Thursday, March 14, 2013

Because I Love You

I was visiting a friend of mine who is a nut about putting things away but could care less about a few dust bunnies. On the other hand, his partner of 15 years doesn’t mind things out of place but is a clean freak.  (The things you find out when you’re in someone’s home!)

And how did I find out this mole hill of information that could easily become Mt. Everest?  Well, I’ll tell you.  We had walked into the kitchen and right there on the floor was a stray sock.  My friend picked it up, looked at me and said, “I love him enough to take care of this for him.”

That blew me away.  In fact, it blew me back to the previous century.  Two other friends of mine were in a business together.  Businesses are so much like a marriage.  Their business happened to be a boat yard which required someone to take charge of the office, handle orders and matters involving paper work, and someone to be outside to govern placement of boats in and out of the water and following through on work orders. One was great inside and one was great outside.

Perfect, you might say. Nope! The one who was outside would complain that his partner was always sitting down and talking on the phone. The inside man would complain that his partner was always walking around “shooting the breeze”.

I’ve seen that in marriages too especially when one is sloppy and the other neat.   Like the famous Odd Couple.  How do you deal with that?

How do YOU deal with that (or something similar)?  Do you pick up after your mate, suffer and complain about it? Or do you pick up as an act of love? To pursue that point a little further, do you expect a favor in return or do you know, deep down inside, that you are taken care of too and loved for what you are?

I’ve listened to couples bickering, each one telling their story. The amazing part is that both are complaining about the same issue.  “I do all the work.” “What do you ever do for me?”

Why am I writing about this and posting it on a site that advocates marriage?  Marriage includes living together.  Living together exposes differences. Differences need to be accepted and dealt with. Key word is accepted.

Marriage is all about Love.  Love is accepting a person exactly the way they are.  I repeat, exactly the way they are. Right here. Right now.  To quote a line from one of my ceremonies, “Marriage is accepting the incompleteness, imperfections and hidden surprises of the other.”

You offer your whole self to your marriage partner.  You take your partner in marriage in their entirety.  You send out love you’ll get love back. You send out control and you’ll get rebuttal. You send out expectations you’ll get disappointments. You send out acceptance and you ACCEPT YOURSELF the way you are and you’ll be accepted.

I have a friend whom I have never heard say an arbitrary word about her husband. I asked her how she deals with day to day issues like picking up, taking out the garbage, cooking, etc. What arrangements did they make and what process was used to come to an agreement?

I wish you could have seen the look on her face.  I was not speaking Russian or Greek.  She had to mull over the question to figure out what I was asking.  Her answer as to how and why the marriage worked so well was….. (are you ready for this?) “Simple. When either of us sees something that needs doing, we do it.”

They don’t keep score. They don’t make rules. They don’t have expectations. And there you have the best advice for a long, lived, happy marriage.  When either of you sees something that needs doing, do it.

“I love him enough to __________ for him.”  Fill in the blank.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Make Your Day

No, this is not a takeoff on Clint Eastwood.  But wait a minute.  If you think about Clint Eastwood, why is he so special? Even if you are not a huge fan of his, you have to admit that dude has lasted a long time in the movie business and is still going strong.

How does the C.E. concept relate to YOUR wedding and, more specifically, YOUR wedding ceremony?  Clint Eastwood puts his own spin, his own brand of acting, of thinking, on everything he does on the screen.  He considers all the details leaving nothing to chance verified by his directing expertise. 

Put it this way.  Mega time, effort and expense goes into the 4 hour time slot of Wedding Day but how much thought is put forth in creating the ceremony that produces the magic words to pronounce you wife and husband?

Did you notice how weird wife and husband sounded as opposed to husband and wife?  My point exactly.  It’s the details.  I used the same words but had the audacity to switch their order.  The details make the difference between blah and spectacular.

My goal is to see to it that you have a magnificently memorable perfect ceremony.  One that is perfect for you.  To achieve that masterpiece I ask questions.

There have been couples sitting on my comfy couch in my home office who were shocked at their mate’s response when I asked about including a particular component in the service.  At the same time, one would answer “no” and the other would say, “Absolutely YES” producing stupefying looks all around.

For example, recently there have been a few brides who wanted the question “Who gives this woman to this man in marriage?” asked at the beginning of the ceremony.  Usually the father desires that honor.  Sometimes both parents answer.   One woman had her 2 sons respond, “We do.” However, for the previous 10 years only a handful of brides requested the inclusion.  Traditions come back around.  Go figure!

That’s why I love my job.  Its such fun!  I revel in the pleasure of meeting new people with unique points of view.  My focus is always, “What do YOU want in your wedding ceremony?”  Sure, I have lots of ideas but that is all they are – my thoughts.  Those ideas and thoughts do not get incorporated into the service unless the bride and groom totally agree that to do so would reflect their ideals and be a part of their vision.

