Monday, December 27, 2021

Broken and Whole

Sunday afternoon, I officiated Susan and Steven’s wedding ceremony at the Dallas/Plano Marriott at Legacy Town Center, in Plano, Texas. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

The Bible tells us that when Moses comes down from Mount Sinai, carrying the Ten Commandments, he witnesses, to his dismay, that in his absence the Children of Israel have decided to engage in some, uh, extra-curricular activities.

So, while the first not one but two commandments are about worshipping the one God of Israel and not worshipping idols, here they are dancing around a golden calf they are worshipping. Moses, understandably, is a little upset, and he breaks the tablets.

God is none too happy either, but Moses convinces God to give the Children of Israel a second chance. He goes back up to the mountain, and he comes back down with a second set of tablets. The lesson here is very clear: Always make sure your tablets are covered by a good warranty.

Now, eventually, God commands Moses to build the Ark of the Covenant. Thanks to Steven Spielberg, you’ve all seen it in the first Indiana Jones movie. God commands Moses to put the tablets inside the ark.

Which tablets, you might ask? Here is where it gets interesting. You might think that it was just the second and whole set of tablets that went in there. You would be wrong. God explicitly commands Moses to put the whole tablets AND the broken tablets into the ark.

When I was younger, I really didn’t understand why. I mean who saves broken tablets. You either recycle them or give them back to Apple for a credit on your next tablets. Now that I am a little older and hopefully a little wiser, I get it. What really makes us who we are is the mixture of brokenness and wholeness that is inside all of us.

When you listen to Susan and Steven tells their life stories, each as individuals and then as they converge, you can really see this concept play out. You see it in Steven’s tremendous admiration for how his parents built a cooperative relationship after they went their separate ways. You see this in the pride Susan has in raising happy, healthy, and productive children while having experiences that she says would be worthy of a Hallmark mini-series.

And you most definitely see it in the events of late 2016 and mid-2017, when Susan went from being lucky to be alive to what she calls the “most wonderful, fantastic thing that has happened to me beside the birth of my children. When I least expected it, I found a love so true, so deep, that is such a gift.”

Finally, you see it in how they have conceived of this celebration with all of you, their family and friends, here today. As Steven says, “This wedding will signify the start of the next chapter of our lives, and hopefully for all those that attend, the beginning of the end of this dreaded pandemic, a celebration for all to embrace.”

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Have You Ever Danced with Yourself?

Midday Saturday, Reverend José Luis Jácome and I co-officiated Samia and Jared’s wedding ceremony at Samia’s parents’ home in Quito, Ecuador. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

Have you ever listened to two people talk about each other and been reminded of a poem? I have, specifically when listening to Samia and Jared speak of each other.

Samia recounts how they grew their relationship together, “He soon became my home away from home. We were each other’s pillars when work or life got hard… As our relationship and careers progressed, we could make more time for each other and grow together. Jared became the person I would always go to, my trusted partner and my best friend. This is when I knew he was the person I wanted to marry… We know that together, we will be able to accomplish anything because we are partners for life.”

Jared echoes these very feelings, “We recognize the strength and happiness we provide each other. Her best qualities uplift my own, and I hope in turn my best qualities do the same for her. My life… without Samia… would lack the fulfillment and joy that I am brought every day by her presence…. We recognize that our individual selves and our collective lives are made greater by one another. We as a team, are greater than us as individuals. A life-time commitment to one another, as marriage is, will only serve to grow that bond between us…”

Coincidentally or not, this perfect distillation of the ideal loving relationship that Samia and Jared describe is beautifully expressed by the Ecuadorian American poet, Maria Galvez, in her poem, Have You Ever Danced with Yourself:

Have you ever danced with yourself?

I have.  I did it tonight.

Somehow, it just felt right,

Although it was dark and it was late.

I checked the weather forecast of my heart

And the climate of my soul marks: “Happiness”,

An unbelievable sense of joyfulness

That will stay within me, even if we are apart.


Because we were made for each other,

“apart” simply means “I’ll be right back”.

It’d be silly to turn our backs

On this great combination of lovers.


Lovers in love, now and forever.

Sharing dreams and goals that we know will come true,

Since anything is possible if I am with you,

Sharing a life in which fate brought us together.


Have you ever smiled at yourself?

I have.  I did it tonight.

And it feels perfectly right

To be yours and to enjoy being under your spell.


(What I’m really saying is: I’m in love…

What I’m really saying is: I love you.)

Samia and Jared, may continue to recognize that anything is possible when you are with each other, and may you never come out from under each other’s spell.

Monday, December 13, 2021

As Ready as We’ll Ever Be

Saturday afternoon, December 3rd, I officiated Emma and Cary’s wedding ceremony at Acre Baja, in San Jose Del Cabo, Mexico. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

Albert Einstein was once traveling from Princeton on a train when the conductor came down the aisle, punching the tickets of every passenger. When he came to Einstein, Einstein reached in his vest pocket. He couldn't find his ticket, so he reached in his trouser pockets. It wasn't there, so he looked in his briefcase but couldn't find it. Then he looked in the seat beside him. He still couldn't find it.

The conductor said, "Dr. Einstein, I know who you are. We all know who you are. I'm sure you bought a ticket. Don't worry about it."

Einstein nodded appreciatively. The conductor continued down the aisle punching tickets. As he was ready to move to the next car, he turned around and saw the great physicist down on his hands and knees looking under his seat for his ticket.

The conductor rushed back and said, "Dr. Einstein, Dr. Einstein, don't worry, I know who you are. No problem. You don't need a ticket. I'm sure you bought one."

Einstein looked at him and said, "Young man, I too, know who I am. What I don't know is where I'm going."

Now, roll back the tape to the beginning of Emma and Cary’s story. Was it evident where they were going? Was it evident that their story would bring us to where we are today?

Cary says, “It all started when I, a sophomore, saw Emma Davis, a freshman, walking through the hallway of the Bullis School. I knew there was something about her and I had to meet her. I would see her in the hallways but never had the chance to hangout outside of school. By the time my junior year rolled around, Emma and I started to hangout a bit. All the boys were interested in her so I wasn’t sure of my chances.” Cary, at this moment, I would say your chances are pretty good…

In all seriousness, the answer on a slightly deeper level is that there was something special from the word go, something that is harder to define in logical terms, something that is still with them today. Emma says, “I was so nervous around him. I still get butterflies thinking about him coming up the stairs from the senior lounge and saying, ‘Hey Emma’. We were actually both dating other people at the time and dumped them for each other!” A trail of broken hearts at Bullis. Ouch…

From there, Emma takes us deeper. “Our love was strong, so the future was always a topic of discussion and this continued throughout our relationship...When he was like, ‘I don’t want you to move to NYC, let’s move in together,’ I didn’t think twice. We were so ready to start our life together. Very soon into our move-in, we got our baby, Harley. Harley rounded out our family and from then all we could talk about is our future and how we were going to crush life together.” (In case you were wondering, yes, Emma and Cary were quite insistent that Harley be recognized in our ceremony, because, obviously!)

