Coronavirus Reverend's Notes

Get Ready for 2021

Part 1 – Get Ready

A Back Forty Elopement with Reverend Jim Beidle

It seems redundant to say that 2020 brought a lot of opportunities and threats. I mean, everyone who has lived through the past year knows about the changes a modern response to the global pandemic has wrought. Globally, societally, and individually we have each learned how to manage our lives differently. Here’s the first of three posts discussing the changes coming to Weddings with Reverend Jim Beidle in 2021. Part 1 is the ‘Get Ready’ of ‘Ready, Set, Go!’

Gathering Perspective

Adapting to this new lifestyle has been no different for Weddings with Reverend Jim Beidle. Learning to serve my couples during the past year has changed the substance of my business. Coming up with ways to provide services virtually. Providing comfort and support to the couples living with upended plans. Venturing into new methods and markets for elopements and micro-weddings has fueled my personal and professional growth.

Santa Prepares Paperwork
Santa readies the marriage certificate for Brandon and Mia.

Many of you know that I put my time and talent to use portraying Santa Claus during November and December, a traditionally slow wedding season. Again, all the early predictions for how the season would progress painted a dismal picture. Indeed, news reports from the season, like this one, demonstrate why intimate, knee-top visits with St. Nicholas are a terrible idea. The retail visit, a holiday standard since the Baby Boom, ended up with many elders, adults, children ill, in the hospital, or dying. It called for a new approach.

virtual visit.
Santa Jim Peers over his glasses during a virtual visit.

For the 2020 holiday season, I provided hundreds of virtual visits with Santa Claus. Varying in length from a few minutes to a half-hour provided a new experience for children and their families. And parents took advantage of the ability to have Santa coach and encourage children. Coupled with performing shows online and providing personalized pre-recorded videos, it gave me a new and refreshing way to engage with people. And that got me thinking about next year.

Pondering the Season

I could easily go on about how wonderful the changed wedding season was for me. In fact, I did a bit of that in this previous post. I also would love to spend time telling stories about the lives Santa touched during the holiday season. For more about that, here’s an interview I did with Nicole Brodeur of the Seattle Times. It’s often easy for me to get lost in the stories, as I sometimes do.

But this post is about the future! By now, watching the news and listening to scientists, we know that our lives have really changed. Looking at previous pandemics, we know that we will get through. And when we eventually get to the other side, how will society have changed? More importantly, how will we have changed? How do we prepare ourselves for the new reality?

Rational Thinking

Two people planning.
This is the sort of organized chaos I make when I strategize.

Here are some of my take-aways as I plan for the next two or three years. Pandemic restrictions are going to be with us for a while. Here’s my reasoning.

  • Our divided national response to the pandemic hasn’t worked. Until we unite behind a rational response to preventing the spread of Coronavirus and its variants, that won’t change.
  • Despite conflicting reports, scientists have been clear from the beginning that they are still learning about how Coronavirus works. The scientific method works, but it is slow and full of blind alleys that each want exploring. Even with the vaccines, we still don’t have all the answers.
  • Even with an accelerated rollout of the new vaccines, we won’t reach a viable amount of immunity before Autumn. Assuming everyone took the vaccine at the right times and in the right doses, that leaves the problems of making and delivering over 600,000,000 doses. I haven’t seen anything that points to production levels that high. And there are still those who won’t or can’t take the vaccine.

Those bullets are rationales; reasons why I expect the restrictions will continue to be necessary. We also must address emotional and egoistic challenges.

How Emotions Play into ‘Get Ready’

And that isn’t a call to judgment. Instead, I baldly recognize how our conscious minds appropriate any internal bias we carry to justify behavior rooted in anxiety.

