Amy & Aaron

Love & Grief, and the Art of Winter Weddings

I love being married to my wife. I love seeing her wedding
dress, still muddy along the bottom, hanging on the back of our bathroom door.
I love feeling the ring on my finger, fidgeting with it while I am thinking. I
love hearing people ask me about my “wife”. I love everything about being
married. I love my wife. But, she wasn’t supposed to be my wife, not yet.

We had always imagined our wedding as some massive urban affair, full of experiences, twists, floating things, rainbows, pyrotechnics, acrobats and every other trick in our bag – the event of the season, to be sure. Not so much because we are important enough for such a grand affair, but because planning and designing over the top weddings, events, and parties is just what we do. What we love. Being in this industry comes with a certain level of expectation when it comes to throwing your own event. I think the biggest challenge would have been finding a fabulous space to convert that would accommodate all of our friends, family and industry colleagues that we would have wanted to celebrate with us. We love a good challenge, but that wedding was not to be.


We met as I was getting wrangled into working on the board for NACE. She was the VP, on her way to becoming President, and I was just trying to figure out who this crazy group of #eventprofs were. They were fun, hard-working, insanely creative and I was hooked. Amy and I really didn’t interact much in those first months. She instantly turned my head, but when I asked about her, I was told she was married, so I ejected the thought from my mind. As fates would have it though, just a few months into working with the board, they offered me a chance to attend a conference (expenses paid) in Anaheim. The only catch was, I would have to share a room with a woman – just so happens that woman was Amy. I said I didn’t mind if she didn’t and set my mind to being the most professional version of myself (fake it till you make it).

Amy and I had only really talked a few times prior to
Anaheim, but from check-in on January 3rd, 2015 to today, she is a
part of every breath I take. We were, and still are, inseparable. Sure there
was a messy mountain in front of us: she was in the middle of a divorce, I was
living and co-parenting with my Ex, despite working nearish each other, we
lived 45 minutes apart (on a good day with no traffic), kids, life, nerves,
etc… despite it all, I knew right then and there that I would walk through hell
for and with her. And, this year, we have.

Life kept setting up obstacles and we just kept happily
knocking them down. We found time despite schedules and distance, grew stronger
and more confident in our dreaming and eventually, Amy moved in with me (and my
Ex.), creating what we loving now call Casa de Chaos – 4 adults, 4 kids, a
puppy, a bunny, 2 Guinea pigs, and a feisty lizard. We just kept beating the
odds, just kept dreaming. No way in hell we ever thought we would get married,
but then I asked and she said yes and about three seconds after that, the EPT stick
gave us a plus sign. So, in the Fall of 2018, with Amy’s belly growing bigger,
we found ourselves lying in bed feeling our baby’s kicks, beating odds, and
imagining what our wedding might look like. We set our target for November of
2019, knowing that Amy would be fully recovered from having a baby, our
industry would be slower and so more of our people would be able to attend, and
we would have a better selection of venues late in the year. We did a lot of
dreaming. Dreams that were not to be.

On January 6th 2019, after a long, yet uneventful labor, we lost our baby boy, Jasper Sky, during delivery at Overlake Hospital. No reason. No explanation. He, after months of growing and wriggling and planning and knowing, just wasn’t there any longer. He, who had been the living embodiment of the odds we had beaten, was gone. So much of our dreaming had been delicately interwoven into the mesh of a life with Jasper in it, it was hard to imagine what dreams could remain once that fabric began to unravel. So, laying there in the hospital with Jasper beside us, we were forced to start thinking of new things. Unimaginable things. Impossible things. We began to plan a memorial for this little life that no one but us would ever know. We began to plan a celebration for this little soul that was never able to celebrate anything of his own. We began to plan a party. A sad, emotionally sodden party. We began to plan, because that is what we do. That is what we know. We wanted to introduce him to our world and our tribe, even though he would never get to meet them. We began to plan for a life without Jasper.

