Having Honest Arguments About Your Wedding!

To be trusted is a greater compliment than being loved.
George MacDonald

I recently Zoomed with a couple who is having a cross-cultural, inter-faith ceremony. I was impressed by how articulate they were in sharing their dream for the ceremony and celebration. 

They readily admitted they’ve done a lot of talking and have had some hard conversations.

Afterwards, I flashed on a former bride whose wedding I officiated back in 2018. 

A couple of weeks before the Pandemic lockdown, I ran into Anna (names changed) strolling through The Grove mall with her nine-month old daughter.  

She told me that she and her husband Jeff were divorcing. Things had been rocky from the start as Jeff didn’t like to talk about anything important. And when they did have that rare talk, he’d end up screaming and storming off.  

Anna thought that having a baby would bring them closer. The baby didn’t since a baby doesn’t have that kind of power.  And besides, it wasn’t until the baby was born that Jeff told her he didn’t want children!

Here’s the thing. . .

if you and your partner have already established your relationship in the habits of solid conversation, then that will go a long way to help you navigate the demands of your wedding planning.  

If, though, you’ve gotten into habits of not talking, then you really are going to experience stress.

Sometimes, a couple argues about decisions they have to make, other times about things said and done that one of them is offended by. Over time, the arguing takes on a life of its own and all the couple really does is talk at each other.  

How you communicate directly affects your sanity – individually and as a couple.  

If you’re caught up in an endless cycle of arguing, then the only way to break the cycle is to talk about how you talk to each other.

The cycle of arguing will only be broken if you take each other’s hand, step out of the crazy-making circle, and take a look at why you’re repeating the same conversation over and over and over, no matter what the issue.

Most people think the other person is to blame for the problem.  

Drop the blame game.  As the cliché goes, it takes two to tango.

If you want to see you and your partner talk in a different way to each other, ask for your partner’s help.  

At a time when you’re not sniping at each other, tell your partner that you want to discuss how the two of you handle tough topics.

Try something like this:

Whenever we talk about the wedding budget, it seems we end up arguing. I get frustrated when you say ‘no’ to something I suggest and then you end the conversation. Sure, I’d want you to say ‘yes’ and as much as I hate to admit it, I know that ‘yes’ can’t always be the answer.  It’s when you shut down, end the conversation, and refuse to talk about the issue that I feel disrespected and feel that you’re not treating me like a partner. I don’t know what’s going on inside that head of yours. I want to discuss money in a way where we don’t end up mad at each other.  Let’s figure out something new here. 

As a couple, you’re going to break old dance steps that don’t work for you when you say out loud – this isn’t working, so let’s do something different.

I know this doesn’t come naturally.  

It takes practice. 

It demands that you together want to create a more honest way of talking to each other.

Your attitude will determine everything.  

  1. Lose the anger.  
  2. Put aside the judgment.  
  3. Accept that a tough conversation is a messy give-n-take.  

That’s what dialogue is all about!

I’m sure you can come up with a bunch of reasons for why this will not work.  

But, hey, if the way you’re communicating now is not working for you, why not try something new?

And if you’re afraid of what your partner’s reaction might be, then I urge you to think about why you’re marrying someone you’re afraid of!

SANITY SAVER Questions:

  • Is there a conversation you know you should have and are afraid to have?
  • What are you afraid will happen if you talk about the issue?
  • What are you afraid will happen if you do not talk about the issue?
  • What would you like to see happen differently?

If you want more tips on how to communicate in smart, healthy ways with your partner – during wedding planning and beyond – 

check out my book, 

How to Plan Your Wedding AND Stay Sane!

OR –

Treat you and your partner to a communications coaching session with me. 

Click HERE for details!

Even More Ceremony Moments

Some people are worth melting for.

Olaf, character from Frozen

A real marriage believer

I met with a couple who had gotten engaged after two months of dating. Both were in their thirties and assured me, “when you know, you know.”

Our conversation was light, lively and sprinkled with moments of laughter. At one point in the conversation, the groom asked if I was married. When I told him I wasn’t married, a proverbial cloud crossed his face. Concerned, he asked, “you do believe in marriage?”

I later learned that this was going to be his fourth marriage. 

Apparently, I don’t believe in marriage as much as he does!