You could be one of many that have no idea what so ever of what a ceremony is all about, why it is necessary in the first place, and who cares anyway.

That would be like going to a florist and saying, “Send over some flowers.”  Well.  How many flowers, what kind, what budget, when, where…..etc.  Or, “Send me a dress to wear at my wedding.”  What size, length, color, style, price…..etc.

The florist, the dressmaker and I ask questions to determine what is suitable, which is the best plan of action, and most importantly, how can I best serve this couple. 

One more piece of advice – shop around.  You shop for flowers, invitations, dresses, music and every item under heaven.  Keep shopping.  Interview Officiants and Ministers.  Find the right one for you.  And BTW, the consultation should be free.  If it isn’t say, “Thank you very much” and hang up or leave if you’re already there.

Clint Eastwood and I go hand in hand in saying, “Make my day.”  You make my day by allowing me to make your day, when I create for you your Perfect Ceremony.

Go ahead.  Make Your Day.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Wedding Vows

Many times when I ask couples during a consultation if they want to write their own vows I get that deer in a headlight look on at least one if not both faces.

If you think about what vows actually are meant to be its not that scary.  When you were first in love with each other and contemplating living together you thought all those wonderful thoughts that if you think about them again would make perfect vows.

Picture this:  You are facing the one you love, holding their hands, looking into eyes that you are sure are sending love to you.  What is it that you love about this person? How do you treat this person right now and are you willing to treat them the same tomorrow?  Are you willing to take care of them if they needed something or were sick?

Vows are not your life story.  They are about the present moment, how you feel toward this person you’re going to spend many hours, days and years with.  If you want your new life together to be happy, emphasize the positive and forget about the negative.

Still not getting any words or sentences popping up?  Let me give you a few more suggestions.  You may get an idea to jump start your creative process. Here are a few vows others have used….

1)  Before these witnesses I, _____________, vow to love you, __________, and care for you as long as we both shall live. I take you, with all your faults and your strengths, as I offer myself to you with my faults and my strengths. I will help you when you need help, and will turn to you when I need help. I choose you as the person with whom I will spend my life.

2)  I love you ______ with all my heart and soul, as you are everything that I could ever hope to find in a woman/man. You are loving, thoughtful, caring, smart, and beautiful/handsome in my eyes and your love always makes me feel like the happiest and luckiest man/woman alive. I am proud to have you as my life's partner and I promise that I will always be at your side, through good and bad, and give you everything that is in my power to grant to assure your health and happiness for as long as I live. I am yours forever.

3)  Today I will marry my friend, the one I will live with, dream with, and love. I, ____________, take you, __________, to be my husband/wife. From this day forward I will cherish you. I will look with joy down the path of our tomorrows knowing we will walk it together side by side, hand in hand and heart to heart.

4)  I, __________, promise to love you, ___________, above all others and to value your friendship as a precious gift. I look forward to raising our family and building our relationship under the care and guidance of God. I promise to stand beside you in sickness or health, in times of prosper and decline, in peace and in turmoil, as long as we both shall live.

5) Celtic wedding vow:
I pledge my love to you, and everything that I own.  I promise you the first bite of my meat and the first sip from my cup.  I pledge that your name will always be the name I cry aloud in the dead of night.  I promise to honor you above all others.  Our love is never-ending, and we will remain, forevermore, equals in our marriage.  This is my wedding vow to you.

6)  Irish wedding vow said by bride and groom together:
We swear by peace and love to stand,
Heart to heart and hand to hand.
Mark, O Spirit, and hear us not,
Confirming this our Sacred Vow.

7)  Traditional wedding vows:
I, _________, take thee, ________, for my lawful wedded wife/husband, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health as long as we both shall live.

You may find a smidge of inspiration in reading these plus there are more online. Just remember – they are YOUR vows, they don’t have to be the same as your mate’s.  Speak the words in your heart and your vows will be perfect.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Why Choose Me As Your Officiant?

There are many Officiants and Ministers around and about and I have no idea of what you are looking for.  What I can tell you is what I do, how I build a ceremony, and why.

My focus is always on the couple for whom I am creating the ceremony.  I have to know something about them, their beliefs, background, family, relationships, how they think, how, when and where they met and how they really feel about each other.

When I sit and talk to a couple for an hour it’s easy for me to determine where they are coming from and what they envision on their wedding day.  Not being one to trust my memory, I have created a form I fill out with them to cover the pertinent information.

Right off the bat, when I ask for their address, I know if they are living together which could open up an interesting conversation.

Another leading question is to inquire if their parents will attend the ceremony.  Then I know to ask if they want to honor the parents or mothers during the service or would a memorial be more appropriate.  Maybe one or all are remarried and, if so, are they all talking to each other? 

