Wedding Planning for Newbies: What I’ve Learned So Far

I’ve been engaged for 42 days.

I have already seen [and booked!] our venue, been in touch with three photographers, called two local bridal boutiques and made appointments to try on dresses, emailed three florists, two videographers, four food/dessert vendors and five coordinators for month-of details and finalizing.

Did I mention my fiancé and I’s tentative wedding date isn’t until Fall 2018?

Yes, you did your math correctly. That gives me roughly 16 months to plan this thing.


So, why the rush?

Going into this, I knew basically nothing about weddings. I was the maid of honor in a wedding a couple of years ago [almost to the day], but I wasn’t involved in any of the planning process. The bride lived in San Diego, had a venue picked out in Malibu, and with me all the way up in Sacramento, there wasn’t much I could do. Also, up until recently, I really wasn’t even a huge fan of weddings. I mean, I totally thought it was great to celebrate other people’s love, but the forced mingling with people you have never met..? Well, I’m an introvert and can be extremely socially awkward, so, you get why weddings weren’t my fav.

BUT, that said, now that I’m engaged and planning my own special day, the tables have turned a bit.

Even though I have nearly two years to plan, I knew that I wanted to get my venue and my photographer booked as soon as possible. Although I don’t know much about wedding planning, I do know that these two vendors book up the quickest [my potential photographer already has a September wedding for 2018!].

The first thing I did when Mitch and I got engaged was to sign up for Style Me Pretty, The Knot and Wedding Wire. They all give you the opportunity to browse vendors local to your city and/or your general area [for example, we live in Sacramento, but some of these vendors encompass all of Northern California – Bay Area, Sacramento, Chico, South Lake Tahoe, etc.]. While I didn’t end up choosing a venue from the list, it did give me a great starting point for photographers, florists and coordinators. Instagram has also been a really good friend of mine – once I figured out the photographers I liked, I would follow their profiles and find other vendors they’d tagged in their photos [I actually found ALL but one of my potential vendors from this method].

Create a new email address that’s for wedding stuff ONLY. I can’t even tell you guys how helpful this has been. You never realize how many emails you get every day until you’re trying to pilfer through them all to find the ones that relate to your wedding. Having a separate email for our big day has been a life saver. And, bonus, I can easily remove it from my phone and computer after it’s all said an done and I’ll never have to see a wedding email again! [Although, if I’m being totally honest, I would 100% consider a career in wedding planning after this].

Don’t wait! Regardless of how far out your wedding is, get in touch with your potential vendors so you can get your name on their radar. Even though the florists I’ve contacted don’t promise their services until a year before the wedding date, at least they know I’m interested and my day is now in the back of their minds. And if you don’t want to go through the legwork of planning all by yourself, hire a coordinator!

Don’t get your heart set one one single vendor for each category of your wedding. For example, I only saw one venue [which we got extremely lucky in booking], and I really only love one of my potential photographers. We almost didn’t get our venue, and if I don’t get the photographer I want, I will be absolutely crushed [not ideal!]. The moral of the story: have some backups. Don’t narrow it down to one place or one person if you can help it. Have an idea in mind of what you like, and see as many places and interview as many people as you can before you settle. You will be much happier if you start planning your wedding with an open mind.

Get your guest list done early on. We ended up having to do this in the beginning by default due to the fact that the venue we wanted only accommodated 200 people max. It was painstaking and there were lots of disagreements, but ultimately that is the most difficult part of planning, and once this is done it will be smooth sailing afterward. Better to get this out of the way as soon as possible.

Work on your inspo boards! YES, I mean Pinterest. The best thing I ever did was sit down and organize the heck out of my wedding-themed Pinterest boards. It was so easy for me to go in and print out dress styles, floral arrangements, décor styles, etc. Whether you’re a DIY-er or you’re hiring a wedding planner, the best way to let your vendors know what you want is to give them something to go off of. Most vendors will ask you what kind of ideas you have, so having something to go off of is always a good idea!