Proving that no happy occasion is happy until someone is miserable

The couple told me they were going to invite each of their uncles to do a reading. Because they did not want the ceremony to be religious, the readings would be selections of poetry. A few weeks prior to the ceremony they emailed me the poems so I could bring back-up copies. 

Night before the wedding, the groom emailed to tell me that his uncle would be reading the classic selection from St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians (love is patient, love is kind). I was surprised as this was a switch from his original choice – “Falling in Love Is Like Owning a Dog.”

When I arrived at the venue, I asked the groom why he decided to go with a reading from Scripture. 

He told me that his uncle, a “devout” Catholic, informed him that if he wasn’t allowed to read from Scripture then he wouldn’t want to do a reading. 

Hmm. . .guess “love” isn’t always patient or kind!

The OCD guest

I pride myself on being calm and collected before a ceremony – but, there is that rare occasion. 

I was at a venue with a gorgeous lawn that looks out onto the Pacific. The couple had an arbor created with an asymmetrical floral arrangement on the top horizontal plank. 

Fifteen-minutes before ceremony start I had a moment of panic when I spotted a guy attempting to take down the floral arrangement on the top plank.  

Turns out, he was the boyfriend of the Maid of Honor and the “crooked” arrangement disturbed him! 

He didn’t believe me when I told him that was the design. The event planner finally convinced him by firmly asking him to return to his seat.

The idea that a guest would mess with floral arrangements fifteen minutes before “show time” is beyond breath-taking!

The O.C.D. Mother-of-The-Bride

I arrived at the venue my usual hour prior to ceremony invite time. At one point, as I was scoping out the ballroom where the ceremony was going to take place, a middle-aged woman in an evening gown swooshed in, seemingly from nowhere, and made a beeline towards me. Turns out, she was the mother of the bride.

She looked at me, looked at the floral arch where I would be standing with the couple and abruptly asked if I’d position myself in front of the arch as I intended to stand in the ceremony. She went on to position me under the arch and even behind the arch. She was like an artist arranging a still-life. 

Eventually, the event planner joined us and the mother declared to her, “this arch isn’t going to work. It’s too short and he’s too tall.” Yes, she didn’t like the proportions of me or the arch!

The planner had to help the mother confront reality – that it was too late to do anything about the arch – or my height.

I’ve never again been able to look at an arch in the same way.

Dealing with nerves

While speaking with the bride prior to the ceremony, I sensed that something was “off.” I soon learned from the event planner that she’d taken a Xanax with a swig of champagne to calm her nerves. 

“Loopy” only begins to describe what she sounded like as she offered her vows! Smile!

And then there was the bride who probably should have taken a Xanax because she was distractingly nervous throughout the ceremony. As I spoke, she made odd contortions with her face so that I thought she was trying to prevent herself from throwing-up – and then I realized she was trying not to cry. 

Her facial expressions made her look like she was about to go into a seizure of some sort!

A rose by any other name

The groom, whose legal name I won’t share, insisted that I call him by his nickname, the name that’s on his high school diploma – “Fuzzy.” 

Do you know how odd it is to call a grown man “Fuzzy?”

More Ceremony Memories

True love is never blind, but rather brings an added light.

Phoebe Cary, American poet

I was way early for the ceremony and popped into the resort’s café for a latte. A friendly female server asked me why I was at the resort. She became excited when I told her I’m an officiant.

Like a child asking for a bedtime story, she said, “Tell me something about the couple!”

My first thought was, “Why?” but I told her, “They found love later in life.”

Her eyes lit up, “How wonderful!”

I smiled, “There’s hope for all of us.”

She readily replied, “Oh, thank you for sharing this with me!”

I hadn’t thought what I shared was all that special – but – it seemed to have made her day.

And so, here is what I like to think of as a hodge-podge of goodness. No one item has really inspired me to write a full-on blog post and yet, each item is just too good – for various reasons – not to share with YOU!

#1.

In the courtyard of my condo building, I recently ran into my neighbor David and his wife, Sylvia (all names changed). Gotta say, they looked rather drab – or maybe they had just had an argument. 

Two weeks ago they had celebrated their wedding.

And that’s the thing about weddings – eventually, you return from the euphoria of your celebration to the ordinary routine of your daily life.

How does your wedding help you make that adjustment?

Your VOWS –

Your vows are really all about the ordinary routine of your daily life.

Your vows give you the generosity and joy to be faithful to that routine – to find and create meaning in that routine – to find and create life in daily life!

