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A Wedding Dream Nightmare


When I had my website revamped I lost my old blog site. This is a post from a couple of years ago. . .I’m reposting it as I think it’s a story that still needs hearing. . .



Last month at a networking event I met Courtney, an events manager at a major downtown LA venue.  During our conversation, Courtney shared with me the extraordinary and near tragic story of her wedding.


Hers is a cautionary tale and I suspect that it’s a story too many brides can relate to.


I’m grateful to Courtney for letting me post her story and I admire both her courage and the courage of her husband. . .


A Wedding Dream Nightmare

Courtney Kanner Fishman


I got married on August 18, 2013. A couple of months leading up to our big day, I became obsessed with being a “skinny” bride. I tried the best I could by working out six times a week and keeping to a healthy diet but I couldn’t lose any weight. Although I’ve been thin most of my life, I wasn’t going to settle for being 143 pounds and unable to fit into my Size 2 wedding dress.  Then I hit on the seemingly perfect solution. Since I suffer from migraines, I pleaded with my doctor to prescribe a migraine medicine that also has a side effect – weight loss.


As I swallowed the first 25 mg pill, I remember feeling excited that my world was about to change.  It did, but not for the better.


The first signs of trouble started when I began to feel numbness in my feet and hands. I could no longer taste the carbonation in sodas and experienced hallucinations at a dinner with some friends. Since all I cared about was the weight loss, I ignored these side effects because I had lost ten pounds in just one month.


In the second month, the side effects mounted. I had difficulty speaking and was constantly repeating myself and unable to finish sentences.

As horrible as these side effects were, I deluded myself into feeling that this was an acceptable price to pay. In fact, I had my doctor up my dosage to 200 mg because I still had another eight pounds to lose.  I was determined to make my fantasy a reality.


By my wedding day I had reached 128 pounds!


Although I had hit my goal weight and looked beautiful, on the inside I was a mess. I was irritable and forced to hide my inner turmoil with a smile.  During the ceremony, I stared into the eyes of my husband and felt like a hollow shell. My body was foreign to me. I had to maintain this charade for hours and barely kept it together. Only those who’ve known me for years could see the distance in my eyes and sense that something wasn’t right.


Later, what should have been a night filled with passionate romance turned into a marathon of hysterical crying. My husband and I didn’t know what to do. We thought it was the result of the “routine” stress that some brides go through. What we didn’t know was that this breakdown was just the beginning.


A few days later we embarked on an eleven-day honeymoon that began in Lake Como, Italy and was supposed to finish in the Greek Islands.


We never made it to Greece.


I became so depressed and disassociated from myself that I couldn’t even recognize my husband. I was hallucinating, barraged with scary thoughts of self destruction. I told my husband that I wanted to jump off a cliff and was consumed with suicidal ideations. We flew home immediately but my nightmare only escalated.


At one point I was rushed to the hospital because I didn’t even know who I was. I was convinced that either I had had a stroke or was suffering from dementia. I said such hurtful things to my husband that we were on the verge of separating.


It wasn’t until a friend asked, “Do you think the medicine you were taking for your migraines/weight loss is causing all of this?” that I realized there could be another explanation for why this was happening to me.


I was shocked to discover all the horrible side effects that the drug I had taken could cause. I was angry with myself and I resented my doctor who could have prevented this from happening. But my anger was also mixed with relief – maybe there was hope.


I insisted that my doctor take me off this “poison.” However, I couldn’t go “cold turkey” because of the risk of an epileptic seizure; I had to slowly taper off the drug. I will never forget the day after I swallowed the last pill. It really was like flicking on a light switch in my mind – I was back!  Finally, once again, I was calm, happy and remembered all of the feelings I had for my husband, family and friends. Now my tears were tears of joy.


The medication ruined a good part of my wedding day, destroyed my honeymoon and almost led me to divorce in the first month of my marriage. Even scarier, it almost took my life.


I’m sharing my story because I want to urge you not to fall for society’s obsession with weight loss. Be kind to yourself. Never take a medication without knowing its potential side effects. I wish I first had done my research as I later discovered that hundreds of thousands of people who have taken this medication have experienced similar, if not worse, side effects.


