Wedding Traditions Becoming Nontraditional

By Amber Blondin, VOWS Planner/Designer

If you’ve been a guest at a wedding recently, chances are you've noticed the absence of a few long-time traditions. Here are some old—and new—traditions we’ve seen evolve over the years here at VOWS:

Blusher Veil:  Dating back to Greek and Roman times, a blusher veil was believed to shield the bride from evil spirits. It was later embraced by cultures with arranged marriages to prevent the groom from changing his mind upon seeing his bride. While some brides prefer to still honor this tradition, it’s easy to see why this tradition has become obsolete.

First Look
First Look

First Look:  Similar to the blusher veil, the tradition of waiting to see each other until the ceremony has become less common over time. More often than not, couples are choosing to see each other before the ceremony at a special location, to ensure sufficient time for photographs and more time together on their special day.

Wedding Cake:  In place of the traditional multi-tiered wedding cake, many couples are instead treating guests to a variety of their favorite desserts, and include a smaller ceremonial cake for that cake cutting tradition that is still alive and well.


Personalization:  From monogrammed everything, to signature cocktails, and custom cake toppers resembling the bride & groom (and sometimes their pets!), couples are getting a lot more creative these days. We have Pinterest to thank (and sometimes blame!) for the endless wedding inspiration from across the globe.

engagement ring
engagement ring

Rings:  Though the wedding band symbolizes a present commitment of marriage and the engagement ring represents a future commitment to wed, these days, many brides are rocking just one blinged-out, engagement ring in lieu of both traditionally worn rings.

bouquet toss
bouquet toss

Bouquet & Garter Toss:  Originating in the 14th century, the bouquet toss allowed the bride to share her good luck and fortune with others. However, in the 21st century, many consider this tradition a little awkward by calling out the (sometimes, very few) single ladies. Even more awkward – the garter toss. How many of us have cringed watching a groom remove the garter with his teeth?

Anniversary Dance: This modern alternative to the bouquet and garter toss is quickly becoming a new wedding tradition. The emcee invites all married couples to the dance floor and couples are eliminated based on the number of years they’ve been married. By the end of the song, the winning duo is the longest married couple. The bouquet is then gifted to the wife.

We’d love to hear from you! In the comment field, tell us about the wedding traditions you’re either happy or sad to see go. Any new traditions you’re hoping to see more of?

Blush is the New Black

Congratulations to Hannae & Ian who wed with the design, planning and coordination help of the VOWS team at the Seattle Tennis Club on July 5th, 2014. Big thanks to Laurel McConnell Photography for the stunning images!

This gorgeous couple had a ton of personality and class. The ever-pinned wedding color: blush was their wedding hue of choice...but not without a transitional Mocha Lamour on the guest tables and a hint of Black Dupioni thrown in for sass (see our napkins and bouquet handles).  Bling was also a favorite for the bride whether it be in her gorgeous headpiece, jewelry, and the head-turning, gold sequin drape adorning the head table.

Guests' first impression of this special day was their statement invitation made of acrylic with blush floral and geometric patterned paper delivered in a sleek, black box. The theme was carried through all the day-of coordinates including their program, table numbers and escort cards.

Floral was an explosion of to-die-for Phalaenopsis orchids, peonies, garden roses and hydrangea.  Traditional candelabras with dripping crystals were the centerpiece of choice.

The ceremony along the shore of Lake Washington in the Madison Park neighborhood of Seattle was a mix of glam and nature with the orchid filled, sand-blasted, manzanita trees beginning and ending their aisle. The black containers brought the sophistication that the couple was looking for.

Our Korean Princess wore not one, but two Vera Wang gowns. The first a soft blush with tulle, sequins and sexy yet sweet bodice. The second, a truly sophisticated sheath that followed the lines of her petite frame like a glove, was a surprise reveal  before their 1st Dance.

Lighting played a huge part in decorating the traditional ballroom; starting as amber up-lighting that transitioned to pinks and greens for dancing. The projected monogram on the wall was a special touch and matched their wedding paper "brand".

Dessert didn't disappoint with delicious wedding cake and Seattle's favorite Trophy Cupcakes as a favor for each guest.  Photo booth and dance floor fun finished out the night before the bride & groom departed in a vintage Rolls Royce destined for their honeymoon suite in the heart of Downtown Seattle. 

Photography & Photo Booth: Laurel McConnell Photography | Flowers: Flora Nova | Dessert: Crème de la Creme and Trophy Cupcakes | Invitations/Paper: Paper Moxie | DJ/Lighting: Good Times DJ & Greenlight Event Design | Beauty: Salon Maison | Rentals: AA Party and Creative Coverings | Videographer: Cabfare Productions | Ceremony Music: Arcobaleno Strings

Meet VOWS New Planner/Designer Amber Blondin

Amber Blondin joined the VOWS team in early 2014 after 10 years. experience in marketing and corporate events. Amber’s passion for planning and designing weddings shines through in all of her events. Her calm demeanor, exceptional customer service and strong organizational skills allow her to provide a once-in-a-lifetime event for her couples.  She aims to exceed her client's expectations, striving for a memorable, fun and stress free experience from beginning to end. Amber is meticulous and hard-working, yet easy-going and flexible with a knack for anticipating her clients’ needs.  Her biggest reward is the smiling faces of her clients as they float through their wedding day and those big hugs at the end of the night. 

Amber’s professional background includes marketing, media planning, and event coordination at advertising agencies in Seattle and Washington, D.C.  Amber graduated from Western Washington University (Go Vikings!) with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Public Relations.