The next obvious item is about children.  There could be his, hers and theirs and will they attend?  If the children attend will they be included in the proceedings?  The usual recommendation is to include all children. However, in some instances, inclusion would not be for the highest good of all involved.

Are there favorite people, relatives or friends, who are not in the wedding party for one reason or another that the couple would wish to honor or mention somehow?  There are several ways that could be easily accomplished.  There could be a verbal tribute or a flower given as a gift; the person could come forward and read a verse, a personal poem, sing or play an instrument.

And we haven’t even gotten into the actual ceremony yet!

I have to say 2 things right here right now.  1, I love doing weddings.  I’ve been often told that my passion shows.  2, each and every fully personalized ceremony, written by me is not like any other ceremony that I have ever performed. 

Every thought, prayer, message, passage, poem, blessing and announcement must match the couple for whom I will pronounce husband and wife.  A marriage is a life changing event.  Even when the couple has been living together, something changes within them.  They are not and will never be the same again.  Ever.  This responsibility is serious and I definitely take it personally.

I have created brand new additions that fulfill a request from the bride or groom.  For instance – one bride wanted to create a time box to be opened on their first anniversary.  Another unique event was a surprise wedding when I appeared as another BBQ guest until the right time and then set the stage for the ceremony complete with wishing stones.

There have been several religions and cultures woven into a single wedding tapestry; prayers for atheists; house blessings incorporated and weddings that have followed funerals and national disasters.

Every component is weighed and measured to see if it fits the couple.  Parts are deleted, new ones created, phrases rewritten, words pondered over.  You should see the condition of my current thesaurus! It’s my most prized book.

When the realization dawned on me of what was constantly occurring, it became a new tag line: For a ceremony as unique as you!  And that is what I love to do. 

I love to meet with the couple.  Hear what they have to say.  Ask questions.  Listen some more.  Observe their interactions. Watch their reactions.  Add it all up using intuition as the common denominator.  All of the above is brought into a meditative state and out pops a brand new unique ceremony written with a passion that shines through the bride and groom and overflows to each and every guest.

There is no one in the world quite like you.  There is not another couple quite like you and your fiancĂ©.  And YOU deserve a ceremony as unique as you!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Premarital Counseling

I’ve noticed lately that more couples are asking about pre-marital counseling. It’s always a good idea to get everything out in the open and sometimes we need a little help looking inside to see what is there.

The first question I ask couples when they come to me for counseling is, “Why do you want to get married?” And believe me, “Because we’re in love” is not a good enough answer. There are many couples who love each other dearly and at the same time simply can not manage to live together.

Most parents love their children deeply but really would prefer not to live with them their whole entire lives. You may be sad when a child leaves home but it’s often best for all concerned when they do.

So, why do you want to get married? To allow you to live together legally or to have legal control over another person is an answer but do you want that kind of life? Really?

Look inside yourself and ask, “What is my motive? What is the foundation of this relationship?” If you don’t know or aren’t sure, keep looking. It’s okay to ask for help in this area and most essential to be honest with yourself.

Let me give you an analogy. If you were going to build a house to live in, you first have to lay the foundation. In order to lay the foundation, you have to know what the foundation will have to support. You don’t need steel I-beams and thick cement to build an 8x10 wood shed. You do need more than a few 2x4s laid on the ground to support a 10 story building.

What is your purpose for getting married? What is your most inner motive?

Marriage is not about sacrifice or compromise or doing without or what you can put up with. If you’re focusing on what you’re going to lose you aren’t considering what you are going to gain or become in creating a new family.

We often refer to a husband or a wife as a mate. In Australia, a mate is a best friend. When you have a best friend, you take care of them, you love them as they are (without trying to change them or make them better). You accept their faults as well as their good points. You can also give them a good talking to when they need it without fear of them running away or you getting poked.

My best advise it to treat your mate as your best and closest friend. Be honest. Take care of them. Don’t put up with anything hurtful. Treat them like you want to be treated. Have no expectations. Love them exactly as they are right now. And treat yourself the same way. Being your own best friend teaches you how to be a best friend to someone else, to your mate.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Personalize Your Ceremony

Besides writing your own vows and talking about how you met and what you plan for your married life, you could also consider any of the 8 enhancements I have already written about: candle lighting, sand pouring, honoring parents or mothers, giving the rose of love, adding a healing or blessing, including children and wishing stones.

Two others are becoming very popular at the moment. They are Hand Fasting and Sharing Wine together. Both come from ancient traditions.

Let me say something about that right now – ancient traditions. Many of today’s weddings are bi-cultural as well as interfaith marriages. Consider what is in your ancestry. What makes up your family’s history? What have you ever dreamed of including in your wedding? Now is the time to bring it forward. It’s YOUR ceremony!

Hand Fasting is where the expression “tie the knot” came from. Although today when I’m including it in the ceremony, I simply drape the ribbon(s) across the couple’s hands for a few moments.

