Sunday, November 17, 2019

Down Pat

Saturday evening, I officiated Julie and Adam’s wedding ceremony, at Marie Gabrielle, in Dallas, Texas. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

This is hardest part of writing a wedding ceremony around and with a couple. Julie and Adam made it easy though, because they address the reasons for why they want to do what they are about to do so cogently. Interestingly, and if you know them this will not floor you, they both include lists. (By the way, Adam’s list utilizes numbers and Julie’s utilizes bullet points, and I’m sure some doctoral student in psychology could explain that part…)

Adam, helpfully, cautions that this is just a teaser, since his vows and toast will include more. And he admits, “There was no single moment when I knew I had fallen in love with Julie, when I knew I wanted her to be my life partner. It, sort of, snuck up on me, and one day, I just knew that I was in love. I had several epiphanies that made me realize it.” Here comes the list, and I am abridging parts here, or we’d be here all night:

“1. Nothing makes me happier than when I’m able to make Julie smile or laugh. I get so much joy from seeing her be happy. Realizing this was perhaps the #1 sign that told me I was in love and ready… The rewards from seeing that smile are endless 
2. As someone who travels Monday-to-Thursday every week, I started to realize: I missed her… I became so excited to come home on Thursday evenings, not just to be home, but because I would get to see her. I couldn’t wait to walk in the door and give her a hug. It’s a feeling I’ve never had with anyone else. 
3. Julie loves me for who I am. I’m a quirky person, but Julie has never tried to change that. She indulges my love of board games and Game of Thrones. She tolerates – and even supports – my 5am wake-up calls so I can run for 3 hours on Saturday mornings. She attends my reunions with my business school crew… She embraces my quirks and passions…” 

Now, I am probably not the only one who has observed that Julie and Adam are mature beyond their years. So, the first thing Julie says won’t surprise you: “I used to think that the definition of love was infinite closeness—knowing everything about another person and intertwining your lives completely. I’ve realized since that partnership requires some distance, to appreciate each other’s gifts and give each other room to grow as individuals… I don’t feel like I need to know everything about Adam before committing to spend my life with him... (because) Adam is extremely consistent. He has a strong moral compass and lives by these beliefs.” Then she lists four examples in bullet points: 

“• Adam is a feminist. He once turned down an opportunity for additional visibility and recognition at work and insisted that the opportunity be offered to a female colleague. 
• Adam thinks it’s important to show up for his friends. At any birthday or bachelor party, Adam can be counted on to fall asleep on the floor or couch, because he wants to stay until the bitter end with the guest of honor. 
• Adam is an environmentalist. He wrote an essay in middle school about why gas-guzzling SUVs should be banned, and is a Prius driver today. 
• Adam believes in putting the needs of others above his own. When I was flying out to Cuba after we’d been dating for a few months, he insisted on driving me to the airport at 4am, even though he had barely slept all week. When I travel for weekend trips, I have several times come home to find that he grocery shopped for me and made my lunches for the week…”  

That last part might be the most important lesson for marriage. The Ancient Rabbis ask what commandment one fulfills simply through the act of marriage. They answer, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” the essence of which is putting the needs of the other, in this case your spouse, above your own needs. Sounds like Julie and Adam have that one down pat.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Journey Together

Saturday evening, Father Bryan Shields and I co-officiated Malise and Adam’s wedding ceremony, in the Academy of the Sacred Heart Chapel, in New Orleans, Louisiana. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

I ask every person I marry to write an autobiographical essay, which serves as the raw material for these remarks. Sometimes, what they write is so powerful, the remarks almost write themselves. This is one of those cases. 

Listen to how they describe their feelings for and gratitude towards each other. Malise says, “I have never met a man like Adam. He is one of the most patient, understanding, and kind people I have ever met. Having only met him three months after I moved to New York, I was unsure if I wanted a boyfriend at that time, but he quickly became a constant in my life and provided a sense of comfort and support I cannot live without…” 

And Adam says, “I want to marry Malise because she makes me a better and happier person… She makes me laugh, accepts all of my quirks, stimulates me intellectually, and forces me to always try to improve myself… I…  can tell she'll be an incredible mother…” 

How do you get there? The answer is almost too simple: Open and clear communication, coupled with respect for the other person’s autonomy. Malise and Adam are explicit about this. Adam says: “We… have had a very upfront and communicative relationship… (We are) both… fairly opinionated and stubborn… but… we… discuss things openly and calmly with one another and respect each other’s thoughts. To me this is one of the key reasons we get along so well.” 

Malise agrees: “We have talked a lot about our future life together… how we want to keep open and constant communication… neither of us expect the other to change… who they are for each other.”

That’s why Adam says, “Given how open we have always been with each other… I believe we're ready to get married now… we look forward to embarking on that journey together really as soon as possible.” 

And it is this clarity that drives Malise to say, “I believe it wholeheartedly when each of us says we will be together forever… He is simply the perfect match for me… There is no better time than now to start our next chapter.”

