Chosen with Bonnie Cortez
Life-Cycle Celebrant & Officiant

Call today! 224-714-9396

Love Essentially: Tips on writing your wedding vows
by Jackie Pilossoph

Biz Mama
by Lidia Varesco Racoma

Industry Pros
by Breanna Manzie​ 

​​FEATURED BIZ MAMA: Bonnie Cortez of Chosen - Bonnie Cortez, Life-Cycle Celebrant

As a Life-Cycle Celebrant (Wedding Officiant), I create and officiate tailor-made ceremonies for any occasion. This was the natural course for me after devoting my professional life to service as a massage therapist for 20 years, a labor doula for 15 years and a Montessori teacher for 10 years. I enjoy holding space during precious times in peoples lives. I live in Evanston with my partner, Sandro, and my two boys, Jonathon, 18, and Van 15. We are flanked in love daily by our fluffy, senior dog, Anya.

1. Tell us a little about your business/job responsibilities
As a Life-Cycle Celebrant, I meet with couples and families to discern what they would like for their special day. Couples then receive a comprehensive questionnaire from which I derive the magical moments that drew them together along with information about their faith and cultural backgrounds. I also collect information about what makes each individual within the couple special. I do my own research to gather information for the ceremony. I am then able to construct a ceremony that reflects the couple perfectly. Guests have shared that they thought I had known couples much longer because of the details and delivery of the ceremony. It is my pleasure to create memories for you and your friends and family that you'll hold close to your hearts, minds and funny bones in years to come.

2. What are the ages of your children?
My older son, Jonathon, is 18. My younger son, Van, is 15.

3. Did you start your business before or after having children? 
I started after. This is a profession I can enjoy for the next thirty years. It is the icing on the cake after serving families in different capacities for twenty years.

4. How did your business life change after having children?
I have always been service oriented, but after having children, I wanted to have work that would allow me the most time with my family, which is why I chose massage therapy, then teaching. Working as a Life-Cycle Celebrant allows my boys to witness what professional growth and wisdom yield and how both are woven into my current profession.

5. Describe a typical workday
A typical work day is often varied. I may be networking with other wedding professionals to scope out venues or add more contacts to my vendor list to best serve my clients. I may be meeting with potential clients or researching and writing a ceremony. On my favorite days, I am arriving at a wedding early to ensure that the couple is as calm as can be and that everything is in place before the ceremony. While officiating, I am delivering a service that highlights the couple's love for one another and includes friends and family in a way that they have never experienced before.

6. What is one tip you can share with fellow Biz Mamas?
Think about the thing that you have been doing since you were a child and market that skill authentically and to the best of your ability. You will always feel fulfilled doing what comes naturally.

​This interview appeared on this site on April 15, 2016.


One of the most important parts of a wedding is (arguably) the actual wedding. The ceremony, the rings, the walking down the aisle, and the vows – That’s the moment that truly is the most significant, no matter how much time you spend thinking about your epic photo booth or gushing over your gorgeous dress. And just like finding the perfect venue, finding the perfect officiant is key in making this moment meaningful and memorable. Last weekend, we had the pleasure of working with Life-Cycle Celebrant & Officiant, Bonnie Cortez, of Chosen with Bonnie, and today, we’re lucky enough to have her sharing a few tricks of her trade on our blog! Read on below for tips on how to write your wedding vows…

We’ve come a long way from “to have and to hold,” but where does that leave couples today? Should couples buck tradition and go rogue and if so, what would that look like?
Couples today have vow ideas as varied as their love stories. Some couples are horrified that they will actually be in front of friends and loved ones, laid bare and vulnerable like newly shorn sheep. Other couples love the spotlight. They want to orchestrate their wedding like a broadway show, declaring their love with Shakespearean articulation and then drop the mic. Bam! Some couples prefer not to say their vows publicly, preferring to share with each other in private. Others have added quotes from movies or books, like Chosen with Bonnie’​s Lord of The Rings ­loving couple whose bride, Annie Passanisi Ruggles, purred, “One ring to rule them all.” Some vows include promises to continue to support each other as Cub fans. Regardless of where couples fall, authenticity is the key to success for couples today. Following is a guide on how to navigate vows, whether you write them yourself or you enlist the help of a trained professional.

This article was edited for length. To view the full article from May 31, 2016, click here .
I think a lot of engaged couples, giddy and excited to tie the knot, fall into the planning of the event and lose sight of something really important: the words they plan to say to each other at the altar. In other words, their vows.

But now, being older and having been in a marriage that fell apart, I think personalized, self-written wedding vows are significant for a few reasons. First, it's not very romantic, but the reality is a wedding ceremony is two people entering into a contract. So, shouldn't their promises be detailed and customized to fit their relationship? Secondly, when you're getting married, this is your chance to stand at the podium in front of friends and family and express how you feel about your partner, the marriage and your future. When will you ever have this forum and opportunity again?

But I think a lot of couples have issues with writing their own wedding vows. 
Bonnie Cortez is an Evanston-based life-cycle celebrant who organizes and officiates custom ceremonies. In other words, Bonnie helps couples write their vows!
"Writing vows is an enormous responsibility," said Cortez, who is certified as a life-cycle celebrant by New Jersey based Life-Cycle Celebrant Foundation and Institute. "Vows are both intimate and public. That's a lot of pressure. Plus, then you have to memorize them."
Here are Cortez's five tips for writing your wedding vows:
1. Think about what drew you together. Think about the qualities you admire in your partner. What caused you to know that this was the person with whom you wanted to take this crazy ride? What qualities drew him or her to you? Vow to continue to stay true to those qualities as long as they are by your side, and invite your partner to vow to do the same.
2. Imagine your future. Are you planning to have a family? Will you be traveling or building a business together? Think about the qualities you'll cherish in your partner and those you'll need to commit to as a partner. Vow to be there for each other throughout life's challenges and specify what some of those challenges might be.
3. Think about your partner's hands. The hands you hold in yours as you take your vows belong to someone who will be with you through thick and thin. Consider what those hands will do over a lifetime together – change diapers, stain a deck, caress your cheek, rub your back at the end of a hard day. Put those actions into words in your vows. Those vows will stay with you in years to come when you see your mate completing an ordinary task with love.
4. Add humor. Humor is endearing and entertaining, both for you and your partner and with your guests. They will even enjoy and laugh at your inside jokes.
5. Create emotion. This is done by telling stories and making the tone of your vows inspirational and heartfelt. Your vows can inspire other couples to take a look at their own relationship and either work to make things better or get out of a bad situation.

This article was edited for length. To view the full article from May 12, 2016, click here .