I wish I had been content being a little over the weight I had deemed acceptable for my wedding day. I’m ashamed for what I put my mind and my body, my husband, friends and family through.  And for what? Some nice pictures where I look thin?


Photographs will fade but don’t let your love for “you” fade. I wish I had valued myself enough to accept me for who I am.


Please don’t make the same mistake I did. In the end, the risks just aren’t worth it.

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Courtney Kanner Fishman has been in the wedding industry for the last ten+ years.

She began her career as a wedding planner and now is an events manager.

How To See Clearly During the Craziness of Planning



It’s easy to get lost in your “own” world while planning your wedding. And in that world, often times, things can get distorted, much like those weird mirrors in a fun house.

Here are Ten Questions to get you thinking about the “mirrors” in your world:

  1. Do you think that if your partner does something that upsets you, it’s because he or she deliberately wants to hurt you?
  2. Do you see how and where you can be wrong in a discussion?
  3. In a discussion, do you look for ways to disprove what the person is saying?
  4. Are you familiar with your partner’s culture, family, religion?
  5. Do you think the world revolves around you? (okay—loaded question!)
  6. Do you often use the phrase, “I know how you feel?”
  7. If there’s a 50% chance of rain, do you think it’s going to rain?
  8. Do you believe that every problem has a solution?
  9. Do you often use the phrase, “What’s the use?”
  10. Are you able to see the wedding planning from your partner’s p.o.v.?


If you answered, “yes” to any of the odd-numbered questions, and “no” to any of the even-numbered ones, then most likely you will feel frustratingly challenged as you deal with the foreseen and unforeseen issues that unexpectedly pop up during planning!

Years ago my brother found a neon clock from “Alexander’s,” a NYC department store that went out of business decades ago. It was our grandmother’s favorite store. Peter gave it to me as a Christmas gift.

I hung it in my dining room, lower to the floor. The placement gave it that “artsy” feel. A few months later, the neon burnt out and I took it to a repair shop. A couple of weeks went by and I got a call from the owner. He had set the clock against the wall and his toddler son came along and dropped a toy car on top of it.

The plastic rim now had a hole in it. It couldn’t be repaired. When I brought it home, it didn’t look good in its old spot as the hole was glaring. Irritated that it was ruined, I stored it in a closet—until a friend suggested I place it high up on the wall, so no one could see the hole. So simple.

Why hadn’t I thought of moving the clock from a very low to a very high spot? Because I was so fixated on the old spot and on its imperfection.  And I think this is the biggest challenge while planning a wedding—to look up when you’re fixated on looking down!


Here are five simple things you can do to look “higher”


  1. You made the choice to hold a wedding celebration out a place of joy, celebration, and gratitude. Each week remind each other of the “why” of that choice.


  1. Giving up on a problem or challenge that is crimping your wedding planning obviously will solve nothing. Select a problem that you’re obsessing over. Can you look at it from another angle? Think of it as a mystery to be cracked open and not as an insurmountable obstacle.


  1. There’s more to life than planning a wedding. Make time to enjoy what you enjoy doing—individually and as a couple. Spending time on non-wedding fun will help clear your head and refresh you when you return to dealing with wedding issues.


  1. Make time to offer thanks to all the good things and to all the good people that uplift and support you in the planning. Gratitude puts everything into right perspective.


  1. Most especially, thank your partner for all things, large and small, that he or she does to make the planning less stressful and more fun for you. Tell your partner what you specifically appreciate.


It’s soooo easy to get lost in our heads, create soap operas and lose sight of what life (i.e. wedding planning) is all about.

However. . .

Staying sane is worth the effort!


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!


A Sanity-Saver Wedding Planning Quiz


When I first meet with a couple they are (usually) excited about planning for their wedding. But then it’s not uncommon for the couple to reach out to me a few months later. They’re stressed and not enjoying the planning because they are not “on the same page.” They come seeking some pre-marital communication coaching.


The truth is – it’s very easy to be seduced by “crazy thinking” while in the throes of wedding planning.


To help you understand just how easy it is, consider these questions. How many do you nod your head to in agreement? How many can your partner answer with a “yes”?