Mature doctor tired after long day.
Mature doctor tired after long day. We’re all feeling the strain these days, aren’t we?
  • It’s a natural state for humans to have anxiety about change. It’s normal for us to resist change in our environment at a primary and unconscious level. That behavior mostly kept us alive when we lived in forests and on the plains.
  • Our conscious minds don’t always know what to do with that unconscious concern. Sometimes it’s a complete melt-down, ugly crying, rage spew. Especially if that person has been “holding it together” until that one last thing, and we may not even know why we’re falling apart.
  • We’ve seen other ways this natural anxiety takes over the conscious mind in public. People are irrationally refusing to take precautions to protect themselves and others. Despite clear contrary evidence, leaders and influencers have called the restrictions an “attack on liberty,” a hoax, and even some kind of conspiracy. Individuals have gone from shouting matches to pitched battles over the need for more rigorous hygiene in our public places.

The forgoing bullets sound assertive and potentially depressing, don’t they? With these points. I am attempting to affirm how we rationalize the internal conflict and anxiety we naturally feel about an individually uncontrollable situation. The discomfort I feel with those statements or that you feel when reading them reflects how little we control this slow-moving natural disaster.

Changing Our Minds

What do we control, then? We remain in control of how we respond. Choose kindness, educate ourselves, and reach out to others in our ‘bubble’ and our sphere.

We can choose to let go of the thoughts and feelings that urge us to withdraw into an apocalyptic defensive posture. Remember that our country has been through pandemics before and survived. And even thrived in the years following recovery. Make time to notice the beauty surrounding us and get joy from the good that we see others do.

Choose to stay connected with each other and our community in ways that didn’t exist during the Flu Pandemic 100 years ago. We can move away from technology that walls us off from others to using technology to stay in touch. More than just for work, applications like Zoom, Meet, and Facetime make it easy to reach out to friends, neighbors, and loved ones.

How to Get Ready

This short essay could easily turn into a 50,000-word book if I let it. And that might be a project if a couple of dozen people are interested. Instead, I’ve tried to show some of the factors that are part of planning for 2021.

But let’s turn back to pondering the 2021 wedding season, shall we? Before turning to Part 2, tell me in the comments about how you are doing. How are you coping with a New Year that looks a lot like the old year? What are your plans? Or, go here and start a conversation with me.

In Part 2, I’ll share my vision for things to come. We’ll look at what I see as a natural progression for the business of being human in 2021. Part 2 is all about the work that takes us from ‘Get Ready’ to ‘Get Set!’

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Coronavirus Couples' Choice Award Reverend's Notes Wedding Packages

Oops, We Did It Again!

Weddings with Reverend Jim Beidle Wins the 2021 Couples Choice Award!

2020 started gamely enough, with two weddings in January and a handful of couples booking for later in the year throughout the first two months. Of course, everyone knows what happened in March. When Coronavirus arrived in the Pacific Northwest, it was “common knowledge” that there could not possibly be weddings. So much for common knowledge! Every bit of praise goes to the brave couples whose uncommon wisdom ensures #LoveWins! And the Couples’ Choice for 2020 included choosing Weddings with Reverend Jim Beidle.

An Amazing Year

Weddings with Reverend Jim Beidle saw tremendous growth in 2020 as I worked with couples to find new, pandemic-safe, and legal ways to tie the knot. These fantastic people are ready to build their lives on the foundation of marriage. Therefore, they chose different ways to make their celebrations happen.

Many who originally booked a traditional wedding moved it to a future date, some as far out as two years from the original day. Other couples downsized their celebration to fit the requirements to minimize the possibility of spreading COVID-19. Several made couples made a choice to celebrate with an Elopement or Micro-Wedding in 2020 with an eye toward a traditional celebration when circumstances allow.

Speaking of Elopement

Last year was a banner year for planned Micro-Weddings and last-minute Elopements! Tiny weddings were a signature couples’ choice for last season. From windswept beaches to remote mountain tops; from smaller indoor venues to beautiful state and national parks, we met in groups of five and joined lives together.

Several elopements took place at Peace Arch State Park in Blaine, Washington. This beautiful 20-acre park memorializes the relationship of the U.S. and Canada as “Children of the Same Mother.” With its broad lawns and beautiful gardens, it is the only place along the northern border where Americans can meet with people of other nations.