Stay in touch with your vendors and potential vendors. Let them know what your timeline is and where your head is at. While I was working on our guest list and trying to figure out how to make our venue work for us, I wasn’t just sitting idly – I was emailing potential vendors and getting pricing, availability, etc. I couldn’t nail down a time to meet with anybody since I didn’t have a venue, yet, but I made sure they all knew what the case was and that I would reach out once our venue and date were secured.

All in all, make sure you find that ultimate wedding dream team to work with. Finding vendors who mesh well with you as a couple, as well as each other, is a huge necessity. And also, don’t forget to have FUN. Being engaged and planning a wedding is supposed to be one of the most fun moments of your adult life. Enjoy every moment of being affianced and planning your big day. At the end of it all, it comes down to just the two of you – don’t forget that! And if planning and decision-making has become all-consuming, take a step back, take a night or two off and enjoy some time together just being engaged, in love, and not worrying about wedding details.

This Is My Rooftop

You know when you’re absolutely elated about something, and there’s that expression, “I want to shout from the rooftop!”?

Well, this is my rooftop.

On this day, 365 days ago, I went on a date with a guy. A guy that wasn’t at all my type looks-wise, which used to immediately trigger a red flag. But after consistently dating my “type” and only ever finding idiots, I decided to step outside my box a little. What could it hurt?

Turns out, it really couldn’t [and didn’t] hurt.

It was a fantastic first date. He immediately checked the first box by successfully finding [and knocking on] my apartment door. My roommate and I used to joke that a guy was a keeper if he could find our apartment, because nobody we dated ever could. He took me to Old Town Sacramento, and gave me a little historical blurb about our city while he toured me around the streets. We stopped at a bar for a drink and ended up dancing to a live band with some fun, lively elderly couples. After that, we headed to Torch Club to keep dancing, and then bounced around to a couple other bars and sampled some beers in honor of it being Sac Beer Week. We closed out our date at Kupros, where some friends of mine came to meet us [and my poor date thought that was my SOS call – it was definitely not]. The conversation was easy and natural – we never had an awkward moment or felt the need to fill a pause. I didn’t expect to be swept off my feet so quickly, and I guess neither did he. But by the next day, we couldn’t wait to see each other again and had already made plans to get together that evening.

To say that this person has changed my life is an understatement. I had believed for so long that there were no longer decent men out there – in fact, I had pretty much come to terms with the fact that I would probably be 35 and heading to a sperm bank and doing the single mom thing [and I was actually okay with that]. Everyone tells you that you’ll meet somebody when you least expect it, and I can definitely attest to the fact that that couldn’t be more true.

One of the biggest issues I discovered [and struggled with] over the years of my dating journey was that so many guys carried baggage and assumed that all women were going to treat them the same in a relationship. If my ex cheated on me, then it will be just as easy for you.

True, but not a fair judgment to make when you’ve only just met a person. I pushed a lot of men away because of this – because they couldn’t give a new relationship a fair shot. It was so refreshing when I met my boyfriend, who was open about his fears, but wasn’t afraid to push through them in the hope of possibly building a relationship with me. And, to be honest, we’ve definitely had our ups and downs in this department – turns out I also have insecurities and baggage from past relationships. But I am a lucky gal to have found a guy who is willing to work through the problems together, as a TEAM.

When my boyfriend and I first started dating, I immediately loved our easy compatibility. Again, we’ve had our ups and downs, but we’ve never struggled to get along. We’ve never had a childish argument – we’ve never yelled or screamed or pushed each other to our limits. We are comfortable sitting together in companionable silence. We’re okay with sitting in separate rooms and doing our own things. And I love that we enjoy doing fun things together. We both like to travel – we’ve gone to Glenbrook, San Francisco and Santa Cruz together, and we’ve got several more trips planned this year. We both love beer and wine, and often times will go grab a drink together after work, or meet friends downtown to bar hop. After dating a guy who didn’t really socialize or drink, I knew that was something that I would require in a future boyfriend.