  1. When stumped as to how to make some wedding detail perfect, do you get easily frustrated?
  2. Do you feel suffocated by all the things you never realized you should do for your wedding?
  3. Are you and your partner fighting frequently over wedding details?
  4. Do you feel that the planning is slipping out of your hands and into those of your partner, parents or vendors?
  5. Are you afraid to speak up and voice your opinion – to your partner?
  6. Do you spend large amounts of time consciously and unconsciously worrying about what your families and friends will think about your wedding?
  7. Are you feeling more confused than focused in your planning?
  8. Are you willing to sacrifice what you want for the wedding for the sake of pleasing your parents?
  9. Are you easily influenced when a vendor says that you “really should” consider a particular item related to your wedding?
  10. Are many of your decisions based on how not to upset or disappoint or offend people involved in your wedding?
  11. Are you spending more time worrying than laughing?
  12. Are you venting on people who are really not responsible for your decisions?


If you have more “yes” answers than “no” answers then most likely you are buying into one of more or these classic, crazy-making beliefs:

  1. It must be perfect or it’s no good.
  2. There are things you “should” do no matter what you want.
  3. There are situations in which you are helpless and have no choice.
  4. You are totally responsible for how family and friends feel.


So, how can you turn those “yes” answers into resounding “no” answers?


I suggest that you pick out the one crazy-making belief you most easily buy into.

Have your partner do the same.

Share your “craziness” with each other and consider:

  • Why do you buy into this irrational belief?
  • How does it make you feel?
  • Does it help you with your planning?
  • Does it make you feel relaxed? Confident?
  • Do you think your stress could be reduced if you didn’t buy into this crazy-making belief?
  • Why are you clinging to this thinking?
  • What do you think is the worst thing that could happen if you let go of this belief?


Talk to your partner and find out what you can do to help him or her feel safer, calmer and more assured that all will be well. Learn how you can help him or her not so readily buy into their favorite emotional lie.


Only when you reject these crazy-making beliefs can

your wedding be a joyful event

grounded in your truth.


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!



My Top 10 “What The?!” Wedding Moments


When I’m in a social setting and I tell people that I officiate weddings, inevitably, they will ask, “So, what was the worst thing that happened at a wedding?” And they ALWAYS ask the question with a glint in their eyes!


Recently, just for the heck of it, I jotted down a list of the more memorable things that have gone wrong at my weddings over the years. I’ve been fortunate, or rather, my couples have been fortunate that no one of these “disasters” was worthy of going viral.  However, each and all gave a signature, “wack-a-do” moment to the ceremony. And with each memory there’s a lesson learned.


Here are my Top 10 “What The?!” Wedding Moments


  1. The longest reading I ever heard in a ceremony was three pages, single-spaced. The bride’s sister wrote a reflection entitled, “What Is A Marriage.” The ceremony took place on a summer’s day at a venue that had no trees and no shade. None. It was near 100-degrees. The bride’s make-up ran; the groom swayed; and the sister kept on reading. Oh, and I later learned that the sister had recently gone through a nasty divorce. This was her idea of group therapy!


  1. The bride asked her married sister to be matron-of-honor and her single sister to be maid-of-honor. I didn’t think it mattered who signed the license as a witness and so I asked the first sister I found – the matron-of-honor. On the drive home I got a call from the bride’s mother demanding to know why I had asked her married daughter to sign when “everyone” knew the single sister was supposed to sign. The mother screamed at me, accusing me of having ruined the day for her daughter – no, not the daughter who was the bride – the daughter who was the matron-of-honor! She told me she was sobbing at the reception.


  1. Two hours before the start of the ceremony, the maid-of-honor got into a verbal fighting match with the bride and accused her of being an alcoholic and “white trash.” She then drove off to parts unknown – with one of the groomsmen!


  1. While it’s traditional for the mothers to sit on the aisle seats of the front rows, this bride’s step-mom decided she wanted to take that seat and so plopped herself down before the Processional. She refused to move. The bride’s mother refused to sit anywhere other than the first seat of the first row. The ceremony was delayed a solid half-hour. I eventually coaxed the step-mom into moving. I won’t print what I said to her, but keep in mind that my father had been a cop and my grandmother a prison guard!


