Wise Words for Your Vows

I’ve been going through my files and came across this quote I had tucked away. I don’t know who made this observation. Obviously, though, it comes from a wise person!

In a marriage we must relate to the person we have before us while keeping in mind the ideal to whom we made the vows, who may at the time, bear no resemblance at all to what we are seeing and hearing.

In a successful marriage we do not get to choose between them.

THIS is the person to whom you are making your vow. . .

May you both vow to keep each other mutually honest, relevant, authentic and alive.

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

  

A Letter to Parents Disappointed That Their Child Is Not Having a Church Wedding

Do we trust God to act in all the events in our lives

or only the ones that meet our approval?

    Barbara Brown Taylor

I originally posted this “letter” back in 2019. Recently, a young woman in Scotland came across it and shared it with her parents who were not happy with her decision to not have a church wedding. My letter guided them in having a conversation at the end of which her parents reassured her that they love her and her fiancé and share in their joy. This woman urged me to repost so as to make it even more accessible. And so I am. . .

Last weekend I officiated a wedding that the groom’s parents boycotted because he was marrying a woman of a different faith (not the couple pictured above). His father was embarrassed and worried about what his relatives in their country of origin would say.

The groom spoke of his father with love, compassion and understanding.

He was hurt but somehow not angry.  I marveled at his generous spirit.

Sadly, this is not the first time I’ve had one or both sets of parents boycott a wedding because of religion.

And so this post is intended for the mother or father who is thinking of not attending their child’s wedding because they don’t approve of them marrying outside “the” faith.

My intention is not to scold. Rather, I invite you to reflect on my perspective. . .

Over my years of ministry I’ve come to realize certain things that I believe are true about God and religion.

I ask that you forgive me if at any time I sound presumptuous or arrogant. That’s not my intention.

“I’m spiritual, but not religious” is what many engaged couples tell me.

Although they grew up in homes that had some religious affiliation, much like yours, they themselves no longer attend weekly church services.

While many of these couples have drifted away from the church rituals of their upbringing, they still believe in God.

They desire a ceremony that honors the sacredness of what they are doing without it being religious, i.e. denominational.

With many of these couples, their parents, like you, still go to church and, like you, often times are disappointed with the couples’ decision not to have a religious-based wedding.

I believe God is never found in a church building simply because it is a church building.

People bring God to a church building. 

Family and friends, knowingly and unknowingly, bring God with them to the ceremony.

It is their love, joy and wishes that make a ceremony sacred – for God can only be found in the love and joy of God’s people.

I believe that when a couple sends out wedding invitations, they are really saying to family and friends “come celebrate the great good we have found in each other, and bear witness as we give our word to each other.” 

It really is that simple.  And what could be more sacred?

I believe a couple enters into the mystery of life and love when they give their word, their vow, to each other.

In an age when talk is cheap, what could honor God, who is “The Word,” more than for a person to give his or her word to their beloved with an open heart?

I believe the sacredness of a ceremony also comes from recognizing that family and friends are the “collective memory” of the day.

In years to come, when life gets messy, they are to remind the couple of the love they celebrated and bore witness to. And that is a sacred responsibility.

I believe a wedding ceremony, when done right, renews and refreshes everyone present.

When done right, a wedding ceremony reminds us what life is all about – friends, family, love, loyalty.

What could be more sacred than creating that simple, yet profound reminder?

I am saddened – and at times angered – when a couple tells me their mother and/or father have threatened to boycott the wedding because they’re not getting married in a church.

I don’t understand how a parent could inflict such cruelty upon their child, especially when this daughter or son is marrying a good person – a person of integrity.  I can’t understand the harsh words you inflict upon your child.

How often do we say, “God is love”?

Can any one of us truly comprehend the magnitude of this belief?  I don’t believe any human can – not even the head of a religion.

Do you not believe that God’s graciousness encompasses more than we can imagine?

Where there is love, there is God. 

Every religion holds some understanding of this tenet.

Is not God in the love your child has for their partner? Is it not possible that God’s love extends far beyond any church service?

To believe in God is to believe in an awe-inducing, life affirming mystery. To believe in God is not to believe in magic.

Do you really believe that in the face of love God could be angry?

Why do you claim your anger is a reflection of God’s anger?

Embrace your child, bless your child in and through your hurt, believing all the while, as did all the holy ones of every religion, that in the end. . .

all will be well. . . 

∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞

If you’re a parent who’s upset that your daughter or son is not getting married in a religious setting, and you’ve been laying a “guilt trip” on them (hey, let’s call it for what it is), then here are seven questions I invite you to reflect upon.

Let these questions spur a conversation with your son or daughter and their partner.

Talking is way better than guilt-tripping!