Of all of the things that I love about my relationship and my boyfriend, I think the number one thing that I love most is that he is the most personable, loving, caring and compassionate human I have ever met. He actually cares about my life and the things that I do every single day. He genuinely wants to hear every single detail. He fits right in with my family, converses easily with my friends, and meshes so will into my life. I couldn’t have picked him better if I had built the man myself.

This is definitely a bit of a bragging post, because I am super proud and happy to be with the man I’m with. But, in addition to that, it’s a post to reiterate the fact that there are good people out there in the world. There are men and women out there who actually do want a long-term relationship – who do want to get married and have babies and commit their life to somebody else. And as much as I am not proud of my previous relationships, I wouldn’t change any of the experiences that I’ve had, because they all prepared me for this one relationship. They gave me the ability to appreciate the fact that I have found an incredible human being, and I have not and will not take him for granted.

Happy One Year Anniversary to my other half; to the guy who makes my heart full and who completes my life. Every day, but today especially, I am so very grateful for you.

When You’re In A Relationship, Every Day Should Be Valentine’s Day

I’m generally not a huge proponent for Valentine’s Day. If you’ve been following my blog, you know this.

In my personal experience, Valentine’s Day has historically made women feel bad about themselves since about the age of 11, when junior high happens and people actually start “dating.” Valentine’s Day becomes a popularity contest – which girl can come out with the most flowers, candy and cards?

Truthfully, until yesterday, this holiday made me downright sick.

And not just because of how it clearly singled me out from a young age as somebody that guys weren’t doting on, but also because I don’t believe that there should just be one single day where we spoil our loved ones and do nice things for them.

Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s absolutely romantic that a man will take the time to send his gal flowers or her favorite box of chocolates. But what about the rest of the days of the year? Does he get a “get out of jail free” card for the rest of the 364 days?

What I’m saying is, I hope all of you are thoughtful ALL of the time. Not just on Valentine’s Day.

Yesterday, my boyfriend surprised me with a beautiful bouquet of long-stemmed red roses, which were delivered to my office [I’m going to sound toooooootally hypocritical here, because I was feeling pretty special that I was the only one in the office who received a flower delivery – I know, I know, who am I?]. He also knew I was getting my hair done, and secretly paid my hairdresser ahead of time. Such a sweet guy.

But, he doesn’t just do sweet things for me on Valentine’s Day. A couple of weeks ago, he brought me flowers and wine because he knew I had a stressful day at work. He makes the bed every morning because he leaves for work after I do, and he knows I feel better if the bed is made every day [yes, I am one of those people].

For my boyfriend, I didn’t really get him anything yesterday. He’s really into Aperol Spritz’s from living in Italy for a semester a few years ago, so I got him a Spritz cocktail book. A silly gift, really, because he’ll probably never make any of the drinks, but I thought it was appropriate. I’m really more into cards [and, to be completely honest, I totally forgot that people do things for each other on Valentine’s Day. It’s been so long that I’ve actually celebrated one with a boyfriend that it completely slipped my mind].

But I try and do nice things for my boyfriend all the time. I try and keep the house clean, I surprise him with buying his favorite foods, or things I think he’ll like, from the grocery store. I leave him love notes when I’m going out of town and won’t see him for a few days; I bake him treats and cook him dinner. I try really hard to make sure he knows he’s appreciated, and he does the same for me.

I’m not saying that it’s not a wonderful feeling to be so appreciated on Valentine’s Day, because it’s an amazing and heartwarming feeling. It’s so much fun to receive flowers and little gifts from somebody who cares. But we shouldn’t eliminate our love and affection to just one day. Don’t be afraid to constantly tell your friends, family and significant others that you love them, and take the time to show them you care. Life is too short to limit ourselves to one day out of the entire year.

On that note, I hope you all had a wonderful Valentine’s Day. I capped mine off with a lady date [my Galentine – because V-Day isn’t just about the people you date], and a late night cuddle sesh with my guy.

Relationship Timeline: What is “Socially Acceptable?”

Despite the fact that I spent about a year or so doing the online dating thing [, dating apps, etc.], I always envisioned myself meeting somebody in a more organic way – like in the grocery store or in a bar or something along those lines. And even though online dating is more the norm these days, I was still never able to fully let my guard down to anybody that I’d met online.