When she is not planning weddings, you can find Amber giving it her all at body boot camp, cooking, traveling, hiking, trying new restaurants or watching The Bachelor/Bachelorette.  If she could have (had) dinner with anyone famous, it would be Eleanor Roosevelt or Tina Fey – she has a soft spot for intelligent and humorous women. And dark chocolate. And spicy food. Amber calls the Queen Anne neighborhood of Seattle home and cannot wait to marry her favorite person, fiancé Aaron, in January of 2015.

Big thanks to La Vie Photography for providing Amber's great headshots.

2nd Time's A Charm for Lisa & Garrett

Congratulations to Lisa & Garrett who wed this spring with the help of VOWS at Seattle's exclusive Broadmoor Golf Club.  Beautiful images provided by Teddi Yaeger Photography.

Second weddings are always such a pleasure and this one was no different.  The ease and grace of a couple that is focused on each other and not so much the party is inspiring.  The groom said it best when planning the seating assignments: "As long as I get to sit next to you (the bride), I don't care about anyone else."  Ahhhh.....

Lisa & Garrett's love for each other and their newly combined family (he has one son and she has two children from a previous marriage) was obvious in the fun loving togetherness throughout the day and the heartfelt ceremony delivered by first class officiant Annemarie Juhlian.  The ballroom's fireplace "altar" made the moment intimate though witnessed by 100 sets of eyes.

Style was important as the guys were just as into what they were wearing as the ladies were. Many trips to Nordstrom picking out varies ties, pocket squares and shirts was part of the pre-wedding fun. We finished the look with unique succulent boutonnieres.  We also found adorable pin stripe bow ties and suspenders for the little ring bearers on Etsy to make them worthy escorts for our cutie flowers girls in their eyelet dresses.

The overall wedding color palette focused on the gorgeous blush tones that are so popular right now.  A slate gray in the bridesmaid's dress and a soft almond dupioni in the linens served as backdrop for an explosion of luscious peonies and roses in peaches and pinks.  Nicorah Floral executed our vision exquisitely with no detail missed.  The fabulous floral was highlighted by metallic touches from the silver cup vases to the silver beaded glass chargers.

Guests were treated to a roof deck cocktail hour to enjoy the sun and golf course views, a gourmet lunch described on a chalkboard in elegant calligraphy, and a classy reception that was sprinkled with a few of the usual traditions as well as the groom's favorite, jazz music.

The couple planned an early start and early end having their official send-off at 4pm.  As planned, they truly enjoyed their first full night together as a married couple at the beautiful Four Seasons Hotel.

Big thanks to our top vendor team:

Photography: Teddi Yaeger Photography | Flowers: Nicorah Floral | Cake: Crème de la Creme | Officiant: Annemarie Juhlian | Band: Randy Halberstadt Quintet | Beauty: Salon Maison | Chalkboard Art: Lynnette Wineman | Rentals: Pedersen's and Creative Coverings 

VOWS Gives Fairmont Hotel Coordinator the Wedding of HER Dreams

Olowalu Plantation House Wedding in Maui by Azzura Photography
Olowalu Plantation House Wedding in Maui by Azzura Photography

Dana & Jeremy were intent on getting out of the rain and stress that a city wedding brings…especially when you’re in the wedding industry yourself!

Dana had worked in the Fairmont Olympic Hotel's catering department in Seattle for several years and had seen her fair share of weddings…and Bridezillas!  She was determined not to be one.  She also knew what she did and did not want in terms of vendors, décor and flow – no pressure on her planner!

Olowalu Plantation House Wedding in Maui by Azzura Photography
Olowalu Plantation House Wedding in Maui by Azzura Photography
Olowalu Plantation House Wedding in Maui by Azzura Photography
Olowalu Plantation House Wedding in Maui by Azzura Photography

Olowalu Plantation House on the island of Maui, Hawaii was the venue of choice for their warm, relaxing, romantic, and absolute dream wedding by the Pacific Ocean.  It was an honor for VOWS to help make it happen flawlessly for our just truly lovely bride and colleague.

Olowalu Plantation House Wedding in Maui by Azzura Photography
Olowalu Plantation House Wedding in Maui by Azzura Photography

Photography: Azzura Photography | Event Planning: VOWS Wedding & Event Planning | Flowers: Mandy Grace Designs | Wedding Dress: Justin Alexander | Cake: Maui Sweet Cakes | Caterer: Aloha Events Catering | DJ: Maui DJ Services | Beauty: Beach Brides | Paper: Paper Moxie | Private Estate: Olowalu Plantation House | Rentals: Pacific Isle Rentals | Wedding Dress Boutique: Calla Bridal

Nancy & Jake's Vow Renewal - A Wish Granted

Congratulations to Nancy & Jake who renewed their vows in front of their dearest family and friends at the beautiful Willows Lodge on April 24th with the help of VOWS Planner Channy Sea.  This is a love story you won’t want to miss, captured beautifully by the amazing Kimberly Kay Photography

This story that captivates the strength and commitment of two people's unconditional love for each other and life’s journey together.  Nancy and Jake met in 1998 while working on a project together.  They wed in 2001 in Italy, and planned to have an intimate reception with their family and friends in Seattle upon their return.  However, those plans were hampered when Nancy was diagnosed with breast cancer later that year.  Even though the cancer has spread to Nancy’s liver and brain, she remains strong and positive and gracefully handles everything life has thrown at her. She is truly an inspiration and remarkable woman with a smile that brightens a room.


