When Planning a Wedding, What Not to Do: Top 10 Things

bad wedding mistakes

I just finished probably my 50th wedding (I honestly don’t know, I have lost count) and my bestest humble advice to give to couples who are about to tie the knot is the following:

– All of these are observations from weddings that I have photographed or videoed –
  1. annoying photographerNot a time for noobs: Don’t have a person who has never shot a wedding do your wedding. Even if they’re friends with a fancy DSLR doing it as a gift. Your photos will be bad.
  2. Seasoned can suck: This may seem counterintuitive, but don’t hire the seasoned photographer with 25 years shooting weddings under his/her belt. Why? All your guests will see is a photographer floating around, passing out orders (albeit in a friendly way), and posing everyone. Trust me: Your photos will look phenomenal, but it will seem the entire wedding is about taking photos of models… Not celebrating a couple and their commitment.
  3. wedding party drinkingTell your bridesmaids and groomsmen to go easy on the booze: I cannot stress this enough. Do NOT get buzzed before the ceremony. I know everyone is nervous, and there’s always that friend who thinks that the perfect solution to nerves is screaming “Wooo! Fireball shots!”, but you all will look (and feel) like fools. Tell your wedding party that hundreds of people need them on their A-game. Their job is to throw a celebration for others—not themselves—and pick up the inevitable pieces that slip through the cracks. Ultimately their job is to get two people married. If everyone must party, do it after the “I do’s.”
  4. It’s a Toast not a Roast. When giving a toast: don’t say “you remember when?” It’s a blessing. Not a bunch of inside jokes strungannoying toast wedding together. Remind your wedding party about this before they write their speeches.
  5. Someone MUST tell your guests to explore around: once seated, guests will NOT leave their seats except for food. It’s weird. Very few will wander and explore. They need crystal clear direction. So all of those crafts and things to do around the venue MUST be pointed out to guests. Either the DJ or officiant can do this.
  6. PNW outdoor weddings are an insane gamble: if you insist on having an outdoor wedding, that’s wonderful, but at bare minimum have a canvas rained out weddingtent over the audience. Immediately assume (and prepare) that it will rain, be too windy, and then blazingly hot. All in 15 minutes. Or just avoid the stress and have the ceremony indoors.
  7. Do. A. Mic. Check. When first touring the venue, I guarantee that everything will look like a dream and you can picture it all. Very few couples actually consider the technical side. Kindly insist on having a test demonstration of the microphones, including the lav mic that the officiant will wear. And if it’s outdoors? Those mics will pick up rumbling wind, and only 50% of your guests will be able to hear what’s going on.
  8. Wear comfortable shoes. You’ll be standing all day. If your feet suffer, you suffer.
  9. wedding lasting too longBuild in quiet, alone-time into your schedule. Don’t even have the photographer there. Just the couple, after the ceremony.
  10. Don’t draw out the reception: Finish the wedding early. You will feel like celebrating all night, but put a very strict limit on the songs. If you insist on having the wedding end at 10 PM (I know it seems early, huh?), be prepared for only 25% of your guests to be there. (And they are just there to clean up) Yes it’s your day, but simply based off of my observations, the absolute best, most memorable weddings are the ones that are quick, end early, with 100% of the guests waving farewell to the newlyweds.
Its a celebration, not a performance.

When all is said and done, if by the end of the day you are married then the day was a success.

“He’s in a Better Place.” …oh rly?

he's in a better place

– My friend says all his life, “Yeah I don’t really care for Albuquerque.”
– When he turns up missing someday… I will not insist that he’s in Albuquerque.

Ever hear the gut response to someone dying is declaring that the person is “in a better place?”

It’s positive, and anything positive, regardless of how cliché it might be, offers even just a spritz of welcomed comfort.  But feel strongly I can love and grieve using far more meaningful condolences, especially without commenting on the person’s eternal state.

