The Best Thing You Can Do While Planning Your Wedding!

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 luck.

I like this quote, though I don’t think “luck” has anything to do with it.

Marriage is a conscious commitment. As such, a marriage will “succeed” or “fail” based on your generosity of time, energy and creativity. A marriage will “work” to the degree you are gracious in sharing your body, your thoughts and your feelings.

A wedding celebrates your commitment to being and becoming that generous, gracious partner.

Last week, I met with a couple to put the final touches on their ceremony. I asked how things were going and the groom said: “well, we’re learning to say ‘I’m sorry’ a lot faster than we used to!”

We all laughed.  But, he did speak to an important issue – communication.

Relationship is communication.  The heart of all relationships is communication.

Planning a wedding puts a strain on a couple. Perhaps you’ve noticed?! 

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

 To enhance the quality of your relationship, even as you deal with the craziness of planning your wedding, you need to listen to each other – really listen!

A couple came to my home for an initial consultation. We met in my living room. The bride and I were in animated conversation, while the groom tried his best to look interested. Then, out of nowhere, he interrupts and asks me: “Great TV – do you mind if I ask how much?” 

The bride became annoyed that he hadn’t been paying attention to what she was saying to me – and the groom became annoyed that she was annoyed over “nothing.”

Ya gotta love it!

It has been said that listening is the greatest act of love.

If so, then perhaps the greatest thing you can do for each other while planning your wedding is to listen to each other.

Yet, this is where it gets tricky – for brides and grooms approach a wedding from different perspectives. 

Sometimes, a bride and a groom will be paying attention to different details in the wedding planning.  This means, they may not be listening to what the other is saying, since we only pay attention to what we find interesting.

The truth is that how you listen to each other now, as you plan your wedding, is a sure indication of how you will listen to each other the week after your wedding.

Do you listen to each other? 

Or, better, do you feel that your partner listens to you?  Really listens?

The Chinese characters for “listen” are:




Undivided attention

Think about it. Isn’t it true that when you really listen to someone, you are not just “hearing” them? 

You are focused on them – on their face – on their body movement – on the gaps between what they don’t say.

Instagram. Facebook. Pinterest. Texting. We do business and live our lives in a swirl of information; but, how often are we actually listening?

During the planning of your wedding, there is no greater thing you can do for each other than to listen. 

There is no greater thing you can do than to make time to really listen.

Try this:

  1. Make a date with each other
  2. Go some place you both enjoy
  3. Turn off the cell phones
  4. Talk
  5. Relax
  6. Laugh
  7. Listen to the concerns of your partner – those spoken and unspoken
  8. Remind yourselves why you are doing this craziness
  9. Plan.  Plot.  Prepare. 
  10. Laugh

I once came across a card that said: 

A friend is someone who hears the song in your heart and sings it to you when memory fails.

I know – it’s corny! 

But, your “memory” is going to fail you as you plan your wedding.

It’s reassuring if you know that your partner has been listening and will remind you of what your big day is all about – even if they sing off key!

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 Is Your Wedding Celebrating?

What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything.

It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. 

Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything.

Pedro Arrupe, s.j.

Your wedding celebrates the life the two of you have created AND it celebrates the life you are committed to creating. 

Your wedding celebrates your love for each other AND for all the loves you have in your life, together and separately.

I believe that a marriage is one, long, grand conversation. 

While it’s so basic a question that I hesitate to even ask, ask you I will. . .

  • Do you know what seizes your partner’s imagination? 
  • Do you know what amazes your partner with joy and gratitude? 
  • What breaks their heart?

While it’s so basic a question that I hesitate to even ask, ask you I will. . .

  • As a couple, what seizes your imaginations together? 
  • Fills you with joy and gratitude? 
  • Could break your hearts?

Your answers to these questions tell the story of your life and commitment.

Let your answers guide you in –

crafting your ceremony

choosing the words for your vows


creating your celebration

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!

A Memory of Weddings Past!

Throwback Tuesday!

This is a posting from 2013 – I can’t believe that I wrote (lived) this seven years ago! It’s one of my all-time fav posts because it’s an homage to some of my all-time fav couples! And once again, I’m reminded of what a lucky guy I am. . .


