What 1 Word Describes YOUR Partner?

photo: anne edgar

“Mr. Fleiss said that he has a French aunt

who settled upon a word

that best describes JoJo (his wife):


‘It means having the quality of warmth,’ he said.

‘Imagine a snowy evening in the mountains, you see a log cabin with

a fire roaring — a feeling of home, of warmth and heart.

For me, that’s what JoJo is.’”

Yet another quote I picked-up from somewhere and have no record of where.

But I love the image the unknown Mr. Fleiss paints of his wife.

Intimate and desperately romantic.

What about you, what word best describes your partner? 

Do they know this is how you think of them?

If you’re writing your own personal vows, how can you include this word?

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

The Odd History of Marriage

I’m constantly reading other blogs, along with magazines and papers and so I’m constantly clipping and saving tidbits I find interesting. Oftentimes, though, when I return to the clipping, I can’t recall why I had saved the info or where it’s from!

And so it is with this item. . .

Recently, I was sorting through a bunch of posts I had saved regarding weddings.  I have no idea where I got the following, but apparently it’s a review of a book written by Mark Ishee, titled, “Wedding Toasts and Traditions.” 

I checked on Amazon and the book is now out-of-print. However, I love the info provided in this review – stuff related to the history of marriage I never knew. 

This brief history might put your own planning into some perspective!

The author points to three stages in the history of marriage: marriage by force, marriage by contract and marriage by mutual love.

Marriage by force is indicated in our earliest historical record.  A man captured a woman, generally from another tribe.  This testified to his strength in warfare.  The earliest “best man” aided a friend in the capture of a bride.

According to Ishee, the honeymoon is a relic of the days of marriage by capture.  Frequently the tribe from which a warrior stole a bride came looking for her and it was necessary for the warrior and his new wife to go into hiding to avoid being discovered. 

The “honeymoon” evolved as symbolic of the period of time during which the bride and groom hid until the bride’s kin grew tired of looking for her!

It is clear why marriages by contract developed in time: the revenge exacted by one tribe on another for taking one of their women was costly.  At some point, compensation began to be delivered for the stolen woman in an effort to avoid vengeance.  Preventing tribal warfare and compensating furious family members led to a property exchange: livestock, land or another woman would be exchanged for the bride.

As Ishee points out:  “The very word “wedding” betrays the great stage of wife purchase through which marriages passed.  The ‘wed’ was the money, horses, or cattle which the groom gave as security and as a pledge to provide his purchase of the bride from her father.  From this ‘wed’ we derive the idea of ‘wedding’ or ‘pledging’ the bride to the man who pays the required security for her.

As time went on, this ‘bride’s price’ took the form of elaborate presents given by the groom to the bride’s parents.  Negotiated over long periods of time, sending and receiving constituted that the marriage contract was sealed. 

In some cultures, land, livestock and other valuables were given to the groom in the form of a dowry.  These goods were offered as compensation to the groom when he assumed the burden of supporting the woman.

Such practices of marriage by contract lasted in England until the middle of the 16th century.  The modern practice of ‘giving the bride away’ has its roots in the belief that the bride was property given by the father to the groom.  In fact, the phrase ‘to have and to hold’ comes from Old English property transactions.

Marriage by mutual love was rare until fairly recently.  You did not marry for love; rather, you were expected to love the one you married. 

Ishee states: “It was not until the 9th or 10th century that women gained the privilege of choosing or refusing their husbands according to their own judgment.  Rare exceptions to this are recorded since primitive times, where women claimed the right to select their mates.”

The practice of elopement was an early aspect of marriage by mutual love.  It allowed a woman to marry a man of her choosing, rather than one who met her parents’ specifications.

Adapted from: Alternatives / Georgia

“Outward signs of Inner Values”

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!

And Now a Word From Meryl Streep!

In her Oscar acceptance speech for playing British P.M. Margaret Thatcher, Meryl Streep spoke directly to her husband, saying:

“Everything I value most in our lives, you have given me.”

What a stunningly poignant thing for a person to say to their spouse! 

And so I invite you to consider these questions as you prepare to offer your vows:

  • Can you say the same thing to your partner?
  • What do you value most?
  • What does your partner value most?
  • What do you together value most?

And if you don’t know the answers to these questions, then WHY are you getting married to this person?!

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


The Real Woman Creed


I came across this item and filed it away. I’ve got two nieces and five goddaughters and I thought this was something I’d like them to read (and embrace!). . .