It was an honor to work with Nancy and Jake in planning and designing their vow renewal centered around tulips and the colors of white and green with a pop of orange. This is a wedding that will be forever remembered and treasured by me.  Thanks to the partnership of Wish Upon A Wedding and Bright ink supporter and E! news personality Giuliana Rancic’s Fab-U-Wish, a foundation that grants wishes to women with breast cancer.


Since tulips are Nancy’s favorite flowers, we incorporated tulips into the design of the invitations, programs, escort cards and table numbers designed by Kerri Efendi Designs.  The beautiful floral, which included tulips were in the color palette of white and green with a pop of orange designed by Jen’s Blossoms.  They definitely brightened up and filled the room - perfect for a spring wedding. Even Willows Lodge’s garden was filled with blossoming tulips all around!


Nancy and Jake’s good friend, Reverend Marshall Huey of Old St. Andrew’s Parish Church officiated their vow renewal. He also married the couple in 2001 in Italy.


Emotions filled the room when Nancy & Jake danced to their first song, "Heart of the World" by Lady Antebellum played by DJ Brian from Wave Link Music, Inc.


“We had the wedding of our dreams thanks to the expert planning and coordination of VOWS Event Planning, specifically Channy Sea, who worked so hard to oversee every detail. Channy is extremely organized and proactive, plus she is a delight to work with. I was so impressed that she handled so many things at once as we were on a short timeline, allowing me to relax and enjoy the fun parts of planning a wedding. Her professionalism really shined on our big day when we had a fiasco with alterations on my dress (she worked some serious magic with double-stick tape!) The day of the wedding was absolute perfection, we had so much fun with literally zero stress. Channy exceeded expectations on every front!” - Nancy and Jake Haunty


Big Thanks to our First Class Vendor Team:

Venue: Willows Lodge 

Catering: Barking Frog of Willows Lodge

Photography: Kimberly Kay

Invitations: Kerri Efendi Design

Flowers: Jen’s Blossoms

Officiant: Reverend Marshall Huey of Old St. Andrew’s Parish Church

Hair & Makeup: Salon Maison

Cake: Decadence Custom  Cakes, LLC

Video: Marius

DJ: Wave Link Music, Inc.

Musicians: Arcobaleno Strings

Jewelry: Haute Bride

Farewell + 30th Birthday Event

VOWS Wedding & Event Planning’s Channy Sea had the honor of designing and coordinating a Farewell + 30th Birthday Event for Jamie and Jeff on February 22nd. The couple had decided to leave Seattle to pursue dreams of owning their own business in Eastern Washington. Although it was a time for family and friends to wish Jamie and Jeff best of luck in their journey, Jeff wanted to make sure Jamie celebrated her milestone birthday - the BIG 30 – with her nearest and dearest. Birthday 2

The couple wanted a simple and fun celebration, but with a flare of personality. WithinSodo became the venue of choice with its rustic, lofty feel. They went with a black & white theme with a little must-have bling.

What better way to kick off your 30th then with delicious cupcakes in the form of 3-0!  To top it off, a slide show of photos that was collected from family and friends was presented to Jamie & Jeff. Speeches were made, (happy) tears were shed, and dancing to the greatest hits of the 90’s made this an unforgettable night!

The venue’s main room with exposed brick, soaring ceilings, and rustic feel created that lofty, relaxed ambience the couple was looking for. The white lounge seating decorated with black and white throw pillows provided the modern contrast to the room.

Birthday 3Birthday 1

The array of menu items, provided by Pyramid Catering, gave guests options from Italian to Asian-fusion.

Birthday 4

Jamie celebrated her 30th in style with delicious cupcakes and dancing to the greatest hits played by DJ Keo.

Birthday 5

Big thanks to our vendor team:

Within Sodo

Andrew Kawahara Photography

Pyramid Catering


A Wedding Worth the Wait

Congratulations to Amanda & Johnnie who wed with the help of VOWS Wedding & Event Planning last August. martha-stewart-weddings-smallestWhat a relief to FINALLY share this wedding with the world! We've had it under lock and key since Martha Stewart Weddings showed interest in this darling couple, their venue, and the wedding vision almost a year ago...yes, before the wedding even happened! Martha Stewart Real Weddings Editor Shira Savada followed our plans from lace and flowers, cheese and honey, benches and chandeliers, and even donkeys and goats from its infancy.  And you can imagine how thrilled we were to learn it was a shoe-in for their Real Weddings section once the images - taken by the incredibly talented and mega hard-working team at La Vie Photography - graced the editor's desk one month later in September 2013.


Bella Luna Farms, where Martha Stewart herself would live if she chose a home in Seattle, was the venue of choice from the get-go. Amanda & Johnnie were near tears when they first toured the immaculate and character rich grounds with so much beauty that it had to be experienced not described.  It was a photographer's and (planner's) absolute dream!


Guests were prepared for the amazement and privilege of walking this gorgeous property as they were greeted with "Welcome to Seattle" bags in their hotel rooms complete with a map of Bella Luna and its wonders.


Our smart, truly fabulous, and fun-loving couple Amanda & Johnnie in their finest on the big day!  Amanda chose a traditional look in blush while Johnnie took a more sleek approach without sacrificing her fierce style. Bruno, their adorable pooch was never far behind for photos or just for the couple's quiet moments of reflection.