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.


In 2012 I had the honor to officiate 72 “high wire acts.”

They ranged from a live-streamed wedding on Facebook to an elopement at Lifeguard Station #8 in Santa Monica. Budgets for these seven-dozen weddings ranged from $500 to $1 million!

The couples were religiously and cross-culturally diverse; straight, gay and lesbian; and ranged in age from twenty-three to sixty-seven. Numbered among these couples were an ex-stripper, an ex-drag queen and a Republican ex-gubernatorial candidate! They came not only from California but also from England, Australia, Germany, New Zealand, Denmark, China, Japan, Taiwan and Canada.

As I recall my weddings of 2019 and what I learned from the couples, I’m reminded of Albert Einstein’s claim that

There are only two ways to live life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is. 

While “miracle” is a loaded word, at the very least a wedding is a grand embracing of life in all its glory and uncertainty and messiness. 

Here are seven couples that chose to celebrate their “miracles” with grateful joy.  (names changed).

Roger and Karen. Several months before their wedding he was diagnosed with an unusual form of cancer and they had to put their wedding on hold. On what should have been their wedding day, he was in chemo. Throughout, they together stayed calm, focused, determined and hopeful. They simply did what they had to do. Now, at the start of this New Year, cancer free, they have their sights set on a May wedding. 

Sure, I hear about this kind of story all the time BUT to witness this kind of love – I am in awe.

Denise and Anthony. Her family is ethnically Armenian and Greek-Orthodox by religion, while his family is Persian Muslim. There were so many opportunities and reasons for dissension and fighting within and between the families. And, yet, there wasn’t. Both families gave their blessings. Three hundred people came together to eat, drink, dance, sing, tell stories and celebrate life, love and family on into the wee hours of the morning.

By celebrating what made them unique these families found what they shared in common.  That the cliché “love conquers all” still holds meaning is beyond heartening.

Brad and Cathy. They planned a destination wedding and then Cathy’s mom was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer. Doctors advised Cathy that if she wanted her mom at the wedding, she should not wait. And so they cancelled their plans, lost their deposits and reimagined a smaller, less exotic celebration. When I first met with them, Brad explained, “yes, we lost our budget, but the upside is we get to be married sooner!” 

Joy in the midst of devastating chaos is breath taking.

Natalie and Alexander. Widowed before she turned thirty, Natalie had loved her husband and out of respect for him set about re-inventing her life. She went back to school and took off to New Zealand for a semester. Alexander was there from Germany working at a yearlong project. Neither was looking for love, but love found them. Now living in the mid-West they decided to have a small December beach wedding with ten family and friends. They got married by a lifeguard station while a commercial was being filmed on the other side (so LA!).

Natalie mourned her first husband, chose life, and found joy halfway around the world. Could have been a sappy Lifetime movie but instead hers is a story that challenges the pessimistic corners of my heart.

Donna and Michael. They were a sweet, funny couple that got married in her mom’s backyard. At our final meeting Michael told me he couldn’t believe how lucky he was to be marrying someone as kind as Donna. I told him that Donna was just as lucky. He quickly replied, “you don’t understand – I had a knack for dating girls who would end up breaking my heart. It was almost like I enjoyed punishing myself. My last girlfriend was the worst. I had to hit rock bottom before I could find Donna.”

In matters of the heart, we can be so unkind to ourselves. I marvel that he had the capacity to hear a buried voice that let him remember what his heart longed for.

Jen and Kim. Ten years ago I officiated their commitment ceremony during a magical weekend celebration in Napa. Fifty of us had gathered to bless them as they offered their vows to create a life-giving life. We all hoped that “someday” their union would be recognized for what it was – a marriage.  I suspect, though, few of us thought it would ever happen. But so it did.  Last Fall they renewed their vows with their three-year-old twin daughters as flower girls.

Kim’s mom signed the marriage license as the official witness. Her eyes glistened with joy – as did everyone’s.

