Michelle is another fantastic exhibitor who will be at the Tiny Weddings Fair on 30th Sept at the Wycombe Swan. The Rev. Michelle Wahila is originally from the US and now lives in Paris. She has served as Associate Pastor of The American Church in Paris where she has organized many huge events reaching the expatriate community. Now she performs weddings and blessings in Paris, possibly the most romantic city in the world. Check out her website Ruffled by Grace.
Please give a brief overview of your business…
I am a classically trained and ordained pastor (Presbyterian Church, USA), and professional wedding officiant. I have been performing weddings since I was ordained in 2005. I am the creator and owner of Ruffled By Grace: Parisian Wedding Blessings. I try not to be your typical pastor. Because I don’t serve a particular church (I used to work full time in a parish), I am able to bless every couple desiring to be married/blessed/have their vows renewed. That means I get to practice radical welcome and hospitality to ALL people.
Because of my classical pastoral background and training, I can provide pre-marital counseling, in addition to ceremony writing and myriad other pastoral services such as baptisms, funerals, liturgy and curriculum. I am also a preacher, speaker, worship leader, and creator of specialized retreats. Bonus: I can include holy communion or other rituals of the church into the ceremony. Possibly my very favorite ceremony included communion in the Champ de Mars under the Eiffel Tower.
You’ll often find me running around Paris in my Converse sneakers and my clergy collar. I love helping couples create their dream destination wedding, and I adore all things “Paris. Above all, I desire to give “grace” to everyone who contacts me – whether they book or not. This means that I will go above and beyond to help with planning, details, and resources.
Additionally, I have made every effort to source other women entrepreneurs – so my champagne, photographer, hair and make up, florist, etc – all women business owners! I have curated a brilliant team of vendors for destination weddings, elopements, vow renewals, and family promise ceremonies in one of the most sought after destinations in the world. It’s truly a privilege.
How do you think the couples are different when working with a large wedding versus a tiny wedding?
Couples planning larger weddings often focus on the reception details. While everyone loves a good party, sometimes other parts of the day seem to fly by because everyone is anxiously awaiting the reception!
Couples planning tiny weddings have the chance to focus more on the details of their ceremony proper. As an ordained pastor, and professional wedding officiant, I love to walk couples through the details that will make their ceremony unique and memorable. Whether it be readings, rituals, or a fairy tale send off, these details create memories that will last a lifetime. Similarly, I love when a couple takes the opportunity to have a first look and photos ahead of their ceremony. Tiny weddings typically have a much more flexible time schedule that allow for these precious moments to receive the time they deserve on the wedding day.
If you could work on a tiny wedding anywhere in the world, any theme, any couple; where or what or whom would it be?
I am kind of partial to Paris! I love the city backdrop for all of my tiny weddings; it’s truly the perfect backdrop for your ceremony and photos. Similarly, I would love to work in New York City. If I had to pick another non-urban location I would say, “take me to the beach!”
I also enjoy working with couples who are thinking “outside of the box” for their wedding day and ceremony. I may come out of a traditional faith background, but I am not a typical pastor! Many of my couples find me because of my modern take on faith and my dedication to radical welcome and hospitality – and that travels anywhere!
What are the main differences in the way you do business when dealing with a tiny wedding?
While all of my ceremonies and weddings are personalized and unique, tiny weddings have the opportunity to choose even more opportunities for personalization. For example, there are myriad locations that will allow a very small wedding parties to come and take advantage of their amazing views for a ceremony or wedding photos, that would not be an option for a large wedding party.
I work with all of my couples to create a day that incorporates their dreams into a workable schedule in the City of Light! Often couples want multiple locations in Paris for photos, an excellent restaurant or Picnic on the Champ de Mars, and other special details to create their wedding narrative. When you have the tiny wedding you can easily hop from location to location, and see the best Paris has to offer on your wedding day (while sipping champagne, of course).
Give an example of a tiny wedding you have worked on and what you did for the couple?
All of my weddings are so incredibly special – it is hard to select just one! I especially love when a tiny wedding involves the children of the couple. One couple brought their young son with them, and I had the chance to create a candy jar ceremony for the family. The simple and fun ritual was a way for their son to be a part of the ceremony, and for the family to have a special “take home” reminder of their special day. What family doesn’t want a candy jar at their home to remind them of the sweetness of life together?
Do you feel there has been an increase in tiny weddings in the past few years or have you always worked with a lot of small wedding parties?
While Paris is always a draw for “dream” weddings, I do see more and more couples who are choosing to have an intimate “white wedding.” Gone are the days when having an “elopement” means running away from their families to get married. Some couples are bringing along their families for the vacation of a lifetime. Others are choosing a “just the two of us” wedding. Tiny weddings are remarkable because they can give you your fairy tale wedding without breaking the bank. For couples on a budget, a tiny wedding can provide exactly what they are dreaming of for their wedding day, along with a bonus honeymoon.
What do you love about tiny weddings?
Tiny weddings give you the opportunity to have an intimate celebration with your nearest and dearest. Whether you are celebrating with only your spouse or have immediate family and friends with you for your special day, a tiny wedding gives you the chance to create exactly the wedding and atmosphere you are hoping for, on exactly the budget you want. I love how tiny weddings can be as luxurious or as simple as a couple desires.
Follow Michelle’s Facebook page to keep updated on her lovely ceremonies in Paris, or follow her on Instagram, or go and gets lots more information from her website. Follow our Tiny Weddings Fair Facebook page for helpful and inspiring articles and information, and show your interest in our Facebook event to see updates. Follow us on Instagram for lovely photos and inspiration of small weddings, chat with us on Twitter and see our posts on Pinterest. Most importantly, buy yourself a ticket in advance.