The setting for their day's most special words and promises was the Bella Luna Grape House which mimicked an old world sanctuary in a mystical wood. The angled benches made for a cozy and intimate ceremony with just enough room for a dramatic entrance.



The divine bouquets matched their unique personalities and styles.  One larger and more bold than the other while one was quiet yet detailed in elegance.  Johnnie seen below with her bridesmaid with their matching hand-made, gold lace bracelets flown in from Greece especially for the day.



Their moment of true love for each other, their families and friends was so palpable that even Vincini the donkey and his goat pals took pause. Guests loved the chance to visit and pet these cuties during cocktail hour.




The reception was a feast of elegance for the eyes. Guests found their table number attached to a gift wrapped box with a monogrammed handkerchief customized just for them inside.


As they entered the fairy style tent, warm and inviting farm tables and benches awaited. The brides' head table stood out with its custom-made, french lace runners that were pre-planned to adorn their home table for anniversaries to come.





The brides weren't keen on a large wedding cake with the typical spotlight "cake cutting", so they opted for individual cakes per table each with a unique texture including lace and ruffle patterns as well as simple butter cream motif.


As a nod to their heritages, Italian and Greek cookies beckoned guests as a compliment to their cake.


Dancing and libations in the Bella Luna Pavilion - with a cocktail tribute to Johnnie's deceased father - was the let loose and the phew! moment of the night.  All was said and done, beautifully.



Weddings are the basic form of humanity: love, recognition, and togetherness. May features like this continue to boost the mission for equality for all.


Big Thanks to our First Class Vendor Team:

Photography: Kim & Adam Bamberg of La Vie Photography

Catering and Cakes: Lisa Dupar Catering

Flowers and Lounge Space: Rented Elegance

Chandelier: Vintage Ambiance

Tables and Benches: Seattle Farm Tables

Music: DJ Braden Landon

Hair: Laura Anderson of Stylus Salon

Hair and Makeup: Nidia Alire

Photography Assistant: Molly Magee

Paper: Paper Moxie

Gatsby Style Wedding at the Four Seasons Seattle

Check out this gorgeous video by Bogle Productions of our darling and very glamorous couple Dana & Bobby (most adorable, teary groom to date!) from their September 2013 wedding at St. James Cathedral and the Four Seasons Seattle. VOWS was thrilled to design the latest trend of vintage glamour made famous by the book and more recently Mr. Leo on screen in The Great Gatsby. Art Deco details, layers of textured linen, blush pink, gold glitter, dripping crystals, and lots and lots of lush flowers and feathers by the talented team at Rented Elegance made for a unique and truly show stopping design.

This video reminds us here at VOWS why we love what we do: raw emotion, classic beauty, and memories for a lifetime...

Meet VOWS Planner/Designer Channy Sea

ImageVOWS is thrilled to announce that Channy Sea, our fabulous planner/designer, is a now a full-time member of the team!  Leaving her corporate consulting life behind her, this is a dream realized as a career in wedding planning has been a long-time goal.  Channy (and Owner Katy Roberts) couldn’t be more excited about the transition!  

Q: How did you get interested in wedding and event planning?

A: When I was young, I would always plan and create theme parties for various occasions. But my “ah-ha” moment came when I planned my sister’s wedding in 2007 and saw the immense love and joy that can fill up a room. From there onwards, I’ve enjoyed every event that I’ve planned because it contained a lot of love and joy.   

Q: Why did you choose to join VOWS Wedding and Event Planning?

A: There are different routes people can take to pursue their passion and dreams and my entire career path led me to VOWS.  For me, I was fortunate to work alongside Katy for over 6 years, and I have a remarkable admiration for Katy’s passion and expertise with all her clients. Being a partner in a company that shares the same goals and values makes me look forward to our projects together which is truly reflected in the wonderful work we produce for our clients.

Q: What were you doing before joining VOWS Wedding and Event Planning?

A: Before joining VOWS, I worked as a Program and Marketing Manager at Microsoft, leading and managing a team to plan, design, and execute various initiatives and programs. After Microsoft, I joined a consulting firm where I worked with non-profit organizations and Fortune 500 companies in project management and customer relationship management implementations.

Q: What do you hope to accomplish as a wedding planner? Image

A: Being a planner, I always strive to make every event memorable and special because no two events (or couples) are the same. At the end of the day, I want my clients to be happy and feel that a lot of thought and care went into making their day special.  

Q: What advice would you give to newly engaged couples?

A: I encourage clients to find a way to put personal elements into their wedding. Try not to get trapped into the ideas that you see in magazines, blogs, and Pinterest. Ask yourself these questions: what makes the two of us special and what do we love about each other? Then take those things and incorporate them into your wedding design and details. Most importantly, hire at least a month-of coordinator to help bring all the details together. Don’t ask your family, bridal party or even your guests to work on the wedding day…after all, it’s a celebration for all involved and should be fun and worry-free!

Q: What do you like to do when you are not in ‘wedding planning mode’?

A: I enjoy spending time with family and friends whether we are just BBQ’ing, cheering on the Seahawks, or simply playing board games. If I’m not doing any of the above, you can find me traveling, hiking, snowboarding, or watching movies. Oh, did I mention that I have an insatiable love for coffee, chocolates, and arts and crafts?!

