How To Stay Sane While Planning for Your Wedding!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Do You Have Secrets?

It was six weeks before their wedding and Chad and Lisa still had not hired an officiant.  Towards the end of our meeting, the conversation turned to Chad’s upcoming Vegas bachelor party weekend. 

After Lisa humorously warned him that nothing better happen, he reassured her with these immortal words: You have nothing to worry about. Nothing’s going to happen even if she goes into the bedroom with me.

She?  Bedroom?  I’m stunned as Lisa slapped him in the arm.  Seems Chad’s boys told him that they’re going to get him a stripper.  He didn’t want a stripper, but how could he tell them that?  He didn’t want to ruin their fun and besides, it’s tradition!

By the time our conversation ended, I wasn’t even sure if Chad and Lisa were going to have a ceremony for me to officiate!

Okay, so I get “it”—Chad wants to preserve his image with his boys, but at what cost?  Although Lisa & Chad eventually invited me to officiate their ceremony, I declined.  Simply put, I thought they had too many unresolved issues with not enough communication skills in place.

I’ve frequently written here and elsewhere that communication is at the heart of your relationship.  A cliché, I know, BUT it’s true!

That Lisa found out about Chad’s plans while at a meeting to discuss the ceremony, speaks volumes about the quality of their conversations.  That he wasn’t able to tell his supposed best friends what he wanted and did not want, speaks volumes about his ability to assert himself.  And without being able to express what it is your thinking, feeling, wanting, needing, it’s going to be hard to offer an “I Do” that is authentic, confident, and that expresses your willingness to DO all that is implied in that “I Do.”

If you can’t be honest with your partner before your wedding day, there’s no reason to believe that you’ll be able to be honest the day after your wedding day.

Are there things you haven’t told your partner?  Topics you’ve been reluctant to bring up?  What are you afraid of?  Now’s the time to talk!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Flowers vs. A Hand-Washed Car

I met with Annie and Brad four weeks before their wedding so as to finalize the ceremony.  They were making jabbing comments at each other and I was puzzled, as they seemed so mellow when I first met with them.  It then came out that Danny was upset.  Annie consistently “nagged” him for not being more romantic.  With exasperation he asked, “What more does she want?  I hand-washed her car last weekend.”  “Flowers,” she said.  “Why don’t you give me flowers?”

Love is patient, love is kind, but what is love without seeing? Weird things happen when you’re planning for the wedding, such as putting expectations on your partner that they’re unaware of.  And when they don’t act from those expectations, you can quickly become difficult.  Of course, this true even when you’re not planning a wedding!  

Don’t saddle your partner with unfair, love-testing expectations.  Be kind.  Be realistic.  Follow these four common sense steps.

First, recognize that your partner isn’t a mind reader!  Often I hear brides say, “If he really loved me, I wouldn’t always have to tell him what I need.”  Really? And you are a mind reader?

Second, tell your partner what you need from them; explain how they can help you make things go more smoothly.

 Third, be honest with yourself—are your expectations fair and realistic?  If your partner has an awkward, strained relationship with your mother, it’s not fair to think that she’s going to invite her to help her pick out the gown!

Fourth, if your partner honestly thinks they cannot fulfill those expectations, don’t condemn them.  Explore why your partner feels unappreciated and then how you can help each other be happier in the planning.

Trust me, you’ll eliminate needless stress by not demanding that your partner act like someone they neither cannot be nor want to be. 

You are marrying the person you’re excited to journey with through life.  Believe that your partner’s intentions are good.  Pay attention to what they are doing for you and for the two of you.  If you pay attention to each other first, then you’ll be able to see everything else in its right perspective.  And if you don’t believe your partner’s intentions are good, then why are you marrying him/her?  What’s going on?

At least once a week ask yourself these three questions so as to get a clearer perception of your partner.  What is something that he/she has done for you in the past week––no matter how small, no matter how easy?  Were you able to readily see the care behind it?  What were you focused on that made you miss the love?  And then make sure to thank your partner!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

How Well Do You Know Your Partner?

When I first meet with couples, they presume that they’re interviewing me.  And they are.  However, what they don’t realize is that I’m also interviewing them!  I’m looking and listening for that “click,” that moment where I get who they are as a couple; where I get a glimpse into why they’re doing what they’re doing.

Sometimes, though, by the end of our meeting, I’m puzzled.  I don’t quite understand them as a “couple.”  And that’s okay as it would be remarkable if I did “get” every couple. 