It then occurred to me that this is actually a wonderful “creed” for any bride and so I’m sharing it here.


I’ve looked for “The Real Man’s Creed” and couldn’t find one. Grooms – any suggestions as to how your creed should read?


The Real Woman Creed

By Jan Phillips, CA

I believe that within me lies an extraordinary radiance, and I commit to letting my light loose in the world.

I believe that the source of my power and wisdom is in the center of my being, and I commit to acting from this place of strength.

I believe that I possess an abundance of passion and creative potential, and I commit to the expression of this gift.

I believe that the time has come to let go of old notions and unhealthy attitudes, and I commit to re-examine what I have been told about beauty and dismiss what insults my soul.

I believe that negative thoughts and words compromise my well-being, and I commit to thinking and speaking positively about myself and others.

I believe it is my spiritual responsibility to care for my body with respect, kindness and compassion. I commit to balancing my life in such a way that my physical being is fully expressed and nurtured.

I believe that joy is an essential part of wellness, and I commit to removing obstacles to joy and creating a life of exuberance.

I believe that a woman who loves herself is a powerful, passionate, attractive force, and I commit, from this day forward, to loving myself deeply and extravagantly.

Desperately Romantic Sentiments Offered by Brides and Grooms!

photo: the ponces photography


Couples will sometimes ask if I have copies of vows offered by other couples.


I don’t.


Because your vows are such an intimate expression of your love, I don’t feel comfortable keeping copies to use as “examples.”


However, sometimes a bride or groom will utter a sentence that stabs me in the heart and I jot it down.


This post is a sampling of some of those jottings.


Note: I actually did not officiate the ceremony for all of these couples. Some of these sentiments I found in other places. Also the photos do not match up with the actual couples.


However, I think you’ll be as moved as I am by some of these sentiments!



I think love isn’t something you necessarily fall in to but you ascend to.

She presented enough challenges early on for me to ascend to not only love her


to be worthy of her love.

Jon-Sesrie Goff of his wife Madeleine Hunt-Ehrlich





Together we will leave the world a better place.

Kirk Spahn vows to Jennifer Alden





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

Alejandro Gac-Artigas to Lisa Gibes





Of my own accord I present myself, my days, my nights and my life.

I present them freely and willingly

because they cannot be better spent than in your company.

Melissa Richard to Frank Oteri





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





You have helped me become the woman I didn’t even know I wanted to be.






I don’t know if I’m even brave enough to love someone as brave as you.





I vow to know and receive you deeply and with compassion.





Forgive early, kiss slowly, love wholeheartedly, laugh loudly

because life may not be the party we all hope for.

Yael Raz, the bridegroom’s mother

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


Have You Ever Asked Your Parents –


Love doesn’t sit there like a stone,

it has to be made, like bread;

remade all of the time, made new.

Ursula LeGuin


I recently officiated the wedding of a couple where the bride’s parents were in the midst of divorcing after thirty years of marriage.


I felt for the bride – and knew I could not imagine what she must be feeling and experiencing.


As I prepared for the ceremony, I found myself thinking about the bride’s parents.


I kept wondering – how will they feel?  What will they think during the ceremony?


Many of the couples that come to me were raised by single parents or within blended families. Perhaps that’s true of you and / or your partner.


I know this might seem like an odd question – or even an impertinent question, BUT. . . did you ever ask your parents why they divorced?




Have you and your partner talked about what you are going to do in your marriage so as you don’t recreate the mistakes of your parents?


AND, if your parents are still happily married, have you ever asked them why?


I suspect their ‘secret’ is not a secret!


Have you and your partner talked about what you like best in your respective parents’ marriage and what you’re going to do to recreate it in your marriage?


And if you haven’t asked these questions, THEN why haven’t you?!



And If you have been married before, have you and your partner talked about what you learned from that time and experience in your life?


Have you talked about how the mistakes you once made are not going to be remade?


The first duty of love is to listen.


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.

The Wackiness and Beauty of Weddings!

photo: ten sixteen photography


The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is to love and be loved in return.

Moulin Rouge


This post is inspired by conversations I overheard at my fav café on two different days. . .


The other day I was sitting at my local café, Aroma, when I overheard a young woman (20’s) at the next table declare, “I tried on my grandma’s wedding dress and it was pretty, but old-fashioned so I’m not gonna wear it.”


Okay, so you’re not going to wear it BUT that doesn’t mean you can’t still incorporate the dress somehow.