For those of you older than thirty, according to author Emma Zimmerman, “Crushing it is a common expression used when someone is doing their job particularly well, or exceeding all of their goals. Unlike the literal definition of the word “crush” (to destroy with force to the point of injury), ‘crushing it’ has an extremely positive connotation. The phrase can easily be swapped out with its cousin, ‘killin’ it.” The more you know!

Interestingly, Cary says something that in my experience you rarely hear from grooms. Not to be stereotypical, but us guys can be relatively shallow, in comparison to the girls, “I have always wanted to get married by 28 and have kids by 30. I would say, the earlier you have kids, the longer you get to be in their lives. Except, I didn’t start saying this until I was with Emma. When you know you found the love of your life, you can start to plan... I can’t wait to be a father… I know Emma will be an amazing mother… This is obviously a huge moment for us, but this is more about officially beginning our lives together as one. I know I am making the best decision in marrying Emma and can’t wait to officially call her my wife.” 

Emma echoes Cary, “I still pinch myself… I know I’m the luckiest girl in the world. Life with Cary is GOOD and I’m just so excited for our future as a married couple. Marriage to me solidifies our relationship, our commitment, our love for one another. We always knew we would be ready for it at some point and now here we are. As ready as we'll ever be.”

Well, I’m not one to argue with a bride on her wedding day, so with that, we better get on with it!

Sunday, November 28, 2021

For Such a Time as This

Saturday night, I officiated Lina and Felipe’s wedding ceremony (in Spanish) in the village of Palomino, in Colombia. Here is an English translation of the remarks I shared with them and their guests in Spanish:

Do you have a favorite scripture? I do. It is one of the most dramatic moments in a story that for all we know probably didn’t happen exactly as described, if it happened at all, but that matters little. 

The Book of Esther is a book about a marriage that not unlike the one we celebrate today is a marriage of two individuals of different faiths. The twist in that story is that the groom does not know that. 

Esther, a young Jewish girl, marries the most powerful king in the world, the ruler of the Persian Empire, but on the advice of her uncle, Mordechai, she hides her heritage from her husband. 

This act, borne of a sense of safety and preservation, was often repeated through history, particularly in Spanish speaking countries. Once Spain was unified under Ferdinand and Isabella and began to spread its rule to the New World, it was not always safe to be open about your faith. 

Esther is able to keep her secret for a while, but fate comes knocking. In a plot, once again, reminiscent of the future, the Jews are threatened with annihilation by the second most powerful man in the Persian kingdom. And Mordechai comes to plead with Queen Esther that she intervene. 

The problem is that like many if not most of us, Esther is scared to step out of line, especially in that extremely patriarchal society. The rule is that even the queen cannot simply visit the king without an invitation, and the previous queen lost her head for violating the rules. Esther is, naturally, loathe to act.

Mordechai’s response is swift: “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows, perhaps, you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”

I don’t know about you, but I cannot read that last sentence without getting emotional. Few of us will ever become the Queen of Persia, few of us will be called upon to save our people from annihilation. However, we in our lives, are often presented with such choices. But, and this is what scares me personally, we often have a harder choice than Esther. 

I’m not trying to minimize Esther’s situation, but life does not usually present its choices to us in such a black and white fashion, as it does to Esther. It is usually much grayer, much more ambiguous. Still, a choice we must make. Do I do what is convenient and comfortable, or do I do what is much harder because it is the right thing to do?

You, Lina and Felipe, have each been confronted in your private lives with such choices, and though you have made mistakes like all of us, anyone who knows you will testify that you followed Mordechai’s admonition. You have, time after time, resisted the temptations to stay secluded in the palace of comfort. You have answered the call to help others, to look out for others, to live lives of service, again and again. 

It is my prayer, that you continue to do this, that you continue to set a great example for your daughters, that you continue to set a great example for all the rest of us. May we all show your courage and the courage of Mordechai and Esther. May you, may everyone here today, may we all answer the calls large and small in our lives with clarity and conviction, “And who knows, perhaps, you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”

Meant to Be Together

Sunday afternoon (11/21), Mike Biedermann and I co-officiated Sam and Cody’s wedding ceremony at Dove Ridge Vineyard, in Weatherford, Texas. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

Sometimes, just telling the couple’s story in their own words produces such a valuable lesson about life and love. This is one of those cases.

Those who know Cody know that like many of us he took what might be called “the scenic route” through college. Reflecting on his educational journey, Cody makes a fascinating and counterintuitive observation: “I have thought if I would have only started with engineering and construction, I would have graduated much sooner. Looking back, I would not change a thing. I would not have been able to experience the different classes I was able to take, I probably would not have met the awesome friends I have now, and I probably would have missed out meeting Sam, who is the best thing to ever happen to me, my best friend, and the love of my life.” 

Now, Sam, on her part didn’t even expect to be at A&M. Being a nice Jewish girl from Texas, she naturally ended up at University of Utah. Huh? She pretty quickly discovered that the only place on earth where Jews are called gentiles was not the ideal place for her. So, she transferred to Texas A&M. There, Sam’s high school friend, and Cody’s fraternity brother set them up, they fell madly in love, had a whirlwind romance, and have been together ever since. Just kidding. That is not at all what happened. 

Why, you may ask? Reasons. She was Jewish, he was Christian. She was liberal, he was conservative. She wanted to move to LA, he wanted to stay in Texas. So, they just became friends. Still, something nagged at them. “Every time I would see her,” Cody says, “I would think to myself, ‘what if we started dating, and what would that be like.’ Every time I saw her, I thought she was a cute, smart, fun, and a wonderful woman to be around and over time I found myself being drawn closer to her.”

Sam graduated and moved away, Cody moved on from Texas A&M, but they both ended up back in DFW. Sam says, “When I would go to the bars in Fort Worth, I would always run into Cody and say hi. My childhood friend started going on dating apps and matched with Cody. I remember… telling her, ‘I love Cody. I know him from college. Great guy. You should go on a date with him.’ Well, they never did, so I ran into him again at the bars a week later and asked if he went on the date with my friend. He told me they never did so I finally felt God was giving me signs for a while now that I just need to ask Cody out. I asked him out and the rest is history.”

