JP REYNOLDS WEDDING BLOG!

How To Stay Sane While Planning for Your Wedding!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Reflections From 30 Years Of Marriage

As I’ve said many times before, here on this blog, some of the most wonderful people on the face of the earth are my friends.  Not bragging – just a fact!  And I’ve had the good fortune to officiate the weddings of many of my friends.  A while ago, I sent a questionnaire to friends who’ve been married for more than five years.  I asked each couple to pick any ten questions (five each) and share their answers here at my blog.

The reason why I asked these wonderful people to share their thoughts on marriage and weddings, is that I hoped they could offer you, the couple in the throes of planning, some perspective on the whole shebang.

Hanna and Bruce celebrated their 30th anniversary on October 6th.  They are the first friends whose wedding I officiated.  The photo was taken earlier this week, on their anniversary.  The wine goblet was the chalice used at their service.  It had belonged to my grandmother and was my gift.

So, from the vantage of thirty married years, here are Bruce and Hanna’s insights on love, weddings and marriage. . . 

Bruce:

Q:  Why haven't you gotten divorced?
A:  Checks and Balances.

Q:  What three things are you grateful for in your spouse?
A:  Love of God, love of others, love of food.

Q:  One sentence advice you'd give to a couple planning to get married?
A:  You must always be grateful for the easy times while being prepared for the hard times.

Q:  What has surprised you most about being married?
A:  How much I love it, and how much I fear I would miss it.

Q:  In no more than 140 characters, sum up your thoughts on marriage:
A:  If marriage was easy and effortless, everyone would do it. It's not. Marriage is by far the greatest challenge any two people can undertake.

Hanna:
Q: What three words do you think of when you think of your wedding day?
A: Joyful. Unifying. Memorable.

Q:  What three things are you grateful for in your spouse?
A:  He rubs my feet, when I don't even ask.  He showed genuine kindness and devotion to my parents in their declining years.  He knows how I like my coffee and my gin, and he quenches all my thirsts.

Q: One sentence advice you'd give to a couple planning to get married?
A:  Every so often, ask yourself “What is it like to be married to me?”

Q:  How has your partner helped you become who you are today?
A:  Here's an illustration: For a long time I was content to let Bruce be the one who made eye contact with the homeless and mentally ill; the man or woman asking for spare change on the street. He would give what money he had in his pocket with warmth while I sidestepped the whole encounter. It felt, since it was “our” money that he was acting on behalf of both of us, and I got a pass. But you know what? It wasn't enough, and I learned that from him without him ever saying a word to me about it.

Q:  What did you experience at your wedding that you hope other couples experience at theirs?
A:  A snapshot memory: We left our reception and got into our rented red Subaru that our nieces and nephews had gleefully decorated with cans and streamers and the requisite “Just Married” sign. It was a beautiful early autumn day in Vermont with glorious colors as we drove the 40 miles to where we would spend the night. I will always remember the smiles, the honks, thumbs-up from other cars as we drove along. At a stoplight I pulled a flower from my bouquet and handed it through the open window to someone in a car the next lane over.

To feel the love and support in celebration of our marriage from our family and friends was wonderful.

To receive it from total strangers was a transcendent gift.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Wedding Conversations I Overheard At My Favorite Cafe



This post is a bit different from my others as it’s inspired by conversations I overheard at my fav café on two different days. . .

The other day I was sitting at my local, fav café, Aroma, when I overheard a young woman (20’s) at the next table whine,  “I tried on my grandma’s wedding dress and it was pretty, but old-fashioned so I’m not gonna wear it.”

Okay, so you’re not “gonna” wear it BUT that doesn’t mean you can’t still incorporate the dress somehow.

This is where creativity comes in – with how you incorporate family tradition + heirlooms in fresh, contemporary ways.

I’m not going to turn this into a DIY blog BUT I once had a bride who didn’t want to wear her grandmother’s dress BUT who loved her grandmother very much.  Her grandmother let her use the dress for part of the canopy of the Huppa the bride made.
It was beyond beautiful!

Even if you are stressing the small stuff (which you shouldn’t!), PLEASE enjoy the fun of being creative and inventive – not for the sake of wowing guests BUT for the sake of honoring cherished traditions and heirlooms – honoring family.

@@@@@

So, I was back at my fav café, Aroma, and this time I was sitting next to a guy talking about how family politics is driving him batty as he and his fiancée come closer to their wedding day.

Apparently, his mother doesn’t talk to his aunt, with whom he’s close, and the sisters haven’t talked for over a decade.  His mother doesn’t want to be in any family photos with her sister BUT he thinks it would be nice for the entire family to have a portrait taken on his wedding day.  His two friends then chimed in with tales of their parents’ dysfunctional family relationships.