  • Why is it important to you that your son/daughter get married in a religious setting?
  • Do you understand that your child no longer attends church?
  • What do you think will be the consequences if your child does not get married in a church?
  • What do you think God thinks of all this?
  • Is your child’s “love” for their partner a gift or a curse?
  • What is your biggest fear regarding your child not having a religious wedding?
  • If you are worried “they” will judge you or the couple for not having a religious wedding, why are “they” being invited to the wedding?   

COURAGE!

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!

10 Must-Have Couple Conversations BEFORE Walking Down the Aisle

But ultimately there comes a moment when a decision must be made. 

Ultimately two people who love each other must ask themselves how much they hope for 

as their love grows and deepens, and how much risk they are willing to take. 

It is indeed a fearful gamble.

Because it is the nature of love to create, marriage itself is something which has to be created, so that, together we become a new creature.

                                                                        Madeleine L’Engle

true story ~

The bride was having an affair with the best man and decided not to tell her fiancé until they were on the beaches of Maui “enjoying” their honeymoon.  

The poor guy asked her why she had waited until then to tell him. She said: “I hoped it was over when I walked down the aisle.”   

The couple had argued throughout much of their engagement.  

The ways in which they argued seldom resolved the issues. She was unhappy and chose not to do anything about it – save have an affair with the best man. The groom was unhappy and chose not to do anything about it – save pretend that all was “good.”

She didn’t want to deal with the messiness of her relationship and opted to stop talking with her fiancé. She no longer told him what she needed. And he wasn’t able to find a way to express his hurt.

Change is never easy, even when it holds the promise of new and healthy beginnings.  

They each opted for the safety of what they knew – an unhappy relationship.  

Needless to say, the annulment process started as soon as the groom got back to his hotel room (and his therapy started soon after).

A bizarre and unsettling story, yes?

And I have more. . .

true story ~

It was six days before their wedding.  Andy, Sara and I met to put final touches to the ceremony. I could sense that something was troubling them. When I asked if they’d decided to have a reading, Andy mumbled, “whatever she wants,” and Sara said, “I don’t know.” When I asked if they were going to say personal words to each other or repeat just the traditional wording, Andy looked confused: “What am I supposed to say to her?”  

I smiled––duh!  

And that’s when Sara burst into tears.

They had an infant. They were building a home. They had unresolved money issues and claimed they had no time to talk.  

All they had time for was to argue, to lash out, and to say hurtful things to each other which they later regretted and didn’t know what to do with. Their jumbled, poorly expressed emotions left them exhausted as they crawled to what they called the “finish line” of their wedding planning.  

Weddings bring out the best and at times the worst in people.  

How you deal with stress during the planning is how you’ll deal with stress after the wedding is long over.

If neglected, the stress on your communication inevitably leads to you:

•          Dismissing your partner’s ideas

•          Shutting down when you partner disagrees with you

•          Playing mind games to test your partner’s love

•          Feeling brittle and unable to express clearly your needs

•          Pretending that you’re happy

At this point in your relationship, you’ve developed routines, dance steps, for communicating while handling everyday stress.  Are these routines letting you get heard by your partner?  Are they helping you take your partner’s needs seriously? Do you know what your partner needs?

10 Must-Have Couple Conversations BEFORE Walking Down the Aisle

  1. Why are we getting married? Would you be surprised at how many can’t answer this question?!
  2. Do we want children as a part of our lives?
  3. How will we manage our money?
  4. How will chores and home maintenance be handled?
  5. What boundaries do we establish in welcoming each others’ parents?
  6. What don’t we agree on? Make a list. Prioritize.
  7. How do we nurture physical and emotional intimacy?
  8. What’s our arguing style – and how satisfied are we with its effectiveness?
  9. How will we attempt to balance work and play?
  10. Where do we want to be in 10, 20, 40 years?

Here’s the great TRUTH –

The quality of your relationship is in direct proportion to the quality of your communication.

Your vows honor your commitment to that quality!

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!

15 Questions for Staying Sane While Creating the Wedding Celebration You Will Remember for All the Right Reasons!

If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.

Maya Angelou

  1. What most excites you as think about the planning? What most worries / concerns you?
  2. Do you know what’s a deal breaker?
  3. Do you know what presses your buttons?
  4. Have you assembled a team to help you deal with what worries you and share in what excites you?  
  5. What are the politics surrounding your families? How will you support each other while sorting through family quirks and unfair narcissism?
  6. You will be surprised by people – they can get odd. How will you deal with the oddness?
  7. Do you know the difference between being assertive and aggressive? 
  8. What’s most important to you? Really, what’s most important?
  9. You do know that there is a difference between accommodating your partner’s wants and insensitively not caring? Repetitively saying, “whatever she wants” is not a sign of support because your wedding is a celebration of the TWO of you. 
  10. Is there anything your partner does (pre-wedding planning) that annoys you? You do know it will really annoy you during planning?
  11. Are you in genuine agreement about your budget, agreeing on what would be nice to have and what is important to have?
  12. Do you know there’s a difference between having a budget and being cheap?
  13. Do you have a favorite way to show appreciation?
  14. Do you know the difference between magic and perfection?
  15. Have you found a fab officiant?!