Cody sums it up: “Our relationship has been driven by fate. For reasons we can’t describe, we feel God knew we were meant to be together… I was meant to marry Samantha Sternfeld and be with her for the rest of my life, a life I know for certain, will be amazing because I have my person, my best friend, and the love of my life.”

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Better Place

Saturday afternoon, I officiated Allyson’s and Josh’s wedding ceremony at the Carlisle Room, in Dallas, Texas. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

I am an eighth-generation rabbi, so it’s kind of like the family business. Now, few Jewish parents dream of their children becoming rabbis, a fact that has repeatedly vexed parents on my paternal line. As another fellow former Orthodox rabbi, Jackie Mason, said, the choice is clear for most Jewish parents, doctor. In fact, while our state is in huge strife over when a fetus becomes viable, most Jewish theologians agree, a fetus becomes viable when it graduates medical school.

My father, who like me only served as a congregational rabbi for a short time, once said that despite that fact, you can take the rabbi out of the shul, but you can’t take the shul out of the rabbi. And though this is no double-blind study, according to Allyson, the same may be true for psychiatrists. 

Just listen to her description of the genesis of their relationship, “Our first 3 dates were all 5 hours long. He’s a great listener and easy to talk to. He got all the information out of me without even having to ask.” 

Seriously, though, she made quite an impression on him, and continues to do so, “Allyson was interesting and funny, had a very unique perspective on things, and of course was incredibly beautiful. She is consistently surprising me with things she does, knows, says. I felt (and continue to feel) very lucky and fortunate and thankful to have met her. Allyson is amazing and I can’t possibly imagine a life without her.”

One of the most important aspects of Allyson and Josh’s relationship has been their Judaism. They talk about how they live our lives in a way that is very much grounded in Jewish principles, specifically, belonging to something greater than themselves, and leaving the world a better place than how they found it.

Now, you might wonder, again, as a rabbi, why didn’t I just start with that? Didn’t I say that I was trying to share something I learned? What’s with all the sappy stuff that preceded it? 

You see, though, that is exactly it. Without any judgement towards those who don’t find it, Judaism is very clear that to make the world a better place, you need that other person. It’s just too hard to do it on your own. You need, in Allyson’s words, a partner, a companion, a lover. 

This may be why fellow Jew, Rachel Platten, in Better Place, says in words that speak for Allyson and Josh, “There's a song in my heart, I feel like I belong. It's a better place since you came along.” What a lovely thought to begin married life with!

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Kept Each Other Laughing

Sunday morning, I officiated Natalie and Zach’s wedding ceremony at Texas Discovery Gardens, in Dallas, Texas. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

I’m sure many people met their betrothed at Starbucks, in front of the counter, behind the counter, a mixture of both, but this takes the classic coffee cake, “We worked together at Starbucks, and not only was I his superior, but he mentioned he didn’t want kids, so I crossed him off my potential partners list.” Ouch!

Natalie continues, “Even after mentally crossing him off my list, I developed a crush on him. He’s just so witty, he can clap back so fast, and he pretends to not know what’s going on, then he will know every detail… He has since told me that he does see himself having kids with me. And if that was a line, it was a very good line.”

Now, anecdotally, about 75% of people sitting at Starbucks are people watching and working on their screenplay, so this again, from the other side of the counter sounds appropriate: “I remember what her hair looked like and what she was wearing on the day we met. I remember that she sang a lot, but our first real connection was discovering we were both Jewish. Natalie’s late Zadie was a screenwriter, and I thought this was the coolest thing ever and even came to work the next day asking her if she knew all this miscellaneous trivia about her own grandfather. I don’t know how long I’d had a crush on her when she made the first move…” 

Now, I always ask each person I marry why they want to get married. There are no right or wrong answers to this question. I do think some answers are more Jewish than others, and Natalie’s answer falls into this category: “Because society dictates it? Because it is easier to have kids together? Because having this awesome party combining our two families will be cool? Because this way it will be harder for him to leave me? Because if one of us gets hurt the other can be there?”

Why do I say this answer is very Jewish because the ultimate thing to do in Judaism is to answer a question with a question. Why do Jews answer questions with questions? Simple; why not?

Ultimately, though, Natalie agrees with Zach’s answer, “I grew up surrounded by a lot of happy and healthy marriages, particularly ones with a lot of laughter, and so I’ve always thought to myself, I want one of those. My parents have attributed laughter to be the key to their marriage… I started thinking about marrying Natalie early in our relationship because of the way we kept each other laughing.”

The Talmud relates a story that reminds us how right Natalie and Zach are to attribute such importance to laughter. Rabbi Beroka asks Elijah the prophet if there are any people in the market they are standing in who are destined for heaven. Elijah points out two brothers. Rabbi Beroka asks them what they do. They say to him, “We are jesters, and we cheer up the depressed.” 

Natalie and Zach, hold fast to this lesson, never stop laughing and making each other laugh, and your marriage will give you a taste of heaven.

A New Person

Saturday evening, I officiated Salena and Greg’s wedding ceremony at the Ruthe Jackson Center in Grand Prairie, Texas. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

Salena makes a very interesting statement about the inception of her relationship with Greg, “I knew after our first date that I was going to marry him (pause) even though he didn’t.” 

The next big milestone in their relationship had a bit of slapstick to it. “He accidentally told me he loved me (pause). He called me to chat because he missed me and I had him on speaker phone with my mom and he said it and then the shock set in, so he quickly said goodbye and hung up before I could respond. I said I loved him once he came back, and he immediately said it back.”

About the big milestone that brought us to today, she simply says, “He proposed to me on February 8, 2019, in Austin, Texas at a Panic! At The Disco Concert.” That old trope. No seriously, there’s more to it. 

Greg choreographed this pretty carefully. He got floor seats, center stage. He proposed just as Brendan Urie, her favorite singer, was walking through the floor seats singing Death of a Bachelor. In case any of you still weren’t clear as to why we were here today, she did say yes.

Brendan himself says that his own marriage to his wife, Sarah was central to the composition of this song and indeed to the entire album it lends its name to. “I would say the title track, ‘Death of a Bachelor,’ is pretty much why I called the album that. [It] just really meant a lot to me. I mean, that kind of summed up how I feel now. I feel I am a new person and I’m able to talk about the past because I’m not that person any more. It’s nice to be able to set aside the past and look at it objectively instead of being stuck in that world. So that was really an eye opening experience for me.”