  1. At the end of the ceremony, after I pronounced the couple married and they kissed, they and their wedding party were supposed to release butterflies. They opened the boxes and – most of the butterflies were dead and the rest wouldn’t fly away. I thought it was a disaster, but the guests laughed and finally the bride’s butterfly flew off. She smugly smiled, kissed her groom again and whispered, “Follow me” and off they went up the aisle.


  1. The rings were tied on a white silk pillow that was held by the bride’s four-year-old nephew. At the appropriate time, I called the boy up and he handed the pillow to the Best Man. I then pulled on the string holding one ring and it easily slipped off. I then pulled on the string holding the other ring and – it pulled into a tight knot. I couldn’t undo the knot. The Best Man couldn’t undo the knot. The groom couldn’t undo the knot. The bride couldn’t undo the knot. Everyone smiled, not sure if this was a gag. Finally, the photographer whipped out his penknife and cut the ribbon, freeing the ring!


  1. The mother of the groom did not like her future daughter-in-law. To her credit, she had told both her son and his fiancée that she didn’t like her! To the couple’s credit, they invited her AND the groom told his mother that he would not tolerate her pulling any stunts. His mother assured him that she wouldn’t. However, ten minutes before ceremony’s start, she began to cry and the crying turned into wailing. She sobbed so hard (because he was marrying “that one”) that the ceremony was delayed 25-minutes until she could compose herself.


  1. Then there was the Armenian dad who was devastated that his daughter was marrying a man who was not Armenian. Two weeks before the wedding, he called and pleaded with me not to officiate the wedding. He said, “It will kill me if my daughter marries this man!” It was when he told me that he’d rather see her dead than married to her fiancé that I grew alarmed. The couple hired security and it’s the only wedding I officiated where I kept wondering if I was going to show up on the local Ten O’clock News! The bride’s father (and mother) boycotted the wedding and I still don’t know if I “killed” the man!


  1. My second all-time favorite mother story is the mother whose son did not invite her to the wedding. He had a strained relationship with his mother and feared she’d do something to ruin his day. She showed up at the church just as I was asking the question, “Who presents this woman. . .?” Suddenly, standing in the church’s doorway, in the shadows, yet backlit by the sun, stood the groom’s mother. She said nothing. She did nothing. She simply stood there throughout the ceremony. Wonderfully dramatic – and creepy!


  1. And now for my #1 favorite mother story. . .the bride and groom had been together five years and were great partners. Towards the end of their ceremony the bride’s mother stood up and walked towards me. Puzzled,  I walked over to her and in a voice only I could hear, she said these immortal words: “Do not pronounce them husband and wife, I have reservations.” Beyond stunned,  I smiled and said to her: “The only reservation you better have is for dinner.” I raced back to the couple and quickly pronounced them husband & wife. After the ceremony, I found the bride and as I gave her a big hug, she sheepishly said: “I guess I forgot to tell you about my mother.” Duh!


What did I learn from all this?

Weddings can be wacky and unpredictable – and I can never be too prepared.  I have to be the rock for a couple and for their families and guests.

While each of the above-mentioned ten couples experienced some disappointment, annoyance, concern and puzzlement, not one of them allowed any mishap or moment of melodrama to rain on the joy of their day BECAUSE each couple decided their joy was stronger than anger.


Nothing can ruin your day unless you choose to make it ruin your day.


In the face of potential disaster, you have only three options:





You might end up doing all three – just make sure you end with the laughter!


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!




8 Truths About Your Wedding You Don’t Want To Forget


At the birthday party of a friend, I met David and Paula names changed), a couple who had just celebrated their first wedding anniversary. David and his family are culturally Jewish while Paula is agnostic. Her father, though, is an atheist and her mother Roman Catholic. They told me that while planning their wedding they were quickly overwhelmed with the politics of it all.


After a run-in with his family over their decision not to have a Chuppah, they realized that the sanest thing they could do for each other was to work through each issue as it came along – prioritizing details from most to least important.


When I have my final meeting with a couple, usually a week or so before their wedding, I oftentimes find them to be both excited and exhausted. They’re excited because “the” day is near at hand. And they’re exhausted because of all the demands, challenges and stress they never imagined they would encounter during the planning of their big day.