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!

“How Do You Think It Went?”

I came here tonight
because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody,
you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.

When Harry Met Sally

Last month I officiated a charming micro wedding at a beach resort here in SoCal. 

The couple had hired one of my fav event planners, and everything about the celebration reminded me why this planner is one of my favs!

After the ceremony, the bride, Sharon (names changed), asked me:

“How do you think it went?”

I was surprised since that’s the question I usually ask the couple (maybe not that directly, but I try to find out if they’re happy right after the ceremony).

I asked Sharon, “How do you think it went?”

Sharon exclaimed, “I loved it!”

Relieved, I said, “Then that’s all that matters!”

And ya know what?  

That is ALL that matters – 

you + your partner enjoying your celebration

If your friends and family aren’t able to join in the fun (even via livestream) THEN that’s their problem – NOT yours!

I know, I know – easier said than done, BUT. . .

Your wedding is an act of thanksgiving – not a play to be critiqued!

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!

Is Marriage a Contract?

The best thing to hold onto in life is each other.

Audrey Hepburn

I usually use this blog to post items that either inspire or inform.  

However, I recently came across this Egyptian marriage contract from 200 B.C.E. and knew I had to post it as it blew me away!  

There is so much talk about the “institution” of marriage that we sometimes forget that the “institution” has changed over time, and from culture to culture.

This particular contract was discovered in Luxor – Egypt – not Vegas! 

Historians think that the idea of a trial marriage may have been rooted in the importance Egyptians placed on having children and so the need of a wife’s early pregnancy. 

From the vantage of 2020 this contract is an eye-opener!

I take thee, Taminis, daughter of Pamonthis, into my house to be my lawful wife for the term of five months. Accordingly, I deposit for you in the Temple of Hathor the sum of four silver stater (coins), which will be forfeited to you if I dismiss you before the conclusion of the five months, and besides this my banker shall do something for you. But if you leave me on your own account before the end of the five months, the above sum which I have deposited shall be refunded to me.

While this practice may strike us today as “odd,” it makes me think of a couple whose wedding ceremony I officiated after they had been together for over five years. 

They shared with me that each year on January 1st they sit down and review the past year and their “contract” for staying together. They review the highs and lows, the “good times and bad” of the past year, celebrating it all while recalibrating how they want their relationship to “work” and “feel” in the coming year.

They said that it’s their way of making sure they do not mindlessly take for granted each other and the life they are creating with and for each other.

I think the Pharaoh would approve!

God + Family In The Month of Pride

When you love you should not say, “God is in my heart,”
but rather, “I am in the heart of God.

Rumi

This is a true story and it is a story I’ve waited a while to tell as it happened in the time of pre-Covid. It is an exquisite tale of a father’s love for his son who was soon to be a groom. And it is an outrageous story of just how whack-a-do families can be in times of happiness. It is also a tale of how a distorted image of God can cause so much pain. . .

true story ~

Larry (all names changed) informed his brother, Richard, that he would not be attending Samuel’s & Jake’s wedding. Richard is Samuel’s father and Larry’s brother / Samuel’s uncle. While growing-up Samuel was close to his Uncle Larry and so it stung that Larry was opting not to attend.  He explained to Richard that as a devout Catholic he doesn’t believe same-sex couples can enter into anything resembling a marriage. His once beloved nephew is a sinner and he can’t condone sinful acts.

Richard felt angry and confused and hurt. Of course, he didn’t send Larry an invite.

After the invites were sent, Larry told Richard he was insulted that he didn’t receive an invite. Richard was even more confused. Larry explained that he wanted to send a wedding gift – “we always send wedding gifts in this family!”

Richard told Larry that there was no need for a gift, given that he thought Samuel was committing a sin.

Paul, Richard’s and Larry’s other brother, ripped Larry a new one, so to speak!

Larry complained to their mom that Richard and Paul were being unreasonable.

Their mom berated Richard for being uncharitable to Larry! Richard had a three-hour conversation with his mom in which he explained that as a dad, he will always protect his son and his fiancé Jake.  

Once again, I was reminded of what I had learned from my own family – no happy occasion is truly happy until someone is miserable!

And once again, I am left with the haunting question – how much do you have to hate yourself in order to worship a God who demands you reject and renounce your son or daughter because of who they love?

For anyone who abuses the magnitude of God with a miniature heart, I simply offer you, Isaiah 49:15 “Even if a mother rejects her infant, I will not reject you.”