I have no words that can explain the life-shattering force
that comes from pregnancy or infant loss and I hope there is never a time when
you will be faced with your own intimate understanding of this experience. All
I can say is that you do not come out the other side, the same as when you went

We were so fortunate to be able to lay there with our baby boy for a couple of days, thanks to some simple, yet amazing technology that kept his body from deteriorating too quickly. It sounds so morbid, trust me, it does. However, it gave us a little bit of the time we needed to say goodbye. Our girls were there with us and able to meet him. Our families were able to say hello and goodbye. The amazing people at Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, a group I hope you never need to know about, were able to coordinate two fantastic individuals to come by and take pictures of us and Jasper. Melanie & Melanie took pictures that we look at almost every day. More than anything, Amy and I were given time to lay there together, with Jasper, and reconnect our collective selves. We laughed a little, cried a lot, played music, and just held each other. For days. 

And we planned. Because, as I said, that is what we do.

Laying there, holding each other for days, we talked about
wanting to have a celebration of life. Obviously it was entirely for us, but we
just wanted to gather with loved ones and introduce them to Jasper. We knew
instantly that we wanted to see if we could have Jasper’s celebration at Rein Fire Ranch, a place that was already
near and dear to our hearts. A beautiful space in the country owned by two of
the kindest, most amazing people we know, Rich & George. We couldn’t
imagine a more perfect place to gather. We also couldn’t imagine the 2 feet of
snow that would fall the week of the celebration, but I will get to that in a

One thing you have to know about Amy and I, we don’t do
things small. Despite the grief. Despite the fact that Amy was healing from
surgery and trying to keep her insides from falling out. Despite the fact that
we didn’t even want to get out of bed, we were going to put together the best
celebration we could muster. This would be the only party we would ever get to
plan for our little Jasper and, in spite of the inherent sadness, we wanted
people to have fun and celebrate together.

So many of our industry friends were so amazing to offer support for this celebration. Rich & George opened their doors to us. Greg Lowder with Affairs to Remember offered to support with AV and some music. It’s Greek to Me, Duos Catering, Table 47 Catering, and Whole World Catering all offered to provide food for the event. The fabulous folks at The SnapBar set us up with a photo experience, Fena Flowers & Countryside Floral teamed up to offer flowers for Jasper, and CORT Party Rental generously helped with rentals and linens. To add the perfect touch, Melanie Smith, the photographer that took such beautiful photos of us with Jasper in the hospital offered to continue the journey with us and shoot the entire event. We had games planned and crafts and keepsakes and cocktails. We had around 120 people confirmed to attend and everything was all set for the celebration on February 9th, just a little over a month after Jasper entered and left this world. That is, until SNOWMAGEDEON happened!!!

Just days before the event, the skies opened and dumped a whopping 2 feet of snow on most of the region. Amy and I donned our extreme weather gear, hitched up the sled dogs, and cautiously made our way out to the Ranch to assess the options. We watched and talked and chewed our nails to nubs, but in the end, we had to pull the plug. The Ranch was buried, the roads were unsafe, and most people couldn’t even get out of their driveways. Through some tears, Rich helped us find a date in March (March 9th) that was open for us to reschedule. We scrambled to get the word out and, while everyone understood, there were some that would not be able to make the new date, our good friend Greg Lowder being one of them. Fortunately, our fabulous friend David Sader with Absolute Music was available to lend a hand for music and AV. Everything was already planned, so now all we had to do was wait.

That’s when things got weird…

That is when an idea began to take shape.

Healing is a process that will probably never end, but
healing was beginning. We did not, could not, leave each other’s side after we
lost Jasper. Even when I returned to work, Amy came with. As the weeks crept
on, we talked a lot about when we would be able to get married. We wanted,
needed, more than ever, to be married. To scream at the world that we were, and
would always be partners in everything. To tell the world that we were stronger
together. We were done waiting. We had been engaged for a while and were
planning on tying the knot that coming November, but we really didn’t want to
wait. Quietly, we began to ask ourselves if there was a way for us to be
married sooner. We could elope, we could do something quick and easy and simple
(like we are ever simple), we could go to the courthouse, we could get married
at Jasper’s celebration…

Wait, what?!?