More weddings took place near the water. Two were near Ocean Shores, Washington. Two were at other beaches, and several happened near lakes, including the Diablo Lake Overlook on Highway 20!

Since the couple kept it a secret, the Diablo Lake wedding was entertaining. Consequently, we blew the bride’s aunt’s mind when this itinerant clergyman offered to marry the couple at their “engagement party.” Surrounded by The bride and groom said their “I dos,” surrounded by the majesty of the North Cascades.

In all, nearly thirty couples spoke their vows with Weddings with Reverend Jim Beidle. Every couple gave me their kind reviews in private comments, and several made their commendation public on Wedding Wire and The Knot. A huge and heartfelt thank you to everyone who made Weddings with Reverend Jim Beidle their Couples’ Choice for 2020!

Coronavirus Rescheduling Wedding Packages

COVID-19 Update November 2020

The second surge of Coronavirus cases in Washington State has begun. In recent weeks hospitals have seen a dramatic increase in the infection rate and hospitalizations. The state government, led by Governor Inslee, has put into effect stricter protocols on group functions. Discover how we respond to COVID-19.

COVID-19 cases per day as of 11/15/20 showing a rapid increase.
COVID-19 cases per day reported November 15, 2929.

As the pandemic continues to impact our lives, we must learn to adapt to protect the lives of those we love. 

What Did COVID-19 Change?

So, what are the new restrictions going into place at weddings and receptions? They haven’t changed much from before. Weddings are limited to 30 people in total. As you plan your changes, bear in mind that the cap includes your vendors. If you were planning a wedding with a string quartet, you need to have them in the total number present.

Using one of my typical weddings as an example, let’s say that the people required to attend are the bride, the groom, three attendants each (6 total), the officiant, and the photographer. That ten-person wedding party leaves twenty seats in the room. So, it is possible to have many of your circle of loved-ones present and still meet the guidelines. Of course, you can reduce the number of attendants to increase the seats. I have worked with many couples to ensure a safe gathering. 

A potential pitfall is that the state has prohibited indoor receptions under the new guideline. Given our winter weather, gathering outdoors might be prohibitive, too. It may pay to plan a celebration for next summer when we hopefully put all this behind us.

Adapting Your Plans

So, all is not lost. These COVID-19 restrictions mean a little more planning and thoughtfulness about how we celebrate your wedding. Let’s talk about some options.

Smaller Wedding

By keeping your wedding party small, you can maximize the number of guests. I showed you that a traditional wedding party with one photographer is ten seats in the example above. If you each have one attendant, that frees an additional four seats for your guests. I grant that it isn’t a huge wedding, yet your friends and family can fill the room with their joy in a smaller venue.

Elope Now, Party Later

Many couples are choosing to elope during the pandemic and celebrate with a vows renewal later. For this, we need only you, two witnesses, a photographer, and me. We can pop up the elopement practically anywhere and film or live stream it for your friends and relations. Later, when we can safely gather in groups, we can reenact the ceremony as a renewal of your vows to one another.

Adding Video

I’ve mentioned shooting video a couple of times. Recording or streaming your wedding, whatever the size, is an excellent way to involve more than the thirty person cap. With a little planning, we can pre-record a message, especially for those attending via the Internet. You may engage a videographer to put together the concept or shoot live from a phone.

Virtual Weddings

The ultimate video experience is an entirely virtual wedding. Virtual in the sense that we can all be present in a Zoom room. The trick with a virtual wedding is coordinating the paperwork. If your witnesses are present with you, I can guide you through getting everyone’s signature, and you can mail the documents to me. I certify everything, sign off on the license registration, and send everything off to the county recorder. It’s a complicated but manageable challenge.

