A vow for a valentine.

Inn director Kathleen Baxley, left, and Rev. Kathleen Flynn discuss workshop plans at the Inn on Wednesday. - Katie McVicker/Whidbey News-Times
Inn director Kathleen Baxley, left, and Rev. Kathleen Flynn discuss workshop plans at the Inn on Wednesday.
— image credit: Katie McVicker/Whidbey News-Times

According to various gift and diamond websites, 10 percent of the total Americans who get engaged in 2011 will do so on Monday, Feb. 14, Valentine’s Day.

Too bad making a decent proposal isn’t as easy as “roses are red, violets are blue.”

Planning the perfect engagement is difficult, but may seem like child’s play compared to nailing down all of the wedding’s details.

Somewhere between making calls to the florist and filing the invitation order and creating a seating chart that keeps uncle X a safe distance away from bridesmaid Y, couples often glaze over the one detail that Oak Harbor reverend and officiant Kathleen Flynn refers to as the center of the event: the personalized wedding vows.

Flynn has a master’s degree in applied theology and has studied therapeutic art. This spring she’s hosting a romantic wedding vows workshop at the Captain Whidbey Inn in Coupeville to give couples a chance to step out of the chaos and take time to remember why they got engaged in the first place.

Flynn worked as a hospice chaplain in earlier years and found that when she came across people who were having a hard time discussing their grief, it helped them to make a collage representing their experience. Recently, she began applying that knowledge to other situations where people may need to tap into the creative side of their brains and get their emotions straightened out.

“When I got to weddings, I knew I had hit my stride,” Flynn said. “They are such a joyous occasion.”

Her workshop, which is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, April 9, will guide couples through the collage process.

“It’s not magic, but it seems like magic,” Flynn said.

In the morning, couples will spend time making individual collages inside the Inn’s tavern and then will be supplied with a gourmet boxed lunch and complimentary glass of wine to take with them anywhere on the picturesque grounds. The inn has a large lawn that looks over Penn Cove, complete with a large deck, dock, lagoon and foot bridge.

In the afternoon, the men and women will write letters to their fiances, and Flynn will help them shape their vows from there. She said she’ll be available for advice and facilitation, but that the couples can have complete privacy if they’d like and will not be asked to do any group activities.

Captain Whidbey Inn event director Kathleen Baxley said her staff looks forward to working with Flynn, and she shares in her enthusiasm.

“We see a lot of couples who are overwhelmed, and we see a real value to them getting back to the more spiritual side of the ceremony,” Baxley said. She said the resort hosts many activities like weddings, conferences and retreats, and they always try to develop a special relationship with their guests.

“We see this as a very important service,” Baxley said. “It fits our mission of wanting to be a community resource. It fits into that role of being more than an inn or restaurant.”

Flynn said couples often put off writing vows until the last minute and then the heartfelt sentiments become a stressful chore, and she wants to prevent that from happening.

The workshop will consist of about 10 or 12 couples and the cost is $100 per pair. To register and read testimonies on the process, people can visit or call Flynn at 360-202-7872.

To see photos of the Captain Whidbey Inn and get information about the restaurant, tavern, or holding a wedding or event there, visit If couples choose to extend their day at the inn and would like to stay overnight in one of the rooms or cabins overlooking the water, Baxley said the Inn will give them a discounted rate.

Wedding Vows Workshop

Who: Rev. Kathleen Flynn

When: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday, April 9

Where: Captain Whidbey Inn, 2072 West Captain Whidbey Road, Coupeville,

To register: Call 360-202-7872, email or visit

Cost: $100 per couple, comes with boxed lunch, wine and discounted room rate at the Inn (if overnight stay desired)

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