I actually ended up meeting my boyfriend at a restaurant [his restaurant (I’d link the website, but it’s undergoing construction and not quite up and running yet)], through a mutual friend. It was natural, not online, and through a trusted mutual friend of both of ours. It was perfect, and exactly the way both of us had hoped meeting someone would go.

After our first date, neither of us could wait more than 24 hours before seeing each other again, and this progressed as the months went on. I had rented my own apartment a couple of weeks after we went out, but it essentially became a [very expensive] storage unit for all my crap, as I probably spent a total of 30 days there in the five months I had the spot.

Every relationship develops differently. I have friends who sleep with a guy on the first night, and a relationship stems from it [highly unusual and generally doesn’t last]. I have a girl friend who moves in with a boyfriend the minute they start dating [literally, you guys – I’m talking within the first week they are living together. and no, these relationships don’t last long, either]. I have another friend who makes a guy wait 90 days before she will be intimate with him [mad props, GF, maaaaad props]. And I will admit, I have judged all of these women because I personally would never make those choices in my own relationships.

But who am I to judge? Is there really a rulebook on how to have a relationship? And a good relationship, at that?

NO, there isn’t. Because if there were, I would own it. We all would.

The reason I bring this up is because I moved in with my boyfriend after we’d been dating for six months. I’m talking officially moved – as in, terminated my lease at my apartment and was no longer living out of four overnight bags and a single drawer in my boyfriend’s dresser. We had both wanted it to be sooner [if I remember correctly, I believe we started discussing it around the three month mark], but I held it off because I was worried about what my family would think. Which, in retrospect, shouldn’t have mattered – they knew [and know] how happy I am with this guy. But another part of me was like, “how much do you really know somebody after only a few months?”

My first boyfriend and I were together for about a year-and-a-half. So, not that long, but at the time it seemed like a huge milestone. We were very compatible from the get-go. He was three years older than me, so of course I was feeling pretty damn good that I’d landed an older guy for my first real relationship. But around the one year point, he did a 180 on me out of nowhere. He started getting really insecure and treating me like crap. This could have been because it was around that time that I started to come into my own – I had started shedding the layer of shy younger girl – and he no longer had a doe-eyed girl under his control. He tried to manipulate me, he tried many different ways to break me down in order to gain back control, but as I started to see his true colors I decided I just didn’t want to deal with it anymore, and I let him go.

I personally knew this person for A YEAR, and I thought I really knew him, before he showed me his true colors. It’s scary, really, that you can think you know somebody so well, and yet not know them at all.

I semi-recently had a friendship end – a friendship with a gal I thought was my soulmate and BFFL. We talked on the phone every day, texted constantly – at the beginning of our friendship, she was unemployed, and would come visit me at the coffee shop I worked at every single day for almost my entire eight hour shift. We were as close as any friends could be. So you can imagine the shock and hurt I felt when out of nowhere she stopped reciprocating the friendship. I knew this girl for five years – FIVE! And in every inch of my mind, I knew her. And, yet, at the end of it all, I didn’t know her – not at all.

This was my hesitation when deciding whether or not I should move in with my boyfriend after only six months. And I am not the type of person to carry baggage from one relationship to the next. At least, I try really hard not to. I know that no two people and relationships are the same.

In the end, my parents were totally okay with my decision to move in with my guy after only being together for six months. They were happy that I was happy – and they could see how comfortable and compatible he and I were.

I still pose this question to all of you, though: is there an appropriate dating timeline? Do you think that people should wait a certain amount of time before they sleep together? Move in together? Get a dog together? Have a baby together? Are there time gaps that society deems necessary before taking the next step in your relationship? I want to hear your thoughts!

Hello From The Other Side

Since my grandmother passed away last March, I have become a lot more aware of signs.

The day before she left, I took Bella to a public park close to our old apartment to throw the ball for her so she could burn off some steam. I also needed to get outside and breathe in the fresh air. My heart was heavy with the knowledge that I could and would lose my grandma at any moment, and the feeling of being inside was oppressive.