Richard told me the story of Larry at the glorious rehearsal dinner party he and his wife threw for Samuel and Jake. At one point, he gestured to all the laughing, happy friends and family and said to me, “I was worried that my son would never have what he and Jake have tonight – a celebration that they have found each other as partners – surrounded with the commitment and love of family and friends. I was worried how he would be hurt in this world by people who couldn’t understand love.”

Yes, this is the most powerful, poignant, eloquent conversation I ever had with a parent of a groom or bride. . .

Vow Inspo From an Unlikely Source

Love is being stupid together.

Paul Valery

Okay, so this is a post I AM embarrassed to write!

Hey, during the pandemic for many of us our taste in TV viewing went sideways. A friend of mine, a bright, witty, PBS kind-of woman, recently emailed me that she had been watching “The Good Witch” on The Hallmark Channel.

In one episode, the mayor of the town officiates a wedding and prefaces the Exchange of Vows with a poem – proving that wedding inspiration can come from the most unlikely of sources!

I took that poem and refashioned it into a vow that can be offered antiphonally.

Perhaps these poignantly powerful sentiments capture what is in your heart. . .

A

‘I do’ means I do know I could be hurt, but I am ready to be healed with you.

B

‘I do’ means I do want to try, even when the fear of failure holds me back.

A

‘I do’ means I do not know the future, but I am ready to be surprised with you along the way.

B

‘I do’ means I do want your love & I do give you mine.

‘I do’ means I do know that nothing we do will ever be the same, because we will be doing it all together.

Officiant: Do you, _____ take _______ to be your wife / husband, promising to be true to her /him, in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, promising to love her / him and honor her / him all the days of your life?

I DO!

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

what Do You Want To Know About Your Partner?

Do YOU know how your partner would answer these questions?

How would YOU answer these questions if asked of you by your partner?

Let your answers guide you as you compose your vows. . .

Adapted from : The Invitation, by Oriah

  1. I want to know what you ache for and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.
  • I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive.
  • I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life’s betrayals or have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain.
  • I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it, or fade it, or fix it.
  • I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own; if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, be realistic remember the limitations of being human.
  • I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself. If you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul. If you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy.
  • I want to know if you can see Beauty even when it is not pretty every day. And if you can source your own life from its presence.
  • I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand at the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, ‘Yes.’
  • I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone and do what needs to be done to feed the children.
  • I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls away
  • I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.
  • I want to know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me and not shrink back.

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


  

Is It Okay If We. . .?!

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

Often times couples will ask me, “is it okay if we – ?”

And that blank is filled in with a wildly imaginative assortment of ideas. 

Thumb through contemporary wedding planning books and you’ll notice that tradition is adapting to many modem inclinations. 

I officiated a wedding where the bride had a “man-of-honor” and the groom had a “best woman.” 

Another bride, whose father was deceased, had her mother escort her down the aisle. 

A shy groom, who was a musician, wrote a song for his bride and sang it in place of “saying” his own vows. 

These are visuals that broke with tradition and yet added immeasurable warmth and texture to their ceremonies. 

I really haven’t seen it all, but I’ve seen enough to know that the “different” (or even whacky) sometimes can add to the sweetness of the day.

A few memories that still make me smile –

The bride who walked down the aisle to the blaring of The Star Wars theme. Yes, it did have an other-worldly feel to it. 

The bride who did somersaults down the aisle (she was in her 40’s). More than feeling stunned, I was amazed that she could do them while wearing a dress. 

The bride who planned her wedding, guided by her astrological chart. She determined that the vows had to be said beginning exactly at 5:59 PM. I had a friend stand off to the coner and flag me when it was time. 

And then there was the couple who had their wedding in the backyard of their new home. As a symbol of their pledge to wholeheartedly “take the plunge” they jumped into the pool after I pronounced them married.  

“Is it okay if we – ?” 

Well, yes! 

A wedding celebrates you in all your glory and uniqueness. 

The only thing you “have” to do is say your vows – though I have had nervous couples ask me if they actually had to say their vows! 

And speaking of vows ~

When creating a wedding ceremony one of the main issues I discuss with a couple is the vows. Most couples are most nervous about this element.  

Couples often tell me that they don’t like standing in front of people who are looking at them. 

Hmm – that’s going to be a hard one to get around at a wedding with any guests!

Many couples opt to repeat their vows after me. I say the vows in a low voice, so as not to be heard by the guests, and then hope that the couple will say them in a louder voice-which isn’t always the case. 

Some couples, though, want to write their own personal vows. Many of these couples are afraid that they’ll sound “cheesy.” I can honestly say that I’ve never heard vows that I thought were “cheesy.” Granted, some were more eloquently worded than others, yet all were poignant.  

How great it is that you have someone in your life who compels you to search deep in your heart for words that express the passion of your commitment! 

Be nervous about hundreds of eyes staring at you – don’t be nervous about saying something cheesy.

The committed heart is not able to offer cheesy sentiments. 

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