Tanya and Jordan. The day before our initial meeting, Tanya learned she was pregnant.  She came from a Colombian family of devout Catholics. Her father was deceased and so her mom would walk her down the aisle. When her mother learned that I was wearing a suit and not religious robes, she was concerned. What will the family think? Ah, mothers!  What makes her question poignant, though, is that after her husband died, Tanya’s mom fell in love with a woman – who has been her partner for ten years!    

While I puzzled at her fixation with my lack of robes, I also laughed with Tanya and Robert over how weddings wackily turn normal people’s brains upside-down!

Each of my 72 couples reminded me, week after week, that life is good and worthy of our best.

If the ultimate goal in life is to become ever more fully human, to love and be loved, then all my couples challenged me to be true to that quest.

UPDATE: For all getting married in 2020 and beyond may you, like these couples, find unbridled joy in your celebration!

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.

6 Quotes to Get You Thinking About Your Vows!


Last month I officiated the memorial of  the father of a friend.  He and his wife had been married for more than fifty years.


I know that this is a wedding blog and not a funeral blog BUT since the memorial I’ve become more sensitized to the vows, “in sickness and in health, until death do us part.”


A wedding naturally looks to the Future, yet maybe one’s vows will only fully be understood at the end of one’s life.


In prepping for the memorial, I rummaged around various quotes I’ve collected over time that are funeral appropriate (I’m not morbid – it’s just that I’ve done a fair number of funerals/memorials over the years).


In looking over some of these quotes, I realize they actually could help in the writing of vows. . .


Hope this doesn’t sound creepy!


6 quotes to help you reflect on what you and your partner are vowing to each other!




You don’t get to choose how you’re going to die.  Or when.

You can only decide how you’re going to live.  Now.

Joan Baez


  • How do you and your partner want to live?
  • Have you talked about the particulars and the dreams?
  • Have you figured out a strategy to make your wants and dreams help you live – and not just exist?



Still – in a way – nobody sees a flower – really. 

It is so small – we haven’t time – and to see takes time,

like to have a friend takes time.

Georgia O’Keeffe


  • Have you and your partner found ways to make time for and with each other?
  • Do you “see” each other in those times or do you feel taken for granted?



What do we live for, if it is not to make life less difficult for others?

George Eliot


  • How do you make life less difficult for your partner?
  • How does your partner make life less difficult for you?



It costs so much to be fully human that there are very few who have the enlightenment or the courage to pay the price.  One has to abandon altogether the search for security and reach out to the risk of living with both arms open.  One has to embrace the world like a lover.  One has to accept pain as a condition of existence.  One has to count doubt and darkness as the cost of knowing.  One needs a will stubborn in conflict but apt always to total acceptance of every consequence of living and dying.

Shoes of The Fisherman

Morris West


  • Are you and your partner committed to becoming “fully human”?
  • How do you give each other the courage?



These next two quotes mention “God” – but even if you are not a believer, I think they can challenge you in your commitment to each other. . .


When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say,

“I used everything you gave me.”

Erma Bombeck


  • How do you help your partner develop and use their talents?
  • How does your partner help you develop and use your talents?



When we die and go to heaven, and we meet our Maker, our Maker is not going to say to us,

“Why didn’t you become a messiah?” 

“Why didn’t you discover the cure for such and such?” 

The only thing we’re going to be asked at that precious moment is,

“Why didn’t you become ‘you’?”

Eli Wiesel


  • What does it mean for “you” to become “you”?
  • For your partner to become him or her own self?
  • How can you help each other in that great, ultimate undertaking?


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

Do You Pay Attention To Your Partner?

The worst that can be said of a person is that they “did not pay attention.”

William Meredith

I’m not sure how I came across the above quote, but it has stayed with me for years. 

I often quote Meredith in my communication training seminars since so much of “mis-communication” is about “mis-perception,” about not paying attention.

So the question for this post is simply this:

Do you and your partner pay attention to each other?

Especially now as you’re planning your wedding?

Like many of the questions I pose on this blog and in my books, this one seems embarrassingly simple because, of course, you pay attention, isn’t that what it means to love someone?!

I’m going to maintain, though, that it’s easy to stop paying attention without even being aware, not because you’ve stopped loving your partner, but rather, because you’re so busy. 

