How To Stay Sane While Planning for Your Wedding!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

A "Different" Kind Of Reading!

I recently officiated a wedding and the couple selected a reading I had never heard before!  It’s definitely “different” – but, I really liked it and their families and friends roared with laughter as the groom’s brother read it with feeling and gusto. . .

From The Sandman Vol. 9 "The Kindly Ones"
by Neil Gaiman:

"Have you ever been in love? Horrible isn’t it? It makes you so vulnerable.

It opens your chest and it opens up your heart and it means that someone can get inside you and mess you up.

You build up all these defenses, you build up a whole suit of armor, so that nothing can hurt you, then one stupid person, no different from any other stupid person, wanders into your stupid life … You give them a piece of you.

They didn’t ask for it. They did something dumb one day, like kiss you or smile at you, and then your life isn’t your own anymore.

Love takes hostages. It gets inside you."

Sunday, May 1, 2016

6 Quotes To Inspire and Challenge You As You Write Your Vows!

Last month I officiated the memorial of Ed, the father of my friend, Clarice.  He and Clarice’s mom, Midge, had been married for more than fifty years.  I know that this is a wedding blog and not a funeral blog BUT since the memorial I’ve become more sensitized to the vows, “in sickness and in health, until death do us part.” 

A wedding naturally looks to the Future, yet maybe one’s vows will only fully be understood at the end of one’s life.  In prepping for the memorial, I rummaged around various quotes I’ve collected over time that are funeral appropriate (I’m not morbid – it’s just that I’ve done a fair number of funerals/memorials over the years).  In looking over some of these quotes, I realize that they actually could help in the writing of vows. . . hmm. . . hope this doesn’t sound creepy!

Here are 6 quotes to help you reflect on just what it is you and your partner are vowing to each other:

1.  You don’t get to choose how you’re going to die.  Or when. 
You can only decide how you’re going to live.  Now.
Joan Baez

How do you and your partner want to live?  Have you talked about the particulars and the dreams?  Have you figured out a strategy to make your wants and desires and dreams help you live – and not just exist?

2.  Still – in a way – nobody sees a flower – really.  It is so small –
we haven’t time – and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time.
Georgia O’Keeffe

Have you and your partner founds ways to make time for and with each other?  Do you “see” each other in those times or do you feel taken for granted?

3.  What do we live for, if it is not to make life less difficult for others?
George Eliot

How do you make life less difficult for your partner?  How does your partner make life less difficult for you?

4.  It costs so much to be fully human that there are very few who have the enlightenment or the courage to pay the price.  One has to abandon altogether the search for security and reach out to the risk of living with both arms open.  One has to embrace the world like a lover.  One has to accept pain as a condition of existence.  One has to count doubt and darkness as the cost of knowing.  One needs a will stubborn in conflict but apt always to total acceptance of every consequence of living and dying.
Shoes Of The Fisherman
Morris West

Are you and your partner committed to becoming “fully human”?  How do you give each other the courage?

These next two quotes mention “God” – but even if you are not a believer, I think they can challenge you in your commitment to each other. . .

5.  When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say,
"I used everything you gave me.”
Erma Bombeck

How do you help your partner develop and us their talents?  How does your partner help you develop and use your talents?

6.  When we die and go to heaven, and we meet our Maker, our Maker is not going to say to us, “Why didn’t you become a messiah?”  Why didn’t you discover the cure for such and such?”  The only thing we’re going to be asked at that precious moment is, “why didn’t you become ‘you’?”
Eli Wiesel

What does it mean for “you” to become “you”?  For your partner to become him or her self?  How can you help each other in that great, ultimate undertaking?

Monday, April 25, 2016

What We Can Learn From A Crashing Chandelier!

Last week something happened before a ceremony start that I’d never seen before – and I’ve seen a lot!

It was a blustery afternoon at Pelican Hill Resort as the floral designer’s team was setting up.  A glistening crystal chandelier hung from the center of the rotunda, site of the ceremony.  I was reviewing last minute details with the event planner, JeannieSavage, when, without warning, the chandelier crashed to the ground.  It was one of those surreal moments when your brain can’t compute what your eye has witnessed.

Jeannie snapped to and asked if everyone was okay.  They were and she exhaled, “Thank God no one was hurt!”  I marveled at her composure.  She turned to the head of the team and asked him to call the floral designer while she called the resort’s catering director.  Within minutes, the destroyed chandelier was being swept up.

Jeannie suggested we not tell the bride until after the ceremony and she decided there was no time to attempt to replace the chandelier.  She was in charge, calm and, yes, we did manage a “what the?” laugh.  Throughout this bizarre incident, her attitude was a reassuring, “I’ll handle it.  We’ll handle it.”  And so everyone went about doing what needed to be done.

