Holy matrimony

Lisa Holeman

Photo by Rachel Bush

In the front yard of ordained minister Lisa Holeman’s quaint home hangs a large silver wind chime crafted by former Chico artist Gregg Payne. While the striking object attracts impromptu photo shoots from passersby, its main function is to provide peaceful melodies to newlyweds who’ve just been married in Holeman’s lush backyard sanctuary, Windchime Chapel. For 20 years, Holeman’s business, As You Like It Weddings, has provided ministry services to over 2,000 weddings all over California, many of which have been performed in her own intimate backyard setting. For more information, visit windchimeweddingchapel.com.

How did you get into this business?

I had been living in Japan, and I came back here and told everyone I was looking for work, because there weren’t a lot of jobs available. There was a woman who was doing this [officiating weddings] and she needed help. After working my first wedding, I was so passionate about it and I thought, Oh, this is my calling! So I purchased the business from her. That was around ’95.

For the weddings you don’t officiate at your chapel, where do you go?

We go to country clubs, the CARD Center, The Palms … a lot of people have them at ranches and their backyards. I’ve seen everything; people have arrived in limousines and carriages, and others show up in their work boots and Big Gulps in their hands. It’s so fun to see all the different visions people have for uniting.

Your backyard chapel is very charming. What kind of work went into creating the space?

The redwoods were planted many years ago, after I’d first moved to this house, and then we made a creek-like water feature. It’s very intimate and cozy. If you love the outdoors, you’ll love it. People have always just loved it. And the wind chime is a pretty cool feature.

What’s your favorite part of this job?

Sometimes it’s like looking at the face of God. People are so vulnerable and their hearts are right out in the open and it’s so intimate, and I feel like it’s an honor to be in the presence of that.

Are there any ceremonies that were particularly memorable?

There’s one that sticks out. The bride was from Japan and the groom was American. They had a very intimate, small wedding here at the chapel with just their families. Each family stood in a circle, and neither spoke each other’s language, so the bride had to translate everything. I held a giant candle and everyone lit their taper candle from mine, while saying what they were going to bring to the union. I thought it was so profound because not only were they merging cultures, but they were also expressing that marriage is more than two people, and that it’s valuable for families to support this love in any way they can. Today’s America needs that kind of love, where we ask, “What can we bring?” Bring your light and love, and not your judgment.