In the hope of helping you reach the end of your planning a little less dazed and confused, here are ~


8 Truths About Your Wedding You Don’t Want To Forget


  1. You are a couple. Protect each other. Is your mother or some other family member or friend complaining about “that person” you’re marrying? The time to set boundaries is now – not after your wedding. Remember – we train people how to treat us. And “train” is not too strong a word.


  1. You are a couple. You are not victims. Take responsibility for your wants, needs, wishes, feelings and choices. All of these have consequences. With courage, embrace these responsibilities and consequences. This is the only way you can honor and protect each other.


  1. You are a couple. And your family members are consistent. No one is going to change. Be prepared for all those old familiar buttons being pushed.


  1. You are a couple. Again I say – establish boundaries. You are no longer a child. You are not a pair of children playing house. People owe you respect. Do what is needed to receive that respect.
    • say “no” when needed
    • understand you cannot please everyone
    • respect your right to feelings
    • recall that you cannot change anyone
    • refuse to be taken advantage of


  1. You are a couple. You are each other’s home. And from that place of home, you may have to have conversations with family or friends that are “sticky.” Keep the following in mind:
    • do not keep things bottled up inside
    • speak from a place of “I”—do not begin with “you this” and “you that”
    • do not accuse, do not yell, do not be sarcastic
    • make it safe for you and the other – ask if you can talk with them about the issue that is troubling you
    • speak assertively – not aggressively
    • resist becoming defensive – take responsibility for your share of the situation without assuming a posture of guilt
    • make sure you are speaking about the “right” issue – is it a particular experience or is it a pattern of behavior you want to speak to?
    • focus on what it is you want from the conversation and the person – is this person capable of giving you want you want?


  1. You are a couple. Whatever challenges one of you may encounter see them as being shared by the two of you.


  1. You are a couple. Remind each other of your love.


  1. You are a couple. Laugh your heads off. 


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!





HEY! Do Not Be Nervous On Your Wedding Day!


A couple of weeks ago, I officiated a non-denominational wedding that had 200 guests. When I arrived on site, the event planner told me that everyone was worried about the bride – “she’s really nervous.” The groom asked me what I would do if his bride couldn’t finish saying her vows. The maid of honor took me aside and asked if I’d ever had a bride faint in the middle of the ceremony. And the bride?  Well, she told me she was really nervous – and then threw back a shot of tequila!


Last week I officiated a wedding for an out-of-town gay couple who had decided to combine their wedding and honeymoon. They invited just ten relatives and friends.  The ceremony was held in their hotel suite that had a breath-taking view of LA. When I arrived, Frank (names changed) clasped my hand and said, “I’m so nervous, I don’t know if I can say my vows.” I reminded him that there would only be ten people, but he said, “That’s a lot!”


It doesn’t matter if you’ve invited ten people or twenty times ten people.

It doesn’t matter if you’re straight or gay.

A wedding is something of an out-of-body experience!


And while I do “get” why people are nervous, at the risk of sounding obnoxious, I gotta ask:

“Why? Why are you nervous? What are you telling yourself? What thoughts are scaring you?”


CS Lewis, author of “The Chronicles of Narnia,” also wrote a now forgotten sci-fi novel, “Out Of The Secret Planet.” The hero of that tale says this to his beloved:

When you and I first met, the meeting was over very shortly, it was nothing. Now it is growing into something as we remember it. But still we know very little about it. What it will be when I remember it as I lie down to die, what it makes in me all my days till then  – that is the real meeting. The other is only the beginning of it.


I know that this is such a heretical statement to make BUT – your wedding day is not “the” most important day of your life. 

Your life together is a series of most important days. 

I think your wedding day is the great touchstone for all those other “the” most important days. 


Your wedding day is “the” day that can become the memory that becomes your compass BECAUSE this is the day you say with emphasis:

This is the person I am.

This is the person I want to be – a person who desires, gives, loves, forgives, hopes, hurts and who is generously human.


The poet Sam Keen observed that:

We come to love not by finding a perfect person, but by learning to see an imperfect person perfectly.


If this is true (and I think it is) why then worry about “perfection”?


Your vows don’t have to be perfect.