I doubt Urie, who grew up LDS and left that church in his late teens, realizes this, but this idea is central to the Jewish tradition. Ashkenazic Jewish men, like me and Greg, for instance, will not regularly don a prayer shawl during morning prayers, until they are married, because there is a recognition that full personhood is achieved when we find our soulmate. (BTW, many Jewish parents feel that their children have not reached full personhood until they graduate from medical school, but that’s an issue for another time.)

Traditionally, in line with what Urie says, many brides and grooms fast on their wedding day, like we do on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, and recite special confessional prayers that are only recited on the High Holidays. This is because your wedding day is seen as a day when God wipes the slate clean and forgives you of all your sins. You are a new person from this day forward. 

The challenge of marriage, and if you can do this, Salena and Greg, you’ve got it made, is to never fully let go of this feeling and to renew this feeling of, “Happily ever after, how could I ask for more?”

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

I’ll Have What They’re Having

Monday afternoon, I officiated Debra and Michael’s wedding ceremony in a hot air balloon over the sky of Collin County, Texas. It was just us. Here are remarks I wrote for the original ceremony on terra firma, and what I planned on sharing with them and their guests, before they decided to do something very different for their ceremony:

I ask every person I marry not only why they want to get married, but why now? I think that that is always a good question to ask, but I feel like it is even more poignant, when it’s a seasoned couple. (Don’t call us old. We’re not. We are seasoned.) 

Debra says, “Finding love with Michael was a gift. Our relationship encompasses all that is truly important to me. He’s my soulmate and I can wait to spend the rest of our lives loving and supporting each other.” Michael says, “I spent two years taking my time to get to know about her values, dreams and needs and knew this was a woman that I not only could, but wanted to spend the rest of my life with. Why now, to quote a movie, which I am always doing, just ask Debra, ‘When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.’”

I find this reference to be particularly intriguing, because unlike Harry and Sally, Debra and Michael’s relationship was romantic from the start. It makes sense, though for a number of reasons. First of all, though Meg Ryan, herself, and Sally Albright, the woman she plays, is clearly not Jewish, everything else about the movie is Jewish. Harry, though this is never mentioned, is Jewish; just check out his order at Katz’s Deli. While Sally orders turkey on white bread, oy vey, Harry orders pastrami and rye, like a good Jew. Of course, Billy Crystal himself is a very Jewey Jew, as was Nora Ephron, as is Rob Reiner, and of course, the best line in the whole movie is uttered in the deli by Reiner’s own very Jewish mother.

However, there is one little known fact about the movie that is emblematic of the beauty of Debra and Michael’s love story. The line Michael uses as his answer was not in the original screenplay. In fact, the original screenplay did not have them falling in love and marrying. Reiner changed this because during the filming, he met his second wife.

Barry Sonnenfeld, the film’s cinematographer, also Jewish, said to Reiner, who had been divorced for a decade, “I know this girl. Her name is Michele Singer (also Jewish), and you’re going to marry her.” They met on set, they fell in love, and they are still married today. Reiner says that that made him change his mind, because he said, “Okay, that’s how it could work for me.” 

Debra and Michael, as the years progress may your love only continue to grow. May you both continue to enjoy the type of relationship the real-life couples at the end of that timeless movie have. And may you continue to inspire other couples to say loudly with conviction, “I’ll have what they are having.”

Saturday, October 9, 2021


Saturday evening, I officiated Rachel and Zane’s wedding ceremony at the Embassy Suites, in Grapevine, Texas. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

I have every person I marry write an essay covering their life and spiritual history, why they want to get married and why now. I have read close to 1,000 of these essays already. This was first time such an essay began, “In the interest of sparing you from reading an auto-biography combined with my disinterest in writing one, I will be keeping this section extremely brief.” I mean, I knew Rachel was direct but… Just kidding, that was, of course, Zane.”

Zane’s courtship technique was, well, interesting. “Our first date was ice cream,” he says, “I was a babbling awkward fool, and she mistook that for charisma… On our second date I listed out my traits that could be potentially deal-breaking from her point of view. Again, she mistakenly thought that was charming.” 

Now, Rachel’s technique was more conventional, but apparently it involved swearing a type of blood oath before embarking on her quest. “Sydney, my roommate insisted that if I reached a fourth date, I had to bring the suitor to our apartment for her to meet them. As I was taking Zane home to meet Sydney, he asked how many others had met her. I told him that he was the only one that had made it this far.” 

In hindsight, their falling in love seems predestined. “We felt a connection within the first few dates. We bonded over the important topics of the day,” says Rachel. These are, and I swear I did not make this list up, Lord of the Rings and DND, feminism in literature, theatre, and metal music.

Seriously, though, Rachel and Zane’s love is a testament to the enduring qualities that make a marriage work. As Rachel says, “Since the beginning of the relationship, I really appreciated his honesty and communication skills. We are able to discuss hard topics when they come up and get on the same page. I have great respect for Zane… He shows that he is proud of my work successes which are very important to me despite our agreement that we will never understand what each other’s job entails.”

And, as Zane says, “She is possibly the kindest human being I’ve ever met. She cares so passionately and learning from being with her has undoubtedly made me a better person… the trust between me and her is stronger than any bond I’ve had before.” Finally, he adds, after almost four years of being together, Rachel and I are stronger than ever… If we can handle being locked in the same room for a year straight without fighting, we can handle anything. I see her as my partner, best friend, and soulmate. I feel beyond lucky that she feels the same way.”

Overflowing of Love

Friday evening, Reverend Rob Bowsher and I co-officiated Sam and Tyler’s wedding ceremony at the Stone Crest Venue, in McKinney, Texas. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

The origin story of these high school sweethearts is the stuff of romance novels with a dash of mystery, subterfuge, and humor at the very beginning. 

They met freshman year of high school, became friends in sophomore year, when they had a couple of classes together. Why do I say mystery? Because, Sam says, “I am not really sure what it was about him I liked so much, I think we just clicked.” 

Why do I say subterfuge? Because Sam continues, “I used a project in English as an excuse to get his number and partner with him on it. We started to talk a little bit more, and I had told two of my friends I had a crush on Tyler, and they helped me create a plan for all of us to hang out and go bowling.”

I think I’ve covered humor already, but Tyler drives the point home. Why did Sam have to resort to this derring-do elaborate plan? “This was an excuse for her to get my number as I was playing hard to get.” In the novels, it is usually the other way around, but truth is stranger than fiction.

There is a theme that recurs in the lives of Sam and Tyler that might sound a little too obvious and simplistic, at first blush, but I don’t think it really is: Love.