And because you love each other and because you’re busy, it’s easy to think, “we’ll he knows I love him,” or “she knows that I support her.”

The thing is, “knowing” isn’t enough

We need to be reassured, especially in times of stress.

So, how do you let your partner know that you’re paying attention? 

What does your partner need to do in order for you to be reassured that he or she is paying attention?


Texting conveys info that is brief and to the point; it doesn’t convey feelings. It’s not a guaranteed reassurance that you’re paying attention.

On the other hand, simply looking at your partner and not being distracted with multi-tasking is a great act of reassurance!

The most reassuring of reassurances are conveyed in mindful little ways.

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!

Your “Dream” Ceremony


The very least you can do in your life is to figure out what you hope for.

Barbara Kingsolver

Last summer a couple hired me for their wedding that took place last month. 

We had a great first meeting – they wanted a ceremony that honored them as a couple and that included certain cultural traditions. 

Because they booked me so far out, I suggested we get together again after the holidays, in mid-January. I left it up to the couple to contact me, though I assured them that I’m available at any time.

Well, the couple emailed me just two weeks before their wedding and they didn’t have time to meet in person. 

The bride explained she’d been so busy with other preparations that she “totally” forgot about the ceremony.

Sadly, they weren’t able to have any of the personal elements they wanted – not even their own vows – because they’d run out of energy and focus. 

They were too busy with last minute details to worry about the ceremony.

As a wedding officiant I’m biased, as I happen to believe the ceremony is the heart and soul of your celebration. 

I felt for this bride who was so obsessed with creating her dream wedding that she neglected the ceremony.

I’m surprised at the number of couples who talk about their “dream” reception, “dream honeymoon,” BUT have no idea what their “dream” ceremony looks like.

I think you can have a great reception even if you have a dreadful ceremony. 

However, if you have a great ceremony, it propels your guests into the party and reminds them of what it is they’re celebrating.

So, what does your dream ceremony look like?

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

True Kindness

When the heart is truly open, there is a natural sense of appreciation for others, even while being aware of their imperfections.

Don Rosenthal

I recently reunited with a couple whose wedding I officiated fifteen years ago.

They look older but their spirits are as I remember them. Open, inquisitive, yet clearly defined in their ongoing aspirations. “Jack Daniels” joined us at the table and story begat story.

It was a magical night.

As I was leaving, Ira suddenly asked me, “Do you know why Maureen and I are still in love?”

Various answers came to mind, but I just said, “No, why are you still in love?”

With pride he replied, “We’re kind to each other.”

Ira explained how he and Maureen consciously decided that they didn’t ever want to lose sight of being each other’s partner and best friend – not punching bag or dumping ground for the day’s irritations.

So simple, yet so challenging!

While there are many ways in which to be kind to your partner, how you express what you’re feeling is one of the most important.

Letting your partner know how you feel in a way that doesn’t turn him or her into that punching bag is one of the kindest things you can do for each other. 

Here are 4 ways to avoid turning your partner into a “punching bag”

1. Has anyone ever been annoyed with you and sarcastically asked, “What the #@$% is wrong with you?” And when they asked what’s wrong with you, did you smile, sit down and tell them what’s wrong with you? Didn’t think so!

Loudly attacking your partner with phrases such as, “What’s wrong with you?” or “You’re driving me nuts!” will definitely drive your partner away.

They’ll be so annoyed with you that they won’t want to talk to you later on or help you. And why should they?

AVOID: outbursts.

They just signal you’re in a bad mood without offering any insight into why. There’s never a good time to be nasty!

2. Do you end heated “discussions” with, “That’s just how I am”?

No one is ever “just” something.

We always feel a certain way for a reason. If you don’t tell your partner why you’re feeling what you’re feeling, they’ll storm off thinking you’re being a jerk.

AVOID: dramatic declarations.

They provide no clue as to why you are the way you “just” are and most likely your partner is going to feel “just” fed up with you for stonewalling him or her.

3.  When you say, “I’m kinda mad at you right now”, how mad is “kinda”?

Is your “kinda” the same as your partner’s “kinda”?

Understated expressions can only confuse your partner.

The clearer you are in describing how you feel – and why – the better chance your partner has of understanding you and being able to help you.

