How To Stay Sane While Planning for Your Wedding!

Monday, January 28, 2013

A New Way Of Looking At Being Nervous

Peter Bregman is one of my favorite authors on issues of business and communication.  I often quote him in the blog associated with my own communications coaching website (

Last week, Bregman wrote a post forthe Harvard Business Review that was inspired by an experience he had at his wedding rehearsal.  I thought his insight into why couples get nervous on their wedding day was brilliant.

Rather than trying to paraphrase him, I’ll let you read his story. . .it’s short and witty and I hope his insights help you put your own wedding worries into perspective!

The night before our wedding, Eleanor and I stood awkwardly in the center of a large room, surrounded by our family and our closest friends. There was no particular reason to be uncomfortable; this was just a rehearsal. Still, we were in the spotlight and things weren't going smoothly. Neither the rabbi nor the cantor had arrived and we didn't know where to stand, what to say, or what to do.

It had taken us 11 years — and a lot of work — to get to this point. Eleanor is Episcopalian, the daughter of a deacon, and I am Jewish, the son of a Holocaust survivor. The one thing our parents agreed about before the wedding was that we shouldn't get married.

A friend of ours, Sue Anne Steffey Morrow, a Methodist minister, offered to stand in for the Jewish officiants who were absent. She moved us through the rehearsal, placing people in position, reading prayers, and lightening the mood with a few well-timed jokes.

When the rehearsal was over and we were feeling more relaxed, she offered me and Eleanor a piece of advice that remains one of the best I have ever received.

"Tomorrow hundreds of people will be watching you on the most important day of your life. Try to remember this: It's not a performance; it's an experience."

I love that she said "Try to remember this." On the surface it seems easy to remember but in reality it's almost impossibly difficult, because much of what we do feels like a performance. We're graded in school and get performance reviews at work. We win races, earn titles, receive praise, and sometimes gain fame, all because of our performance. We're paid for our performance. Even little things — leading a meeting, having a hallway conversation, sending an email — are followed by the silent but ever-present question: "How'd that go?"

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

With Gratitude For 2012

New Year’s Eve I received an email from a former UCLA Extension student.  Because of her work schedule, Vanessa missed almost half the classes and I presumed that she took little, if anything, away from the course (Interpersonal Communications).  And so I was puzzled when I found her email and just presumed she was looking for a favor, perhaps a recommendation. 

The email contained just one sentence:

“Thinking of everything I learned in your class and feeling oh so very grateful for the positive impact it's been in my life. . .HAPPY HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!”

I was beyond surprised but also grateful and happy that I actually had reached a person whom I had written off.  Ah, life!

So here it is a New Year and Vanessa reminds me that the best and happiest way to make a new beginning is by giving thanks.

What am I thankful for as I stand facing out to 2013?

2012 would have been far less energizing without the 70 couples who invited me to officiate their wedding. 

2012 would have been a dull and considerably complacent year without the humor, creativity and generosity of all my colleagues––event planners and on-site directors, photographers and videographers, floral designers, musicians, sound techs and even a dove wrangler all of whom I collaborated with each week to create celebrations that helped cheer and refresh not just the couples but their thousands of family and friends.

I’m often asked why I officiate weddings.  Well, I can’t imagine not celebrating wedding ceremonies.  And while it’s not the only thing I do––I also teach, write, consult and speak––it is a dimension of my life that gives me life.

Why do I love weddings?  The simple answer is that I love stories.  Every couple that comes to me not only has a story, every couple is a story!

I love listening to the myriad ways in which people first met, and I especially enjoy having them tell me the story of what happened after that first meeting––the story of how they’ve gone about creating a life––often times a life that has surprised them in terms of where it has taken them and what their newly formed and forming dreams are all about.

Why do I love weddings?  I love them because I continually stand in awe of people’s courage and daring and hope.  It’s simply not possible to commit to another person without courage and daring and hope, which undergird all that faith and love.

I love weddings because I love looking at a couple’s guests as they mingle about before the ceremony and then as they sit in anticipation of the ceremony’s start.  I love feeling the wave of emotion that ripples throughout the gathering (whether it’s two people or two hundred and fifty people).

I look at the guests and I know that they know how brutally tough, demanding and too often disappointing life can be.  That not every day can be as joyful as that day, BUT I see the hope and the excitement in their eyes.  They’ve come to root on the couple, “yes, you can live life in a way that will give you life, in a way that is meaningful, no matter the mistakes.”

I love standing in the middle of so much hope.

I love witnessing a couple’s courage, no matter how nervous they may be.

The painter Vincent Van Gogh believed that The best way to know life is to love many things.”

Weddings help me love many things and many people.
So, I begin 2013 remembering what I’m grateful for. . .I’m grateful that I’m able to do and be a part of what I love.

I eagerly embark on this year of fresh, new stories. . .