For more information on Channy, visit our website under “Meet the Team” at:


A Wedding Worthy of the Stanley Cup

Jaw-dropping images by La Vie Photography

Congratulations to Jessica & Nick who wed with the help of VOWS Owner and Lead Planner/Designer Katy Roberts (formerly Griffiths) on May 18, 2013 at Swiftwater Cellars; central Washington's latest winery at Suncadia Resort in Cle Elum. 202-La-Vie-Photography


First Anna Farris & Chris Pratt married there when they opened a few years ago, next came daughter of Hockey Legend Bobby Hull (our beautiful Miss Jessica). The lucky groom just happened to be from a passionate hockey family himself.  Such is fate.  And it brought us a great party with stunning images!

123-La-Vie-PhotographyThe couple succumbed to the wine theme and crafted centerpieces from cut wine bottles turned votive holders and gave away their own wine concoction with hockey themed labels as favors. The color scheme of orange and slate, with a fun highlight of royal blue, popped like the bride's personality against the rustic beauty that can only be found east of the mountains.21-La-Vie-Photography



The guests had a surprise special touch when they were led outside at the end of the ceremony with biodegradable balloons for a send-off in honor of the bride's mother who had passed. Well wishes of white floated through the air marking a more emotional moment than expected for the couple.


226-La-Vie-PhotographyThe wedding moved to the barrel room where a grand table awaited the couple for the marriage license signing.  A hockey stick served as the guest book upon guest arrival as did a thank you for making the trip. Highlights of the evening were the hilarious toasts and the cigar bar at a fire pit just outside the reception room.


234-La-Vie-Photography306-La-Vie-Photography239-La-Vie-PhotographyDancing and having fun were the couples' main priorities for the rest of the night - and did they ever dance!  Likely the super popular Smores Bar kicking in.288-La-Vie-PhotographyJessica & Nick truly lived in the moment and enjoyed being together and all parts of their wedding day.  As did their beloved Dodger. Don't let the sad eyes fool ya'!56-La-Vie-Photography

Big thanks to our first class vendor team:

La Vie Photography

Cabfare Productions

DJ Tim Humphrey

Julia's Floral

Collage Salon's Mari Dwyer & Nidia Alire

Team Work Makes the Dream Work - Wedding Vendor Relations Tips

By Katy Roberts, VOWS Owner, Lead Wedding/Event Planner and Designer My most memorable moments, when looking back over my 10 years working weddings, are those that I felt respected, trusted, and appreciated. There's something about positive reinforcement that unlocks the flood gates of creativity, patience, energy and generosity.  Clients hire us, yes.  There's a contract and a check written, but I consider myself your team member vs. your employee and when I'm treated this way nothing from good comes from it.

teamwork_pic_small_20100313204854Wedding vendors are a breed that are creative, physically and emotionally strong, determined, love what they do, and love weddings.  They are also human.  They need "thank yous"; to be told they are on the right track and how much you appreciate their insight; a timelined break on the wedding day to re-energize in a quiet room with a hot meal.  Many vendors work 12+ hours on their feet, so your wedding day experience is nothing less than wonderful.  Many sweat through their clothes, change shoes 3 times due to constant blisters, carry around heavy equipment, deal with bridal party and guest politics/drama.  It's a wonder they do it! But they do.  For you.

How to make your vendor's life easier and get it back 10-fold.....

1) Respond to emails/calls in a timely manner

2)  Sign and return contracts promptly - they are holding the date for you and turning away other work

3) Pay your balances before the wedding day - vendors don't like to wonder if they're going to have to chase you down on your honeymoon

4) Make final changes to your order at least 2 weeks before your wedding day - that means finalizing your RSVPs by this time

5) Treat your vendors with the guest meal and a timelined break in a separate room from the reception

6) Say "thank you"

7) Offer to write a testimonial for their website or other online resource (Yelp, Wedding Wire, etc.)

Do these things and I guarantee you will have the best, most creative, most energetic, and generous team on your side for one of the most important days of your life.  Team work does make the dream work.

A Wedding Planner Gets Married & What I Learned

By: Katy Roberts (formerly Griffiths), VOWS Owner, Lead Planner/Designer

1 - Olowalu Plantation House, Maui, HI

It was one month yesterday that I've been married to my dear Ty. Looking back to the day makes me smile and that's what I hope for any bride. Being a bride myself has freshened my memory (I was married once before 10 years ago when just starting VOWS) to the importance of being stress free and truly at peace on your day.

7 - dream location with a mts of maui backdrop

Ty and I went to extreme lengths to ensure this, which isn't for everyone: no bridal party, small guest list (only 19 attended our celebration in Maui), simple decor (worked with the venue's natural beauty), and limited amount of vendors (our photographer was also our musician during dinner, our officiant was her husband and 2nd shooter). We also made sure we had the venue the entire day, so we could show up early, get settled, eat lunch and have plenty of time for beauty, getting ready and photos.

2 - Invitation which came in a box

3- luggage tags for guests

I purposely scheduled down time between photos and guest arrival to get off my feet, have some water, freshen up and we even snuck in a glass of champagne!  The caterer said we were the first couple he had poured champagne for prior to the wedding. And yes, we did choose to see each other before which I truly believe reduces anxiety and makes the day more fun. You get to spend more of the day with your love, so you can focus on what is truly important. Ty and I even got ready together. I did do a dress reveal, but it was casual and silly. It was great to share the full wedding day experience and be able to chat and be near each other as the nerves built before the ceremony.