What I found utterly remarkable was that in a dramatic moment, there was no drama.  Now that’s leadership!  

Later, when I told Jeannie how impressed I was by how she handled the situation, she was puzzled, “How else could I have responded?”  I laughed because she could have responded in so many other ways.  She could have yelled, demanding to know who screwed up; she could have debated whether to tell the bride and stir-up emotions by asking for everyone’s opinion; or she could have played the victim, lamenting, “What am I going to do?”

Jeannie reminded me what’s needed in a moment of crisis:
·      She stayed focused on her goal – having a beautiful ceremony for the couple – and she let nothing distract her. 
·      She didn’t lose confidence in herself simply because something outside her control happened. 
·      She trusted and relied on her team. 
·      She was able to laugh. 
·      She was not fixated on the original plan – and so she could improvise. 

These skills are crucial not only for leaders.  They’re crucial for our own well-being and success in any crisis.

Jeannie’s company is named “Details, Details” and it’s precisely because she values details that she didn’t lose sight of the big picture – the welfare of her team, the happiness of her couple and her own sanity.

Chandeliers come crashing down in all our lives – it’s how we handle the broken shards that make all the difference.

Note: couple in photo is not couple referenced in this post – photo is what rotunda looks like with a chandelier!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Are You Cruel When You Argue?

When not officiating weddings, among other things, I teach at UCLA Extension.  Last month I finished up my eleven-week course, The Dynamics Of Interpersonal Communication. 

All of my communication work (including my pre-marital communication coaching) is based in the belief that we all do what we do and say what we say for a reason.  No one “just is”.  Flowing from that is my conviction that in every relationship, over time, we fall into dance steps, patterns for dealing with conflict as well as for expressing feelings, needs and desires.  The question, though, becomes – are those dance steps working for you or are they sabotaging you and your partner?

Earlier today I got an email from Pamela, one of my students.  She wrote:

Recently my boyfriend and I have really been working on our communication. For perhaps the very first time I noticed that when I'm upset and need to ask him something, I get very frustrated and then just explode into accusatory statements instead of explaining what I want or what I’m feeling.

Usually that sets off our “normal” fight of  “YOU never. . .well, YOU never. . .” but this time I stopped and told him, “Look, I have a lot of trouble with this so can you please hug me and work with me instead of reacting to me?”

And he actually did! 

It was an interesting moment for both of us.  He said to me, “Well, I never knew that. I thought you were just cruelly accusing me, doing your usual annoying girlfriend thing.”

We talked about ways I can bring up issues without waiting too long and then exploding.   And now he’s being less reactive to my tone and more understanding when I repeat something three times in a row – he gets that it’s because I'm having difficulty expressing my self and am caught in a “broken record mode”.

Now when I do that (which I did this morning), he just pretends to be a broken record too and we make it a joke between us.

I’m excited for Pamela and her boyfriend because of the good that has come about from their mutual kindness and determination to break a habit that chipped away at the quality of their life together.

Pamela’s boyfriend thought her lashing out was just a “girlfriend thing”.  It wasn’t.  However, it wasn’t until she came clean and actually asked him for what she needed that he was able to really understand what was going on.

This was a breakthrough moment in their relationship.  And, hey, never underestimate the power of a good hug!

Pamela reminds us all that life really can be far simpler than we make it out to be!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

When The Groom Said, "I Knew This Was A Mistake!"

By his own admission Wilson (names changed) is a tech nerd.  He was a sweet groom who worked hard at being involved in planning the wedding with Miriam, but, he really was a bit clueless about it all.  Which was fine because in Wilson’s case, it really was the thought that counted. . .

Wilson and Miriam decided to compose their own vows and, as always, I encouraged them to write out their vows.  Your wedding is a surrealistic experience and on the day-of you should wear name tags so as to remind your partner who you are!  I know, you think I’m kidding, but just you wait!

So, it’s their wedding day and I arrive at the venue a full hour ahead of time. I happen on Wilson and ask if he has his vows.  He smiles, taps his head and says, “It’s all up here.”  I smile back – as my stomach tightens because I know there is NOTHING in this dude’s head.

The ceremony proceeds and soon it’s time for me to introduce the Exchange Of Vows. I then turn to Wilson and nod since, as the groom, he says his vows first.  He gives me a nervous smile and I groan inwardly.  Dear God, what is he going to say?

Wilson looks at Miriam.  And looks.  He looks down. He looks up to the sky.  Ohdeargod I can’t take this. . .and then says these immortal words. . .

“I knew this was going to be a mistake.”