The day doesn’t have to be “perfect.”

You just have to be bravely generous.


Last month, I did a ceremony on a property that overlooked the Pacific. The view was breathtaking and so was the wind! It was an unusually windy day. Jackie, the bride, had a long veil that dramatically blew high up in the air – to the delight and distraction of guests. Finally, at one point, she grabbed the veil and tucked it under her armpit (strapless dress). Everyone laughed – and we could get on to the matter at hand – the offering of their vows.


I loved Jackie’s attitude –  ya gotta do what ya gotta do. . .

With laughter.

With joy.

With determination.

With focus.

With love.

That’s the vow you’re making to each other.  That’s how you make your vow to one another.


Why be nervous?! You’re marrying the person you love!!


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!



The Real Secret To a 25 Year Marriage!


The following excerpt, “25 YEARS,” is written by Marley Klaus.  The full text can be found on her wonderful blog The Heathen Learns

She and her husband— film, TV, and theater director Kevin Dowling— married in 1987 and have two sons. This was written on her 25th wedding anniversary. 

I love her timeless insight into what makes a marriage, a marriage!


There’s this idea about romantic love, about finding your “soul mate” as that man of mine surely is, that makes us think that our lives should be entwined, enmeshed, our happiness entrusted to another. I think that idea does more to undermine good relationships than almost any other.


The underbelly of that notion is: so, if I’m not happy – and who is all the time? – it is my partner’s responsibility to at least try to make me feel better, happier. I won’t speak for other people but, in our determination to put how we felt about each other into practice, we kinda got it wrong for a while.  In the misguided attempt to make the other happier, we contorted ourselves and our lives into painful and unrecognizable pretzel shapes – or felt guilty when we didn’t or couldn’t.


We thought we were responsible for each other instead of to each other.

The result?


We had about two years of hell that stripped our relationship right down to its foundation.

I remember standing on a street, looking across the top of a car at him and thinking: I am willing to lose this but I am not willing to not be myself anymore. I was lucky. He was braver and more determined than I was. He took the first steps to break our dynamic.


At the time, it felt like he was retreating to his corner to work on his own issues, but it gave me the room to do the same. I would never, ever, ever want to go through that again (have I said “never” and “ever” enough?) however, the new relationship that was built on what remained, that foundation, that look, is everything I ever wanted and more.


Boy, I love you, I admire you, I like you and I’m grateful for you and to you for our quarter century together. . . .


What we now know is that marriage isn’t about two becoming one, but about learning how to be yourself in the presence of another.


That, to me, to us, is the secret of a marriage worth having.


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 a Trio of Weddings Taught Me About Weddings!

josh elliot studios


Although I love officiating non-denominational, cross-cultural and inter-faith wedding ceremonies, I pride myself on not being a “wedding factory.”  I’ll officiate only one wedding a day and most weekends I’m booked with just one wedding, typically on a Saturday. Last month, though, I had an unusual weekend where I was booked with three weddings – Friday, Saturday and Sunday.


Each was unique and so different from the other two. Yet, they all shared one thing in common. . .


Friday night I was down in Orange County for the wedding of Suzie and Jared (names changed),  Jared is an actor and keeps busy with TV work. He hasn’t won an Emmy, but his profile is high enough that his engagement was highlighted by People Mag.


Suzie and Jared asked me to ask their guests not to take photos during the ceremony and not post anything of the wedding to social media. I was more than happy to do so!


I’m biased – while I love my technology and have everything that begins with the letter “i” I don’t get why guests want to spend the ceremony taking snaps with their smart phone or tablet. It takes them so out of the moment and experience.


It was wonderful to look out and see 120 people focused on Suzie and Jared and not craning to get some amateurish shot.


During the ceremony I happened to notice a young guy in the third row. He had a rugby build and before the ceremony had been joking and flirting with several single women – clearly making the most of the moment! Now, though, I caught a glimpse and could see that there was a change in his face – he looked visibly moved as Jared and Suzie exchanged vows.


I was reminded – again – of the power of ritual to connect us to a deep truth.


Saturday night was in Malibu at a high-end resort with a view of “forever.” Everything about Karli’s and Chip’s wedding was more elaborate than Suzie’s and Jared’s. But there was nothing stuffy about any of it.


