We chose the Swedenborgian Church in San Francisco because of its history, its location, and how incredibly warm and intimate it felt even when it was totally empty. We could only imagine how it would feel with a fire in the fireplace and our friends and family in the seats. The church was also flexible about us bringing in our own officiant, and would have provided a piano or organ player if we didn’t have other music arranged. It was also nice that the church required very little in the way of decoration. I also can’t say enough good things about working with Valentyna Hohl, the office and event manager there – she was friendly and helpful, and she worked closely with Laurie Arons (one of our wedding planners) to coordinate details for the day. (The church also has a website just for weddings, right here, and if you’re having a wedding on the smaller side, consider the parish house behind the church for your reception – it’s lovely!)

When I came into Laurie’s office with a take-out menu as inspiration for our wedding program (what can I say, inspiration is everywhere!), she showed me examples of her favorite wedding programs, and they were all perfectly pocket-sized! Ryan and I provided the content with some help from Jenna and Laurie on the wording, and Jill Sassa (PS Paper) created simply lovely little booklets that fit perfectly with the rest of our stationery suite. Ryan likes when he can read along at weddings, so we included the full readings in our programs.

Though the church didn’t need much decoration, Kathleen Deery added just the right touches: candles in hanging hurricane lamps along the brick walkway, a garland of boxwood and white roses on the railing, and a dramatic arrangement of peonies, pine branches and passion vine at the altar.

When Ryan and I walked out of the church, a boys choir was waiting for us singing Christmas carols – it was such a delightful surprise from Jenna, and after all the guests had headed off to the reception, Ryan and I took some photos together with the boys. They were all so darling! Actually, music was one of the ways we incorporated Christmas into our wedding – our string trio, Lawrence Strings, played Christmas favorites as our guests were coming into the church, as well as an up-tempo version of The Holly and the Ivy for our recessional. And then the Golden Gate Boys Choir and Bellringers gave everyone a wonderfully seasonal send-off!

Ryan and I departed the church in a fun vintage checker cab that Jenna had tracked down after seeing it driving around town (Marin Checker Taxi, 415-789-5356), and that Jill rigged up with a darling “Just Married” sign. The cab driver told us about all the movies the taxi had been in, which made it even more fun! (Don’t ask me which movies because I totally can’t remember; I just remember thinking how neat it was.)

Photos by Elizabeth Messina.

Kathleen Deery Design, Kiss the Groom (Elizabeth Messina), Laurie Arons Special Events, Lawrence Strings and PS Paper are sponsors of Snippet & Ink.

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With wedding blogs and magazines, it’s so easy to forget that there is more to a wedding than a beautiful party with beautiful details. Don’t get me wrong, I love all of those things (which probably goes without saying since I’m a wedding blogger). But with so much visual overload, sometimes the whole point of the wedding (you know, the marriage part?) gets put on the back burner until the last minute.

Because I spend so much time looking at all the pretty things, and because I spent the first half of our engagement worrying what people would think of our aesthetic choices, I was very conscious of not wanting to phone it in when it came to the most important part of the wedding. Thankfully, I had Ryan to remind me of this whenever I started to get crazy with welcome bags or bridal shoes.

After reading Meg’s post about creating a marriage mission statement, Ryan and I decided to create one for ourselves. We were already spending a lot of time discussing what we wanted for our marriage, but this really helped us to put our intentions into words, and to share those thoughts with our officiant. It’s also something that Ryan and I can return to down the road if we ever lose sight of where we started, which is a wonderful thing to have.

Though we wanted a mostly traditional ceremony, we also wanted to make it our own with readings, prayers and vows that would be meaningful both for us and for the community of friends and family who were there to witness, celebrate and support our marriage. It was surprisingly difficult to find ceremony templates! We did lots of online searching and ordered several books. Using them to figure out what we wanted and what we didn’t want, we were able to pull together a ceremony that was both traditional and customized. In addition to good old fashioned Google searching, some of the resources we found helpful were…

IndieBride’s giant repository of wedding readings.
Posts like this on A Practical Wedding.
Asking married friends to see their orders of ceremony.
The Wedding Planner: The Essential Guide to the Most Important Part of Your Wedding by Judith Johnson
This wedding booklet from The First Unitarian Congregation of Ottawa.
And for classical music selections, A Bride’s Guide to Wedding Music on iTunes.

While most of these resources are mostly helpful for people looking for a template based around traditional Christian wedding services, or at least that general format, the posts on A Practical Wedding and IndieBride will hopefully be useful for anyone looking to write their own ceremony.

We knew very early on that we wanted our dear friend, Elizabeth, to officiate our wedding, so we were thrilled when she said that she would. Her message was one of the most amazing wedding gifts anyone could ever hope to receive – she incorporated all of our readings, tying them all together, and because she knows us so well and has seen our relationship from the beginning, she was able to give such a touching and personal (and joyful!) address.

I absolutely love this shot of Ryan holding his mom’s hand just before we walk back down the aisle – it’s one of those moments from the day that stands out in Ryan’s mind, and it also reminds me that even though we were totally in it together, we each had our own experience of the day (I’m wondering if he’ll agree to share a little about his own experience of our wedding… I’ll keep you posted). I also love that you can see my mom on the other side of the aisle and all of our attendants behind us.

I wanted to share our full wedding ceremony with you, just because a) I loved every minute of it and b) I know I would have liked to see more real ceremonies all written out when we were planning ours. But, in the interest of space, I’ve given it its own post, right here.