So, there you have it – family politics is all part of a wedding – and my experience has been that very few couples manage to get married without family wackiness tripping them up.

But, here’s the thing – when I officiate a ceremony, I look out at the people gathered AND what I see is a bunch of people wanting to believe that despite ALL the divorce and messiness of families, there’s hope that these two people will get “it” right.

That’s why I say that your wedding is a
Big
Bold
Brash

Statement of HOPE
BECAUSE

No one knows what the future holds
BUT
Everyone hopes
That the two of you
WILL
be faithful to:

The dream of becoming who you want to be as a couple

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Just Enjoy It!


Last week. . .

The Procession had started.  I was in position.  The groom, Eric, took his place next to me.  He looked out and then leaned in and in an awed voice whispered, “This really is surreal!”

Duh – It is! 
And what surprised me is that throughout planning, he had a relaxed, almost blasé approach to it all.

The wedding ceremony is an out-of-body experience and there’s no way to predict how you’ll feel. . .

Just enjoy it all!

Friday, September 19, 2014

It's All About Creating Happy Memories



The other day I was on line at a Starbucks when a man tapped me on the shoulder.  I turned around and had no idea who the guy was.  He smiled and asked if I was “JP”.  He then told me that I had officiated his wedding 9 ½ years ago in Westlake Village.  Suddenly, I recognized Fred and certainly remembered his wife, Rosanna.  I was blown away that he remembered me! 

Fred told me that he and Rosanna were grateful that I had been a part of their day and that they still smile when they look at photos of their ceremony.

I was very moved – and I share this, not to give myself a pat on the back BUT to let you know that Fred reminded me that I’m really not in the business of marrying people. 

Rather

I’m really in the business of creating happy, life-giving memories.

And for that, I’m grateful. . .

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

What You're Really Doing When You Get Married



Anyone who knows me knows that I love officiating weddings.  I love celebrating a ceremony for a host of reasons – and one of those reasons is that I get to be a part of one of the most intimate moments in a couple’s life.  I know – that might sound a tad kinky!

But I’ve been thinking about this throughout the summer.  I’ve looked at brides and grooms, straight and gay, and I marvel at what I see.  I see people who are downright daring in their embrace of life – no matter how nervous or whack-a-do they may appear!

It struck me this summer with a new found force that when two people enter into marriage, it really is a
Big
Bold
Brash
Confounding and generous pledge.

Here’s what I think you’re pledging (and what I’m helping you to celebrate):

You’re pledging. . .

To be the witness of each other’s life
To help each other make sense of life’s surprises
To create a legacy together
To be steady for each other in the midst of randomness
To find peace in the routine of everyday life
To give each other life but not be each other’s life
To trust you will be valued even when you’ve forgotten how
To be brave in sickness
To believe “we can” and “we will” in all those WTF moments
To make yourself necessary to your spouse
To believe that together you’re smarter than any smart phone
To believe that friends and family deserve a place at your table laden with good food, good drink and good story

And in pledging all this, I think you’re also admitting that neither of you really understand the true meaning of what you’re vowing BUT that you are committed to understanding it more clearly day in and day out – all the days of your life.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Wedding Ceremony Podcast!



Remember to visit my weekly podcast,
cohosted with (Rev.) Clint Hufft,
in which we discuss all things ceremony!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

What Kristin and Meredith Learned About Marriage From Their Parents!



At the beginning of 2014 I hit on what I thought was a great idea for this blog.  I reached out to half-a-dozen close friends whose weddings I officiated and who’ve been married for ten or more years.  I asked each couple to write a guest post – offering advice to those of you who are now in the throes of prepping for your wedding.

Everyone loved the idea and assured me that they’d “get back” in a few short weeks.  Well, as time passed, all of my friends confessed that they didn’t know what to write!  “This is hard!” was the general chorus.

Then I hit on the idea of turning to Meredith and Kristin, daughters of my friends Ray & Stephanie.  
I asked Kristin and Meredith to write a guest post in which they reflect on what they’ve learned about marriage from their parents. 

So here are the. . .
Top 12 Truths Of Marriage Meredith and Kristin Learned 
From Their Parents, Stephanie & Ray

1.     Not saying anything is often the best route to take. 
Silence can sometimes be more powerful than words. In a situation where your spouse is in a huff over something, or deeply offended, and just needs to speak their mind, listening is often the BEST move to make. You don’t always need to add your opinion, just listen to them.