When we got to the park, we found a vacant soccer field full of dandelions for Bella to run around in. Feeling sad and thinking it couldn’t hurt to pick a dandelion, make a wish, and blow the petals away, I leaned down and plucked a random one from the ground. I can’t remember what I wished for – it probably had something to do with sending my grandma off peacefully. After I made my wish, I blew on the flower to release the seedlings. It was as they were flying away that I noticed something red about the size of my pinky nail in the center of the bloom.

A ladybug. A symbol of luck, granting wishes, blessings and finding true happiness. And of all the thousands of dandelions in the field that day, I picked the one with a ladybug inside it. The tiny little bug brought me so much peace that day, and has made me acutely aware of other signs like her since then.

Not long after my grandma died, I was driving to work when a white bird flew in front of my car. And not just any white bird – a white dove. A bird not at all indigenous to the Sacramento area. A bird that represents purity, love and peace, and encourages you to reconnect with your spirituality or a loved one.

I am not a magazine reader by any means – I don’t follow gossip columns, I don’t subscribe to Cosmo. I honestly couldn’t tell you the last time I even purchased a magazine let alone read one But somehow I ended up with a free subscription to Women’s Health magazine. And today I finally decided to pick up one of the issues and flip through it. What prompted me to write this post was an article I read in Women’s Health magazine today, titled “Love Advice from the Other Side.” The article interviews a woman who is a medium that specializes in helping women find love by communicating with “teams” and reading signs from the other side.

One thing to know about me – I am fascinated by the idea that we may be able to communicate with the other side. And this article sort of solidified how I’ve been feeling since I lost my grandma; like she’s been trying to subtly steer me in the right direction – dropping little hints and putting certain people and opportunities in my life.

From March of last year through January of this year, my dating game changed a lot. I stopped going out with the “bad boy” persona, and started to set my sights on men whose goals and aspirations matched my own. Whose backgrounds and family dynamics paralleled my own. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

It was in late January, almost exactly eleven months ago, that I met my boyfriend. I had reconnected with my idiot ex a few weeks before, and when he pissed me off again for the 68793498347th time, I gave him the boot. The final boot. It could have been that I was just sick of his shit and that was the last straw, but I think my grandma had a lot to do with it. I think she gave me the strength I needed to finally cut the jackass out of my life and move on.

And had I not had that horrible ex, I never would have been able to truly appreciate the man I am with now. So maybe that was another thing my grandma executed – the timing of it all.

I might sound crazy to you, and truth be told I haven’t always believed in ghosts, paranormal activity, spirits, etc. But as I’ve gotten older I’ve come to find comfort in thinking there may be a realm just beyond ours. There’s peace of mind in knowing that my grandma could very well be watching over me, and helping to guide me on the right path in life.

Even if you don’t believe in mediums and the afterlife, I encourage you to read the article. It’s an interesting read, and gives you a few tips on how to be more aware of the subtle hints and signs in your own life.

A thank you to my grandmother, who was like another mother to me, and who has led me to the beautiful place in life I am in today.

Solo Girl vs. Taken Girl: Bridging the Gap

You guys know me. You know I’m aaallllll about that independent woman ish. I advocate it, I constantly write about it – I preach it, fo sho.

BUT, now that I’m in a relationship, I kinda sorta forget that I should probably write about how to consolidate the two.

Because, let’s be honest, I am totally guilty of being THAT girl who’s got the perfect life […according to Instagram].

* Here’s my boyfriend and I – smiling and happy.*
* Here I am with my family – we have this amazing house in Tahoe and we hike and play games together.*
* Dobie/Mama selfie!*

GAG. Life is SO not like that on the backside. Like.. Sooooo not.

Let’s face it. Life is HARD. And relationships aren’t perfect. And if I’m really real with myself, I have struggled a bit with getting back to who I was B.R. [before relationship]. And NOT, to be clear, NOT the party girl with the wild heart. Not her. Definitely do not miss her. But the me who enjoyed doing things by myself, who had girls nights, bonded with my dog and crafted things and had a life of my own.