Challenge Accepted

The new COVID-19 restrictions, intended to give the medical community needed relief, raise challenges for couples planning to wed in the next few weeks. Those challenges are quickly addressed by remaining flexible and pivoting to adapt to the new scenario. Take a close look at your guest list. Who is in a vulnerable population? Who is most likely to bring joy to a live celebration while willingly following safe gathering protocols? How can we involve the people in your community of “framily” that can’t be there on your wedding day?

Give me a call at (360) 926-0010 or drop me a line at and let’s figure this out together.

Coronavirus Military Discount Rescheduling Wedding Packages

Don’t Give Up the Ship

The USS Chesapeake captured in the bloodiest frigate battle of the War of 1812. F. Muller / Public domain

June 1 is “Don’t Give Up the Ship Day” in the United States. It commemorates the lasting message uttered by Captain James Lawrence of the USS Chesapeake when the British Navy boarded his ship while he lay mortally wounded on June 1, 1813. Despite orders not to engage in battle, Lawrence fought the HMS Shannon in Massachusetts bay, near Boston. The resultant action was the bloodiest frigate fight of the War of 1812, and the crew lost the ship to the British in about fifteen minutes.

Under normal circumstances, Lawrence would have been held accountable for his defeat. Instead, he died a hero, and his words have lived on for more than 200 years. The phrase became the unofficial motto of the Navy, and two months after the Chesapeake’s loss, the Navy christened the USS Lawrence in his honor. The Captain of the Lawrence, Oliver Hazard Perry, commissioned a blue ensign emblazoned with the phrase. Perry, under that flag, led his squadron of nine ships to victory in the Battle of Lake Erie just three months after Lawrence’s devastating defeat.

Cool Story, but…

What does that have to do with weddings?

I’m here to say, “Don’t give up the ship!” The recent pandemic and our wretched national news aside, your wedding is a beacon of hope. And, I will help you make it happen!

Whatever your situation, we can make your marriage ceremony happen this year. I’m coming up with several new programs to make your wedding goals achievable and affordable. Keep checking the blog and the rest of the website for details, or get in touch and let’s figure it out together.

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New Military Discount!

It also makes a great story to inaugurate my Military Discount program. I am a military veteran, and, like anyone, I enjoy getting a deal. I hadn’t really thought about this, since the packages I’ve put together already embody a 20% discount over the a-la-carte prices.

Given the way things have gone for us in 2020, this is something that makes sense. Many military couples are on a financial tightrope, especially with the lay-offs in King and Snohomish county. So, this is my first step toward helping couples out.

15% Discount for Active and Veteran Military

With a valid proof of service for either party, I’ll give you a 15% discount on any wedding or elopement package. Proof of service is an Active Duty or Veteran ID card, or a scan of your DD-214 showing an Honorable or General discharge. There’s no expiration on this deal.

So, whether you are a new client or have already scheduled your wedding for 2020 or 2021, get in touch with me to take advantage of this offer. And, of course, you can only take on discount at a time.

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Thank you veterans in a dog tag
From one Veteran to another, thank you for your service.
Coronavirus Rescheduling Video Conferencing

3/30 COVID-19 Update

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Watch for the new vow writing course and a demonstration video of readings later this week. I am available to video chat by Zoom, Google Meet and Messenger. Click the button to send me an email.


Licensing in the Days of Coronavirus

Reverend Jim Beidle is ready to help you make your wedding real in the days of Coronavirus

Getting your Marriage License during the days of Coronavirus is going to be a bit of a challenge. Even with the “Stay-home” order, though, it’s doable. This article will help you solve some of the basic questions. To get your paperwork signed, you will need to be creative, proactive, and patient.

All of the county offices in Washington have closed their doors to the public in order to slow the spread of the Coronavirus. The doors may be shut, but there are still employees in the office waiting to process your application. Here’s where your creativity comes in to play. Snohomish, Skagit, and Whatcom counties are encouraging mail-in applications. I’ll include links to their websites at the bottom of this post, or you can find them on the List of Washington Counties page elsewhere on the site. For now, let’s take each county in turn.

