Saturday, May 20, 2017
Friday, May 19, 2017
Monday, May 1, 2017
Marriage ends up as a hopeful, generous, infinitely kind gamble
taken by two people who don’t know yet who they are
or who the other might be,
binding themselves to a future they cannot conceive of
and have carefully avoided investigating.
Alain de Bottonmay
Monday, April 24, 2017
I ____take you ____to be my wife/husband.
I promise to be true to you
In good times and in bad,
In sickness and in health.
I will love you and honor you,
All the days of my life.
This is my solemn vow.
I recently ran into Danielle – her mom, Becky, is a good friend of mine. Danielle’s youngest child, Declan, is six months old. About six weeks ago Danielle noticed that Declan wasn’t using his left hand and was overcompensating with his right hand. She took him to the pediatrician and so began the most hellish 24 hours of her life.
Making a long story way shorter, within the span of 24 hours, Danielle and her husband Ryan were told that Declan might have a brain tumor, then they were told he might have cerebral palsy until finally they were informed Declan had had a stroke while in the womb. His left-side motor skills were impacted.
While the prognosis is good for the long haul, for Danielle and Ryan it has been an indescribable roller-coaster of emotions.
And yet Danielle told me that she and Ryan are stronger now than at any point in their relationship. They know they will survive – and thrive.
I’ve said it here in this blog many times before – it is always such an honor to bear witness to a couple’s vows. I’m in awe as I witness a couple make that leap of faith. BUT, I also know that no couple fully comprehends just what it is they’re vowing. How could they?
How could any couple truly appreciate what those bold words mean, “in good times and in bad; in sickness and in health”?
Danielle and Ryan didn’t fully understand what they were vowing. BUT they are grateful they made those vows BECAUSE it is those vows that are giving them the strength they need now for Declan and for each other.
My hope for each of my couples is that their vows will be
that wellspring of courage – and joy!
Sunday, April 16, 2017
Saturday, April 15, 2017
8 Things I Know For Sure About Weddings
I have officiated over one thousand wedding ceremonies. More times than not, couples inevitably tell me that they’re worried they’re going to ball their eyes out.
I laugh and encourage them not to worry because my experience has been that the brides and grooms who say they will cry often times don’t while the ones who say they’re not going to cry end up needing a paper bag to breathe into! I say, “cry!” – make-up can be reapplied.
But why are weddings such an emotional experience? Maybe it’s because a wedding, in its essence, is a breathtaking act of generosity and courage.
After all these years, after all these weddings, here are the 8 Things I Know For Certain About Weddings, no matter the size of the guest list, no matter the faith, culture or sexual orientation of the couple.
1. Every couple has a story AND every bride and groom IS a story.
We need a witness to our lives. 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.’
Shall We Dance?
I love listening to a couple tell me the story of how they met because in the telling I get a glimpse of who each person is. In listening to how they were surprised by love, listening to why they are grateful to their partner, I get a glimpse into the story of who they are.
I marvel at how all couples are similar AND how all are vastly different. Each has a story of how they got to the point of planning a wedding with this person out of all the billions of people in the world.
Because a wedding celebrates the co-mingling of stories I feel inspired and cheered, challenged and moved, and, yes, sometimes, just plain puzzled!
2. The planning process gives clear evidence of what the strengths and weaknesses are of the couple – as a couple.
To fall in love is easy,
But it is a hard quest worth making
To find a comrade
Through whose steady presence
One becomes the person one desires to be.
Anna Louise Strong
No matter how intimate or how large the guest list, a wedding presses buttons that trigger everything from anxious insecurity to indescribable joy. And if you pay attention, all those stressors, all those reactions to those stressors, indicate who the person you’re marrying is at this point in time.
The quality of how you communicate during the planning reveals the quality of your life after the honeymoon!
3. A wedding speaks to the core aspects of a couple’s identity – family, culture and religion.
Explore and discover that which is within.
When we find ourselves, we are more easily found by others.
In order to say “I Do!” there needs to be an “I” and the planning of a wedding invites, challenges and demands that each person ask, “Who Am I?” in relation to their place within a family, within a culture and within (or without) a belief system. What have you incorporated from each? What have you rejected? And how has all of that gone into making the “I” who will say “I Do”?
4. A wedding calls forth memories – good, bad and glorious.
In that book which is my memory,
On the first page of the chapter that is the day when I first met you,
Appear the words, ‘Here begins a new life’.
A wedding is a grateful celebration for the past. From the moment of the proposal on up to the last dance, accurately or inaccurately remembered memories trigger emotions. And all those memories influence how you react to stress, along with what you expect and ask of your partner, your family and your circle of friends.