It was love at that tender age that brought these two together. Now many high school romances don’t last, but the love they shared matured with them. This was the real deal, and eventually they wanted to make it official. 

Reaching back farther before they met each other, both Sam and Tyler each showed a love for their respective faiths. They each loved to learn about their faiths and continue to take great pride in their traditions, that pride being reflected in this very ceremony. 

In our tradition one of the most common explanations for breaking a glass at a wedding is to place it in a category of other acts we do to commemorate the destruction of Herod’s Temple, then the global center of our faith, and with it a short lived independent Jewish state, 1,951 years ago. The Ancient Rabbis tell us that the Temple was destroyed because there was an overflowing of hate among our people.

The late Chief Rabbi of the Land of Israel, Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, was once asked what it would take to rebuild the Temple and the Jewish commonwealth. He said that since it was destroyed due to an overflowing of hate, the only way it would be rebuilt would be through an overflowing of love. 

Incidentally, this was the implicit if not explicit message in the way that Sam’s late teacher, a man I was honored to call a friend, Rabbi Jeff Leynor, lived his life. His overflowing love for our faith and for all people was something to witness. 

It is this overflowing of love that Tyler speaks of that brought us here today: “Halfway through college we decided the first thing we wanted to do once we graduated was to get married on our anniversary, October 15th. I planned to graduate in the Fall of 2020, so I went and picked out an engagement ring, Spring of 2020. Well, when nothing went according to plan, I popped the question August 9th, 2020. I just couldn’t take not marrying her for another year and I just wanted her to be my wife.”

Sam and Tyler, marriage will have its ups and downs. That is the nature of the world. Cherish this moment and the overflowing mutual love in your hearts. That will not only get you through the downs but make the ups even sweeter. 

Monday, October 4, 2021

The Luckiest Person on the Planet

Saturday evening, I officiated Devin and Roee’s wedding ceremony at Aspen Ranch, in Edmond, Oklahoma. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

None of us wishes to experience hardship in life. However, when I see a couple who has experienced no hardship, whatsoever, I’m actually worried. I’m not trying to be the skunk at the garden party here, but while weddings are all about romance and celebration, marriage is hard. 

This is why I don’t worry about Devin and Roee. Each of them has endured hardship in their lives. I mean, even if you didn’t know of all the challenges Devin had to work through in her early adulthood, the fact that she had to move to Guam as an 18-year-old tells you enough. (And to quote Rodney Dangerfield’s character Al Czervik in Caddyshack, “No offense,” to Guam.) 

You don’t need me to go into detail to understand the groom’s challenges either. All you need to do is imagine what it would be like for an Israeli boy named Roee to end up at 12 years old in the suburbs of Fort Worth. I mean, the fish-out-of-water sit-com practically writes itself. 

These past hardships prepared these two for the mundane challenges every budding relationship encounters. Roee says, “It was an adjustment to move in together, for sure, since I was a stranger in OKC. I moved with my dog; she had a dog as well, and they didn’t get along in the beginning. It was quite the experience. I also started a new job when I moved to OKC which was another adjustment for me. Devin was supportive through the process, but it was not easy.”

Devin reflects this too, when she says, “Moving in together was an extreme challenge for me. After living by myself for almost a year, I had already grown very comfortable with my routine and lifestyle. And Roee disrupted that. He always seemed to want to work out in the most inconvenient times, he blasted music through the house dancing EVERYDAY, and don’t get me started on his sweaty clothes.”

Devin says, though, “Despite all this, he is the most patient, understanding, loving, and dedicated man. Since I have known him, I have gone through a lot of personal growth, and he has stuck by my side throughout that entire journey… For the first time in my life, I feel like I truly know what God‘s unconditional love looks like, because I have experienced it through Roee.”

Roee agrees, “I do not only love Devin; I know she is a genuine and kind person, who has so much to give. Through our time together, I know she’ll be a great wife and mother to our future children. We have been through so much together… We persevered and it made us stronger… She is my biggest fan, and I am hers. We are best friends and can talk about anything.”

Well, almost anything, because Devin says, “I know that I am the luckiest person on the planet, having a partner like Roee, but don’t tell him that, I like him to think that he’s the luckiest.”

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Good Things Take Time

Saturday evening, I officiated Emma and Ivan’s trilingual English-Spanish-Hebrew wedding ceremony at the Biltwell Event Center, in Indianapolis, Indiana. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

Emma and Ivan’s story is certainly atypical to say the least. Culturally Jewish American girl from Chicagoland meets Devout Christian Guatamalan boy in Columbus, Indiana might get sent back to you marked, “Rewrite, lacks believability,” if you wrote it into a screenplay. If you had the chutzpah, the audacity, to write in that screenplay that they met in a kickboxing program, you might get the screenplay thrown in your face. Truth IS at times stranger than fiction.

Ivan describes this very real “boy meets girl, boy tries not to get kicked in the face by girl” story, “My initial plan was to try something new, but to my surprise, this was the very place where I met the most beautiful girl I have ever seen. Emma joined this program way before me. Lucky for me, she decided to come back just for fun… We started a beautiful friendship outside kickboxing. After a while, I knew I was ready to let her know I was in love, with her personality, transparency, honesty, and beauty. However, she was cautious and decided to take things slow, but I knew I needed to be patient. I told myself, ‘Good things take time.’”

Here's what Emma says actually happened in the beginning stages of their relationship, “I told him time and time again when we first started seeing one another that we would not be a serious relationship.” Ouch! She explains, though, “On paper, we have very little in common.” It is hard to argue with that.  So, how did they get here, after all? In one word: character. 

Emma elaborates on that seemingly neutral statement of Ivan, about good things taking time, “Ivan has the most amount of grit and tenacity I've ever seen in someone.” Interestingly, the more we learn about the science of the mind, we learn how central these traits are to success in life. Sometimes, however, the experiences that grow these traits in us can leave the individual callous. This is why what Emma adds about Ivan is key. She says he has, “a truly kind soul. I admire his thoughtfulness, his empathy, and his ability for identifying,” with the other. 

In these descriptions, Emma exhibits a deep awareness she may not even be fully cognizant of. Unfortunately, most of us in America do not describe people first and foremost by speaking of their character. Emma does. What stands out to her, what eroded her initial very logical resistance to Ivan’s persistence was her recognition of his character. This, in turn, shows her true and genuine character, which drew Ivan to her in the first place, creating this virtuous cycle. 

This is why Ivan says, “Although we both come from two different worlds, we always have found a way to put everything aside and see each other for who we really are… Even though we have only known each other for over three years, I feel I have known Emma all my life.” This is why Emma says, “He is really my best friend and partner and I am so excited to share this moment with our loved ones!”

