a hike with your bridal party on the morning of the wedding. Elope on a mountain top and have a celebration with your family and friends on a different date.
The only rule is that there are no rules! This wedding is the biggest party you’ll ever throw — and it’s yours to create.
12. Relax and dream about your honeymoon!
When it’s all said and done, the important thing is just to breathe. Focus on planning the things that excite you (like your epic honeymoon) — just make sure that all the hard stuff is done too.
And if you’d like a helping hand, you can find inspiration for planning your perfect wedding on our blog and all the resources you need on our worksheets tab.
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 email@example.com. 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.