6 - ukelele played by our photog during ceremony and throughout the night

11 - full table and canopy, white & gold

13 - more mercury glass votive holders and hydrangea with leaf wrap

12 - mercury glass containers brought over from Seattle

I also learned that destination weddings are a leap of faith. If you don't have the budget to fly to your location before the wedding, you can't know exactly how a chair will look, the exact color of the table linen, you can't plan out where each photo will be taken. If you're having a destination wedding, you just have to relax and let those things go a bit (and trust your planner). It's secretly freeing. Everyone at your wedding is just in awe of their surroundings and in "vacation mode", so they really don't care about how their napkin is folded.

     14 - double place card and menu tucked into napkin with gold charger brought from Seattle

our cake, vintage stand from etsy

Maui, Hawaii is one of those places I've known since I was a kid. Being from Portland, Oregon, my parents were big on traveling to warm places in the winter and Maui was always a favorite. It's warm climate, breathtaking scenery, spectacular wildlife, and laid back vibe is truly peaceful.  I had the sun shining on my face during the ceremony with whales breaching in the ocean as our backdrop. We were surrounded by those that truly loved us. I got closer to God that day than I ever have. I feel truly blessed and lucky for getting a second chance at life and love. It was the wedding of our dreams and though cliché, it did come true. Unconventional and not for everyone, but it was a day that marks the beginning of a long, happy journey for Ty & I.  Aloha!

4 - Old Hollywood Lounge space and suit for the groom

VOWS loves to help couples achieve their dream wedding day in paradise. Contact for details.

8 - the ultimate palm tree shot

Venue:  Olowalu Plantation House

Photographer/Ukulele:  Sandra Coan Photography

Officiant:  Peter Czark

Planning, Design & Day-of Coordination:  VOWS Wedding & Event Planning

Bride's Hair:  Melissa L. at Plush Beauty Lounge

Catering:  Cafe O'Lei

Flowers:  Bella Grace

Rentals:  Pacific Isle Rentals

Cake:  Cakesations

Invitations, Menu/Place cards:  Paper Moxie

Customized Luggage Tags:  Etsy

The 411 on Taking Care of Out-of-Town Guests

By Stephanie Wilson, VOWS Lead Coordinator One of the first tasks in wedding planning is figuring out the guest list. Most couples will look at their list and notice that there are many guests who would need to travel from another city, state, or country. Are you worrying about what to do with your out-of-town guests and how to be a gracious host? This is a "stress" that we hear from most of our wedding clients. It doesn't have to be stressful. So how do we do this right and make things easier for them? Here’s a cheat sheet for your success!


Communication: A wedding website is a handy tool when planning any wedding; especially if you have out-of-town guests. The website should include wedding date and location, any other wedding related events, travel information and discounts you have arranged, things to do in the area, directions, and other misc. information pertaining to your wedding. You can also honor your attendants and special family members by listing them on the website. Mailing out Save the Dates with a wedding website link at least six months in advance of the wedding is ideal. This gives your guests plenty of time to decide whether or not they can make the trip to your wedding. If they are able to attend, they have time to make those travel arrangements, take time off from work if necessary and block out their calendars for your wedding weekend. Some of our favorite wedding websites include (free), and (paid).

wedding website template

Travel Information/Discounts: Some airlines offer discounts for group travel. Depending on how many guests are flying in, your planner can negotiate discounts with Alaska Airlines, Delta, American, United and others. Posting instructions and the discount code on your wedding website or enclosed with your save the date is helpful when guests are making reservations. Rental car discounts and recommendations are also helpful.

Finally, and most importantly, arrange for a block of rooms at a discounted rate or just a flat rate discount at hotels that are convenient to your wedding venue. Keep in mind that not all guests can afford high-end hotels and not all guests want to stay in a budget friendly hotel either. We typically arrange room blocks or discounts at two different hotels to accommodate the different budgets your guests may have. Another bonus of having guests book under your wedding block or discount is that the hotel can always provide you with a current rooming list so you know who has booked and what day they arrive. This makes things easier when it comes to do a welcome gift for your guest(s).

four seasons room

Welcome Gift: As a “thank you” and “welcome to our wedding”, it is a lovely gesture to have a welcome gift waiting for each guest, couple or family as they arrive at their hotel. This shows the guests that you appreciate the time and expense they are giving to celebrate with you. Welcome gifts can be really fun to assemble! We recommend that you include local treats (a sweet and a salty), beverages (bottled water, locally made soda, local microbrew or a bottle of Washington wine), a few packets of Emergen-c to follow that plane ride, a small packet of pain reliever, a small tube of sunscreen if it’s a summer wedding and maybe a bath fizzy if their hotel has a nice tub to relax in. If your guests are bringing children, toss in a few kid friendly snacks or activities for a special touch! Last but not least, always include a welcome letter with contact information, itinerary for the wedding and any special events they are invited to, and a link to your wedding website where they can find directions and things to do in the area.

Packaging for the welcome gift can be as simple as a decorative gift bag from your local craft store or as elaborate as a monogrammed tote bag. I always recommend sturdy natural canvas bags that guests can easily pack in their luggage and use again for shopping, a beach trip, or other. We dress up the bag with beautiful ribbon and gift tag with your guest’s name and arrival date.

Delivery to the hotel prior to your first guest’s arrival is crucial. Some hotels will charge an amenity fee and deliver the gift to the guest’s room. Others hand out the gifts upon guest check in at the front desk. Be sure to ask your hotel(s) what the method of delivery will be and how billing will be handled.