This is where creativity comes in – with how you incorporate family tradition + heirlooms in fresh, contemporary ways.


I’m not going to turn this into a DIY blog BUT I once had a bride who didn’t want to wear her grandmother’s dress BUT who loved her grandmother very much.


Her grandmother let her use the dress for part of the canopy of the Huppa the bride made.


It was beyond beautiful!


Even if you are stressing the small stuff (which you shouldn’t!), PLEASE enjoy the fun of being creative and inventive – not for the sake of wowing guests BUT for the sake of honoring cherished traditions and heirlooms – honoring family.


On another day at Aroma, I was sitting next to a guy talking about how family politics is driving him batty as he and his fiancée come closer to their wedding day.


Apparently, his mother doesn’t talk to his aunt, with whom he’s close, and the sisters haven’t talked for over a decade.


His mother doesn’t want to be in any family photos with her sister BUT he thinks it would be nice for the entire family to have a portrait taken on his wedding day.


His two friends then chimed in with tales of their parents’ dysfunctional family relationships.


Here’s the thing –

Family politics is all part of a wedding – and my experience has been that very few couples manage to get married without family wackiness tripping them up.


But, here’s the thing –

When I officiate a ceremony, I look out at the people gathered AND what I see is a bunch of people wanting to believe that despite ALL the divorce and messiness of families, there’s hope that these two people will get “it” right.


That’s why I say that your wedding is a





Statement of HOPE


No one knows what the future holds


Everyone hopes

That the two of you


be faithful to:

The dream of becoming who you want to be as a couple



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


“Spiritual” and not “Religious”

photo: kallima-photography

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where. I love you simply, without problems or pride: I love you in this way because I do not know any other way of loving but this,

in which there is no I or you,

so intimate that your hand upon my chest is my hand,

so intimate that when I fall asleep your eyes close.

Pablo Neruda

Most couples who tell me that they are “spiritual” and not “religious” grew up in homes that had some church affiliation. While a person/couple has drifted away from those early church rituals, they still believe in God.

They desire a ceremony that honors the sacredness of what they are doing without being denominational.

How do I craft a ceremony that honors that sacredness?

By keeping in mind the truth of what a ceremony is supposed to be about.

And what is the great “truth” of a wedding ceremony?

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

People bring God to a church building. So it is with a wedding.

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

It is their love, joy and wishes that make a ceremony spiritual .

A couple say 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.”

A couple enters into the mystery that is life and love when they give their word, their vow, to each other. 

The spirituality of the ceremony comes from recognizing and honoring that mystery.

In an age when talk is cheap, what could be more spiritual than to give your word to your beloved with an open heart?

The spirituality of a ceremony also comes from recognizing that family and friends become the “collective memory” of the day.

In years to come, they are to remind the couple of the love they bore witness to.

A wedding ceremony, when done right, renews and refreshes by reminding us of what life is all about – friends, family, love, loyalty.

What could be more sacred, more spiritual than creating that simple, yet profound oasis of a reminder?

All of this is the great and spiritual truth of a wedding ceremony.

And for me the “fun” part comes in working with a couple to create signature moments within the ceremony that highlight these themes and realities!

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

How To Resist Emotional Blackmail!


True freedom can only come from doing things differently.

Susan Forward


By the time I met with Moira, she was distressed to tears.


The problem was her mother, who criticized almost every choice she had made in the planning. Moira’s mother expressed her disappointment with tears, tantrums and long silences.


The proverbial final straw was when Moira, her mother and her four bridesmaids went gown shopping.


Everyone except her mom fell in love with “the” dress. Apparently, the bridesmaids teased her mom for not supporting Moira in her choice. Later, Moira’s mom broke down sobbing, accusing the bridesmaids of being disrespectful.


She demanded that Moira force her friends to apologize and if they didn’t, she wanted Moira to un-invite them as bridesmaids. Moira refused and told her she thought she was “nuts.”


And so they went round and round. Tears, accusations and all the stuff of emotional blackmail.


The mother eventually admitted that, most likely, the women did not intend to be rude and she went so far as to say she may have misinterpreted what they said. Still, though, she wanted Moira to demand that they apologize.

At the time we met, things were frosty between Moira and her mother.


Moira said she’d had it with her mother and didn’t care if she came to the wedding or not.


Of course, though, she did care. Why else would she cry when she said she didn’t care!


She later told me that this is how things went between her and her mother.

