I have officiated over one thousand
wedding ceremonies. More times than not, couples inevitably tell me that
they’re worried they’re going to ball their eyes out.
I laugh and encourage them not to
worry because my experience has been that the brides and grooms who say they
will cry often times don’t while the ones who say they’re not going to cry end
up needing a paper bag to breathe into! I say, “cry!” – make-up can be
But why are weddings such an
emotional experience? Maybe it’s because a wedding, in its essence, is a
breathtaking act of generosity and courage.
After all these years, after all
these weddings, here are the 8 Things I
Know For Certain About Weddings, no matter the size of the guest list, no
matter the faith, culture or sexual orientation of the couple.
couple has a story AND every bride and groom IS a story.
We need a witness to our lives. In a marriage, you're promising to care
about everything. The good things, the bad things, the terrible things, the mundane
things – all of it, all of the time, every day. You're saying 'Your life will
not go unnoticed because I will notice it. Your life will not go un-witnessed
because I will be your witness.’
Shall We Dance?
I love listening to a couple tell
me the story of how they met because in the telling I get a glimpse of who each
person is. In listening to how they were surprised by love, listening to why
they are grateful to their partner, I get a glimpse into the story of who they
I marvel at how all couples are
similar AND how all are vastly different. Each has a story of how they got to
the point of planning a wedding with this person out of all the billions of
people in the world.
Because a wedding celebrates the
co-mingling of stories I feel inspired and cheered, challenged and moved, and,
yes, sometimes, just plain puzzled!
2.The planning process gives
clear evidence of what the strengths and weaknesses are of the couple – as a
To fall in love is easy,
But it is a hard quest worth making
To find a comrade
Through whose steady presence
One becomes the person one desires to be.
Anna Louise Strong
No matter how intimate or how large
the guest list, a wedding presses buttons that trigger everything from anxious
insecurity to indescribable joy. And if you pay attention, all those stressors,
all those reactions to those stressors, indicate who the person you’re marrying
is at this point in time.
The quality of how you communicate
during the planning reveals the quality of your life after the honeymoon!
3.A wedding speaks to the core
aspects of a couple’s identity – family, culture and religion.
Explore and discover that which is within.
When we find ourselves, we are more easily found by others.
In order to say “I Do!” there needs
to be an “I” and the planning of a wedding invites, challenges and demands that
each person ask, “Who Am I?” in relation to their place within a family, within
a culture and within (or without) a belief system. What have you incorporated
from each? What have you rejected? And how has all of that gone into making the
“I” who will say “I Do”?
4.A wedding calls forth
memories – good, bad and glorious.
In that book which is my memory,
On the first page of the chapter that is the day when I first met you,
Appear the words, ‘Here begins a new life’.
A wedding is a grateful celebration
for the past. From the moment of the proposal on up to the last dance, accurately
or inaccurately remembered memories trigger emotions. And all those memories
influence how you react to stress, along with what you expect and ask of your
partner, your family and your circle of friends.
5.A wedding challenges a
couple’s relationships with family and friends.
The best part of life is when your
family become your friends
and your friends become your
People can forget that the wedding
is not about them. People you thought you could rely upon disappear because of
their own mystifying reasons. People on your “B List” generously surprise you.
Parents speak and act out of love laced with protective fear in ways that can
confuse, exasperate or delight. Parents want the celebration to reflect a reality
that simply doesn’t exist or that doesn’t match the reality of who you are as a
couple. Weddings challenge your capacity for surprise.
6.A wedding is an act of faith.
However richly inspired by love,
Marriage is a high wire act
That is usually attempted by two nervous wrecks
Who just go for it,
Reeling with bliss and blind
with the hots.
The rest is work, faith and destiny.
Each of you only knows so much of
who you are today. There are aspects of “you” that you’ve not yet explored and
figured out – and so it is with your partner. The great act of faith is that
you say, “I’m going to create a future
with you. Of all the people with whom I could create a future, I choose you
because you have, united with me, what I need to create a life-giving future –
for me, for us.” Because we can’t predict the future a marriage is a
glorious high wire act.
7.A wedding challenges a couple
to ask what they want from and for their own life.
Love is our true destiny.We do
not find the meaning of life by ourselves alone – we find it in another. The
meaning of our life is a secret that has to be revealed to us in love, by the
one we love. Whoever loves is more alive and more real than when they did not
If you don’t have goals and dreams
and hopes, then why bother getting married? The great gift of marriage is that
it gives you the safety to become who you desire to become – provided you and
your partner have shared with each other and have already learned how to
encourage those goals, dreams and hopes!
