Q&A with Autumn Pappas, Officiant with Happy Heart Ceremonies

Couple: Shelley & Jason August 2018 Backyard Wedding in Bremerton.  Photographer:  Jen Lee Light

Couple: Shelley & Jason August 2018 Backyard Wedding in Bremerton.

Photographer: Jen Lee Light

Autumn Pappas, Officiant with Happy Heart Ceremonies, believes that your wedding is a celebratory time to start your life with your partner and create a one-of-a-kind ceremony that represents your unique love story.

Read below to learn more about Autumn and her approach to celebrating your special day with you! 


What do you think makes Port Townsend, and the Olympic Peninsula, such a special place for couples to say “I do.”?

I’ve lived on the Olympic Peninsula for the past ten years, and have never regretted one day of my decision to move here.  To me, there’s something magical and spiritual about this place, and it evokes an overall feeling of serenity and peace within my soul.   I find that the people who live in Port Townsend and other cities on the Olympic Peninsula feel the same.

That incredible energy, that natural beauty, that “life force” of the Olympic Peninsula lends itself to the community and businesses and filters out into the wealth of travelers who come to experience the great Pacific Northwest.  Whether they are coming to get married here, visiting for a festival or looking for a grand adventure, there is no shortage of unique venues, outdoor spaces, wedding vendors, and memorable experiences to be had; all you have to do is ask around. In my mind, there's no reason not to get married here!

Couple: Christine & Shan July 2018 Elopement at Hurricane Ridge. Photographer:  MJ Photography

Couple: Christine & Shan July 2018 Elopement at Hurricane Ridge. Photographer: MJ Photography


Couple: Cory & Brian, August 2018 Elopement at Mt. Rainier National Park. Photographers:  Athena and Camron

Couple: Cory & Brian, August 2018 Elopement at Mt. Rainier National Park. Photographers: Athena and Camron

What inspired you to become a wedding officiant?

I originally got started officiating weddings and vow renewals to surprise my parents.

In 2013, my brother and sister-in-law decided to get married on my parent's 40th Wedding anniversary.  I was extremely excited for my brother and his soon-to-be wife but also realized that my parents would not be able to celebrate their amazing milestone anniversary on the same day.  I decided to become ordained and one week after the wedding, I surprised my parents by renewing their vows in front of their closest family and friends. 

They were certainly surprised....but so was I.  I couldn't shake the incredible feeling I had performing the ceremony and furthermore, I didn't want to.  Most of all, I felt like it was a divine meeting with one of my life’s purposes.

Six years, multiple weddings and vow renewals later, my passion hasn’t left, it’s grown even more.  I’m so grateful for the experiences I’ve had and the incredible couples I’ve met along the way. Overall, I love being an officiant because I know it's one of the best ways for me to positively affect other's lives.  I thrive on the happiness and energy of ceremonies and helping couples make their dreams come true!


What types of weddings do you specialize in?

I specialize in non-denominational Christian, spiritual, nature-based, non-religious and commitment ceremonies.

Couple: Nick & Kelly March 2017 Vow Renewal at Red Cedar Farm in Poulsbo. Photographer: Fyrelight Photography

Couple: Nick & Kelly March 2017 Vow Renewal at Red Cedar Farm in Poulsbo. Photographer: Fyrelight Photography


Couple: Cory & Brian, August 2018 Elopement at Mt. Rainier National Park. Photographers:  Athena and Camron

Couple: Cory & Brian, August 2018 Elopement at Mt. Rainier National Park. Photographers: Athena and Camron

What advice would you give to couples writing their own vows?

Writing vows can certainly feel overwhelming as many couples have never written something of this importance before.  My best advice to a couple is to not get caught up on the word “vow” as that word, itself, seems to invoke unneeded stress and anxiety.  I ask them to think of their vows as a sweet love note they are writing to their significant other to tell them how they feel about them and what they intend to do with their spouse in marriage.   And most importantly, if they write their vows from the heart, they can never go wrong.

I also offer these questions to help couple’s brainstorm and decide what they would like to write about:

  • Why did you decide to get married to your significant other?  

  • What have you supported each other through?

  • What do you want to accomplish together?

  • What was it about your fiancé that first drew you to them?

  • When did you realize you were in love?

  • What do you most respect about your partner?

  • How has your life gotten better since meeting your significant other?

  • What about them inspires you?

  • What do you miss most about them when you're apart?

  • What qualities do you most admire in each other?

  • What memories have you shared together?


Couple: Christine & Shan July 2018 Elopement at Hurricane Ridge  Photographer:  MJ Photography

Couple: Christine & Shan July 2018 Elopement at Hurricane Ridge

Photographer: MJ Photography

What advice would you give to couples who want to create a ceremony that is unique to them?

The amazing thing about modern-day ceremonies is that you can make them as unique as you want to!  You can personalize your vows, traditions, unity rituals, readings, music, prayer, processional and more.  There really is a world of options out there, and if it doesn’t exist, you can create it! 

Something you may want to do is to ask your officiant to include your personal love story, special moments or important things about your relationship in your ceremony. Special things to include might be how you met, got engaged, what you love and admire about one another, your pets, quirky nicknames, hobbies, and more.

Autumn also has a lot of great info about different wedding traditions on her website!


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