It was a windy day and Karli’s veil was billowing up into her face. Laughing, she turned to her maid of honor who was frantically trying to grab it and said, “Oh, just step on the darn thing!”  And the maid of honor did – no more whiplash from the veil!


And then on Sunday I flew up to Sacramento for a wedding. Dale’s and Kevin’s wedding was a simple, minimal DIY.


The ceremony began and Kevin was BEAMING – I mean BEAMING – as he watched Dale walk down the aisle with her mom. I suddenly realized that for the first time in my life, I may have been witnessing true “euphoria.” WOW!


Three unique couples. 

Three unique wedding ceremonies. 

Three unique celebration styles and budgets. 


What did they share in common?


Alice Walker has one of her characters in The Color Purple ask this question:

“Tell the truth, have you ever found God in a church? I never did. Any God I ever felt in church I brought in with me. And I think all the other folks did too.”


While these were not church weddings, with a nod to Walker, I’d rephrase the question: 

“Did I ever find magic created by the budget of a wedding? I never did. Any magic I ever felt I brought in with me. And I think all the other folks did too – bring the magic with them.”


It’s the magic of your wedding that people will be talking about for years to come. . .


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!

Tips for Having A Festive Beach Wedding!



Every weekend in the summer you’ll find me officiating non-denominational wedding ceremonies in some of the most beautiful locations found in Los Angeles and Orange Counties. While most of those ceremonies take place at venues with spectacular views of the ocean, occasionally couples want to actually have their ceremony on the beach.


Beach weddings evoke romantic images – and they can be romantic – if you plan sensibly. The key word in that last sentence is sensibly!


Whether you believe in climate change or not the reality is – temperatures are rising! Family and friends love you – dearly – and I promise you that they will love you even more if you don’t plop them in the middle of a beach without some thought and care!


Having officiated upwards of a hundred sweaty, salty SoCal beach weddings,

here are my tips for having a festive wedding ceremony on beach sand!


Provide shade. During the summer, the sun can be brutal, especially if you’re wearing something other than a bathing suit! A festive way to offer guests some shade is by providing colorful paper umbrellas – your guests even could lead you to the ceremony spot in a Mardi Gras procession of color. And if not umbrellas then paper fans.


Provide cold water. Buckets of cold water. Trust me on this!

You will have “lookie-loos.” If you’re getting married on a pubic beach, you should expect some folks to watch – or gawk! Know that some of these folks will pop up in your video/photos. And some of those folks probably should be arrested for wearing Speedos!


Check out your intended ceremony beach spot a week or so before your wedding. When do crowds thin out? Is there a stretch that is less populated? While it will be hard to find a private spot, you at least can reduce the number of unwanted guests.


Be creative – you’re not having a traditional ceremony. Be creative in every aspect of the ceremony – from what you wear to how you exchange vows and rings. Here are some creative and engaging ceremony touches. . .


Rather than setting up rows of chairs, have your guests circle around you in a tight knit circle of love.


I’ve officiated at beach weddings where couples actually dragged string trios onto the sand – only to have the music blown out to sea. Why not have a horn, trumpet or steel drum shout forth the joy of your day?


I’ve seen brides clomp through the sand in puffy dresses, complete with veil and train. So not romantic! You’re not in a church – why imitate a church setting?


I feel for older guests and relatives who trudge through the sand in shoes – wanting to remain “proper.” Consider alternatives. Have folks switch into flip-flops before heading off to the ceremony spot. Perhaps you can provide a station where people can remove socks and shoes and then, after the ceremony, have moist cloths ready so they can wipe their feet before putting their shoes back on.


Virtually everyone has their own pair of sunglasses so if you are providing sunglasses as a wedding favor make sure they’re unique.


When I officiated the wedding of reality show Survivor sweethearts Rob & Amber at the Atlantis in the Bahamas, their rings were presented on a seashell. Before exchanging rings, they washed their hands in a conch shell and had their mothers dry their hands. It was a poignant moment.


Simple – festive – Creative.

Keep these three words in mind as you plan for your memorable beach wedding ceremony!


If you want to learn 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!