In case you haven’t noticed, I’m not the almighty God. I have limited insight into the soul of a stranger. Therefore my commentary on the person’s eternal state may in fact be out of line. Certainly if I intimately know the person, that’s a different story.  But consider this: In the same way I shouldn’t say, “I didn’t know him, but he’s in a better place,” I similarly would never declare, “I didn’t know him… but he’s probably in hell.”  My personal goal is I will never critique and decide—whether for good or bad—where a stranger’s heart is.

That’s where some people stop.  But is there a time and place where we can guess people’s hearts? Absolutely. 

Reading through what Jesus said, we find this answer. But of course in love, respect, tenderness, and a desire to improve people. 

they're in a better place

My point is it’s okay to take the person at his word; if I’ve heard the man say, “I don’t like Albuquerque,” and his choices (“fruits”) consistently prove it, naturally I am inclined to believe him. I’ll take him at his word.  

Judging people we didn’t really know—whether insisting they’re in heaven or hell—is still considered judging, which Christ expressly warned us about. 

Of course we should all speak kindly and respectfully about all people, but let’s not make up stuff about people we don’t know … even positive things.

So next time someone dies, don’t immediately promise, “they’re in a better place,” unless you really know the person.

Great Cat Names

great cat names

My Ongoing List of
Great Cat Names

Feel free to steal any you’d like.
If you use one, all I ask for is a “like” of this public FB post so I know it was worthwhile to share these.

‘Voluntourism’ – More than Good… Actually Really Awesome


     I used to agree with this concept: Voluntourism ultimately does more harm than good. It is not cost effective. It is more self-serving than serving those who truly need help.
From a Whitworth missiology class I remember the cost of ONE short-term mission tripper could pay the living expenses of a local missionary (“a national”) for an entire YEAR.

     Why are we doing these touristy trips? 

     However my view of short term missions changed from criticism to advocacy, and here’s why:

Short term missions are profoundly worthwhile in the long-run.

Consider some shamefully anecdotal evidence: As a bright-eyed 14 year old, I felt ridiculous driving all the way to Tijuana to do Vacation Bible School for some poor kids who obviously needed a lot more.  This was the perfect example of “volunteerism” as the author puts it.  However the author stops there.  You see that trip to Mexico stirred a passion in me that has launched me into full-time mission work. 

barbie volunteerism toxic short terms missions     My question to those who view short term missions as silly, uneconomical, and even “destructive to the community” (author’s words, not mine) I offer this: How many full time missionaries do you know started with a short term mission trip?  For myself personally I could name +20 people who are 100% integrated in foreign cultures, giving their lives to tell other cultures about heaven… and each one started with a short term mission trip. I could name +20 more who don’t live overseas but give and support passionately because they went to Zimbabwe for 1 week.

Yes short term missions is not perfect evangelism meant for everyone.  But by no means should we feel guilty or look down on those who preach Christ differently or even unwisely.

In a nut shell I am an advocate of people preaching Christ through ANY MEANS POSSIBLE.

Yes, that’s radical, but I derive my thinking from Paul who said (my paraphrase), “I don’t care if people preach Christ through stupid methods… as long as Christ is being preached.”

 “It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.
Yes, and I will continue to rejoice.”
– Philippians 1:15-18

Top 10 Tips Hikers need to know for Mailbox Peak – Trip Report

Mailbox peak topo map

Top 10 tips hikers need to know for
Mailbox Peak Hike

Mailbox at the top of mailbox peak - knok studiobeau chevassus hiking on mailbox peak at summit topI went up the new trail and down the old trail on July 14, 2018.
I packed light and alternated between jogging and “striding out“ on the steep sections. It took me 1 hour 40 minutes to the top.
Here’s what I learned:

  1. Parking is a nightmare. Instead of battling for a parking space, park 10 mins down the road at Twin Falls Middle School. Bring $2.75 (each way, so $5.50 total) or your Orca card to pay the fare. There is a sandwich board where to stand for the shuttle, which comes ever 10-15 minutes. You can’t miss it, and it beats the hassle of parking. If you do park at the lot, you’ll need a Discover Pass.Note: there are pit toilets at the parking lot once you get dropped off from the shuttle and you walk uphill. Please close the lid of the toilet, guys.
  2. Once dropped off by the shuttle, walk up the paved hill until you get to a gate across a gravel road (on your left). Just look for the big gate/bar across the road… That is the start of the trail. Mailbox Peak TrailFollow this gravel road uphill until you get to the trailhead. (You’ll see a sign) Head left, and walk uphill until you get to the top!Note: these directions are for the “new trail.“ If you want the “old trail,” keep going up this gravel road until you come to another sign on your left that indicates Mailbox Peak. Head left and up!
  3. Most important tip:  bring water. Seriously bring LOTS of water. There are no creeks, streams, or lakes. I jogged/fast-walked the entire thing, so I wasn’t hiking long, so I thought I could get away with just 2 liters. I STILL ran out of water 1/2 way down. Sure I survived, but I felt pretty gross driving back. Recommendation: bring a gallon of water. Yes it’s an obscene amount, but you will thank me. You will have a difficult time choking down that much water, so sprinkle some Kool-Aid powder or power aid mixture to give you an incentive to drink it.Mailbox Peak Trail trees
  4. Mailbox at the top: Bring a sticker for the mailbox. Don’t be that guy who puts food in the mailbox. That’s why there are flies everywhere—from the person that day who put a box of raisins to cook in the mailbox.
  5. Old trail? Or new trail? Unless you are in marathon running shape, do NOT take the old trail up OR down. The old trail is very technical with lots of roots. Seriously you can’t walk 12 inches without getting your foot caught on a root, which is exhausting (or challenging!).Recommendation: take the “new trail.” The volunteers who put the new trail together did an absolutely INCREDIBLE job with it. It’s smooth, rolling, and easy to pass people (double wide!). You will thank me! But if you choose the old trail, unless you run Spartan races continuously, you will tell yourself “We should’ve listened to that review on AllTrails.”)
  6. Sunscreen, yes or no? Virtually the entire trail is shaded, which is perfect for summer hiking. Up until the last part, when you hop out onto the exposed rock, only then do you start to bake. Recommendation: right before you come out of the trees, slather up. Seriously the sun is 27,000,000°F and your dreams of your “light sunburn turning into a tan” is only an illusion.
  7. Beer at the top? Yes, getting to the summit is exhilarating, but celebrating by drinking a diuretic is the last thing you want to do to your body. Remember, when you’re at the top you are only 50% done with the hike. 90% of mountaineering accidents happen on the way DOWN, when fatigue is setting in and Mailbox at the top of mailbox peak - knok studiogravity is pulling you down. You need to be on your A-game going downhill, not buzzed. Save the beer for when you get home, and even then re-hydrate. If you insist on sipping a beer at the top, just know there are a lot of people laughing at your pretentious hipster self.
  8. Mailbox Peak Trail map gps tracking10 Essentials: bring them. From a first aid kit (including mole skin) to a flashlight. The only thing: bug repellent isn’t really necessary. There is no standing water nearby, and odds are when you are sitting up on the summit, away from the mailbox, there will be a slight breeze to keep the bugs away.Tip: trekking poles will save your knees if you are hiking. Running? They will get in the way.
  9. Save cell phone battery life: Using the All Trails app to record your hike, right after you press “record“ (at the start of your hike of course) switch your phone into airplane mode. This will save your battery and it will still be tracking your GPS signal. Tested on a very well-used battery on aniPhone 6s, and still had 80% battery life after the entire hike.
  10. Dogs: there are quite a few. I love seeing them. Butplease if you’re a dog owner, bring bags for the dog poo and pack it out. Don’t kick the poop off the trail into the bushes… I know it’s “natural“and there are a lot of animals that poop in the woods, but we can still smell it fermenting—especially after 100 dogs/day go on the trail. Plus alltrails mailbox peak mapdog poop has a very distinct odor that tends to ruin the moment. And of course, lots of water for doggo!Overall, the Mailbox Peak Hike is a hike that every Washington hiker must go on.