2.     It’s important to show your love. 
Regardless of the anniversary, little surprises help to show you care more than a set date.   My parents give each other cards on random occasions. If they find a funny picture of a crab, they might give it to the other “just because”. Who doesn’t love talking crabs?

3.     Taking time away from kids, friends, and work, to spend some alone time together never hurts.
Who doesn’t like mini-vacations?  This is essential because my sister and I….well we can be quite a handful bickering often, being loud and obnoxious – but, beside the point, you need to spend alone time to deepen your own relationship in addition to the family relationship.

4.     A marriage has to have respect for one another: each other’s goals, who you are as a person, and the wonderfulness you see in your partner.
R-E-S-P-E-C-T. I have never seen my parents disrespect each other because disrespect often times causes mistrust and insecurity, and no one wants that.  Respect in my family looks like: listening while the other is speaking, speaking words of encouragement when they are applying for a job, or redoing a resume, and most often: sitting through innumerous seasons of the bachelorette/ bachelor without mocking!

5.     Don’t go to bed angry.
Sometimes you just need to let things go. You are not going to agree with your partner 100% of the time, if you did then that would be extremely boring and uneventful!  But seriously, it’s only natural to have differing opinions on a few things. Talk through what is bothering you and then come to a compromise or leave it be until you both are more rested and less irrational.  These are ways that I have seen my parents live this cliché.

6.     Always say I love you. But you have to mean it because if you didn’t mean it, then you probably shouldn’t be married!
All the time my parents say, “I love you”, to me and my sister so as to remind us that they do (even though we already know).  It’s been a tradition in my family to always say it before going to sleep. It has become part of our routine and it’s important to me.  I have to say it otherwise I rest uneasy. It might sound silly, but it’s comforting and, in my opinion, it’s the most wonderful phrase you can be told.

7.     Life does not always go according to plan, but you have to roll with punches. 
We’ve moved about 3 times. The last time was due to unforeseen circumstances with relatives. However, no matter where we were, my parents made it clear that we did not need anything but each other. There was a point in which we were in between finding a home and a place to live, so I called us “homeless” because I’m dramatic, but also because that’s what I thought we were. I was wrong. My dad, my mom, my sister, and I were all together and that is my definition of “home”.

8.     Work together, not against each other.
As the saying goes, “it’s you and me against the world.” If conflicts arise, work together to find a solution instead of blaming each other for the problem. Working against each other will not get you anywhere, particularly if you need to get somewhere quickly!  I’ve seen my parents work this way so many times in my life, especially when it comes to big life decisions. When we decided to move abruptly when I was going into the 7th grade, they stood behind their decision, though it was very unpopular with my sister and me.

9.     With a relationship based on friendship, their first impulse is to support each other and the decisions they make as a couple as well as supporting the decisions, of us, their children.
Collaboration in marriage is essential. Could be the best project of your life!
Working patiently together, whether in a creative or problem-solving sense, will bring you closer together and help you produce something that is fulfilling for both of you. Whether this be in larger projects – like repainting every room of every house you’ve ever lived in or in smaller projects, like teaching your daughters how to correctly open and store wine—the positive and encouraging energy my parents bring to every situation shows how much they care, not only about each other but about those around them.

10.  Remember every day the things you love about your spouse, especially what initially drew you to him or her.
I love hearing my parents tell stories about their time in high school, when they met and about their friends who still surround them to this day.  My dad was in theatre, ran for student government and took German, while my mom was on drill team, waitressed at Marie Callendar’s, and was in a social action club that helped orphans in Tijuana.  They were friends and continued to be throughout their early adult life.  They both took different roads: my mom dated a lot of people and my dad entered the seminary to become a priest, but they both acknowledge that there was an attraction between the two of them from the beginning – one they then returned to later in life.

11.  Tell and share stories!
It’s a great way to allow the people around you be part of the story of your lives and your marriage. It also helps your children understand you more and see the journey you took to find your partner in life.  Hearing my parents’ favorite stories, of their proposal or of when my sister and I were very young, allow me to recall and retell favorite stories from my own life and of my family.  And even family folklore and history adds to my sense of belonging and identity.  Like when my dad used to tell us his ancestors were horse thieves in Germany and my mom used to say her side of the family was related to Lord Baltimore (as in Baltimore, Maryland)!

12.  Actions speak louder than words.
You can always tell how much my parents care about each other from their interactions. They share a great sense of humor about life. The way they look at each other and laugh, sometimes about what someone has said or done in our house, gives me a glimpse into the feelings they have had, and continue to have for each other for decades. Their day-to-day treatment of each other, and us kids, is filled with kindness, understanding and a dose of comedy, which I hope to have in my own relationships in the future.