We could get married at our son’s memorial service? We COULD
get married at our son’s celebration of life! And so, a week before the
celebration redo-date, we decided to do just that. We decided to celebrate
Jasper by celebrating our love for each other.

Amy and I already had pretty much everything we needed. We had
already gotten our rings before the holidays. All we really needed to do was
apply for a license, find Amy a dress, and find someone to officiate. We
floated the idea past Rich, just to see if he would be ok with us getting
married there and he was not only ok with it, but he was willing to officiate
the ceremony. Who knew he was ordained??

We decided to keep it quiet and only told David, Rich, and Melanie, as we would need their help to pull it off. We didn’t even tell our kids.

Were we really doing this? Were we really going to have a
surprise wedding at a memorial? Yes, yes we were!

March 9th, Sun shining bright, patches of snow still melting on the ground, guests arrived to enjoy drinks, snacks, crafts, and games. At 4PM everyone boarded the emotional rollercoaster and held on for a wild ride. Amy and I spoke for a bit, telling everyone about our Journey with Jasper. We talked about pain, and heartache, and love, and sadness, and family. We showed a slideshow that we had put together to introduce Jasper to those that didn’t get to meet him – you can see it here if you are interested (might want to grab a few Kleenex).

We all toasted to Jasper and then…

SURPRISE! We are getting married. The room turned from tears of sadness to tears of joy in a mad instant. Rich said his beautiful words, Amy and I pledged and promised and, blamo, I was now a husband to my amazing and beautiful wife. We kissed and danced, smiled with sadness and cried with joy. It was far from what we had ever imagined, but everything we ever needed and we left there that night with hopeful loving hearts all around us.


2019 was a rough year, as the understatement of the century. Jasper left us to start the year, Amy stepped away from her job of 19 years, business stress, surgery, money, and a general inability to get the coffee in quick enough. However, 2019 has had plenty of good in it as well. It can a little harder to see at times, but it’s there. I became a husband, we had several tooth fairy visits, road trips, camping trips, old friends, sandy toes, and another plus sign on a pregnancy test.

With 2019 coming to a close and 2020 looming on the horizon,
I thank my wife for helping to keep my glass half full and me hopeful. In
January, we will welcome the newest member of our family to our #casadechaos .
While I am anxious, I am hopeful that this child will stay with us, though
painfully aware that this is not guaranteed.

While it may not have been the wedding we dreamed of more
than a year ago, it was everything we needed. This is the story of our winter
wedding. This is the story of our loss and love. This is the story of how we
told ourselves and the world, that we would persevere, that we would stand and
walk forward, together. We are still healing and learning and probably will be
for a long time to come.

I hope, as I have, that everyone at some point finds someone
they would walk through hell with and, if they do, hold them tight. When the
heat starts to lick at your feet, hold tighter. When you start to slip, let
them catch you. Remember to laugh. Remember to cry. Remember to be present.
Remember to love and remember to be patient. Above all, just remember to be
kind to each other. And PLEASE, for the love of butter, if you plan a winter
wedding, plan for snow and practice your snow angels, because blizzards happen…
even in Seattle.

Sustainable weddings and events

Sustainable weddings and events, redefined.

I know what you’re thinking, you’re thinking, “oh sweet, freaking butter sauce, not another article on sustainability”. Sustainability fatigue is real and beginning to wear us a tad thin on the topic. We care, we really do, but we are busy, overwhelmed, and unsure of what we should be doing. The reality is weddings and events are a filthy business when we look at it through the lens of sustainability, but with a little focus and effort, we can make an impact. I am going to talk about how to apply sustainable principles to weddings and events and leave you with a few ideas for ways you can incorporate them into your event.

