How To Stay Sane While Planning for Your Wedding!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

NEW! Wedding Ceremony Podcast


Weekly Wedding Ceremony Podcast


   JP Reynolds   


Clint Hufft  

NOW on i-Tunes and direct at:

With more than 30 years combined experience, JP and Clint each week discuss all things ceremony – from the whacky to the wonderful – stories, tips and advice on how to create the ceremony that captures the magic of your couples while avoiding drama, pitfalls and all too common mistakes!

Rev. JP Reynolds ~ Ordained a Catholic priest, JP Reynolds today works as a non-denominational wedding officiant.  In 2005, he officiated the wedding of Rob and Amber, reality show sweethearts from “Survivor”.           

Rev. Clint Hufft ~ Clint is a well–known, sought-after personality in the Wedding Industry, having officiated “Trista and Ryan’s Wedding” on ABC-TV, along with many other high-profile weddings.    

Friday, April 11, 2014

More Responses to "Marriage Is. . ."

Here are some more answers I received from my 2013 couples, when I asked them to finish the phrase, “Marriage is. . .” 

What about you – how do you finish the phrase, “Marriage is. . .”?
If you’d like, you can post your answers to my Facebook page:

Also, photos in this post are not of the couples whose quotes are included – I just like these photos!

Marriage is knowing you could live without the other, 
you are your own person, 
but it's about appreciating and enjoying 
just how much better life is with the other.

Marriage is a promise to continue building and strengthening 
the best kind of friendship.
It's a promise to keep learning about each other, 
from each other and for each other.
It's a promise to both challenge and support each other through all 
the ups, downs and flat roads of life.
It's a promise to let go of fear together and let life and love take over.

These words come straight from the heart, and though we’ve only been married for 9 months, I can tell you they ring true for us so far. With the exception of our wedding, 2013 has been a bit of a challenge. Dave’s company lost a major client soon after our honeymoon, which caused him to be on reduced income through the end of the year, and as of January 1, he’s officially full-time on the market. He’s working hard every day to find new opportunities, but it’s tough out there and it’s taking time. Needless to say, it’s given us a lot to deal with in this first year of marriage. But I’m happy to report we’re talking, laughing and loving our way through it all. We know it’s just a blip on our radar, a story we will tell someday, a part of our journey - and we’re just so glad we’re in it together, as a couple and as best friends, supporting each other and growing into our next chapter together.  We’ve learned a lot about what “marriage is” from this year and we’re looking forward to all the things we have yet to learn.

Friday, March 28, 2014

A Letter To The Divorced Parents Of A Bride or Groom

While the postings I usually write are primarily for the couple planning their wedding, this post is different. I want to speak with  the parents – the divorced parents – of a bride or groom.  I want to share with you something of the unique perspective I’ve been given in my role as officiant.

I love weddings for many reasons, chief among them being that I love stories.  As an officiant I hear a lot of stories.  Stories that make me laugh, that inspire me or simply gobsmack me with their whack-a-do-ness!  And then there are the heart-aching stories, many of which involve parents who happen to be divorced.

Not all “my parents are divorced” stories are tragic.  In fact, I’ve met divorced parents who have somehow managed to remain friends – and who genuinely like the new spouses.  Hard to believe, I know, yet true.

But then there are the other stories – stories of unhealed hurt and bitterness that propel people into saying and doing things that are astounding. 

Bradley’s (all names changed) Catholic parents divorced when he was seven years old (their marriage was not annulled).  His mother, who attends daily Mass, told him that if he invited his father’s wife (of ten years) she would not be able to attend the wedding.

Janet’s mother told her that if she asked her father to escort her down the aisle, she wouldn’t attend the wedding because the sight of him smiling would make her sick.

Alice asked her mom and step-dad (who had raised her) to walk her down the aisle.  But her father was paying for the reception and he wanted to walk her down the aisle even though he had disappeared from her life when she was ten and only re-emerged three years ago.  And, yes, he threatened to not pay for the 4-star reception if her mom and step-dad walked her down the aisle.

Just last week I met with Caryl, a bride whose parents divorced when she was ten years old.  Her father remarried a year later.  Caryl developed a warm relationship with her step-mom.  Eventually, her father divorced her step-mom, but Caryl remained friends with her.

Caryl’s mother is now engaged and her father is again engaged – to a woman eight years older than Caryl.  Caryl’s step-mom is remarried.  All six people will be present at the wedding.

Caryl’s father hasn’t talked to her mother in years.  Caryl’s mother and first step-mom can’t stomach her father’s fiancée and don’t want her in any family portraits.  And the fiancée?  Well, she’s demanding a corsage identical to the one Caryl’s mom is wearing.

Are you confused?  Do you hear just how outrageous all of this is?! 

When Caryl began to explain the “flow-chart” to me, she was laughing at the absurdity of it all.  By the end of our conversation, she was crying.  And Tony, her fiancé, whose own parents have been happily married for thirty-five years, looked on concerned and bewildered.