Do I Feel Lucky?

Sunday afternoon, September 19th, Dr. Elmar Sakala and I co-officiated Becky and Larry’s vow renewal at the Wildwood Canyon Park, in Yucaipa, California. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

This might sound odd, but there is an argument for incorporating one of the most famous lines in cinema history into every wedding ceremony I officiate: “You’ve gotta ask yourself one question: ‘Do I feel lucky?’”

Now, I am not saying that getting married is like looking down the barrel of, “a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world,” wondering, “Did he fire six shots or only five?” It’s actually harder than that.

Marrying someone is the ultimate wager. It’s easy to say that the you of today wants to be with the them of today. What’s harder is to bet that your love is so strong that you of tomorrow, of a year from now, of ten years from now, will still want to be with the them of tomorrow, of a year from now, of ten years from now.

This is why in the Christian tradition, weddings are centered around vows, which classically invoke the idea that you’re in it for the good times and the bad, and that you will stay strong by the other person’s side for richer or for poorer, which we have some control over, and most importantly in sickness and in health, which we have much less if any control over.

This is why I love the idea I have heard from some Christian ministers who ask all married couples to use the time that the marrying couple recite their vows to recommit to each other. Because that is what marriage is really all about.

Don’t get me wrong; I love weddings. I have, after all, officiated about 500 of them. However, the wedding should really be seen as one of those free trial offers you get for 14 or 30 days. The marriage is not calling back to cancel the after the trial offer period is over.

Now, I am not saying that a marriage is like an Apple TV subscription. Apple TV never turns to you, when you are minding your own business, to ask how a particular body part looks in those jeans. (Guys, please, the only legitimate answer is that it looks great. Stay safe out there!)

Marriage is about the wonderful experiences you have together, but marriage is also about the not so wonderful experiences you have together. Hopefully, the balance is with the former, but it might be the latter, that if you play your cards right, binds you even tighter together. That is, after all, when you need love the most; that is when the love you give counts the most.

This is why every couple, really, should follow Becky and Larry’s example, and go on a ten year renewal tour like today, as their friends have been urging them to do. Every couple should take a moment, in front of their family and friends, and say once again, I’m in it for the long haul. I’m in it for good times and bad, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health.

Monday, September 6, 2021

Reach Our Full Potential

Sunday evening, Father Bruce Nieli and I co-officiated Lauren and Rony’s wedding ceremony at the Hotel Van Zandt, in Austin, Texas. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

Lauren and Rony met at UT and became very close platonic friends. Now none of us gets to choose how we meet our spouse, but if you manage to luck into this type of situation, it can make your future relationship incredible. As Lauren says, “I believe those years of friendship leading up to our relationship gave us a really solid foundation whenever we started officially dating, and it’s still something that’s so important in our relationship today.”

Here is where things get really interesting and go deep. Rony says, “Along the way… our relationship changed from platonic to romantic.” Why, because they deeply deeply care about each other. 

As Lauren says, “Rony… takes interest in my job, my friendships, what I did on my day off of work, etc. This may seem so basic, but as my friends have also grown and confided in me about their adult relationships, I’ve realized how valuable this really is. Not everyone is lucky enough to have a partner who takes an interest in their lives the way Rony does about mine.”

Rony agrees, “I love that Lauren and I communicate not only about the major things in life, but also the minor, seemingly inconsequential items, because we care about each other’s opinions and genuinely want the other to be intertwined in our lives.” Full disclosure: Rony did also mention something about realizing Lauren is out of his league and her not recognizing that, but don’t tell her.

Now, despite all of this, and even though they were clearly madly in love, Rony says, “Generally both of us had excuses for why we likely weren’t going to be in a long-term serious relationship together. Based on our spiritual and cultural upbringings… All the while, our friendship and romance continued to evolve, but we weren’t quite ready yet to set the excuses aside…”

Eventually, Lauren says, “We came to the conclusion that we’d rather be together and face the challenges that come with being an interfaith couple versus not being together.” Rony confirms this, saying, “Ultimately my feelings for Lauren got to a point where none of the ‘excuses’ mattered anymore – I just knew I wanted to be with Lauren.”

What a wonderful lesson for all of us in the fractured world that we live in today. Let us strive for a world where we all follow Lauren and Rony’s example, and not allow religion or culture or faith to stand between us, so that we may all reach our full potential. 

Saturday, September 4, 2021

One of Those Meant-To-Be Kind of Loves

Saturday evening, I officiated Lindzie and Eli’s wedding ceremony at The Olana, in Hickory Creek, Texas. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

They say truth is stranger than fiction. If Lindzie and Eli were fictional TV characters, and you wrote the script for the episode about how they met in the way it actually happened in real life, it wouldn’t fly. It would be returned with a note that said, “not realistic enough.”

Check this out. Lindzie says, “Eli and I met in a bar of all places. Considering Eli doesn’t drink it was pure luck and/or fate that we met at the Shark Bar in the Power and Light District of Kansas City that night.” Eli says, “I asked for her phone number, saved it as “Future Wife” in my phone, and texted her that night, hoping she got home safely. She didn’t respond for eight days…” Lindzie confirms this and adds, “After playing hard to get for 8 whole days I finally gave in and that’s where we begin the story of Eli and Lindzie.”

With that incredible story, it is probably unsurprising that Lindzie says, “I guess our relationship has always been one of those meant-to-be kind of loves.” In this she reflects a common Yiddish word and idea, Beshert. Like many Yiddish words, it has rich multiple meanings. It means meant to be, but also soulmate.

However, it goes much deeper. Rabbi Yisrael Pinson and Becky Hurvitz tell us, “The concept of beshert, for those who believe in it, is much more than finding love by being at the right place at the right time. It is, in essence, fulfilling your personal destiny, thereby playing your part in the destiny of the world.”

Destiny is a pretty heavy word. As an existentialist, I believe that fate happens to you. You randomly meet in a bar in Kansas City. Destiny is what you do with that fateful encounter. You turn that random encounter into a beautiful love story that culminates in today’s wedding.

This is reflected in Lindzie and Eli’s choice of today, specifically, to cement their relationship. Eli says, “I picked the date to ask her to marry me on the 13th anniversary of my grandfather’s passing. My desire was to grow something beautiful out of the worst tragedy of my life. I couldn’t imagine anyone more perfect to spend my life with.”