First, I want to clarify the term. Sustainability is such a challenging topic to tackle. The term has been misused, misunderstood, confounded, misappropriated, and even vilified at times. Now-a-days, we hear the word SUSTAINABILITY and many of us instantly conjure the vision of an activist chanting about the rain forest, or a group with signs damning GMOs and the companies that participate in their propagation. We think of climate change, plastic pollution, and honeybees. Rarely do we think about profitability, pricing, accessibility, inclusion, homelessness, or workforce, but here is the thing; the term sustainability includes all these things and more. To start let’s define and re-understand the term. We need to un-learn sustainability a bit, so we can relearn how to apply the term to real life.


  1. the ability to be maintained at a certain rate or level.
    1. “the sustainability of economic growth”
  2. avoidance of the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance.
    1. “the pursuit of global environmental sustainability

So what in tarnation does that have to do with the event world? Well, it takes a crap ton of resources to pull off a wedding or event – financial resources (money), social resources (workforce, attendees & community), environmental resources (materials and collateral used in the event). In many businesses it is easy to look for ways to reuse, recycle, or manage our resources in ways that are more sustainable in nature, however; in the event business, we consume at alarming rates, often with no consideration for the life or these resources post event.

The Green Bride Guide states that the average wedding produces 400 lbs of garbage and 63 tons of CO2. With an estimated 2.5 million weddings per year, that is about 1 billion lbs of trash and as many emissions as approximately 4 people would produce in a year, in just one single day.

According to meetgreen, a typical conference attendee will produce 1.89KG (4.16 lbs) of waste per day with 1.16KG (2.55 lbs) going directly to landfill. To put that in perspective, a single day event with 500 attendees produces around 2200 lbs of garbage with 1300 lbs going right to the landfill. This doesn’t even account for the waste produce by the event itself.

This is a fantastic amount of environmental resource consumption, and we haven’t event talked about the other two types of resources required to pull off an event.


So what in the sweet Sam Hill do we do about it?!? Well, first off, you have to care. If you don’t care about it, then I don’t have a whole lot for you. But if you do care, and I guarantee that your guests do, then I have some ideas to help you on your way.

Let’s break it down by type of resource.


Honestly, there is not a lot to say here, except know your budget and stick to it. Often when we see this resource being misused or over consumed, it is because the budget didn’t align with the scope of the event from the beginning. Go into it, just like with a construction project, knowing that you will usually exceed your budget by about 20% for a one-off event. Set your budget with this in mind. Hire a planner to help you build a vision within your budget, do your research, and build up your wedding or event with the important components first, adding in the additional elements as finances allow. This will be easier than trying to trim elements to meet budget later. Work with pros that quote fixed costs and try to avoid variable costs wherever possible. If it is a for profit event, ensure what you are charging is ample enough to cover the cost.

Money is a precious resource and there is never enough of it when planning a wedding or event. It can get away from you quickly if you are not paying close attention to it.


Social resources are a tricky one to talk about, because often, the use of these resources is less obvious. The reality though, is that how manage our social resources has a massive impact on our community and our world. Here are a few areas where your approach can have a tremendous impact:

  • Your event team – It takes a team of people to execute pretty much any wedding or event. Work with the best your budget will allow and ensure the companies you work with have great employee relations. Do they engage in fair labor practices and care for their teams? Event service teams are often low wage earners and this won’t change any time soon, but by ensuring you work with companies that have a great track record of care for their teams and a good team culture, you will make a positive impact of the community and town where you are hosting your event.
  • Pay your vendors/partners what they are worth. Discounts hurt everyone. When you ask your event partners for a discount, I guarantee you that the discount comes out from somewhere else. Margins in the event world are too thin for a discount not to be offset somewhere else. This means that when your caterer gives you that 20% discount to win your business, they are reducing the staffing levels or buying cheaper product to offset that discount. Paying fair market value for quality ensures your partners can remain focused on what is important to you and your event.
  • Source locally. Sourcing locally applies to both environmental and social resources. Working with local companies and products ensures the long-term viability of communities to thrive and grow.


