Tuesday, March 22, 2022


Saturday evening, Father Chris Thomas and I co-officiated Alyssa and Steven’s wedding ceremony at The Artisan in Dallas, Texas. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

Now, first and foremost, I want to tell you how hard it is to resist an obvious temptation and how proud I am that I did. In personal remarks at a wedding involving a Montague, I will not, I repeat, I will not invoke Shakespeare. That would just to be too obvious. I’m better than that, citizens of fair Verona.

The Talmud (the foundational book of Judaism) ponders the question of how two strangers meet and become one cohesive unit. Since this is so difficult to understand if you really think about, it imagines that forty days before the formation of the embryo, a heavenly voice decrees who your match will be.

When Steven describes his mindset towards finding his match, he echoes this concept: “I held on to the belief I would find the woman of my dreams. I knew God would send a woman to me. I just didn’t think it would be in Texas, LOL.” I feel like the rabbis of the Talmud would smile at that last part too.

Leaving the LOL aside, Texas has had a proud tradition of being the place where one can reinvent oneself and find new possibilities. And the Talmud does say that when one changes one’s place, one changes one’s luck.

The countless people who scrawled GTT, gone to Texas, when they left everything behind may not have known of the Talmud, but they were living out that idea. Today, amid futile calls to not California our Texas, more than 2,000 people a day are doing just that, and we are all better for it.

Drawing so many people to it, it is no surprise that Texas drew Alyssa back to it. Indeed, Alyssa says, “Something in my heart knew that I was waiting for someone when I moved ‘back home’ to Dallas.” So, following a life of cosmopolitan adventure on the high seas and in the air, (Well, the Air Force, at least) back she went.

Now, what transpired on their first date might surprise you. Steven is, shall we say, more colorful in his description:

“When I first met Alyssa – the first words out of her mouth – I could tell there was no faking; this is who she is. She came in a bit late, all in a huff. I asked what was wrong and she said her pup (Travis) took a big” – OK, I can’t really say what he wrote at a wedding; Alyssa called it an accident. Just use your imagination – “I said, ‘Well do you wanna talk about it?’ to which she replied, ‘Yea kinda!’, and I smiled at the situation and off we went into conversation.”

Alyssa says, “The poor guy had to listen to me vent about my dog. Luckily, he’s a dog owner too and totally understood the stress! I was impressed by his willingness to put aside the first date masks and just let me be honest about what I was actually feeling. We kept dating and I fell hard.”

The falling hard thing was mutual. Steven, who might want to take up poetry, describes it beautifully: “She’s my person. I feel it in my soul. She pushes me to be better. She accepts me for who I am. She doesn’t take any of my nonsense… We balance each other… I know I am safe with her. I know everything is going to be ok because I have her by my side. I really can’t put it into words. She makes everything better. How do you describe seeing a sunrise for the first time? Or seeing the ocean? Or looking up at the stars and seeing the night sky in all its glory. It’s magic. It’s surreal, it’s something that only you can experience. That’s what I see and feel when I look at her. When I hold her in my arms, I see the magic and wonder that is life.”

Alyssa shares these sentiments: “There are a million reasons I love Steve. Seriously, I started writing this paragraph about 87 times with a different quality to lead off. But really, the reason I want to marry him is because I trust him more than anyone I’ve ever known. I know beyond anything that we’re always in it together. I want to build a life with someone who makes me laugh, holds me when I cry, and most of all, always has my back.”

Thursday, March 10, 2022

Great White Buffalo

Saturday evening, I officiated Morgan and Austin’s wedding ceremony at the Rosewood Mansion Hotel, in Dallas, Texas. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

Austin’s telling of the pre-relationship phase of this couple’s story, involves an intriguing reference, “We met in tenth grade… but we never dated in high school… I… joked with my friends during high school and after that she was my ‘great white buffalo.’” This intriguing term according to Urban Dictionary means “’the one that got away’ or ‘first love’”. It comes from that cinematic masterpiece of 2010, the year Morgan and Austin met, “Hot Tub Time Machine”, where it is not explained, just whispered in repetition.

You could be forgiven for at this moment doing a double-take, and saying to yourself, “Did the rabbi just cite what film critic, Richard Propes, characterized as a ‘not for the faint of heart and definitely not for a family outing… film?’” Well, no, that was the groom. But, as Propes also points out the tale it tells is “surprisingly insightful”, and though I don’t know if Propes realizes this, the idea of the great white buffalo connects to a very Jewish concept.

In fact, the Ancient Rabbis imagine that before the formation of a fetus, a heavenly voice decrees who that eventual human will fall in love with and marry. It is up to us, as humans to then find that person we are divinely matched to.

Though Morgan does not use any references from films pining for lost youth of the eighties, she tells us that the feelings Austin had for her were mutual, “We always had a thing for each other.” Luckily, though their second chance also involved Austin returning to the city of his youth and going out with three buddies, no supernatural magic was necessary. The sparks that flew in June 2018 were real, not from a malfunctioning bathing apparatus.

These two have been inseparable ever since that night. What they have built together, what they do for each other, they describe in language bordering on the poetic. They truly understand that a true love story is much more than, well, love.

Listen to Austin: “I truly can’t imagine not having her in my life. She is someone who is a partner and a best friend not just a spouse, someone I look up to and respect. She challenges me and wants the best for me. I love that she loves her family, I love that she’s kind to other people, I love her humility and generosity...”

Listen to Morgan: “No person has ever made me feel more loved, appreciated and happy than Austin. He is my biggest fan, supporter, teacher, listener, and the time has never felt more right to get married. I couldn't imagine my life without Austin. He truly makes me a better person each and every day.”

No wonder Austin says, “I knew that she was the only one for me and I don’t want to wait any longer to start making memories.” No wonder Morgan says, “I am so excited for this next chapter in our relationship, and I know we have so much more fun ahead!”