Now, don’t get that confused with wanting to be by myself. That’s not what I’m saying. I love my guy. LOVE the man. And spending time with him is one of my newest favorite pastimes.

But, finding a balance between my new life and my old life has presented quite a challenge for me.

Exhibit A: family time. I love my parents. They are amazing people. They have this love and this bond that I’ve just always admired and always wanted for myself. And prior to my boyfriend, I spent a LOT of time with them. And now that I’ve got this relationship, we’ve all had a rough time with the fact that my time is more occupied nowadays. Sometimes I just feel like I’m spread so thin, like the last thing I have time for right now is a last minute family dinner. But I feel this horrible guilt for saying no. At what point does the guilt stop? At what point will they accept that I just don’t have time this week? Maybe it’s something that never goes away. I don’t know, and it’s a learning curve for sure.

Exhibit B: Miss Bella. My heart and soul. The furry girl that has gotten me through some of my lowest and hardest times. My rock. I can tell that even she is feeling the growing pains of this new relationship; of this new schedule and this new life. Now that we’ve moved in with my guy, we are dead center of suburbia. There aren’t really any places where she can run off leash and chase wild animals, which is her THING. We’ve done so much of our bonding on nature hikes and walks – being surrounded by concrete has really pushed us off of our normal routine, and she has definitely balked at me trying to get that back at it in our new location. Again, a learning curve – finding what works and what doesn’t [and the diminishing daylight and my full-time schedule doesn’t help this matter].

Exhibit C: ME.

When I first moved in with my boyfriend, I wanted to DID devote everything I had to making his house “ours.” I threw myself into decorating the bedrooms, painting the walls, organizing cabinets and marrying all of our stuff, etc. etc. And then all of a sudden I was done decorating – and it was like, so sudden that I was almost depressed afterwards. What now? I hadn’t brought any of my old routine into my new one. I literally felt lost. Who am I now? I’m not single Sarah – I’m not the wild girl who went out every weekend until 3 or 4 in the morning and got right up in the morning and did it all over again. I’m not single Sarah who could do anything she wanted, hang out with anyone she wanted, whenever she wanted. So who had I become?

And that therein lay the problem. I didn’t know. And when I don’t know, I become self destructive.

“I cleaned the house today, I deserve a glass of wine.” *Drinks three [four] glasses of wine.*
“I’m bored and my boyfriend still isn’t home.. Guess I’ll see what’s happening on Facebook.” *Stalks every ex-boyfriend and their current girlfriends and dredges up memories.*
“I’m done decorating and I have no hobbies anymore. Shopping it is!” *Spends $1000 at the mall.*

It was after several weeks of this type of behavior, AND feeling disconnected from my boyfriend on top of it [because clearly I wasn’t happy with myself], I realized that I was starting to head down an all to familiar [and not at all positive] path. A path that was the reason that I never found a decent man, and was about to the reason I lost the only good one I’ve ever had – unless I drastically changed something.

I knew what my problem was. Whether I wanted to believe it or not, my lifestyle had changed [for the better, yes, but it had changed all the same]. My old friends from my single life were bound to me by one thing: drinking. Okay two things: drinking and being single. And losing my single status meant losing people who, if I’m being honest, weren’t really “friends” in the dictionary definition type of way. They were more fair-weather, if you know what I mean. And there was no reason to be out partying and “man hunting” when I already had a man.

So, the point of this whole thing – how am I bridging the gap? How am I meshing my two worlds?

In the best ways possible.

I finally got back in to working out and running again, and this time I’m in it harder than ever. After packing on some happy relationship weight, I am ready to shed off the fat and pack on the curves in the RIGHT places [I am a woman after all, and curves are our THING]. I’m also looking in to taking some photography classes – I’ve always loved it, I’ve just never had the proper skill set and training to actually be good at it. I’m hoping that once I’ve got a bit of training under my belt, I can capture some photos to display in my new home with my guy. And maybe some crafting that will speak to the masculine vibe we have going in our house.