The pressures of dealing with it all, the pain of seeing so much hatred among people
she genuinely loves and cares for, has taken its toll on Caryl.  She’s weary from the demands that each of these people is making on her.

As both an officiant and a communication coach, I offered her some tips on how to assert herself and set boundaries.  But what she needs is more than “tips.”

What she needs is KINDNESS. 

She needs for each of these people to be kind to her and to her fiancé.  She needs them, at the very least, to be civil and sensible with each other.

And so, as you grapple with your own pain, which does need to be respected, I plead with you to not let your pain cause you to forget about your daughter or son, who is trying to be a peacemaker, who is trying to respect her or his relationship with your ex-spouse, who does not want to add to your hurt, yet who cannot bear the burden of your pain.

 I’m not demeaning or dismissing your raw feelings.  Trust me, my own extended family is whack-a-do enough for me to know your ex may have never offered you the kindness you deserved.  Now, though, you have the opportunity, dare I say the responsibility, to offer your child all the kindness that they deserve.

I don’t know the story of your divorce – and maybe your daughter or son doesn’t even know the full story.  But as an officiant, I can tell you that I am saddened from meeting brides and grooms whose hearts are torn by the flame-tossing insensitivity of their divorced parents. I know it’s not your intention to hurt your child – but you are.  In more ways than you know.

It’s been said that the “truth hurts,” so here is the truth – you simply don’t have the right to douse your child and their partner with your anger and bitterness.  Surely, this is not the wedding gift you want to give them?

STOP the demands.  STOP the ultimatums.  STOP the drama.  You do have the power to stop the madness.

 Your daughter or son deserves the best of who you are on their wedding celebration.  How can you even think of offering them anything less?   Get the support you need – and deserve.  Ask your son or daughter to recognize your pain.  Ask without emotionally blackmailing them.  And then ask them what they need from you.

Even though I don’t know you, I am going to ask you, on behalf of your son or daughter, to do what may be the bravest thing you’ve ever done:

Bless them through your hurt and pain – and don’t let that hurt and pain cause you to hurt them on their day of hope and renewal.


Thursday, March 20, 2014

"Marriage Is. . ."

Back in January I reached out to each of the couples I married last year, asking if they would complete the sentence, “Marriage is. . .”  For some reason, I thought this would be easy to do BUT it hasn’t been.  Many couples have written and said, “We know what marriage is, yet it’s hard to put into words!”  And that makes sense since, at times, marriage can be like the air you breathe.

I officiated Jade and Susan’s wedding last year.  I think the photo captures so much of who they are – and their joy reminds me why I love officiating weddings!  They recently sent me their response to “Marriage is. . .” and I’m so happy to be able to share it with you all.

“Marriage can be so many things - good or bad, short or long.  It can make life easier or introduce all kinds of struggles.  But a beautiful and everlasting marriage is an unmistakably remarkable thing.  A miracle. A blessing.  A feeling and power only the two of us share and truly understand.  It is a step in the right direction, every time knowing the path we walk, we walk together.

I have known and loved Susan for nearly half my life.  Some describe her as an extraordinarily caring, compassionate, and creative person, but she is normal to me.  Normal, in the sense that she is my every day.  She is my constant, my ground level, my reference, both my dreams and my reality.  I embrace the privilege of marriage and find it necessary; requiring it to function and live out life’s intended purpose.  Marriage sometimes annunciates and justifies contradictions - I am not me without you and you are not you without me; my soul is freed so long as it is bound to yours; calculatingly avoiding pain and death for years, yet not hesitating to sacrifice oneself for the sake of your loved one - your family.

The unity of marriage gives us strength in character, yet consistently challenges us to reinforce our commitments to love and responsibly being loved.  We conjure the spirit of Love to redeem the ultimate feelings of joy and have learned that when we threaten or disregard it, we can expect in return the most unbearable pain.  Marriage is the everyday commitment to cultivate love and share in the many treasures that radiate from it.  Our strength is refined as we hold our confidence and cling to one another, despite knowing some, perhaps many, inevitable obstacles lie ahead.  Our togetherness is and will always be the ultimate reward for our marriage. 

We are dedicated, exclusively, to one another, sharing in the responsibilities of anything and everything important to the other, sometimes even knowing the other “better than they know themselves.”  In this marriage, we recognize that life is bigger than you; it is lived for two (plus Junior, maybe someday?).  In our marriage, we learn to accept being rightfully wrong and avoid the pursuit of being wrongfully right.

By engaging in and being bound by marriage, we understand that our togetherness is always still an option and could easily be taken for granted if not nurtured properly.  Marriage is a vow made in the context of unnaturally dictated terms - eternity.  That is, every day our love outlasts the gauntlet of the universe, we overcome a statistically improbable chance that soul mates wandered the earth and found the one, yet we promise to prove this again, and again, and again.  And although outwardly we demonstrate the beauty of marriage to our friends, loved ones, and peers, we know the true value of our love lies within our hearts and this bliss is life’s ultimate best kept secret.”
Jade & Susan Thiemsuwan

Friday, March 7, 2014

10 Questions You Might Not Have Asked Your Partner

Three years after her wedding, a bride tracked me down.  She wanted me to know that they had a two-year old son—and that they were getting divorced.   The night she conceived, she knew that the marriage wouldn’t last. . .they never talked.  She was afraid to ask anything of her husband for fear of  arguing.  She thought that a baby would force them to talk.  The baby didn’t. . .a baby doesn’t have that kind of power. 