If a welcome gift is too much for the wedding budget, a welcome letter or card for each guest is appropriate and budget friendly.

welcome bag

Transportation: This is an optional perk that your guests will love taking advantage of. If you have a ceremony and reception in a different location, or you just don’t want your guests to worry about driving in unfamiliar places, parking and finding your wedding (on time!), booking a shuttle or other form of transportation to whisk your guests to and from wedding events with ease. It is wonderful that you won’t have to worry about guests drinking at your wedding and driving afterwards. For those VIP guests, it’s also an option to pamper them from the airport with a private car service to their hotel.


Optional Events: There are a few options to really go above and beyond in welcoming your guests and spending more time with them. The day before the wedding is a good time to treat them to a group activity. Some great ideas include a trip to the space needle, a Chihuly museum tour, a hometown ball game, a ride on the Seattle “Ducks”, a golf outing or a chocolate making class, a boat ride tour of our gorgeous waterways, a city tour, or even just a casual picnic in a local park.

If most of your guests fly in the day before the wedding, consider a welcome cocktail party or social gathering at a location nearby their hotel. This can be hosted or un-hosted. A cocktail party is a great way to give them something to do their first night in Seattle area, and they will be eager to see you and offer their congratulations!

Many couples opt to host a brunch the day after the wedding. Typically, this is a casual event and can range from a small open house style gathering at someone’s home, a picnic event at a local park (remember a rain backup plan!), or a group breakfast at a restaurant.


The bottom line is that your out-of-town guests have come a long way to see you. Be gracious and make this easier for them with good communication, by making their travel arrangements easier, by letting them know you care that they have made the trip, and by making things as easy and fun as possible once they are here.  Finally, during your toast, raise a glass to them and thank them for being there for this meaningful celebration!

Crystal Rain and Gourmet Cuisine at the Fairmont Olympic

Incredible photos below by Yours By John 032

Congratulations to Angie & Chris who were wed with the help of VOWS Owner and Lead Planner/Designer Katy Griffiths on October 6, 2012 at the classically elegant Fairmont Olympic Hotel. Running with a Great Gatsby theme, this couple had two major priorities for their intimate celebration of 60: making sure their out of town family from Texas, England and Korea were pampered and the food had to not only be excellent, but creative. Why? Well, both Angie & Chris are accomplished chefs in the Seattle area and food is their passion. No pressure!


Soft drapery and up lighting made Angie & Chris' heart felt ceremony glow. Thanks to the ingenious team at Flora Nova for the radiant design and for incorporating vegetables into their floral arch making our chefs very happy. Who knew kale and cabbage were so beautiful!


Next came the heroes at Rented Elegance who humored my over-the-top vision of bringing the vast ceiling in the Garden Room down with a curtain of crystal to create a more intimate feel for our 60 guests and that "wow" factor that would be the icing on the cake of our decor plan. The vision evolved into a geometric work of art that danced in the light and indeed did "wow" guests all night. (Keep going for more photos of the one thing that took eyes off the bride!)



To balance the dramatic ceiling, centerpieces were a more traditional topiary in all shades of red with white & green accents...we did sneak in more crystal there too.  The linens and napkins were luxurious gold and raspberry damask from BBJ Linens.


The Fairmont Chef tackled the challenge and obvious pressure with grace impressing everyone with a throwback menu from the Georgian Room Circa 1920 including beef tartare, mushroom consomme, fresh shell fish, and roasted pig. The opulent paper design (seen here in menu form by the uber talented Sheryl at Paper Moxie) was a highlight in carrying out our Great Gatsby theme.





And the crystal curtain in the sky turned into dancing rain when the sun went down.....


Candlelight added a glow from the tables while guests enjoyed their 5 course meal....


It all became more than any of us expected and the Garden Room was nothing the staff at the Fairmont had ever seen. Guests of the hotel and even other hotel staff came in to take a peek at the visual wonder.


You too can have crystal rain at your reception at the Fairmont. Just contact Rented Elegance for details!

Big thanks to my wonderful vendor team and the first class staff at the Fairmont Olympic for a truly memorable event!


Pin It! Pinterest 101 for Wedding Planning

By: Stephanie Wilson, VOWS Lead Coordinator Image

The Pros of Using Pinterest:

Strong Visual Appeal.  As the old saying goes, a picture is worth 1000 words.  Your "pins" will definitely help your wedding team to see and understand your vision whether it be a specific color shade, what you really mean by your theme, and more.  It’s also a great tool to be able to view several aspects of a wedding all nicely arranged on one page. Pinterest truly makes creating an inspiration (and explanation) board for your wedding easy!

Inspiration. A one stop shop for ideas, inspiration, color scheme, personalization and finding things you might not come up with on your own. You can build separate boards to include color palettes, bridal attire, bridesmaids styling, bouquets, boutonnieres, centerpieces, ceremony décor, stationery, wedding cakes, unique touches and personalization.

Photography Styling. It is easy to put a board together of a few photography styles or must have shots you like. Then you can send your photographer the link and they can “get inside your head” and make some notes on a few images or poses you like!

Easy access to your vision. Take your smart phone or tablet with you to vendor appointments and you can easily show your style off to the florist, designer, gown boutique, and wedding planner. No printing endless pages and wasting ink. No flipping from website to website, or blog to blog… just go to your Pinterest board(s)!


Some Unexpected Cons:

Overwhelming amount of information and highly addictive.  There is so much out there, that you can get very overwhelmed, even confused. You may end up spending countless hours making sure you scour “every single idea” you can find. This can cause doubt and insecurity about your original vision, and prevent you from honing in on what's really important to you.