I’m not sure what my future holds, but I do know that I’m finally on the right path. I’m finally on a healthy and happy path. And while I’m still figuring out that proper balance in my life, I am enjoying every minute of the journey.

I Now Pronounce You.. Minister of a Nondenominational Church

Many of you may remember that just a little over a year ago I was maid of honor in a wedding. A wedding that was elegant, beautiful, detailed – the bride thought of everything. From the lovely bouquets in which she specifically and thoroughly picked which blooms she wanted to include, to the hand-dyed silk ribbons that adorned the bouquets and boutonnieres and wound their way through the reception tables’ centerpieces, to the couture wedding dress that made her look like a Disney princess as she and her groom danced their first dance as husband and wife under the twinkling white lights that were strung from tree to tree.

It was, for lack of better expression, the wedding that every little girl dreams of having one day.

And until a few months ago, I sort of figured that’s how most weddings are. Everything you see on social media is generally the same [aside from the theme and color scheme, of course]. White dress + groom + bridal party + flowers + aisle + alter + wedding guests + reception. All of it is always there.

Well, almost always.

My best friend got engaged two winters’ ago, and, due to the fact that her fiance had never even wanted to get married [or so we all thought], they decided to keep their wedding very small. Family and close, close friends only.

But, even small weddings are costly and stressful. After a couple of months of trying to find a venue they liked under $10,000 [with no luck], they decided to forgo a “traditional” wedding altogether. After a couple of Google searches and a call to the city of San Marcos, it was determined that only two other bodies were needed for the couple to say their “I Do’s” – a witness and an officiant.

And so it came to be, after a drunken FaceTime from the two of them last fall in which my best friend and her fiance asked me to officiate their wedding, that I would be their ordained minister. I used the website my aunt and uncle got ordained through, went online, and [literally] two minutes later I was official. Sarah Jack, Ordained Minister of the Universal Life Church, Nondenominational. At your service!

After a weekend of bachelorette festivities in Temecula, California, and absolutely zero wedding planning whatsoever [save for the location and the accommodations], the three of us set off for Avila Beach, just north of Pismo and just west of San Luis Obispo. A place near and dear to all of our hearts. The groom’s best friend, the witness, was to meet us there.

Up until the week leading up to the wedding, I had no nerves or qualms about the upcoming nuptials. I figured once I knew what my friends’ vows would be, I could form my speech around that. That idea went right out the window the minute I heard that they hadn’t written any vows. “We’ll figure it out when the time comes,” my best friend said. Having nothing to relate to except for the carefully planned and detailed wedding that I had been a part of last spring, I had difficulty wrapping my mind around the casualty of it all. And that’s when my nerves started to set in. Now what would I say? Would I even be able to find words? At what point do I read them the traditional “I Do’s” and initiate the giving of the rings?

I needn’t have worried so much, if at all. The day of the wedding was like any other day of the year. My speech came together that morning, and then the four of us had breakfast on the beach and spent the rest of the day sightseeing. It wasn’t until six pm when it was time for us all to get ready that the soon-to-be bride and groom first parted ways. They were married just after sunset, on Avila Beach, with one witness and one ordained minister – the air was warm, the sky was beautiful, the water was calm – the evening was absolutely perfect. The entire day was perfect. Perfect for them.

The experience itself is one I will treasure forever and never forget. Having the opportunity to officiate a wedding was nerve wracking, but so amazing and unique – something I may never have the opportunity to do again and I’m so, so glad that I did. If anybody ever asks you to officiate their wedding – DO IT. Do it, do it, DO IT! You will not regret it. It is both exciting and humbling, and, for me, it really gave me a new perspective on love. And, while a bit intimidating, it gave me a chance to say something heartfelt and meaningful to two people who are promising their lives and their souls to one another. The last words they will hear before being bound in holy matrimony.

If it sounds so final and so binding – it’s because it is. But it isn’t scary. It’s exciting. It’s the adventure of a lifetime. And having the power to send them off on that crazy adventure is something I hope everyone will be able to experience at one time or another.