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Every Day is a New Adventure

Friday evening, I officiated Annat and Weslyn’s wedding ceremony, at Remi's Ridge at Hidden Falls, in Spring Branch, Texas. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

Some people think that during personal remarks at a wedding, I should talk about how marriage is all about sunshine and butterflies, about unending happiness, about constant perfection. That would make zero sense, because this is real life and not a fairy tale. And, one of the things that I love about Annat and Wes’ relationship is that they have no time for this either.

Annat is very open about the fact that, in her words, “Weslyn and I are both so similar and different from each other at the same time. I can tan, and he can’t; he’s patient, I’m impatient; he’s good at putting his thoughts into words, I’m not.”

Wes too tells us that they, “record each other dancing and send it to friends to purposely embarrass one another. We correct each other, push each other, compete with each other, and sometimes drive each other to the brink of madness.”

Annat and Wes recognize the truth in what the author, Mary Wright, writes, “There is no perfect relationship. That would be boring, right? Relationships should be complex and challenging, because a relationship that is not growing is dying. And it takes two emotionally strong and mature individuals to overcome any difficulty that may come their way.”

You do sense that these two are indeed quite emotionally strong and mature, in a way that belies their relatively young age. This is why Annat says, “I have never met anyone else that I align so great and effortlessly with. Although we may butt heads with each other from time to time, we always… turn arguments into discussions.” This is why Wes says, “We’re always real with each other. All of this… I have found in no one else.”

It is this realness, which I was surprised to discover is a real word, that leads Annat to say, “I know I can always be myself around him and will always be able to rely on him to be there for me, regardless of the situation. He is truly my best friend… He makes even the most boring days entertaining and fun. I truly believe we can encourage each other to accomplish anything we want, as long as we do it together.”

It is this same realness, that leads Wes to say, “Every day is a new adventure… she embodies everything which my soul desires, and I firmly believe that she always will. Together, we choose to live our lives the way we want, with the things we have worked for, and with the people we love. That is why I want to share my last name, share who I am, and share everything I’ll ever have and ever be, with her.”

Sunday, October 27, 2019


Saturday evening, I officiated Lindsey and Ian’s wedding ceremony, at the La Cima Club in Irving, Texas. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

I always ask people how they met. However, really what I am looking for is the relationship’s origin story. Sometimes, that origin story is not in how they met, but in something else that happened down the road. To set the stage, Lindsey and Ian had known each other for a few months, had been hanging out and enjoying some real chemistry, followed by a somewhat anti-climactic first date, and Lindsey fleeing the country. (Not really, but it sounds way more dramatic that way, doesn’t it?) Here’s Ian:

“Throughout the whole time she was in the Galapagos, hardly a day went by that we didn’t talk to each other. When Lindsey returned to St. Louis, she let me know that she would like to come down to Rolla and see me, and she promptly loaded up her car to drive to a place she had never been. I don’t remember exactly what she said, but it is one of the most romantic moments that I cherish. Of course, my roommates used the next hour and a half to clean furiously. Lindsey and I have been together ever since.”

Now, you might think this daring caper came out of the blue. Not so. In fact, months earlier, Ian had told Megan up here that he would marry Lindsey. He then set about to make that happen. Lindsey picks up the story: 

“As the weeks went by, Ian befriended my roommates. He found reasons to hang out at our house or meet up with us. He fixed things, he tutored people and he cooked. He came to game night, poker night, and parties. By the summer, Ian made himself a constant fixture in my life without even asking me on a date, and so logically the next thing he decided to do was have me meet his parents and all of their friends in another state. 

Ian told me that there was going to be celebration at his parent's house in Arkansas (4 hours away) for the 4th of July. He told me that he invited all the other co-ops and that I should come too. However, in reality he never asked anyone else to join--not that he told me that. I agreed to go and stay the weekend at their house. It was a wonderful weekend…”

Think about the courage it takes to do the things that Lindsey and Ian did. Resolve to act similarly. As they say in the business world, the return on investment is clearly worth it.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Fun and So Much More

Sunday evening, I officiated Lauren and Joshua’s wedding ceremony, at the Orion Ball Room in Dallas, Texas. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

You’ll have to forgive me. Though I sport a very convincing General American Accent, I only moved back to this country when I was 26. That means that some things are still foreign to me, a fact I sometimes try to hide. 

One instance when I had occasion to do this was when Lauren and Josh told me how they met. Lauren writes, “Josh and I met through a mutual friend when I was around 17 and he was around 18. We went to a party with him and I made fun of him for drinking a summer shandy when it wasn’t summer.” I had no idea what a shandy was. I have since looked it up. I am still unsure as to why one such drink must be drunk only in the summer months. 

Regardless, somewhat anti-climactically what happened next was, well, nothing. Josh picks up the story: “We saw each other a couple times over the fall and then mostly fell out of touch. Almost six years later we ran into each other on the way to a show during SXSW. Lauren yelled my name as I sped by on my bike. We talked for a minute but eventually went on our separate ways. Through the wonder of social media, we reconnected a few weeks later and talked on and off through the summer. One night I invited Lauren over to watch Rushmore (one of her favorite movies) and, while I joke about it, she basically hasn’t been out of my life since then.”

Life can be like that sometimes. One chance meeting leads to nothing, while another chance meeting leads to where we are today. And, you know what? That’s a good thing. 