The following is a quiz of sorts, adapted from relationship guru, John Gottman: How well do you know your partner? 

Here’s the thing, though: if there are more questions you can’t answer than you can answer, then THE big question is––why are you marrying someone you don’t know well?!

·      Who are your partner's two closest friends?

·      What is the most challenging stress your partner is wrestling with?

·      What are the two things that easily irritate your partner?  Hopefully you’re not one of them!

·      What is your partner's life dream?

·      How many credit cards does your partner have and how much debt is on those cards?

·      What is your partner’s most legitimate fear about marrying you?

·      How does your partner respect you?

·      Why does your partner want to marry you?

·      What aspect of your partner’s parents’ marriage does s/he not want to repeat?

·      Who is your partner’s role model for married life?

Monday, June 18, 2012

100th Post!

This is my 100th posting and while it’s a modest milestone, I’m thrilled to have reached it.  If you read through the blog I think you’ll see that I’ve been lucky and blessed to meet up with some wonderful people––couples, their families, friends, along with some of the most talented, creative, and deep-down good people you’ll ever find wandering the earth!

And if you read through my blog, you’ll also notice that I’ve had some unusual, if not downright wacky experiences!  I always say that I may not have seen it all, BUT I’ve seen a lot.

In a spirit of celebration, I’m going to tell you one of my all-time favorite wedding stories––a story that comes with an important lesson. 

It was an outdoor wedding.  Argentina and Marco (30’s) had been together five years and were great partners.  Towards the end of their ceremony I zapped them with a blessing and was on the verge of pronouncing them husband & wife when suddenly, Argentina’s mother stood up and walked towards me.

I was puzzled, but then I remembered she was a widow.  Maybe she wanted to thank folks for coming; maybe she was supposed to read a poem and the couple forgot to tell me.

I walked over to her and in a voice only I could hear, she said these immortal words: “Do not pronounce them husband & wife, I have reservations.”  I was beyond stunned.  I thought, “sweetheart, do you really think I’m going to hand over my mic so we can enjoy a Jerry Springer moment?”

I smiled and said to her: “the only reservation you better have is for dinner.”  Hey, I grew up in New York City!  It was now the mother’s turn to be stunned; she didn’t move.  I raced back to the couple and pronounced them husband & wife.

The photographer, musicians, and coordinator later swarmed me; no one could believe what had happened.  But I was concerned about Argentina.  As I gave her a big hug, she told me something that I think of every time I meet with a couple. She said: “I guess I forgot to tell you about my mother.”

Everyone knew that momma was “nuts.” Everyone knew that momma was not happy with the marriage.  And everyone told Argentina not to invite momma.  Argentina knew her mother was trouble, but, out of guilt, she felt she “should” invite her.  After all, she was her mother.  And so she invited her, knowing that her mother may attempt to disrupt the joy of her day.

Throughout the morning, Argentina was anxious.  Throughout the ceremony many of her guests were apprehensive.  All because of her mother, who held the day hostage. 

Argentina and Marco had gotten into many arguments over her mother.  And, yes, I think I detected an “I told you so” smirk in Marco’s eyes!

While planning their wedding, couples can easily buy into the crazy making belief that there are things they “should” do in their wedding because that’s how things “should” be.

Do not plan your wedding out of a sense of “should.”  Plan it out of a sense of what you and your partner want to do.  Be guided by what reflects you as a couple.

I know it's easy for me to say.  However, no one—no friend, no family member—has the right to take your day hostage by selfish whims and desires.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Motherly Advice

“Forgive early, kiss slowly, love wholeheartedly, laugh loudly,” said Yael Raz, the bridegroom’s mother, offering her tempered blessing. “Because life may not be the party we all hope for.”

I came across this quote when I stumbled upon a NY Times Weddings announcement from a few years ago. 
Yael’s motherly advice sounds so sweet and down-to-earth.  Yet, how hard it can be to do what she urges! 
Yet, how very much the essence of a good and healthy marriage!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Giving Witness


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.’
From the movie, Shall We Dance?

On June 1st my friends Stacy & Eddie celebrated their 16th wedding anniversary.  They got married in New Orleans and they and all their guests did The Big Easy proud!  I will admit it’s the only wedding I ever officiated where I “might” have had a hangover from the night before when Eddie led his boys down Bourbon Street.  TMI—I know!

Eddie & Stacy have created a good life for themselves and their son.  A “good” life in that it’s been chock-full of accomplishments and good fortune, tribulations and disappointments, clarity and confusion, decisiveness and uncertainty.  And throughout it all great dinners and desserts laced through and through with conversations both silly and nourishing, warm and heartening, and sometimes just plain whack-a-do. 