Time really did stand still as we all tried to process his words.  And then I snapped back to the moment and hurriedly reassured all, “He means his vows.  Not his marriage.  He didn’t write out his vows.”  The guests roared with laughter and so did Miriam.

Wilson was endearing as he told Miriam how much he loved her, though at moments I wasn’t sure if he was asking her out on a bowling date or accepting an Oscar!  And then he just stopped talking – without ever having said the word “wife.”  I looked him in the eye and asked, “You are taking Miriam as your wife, yes?”  Wilson was so nervous that he grabbed her, kissed her and asked, “Will you be my wife?”  (Yes, so now the vow has turned into a proposal!)

Of course, Miriam had written out her vows and they were funny and eloquent and moving. . .

Here’s the thing – in the whack-a-do-ness of it all their vows very much reflected them as a couple BUT that doesn’t mean I am going to stop telling couples that if you’re going to compose your own vows then they MUST be written out!

Trust me – Wilson wishes he had!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

It's my first time to be featured at Martha Stewart Weddings online – and I couldn't be more excited or proud!

15 Things Your Officiant Wished You Knew

Monday, February 8, 2016

What A ROOTS Ski Cap and Your Wedding Vows Have In Common

Maggie Sims.  Do you recognize that name?  No, it’s not the name of one of my brides.  It’s the name of the woman of my dreams.  Seriously. 

I’m going to tell you a story that is so odd that I’ve wrestled with whether I should even share it in any kind of public arena.  I’ve decided, though, that it is too weird not to share!  And, yes, somehow it is connected to weddings. . .

For Christmas my niece Mary gave me a wool ski cap from Canadian-based sportswear company ROOTS.  I don’t ski but she knows I like hats.  One night last week it got really cold here in the Valley and I decided to sleep wearing the cap.  That tidbit is not the embarrassing part of this story!

I typically go into a deep sleep and have dreams that play out like movies.  I don’t actually recall my ROOTS-capped dream except that I woke up remembering that there was a woman in my dream named “Maggie Sims.”  Odd as I don’t know anyone with that name – I don’t even know a Maggie.

In the days following, I wondered what could be significant about “Maggie Sims.”  Finally, I decided to check if there was a Maggie Sims on LinkedIn.  Yeah, this is the part where things get really weird!

I typed in her name and a bunch of “Maggie Sims” popped up – the first Maggie, though, lives in Texas and is a marketing director. . .for ROOTS sportswear!  WHAT THE???
I get a ROOTS ski cap as a gift.  I sleep with the cap.  I dream about Maggie Sims.  Maggie works for ROOTS – in the non-dream world.  What can I say?  I have been in awe of the “coincidence” / synchronicity of it all.

So what does it all mean?  I don’t know.  What I do know, though, is that I’ve been reminded just how easy it is to take the wonder of life for granted.  I want order and predictability.  I want apps that will give organization to my day.  I want food that’s fast.  I want knowledge and connection and gratification that are at my fingertips tapping on a smart phone or tablet.  And all of that is beyond great.  It’s phenomenal really, especially when you know that an olive green princess wall phone and an IBM Selectrix typewriter were the height of my teenaged high-tech world! 

Maggie Sims, though, reminds me that there is so much more to life.

In his play, “Small Craft Warnings,” Tennessee Williams has one of the characters ask this question, “What is the one thing you must not lose sight of in this world before leaving it?  Surprise.  The capacity for surprise.”

Life is full of shocks that can knock us about.  Surprise, though, is something else.  It’s what gives life moments of refreshment and healing.  Surprise can remind us that although life is whacky, it summons us to put forth whatever good we have in us.

If I were a songwriter, I’d probably write a ditty about Maggie Sims, but I’m not. Instead, I’m going to let her challenge me – challenge me to renew my respect for the mystery of life and people. 

I’m resolved to renew my commitment to being curious, to letting go and to being grateful.

Okay, that last sentence really sounds nice, if I do say so, but it masks my frustration.  You see, I want Maggie Sims to hold some lesson for me, some insight that I then can pass on to you, but, I don’t think there is any lesson connected to the dream.

Have I done anything differently since my ROOTS-inspired dream?  Not really.  Should I have?  I don’t know.

What I do know is that I don’t want to live in a numbed state.  I want to live a life that is as vibrant as my dreams.  And maybe that’s Maggie’s gift – a call to renewal.

And so, why have I shared this odd story with YOU, who are in the throes of planning your “dream” wedding?  Because. . .

Because I am convinced that at the heart of the vows you offer to your partner and that your partner offers to you is the commitment that together you will never take the mystery of your love nor the mystery of your life together for granted.
Your vow is your promise to always strive to live in the awe of it all!
May all your dreams come true. . .