8.A wedding allows us to fulfill
our collective, innate need to celebrate.
There are only two ways to live your life: one is as though nothing is
a miracle.The other is as though
everything is a miracle.
Ritual (religious or not) grounds
us and helps us make sense of life. In a world seemingly gone mad, a wedding
has the power to reassure us that life is good – and worthy of our best. Every
wedding reminds us of the lasting truth stated by Emily Dickinson:
That Love is all there is,
Is all we know of Love.
Given these 8 certainties, is it
any wonder that we cry at weddings?!
was at a networking event for wedding professionals where I met up with Lindsay
Longacre, founder of LVL Events, one of SoCal’s premier event planning and
design companies. Lindsay is one of the reasons why I love officiating weddings
– because I get to work with some amazingly good and talented professionals!
me that she recently referred to one of my ceremonies in an Industry
presentation she had given. It’s a story I’d forgotten about, but one worth
Scott and Shannon
were having an outdoor ceremony in a venue that was casual chic by the ocean.
They’re a fun and funny couple and so were their guests, families – and wedding
brought tears all around.
And then I
turned to the best man for the rings. He looked perplexed and shrugged. I was
not amused, but gave a forced smile. Still – no rings. With an even more forced
smile, I whispered, “Dude, I really need
the rings – now!” Alarmed, he loudly whispered, “I really don’t have them!”
the rings were back in Shannon’s hotel room!
I made a
joke (don’t remember exactly what I said) and we went on with the ceremony.
the event planner, was embarrassed she’d forgotten about the rings (that rare,
once in a blue moon moment) and I was annoyed with my self for also having
forgotten to check for the rings before ceremony start. I’d been distracted,
though, because a couple approached me about fifteen minutes before the
ceremony and reminded me that ten years before I had done their ceremony!
ceremony I had scheduled a meeting with a couple at a nearby Starbucks. I went
to my meeting and the best man went to the hotel. Later, I returned to the
reception and before the salad was served, Shannon and Scott exchanged rings.
loved the sweetness of the moment. The exchange of rings was even more special
because of the unusual circumstances.
ceremony been ruined? No. It just had a “different” twist.
focus on the magic and not the perfection of your celebration.
any wedding magazine and most likely you’ll come across an article with a title
such as: “8 Nitty-Gritty Must-Have
Conversations Before You Walk Down the Aisle.”
will challenge you to reflect on the conversational health of your relationship
with a list of questions such as:
·How do we feel about having kids?
·How will we handle our money?
·Who cleans the toilet?
·What about the in-laws?
·What don’t we agree on?
·How do we keep the sparks flying?
·What’s our arguing style?
·How will we balance work and
essential questions and my hope is that a couple has answered these questions
before coming to discuss the ceremony with me. If they haven’t, then I offer
communication coaching that helps a couple hone their skills.
Andre Malroux claimed that, “A happy
marriage is a long conversation that always seems too short.” I like that!
So then the question is: what do you
Well, here’s a list I put together of 25
“non-nitty gritty” questions that are fun, silly, intriguing and revealing. In some
respects, these questions are just as important as the “serious” questions I
How many of these questions have you asked
How many answers do you know?
1.What has been one of the most memorable
experiences in your life?
2.What is an experience that challenged
you but ultimately made you a better person?
3.How have you touched another person’s
life (for the good)?
4.What do you think is the weirdest thing
about life in general?
5.What is one way in which you’re mean to
6.What is the best compliment you’ve ever
7.What is the best compliment you’ve ever
8.What is the worst insult you’ve ever
9.What is the worst insult you’ve ever
10.What is the best text you ever got?The worst?
11.What is the most beautiful thing you’ve
12.What are five things you’re grateful for?
13.What was your favorite childhood toy?
14.What was your favorite childhood game?
15.What was the best movie you ever saw as a
16.How are you different today from when you
were in 5th grade?
17.What is the biggest mistake you ever
18.What is the failure you’re most proud of
– because of what you learned from it?
19.What would you do if you knew you
20.What are five silly things you’d like to
try at least once?
21.What are your five favorite words and
22.What is one thing you don’t understand
23.What are you most self-conscious about?
24.Who or what do you find intimidating?
25.Who is the smartest person you know and
why are they so smart?