#2.

Bill and Joan had been together for more than 20 years. He had been married twice before and she had been a widow. Now, they finally decided to “tie the knot.”

It was a micro wedding and, of course, it started late. Surrounded by their blended family, their ceremony was sweet and poignant.

There is a specialness to a couple marrying in the “last third” of their of life. Careers are completed. Kids are raised. Dreamed-of trips have been taken. Family politics have been handled.

So, what’s left?

Life.

In a new permutation.

There is always newness of life – and I think that’s what your vows commit to – to always and forever be creating a life-giving life together.

#3.

I had officiated Gary’s and Trish’s wedding nine years ago. They invited me to bless Zoe when she was born two years ago and now invited me back for the blessing of six-month old twins Miles and Gavin.

I marveled at how calm Gary and Trish were even though they had three kids and a house-full of guests for the celebration.

Trish’s mom told me that’s how they are even when all three kids are crying at once!

Wow! This puts wedding stress into perspective!

#4.

One of my MOST fave compliments I’ve received – 

“You made me feel like there were a billion people in the room. I felt so much love.”

Swoon-worthy vow from a groom –

“I vow to show my love so often, that you see it when you close your eyes.”

One of the smartest grooms I’ve encountered – 

When I asked if he’d turn off his phone he replied, “I don’t have my phone – all the people I love most in the world are here – I don’t need a phone.”

Are you thinking of writing personal vows to each other?

If so, I invite you to check out my book –

How to Write Your Vows: Giving Voice to What Is Deep Within

        

10 Most “What The?!” Ceremony Moments

We are all a little weird and life’s a little weird, 
and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, 
we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness 
and call it love.
 
Robert Fulghum.

When people learn that I officiate weddings, inevitably they ask me, “what was your oddest wedding experience?” I’ve had many an odd experience and inevitably people say, “you should write a book!” I probably should. For now, though, I’ve written this post in which I highlight ten of the most odd wedding moments I’ve encountered. . .

Enjoy!

  • There are different ways for rings to be presented to the couple. Ring bearers are cute but it takes a brave couple willing to let a 4-year old carry rings that have cost thousands of dollars. It’s often customary for the Best Man / Person to hold both rings, though it’s becoming more common for the Best and the Maid/Person of Honor to present the rings. BUT – the oddest was when the bride’s cousin, a professional Belly Dancer, presented the rings while doing a belly dance with a sword balanced on her head!
  • It was a scorching hot summer day. The ceremony was outdoors at a venue that had a panoramic view of Los Angeles. What it didn’t have was – shade. The bride’s sister was invited to read a poem. How lovely. BUT – the sister instead opted to write a meditation on “what is marriage?” The reflection was three pages, single spaced. It quickly became apparent to all that the reflection had been written in a state of disillusionment about marriage as her “words of wisdom” were dreary and cautionary. The bride’s mascara started to run, the guests grew restless and my black suit jacket became soaked in sweat. Afterwards, I learned that the sister had just gone through a bitter divorce from her cheating husband!
  • The couple decided to host their wedding at the house they had recently bought and were having renovated. Bride and groom had each been married before. The groom had a young adult daughter and the bride had a son in high school and a daughter in middle school. I arrived to the tarp-covered setting to find the bride’s daughter huddled in the corner sobbing. Turns out, her mother only told her about the wedding that morning! The daughter didn’t like her soon-to-be step-dad.
  • The groom told me that he was a musician and that he wanted to surprise his bride by singing his personal vows. He had forgotten to tune his guitar prior to the ceremony and he was so nervous that his voice cracked and he blanked on a portion of the “vow lyrics.” Achy-breaky heart, indeed!
  • I will never understand a wedding from a bride’s p.o.v. – especially that of the bride who hired two “bridesmaids” so as to have symmetry with the groomsmen. She believed symmetry was important for a good Instagram look. This was also the bride who asked me to make the ceremony as long as possible because she had spent a significant amount of money on the ceremony arch and wanted to get her money’s worth of time in front of it!
  • Writing vows is always challenging, if not stressful. How do you put into words what is so deep in your heart? One of my bride’s solved the issue by asking her Maid of Honor to write her vows for her. Only problem, the Maid of Honor had never met the groom and wrote the wrong name in the vows.
  • Not to be outdone, there was the groom who had not written out his personal vows. He reassured me that it was all “in his head.” I refused to believe there was anything inside his head and begged him to jot down his thoughts. He reluctantly agreed. Later, as he nervously awaited his bride to process down the aisle, he wiped his forehead with his pocket-square handkerchief. When it came time for the vows, he again whipped out his pocket-square – on which he had written his vows. Only problem – because he had earlier wiped his forehead, his vows were smudged beyond recognition.
  • The groom told me he was a hunter and that he reluctantly agreed to have his wedding on opening day of hunting season. I was nervous at the of the ceremony when the couple released doves as I hoped they’d make it home safely!
  • The couple was insistent there be no mention of God in the ceremony. No problem. They emailed me a reminder – no God. No problem. Really! String Quartet starts playing the processional. I was gobsmacked when the bride walked down the aisle to the strains of – “Ave Maria” – one of the most religious pieces of music ever composed as it honors Mary, who is revered as the Virgin Mother of – God!
  • Towards the end of the ceremony, the bride’s mother suddenly stood-up and began walking towards me. I left the couple and met her. In a voice only I could hear, she said, “Do not pronounce them husband and wife, I have reservations.” Although stunned, I smiled and said, “The only reservations you better have are for dinner.” I hurried back to the couple and quickly finished the ceremony. Afterwards, I found the bride, gave her a hug and asked if she was okay. She smiled and said, “I guess I forgot to tell you about my mother.”

