Intimate Tahoe Wedding

After 17 years together, Craig and Neil have built a strong relationship–and they’ve also built a business together. It was a love of Tahoe that brought them to the lake for an intimate and beautiful ceremony.

It was Craig’s dream to be married in Tahoe, where these two visit and hike regularly. (And, I mean, they are serious hikers!) So, they found a house that would hold most of the guests, packed up their pup, Barkley, and headed to the lake.

I have to admit that our long conversation on a Sunday afternoon felt like I was just hanging out with old friends over brunch. (Minus the mimosas and the brunch!) We spent our time laughing and talking as they described how this relationship almost didn’t happen–until one of them finally asked for a phone number on the last day of working together!

When each of us arrived at the private Kingsbury Grade home for the ceremony, we were asked to select a pin to wear to the ceremony. There were two choices representing Autism or Down Syndrome. This was how they chose to include and honor the kids they work with to help develop communication, occupational and physical skills. It’s a labor of love they do together (along with additional therapists and staff–and, of course, Barkley, too) as they help the kids take on new challenges and expand the possibilities. As the officiant, I chose both pins to bring them all central to the ceremony.

They brought along Barkley, their adorable dog. Barkley was our ring bearer and after his job was done, he lounged on the threshold a few feet from where Craig and Neil were saying their vows.

During the ceremony, Craig and Neil conveyed deep love, respect and joy for each other and for their life  together.


Congratulations, Craig and Neil! 


UPDATE: And, I love that you have been back hiking and relaxing in Tahoe–and made time to see me, again!


2017 The Knot Best of Weddings

Tahoe Wedding Officiant

WAHOO! A big THANK YOU to all of my wedded couples, their families and guests, and other wedding vendors for this fabulous honor!

I am proud to announce that Jackie Phillips, Wedding Officiant has been selected as a 2017 winner in The Knot Best of Weddings, an award representing the highest-rated wedding professionals as reviewed by real couples, their families and wedding guests on The Knot.

2016 has been a beautiful year full of joy for me. So many wonderful couples have trusted me to capture the personality of their relationship in the ceremony that is most fitting for them! Thanks for the incredible memories!

Beyond the Sand Ceremony:
Personalize Your Unity Ceremony

personalize-your-sand-ceremonyThe unity sand ceremony has become a popular way for couples to symbolize joining together during their wedding ceremony. Prior to sand, the unity candle ceremony was one of the primary ways couples demonstrated unity during their wedding ceremony.

As a wedding officiant, I enjoy it when we create a unity ceremony that reflects the personality of the couple. It also is a great way to include children when families are blending.

How do you create a unique unity ceremony?

First think about the kind of things you love to do together. Or reflect on ways to bring your heritage or personality together symbolically. Do you both hike or snowboard? Go to movies? Dine out? Play video games? Build trains? Ride motorcycles? Build Lego structures?

Once you’ve written down some of the things you like to do and who you are as a couple, start thinking about ways to make them into a ceremony of unity.

Here are some ideas for your unity ceremony:

If you hike, collect a few small rocks or sand from your favorite locations (if allowed by law) and each of you place them in a vase or rock garden. Or pick up a leaf and, during your ceremony, place it between glass to make framed art.

If you snowboard or ski, each of you bring a pin or memento from your favorite ski location and enclose it in a small acrylic or glass box. Or build a snowman out of accessories from the craft store to have an everlasting holiday decoration.

If movies are your favorite activity, find something representative of your favorite movie. For me, I love the movie Somewhere in Time. In that movie, the main character travels in time, but when he finds a modern day penny in his pocket, he is sent back to real time. So I might put a penny in the small frame.

Or from the movie Serendipity, the female character writes her phone number in the book Love in the Time of Cholera. Perhaps find a copy of the book and add that to the collection. These items can be placed into a memory box to reflect each person’s favorite movie.

When you are a couple that dines out, perhaps bring your favorite wine or champagne and each pour a glass of wine. Take a sip of your own wine to show individuality and then pour wine into a shared glass and drink from that to show togetherness. (If your Scottish, the Quaich is a two-handled Scottish drinking cup that you can use to pour wine into before drinking.)

Perhaps Legos are your family activity. Ask the children to build a special Lego structure and during the unity ceremony, each of you add one final piece to the structure. Or make your own Lego minifigure person and add it to the Lego sculpture.

If you collect trains, set up a small track and each person select a train car to add to the track.

Ride motorcycles? Find a gremlin bell (used to protect your bike and your rides from “evil road spirits”) that reflects your personality. Ring the bells during this ceremony, then exchange them and put them on your bike. Or, lock them in an acrylic box and place them on the mantle.

And…there are so many more possibilities!

Truly, a fabulous ceremony can be written around almost anything that reflects where your personalities come together. It may take some time to think of it, but these personalized ceremonies can bring intense meaning and provide enchanting keepsakes after the ceremony ends.

Use your imagination! Ask your celebrant to help you write a ceremony that defines why this ceremony demonstrates your unity.

Jackie Phillips is a wedding officiant in the Lake Tahoe area of the Nevada and California border. She writes weddings, unity ceremonies and vows for couples, whether or not she officiates their ceremony! In addition, she officiates ceremonies in Lake Tahoe and the surrounding areas. More details at

How Do I Choose a Wedding Officiant to Marry Me?

finding a wedding celebrant

You have many choices when it comes to your wedding ceremony itself. If you do not have a church minister, there are wedding ministers and officiants who provide multiple services and others whose only focus is on the ceremony.

Many wedding venues will provide a referral list or you can select and bring in your own celebrant.

Taking the time to find the right officiant can truly make your wedding special.

Before choosing someone to officiate your wedding, take the time to meet the person–either in person or through a phone or video conversation.

Ask yourself….

  • Do you connect with the officiant?
  • Do you like him/her?
  • What is the officiant’s approach – does it suit your personality?
  • What decisions do you get to make about the ceremony?
  • What does the officiant do to get to know you?
  • Does the officiant make you feel comfortable and excited about your ceremony?
  • Will the celebrant prepare the right ceremony and atmosphere for your wedding?
  • If you have religious or spiritual beliefs, will the officiant reflect that in the ceremony?
  • Will the officiant attend your rehearsal (and conduct the rehearsal, if you do not have a coordinator)?
  • Have you read a sample ceremony – and do you like it? (Remember, that the ceremony is the property of the officiant. If you do not choose this officiant, but take any part of the ceremony, please compensate them in some way.)
  • Is the celebrant available on your wedding date and will s/he travel to your venue?
  • What do you need to do to secure the date with the officiant?

I hope you find the perfect person to fulfill your vision of your ceremony!