Snohomish County

Snohomish County is only accepting mail-in applications. Follow these steps, and remember to allow plenty of time for mailing back and forth.

  1. Download the Marriage License Application (PDF).
  2. Complete the application in blue or black ink in clear, legible writing.
  3. Sign the application in front of a notary and have them sign it and attach their seal. I suggest checking with your bank or credit union; usually, the manager and assistant managers are notaries and will meet with you by appointment. Both of you will have to go to the appointment and bring a valid, government-issued ID.
  4. Include a check, money order, or cashier’s check for $70.00, payable to the Snohomish County Auditor. 
  5. Mail the completed application and fee to:
    Snohomish County Auditor’s Office – Recording Division
    3000 Rockefeller Ave M/S 204
    Everett, WA 98201
  6. The Recording Division will process your application and mail your marriage license, a Certificate of Marriage, and an information packet.

Expect this process to take up to two weeks to finish. And, that depends on how quickly your Notary can see you.

Skagit County

It is best to use the mail-in process for Skagit County. According to the website, the Skagit County Auditors office accepts on-line applications and requires you to pick it up in person. But, the Marriage Licenses page hasn’t been updated to reflect their closure. As a result, I think there are some disappointed couples out there who find out that their online application won’t get processed for weeks until the office reopens.

To obtain a Skagit County marriage license:

  1. Complete the marriage license application form (pdf) and affidavit (pdf). Both forms are also obtainable from the Auditor’s Office.
  2. Both the bride-to-be and groom-to-be must sign the completed affidavit. The signing must be witnessed by a notary public. As mentioned above, check with your financial institution and make an appointment.
  3. The Marriage License fee is $64.00 (cash or credit card accepted).  You have an option to pre-pay $3.00 for a certified copy that will be automatically mailed to you.
  4. The recorder’s office has a walk-up window, and my source says you may bring it in.
    1. Alternatively, leave the affidavit, application, and payment in the dropbox outside the office.
    2. Finally, you may also mail the application package to the Skagit County Auditor’s Office at this address:

      PO Box 1306
      Second St., Room 201
      Mount Vernon, WA 98273

Again, your patience and planning come into play. It will take a couple of weeks to make this happen.

Whatcom County

In Whatcom County, you fill out your application on a web-form. When that’s complete they will send you an email with instructions on completing an affidavit with a notary and getting that information to the Auditor’s Office.

What About Notaries?

In Snohomish and Whatcom counties you will definitely need a Notary Public to complete your paperwork during the current crisis. That’s also the case when you choose the mail-in or dropbox options for Skagit County. The good news is that Notaries are easy to find. These days of Coronavirus may require a bit more persistence than usual, but shouldn’t stop you from getting your paperwork done.

I’ve already mentioned your financial institution. The Branch Manager or Customer Service Manager is usually a Notary, something required to conduct many kinds of business. But, what if your bank is unable to accommodate you in a timely manner?

I have learned that most UPS Stores have a Notary on staff. Call to learn when they’ll be available. If the UPS Store is closed, you have other options.

While you’re Googling the UPS phone number, you can also search the term “Notary near me.” You’ll have a list of stores and mobile notaries. As you might imagine, a mobile notary will hop into their car and visit you on a convenient schedule. If you’re both working, and are on different shifts, this may be your best option.

That Notaries charge for their work should come as no surprise. The State of Washington has set a limit of $10 per notarial act. A traveling Notary may charge a travel fee and will negotiate that with you when you call.

Why Wait? Don’t Let the Days of Coronavirus Stop You

I hope I’ve given a fairly complete picture of obtaining marriage licenses in the three counties I regularly serve. It requires a bit of patience and planning in the days of coronavirus to get your ducks in a row, but it isn’t the impossible task it might seem. True, marriage parties of dozens of guests are off the table, for now. Available options include micro-weddings and elopements, and with a bit more creativity, we can stream or record your wedding for your family and friends.


About COVID-19