If you want tips on how to communicate in smart, healthy ways with your partner – during wedding planning and beyond – 

check out my book, 

How to Plan Your Wedding AND Stay Sane!

OR –

Treat you and your partner to a communications coaching session with me. 

Click HERE for details!

What enduring love looks like

What does enduring love look like to you? Can you imagine what it looks like? If so, let that guide you in the writing of your vows. . .

My 10 Most Beautiful Ceremony Moments, Pt. 2

You meet thousands of people and none of them really touch you. 
And then you meet one person, and your life is changed. 
Forever.
 
Jamie, Love and Other Drugs

When people learn that I officiate weddings, inevitably they ask me, “what was your oddest wedding experience?” I’ve had many an odd experience (check out two of my more recent posts). 

BUT

Seldom do people ask me, “what was your most beautiful wedding moment?”

I’ve officiated many ceremonies that I could dub “fave.” Beautiful, though, is a different dubbing. It’s a moment that made me realize I was standing in the middle of sheer beauty, mystery and life.

Here are 5 more of 10 such moment memories. . .

  1. The sight of a confident, of-so-happy 73-year-old first-time bride walk down the aisle to her groom, a blubbering mess.
  • The groom was Persian Muslim and the bride was Israeli Jewish. They waited 15-years to win over their families to their love. And they did. We stood beneath a Chuppah and to the side was the Sofreh Table. Honey, wine, sugar, bountiful blessings. Courage and generosity in abundance. Breathtaking and humbling in a flash.
  • The bride asked her 75-year-old grandmother and the groom asked his 80-year-old grandmother to serve as their flower “girls.” Never have rose petals been scattered with such exuberance and joy and pride and life.
  • The couple hosted their wedding near Joshua Tree Park at a 1970’s style resort owned by the bride’s family. Guests sat on bales of hay nestled in one of the few shady spots on the property. The groom and I were in place. There was no wedding party. The dj began the Processional music – Peter and the Wolf by Sergei Prokoviev. The bride and her dad started their walk a distance away, wending through a path bordered by bales of hay. It was so hot the air really did shimmer and as the music filled the desert it looked like she was walking on air. Simply ethereal. 
  • Standing before my goddaughter Meredith and her husband Cole as they gifted each other with their vows. From the corner of my eye I caught sight of Meredith’s parents whose own wedding I officiated over 30 years ago. A beautiful wedding moment – Because.

BONUS: Any time a bride processes to the music from Lakme Flower Duet!   

Are you thinking of writing personal vows to each other?

If so, I invite you to check out my book –

How to Write Your Vows: Giving Voice to What Is Deep Within

        

My 10 Most Beautiful Ceremony Moments, Pt. 1

The unexpected is always upon us.
Chloe / The Feast of Love

When people learn that I officiate weddings, inevitably they ask me, “what was your oddest wedding experience?” I’ve had many an odd experience (check out two of my more recent posts). 