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Truly Successful

Saturday afternoon, Pastor Chad Mager and I co-officiated Sydney and Brian’s wedding ceremony at Tea Garden of the Grand Hotel, on Mackinac Island, Michigan. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

So, Sadie Goldstein goes to the park one day, and sees her good friend, Sheila Berkowitz. Sheila had told Sadie that she was looking forward to her grandchildren’s visit, and indeed Sadie spots the two children with the beaming Sheila. Sadie greets her warmly, and says, “They look so cute! Please introduce me.” Sheila says, “Of course!, This is Sheldon, the doctor; he’s eight. Over there on the jungle gym is Irving, the attorney; he just turned six.” (Rim shot.)

Now, obviously, this story is apocryphal, but is this approach regarding what matters in life not true of the outlook of many people in our society? Indeed, if you didn’t know any better, attending a wedding of not one but two doctors of optometry, you might think that this is the approach they grew up with and hold to themselves. Fortunately, nothing could be further from the truth. 

Brian, in fact, says, “My father taught me that to be truly successful in life means to have a loving family.” That is why he says, “I wanted to find someone who I could make happy every day, share and build a life together, and most importantly build a family together… I am so lucky to have found Sydney, to have her in my life… I found my soul mate… I found my best friend.”

And Sydney shares this very approach. She says, “I found the right person who makes me laugh, who is serious enough to make me feel confident in their abilities to take care of our family, who is silly enough to make the life and the serious times it has not so serious, and who is a good role model for our future children. I wanted someone who was kind, nurturing, caring, but also someone who was strong, confident, and motivated. Brian is all of these things and more.”

This is why Sydney says, “All of these things and more make me certain that… I have found the right man for me.” This is why Brian says, “I can’t imagine having anyone else by my side as we navigate this life.”

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Embrace Your Differences

Saturday evening, I officiated Emily and Mike’s wedding ceremony at Live by Loews!, in Arlington, Texas. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

Emily and Mike’s message to us today is one that I have been preaching for the last fourteen years. Now, there is nothing like the word preach to bring both uneasiness to the soul, as well heaviness to the eyelids. Have no fear; this message is simple yet profound, and I will use Emily and Mike’s words, not mine, to convey it.

Emily says, “I quickly fell for him. He was someone I was instantly comfortable around even from our first date. We come from very different upbringings, religiously speaking, but have grown closer through them. We have continued to learn more and more about each other’s religions and learned to embrace them both.”

And Mike says, “We quickly took to each other, reveling in each other’s different upbringings, life stories, and cherished moments. I firmly believe it is my being Jewish that allowed me to connect so well with Emily. It was clear we were meant to be together… and as we grew together as a couple, we both knew marriage would be right for us.”

Though our society has come a long way, some people still view interfaith marriage as a negative. Others might not go as far as that, but still see it as second best. It might make me less popular among most of my colleagues, but I agree with Emily and Mike.

Every couple is different, but I have seen numerous couples like Emily and Mike, whose relationship is enhanced, specifically by the interfaith aspect of it. Every person is different, but I have seen numerous individuals whose relationship with their own faith has grown through such relationships.

We owe a debt of gratitude to this couple here today. Emily and Mike, for reminding us all of these important truths.

Monday, August 2, 2021

They Keep It Real

Saturday evening (7/24), I officiated Kayla and Stephen’s wedding ceremony at The Joule in Dallas, Texas. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

Like most couples today, Kayla and Stephen’s relationship began in the ether of the internet. Her first impression of him was mysterious yet fortunate: “I didn’t quite know what to make of him… He didn’t come on too strong, which is really what I needed at the time because I was really guarded.”

The moment they met might sound like it came out of a sitcom, “I obviously took the time to look nice for our date but when I went downstairs to meet him, he was standing there in a bright green Under Armor workout shirt. I immediately felt self-conscious that I was a lot more dressed up. He looked a little intimidated and said, ‘You look beautiful.’”

Here is the intriguing observation she made, though, that really hooked her during that first encounter, “Even though I was nervous and probably super awkward, talking to him was easy.” As their relationship progressed, she came to understand that this was part of a wider quality Stephen possesses.

“My favorite thing about him,” she says, “is he’s always smiling when he talks. He’s the best listener and I know all of his friends would agree. When we get into Ubers, I’m the one hoping the driver doesn’t try to talk to me, while he takes an immediate interest in their life, listens to them, and is giving them heartfelt advice by the end of the ride. I love that about him.”

All these quotes come from Kayla’s essay about her and Stephen. I have each person I marry write such an essay. Stephen’s is the first essay of about 1,000, which begins with a disclaimer, “Redacted after peer review.”

It is also the first essay with a term, I, the Jew, was not familiar with. Stephen who had high hopes for their first date discloses that “the date was fun. Towards the end, ‘her friend needed help’ and I got a Christian side hug, so I thought I'd never see her again.” Fortunately, this was one of the few times in documented history that the friend was not imaginary and did really need help, so here we are today.

Stephen shares an observation that I am sure will not be foreign to you if you know Kayla, “Undoubtedly Kayla has the most tenacity of anyone I've ever met. But with that tenacity comes someone who loves fiercely and will work towards overcoming any adversity…

What these two people share, each in their own way, is a quality we could all learn from to enhance our relationships, romantic and otherwise: They keep it real. Kayla says, “Stephen is super genuine, never puts on a façade, just is who he is.” And Stephen says, “Kayla is definitely someone who walks her own path in life, which I greatly respect.” We should all be so lucky.

Sunday, July 4, 2021

That One Person We Can Be Vulnerable With

Saturday evening, Reverend Kyle McNeely and I co-officiated Hillary and Justin’s wedding ceremony at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

I ask every couple, nay every person, to tell me why they want to get married and why now. Sometimes the answer is simple yet profound and beautiful. This is one of those cases. 

Hillary, in explaining why she wants to marry Justin, invokes a deep concept introduced by not a great philosopher or religious text, but a fictional TV character, Dr. Cristina Yang. She says, “I desire to marry Justin, because he is my person.”

Much has been written about this concept, how popular it has become among Hillary and Justin’s age cohort, and how, as in the case of fictional character that uttered it, it need not be synonymous with romantic partner.

I find that one of the most important aspects of this concept is sociologist Bella DePaulo’s observation that “having just one person who completes you [is] a ticket to vulnerability.” That is so important for our wellbeing. We all need that one person we can shed all our masks with, that one person we can be vulnerable with.

Hillary elaborates on this: “He is the person who makes me the happiest, the person I can turn to when in need, when I am frustrated with work, need an ear to listen to me vent about work or life, who makes me laugh, who gets me, who I can be myself with, and who loves me unconditionally just as much as I love him.”

