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Tiffany + Mark, Building A Life Together

After initially being introduced through eHarmony, and exchanging a few e-mails, Mark and Tiffany decided to officially meet in person. Tiffany’s first impression of Mark was that, besides being “obviously good looking”, that she and Mark had “similar goals in life … there was something fun and unpredictable about him that she liked.”

One month later after their first date, Tiffany, sure of Mark’s character and also of their future together, perked up when Robin Thicke’s “Lost Without You” came on the radio. “I want to play this at OUR wedding” she said. Surprised that she had said “Our wedding” and not “My wedding”, Mark remembers forgetting how to breathe for a moment.

It wouldn’t take long for Mark to recover though; he remembers realizing one day that he just “couldn’t live without Tiffany.” A surprise proposal during a family trip to the Outer Banks, happened shortly after.

Tiffany chose a sophisticated rustic theme to go along with the surprise finale to her wedding ceremony. Alisa Tongg, Celebrant. DeLorenzo Photography
Ring Blessing, guests have a chance to infuse their own wishes and prayers into the rings before Mark and Tiffany exchange them. Alisa Tongg Celebrant. DeLorenzo Photography
Over the past four years, as they have begun to build a life together, Mark says, “we both saw each other through some tough situations and had a lot of good times too.” A future without the other had become impossible to imagine.

Through it all, Mark says, “I want people to see that Tiff and I are two committed, hardworking, fun individuals who have the strength to live a long happy life together.”

"I take you to be my best friend, my faithful partner, my husband and my one true love. I promise to encourage you and inspire you and to love you truly through good times and bad. I will forever be there to laugh with you and lift you up when you’re down. And I promise to love you,  unconditionally through all of our adventures in life together." Tiffany and Mark make vows to each other. Alisa Tongg Celebrant. DeLorenzo Photography.

“Mark, the woman whose hands you hold loves you very much. She’s serious and smart, organized, steady and beautiful inside and out. She is the most kind-hearted person you know. A loyal partner, in her you’ve found your perfect counterpart.”—Alisa Tongg, Celebrant

Log Sawing For Cooperation

Both the bride and groom have family roots in Germany, and with their personal emphasis on balance, family and partnership, they were excited to finish their ceremony with a finale that was sure to leave a lasting impression with their guests. Mark and Tiffany partook in a German tradition where a newly wed couple saws a log in half. 
Tiffany’s brothers brought two saw horses and a log out in to the center of the ceremonial space and held down the log in the back. Mark and Tiffany each grabbed a handle on an antique two man saw and started on their task of cutting the log in half. Alisa Tongg Celebrant. DeLorenzo Photography.

“This act is a physical representation of their promise to overcome life’s obstacles together and is also a good reminder to appreciate how your differences can compliment your relationship. Tiffany and Mark you’ll need to be equal partners in order for your tools to work and to ultimately accomplish this task.”—Alisa Tongg, Celebrant. DeLorenzo Photography.

And with a little help from their family and friends, Mark and Tiffany easily overcame their first obstacle together as a married couple.  Congratulations Mr. and Mrs. Wells!

“Mark and I have similar goals for the future. We want to have children and build a family. Mark will be an excellent father and husband, and I couldn’t ask for more. We’ll be an awesome balance with our different personalities. I couldn’t imagine my life without him.”—Tiffany

These once in a lifetime moments were captured by DeLorenzo Photography at the elegant Mountain Springs Lake Resort.

Erin + Shane, Forehead Kisses

When Erin + Shane started planning their wedding, they knew they wanted it to feel intimate and personal--to be about Love, Happiness and Celebration. They were captivated by the beautiful natural setting of Woodloch Pines Resort in Hawley, PA and wanted their ceremony to be Catholic-inspired in that outdoor setting.

Taking advantage of the gorgeous scenery near the lake, Shane + Erin’s family and friends all contributed flowers to the Circle of Love, which marked the space where the couple exchanged their rings and vows.

Family Bible: Their service highlighted the fundamental importance of family.  Along with her bouquet of flowers, Erin carried her grandmother’s Bible down the aisle, which her grandmother also carried on her wedding day 58 years ago.  Friends read two passages of scripture.