BUT

Seldom do people ask me, “what was your most beautiful wedding moment?”

I’ve officiated many ceremonies that I could dub “fave.” Beautiful, though, is a different dubbing. It’s a moment that made me realize I was standing in the middle of sheer beauty, mystery and life.

Here are 5 of 10 such moment memories. . .

  • The bride and groom were Chinese-American. They did not want to do a traditional Tea Ceremony for their families and so we adapted a modified ritual into their ceremony. The bride’s mother had Altzheimer’s and only intermittently recognized her daughter. The tenderness with which the bride offered tea to her mother was breath-catching.
  • Brian and Leah invited his 91-year-old grandfather, who had been married 71-years, to present the rings. This was a stab-me-in-the heart moment.
  • Molly and her dad walked down the aisle beaming. When they reached the first row, they stopped, he turned and kissed her, whispering, “I love you”. He then stepped over to Missy, Molly’s soon-to-be wife, kissed her and whispered, “I love you.” An exquisite moment reminding us all that life really is that simple.
  • The bride was Mexican Catholic and the groom was Jewish, from Philadelphia. At a remote resort an hour outside Mexico City, I stood with them underneath a Chuppah, and to the side was a statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe. After exchanging vows and rings, they presented their mothers with roses, as the bride’s cousin, a Mexican actor who starred in the movie “Like Water For Chocolate,” sang Ave Maria. It was a goose-bump moment because of the sheer beauty of these good people, coming in faith and hope and love to a remote village so as to transcend all that could pull them apart.  
  • The Bride was Muslim, though not observant. She wore a white dress in which she looked like a ballerina. Her mom wore a joyful, colorful hijab. I marveled at both beautiful women bound by a devotion that transcended faith and culture allowing for love to be transcendent.

Working On Your Wedding Vows?!

I just came across these three stab-me-in-the-heart quotes which you may want to weave into your own vows!

10 Most “What The?!” Wedding Moments, Part 2

It is a curious thought, 
but it is only when you see people looking ridiculous 
that you realize just how much you love them.
 
 Agatha Christie

When people learn that I officiate weddings, inevitably they ask me, “what was your oddest wedding experience?” I’ve had many an odd experience and inevitably people say, “you should write a book!” I probably should. For now, though, I’ve written this post in which I highlight ten of the most odd wedding moments I’ve encountered. . .here’s Part 2. . .

Enjoy!

  • Writing vows is always challenging, if not stressful. How do you put into words what is so deep in your heart? One of my bride’s solved the issue by asking her Maid of Honor to write her vows for her. Only problem, the Maid of Honor had never met the groom and wrote the wrong name in the vows.
  • Not to be outdone, there was the groom who had not written out his personal vows. He reassured me that it was all “in his head.” I refused to believe there was anything inside his head and begged him to jot down his thoughts. He reluctantly agreed. Later, as he nervously awaited his bride to process down the aisle, he wiped his forehead with his pocket-square handkerchief. When it came time for the vows, he again whipped out his pocket-square – on which he had written his vows. Only problem – because he had earlier wiped his forehead, his vows were smudged beyond recognition.
  • The groom told me he was a hunter and that he reluctantly agreed to have his wedding on opening day of hunting season. I was nervous at the of the ceremony when the couple released doves as I hoped they’d make it home safely!
  • The couple was insistent there be no mention of God in the ceremony. No problem. They emailed me a reminder – no God. No problem. Really! String Quartet starts playing the processional. I was gobsmacked when the bride walked down the aisle to the strains of – “Ave Maria” – one of the most religious pieces of music ever composed as it honors Mary, who is revered as the Virgin Mother of – God!

  • Towards the end of the ceremony, the bride’s mother suddenly stood-up and began walking towards me. I left the couple and met her. In a voice only I could hear, she said, “Do not pronounce them husband and wife, I have reservations.” Although stunned, I smiled and said, “The only reservations you better have are for dinner.” I hurried back to the couple and quickly finished the ceremony. Afterwards, I found the bride, gave her a hug and asked if she was okay. She smiled and said, “I guess I forgot to tell you about my mother.”

If you want tips on how to communicate in smart, healthy ways with your partner – during wedding planning and beyond – 

check out my book, 

How to Plan Your Wedding AND Stay Sane!

OR –

Treat you and your partner to a communications coaching session with me. 

Click HERE for details!