5. A wedding challenges a couple’s relationships with family and friends.
The best part of life is when your family become your friends
and your friends become your family.
People can forget that the wedding is not about them. People you thought you could rely upon disappear because of their own mystifying reasons. People on your “B List” generously surprise you. Parents speak and act out of love laced with protective fear in ways that can confuse, exasperate or delight. Parents want the celebration to reflect a reality that simply doesn’t exist or that doesn’t match the reality of who you are as a couple. Weddings challenge your capacity for surprise.
6. A wedding is an act of faith.
However richly inspired by love,
Marriage is a high wire act
That is usually attempted by two nervous wrecks
Who just go for it,
Reeling with bliss and blind with the hots.
The rest is work, faith and destiny.
Each of you only knows so much of who you are today. There are aspects of “you” that you’ve not yet explored and figured out – and so it is with your partner. The great act of faith is that you say, “I’m going to create a future with you. Of all the people with whom I could create a future, I choose you because you have, united with me, what I need to create a life-giving future – for me, for us.” Because we can’t predict the future a marriage is a glorious high wire act.
7. A wedding challenges a couple to ask what they want from and for their own life.
Love is our true destiny. We do not find the meaning of life by ourselves alone – we find it in another. The meaning of our life is a secret that has to be revealed to us in love, by the one we love. Whoever loves is more alive and more real than when they did not love.
If you don’t have goals and dreams and hopes, then why bother getting married? The great gift of marriage is that it gives you the safety to become who you desire to become – provided you and your partner have shared with each other and have already learned how to encourage those goals, dreams and hopes!
8. A wedding allows us to fulfill our collective, innate need to celebrate.
There are only two ways to live your life: one is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.
Ritual (religious or not) grounds us and helps us make sense of life. In a world seemingly gone mad, a wedding has the power to reassure us that life is good – and worthy of our best. Every wedding reminds us of the lasting truth stated by Emily Dickinson:
That Love is all there is,
Is all we know of Love.
Given these 8 certainties, is it any wonder that we cry at weddings?!
Sunday, April 9, 2017
“In the days leading up to the wedding, I’ve felt like I’m wading into a pool of joy and I don’t know the depth of the joy yet.”
Nathaniel Peters of his marriage to Barbara Jane Sloan
Wednesday, April 5, 2017
I recently was at a networking event for wedding professionals where I met up with Lindsay Longacre, founder of LVL Events, one of SoCal’s premier event planning and design companies. Lindsay is one of the reasons why I love officiating weddings – because I get to work with some amazingly good and talented professionals!
Lindsay told me that she recently referred to one of my ceremonies in an Industry presentation she had given. It’s a story I’d forgotten about, but one worth sharing.
Scott and Shannon were having an outdoor ceremony in a venue that was casual chic by the ocean. They’re a fun and funny couple and so were their guests, families – and wedding party.
Their vows brought tears all around.
And then I turned to the best man for the rings. He looked perplexed and shrugged. I was not amused, but gave a forced smile. Still – no rings. With an even more forced smile, I whispered, “Dude, I really need the rings – now!” Alarmed, he loudly whispered, “I really don’t have them!”
I was stunned.
Turns out, the rings were back in Shannon’s hotel room!
I made a joke (don’t remember exactly what I said) and we went on with the ceremony.
Lindsay, as the event planner, was embarrassed she’d forgotten about the rings (that rare, once in a blue moon moment) and I was annoyed with my self for also having forgotten to check for the rings before ceremony start. I’d been distracted, though, because a couple approached me about fifteen minutes before the ceremony and reminded me that ten years before I had done their ceremony!
After the ceremony I had scheduled a meeting with a couple at a nearby Starbucks. I went to my meeting and the best man went to the hotel. Later, I returned to the reception and before the salad was served, Shannon and Scott exchanged rings.
Everyone loved the sweetness of the moment. The exchange of rings was even more special because of the unusual circumstances.
Had their ceremony been ruined? No. It just had a “different” twist.
focus on the magic and not the perfection of your celebration.
People love magic more than perfection!
Sunday, April 2, 2017
Thursday, March 30, 2017
Flip through any wedding magazine and most likely you’ll come across an article with a title such as: “8 Nitty-Gritty Must-Have Conversations Before You Walk Down the Aisle.”
The article will challenge you to reflect on the conversational health of your relationship with a list of questions such as:
· How do we feel about having kids?
· How will we handle our money?
· Who cleans the toilet?