We hear about this one a lot. Regardless of your political, religious, or environmental viewpoint, I think we can all agree that there is a lot of work we can do to protect our environmental resources. Here are a handful of things that can easily be managed in the wedding and event world:

  • Work with vendors that align with your values. If one of your values is protecting the oceans, work with a vendor that has similar values. Look for a caterer that uses paper straws or a rental company that has reusable packing material for their rental equipment. Know what is important to you and look for the same in your partners.
  • Manage your waste stream. This is a huge one with massive impact. The main idea here is the old adage – reduce, reuse, recycle (and compost). Easier said than done for weddings and events, but with a little focus in a few areas, you can be successful. Main goal, keep everything you can out of the landfill.
    • Use compostable alternatives for all disposable products (cups, plates, favors, etc)
    • Talk to your caterer and venue about how they manage their waste streams. It will really bum you out if you spend time and energy to source compostable barware only to find out that the venue has no means of composting, of if the town you are having your event in has no infrastructure for composting.
    • Ensure you have a plan for your caterer and services teams to sort the waste. Contaminated recycling or compost just goes straight to the landfill
    • Use compostable or recyclable materials for all of your printing and collateral.
    • Get your guest counts nailed down and don’t over order. Something like 10% – 20% of the food at weddings and events end up in the garbage at the end of the night.
  • Work with vendors that source locally as a priority.
  • Work with rental companies to use washable serviceware instead of using disposable.
  • Restore any damage. I see it often where a group will have an outdoor wedding or event in a beautiful greenspace, but post event, the place looks like a horde of angry zombies tore through it. Ensure there is a plan to leave spaces better than you found them.
  • Avoid the gifts. Little take home gifts are super cute and show you care… for about 3.5 seconds until your guest sets it down and forgets about it, or throws it away when they get home. Show you care in a different way. Give them a little note letting them know that you made a small donation in their name to a local organization at the same value as the cost of a gift. It is meaningful, helpful, and won’t go to waste.

There is so much more we can do to ensure we create sustainable events, but we thought these were some great places to start for those of you feeling a bit overwhelmed of overburdened in thinking about it. The most important thing is to be a good Steward to your environment, your communities, and your finances. Ask yourself questions along the way as to the choices you are making. Set litmus tests to determine if the choices align with your value system and then weigh the options. It is all about making thoughtful, responsible choices.

If you have any questions about how to best make an impact with your event, please reach out, we would love to chat.

Here are some great resources for you if you are wanting to dig a little deeper:

Events Industry Council

The Green Wedding Professional



The Knot

Advice for planning your wedding

So you got engaged… Now What?

It sounds simple enough, right? Get a ring, get engaged, tie the knot. Easy Peasy! Or is it?

Here is the thing, 20 years ago, before we had YouTube and our BFF Google (or Alexa or Siri), planning your own wedding was an experience straight out of a Stephen King novel. These days though, let’s be honest, the internet can get us through just about anything. I can learn to stich up a compound fracture, build a fire from used Kleenex and butterfly wings, and rebuild my lawnmower engine all in one day, and still have time to bake that Baked Alaska that Marth Stewart taught me to make. I mean, I should have a Phd in YouTubing by now. So planning your wedding… no problem. And that really is the truth of it. With the vast array of resources at your fingertips, you have all the information you need to plan a successful wedding, large or small, with minimal support. In fact, if we are honest, the only people you really need (other than a partner to marry) is someone to officiate and a witness, everything else is fluff to enhance the experience and elevate the celebration of your union.

Here is the thing many don’t realize though, planning this seemingly beautiful celebration of love and partnership can easily turn in to a little slice of Hell served up in a spoonful of lemon chiffon and buttercream. The process of planning your wedding can test you and your partner before you are even married.

