How To Stay Sane While Planning for Your Wedding!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Interfaith Marriage - A NY Times Article

More than 50% of the weddings I officiate are inter-faith.  While the vast majority of those couples no longer practice the rituals of the faith in which they were raised and now identify as “spiritual,” it is interesting to see how long presumed dormant “buttons” are pressed in the planning process.

I recently came across this NYTimes article on inter-faith marriage and am intrigued with the author’s findings. You might be, too. . .

LIKE Hanukkah and Christmas, Passover and Easter, which recently coincided, can make for awkward moments for families that observe multiple religious traditions. For interfaith couples, the wedding season can also be a time for uncomfortable conversations: Who will solemnize our ceremony? Will God be mentioned — and if so, whose? Oh, and how will we raise our kids?

Before the 1960s, about 20 percent of married couples were in interfaith unions; of couples married in this century’s first decade, 45 percent were. (My definition includes Catholic-Protestant unions, marriages of mainline Protestants to evangelical Christians, and unions of those who affiliated with a religion and those who didn’t.)

Secular Americans welcome the rise of interfaith unions as a sign of societal progress. The relatively high rates of intermarriage of American Muslims, for example, suggest that their assimilation might resemble that of American Jews of earlier generations.

Even so, interfaith marriages often come with a heavy price. They are more likely than same-faith unions to be unhappy and, in some circumstances, to end in divorce. They also tend to diminish the strength of religious communities, as the devout are pulled away from bonds of tradition and orthodoxy by their nonmember spouses.

In 2010, I commissioned the polling firm YouGov to conduct a nationally representative survey of 2,450 Americans, adjusted to produce an oversampling of couples in interfaith marriages. It found such unions were becoming more common, without regard to geography, income or education level.

Friday, July 26, 2013

On Earth – At The Same Moment

I’m not sure where I came across this excerpt, but I know I saved it because of the very last sentence, which I think is simply exquisite.  Read it and then replace the names “Adam and Miranda” with your name and your partner’s name. . .how do you feel?!

"In Pale Horse, Pale Rider (1939), Porter wrote: "He had his uniforms made by the best tailor he could find, he confided to Miranda one day when she told him how squish he was looking in his new soldier suit. 'Hard enough to make anything of the outfit, anyhow,' he told her. 'It's the least I can do for my beloved country, not to go around looking like a tramp.' 

He was twenty-four years old and a Second Lieutenant in an Engineers Corps, on leave because his outfit expected to be sent over shortly. 'Came in to make my will,' he told Miranda, 'and get a supply of toothbrushes and razor blades. By what gorgeous luck do you suppose,' he asked her, 'I happened to pick on your rooming house? How did I know you were there?'

"Strolling, keeping step, his stout polished well-made boots setting themselves down firmly beside her thin-soled black suede, they put off as long as they could the end of their moment together, and kept up as well as they could their small talk that flew back and forth over little grooves worn in the thin upper surface of the brain, things you could say and hear clink reassuringly at once without disturbing the radiance which played and darted about the simple and lovely miracle of being two persons named Adam and Miranda, alive and on the earth at the same moment."

Friday, July 12, 2013

A Sanity Saver Quizz

It’s very easy to be seduced by “crazy thinking” while in the throes of wedding planning. To help you understand just how easy it is, consider these questions. How many do you nod your head to in agreement? How many can your partner answer with a “yes”?

1. When stumped as to how to make some wedding detail perfect, do you get easily frustrated?
2. Do you feel suffocated by all the things you never realized you should do for your wedding?
3. Are you and your partner fighting frequently over wedding details?
4. Do you feel that the planning is slipping out of your hands and into those of your partner, parents or vendors?
5. Are you afraid to speak up and voice your opinion?
6. Do you spend large amounts of time consciously and unconsciously worrying about what your families and friends will think about your wedding?
7. Are you feeling more confused than focused?
8. Are you willing to sacrifice what you want for the wedding for the sake of pleasing your parents?
9. Are you easily influenced when a vendor says that you “really should” consider a particular item related to your wedding?
10. Are many of your decisions based on how not to upset or disappoint or offend people involved in your wedding?
11. Are you spending more time worrying than laughing?
12. Are you venting on people who are really not responsible for your decisions?

If you have more “yes” answers than “no” answers then most likely you are buying into one of more or these classic, crazy-making beliefs:

1. It must be perfect or it’s no good.
2. There are things you “should” do no matter what you want.
3. There are situations in which you are helpless and have no choice.
4. You are totally responsible for how family and friends feel.