The German philosopher Nietzche claimed that in its essence, marriage is one long, grand conversation.  

If marriage is a conversation, do you and your partner enjoy talking with each other?  Are you comfortable just being together?  

When I meet with couples as they create their wedding ceremony, I give them the following list of questions—some of which they’ve never asked of each other.  Perhaps a few of these will spark a new conversation between you and your partner.

1. Who are your role models for marriage?  Why are they models?  How realistic a model are they?

2. When people speak of your wedding, what 3 words do you want them to say?  What 3 words do you not want them to say?

3. Is your wedding day a beginning or a touch point in your life together?

4. What was the most moving, most joyful wedding you’ve attended?  What do you want to be the most joyful moment of your wedding day?

5. Is your partner your life OR does your partner give you life?

6. What makes your partner worthy of your love?  What makes you worthy of your partner’s love?

7. What are your expectations of each other?  Do your expectations make each of you the best you are capable of being?

8. What is your biggest fear for your life together?

9. What is your definition of success?  As an individual?  As a couple?

10. On you 25th wedding anniversary, what would you like to look back upon?

Happy Talking!!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

I'm On Bridal Bar's Show!

iHeartRadio and iHeartRadioTalk are trademarks owned by Clear Channel Broadcasting, Inc. All uses are authorized by license.

Harmony Walton of Bridal Bar is the expert on all things wedding and so I was beyond flattered when she invited me to stop by her studio and talk about Wedding Ceremonies.  I’ve know Harmony for several years and am always happy for the chance to visit.

Also joining us was ever-so-fab wedding planner Mary Sushinski of Occasions.

Click on the link below or to check out other episodes of Harmony’s show, visit her HERE.


Friday, February 21, 2014

10 Things I Learned For Sure About Weddings In 2013

The photo is of Kelly and Shaun’s wedding – the first I officiated last year.  It was a very cool, overcast January day, though the warm joy of family and friends was infectious.  Kelly recently emailed me this photo and it got me thinking about all the weddings I had the honor of officiating in 2013 – and what I learned or re-learned from working with so many fab couples.

For what it’s worth, here is my Top 10 list of things I still firmly believe about weddings after celebrating 73 ceremonies in 2013!

1.     If you want the ceremony to be under ten minutes, then consider having a civil ceremony and a great party afterwards.  Here’s the thing – it takes your guests more than ten minutes to get seated!  I understand you’re nervous BUT why invite people to a ceremony if that ceremony doesn’t have some warmth and texture to it?  

2.     If you’re going to have an outdoor wedding and you know that the sun will be glaring into the eyes of guests, provide paper umbrellas and/or hand fans – and bottles of water!  Your guests will appreciate your kindness

3.     If you’re getting married at a site where there will be wind and you’re wearing a long veil, know that the wind is going to blow that veil right into your face – and you or your maid-of-honor is going to be spending a lot of distracting time trying to keep it out of your face.  I know, I know – even as an officiant, I cannot appreciate how important that veil is!

4.     I have nine godchildren and two nieces.  I love children and I do know children.  Seldom will a two-year old walk all the way down an aisle without falling or crying.  Please make sure there’s someone, either an older child or a parent, who can give the poor kid a hand – literally!

5.     A wedding celebrates the reality of your life together.  If you have children, they are part of your life.  The day cannot be just about the “two of you.”  There are already more than two of you!  There are sweet ways to incorporate and honor your children and your reality as family.

6.     If you have teenaged kids, think twice before French-kissing at the end.  It really is TMI!  I’m not even going to elaborate on this point – just trust me!

7.     If you are going to offer your own vows to each other, those words MUST be written down.  No one expects you to have anything memorized – not even your names!  And there is no way you can memorize your vows.  I can give you the names of three grooms and one bride who will back me on this!

8.     If you cave to the emotional demands of family, you will regret it later on in your life.  I saw my share of what I refer to as “reality show drama” last year and it is ALL so unfair to a couple.  Be strong and take your strength from your shared vision of your life together.

9.     Be prepared for friends, relatives and parents to say and make weird demands.  I never cease to be amazed at what people will say – and neither should you!

10.  I’ve actually never had a couple be rude to me; however, I have worked with couples that were rude to their vendors.  And I know this because those vendors, who are friends of mine, complained to me!  Hire great professionals; be kind to them and in turn they will give you their best.  Maybe, though, I’m spoiled, as I work on a regular basis with some of the most wonderfully creative people you’ll ever meet.

Happy planning!