Lauren and Josh each feel like they had some individual growing to do as human beings. That growth enabled them to slowly build a relationship on a solid foundation of understanding and friendship, which gradually matured into a love story. 

That relationship, in turn, helped them continue to grow. As Josh says, “I’ve grown so much as a person with her. I just cant imagine spending my life with anyone else.” 

This growth changed Lauren’s entire perspective on marriage itself. Listen to this: “I didn't really picture myself getting married but then along came Josh and we make it work in a way that I hadn't really thought I would get to experience. I want to continue to experience things I didn't think I would that my relationship with him provides, things like security, love, compassion, gentleness, fun and so much more.” We should all be so lucky.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Lady Love

Monday afternoon, I officiated Jordana and Dave’s wedding ceremony at the Surrey House and Gardens, in McKinney, Texas. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

David is a much better writer than he gives himself credit for. Check this out: “My bodacious babe... messaged me out of the blue, which is ironic because she had blue hair at the time.... Our screen names were both pop culture references, so this made our eventual first date a must. We went out for a couple drinks and queso. I knew I wanted to see her again, so we promptly followed that up with miniature golf, street pizza, and pool. The rest, as they say, is history.”

Jordana elaborates on some of those pop cultural references: “I saw a cute bald guy who’s profile pic was him in front of a Doctor Who Tardis... and his username was the title of one of my all time favorite Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes – and Buffy is my all time favorite show, so I was intrigued. He said he liked redheads, but my hair was blue, so I made a little joke about it and he asked me out for drinks the next night. We stayed out until almost 4am and when he asked me for a second date, I was ecstatic.”

OK, that is a lot of pop culture. We’ve got Bill and Ted, Dr. Who, and Buffy. So, I just assumed that the phrase, “lady love”, was an intentional reference to the 1977 Lou Rawls song. Nope. Maybe it was unintentional, David having heard it somewhere, since to this day, of all Lou’s songs this may be his most played. 

Regardless, I’ve listened to how Jordana and David talk about each other. I’ve watched them interact with each other. I’ve read what they have written about each other. It’s almost, Bill and Ted-like, they traveled through time, talked to old Vonghn Gray, who wrote the lyrics for Lou, and he had them in mind:

Lady love, your love is peaceful
Like the summer's breeze
My lady love, with love that's tender
As a baby's touch
You give me all of the things
That I need so much
You're my world, lady love

Lady love, your love is cooling
Like the winter snow
My lady love, with love that's cozy
As a fire's glow
And I keep on needing you, girl
A little more and more
And I thank you, my lady love

You know, it's not easy to keep love flowing smooth
People are people and they all have their moods
But it's so nice just to have someone like you
Who wants a smooth and easy thing
And all the good times that it brings

My lady love, you've been with me
Through all of my ups and downs
My lady love, I once was lost
But now with you I'm found
You got the love I need
And I want to stay around
Heaven sent you down, my lady love

Let me tell you that it's not easy to keep love flowing smooth
You know, people are people, they all have their moods
But it's so nice just to have someone like you
Who wants a smooth and easy thing
And all the good times and the joy that it brings

My lady love, you've been with me
Through all of my ups and downs
And my crazy turn-arounds
My lady love, you got the love I need
So stay around
Heaven sent my lady love

Lady love, sweet lady love
You are so good to me
Lady love, like a warm summer breeze
(So glad I found my lady love, lady love)
(So glad I found my lady love, lady love) 

Jordana reflects these very feelings when she says, “Our relationship is so strong and so loving and it just feels right. I love him and I’ve never felt surer of anything in my life.” And David too channel’s Voughn and Lou, when he simply states, “I want to marry my lady love because, well, she’s my lady love.”

Monday, September 23, 2019

Lessons of Your First Date

Sunday evening, I officiated Roman and Brittany’s wedding ceremony at One Preston Events Venue, in Gunter, Texas. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

Roman’s telling of his first date with Brittany is the kind of account that makes you go, “Awwww.”: “I was so excited to first meet her. When we first met, I was nervous. Her beauty was mesmerizing.” That is, until you hear the record scratch, “I had homework to do, and she was very understanding. She let me do it on our first date!” It’s not exactly the stuff of bodice rippers...

Let’s get serious for a second, though. Brittany provides some further context: “Our first date was at Buffalo Wild Wings and was rather spontaneous as we weren't supposed to hang out that night. Roman had just started school at UNT and even though he had homework he agreed to meet me for a drink as long as I didn't mind him finishing up a quiz on the date.”

I think there are actually a number of great lessons for life and marriage in this very first IRL interaction of Brittany and Roman. First of all, the easiest lesson, context matters. Second, and more importantly, as the journalist David Plotz, has said, other people’s marriage is like a foreign country. What doesn’t make sense in one country makes total sense in another. 

Third, and most importantly, Brittany and Roman teach us that this world is much less about imagined idyllic ideal interactions, than it is about real messy down-to-earth living. The best parts of any relationship, as well as its true test, are found in just those moments. 

Brittany and Roman, keep those lessons of your first date in mind, and you’ve got it made.