Don’t fret, there is help and hope. The most important thing you can do to ensure you have the best wedding day ever is assemble the best damn event team you can. With so many options out there, how do you go about assembling this team of superheroes? We have put together a quick list of what we think are the critical and important elements to ensure you have the best planning experience you can have.

Hire someone to help keep your motley crew in line (AKA – A Wedding Planner) – Yes, as planners, we are a bit biased, but finding the right planner for your wedding is the single most important thing you can do to ensure success. Weather you bring in a planner for day-of support, partial planning help, or a full planning experience, bring them in early and take a bit of time to ensure you find the right fit. Why is a good planner so important?

  • A good planner will save you money. Don’t expect your planner to go out and get you discounts. They may pass along discounts here and there, but this shouldn’t be expected and isn’t where they save you money. Planners are acutely aware of the value of every element that goes into a wedding and work to ensure you don’t overpay for services and products along the way. Planners know how to find great value for you, where those that are not in the industry would never find it.
  • A good planner will maintain strict control of your budget. Weather your budget is $5000, $25,000, or $75,000, a professional planner will be able to help you build an event that fits easily within your budget. A great planner will be honest if your vision exceeds your budget and help you find ways to get as close as you can within the financial constraints. It is important to be clear and honest with your planner about your budget.
  • Planners know pros. There are a whole lot of hacks out there and more pop up every day. Wedding planners know how to help you assemble a great, professional team that will not screw up you wedding day.
  • (Most) Planners are creative as hell. Need to figure out how to float into your ceremony on a giant pink donut with unicorn sprinkles? Planners/Designers thrive on building moments of wow out of bubble gum and duct tape.
  • Planners will save you from logistics nightmares. Wedding planners can walk into any venue, anywhere in the world and instantly identify red flags and challenges that might get in the way of your wedding day, and then find solutions well in advance. The thing we do best is ensure the entire day moves and flows in seamless fashion.
  • Most importantly, hiring a planner ensures you get to enjoy your wedding day. I cannot tell you how many stories I have heard from couples that didn’t have a planner and spent their entire wedding day running the event, chasing last minute issues, answering questions from vendors and guests, fretting over times lines, and generally running redlined stress levels the entire day. This is your day. Hire a planner and enjoy it.

Here is a great article on things to think about when selecting your wedding planner.

Build your wedding plan THEN hunt for your venue. Wedding planners can be instrumental in helping you find a venue that fits your vision. If you have a location in mind that you have dreamt of for years, that’s fine, but consult with a planner before you book the venue. So many couples will book a venue first, only to realize too late that the design and vision don’t work there. Always good to ensure that design, vision, and venue are all aligned before signing that contract. Here is a list of some of our favorite venues in the area. You can always find a wealth of booking information and details at The Wedding Spot or WeddingWire.

Find the right DJ/MC. Many couples disregard this important element of planning until the end and often bargain shop to save some money. We can’t underestimate the importance of this key part of your team. This person is almost always the voice of your wedding, their personality and energy keeps your event moving, keep your guests engaged, and brings the “life” to your event vision. An unprofessional, amateur DJ can tank your event. Here is a list of some of the fabulous DJs that we love working with. Additional places to look for a professional DJ would be WeddingWire, The Knot, and American Disk Jockey Association (ADJA).

Photographer & Videographer. You are creating memories, capture them in any and every way you can. You will look back on these photos and videos for years to come, don’t skimp on them and, yes, we absolutely recommend video. There are a lot of amateurs out there, be sure you find a professional with real wedding experience. Someone that knows what shots will be important and how to get them in all kinds of different lighting environments. Nothing worse than having your beautiful event captured with shadows and sunspots. Here is a list of some of some wonderful visual artists.

For us, these are the key and critical components you want to nail down early and with loads of support. There are loads of other event partners and elements that you will secure along the way, but tackle these four first to ensure your event is amazing.