true story

I had the honor of officiating the wedding of Rob Mariano and Amber Brkich, reality show sweethearts who met while competing on Survivor, Season 8. In true reality show fashion, their wedding preparations and celebration became a special on CBS-TV. Celebrity event planner Colin Cowie created the detailed graciousness of their wedding at The Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas. And, yes, by any standard this was the stuff of fairy tale weddings.

While the budget was beyond that of the average wedding, the producers and Colin very much wanted Rob & Amber’s wedding to be a “wedding” and not a reality TV spectacle.

When I returned home, family and friends pounded me with questions about the “perfect fairy tale wedding.” Yet, oddly, at no point did I think of it as the perfect wedding. I’ve always thought that Colin and the producers and vendors, along with family and friends, gifted Rob and Amber with a magical wedding. 

Yes, as weddings go, it was perfect. Colin and the producers worked mightily and generously. Yet, there was a storm brewing and we didn’t know until an hour before the start if we could hold the ceremony on the beach. It was so windy that Amber’s veil got entangled in an entry arch and almost yanked her off her feet. Not seen on TV was all the stress, worry and holding of breath that is related to weddings.  

The ceremony’s backdrop of a magnificent sunset and windy ocean was magical. And the magic continued throughout the reception as we sat at long tables and shared food family style. Stories were told that made people roar with laughter. Through the wee hours magic was kicked up on the dance floor.

Rob and Amber, their family, friends and all the good folk who worked on their wedding created a memory of unbridled life.  

They created magic – a moment in time when people can remember what is most important in life – family and friends, love and loyalty.  

And that is the stuff that no TV crew can produce – the “stuff” more long lasting than perfection.   

Sometime after the wedding special aired on TV, I met with Barbara, a young bride who had seen the wedding. The first question she asked me was, do you need a lot of money to have a great wedding? 

The simple answer is no, you don’t need a lot of money.  

Money doesn’t buy “magic” or guarantee a great party. I’ve been to weddings with six-figure budgets and I was bored out of my mind. I’ve been to very economical weddings and I was bored out of mind.

What do you need to have a great celebration? 

People who love you.  

Rob’s and Amber’s families and friends reveled in the love they brought – in all the good will and wackiness that came with them. That all this was going to be on TV certainly added to the fun, but it’s not what gave the celebration its heart.

Sanity Saver Questions ~

  • What are five things you want people to say about your wedding?
  • How many of those things require more money than you have now?
  • How will your wedding be diminished if you don’t have the elements you can’t afford?


Magic does not happen magically. You and your partner create magic – along with those you enlist to support and help you in the planning.   

The magic comes from imagining and talking. From being grateful for the life you have created and the life you are determined to continue to create.