AVOID: vague words such as, “a little”, “sort of”, “I guess”, “maybe” and “a few” because while you know what you mean by these words, your partner may not.

When you say, “I’ll be there in a few minutes,” how many minutes is that “few”?  The more specific you are, the better you increase your chances of being misunderstood.

4. Beware of YOU! 

When you attack the other person with a barrage of “you’s” – “You never”, “You always”, “You disappoint me”,  “You make me sick” – all the other person can do is one of two things:  lash out or become defensive.

AVOID: clobbering your partner with the word “you.”

This one little word has the power to press your partner’s buttons.

You know how you react when someone attacks you with “you,” so why attack your partner with “you” when you know what you’re doing?!

We’re all guilty of what I’ve described here.


Because old habits die hard.

Because we’re lazy.

Because we think we don’t or shouldn’t have to explain ourselves.

Consider these questions:

  • In the past week, how many times have you accused your partner of not “caring”?
  • In the past week how many times have you complained to someone about your partner not understanding you? 
  • In the past week how many times have you understated your feelings or bombarded your partner with “you” accusations? 
  • What would you like to see happen differently?


You and your partner protect and keep each other sane when –

you are aware of and acknowledge each other’s feelings

try to understand and not judge those feelings

take responsibility for owning and expressing your feelings

Now that’s being kind!

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!

How Well Do You Know Your Partner?

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.’ 

From the movie, Shall We Dance?

It was six weeks before their wedding and Chad and Lisa still had not hired an officiant.  Towards the end of our meeting, the conversation turned to Chad’s upcoming Vegas bachelor party weekend. 

After Lisa humorously warned him that nothing better happen, he reassured her with these immortal words: “You have nothing to worry about. Nothing’s going to happen even if she goes into the bedroom with me.”

She?  Bedroom? 

I’m stunned as Lisa slapped him in the arm.  Seems Chad’s boys told him that they’re going to get him a stripper. He didn’t want a stripper, but how could he tell them that?  He didn’t want to ruin their fun and besides, it’s tradition!

By the time our conversation ended, I wasn’t even sure if Chad and Lisa were going to have a ceremony for me to officiate!

I get that Chad wants to preserve his image with his boys, but at what cost? 

Although Lisa & Chad eventually invited me to officiate their ceremony, I declined.  Simply put, I thought they had too many unresolved issues with not enough communication skills in place.

I’ve frequently written here and elsewhere that communication is at the heart of your relationship.  A cliché, I know, BUT it’s true!

That Lisa found out about Chad’s plans while at a meeting to discuss the ceremony, speaks volumes about the quality of their conversations. 

That he wasn’t able to tell his supposed best friends what he wanted and did not want, speaks volumes about his ability to assert himself. 

Without being able to express what it is your thinking, feeling, wanting, needing, it’s going to be hard to offer an “I Do” that is authentic, confident, and that expresses your willingness to DO all that is implied in that “I Do.”

If you can’t be honest with your partner before your wedding day, there’s no reason to believe you’ll be able to be honest the day after your wedding day.

Are there things you haven’t told your partner? 

Topics you’ve been reluctant to bring up? 

What are you afraid of?  Now’s the time to talk!

John Gottman is a relationship guru and best-selling author.

I’m not sure where I came across the following list of 20 Questions, BUT according to Gottman, the more of these questions you and your partner can answer AND the more happy and satisfied you are with those answers, then the stronger is your relationship.

I invite you and your partner take some time and consider these questions.

  • I can name my partner’s best friends.
  • I know what stresses my partner is currently facing.
  • I know the names of some of the people who have been irritating my partner lately.
  • I can tell you some of my partner’s life dreams.
  • I can tell you about my partner’s basic philosophy of life.
  • I can list the relatives my partner likes the least.
  • I feel that my partner knows me pretty well.
  • When we are apart, I often think fondly of my partner.
  • I often touch or kiss my partner affectionately.
  • My partner really respects me.
  • There is fire and ·passion in this relationship.
  • Romance is definitely part of our relationship.
  • My partner appreciates our relationship.
  • My partner generally likes my personality.
  • Our sex life is mostly satisfying.
  • At the end of the day my partner is glad to see me.
  • My partner is one of my best friends.
  • We just love talking to each other.
  • There is lots of give and take in our discussions.
  • My partner listens respectfully, even when we disagree.