So, how can you turn those “yes” answers into resounding “no” answers? I suggest that you pick out the one crazy-making belief you most easily buy into. Have your partner do the same. Share your “craziness” with each other and consider:

• Why do you buy into this irrational belief?
• How does it make you feel?
• Does it help you with your planning?
• Does it make you feel relaxed? Confident?
• Do you think your stress could be reduced if you didn’t buy into this crazy-making belief?
• Why are you clinging to this thinking?
• What do you think is the worst thing that could happen if you let go of this belief?

Talk to your partner and find out what you can do to help him or her feel safer, calmer, and more assured that all will be well. Learn how you can help him or her not so readily buy into their favorite emotional lie.

Remember: Only when you reject these crazy-making beliefs can your wedding be a joyful event, grounded in your truth.

Performance Anxiety

Peter Bregman is my hands-down favorite business writer.  And so it might seem strange that I’m linking to one of his posts here on my wedding blog.  Well, this article is his reflection on the advice a friend gave him the night before his wedding––advice that served him well on his wedding day and for many days after, both professionally and personally.


by Peter Bregman  |   January 24, 2013  |  HBR Blog

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."

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Challenge Of Not Hurting Anyone While Planning Your Wedding!

true story (names changed)
Gloria and Sal, a couple in their mid-thirties, hired me to officiate their ceremony at an estate in Santa Barbara. They each had been raised Catholic, but over the years drifted away. They went to Midnight Christmas mass and that pretty much was it.

Both sets of parents were practicing Catholics and they knew that the couple no longer practiced the religion. Although knowing that, both sets of parents told them that if they didn’t get married in the church, they wouldn’t attend the wedding.

At first, Gloria and Sal resisted and then, just a month after hiring me, caved in. They told me that they didn’t want to hurt their parents’ feelings.

They decided to focus on the reception and after-party. Of course, their parents had much to say about that as well since they were jointly paying for it. Eventually, Gloria and Sal just wanted to get their wedding over with so they could get on with their lives.

Here is the fourth lie that couples play in their heads:
they and they alone are ultimately responsible for the happiness of their families and friends on the day of their wedding.

Let me be very clear: No one has the right to emotionally blackmail you. No one has the right to throw ultimatums your way. Family and friends can choose to honor your life and your decisions, or they can choose to place the burden of how they feel upon you and your partner.

If they choose the later, then that’s not love. It’s emotional blackmail. I know this is hard to grasp and accept, but the simple truth is—more times than not, you are not responsible for other people’s feelings.

We are each responsible for our own feelings—and the choices we make based on those feelings.

Brides often tell me of the compromises they’ve made so as to “make peace.” That’s fine, so long as you remember—this is your wedding. I know that a wedding is not only about the couple; it’s also about the families. However, a wedding really doesn’t celebrate the union of two families. Your parents aren’t going to be sharing a bed together! A wedding celebrates the union of two people—you and your partner.

So, when you “make peace” make sure you’re remaining true to you and your partner. Otherwise, you will have no peace. A shared vision is your compass, as it will help you not let the emotions swamp you.

Sanity Saver Questions:
• Where in the planning are you and your partner willing to compromise?
• Where are you and your partner not willing to compromise?
• Are you on the same page, right now, today?

Remember: You’re not going to please everyone. It is not your responsibility to please everyone. You’re not responsible for how people react to your choices.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Unplugged Weddings – The Latest Trend

When I first meet with a couple, I always like to know how they met.  Last week I met with a couple and the groom told me that  his fiancee passed his “first-date test” when she didn’t answer her cell during dinner.  So, he asked her out on  a second date and rest was history.  Love it!

I thought of this couple when I came across the following NYTimes article.  It’s causing something of a stir in the world of weddings. . .what do you think?!

The ‘I Dos,’ Unplugged


The attendant was stationed at the front door of my friend Michael’s wedding. “The ceremony is in the chapel,” she said to the arriving guests. “The ragtime band will be playing in the courtyard. The mini-cheeseburgers and lobster rolls will be served under the tent.

“Now, would you please hand over your cellphone?”

Attendees were taken aback. Four hours without my PDA? All evening with no Twitter feed? What happens if the baby sitter calls? The attendant smiled and said, “Perhaps you recall the announcement in the invitation?”

Michael, for the record, is not a celebrity, like the former National Basketball Association star Michael Jordan, who recently banned guests from bringing their cellphones and cameras to his wedding to Yvette Prieto in Palm Beach, Fla. And Michael won’t be selling his wedding photos to People magazine as Kim Kardashian did when she and Kris Humphries were hitched, in another ceremony at which guests were told to leave their iPhones behind.

But he did want guests to be present during his ceremony, which he and his fiancé had made explicit in advance. “A wedding is about having people paying witness,” Michael later told me. “How can they do that if they don’t even hear your vows because they’re too busy taking pictures?”

The hottest topic in wedding circles this year seems to be whether to request, remind or even require that guests go cold turkey on technology during the event.