· What about the in-laws?
· What don’t we agree on?
· How do we keep the sparks flying?
· What’s our arguing style?
· How will we balance work and play?
These are essential questions and my hope is that a couple has answered these questions before coming to discuss the ceremony with me. If they haven’t, then I offer communication coaching that helps a couple hone their skills.
The novelist Andre Malroux claimed that, “A happy marriage is a long conversation that always seems too short.” I like that! So then the question is: what do you talk about?
Well, here’s a list I put together of 25 “non-nitty gritty” questions that are fun, silly, intriguing and revealing. In some respects, these questions are just as important as the “serious” questions I posed above.
How many of these questions have you asked each other?
How many answers do you know?
1. What has been one of the most memorable experiences in your life?
2. What is an experience that challenged you but ultimately made you a better person?
3. How have you touched another person’s life (for the good)?
4. What do you think is the weirdest thing about life in general?
5. What is one way in which you’re mean to your self?
6. What is the best compliment you’ve ever received?
7. What is the best compliment you’ve ever given?
8. What is the worst insult you’ve ever received?
9. What is the worst insult you’ve ever given?
10. What is the best text you ever got? The worst?
11. What is the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen?
12. What are five things you’re grateful for?
13. What was your favorite childhood toy?
14. What was your favorite childhood game?
15. What was the best movie you ever saw as a kid?
16. How are you different today from when you were in 5th grade?
17. What is the biggest mistake you ever made?
18. What is the failure you’re most proud of – because of what you learned from it?
19. What would you do if you knew you wouldn’t fail?
20. What are five silly things you’d like to try at least once?
21. What are your five favorite words and why?
22. What is one thing you don’t understand about yourself?
23. What are you most self-conscious about?
24. Who or what do you find intimidating?
25. Who is the smartest person you know and why are they so smart?
Saturday, March 25, 2017
Earlier this month I officiated the wedding of Teresa and Nick. They’re a fun couple and each has a great, silly sense of humor. We hit it off right away.
When I arrived at the venue they had not seen each other. Each, though, was busy with photos and last minute touches. I marveled at how relaxed they were. They each gave me a warm welcome – some couples are so nervous they barely recognize who I am! Teresa and Nick were not just happy – they were joyful.
The odd (sad) thing is, many of my couples are more stressed than joyful.
So. how can you be joyful on your wedding day?
Well, you can do what Teresa and Nick did. . .
You invite the right guests – only those people who mean something important to you.
You hire the right team of vendors – and let them do what you’re paying them to do.
You successfully navigate the shoals of parents’ demands.
You believe without a twinge that this is person you want to travel through life with.
You abandon yourself to the joy of the experience – you just let go!
Could joy be that simple?
Yeah – it could be – and it is!
Thursday, March 23, 2017
“I think love isn’t something you necessarily fall in to but you ascend to, and she presented enough challenges early on for me to ascend to not only love her but to be worthy of her love.”
Jon-Sesrie Goff of his wife Madeleine Hunt-Ehrlich
Saturday, March 18, 2017
photo: Chiến Phạm
This is a reading one of my couples chose for their ceremony. I’d not heard it before and I think it’s exquisite!
Peace In Every Step
Thich Nhat Hanh
We really have to understand the person we want to love.
If our love is only a will to possess, it is not love.
If we only think of ourselves, if we know only our own needs and ignore the needs of the other person, we cannot love.
We must look deeply in order to see and understand the needs, aspirations and suffering of the person we love. This is the ground of real love. You cannot resist loving another person when you really understand him or her.
From time to time, sit close to the one you love, hold his or her hand, and ask, “Darling, do I understand you enough? Or am I making you suffer? Please tell me so that I can learn to love you properly. I don’t want to make you suffer, and if I do so because of my ignorance, please tell me so that I can love you better, so that you can be happy.”
We need courage to ask these questions, but if we don’t ask, the more we love, the more we may destroy the people we are trying to love.
True love needs understanding.
With understanding, the one we love will certainly flower.
I recently came across this poem. . .I've not heard it at a wedding. . .perhaps it's right for yours?
Is love enough?
Enough for what?
To take care of. . .
the stuff life brings:
the she said, he said. . .
the walking toward and the walking away from. . .
to meet disaster whether it arrives in pin drop silence
or siren blasts. . .
to bridge the space between what you mean to say and what
you said with the hollow space of what you left unsaid. . .
to see afresh desire’s swift lights, and giddy tilts. . .
to love justice when the world forgets. . .
to see past troubles to hope. . .
Love is enough, if you remember to take care to love.