They argue

Don’t talk

Then get back together – without ever resolving what first led them into not talking.


I suggested she approach her mother in a new way because she really needed to have two different conversations with her. 


The first conversation needed to be about the general pattern with which her mother dealt with their disagreements.


They had to talk about her emotional blackmail, i.e. unfair demands followed by teary tantrums. Only then could they talk about the specific dress incident.


For the conversation about her mother’s melodramatic ploys, I suggested she do something along these lines:


Ask your mother if the two of you can have a talk.  Reassure her that you’re happy she’s interested in the wedding and that you know she wants it to be a perfect day. 


Remind her that you can’t imagine any of it without her being with you.


Reaffirm that you do take her input seriously and that when you disagree with her and  go with what you want, it’s not a rejection of her support.


Remind her that just having her by your side through all of this is the greatest gift.


Oftentimes people are difficult because they don’t think they’re appreciated. Most likely, some of that was going on with Moira’s mother.


Once Moira reassured her mother that this whole planning process wasn’t a referendum on their love and relationship, she could then move on to a discussion of the dress and the bridesmaids.


I suggested a script like this:


I love my wedding dress. 

I know that it’s not the one you liked. It is, though, the one I love and I’m glad you were there with me when I found it. 

I’m sorry that things got out of hand with the girls. I don’t think they meant to be cruel or hurt you in any way. And I think you know that, too. I know they want to speak with you and I hope you let them explain what happened.


I’m not getting into the middle of this, though, and I don’t want you to give me ultimatums. I feel that you’re pressuring me to take sides and to punish good friends for what is just a misunderstanding. 


I don’t want this dress to remind me of something that grew way ugly and way out of proportion. I know you don’t want that, either.






Sure, since this is not how Moira and her mother were in the habit of talking to each other.


It is, though, a blueprint for talking assertively and for drawing boundaries.


Moira resisted, saying that she thought her mother would still throw a fit.


I urged her to give it a try – it’s not like her mother was going to be more reasonable using any of the old tactics.


Now, you might be expecting me to write that Moira tried my approach and all was happily resolved with her mother.


Well, not exactly.


Moira did reassure her mother that she appreciated everything she was doing and explained that rejecting her suggestions was not a rejection of her.


That went a long way to calming her mother’s insecurities.


However, Moira’s conversation about the dress did not go as well. Her mother dug in her heels.


Ah, pride!


Within a week, though, Moira’s mother realized she wasn’t going to get any traction from harping about the incident.


After their talk, when Moira’s mother wanted to drag it up again, Moira would firmly, politely stop her. She reminded her mother that this was not her problem and that her mother needed to take it up with the girls.


Eventually, Moira’s mom and the bridesmaids had their talk and she got her apology.  And Moira stayed clear of it all.


As the wedding drew closer, Moira’s mom tried to stir up some drama but by then Moira felt more confident in speaking directly to her, setting boundaries.


Old habits die hard, yet by the time Moira walked down the aisle, she and her mother had laid the groundwork for a healthier, less drama-filled way of talking with each other.


And Zach, Moira’s husband, was a very relieved man!



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!




There IS a Solution to EVERY Seemingly Unsolvable Situation!

photo: meg smith

During a recent meeting with a couple, I asked the bride if she wanted to be escorted down the aisle by her just her father or her father and mother.

She quickly glanced at her fiancé and hesitated in such a way that I knew something was up.

Turns out, she and her parents are in a strained period of their relationship. And while they’re going to attend the wedding, there’s not a lot of warm, fuzzy love going round.

The bride asked if she could just walk down the aisle alone.

Basically, she and her fiancé can do whatever they want—hey, this is their wedding!

However, my experience has been that no matter the length of the aisle it is an ENORMOUS walk for any bride to do alone.

And so we came up with an easy and, I think, elegant solution.

The groom’s parents will walk down first, followed by the bride’s parents.

The groom will stand on the aisle at the top last row and wait for the bride as she makes the walk, on her own, from the back holding-room. Then, together, they’ll walk down the aisle.

Given that they’re paying for the wedding and have been together almost five years, there is a symbolic logic to their walking together at the beginning of the ceremony.


Yes, this is not traditional.

However, this solves the “problem” of how to tell her father that she doesn’t want him to walk her down the aisle.

More importantly, the bride honors her feelings and she and her fiancé have a ceremony that speaks to their integrity as a couple.

Trust me:

There is a simple and elegant “solution” to any and all problems

you may encounter in the planning of your wedding!