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!

Presume Nothing – While Planning Your Wedding!

We enter marriage offering the best of who we are: our deepest feelings, our best intentions, our greatest hopes, full of generosity and affection for our partner.

But we fall in love and decide to live the rest of our loves together without realizing that loving each other and living our life together are different.

                                                                        Susan Piver

When Philip and Cora first met with me they were five months away from their wedding.  In their late twenties, they’d been together since college. 

Philip was quiet and had no opinions about the ceremony. 

At one point, Cora suddenly turned on him and in a hurt tone asked, “Why don’t you care?  Why don’t you ever have an opinion on anything about our wedding?” 

The poor guy looked equally hurt, “This is your big day; whatever makes you happy is fine with me,” he pleaded.

I gently pointed out that this was their big day. 

And then Philip said something that took both Cora and me by surprise. He explained, “When we got engaged my mother told me that this is your day and that I should go along with whatever you want and that I should stay out of the planning and not get in the way.”

Well, a whole new conversation opened up and by the end of it all they were a couple determined to go on and plan their big day together.

Now, several things were going on here.  Philip was too dutiful a son and paid too much attention to his mother! They also were a couple that hadn’t learned how to openly talk about what they each needed and wanted, what they were thinking and feeling.

There’s more, though. 

Cora thought Philip wasn’t interested in their wedding because he had no opinion in the planning. She convinced herself he didn’t care and when she was convinced he didn’t care, she became upset. 

And when she didn’t express her feelings to him, she bottled them up inside. 

And when she bottled them up inside, they eventually spewed forth in an angry, accusatory outburst.

While planning your wedding you can become so focused on some details that it’s easy to lose sight of so much else. 

It’s also possible that during the stress of it all, you’ll not understand what your partner is doing and saying, let alone why. The opportunity for misunderstanding abounds. 

When you’re confused, annoyed, or surprised by something your partner is doing – or not doing – don’t jump to conclusions, especially if those conclusions are negative in any way.    

Instead, I encourage you to do some Perception Checking. 

Here’s how it works – in three steps:

  1. Identify what aspects of your partner’s behavior is confusing or troubling you.  Don’t accuse – just objectively describe what it is.
  2. Think of two possible explanations for the behavior.
  3. Ask your partner to clarify what really is going on.

For instance:

Your partner has flaked on the past two appointments you’ve had with vendors. You’ve lost patience and are annoyed. Rather than lashing out, here’s a script you might try: We’ve missed our last two meetings with the photographer. I know you say it’s because of work, but I’m wondering if something else is going on. I don’t want to do all the planning by myself. I’m starting to feel resentful and I don’t want to. How can we make sure that neither of us drops the ball with all these meetings? 

I know all this seems stilted and awkward. That’s because it is!

The above script, though, has four solid advantages (provided you’re not yelling or speaking in a talk-down tone of voice).

Advantages of Perception Checking

First, you’re not accusing your partner of anything. You’re sticking with the facts, i.e. three missed meetings. 

Second, you’re letting your partner know how you feel about them missing those meetings. You’re not keeping things bottled-up so you won’t explode. Also, this saves your partner from learning how to become a mind reader. 

Third, you’re letting your partner know what you need and since you’re talking to the person you’re going to marry, I think they’d want to know what you need. 

Fourth, when you say, “how can we?”, you make it a challenge that you both, together, need to find a solution for. 

All four of these advantages help increase the chances your partner will be willing to consider the issue from your point-of-view and so be willing to find a solution with you.

Your instinct might be to accuse your partner with something like this: I’m tired of you not going to the meetings we have. You’re always using work as an excuse. Do you even care how this wedding is going to turn out?

What’s going to happen from this “natural” response? Things will just spiral out of hand, your resentment and theirs will mount. Neither of you win. 


Whenever you accuse someone with the words you never, you always you, you, you, it throws the person up against a wall and the only thing they can do is defend themselves, as opposed to explain themselves.  