“Erin wants you to know that she loves the way that you take care of her heart and sometimes feels that the rest of her life just isn’t a long enough time to have with you.”—Alisa Tongg, Celebrant

Erin wanted to honor her grandfather who had passed away a few weeks before the wedding. So toward the beginning of the ceremony, we created a short tribute to Grandpa Pat with this Remembrance: “Today, we’d especially like to remember Erin’s hero, counselor, friend and “Superman”-- Grandpa Pat. Grandpa Pat provided Erin and Shane with a lasting example of a loving and dedicated family man, a man whose warmth and genuine affection created the feeling of home for those who knew him. He loved Erin and Shane and was excited for their future together. We know he is here with us in spirit today and everyday”.

Gift of Song In anticipation of the joyous honeymoon days ahead, Erin’s sister Kylie and cousin Ian performed their version of “The Hawaiian Wedding Song” just moments before all in attendance were invited to stand up and participate in Passing the Sign of Peace, a beautiful tradition celebrating the bonds of community.

For the future, the happy couple hopes “to love and prosper and enjoy all the little moments that fill the days.” If they continue to approach their daily life together with the same intention and thoughtfulness that went into the words and actions of their wedding celebration, I know their dreams will come true!

“I love that he accepts me for who I am, but yet makes me want to be a better person every day.”—Erin about what she loves about Shane.

These amazing and moving pictures were captured by Bradley and Janna Lanphear, the husband and wife photographic team who are the ├╝berstylish Rhema Images Photography.

So it turns out Dad was right, The Knot Best of Weddings 2014 Pick

"You were born to do this." That's what my Dad says whenever he sees a picture of me officiating a wedding or listens as I recount the love story of one of my couples. And thanks to the generosity of my couples, my father's whole-hearted enthusiasm about my work as a celebrant seems a little less biased now. I am thrilled to be selected as The Knot Best Of Weddings 2014 Pick. This "Best Pick" distinction is awarded to the top 1% of the wedding industry based on the quality and quantity of the reviews collected over the course of a year. So, yeah, it's kind of a big deal.

As a celebrant, I've found myself performing wedding ceremonies in every kind of place--From cliff-top intimate elopements on my property in Pennsylvania, to being perched on a ledge on the side of a waterfall, many times I've basked in the down home warmth of gatherings at romantic barns and family farms, and there's always an electric thrill that comes from being in a sophisticated design-focused big city event space.

This year I've married a lot of people (to each other of course) and while the scenery, venue and celebration details vary dramatically from couple to couple, one thing has been consistent, every one of my couples was beautifully in love, had very human hopes for their future together and wanted their personal story (and family relationships) to be the centerpiece of their wedding.

So I would like to formally say "thank you" to all of my couples who took the time to post a review about their experience working with me to create their ceremony. Thank you, it's been an absolute pleasure. And even though I feel privileged to receive this accolade, the real honor for me, is that you invited me to play a part in your amazing love stories and that I got/get to be there.

Here are some my favorite highlights from this year.

Both of Raha's parents have the honor of bringing her down the aisle. Mann Center For The Performing Arts, Philadelphia. Kahl Weddings Photography

Julia and Jason, I didn't need to ask her twice if they'd rather hold hands during their ceremony. Faith West Photography

Sometimes the glass doesn't break. One shot of a hilarious series captured by A Click Photography

Joel and Yasmin have a good sense of humor when things don't go exactly as planned. A Click Photography
Karissa and Robbie are bound together. Kristen Rath Photography

Lee Ann and Steven, in love since the 6th grade. Douglas James Photography

Cori and Todd are the first to include my Seven Steps Into The Sunset, seven modern blessings as they take their first seven steps together as a married couple. Two Sticks Studios

Their family and friends loved showering Cori + Todd with their love and support. Two Sticks Studio
I got to have my boobs duct-taped and hang out with some giants in the wedding industry. Here's Alisa Tongg (center) with the Gifts For The Good Life team, Heather Arak (left) and Susan Turnock (right).
Maria and Shawn seal it with a kiss at the Cork Factory Hotel. Tennison Photography

Everyone is about to find out that Shawn's moves like Mick Jagger run in the family. Tennison Photography
My sister married her sweetheart Sue in a gorgeous sunset wedding on the north shore of Maui, where we grew up. Kaua Wedding Photography.

And they asked me to officiate. Perfect! Kaua Wedding Photography