When you can be vulnerable with your person, you are able to personally grow in ways you could not without that relationship. Justin reflects this when he too invokes a fictional character, Melvin Udall, who says, “You make me want to be a better man”.

Justin elaborates, “She challenges me to live up to her love and respect every day. To earn it every day. That’s the kind of partner I want to be with for the rest of my life. The fact that she’s hot with a killer smile doesn’t hurt either!!!”

My friends, it really doesn’t get any better than that.

Sunday, June 27, 2021

Child of Love

Saturday afternoon, I officiated Libby and Larry’s wedding ceremony at the Four Seasons, on the Peninsula Papagayo, in Costa Rica. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

Why on earth would a rabbi base his personal remarks at a wedding on a song that proclaims, “I found a friend in Jesus,” seems like a fair question. You might say what Ricky said to Lucy, “You got some splainin to do.”

When I was thinking of Libby and Larry’s love story, I just happened to be listening to Child of Love an extraordinary song from the contemporary Christian music band, We the Kingdom. And the truth is that listening to Christian music for inspiration was historically quite common. Famous rabbis and cantors would even visit churches to listen to worship and then adapt the tunes for Jewish prayers.

What really captivated me, though, beyond the superb music, IS the message in the song. Obviously, the lyrics are written in a specific Christian context, but there is a universal message embedded in it too.

Listen to some of the words, “I was walking the wayside, lost on a lonely road, I was chasing the high life, tryna satisfy my soul… Then I saw lightning from Heaven, and I’ve never been the same. I’m gonna climb a mountain, I’m gonna shout about it, I am a child of love... I found a world of freedom, I am a child of love”

Franni Rae Cash Cain, the main female vocalist, explains what is behind these words and the name of the song being Child of Love, rather than what we might expect, Child of God, “I think sometimes I tend to think of God as an angry God who wants me to do everything perfectly all the time; and that’s been my tendency growing up to view God, the Father, that way. This song has helped renew my understanding of who He really is as such a loving Father, and so I’m just excited about how this song is going to speak to other people and hopefully communicate God’s love to them.”

This tendency to think of God as angry is deeply embedded in our American culture. One of the first works you will study in American Literature 101 in college is Jonathan Edwards’ Sinners in the Hand of Angry God. This puritanical strain of American religion has been tremendously harmful to generations of Americans and has separated us from one another.

What Libby and Larry’s marriage and the presence of her brother and I up here together show us is that we are better off with Franni Rae’s spiritual convictions. Connection is better than separation. Forgiving our differences and inadequacies and reflecting the divine love that all around us is the best path.

That to me is the message of this beautiful song. That to me is the message of this beautiful couple. We are all children of love.  

Friday, June 11, 2021

A Tropical Contact High

Sunday morning (6/6), I officiated Katie and Mason’s wedding ceremony at the Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek, in Dallas, Texas. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

I love how Katie describes her spirituality: “I always felt more in tune with God (spiritually) when I was in nature… I find significance in small details or coincidences. I believe they are signs that help me follow and choose the right path.”

Mason, being extremely attuned to this side of Katie, says that though their first date was on the mini golf course, and unnatural sport if there ever was one, he shrewdly asked her to be his “girlfriend in an official capacity,” (his words, not mine), on a mountain having “lugged an entire cooler and picnic set up,” (again, his words, not mine).

Maybe that’s why when they were to move in together, he took her to live with him on an island. Somebody should have told him that Rhode Island is not really an island. Ah, well.

Ok, seriously, though, the reason we are here today does have to do with a real island, specifically a small country, which admittedly, in the words of the eponymous character in the movie Arthur, would likely have been defeated by the almighty armies of Rhode Island. I speak of course of that constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Aruba.

Mason says, “After five months of living in Rhode Island, we took a much-needed vacation to Aruba. It was Katie’s first time out of the country. I decided to propose on the last day of our trip on the beach… I took the initiative to propose as I believe we were both looking for something more and knew that we wanted to spend the rest of our lives with each other.”

Now, everyone knows that it is patently illegal in about 27 states to mention the words Aruba and beach, without acknowledging that Beach Boys song. You know which one I speak of, their final big hit and one the greatest earworms ever composed, Kokomo.

I think that is quite fitting, because though the song invokes an imaginary place, it describes the refuge that marriage should be, the place you may escape from the quotidian worries of life, “That's where you wanna go to get away from it all.”

It describes the state of mind marriage should embody, not just that you have once fallen in love, in the past, but perpetually in present and future tense, “falling in love to the rhythm of a steel drum band.”

Most importantly, it describes what every marriage should aspire to, “We'll get there fast and then we'll take it slow.” Go the distance, and methodically perfect “your chemistry,” so for many years to come you can indeed “defy a little bit of gravity,” as, “that dreamy look” in each other’s eyes really does give you “a tropical contact high.”

Sunday, June 6, 2021

Timing is Everything

Saturday evening, I officiated Toni and Phillip’s wedding ceremony at the Renaissance Dallas Hotel, on the City View Terrace, in Dallas, Texas. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

I always ask every couple not only why they want to get married, but why now? These are related but distinct questions. I found Toni and Phillip’s answer both instructive and insightful.

Toni writes, “The timing on everything in our relationship has pretty much worked out perfectly. From our timeframe of introducing our kids, to the timing of us moving in together. The timing of Phillip’s decision to propose on Christmas Eve not knowing it was Toni’s parents’ wedding anniversary ended up making the proposal even more special. Even our schedules worked out perfectly so on our first holiday season as a couple we were able to spend an entire week together.”

I love that. I will venture to say that the younger we are, the less we think about time and timing; we just live in the moment. There is a beauty in that carefree existence. However, as we grow older, and life seasons us a little, time and timing become a more important part of who we are, in good times and in bad. This has the potential to make the relationships we build, especially those of the romantic variety so much richer.

This idea and specifically Toni’s phrasing naturally made me think of that hauntingly beautiful and meaningful song by Garrett Hedlund, Timing is Everything. When you listen to the words, it really speaks to the essence of how Toni and Phillip each view the other, and their good fortune in having swiped right when they did:

When the stars line up

And you catch a break

People think you're lucky

But you know its grace

It can happen so fast

Or a little bit late

Timing is everything…

I remember that day

When our eyes first met

You ran into the building to get out of the rain

Cause you were soaking wet

And as I held the door

You wanted to know my name

Timing is everything


And I could've been another minute late

And you'd never would've crossed my path that day

And when it seems true love is hard to find

That's when love comes along

Just in time

You can call it fate

Or destiny

Sometimes it really seems like its a mystery

Cause you can be hurt by love

Or healed by the same

Timing is everything