Perception Checking Helps In 3 Ways

It helps you to separate intent from impact.

It helps your partner realize that their actions are having an unintended impact. 

It helps you understand if your impressions, your perceptions, are accurate.

Just because you feel slighted, ignored, or even hurt, it doesn’t mean that was your partner’s intent. In fact, it most likely wasn’t that at all.

How often have you said or done something with no harm intended and your partner felt hurt and confused? 

We all do it, so remind yourself that before you assume the worst of your partner.

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!

What Do You Want Guests to Remember from Your Ceremony?

Last Saturday I officiated the wedding of Stephen & Monique (names changed), a couple who are friends of Steve & Katie, a couple whose wedding I officiated last year. 

Stephen had been one of Steve’s groomsmen and now Steve was one of Stephen’s.  In fact, Stephen’s other three groomsmen had been groomsmen for Steve, as all the guys had been in the same fraternity at UCLA.

I wanted to make sure that at Stephen and Monique’s ceremony I didn’t say any of what I had said at Steve and Katie’s wedding. 

But not only could Stephen and Monique not remember what I had said, not even the groomsmen could remember! 

Each reassured me that although they couldn’t remember my words, they’d been touched by the ceremony and my sentiments.

After the ceremony, I asked Katie, last year’s bride, if I had repeated what I’d said at her wedding. 

She laughed as she, too, couldn’t remember what I had said.  All she knew was that she felt as refreshed at this wedding as she had at her own.

When I coach professionals in public speaking, I remind them that all sorts of studies confirm that after a presentation people forget 50% of what they heard by the time they get home and they will forget 50% of the 50% by the next day. 

I stress that before giving a presentation, a speaker needs to know what it is they want their audience to remember.

A wedding is a unique type of presenting and this weekend I was reminded of what I sometimes lose sight of – family and friends will not remember my exact words, but they will remember the feeling and tone I create – they will remember the experience I create.

I recently met with a couple who are getting married next year.  When I asked them if they know what they want or don’t want in their ceremony, they told me about a boring wedding they’d attended. 

While they couldn’t remember what the officiant had said, they remembered how the ceremony had a disjointed feel about it, how nothing that was being done or even said made sense.  They felt like they were simply observers, onlookers at an odd event.

Another couple I recently met with originally were going to marry last year but with less than a month to go they called it off.  They’re now at a place where they know they are necessary in each other’s life and are ready to marry in a way they were not the first time. 

To my surprise, they told me that they couldn’t stand the officiant they had hired, but they didn’t care as he was cheap and saving money had been their priority. 

The bride shared that now the ceremony is the most important part of their wedding day and she wants it to be meaningful.

So, what is this “thing” we know as a wedding ceremony?

Strip away the clichés, religious and civil, strip away the pomp and circumstance, and what you’re left with is – an exquisite moment in time.

A ceremony acknowledges and affirms (and blesses) the simple and lovely miracle of these two persons, alive on earth at the same moment, pledging to live all the remaining moments of life together.

Despite its power, or maybe because of its power, a ceremony is a fragile experience. 

It’s not a vehicle for lecturing or venting. Rather, it’s a moment in time in which everyone present does something out of the ordinary – they give thanks for the brave generosity of two people.

Maybe it’s because it is so simple that a ceremony is so tricky to execute.

Last month I officiated eleven weddings that together had over one thousand guests. 

Given the opportunity to speak to a thousand people was a privilege I cherish.  I wonder about all those wedding guests – What will they remember of the ceremony? 

What do I want them to remember?

While I’ll never know what they remember, here’s what I hope they will remember:

  • That they were part of an invited group who witnessed something extraordinary – the pledging of love between two people – love faithful, protective and sturdy.
  • That despite the fact that life can be exhausting – life is good and worthy of our best – and because they joined in the feast, they will continue to live life and not slog through it.
  • That we need one another – whoever that “another” may be, so that we can live with generosity and courage.

Maybe, though, all I want them to remember, is this –

That they experienced a moment where they felt valued and appreciated because they valued and appreciated a couple who said “yes” to life in all its messy, uncertain glory!

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