Photos by Elizabeth Messina (Elizabeth’s blog, Kiss the Groom, is a sponsor of Snippet & Ink).

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The Marriage Celebration of Kathryn and Ryan

“Simple Gifts,” Elder Joseph Brackett, Jr.
“Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring,” Johann Sebastian Bach


Opening Prayer
“Wedding Prayer” by Robert Louis Stevenson
Lord, behold our family here assembled.
We thank you for this place in which we dwell,
for the love that unites us,
for the peace accorded us this day,
for the hope with which we expect the morrow,
for the health, the work, the food,
and the bright skies that make our lives delightful;
for our friends in all parts of the earth.

– Celebrant: Kathryn, will you have this man to be your husband; to live together in the covenant of marriage? Will you love him, comfort him, honor and keep him, in sickness and in health; and, forsaking all others, be faithful to him as long as you both shall live?
– Kathryn: I will.
– Celebrant: Ryan, will you have this woman to be your wife; to live together in the covenant of marriage? Will you love her, comfort her, honor and keep her, in sickness and in health; and, forsaking all others, be faithful to her as long as you both shall live?
– Ryan: I will.
– Celebrant: Will all of you witnessing these promises do all in your power to uphold Kathryn and Ryan in their marriage?
– People:  We will.

Presentation of the Bride
– Celebrant: Who gives this woman to marry this man?
– Mother of the bride: She comes of her own accord, with the full support of her father and me.*


“On Marriage,” Khalil Gibran
You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore.
You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days.
Aye, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.
But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.
Love one another, but make not a bond of love.
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf.
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.
Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together, yet not too near together.
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.

Ruth 1: 16 – 17
And Ruth said, Entreat me not to leave you, or to return from following after you. For where you go, I will go; and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. / Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.

An excerpt from The Gift, Hafiz
Even after all this time the sun never says to the earth, “You owe me.” Look what happens with a love like that, it lights the whole sky.

Marriage Address

Wedding Vows
(Face each other, hold hands.)
– Ryan: I, Ryan, take you, Kathryn, to be my wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, all the days of my life. This is my solemn vow.
– Kathryn: I, Kathryn, take you, Ryan, to be my husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, all the days of my life. This is my solemn vow.

Exchange of Rings
(Let go of hands.)
– Groom: Kathryn, I give you this ring as a symbol of my vow, and with all that I am, and all that I have, I honor you in the name of God.
– Bride: Ryan, I give you this ring as a symbol of my vow, and with all that I am, and all that I have, I honor you in the name of God.

(Celebrant joins the right hands of the couple.)
May the Lord bless you and keep you.
May the Lord make his face to shine upon you.
May God give you grace not to sell yourselves short. Grace to risk something big for something good.
Grace to remember that the world is too dangerous a place
for anything but truth,
And too small for anything but love.
May God take your minds and think through them.
May God take your hands and work through them.
May God take your lips and speak through them.
May God take your hearts and set them on fire.*

Declaration of Marriage
Ryan and Kathryn, with the blessing and support of your families and friends, by the vows you have made to one another, by the strength of your covenant, and in the presence of God, it is my pleasure to pronounce you Husband and Wife. You may kiss your bride.

“The Holly and the Ivy,” Cecil Sharp


*Thank you to Joanna Goddard for inspiring this presentation of the bride, and to Reverend Liz Jones for this blessing.

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Hi friends! Trying to write a post about our has ceremony turned out to be much harder than writing the other posts, probably because it’s talking about the most important part of the day. I find myself with an unfinished post and a date to keep with my three adorable nephews and their mom and grandpa, so I won’t have a chance to share my ceremony post until later today. I’m sure you won’t mind getting a bit of a breather from non-stop “Our Wedding” posts anyway – who knew I had so much to say about our wedding!

Photo by Elizabeth Messina.

Kiss the Groom (Elizabeth Messina) is a sponsor of Snippet & Ink.

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There were a few reasons that Ryan and I decided to see each other before the ceremony: not only did we want to spend more time with our guests at the reception, we also wanted to take portrait photos before it got dark (and since we were getting married at 5:00 in December, it would certainly be dark by the time the ceremony ended). So after getting ready, Ryan and the rest of the guys met up with the ladies at Cavallo Point. It made for such a stunning backdrop, and the cloudy sky created soft lighting even in the middle of the day. (We were lucky that the rain held off until the next day, when it poured buckets!)

My flats came in handy when we took a few photos off the beaten path! Ryan and I agreed ahead of time that we would check in with each other throughout the day to make sure we both stayed present, so when I started to stress out about getting the bottom of my dress dirty before the ceremony, my sweet groom made sure to bring me back to earth.

I have only one regret from our wedding day, and it’s that Ryan and I didn’t make a shot list for group photos. Even though it was on the to do list that Laurie and Jenna gave to us, and even though Elizabeth asked us to put one together, we just never sat down to do it. With Ryan and me trying to remember what photos we wanted on the spot, the whole thing felt more stressful than it needed to be, and unfortunately it meant that we missed some photos that we would like to have had (one of Ryan and his siblings, one of just the girls and just the guys, one of the entire group together). It’s not the end of the world, and we have countless wonderful photos, but it was a simple thing that would have taken us fifteen minutes if we had done it the week before the wedding (or some time in those 18 months we were engaged). Don’t be like us! Make a shot list ahead of time!

Photos by the always talented Elizabeth Messina.

Kiss the Groom (Elizabeth Messina) and Laurie Arons Special Events are sponsors of Snippet & Ink. Thank you to Cavallo Point for extending the media room rate for our stay.

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