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!’

Get In Touch

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!

Reverend's Notes

Thoughts on Violence

I have been stewing over what to say since the news of Breonna Taylor’s murder hit wires almost a month ago. The needless loss of any human life profoundly saddens me. That it was at the hands of police during a botched raid incenses me. And that the cops involved are trying to cover their butts, while unsurprising, enrages me. If you don’t know the story, this New York Times article is an excellent summary. 

On the heels the Taylor case, while officials in Kentucky scramble to spin their story, came the word of Ahmaud Arbury’s murder at the hands of vigilantes. These men decided to kill this guy because he may have taken a drink of water from a hose at a construction site. And, incidentally, for being Black in a mostly white neighborhood. If you don’t remember, this happened back in February – before the quarantines. Here’s a link to a good summary of the case thus far. It took until May before we heard anything about the attack when a video of the event finally surfaced.

Had the attorney for the Arbery family not done his due diligence, it is likely the world outside Brunswick, GA, would never have known. Had the attorney not done his job, the criminals might never have been charged.

And, now George Floyd. With more deaths and injuries because of violent responses to peaceful protest. And because outside agitators, mostly white from all reporting, promoting violence to derail the cause. I’m angry, and that’s twisting my guts into knots.

I had to take a break there, to pray, breathe, and relax because the focus isn’t me or my feeling about these deaths. The focus is on justice for those unjustly killed. The focus is on changing entrenched systems created to maintain power in the hands of a few. The focus is on disempowering those who value their property over the lives of others.

Let’s be clear. Murdering people is wrong. Killing people because they don’t look or sound like you, that’s bad. Valuing property over the lives of other human beings is just plain evil.

Let me spell it out, plainly, and in the words of one of the most revered and misused books in Western society.

8 But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do, what God is looking for in men and women.
It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love, be compassionate and loyal in your love, And don’t take yourself too seriously—take God seriously.

Micah 6:8 The Message (MSG)


17 No murder. [The sixth commandment]

Deuteronomy 5:17 The Message (MSG)


The Most Important Command
34-36 When the Pharisees heard how he had bested the Sadducees, they gathered their forces for an assault. One of their religion scholars spoke for them, posing a question they hoped would show him up: “Teacher, which command in God’s Law is the most important?”
37-40 Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.”

Matthew 22:36-40 The Message (MSG)

That’s almost enough from the Bible. Yes, it’s more than many of you want, I know. But, let me walk back verses 37-40 in the last passage.

That second most important commandment, ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ If you value property over the lives of others, how do you fulfill that? If you value your pride over their existence, are you in alignment with the words of Christ?

For my part, I’m sorry for my silence. I regret that I struggled to put these words out there. I will struggle to do better.