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.

Sunday, September 22, 2019


Saturday evening, I officiated Sarah and Sam’s wedding ceremony at Arlington Hall at Oak Park, in Dallas, Texas. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

I ask every person I marry to answer two essential questions: “Why get married and why now?” I am, actually, one of the only people who can ask them that question. Anyone else asking this question would be exhibiting extremely rude behavior. Just imagine your co-worker strutting into the office Monday morning and offering her hand, so you can see her new engagement ring. Now, imagine her reaction if instead of, “Congratulations,” you responded with, “Why?” That’s one awkward day at the office! And, yet, in all seriousness, we need to be able to answer these questions, so someone – yes me – needs to ask them.

I love how Sarah and Sam answer these questions, especially because they are layered answers. Sam says, “’I want to get married because I… couldn’t see my life without her.” He is very realistic about human relationships too: “I’ve realized relationships will always have issues… and it’s about working through those issues with someone whose positive moments and attributes outweigh the negative ones.” Now, you might question why I mention that quote; I mean it is not about to be printed in any Hallmark cards. Because I truly believe what Sam says is true, and Sarah does too. She says that marriage is about having, “a true life partner to experience everything with – the highs and the lows,” and both are equally important, in reality.

Sarah and Sam are also very clear about why now. Sarah says, “I knew Sam was the one pretty early on. After a month or so of dating I decided I wanted to bring him on a family trip with me in Mexico, which was absolutely unheard of to my family because I never brought guys around, much less on a vacation. I think they knew then too. Even though I knew I loved him early on we clearly weren’t ready for marriage then but couldn’t be more ready now.” That self-awareness is very lacking in today’s world and is invaluable to the success of any relationship.

Now, Sam does one more thing that threw me for a loop in his discussion of why marry and why now. He pulls the ultimate Jewish power move. He answers my question with a question. Do you know why a Jew will answer a question with a question? Why not?!  

Seriously, though, he asks, “Why marriage vs. just living together?” This is a question that is not asked often enough. In Europe, for instance, it is quite normal to have an extremely long-term partner, without formalizing the arrangement through marriage. Even in Texas, which is not very European, once a certain time elapses, common law allows for some type of sui generis marriage. 

Interestingly, about 830 years before Sam asked this question, the great rabbi and philosopher, Maimonides, implicitly asked the same question. His answer is intriguing. He says that before the giving of the Torah, something akin to common law marriage was perfectly acceptable, with nothing else required. However, says Maimonides, “Once the Torah was given, Israel was commanded,” to marry in the presence of witnesses.” Or, as Sam puts it channeling both Maimonides and the Fiddler’s Tevya, “Tradition!” It is indeed our tradition that calls on us in Sam’s words to, as we will do in a moment, solidify, “our bond in front of family, friends, and God.”

It is with this type of solid bond in mind that Sarah says, “I couldn’t imagine not coming home to him every single day. We… realize how big a step this is, and we’re excited for the journey ahead.”

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Forge Your Destiny

Saturday evening, I officiated Alix and Amit’s Jewish wedding ceremony at the Fort Worth Club, in Fort Worth, Texas. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

Here’s the fascinating thing about Alix and Amit’s love story: Circumstances that would have felled lesser couples, not only did not stand in their way; they brought them closer. 

Take the most obvious fact: You would think that as a Jew and a Hindu, they would have less in common than, say, a Jew and a Christian. And, yet, they both found much in common due to this very fact. In America, the most religious country in the Western World, if you are a non-Christian (and sometimes even if you are a Christian), you may find folks actively trying to convert you. This happened many times to Alix and Amit. This is not a criticism, incidentally. If you truly believe that the road to heaven lies in adopting your belief system, exclusively, how could you not attempt this?

When they met, they were both at the tail end of long-term relationships. That is usually a less than ideal time to build a new relationship. However, it was in talking about their experiences and reflecting on those relationships, that they grew close and eventually became a couple. 

When they made that move from friends to romantic partners, it was as members of a small cohort of students, where this was not without its drawbacks. They did not allow this to hold them back, because as Alix says, “Secrets can be fun!” Amit explains, “We started a relationship but told no one but a couple of our closest friends: sharing a secret and speaking in code at times was a blast, and almost certainly brought us even closer together.” 

Now, at that time, Amit was in his fifth year of graduate school, while Alix had just begun. So, as Amit says, “We always thought it had an expiration date, since I was moving to Dartmouth to start my first faculty job.” Well, that supposed expiration date came and went, and their relationship continued. The travel became almost matter of fact, “I would take the 9-hour train ride to see him; he would do the 6-hour drive to come see me,” says Alix. 

Then, Alix and Amit took Calum Scott’s line in his popular song, You are the Reason, as a challenge, rather than a lament: “I’d climb every mountain, and swim every ocean, just to be with you,” so Amit moved to the Netherlands… Once again, this might create insurmountable problems for other couples. How did this couple respond? Alix says, “We joked... (that this) long-distance was ‘better,’ because it was only a 6-hour flight, (which is) better than the 9-hour train.”

In surmounting these obstacles, Alix and Amit show us that what matters is not the circumstance you are in, your fate, if you will. What matters is how you choose to relate to that circumstance, and through that you can escape the clutches of fate and forge your destiny. That's why what Amit says really rings true: “Not sure what the future holds, but if we're working together, we can handle anything life throws at us.”