What they’ve done is to live out the ordinary routine of their daily life according to their vows:  I will love you and honor you, in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. 

All so much simpler and so much harder, so much sweeter and so much more confounding than they could have ever imagined as they exchanged their vows in the grand room of the Ladies Opera Guild House. 

All of it so much grander in its faithful simplicity.

What they’ve done is to give witness to each other’s life.  They’ve not let each other’s life go unnoticed. 

Maybe that’s the great gift of marriage, maybe that’s the great wedding vow:  “I will bear witness as you create a meaningful life.  And together, we will bear witness to our shared life.” 

And from the shared witnessing comes all grace and meaning and hope.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Long Beach Island Comes To Laguna Beach!

California Wedding Day Magazine debuted their “Newly Wed Wednesdays” blog segment with the wedding of Laura & Erik, a couple whose wedding I officiated last year.  I encourage you to check out the photo spread!

Laura & Erik and I hit it off within minutes of meeting--and not just because we’re all from back East, though that helped!  Turns out that Erik and his family vacationed for years on New Jersey’s Long Beach Island, which is where I spent most of my summers growing-up.  They had a large East Coast contingent at their wedding and it certainly felt like old home week for me!

Their wedding was magical—and, yes, I’m biased.  However, some of my favorite people worked to create that magic:  Jeannie Savage of Details, Details—I can’t say enough wonderful things about her––as a person and as an event planner. Jamie Puffer and her team at The Montage—a resort that embodies graciousness and hospitality and all in a way that is anything but pretentious.  Nisie of Enchanted Florist created their floral design and I continue to be in awe of how she and her team never repeat themselves.  And the photos by Braedon Flynn say it all—he’s a stylish, fun guy who sees what most of us don’t.


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Perfectly Imperfect

We come to love not by finding a perfect person, but by learning to see an imperfect person perfectly.
Sam Keen

Earlier this week I was reading a book at my favorite non-Starbucks coffee house.  Three women eventually took the table next to mine.  I’ll admit it—I’m nosy—hey, I grew up in NYC where everyone loves to listen in on other people’s conversations!

It soon became clear that one of the women is getting married later in the summer and this was an outing for the three of them to catch-up on all-things wedding.  At one point, the bride-to-be in a loud, exasperated tone of voice (which made think she must have grown up in NYC) lamented: I’m marrying an O.C.D. and he’s driving me nuts!  I swear that’s all gonna change when we get married. . .I’m not gonna put up with that sh*t!

Well, I was sorely tempted to lean over and remind her that NOTHING was going to change after she got married!  If her fiancé is O.C.D. now, then he’ll be O.C.D. the day after their wedding. Declaring to a coffee house full of people that you’re not going to put up with his sh*t really isn’t going to change the poor guy.

Yet, so many people think that marriage has some magical properties to it that will make all the annoying imperfections of their partner disappear.  NOTHING disappears after you say “I Do.”

So, I invite you to think about Sam Keen’s observation. . .are you able to love your imperfect partner perfectly?  And what does that mean?  I don’t think it simply means be willing to “put up” with annoying habits.  It means seeing beyond the imperfections.  And when you do look beyond the imperfections, what do you see?

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Above The Call Of Duty

Normally I don’t post pics of myself, as I don’t like the way I look in photos, even though I work with some of the most talented photographers in the world (don’t ask)!

Today, though, I make an exception and post what has become my all time fav wedding photo. . .

A week ago I officiated the wedding of Yvonne and Jon at the Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles.  After their exchange of vows and rings, they honored their mothers with the presentation of roses.

They went first to Yvonne’s mother—kiss-kiss, hug-hug, cry-cry and they then went over to Jon’s mother.  As his mother stood to give him a hug, her elbow knocked over the pedestal on which was a tubular glass vase filled with gardenias!

I’ve heard about people experiencing something in slow-mo and I’ve seen enough movies with slow-mo moments; however, I never experienced it for myself until last Sunday!  I remember looking at the vase as it tilted and thought, “wow, that vase is going to fall over.”  And then I thought, “wow, that vase really is going to fall down.”  And then I thought, “hmm. . .I wonder if I can catch it.”

Well, I didn’t catch it, but a guest caught this photo. . .

If you’re visiting my blog for the first time and haven’t decided if you want to hire me, you now can see that I really do take excellent care of you and am ready to go above and beyond the call of duty!