Creates unrealistic expectations.  Sometimes brides find the “perfect” table setting on Pinterest.  Then reality hits that matching this look is beyond too expensive; she’s unable to get matching china as shown in the photo; the flowers are not available that time of the year or in their part of the country, etc. This can lead to disappointment and can take the fun out of making the wedding uniquely yours while not breaking the bank or adding an unrealistic project to your plate.


Tips for using Pinterest for wedding planning:

Do create a private board with the final details you want to incorporate. Unless you want all of your friends to know your wedding details before they arrive on the big day, we encourage you to keep this private. You can still show your family and wedding party the ideas, but leave the surprises you are working hard on a secret so your guests see a true “unveiling”.

Do condense your ideas down to a few in each category. Instead of pinning 50 wedding bouquets and leaving them all on your board, start comparing them to each other as you go then delete the ones that aren’t as appealing to you as the others. Reduce, reduce, reduce.  This will help lessen the possibility of overload and confusion and make it easier to make big decisions in the long run. We LOVE when our clients show us their Pinterest boards, but we might raise an eyebrow at the board that has 30+ images of silver bridal shoes!  Finally, once you have your favorite 3-5 images in each category, you can place those pieces on your master board, so your entire vision comes to life.

Don’t look only at Pinterest for inspiration and ideas! It might be a fabric panel, a piece of stationery, a piece of artwork or something unexpected that becomes the base for your wedding design. Keep your eyes open while you’re shopping, at a gallery, looking through magazines or even in your planner’s portfolio!

Do stop pinning on the boards a few months prior to your wedding day. Otherwise, you might drive yourself crazy on whether or not there’s something better out there and your personal wedding vision may be compromised.

Don’t forget what this day is really about. We are so excited over napkin treatments, specific tags and fonts for the favors, the right socks for the groomsmen, capturing that “it” photography shot, and all of the tiny details that make the wedding truly yours. While these are all important details, sometimes couples forget what the true goal is for this day and they get caught up and stressed out over trying to make it “too perfect”.  Enjoy the planning and wedding day by not feeling too overwhelmed by ideas. Enjoy this time with each other! Relax and don’t forget to focus on this incredible journey you are embarking on together.

"Trip over love, you can get up. Fall in love, and you fall forever." ~ Unknown

Destination Weddings: Why Head Out of Town?

By VOWS Lead Coordinator Stephanie Wilson Destination weddings and vow renewals are becoming increasingly popular. The team at VOWS is waiting to partner with you in planning your dream event in Hawaii, Mexico or the Caribbean. If you’re considering a destination wedding, but  unsure about saying “I Do” beyond your backyard, here’s a quick list of great reasons to jump in (the crystal blue ocean) with both feet!

More quality time with your nearest and dearest:  You’ll have much more time to catch-up with your guests than you would if your wedding was at home.  Instead of spending two minutes with each person while greeting tables at your reception, you can arrange a pre-wedding cocktail party, hike, snorkel cruise, beach activities, and so much more!

Smaller guest list:  With travel involved, you can limit your guest list, thus saving money on things that may be more important to you like food, the bar, entertainment, and the special details. Because it’s a destination wedding, you won’t be forced to invite your estranged cousins or all of your co-workers!  You can take the money you would have spent on those guests and put it towards treating your nearest and dearest to extra surprises and a lovely vacation!

Wedding/Honeymoon Combo:  Once you’re in paradise, stay in paradise.  Maybe venture to the other side of the island or at least a different resort for privacy from the fam, but no need to get up early the next day for a flight…you’re instantly honeymooning after you say “I Do”!  How cool is that?

Unlimited options:  All-inclusive resorts, beach-front estates, boutique resorts and more are just a few of the options available. Most resorts have venue reps waiting to help the VOWS team make the wedding personally yours. From champagne upon arrival, personalized rehearsal dinners, custom color schemes, floral, entertainment, and food/beverage… the sky is the limit!  We can help you pair down your selections and communicate with the venue to make sure everything is planned exactly to your taste and style.  We follow up with the venue to ensure they have a current guest list, table layouts, details on setup and design, timing of the ceremony and reception events, photography list and more! We can also be on location to coordinate the ceremony rehearsal, rehearsal dinner and wedding day. Additionally, VOWS offers concierge services - led by Associate Coordinator Emily Benjamin - to ensure your guests are well taken care of every step of the way!

Less Stress:  You’re instantly on vacation when you land!  In ultra relaxing locations like Jamaica, Maui and Cabo San Lucas, for example, you’re less likely to be stressed out the days leading up to your wedding. Warm breezes and swaying palm trees are so much more calming than traffic and unpredictable weather.

Rest assured you’re still in good hands, despite the fact that you’re not in the Seattle area. It’s all about communication. The team here at VOWS can take it to the next level because we know how to plan and successfully execute an event anywhere in the world!

VOWS Owner Katy Griffiths and Lead Coordinator Stephanie Wilson have experience with tropical destination weddings. Our passports are current and we’d love to help you plan and achieve your dream wedding vision.  On a recent trip to Jamaica with the Association of Bridal Consultants (ABC), we discovered the wonderful world of Caribbean weddings and were amazed at how many options there were!  From the warm and friendly hospitality, to the amazing food, lush décor options, tropical drinks and exotic entertainment, we agree that the destination wedding experience is one not to overlook!

If you would like further information on the process and how we can partner with you to throw a destination experience your entire crew will cherish for years, give us a ring!  We’ve got our sun block at the ready!