Hand Fasting is often preceded by a Hand Holding, where the couple joins hands while gazing into each other’s eyes as I read a poem about love or about hands. At this point there are usually a few sniffles heard around the room. (And I always carry a clean handkerchief to hand to the bride OR groom when necessary.)

The vows can also be spoken during the Hand Fasting. First the groom would be asked a question like “will you honor this woman all the days of your life?” Then the bride is asked a similar question i.e. “will you honor this man all the days of your life?” Then one ribbon is draped with the words, “And so the binding is made” pronounced by me.

There are usually 4 to 6 questions and ribbons draped. The ribbons can reflect the colors chosen for the wedding. It’s all very beautiful and coordinated.

If you’re more of an Earth oriented nature the ribbons could be draped while each of the directions are mentioned as in Native American or similar traditions.

Sharing Wine is always fun and can be done several ways. Instead of having a bottle of wine, I suggest a carafe of wine or 2 carafes, one for the groom and one for the bride. If one glass is used, they would each pour their wine into the common glass. The glass could be offered to or held for the other.

Or two glasses could be used. The groom would pour his wine into the bride’s glass and she would pour her wine into his glass. They could intertwine arms as they drink.

What’s in your ancestry – wearing kilts, giving coins, jumping brooms, drawing circles, flower wreaths, breaking a glass or plate, floating candles, or something entirely different? You could create a new tradition!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

As Unique As You

You’re getting married to the one person in the world who is totally right for you. You’re not the same, of course, but compatible enough and different enough to bring both longevity and excitement to your marriage. The day is fast approaching when you will be pronounced husband and wife. What will that special ceremony be like?

Keep in mind, that the few requirements are very simple – you both want to be married, you both want to be married to each other, you both want to be married to each other on the wedding date chosen, and you both agree to all of that. All the rest is fluff. You can do or say or sing whatever you like, or dance and wear a cake on your head if that’s what will make your day memorable.

What does the Officiant of choice offer to you? Can they make up a ceremony that is strictly unique to you and perhaps never before done? In other words, can you work with this person and feel comfortable to ask them what they know or if they will “do it your way”?

Many couples like to include a Unity Candle. You can have a candle with one wick and both of you light it at the same time. You can have one candle with two wicks and each light your own. How about having 2 pillar candles tied together? The candles could be different colors or the same color. They could be tied with a sash, twine, wide to narrow ribbon, two different color ribbons or many ribbons woven or braided together.

Wait! I’m not finished. The mothers could light your personal tapers at the start of the ceremony to symbolize giving you birth by lighting your light. You would use those candles to light the Unity Candle (of choice) and then leave your own candle lit to represent that you will continue as a whole person as you deepen your relationship with each other.

If there are children involved they could be included in the candle lighting. There is a beautifully choreographed move, quickly taught, in which all of you light the wick at exactly the same time that symbolizes all of you becoming one family. Or for something totally different, use floating candles.

And that’s just exploring the possibilities of candle lighting.

When the couples that I marry want to include sand pouring to represent themselves becoming one as the grains of sand mix and mingle to become inseparable I suggest they each choose their own particular color. At the appropriate time, as they are about to pour and blend the sand, I speak of each color, what it means and how it perfectly represents the person.

The sand pouring is a great ceremony to add when children are involved. They each have their own color which has its own meaning. Each child is called by name and their virtues made known.

In one wedding I performed, both the bride and groom had 3 sons ranging in age from 6 to 12 which meant 8 people would be pouring sand. (Could be a masterpiece or could be a mess!) With a little planning and a lot of rehearsing it was a masterpiece. I’ll tell you how we engineered it.

Each one knew their color and exactly where it would be placed on the oblong table. The ornamental bowl was in the middle. The bride stood at the left end of the table, the groom stood at the right end of the table. Her 3 boys stood at one length of the table and his 3 boys on the other side of the table.

The father/groom poured half of his sand and the mother/bride poured half of her sand into the ornamental bowl. As each boy’s name was called he poured all of his sand into the bowl. When all the boys had their turn, the bride and groom poured their remaining sand at the same time into the bowl. I’m sure you understand the symbolism. It was a magnificent masterpiece! We concluded with a hand holding ceremony in which all 8 of them formed a circle around the table by holding each other’s hand while a poem was read.

There are dozens and dozens of ceremonies you can include to have a uniquely you wedding. Without going into detail there is water pouring and drinking, wine pouring and drinking, glass breaking, wishing stones, broom jumping, giving of coins, several with flowers, roses being a favorite.

You can add Memorials to call to mind and honor those that have passed on. A Memorial may also be for those who cannot attend for whatever reason. There are many versions of Parental Honoring and others in praise of mothers.

The above barely skims the surface. In this year of possibilities there is no end to the list of ways to personalize your ceremony in the manner in which suits you best. Just ask and you shall receive.